Routing the molding

Cut three boards longer and wider than you will need for the three layers of mold­ing (above). Install a panel-raising bit in your router and mount the tool in a table. Align the bit bearing with the fence and adjust the cutter height to leave a flat lip no more than / inch thick on the edge of the stock above the molding. Mount two featherboards on the fence and one on the table to secure the stock throughout the cuts. (In this illustration, the featherboard on the outfeed fence has been removed for clarity.) Turn on the tool and feed the stock (left). To complete the pass, move to the outfeed side of the table and pull the stock through the end of the cut.

Make several passes, increasing the width of cut & inch of stock at a time. Form the second board with the cove bit and the third piece with the Roman ogee bit.

3 Installing the first layer of molding

Each layer of molding is fastened to the armoire in two steps: The longer strips for the side and front are attached first, followed by the smaller pieces around the pilasters. Spread a thin layer of glue on the back face of the first side piece, then set it in place against the armoire with its top level with or slightly above the top of the cabinet. Use a cut-off brad as shown on page 123 to help position the molding while you clamp and screw it in place at either end of the strip. If you are using carcase rather than frame-and-panel con­struction to build the armoire, use a sliding dovetail to hold the side moldings in place (page 127). Repeat the procedure to attach the other side molding, then mount the front piece (right).


Mitering the molding

When you have made the three mold­ing strips, rip each to width (the first, inner­most piece should be the widest and the third the narrowest). Then cut strips slight­ly longer than you will need for the front and sides of the workpiece. The ends of the molding strips are mitered at 45° to go around the corners and pilasters. The procedure for each layer is the same: Hold the side molding in position, its back end flush with the back of the cabinet. Mark the front corner of the cabinet on the strip. (For the second and third strips, mark the front corner of the previous layer of mold­ing.) In addition, mark the direction re­quired for the miter cut. Tilt the table saw blade to 45° and feed the stock using the miter gauge (left). (Caution: Blade guard removed for clarity.) Repeat the cut on the second side piece. Then, mark and cut the ends of the front pieces.

4 Applying the molding around the pilasters

Once the sides and main front piece of the first layer of molding are installed, the small pieces around the pilasters must be cut to size and mounted in place. Four small pieces need to be fitted around each pilaster; miter all the pieces at 45° at both ends. Hold the mitered end of a strip of the first molding flush against the mitered end of the main front piece, then mark the front corner of the pilaster on the edge of the molding. Make a 45° miter cut at this point. Then, hold the molding in place and repeat the procedure to mark and cut the next piece. Continue in this manner until the four pieces are cut to surround each pilaster. Dry-assemble the pieces to ensure an accurate fit, then spread glue on the pieces and fit them in place. Secure the front piece on the pilaster with a screw. Use finishing nails for the small­er pieces, driving the heads below the surface with a nail set (right). The second layer of molding can now be attached the same way as the first.


2 Cutting the cove

Remove the guide and lower the blade beneath the table. Outline the desired cove profile on the leading end of the workpiece, then set the stock on the saw table, aligning the marked outline with the guidelines on the table insert. Butt guide boards against the edges of the workpiece and clamp them parallel to the guidelines; use boards long enough to span the saw table. Draw lines 3 inches to either side of the blade on the guide boards, delineating a danger zone that your hands should avoid. Crank the blade % inch above the table. To make the first pass, feed the workpiece steadily into the blade with your left hand, while holding the workpiece against the table with your right hand (left). Finish the cut using a push block. Make as many passes as necessary, rais­ing the blade A inch at a time. For a deep cove, tack a backup board to the top of the workpiece to prevent splitting. For a smooth finish, raise the blade very slight­ly for the last pass and feed the workpiece slowly into it. When the cut is completed, rip the stock in half to fashion the mold­ing, then sand the pieces.


This simple jig will allow you to miter the ends of molding on your radial arm saw with the blade in the normal 90° crosscutting position. Refer to the illustration for suggested dimensions.

