Newbie Question on Frame and Panel


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Based on some suggestions I received here, I am thinking of using a frame and panel design to create what is, in essence, a solid wood base cabinet. After watching a few videos on this, I am confused about how to go about getting the groove in the frame using the tools that I currently have (the relevant tools are a table saw and a plunge router; I do not have a router table yet). 

Since I am somewhat comfortable with mortise and tenon construction, I would like to use the first method labeled traditional mortise and tenon at this link (https://www.woodcraft.com/blog_entries/frame-and-panel-finesse-looks-and-longevity-are-in-the-details). In this setup, there is groove that runs the full length of the rail. I am pretty confident that I can cut this in multiple passes on my table saw with a standard blade. 

The stile, on the other hand, has a stopped groove and then a distinct mortise beyond the termination of the groove. If my only weapons are a table saw and a plunge router, is my only choice to try to cut the stopped groove with a router and an edge guide? In some of the videos I have seen it looks as if people are running full length grooves along both the rails and the stiles and somehow using the groove in the stile to seat the tenon in the rail. At least to my novice eye, that approach seems like it wouldn't have enough support for a table top that would be mounted to the top of the case. 

 

Any suggestions (or corrections) are appreciated.

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Check out haunch tenon for your rails. It will allow you to continue your groove the full length on your stiles.  I would cut the grooves before cutting the panels to fit them. And yeah, you can do this on a table saw. If you do the haunch tenon, I would use a flat top grind saw blade for the grooves as that will give a better look where the stile meets the rail. Will your panels be solid wood and raised? How will you be making the mortises? 

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4 minutes ago, Coop said:

Check out haunch tenon for your stiles. It will allow you to continue your groove the full length. I would cut the grooves before cutting the panels to fit them. And yeah, you can do this on a table saw. If you do the haunch tenon, I would use a flat top grind saw blade that will give a better look where the stile meets the rail. Will your panels be solid wood and raised? How will you be making the mortises? 

The panels will be solid wood. I am trying to make a kitchen island with some trash storage that I can wheel around my patio during BBQ season. The frame and panels would be the sides and back of the carcass. The front will have two pull out trash cans.

 

For the mortises I was just going to use a plunge router.

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I 2nd what coop said. You'll make a rail and stile set with a stub tenon. It's a combination of the first and last frame joints on the website you linked.

That said it is possible to do a stopped groove on the table saw but i wouldn't attempt it unless you are familiar with the technique and are comfortable with it.

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Coop and Chestnut are spot on. I'll throw in that order of operations can make a big difference in accuracy of the cuts. You want to preserve your reference surfaces for as long as possible. For your situation, I would probably do as follows:

1. Mill the rail and stile stock to consistent thickness and width. An option is to leave a bit of extra width to allow final sizing after assembly.

2. Gang clamp like pieces together to create a wider surface for the router while cutting the mortices. Alternatively, more repeatability is achievable by building a simple jig to hold each part consistently and guide the router base to the limits of the cut.

3. Cut the groove at the TS while you still have a full-length edge and face for reference. Flip the piece end for end each pass to ensure a centered groove, unless an offset is desired.

4. Use a miter gauge and stop block to cut all your tenon shoulders. Nibble away the cheeks of the tenon with the saw blade, or build a tall jig of plywood, which rides the fence and holds the part vertically to cut a smoother cheek.

5. Reset the saw cut distance for the haunch shoulder, and cut it using techniques described above.

Nothing says it must be done this way, this is just my opinion regarding the most effective order for the steps.

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Thanks for all the suggestions. When I was looking at some random stuff on workbenches last night, I actually came across a workbench that looks a lot like what I would like to build for this portable island (https://www.popularwoodworking.com/editors-blog/new-workbench-build/). I want the frame to be pretty beefy because the unit will need to be able to withstanding rolling across uneven pavers on a very regular basis. Unfortunately, the links in the article appear to be dead, so how the panels are attached is a mystery. 

So just to make sure I am on the same page as everyone else, what I am trying to figure out is how to install panels like the blue ones in the picture on the back and sides. Given what I read above, it sounds like I should 

 

1. Cut the mortises on the rails and stiles.

2. Cut full length grooves on the rails and stiles. When cutting the grooves on the TS, the grooves will just run right over the mortises as the mortise is deeper and wider than the groove.

3. Cut the haunched tenons. 

 

Am I following this correctly?

 

 

 

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So portable and able to be rolled around. I'd make sure to make the legs solid and square. The ability for frame and panel to resist racking is dependent on how wide the rails are. Narrower rails will be weaker than wider ones. I'd have at least 4"-5" wide rails. If that doesn't fir your ideal style, you could make the lower rail wider than the top rail, you can also cut in curves to reduce the center width of the lower rail which will make it look visually lighter.

For something mobile I know you mentioned solid wood panels but this may be a good case for plywood. Instead of free floating the panels I'd glue plywood panels in place. A glued in plywood panel will make a frame and panel structure a LOT more rigid than a floating panel will. For a plywood panel I'd probably choose 1/2" ply, instead of doing a groove I'd cut a rabbet on the inside of the rails and stiles. I'd then glue the panel in.

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I'm with chestnut, use plywood and glue it in. From the appearance