To build the jig, bevel the ends of the guides at 45°. Next, cut the base and fence and screw the two pieces together, leaving enough of the fence extending below the base to sit in the slot between the front auxiliary table and the spacer. Then, remove the saw’s fence and position the base of the jig on the saw table, seating the fence in the table slot. Set the blade in the 90° crosscutting position and adjust the cutting depth to make a ^-inch-deep kerf in the base. Once the cut is made, remove the jig and


Using a table saw

Dentil molding is a classic ornamental detail consisting of small rectangular blocks, or dentils, with spaces between them. It is made from thin stock, typical­ly between / and 3/s inch thick, and is placed either directly against the cabinet with another molding on top, or sand­wiched between two moldings (inset). First, rip the stock to the desired width. Then install a dado head as wide as the space you want between the dentils, and adjust the blade height to set the length of the blocks. Screw an extension board to the miter gauge, then feed it into the dado head to cut a notch. Move the exten­sion to the right by the width of the den­til, then cut a second notch. Make a small wooden key to fit snugly in the notches; slide it into the first notch until it pro­trudes about 1 inch. Butt the end of the stock against the key and hold it firmly against the miter gauge to cut the first dentil. For the next cut, place the first notch over the key and repeat the proce­dure. Continue in this manner until the length of molding is cut (right).


The frame-and-panel doors of an armoire are built in much the same way as the side assemblies of a frame – and-panel cabinet (page 32). However, there are differences. Both the inside and outside edges of the stiles and rails can be molded for added decoration. In addi­tion, the mortise-and-tenon joint used to connect the frame pieces incorporates a mitered molding, shown on page 73. A final difference involves the stock used to build doors. Because they swing free, doors have a tendency to deform. To counteract this, doors are often made from heavier stock. To avoid an exces­sively heavy appearance, the back of the door frame can be rabbeted to allow a portion of the door to remain inside the armoire when it is closed. The resulting lip along the outside edge of each door rests on a vertical mullion dividing the cabinet opening or on a false mullion, which is a strip of wood attached to the edge of the left-hand door.

The glass door shown on page 73 is essentially a frame-and-panel door with glass panels. The glass sits in rabbets cut along the inside edges of the frame and is held in place by strips of molding.

The doors of the armoire above harmonize with theframe – and-panel construction of the piece. Their lip-rabbeted mount­ing partly recesses the doors into the cabinet, making them appear thin and delicate despite their sturdy construction.


1 Cutting the tenons

Make your armoire’s frame-and-panel doors by cutting blind tenons at the ends of all the rails, as shown here, and then shaping the inside edges of all the frame components, as illustrated in steps 2 through 4. Finally, drill mortises in the stiles (step 5) and prepare each frame for a pan­el (step 6). To cut the tenons on your table saw, install a dado head slightly wider than the tenon length. Install an auxiliary wood fence and notch it by raising the dado head into it. Set the width of cut equal to the tenon length and adjust the cutting height to about one-third the thickness of the stock. Holding the rail flush against the miter gauge and the fence, feed the stock face­down into the blades to cut one tenon cheek. Turn the board over and make the same cut on the other side. Check for fit in a test mortise, then repeat the process on the other end of the board and on the other rails (above). To cut the tenon shoulders, set the cutting height at about lk inch. Then, with the rail face flush against the miter gauge and the end butted against the fence, feed the workpiece into the blades. Turn the rail over and repeat the cut on the other side (right). Cut the rest of the tenon shoulders the same way.

2 Shaping the rails and stiles

To fashion integrated molding on the inside edges of the door frame, fit your router with a piloted molding bit and mount the tool in a table. Align the fence with the bearing on the bit, then adjust the cutting depth to shape the bottom portion of the board. For each pass, feed the stock good-face-down into the bit, pressing it firmly against the fence; adjust the cut­ting height, if necessary. Shape only the interior edges of the rails and stiles around the door’s perimeter. For a median rail, like the one at right, shape both edges.


Preparing the rails for glue up

The corners of the tenon shoulders must be mitered to mate properly with the stiles. Remove the auxiliary fence from the table saw fence and install a crosscut or combination blade. Set the blade angle to 45°, make a test cut in a scrap board, and check the cut with a combination square. Adjust the fence position and blade height so that the cut is exactly as wide and deep as the width of the edge molding. (The blade teeth should just pro­trude beyond the tenon shoulder.) To make the cuts, hold the piece flush against the miter gauge and the fence as you feed it edge-down into the blade. Repeat the cuts on the ends of each molded edge of the remaining rails (left).

4 Notching the stiles

Leave the table saw blade angled at 45°, measure the width of each rail, and mark a line on the molded edge of the mat­ing stile a corresponding distance from the end. Cut into the molded edge at the line, making certain that the cut will not mar the face of the stile. For stiles mat­ing with median rails, you need to make two opposing 45° cuts and slice away the waste between them. Slice off most of the strip of molding between the 45° cut and each end of the stile with a band saw (above). Smooth the cut edge using the table saw. Leaving the rip fence in place, hold the stile flush against the miter gauge and slide the stock back and forth across the blade (right). Repeat the process for all the stiles.

5 Cutting mortises in the stiles

Use one of the tenons you cut in step 1 as a guide to outlining the mortises on the edges of the stiles. To make the job easier, clamp all the stiles together face – to-face with their ends aligned. Install a mortising attachment on your drill press and clamp one stile to the fence, centering the mortise outline under the chisel and bit. Make the drilling depth % inch more than the tenon length; make a cut at each end of the mortise before boring out the waste in between (left). Repeat the proce­dure to cut the remaining mortises.

Preparing the frames for panels

Cut the panel grooves in the frame edges with your router and a three-wing slotting cutter. Dry-assemble the rails and stiles of each door and clamp the frame face-down on a work table, using wood pads to protect the stock. Adjust the cut­ting depth of your router to cut a groove midway between the bottom of the frame and the edge of the molding. With a firm grip on the router, lower the base plate onto the surface and guide the bit into the stock near one corner of the frame. Once

the bit pilot butts against the edge of the stock, continue the cut in a clockwise direction (above). Repeat the process for the other panel openings. Make a raised panel for each opening (page 36) and glue up the door as you would any frame-and- panel assembly. You can now rout a decorative molding around the outside edges of the doors and a rabbet around their back faces; be sure to leave enough stock between the two to install the hinges (page 79).

1 Cutting a rabbet to hold glass

Glass panels lie in rabbets rather than grooves and are held in place by thin strips of molding. Clamp the glued-up frame to a work surface, using a wood pad to pro­tect your stock. Then install a %-inch rab­beting bit in a router and set the depth of cut to the combined thickness of the glass and the molding. Hold the tool firmly with both hands while resting the base plate on the frame near one corner, then guide the bit into the inside edge of the door. Move the router clockwise along the edges (far left) until the cut is completed. Square the corners with a chisel and a wooden mallet (near left). Make the cuts across the grain first to avoid splitting the frame.


Making the molding and gluing up the door

Shape both edges of a board (page 66) that is long enough to produce the length of molding you need. Then rip the mold­ing from the stock on a table saw. Cut the molding to length, mitering the ends at 45°. Cut and fit one piece at a time. Once the molding is ready, set a drop of clear glazing compound every few inches to prevent the glass from rattling. Lay the molding in place and, starting 2 inches from the corners, bore pilot holes at 6- inch intervals through the molding and into the frame. Tack down the molding with brads, using a piece of cardboard to protect the glass from the hammer (right).



Installing the hinges on the doors

The type of hinge shown here attaches to the door with a leaf at each end; bolts fasten the assembly to the armoire. The leaves must be mortised into the door edge. Begin by secur­ing the door edge-up in a vise. Position the hinge on the edge and mark the location of the leaves. At each outline, use a chisel to cut a recess in the cheek of the rabbet around the back of the door equal in depth to the leaf thickness; stop the cut at the rabbet shoulder. Then fit an electric drill with a twist bit equal in diameter to the thickness of the leaf and bore a series of overlapping holes to extend the recesses down

into the shoulder (above, left). Periodically test-fit the leaves in the mortises, tapping them in with a mallet; stop drilling once the hinge rests flush on the edge of the door with the leaves in their mortises. Remove the hinge from the door, lay the door flat on a work surface and position the hinge on the edge, leaving the leaves outside the mortises. Mark screw holes on the back face of the door stile and bore a countersunk hole at each mark. Slide the hinge leaves back into the mortises, and drive the screws to secure the hinge to the door (above, right).


Installing the door

To mount the hinge bolts to the armoire, set the piece on its back. Working with a helper, if necessary, hold the door in position and mark the bolt locations on the front stile of the armoire. Bore a clearance hole at each mark, then reposition the door on the piece, slipping the bolts into the holes (left). Fix the door in place with the nuts provided.

Updated: March 12, 2016 — 7:12 pm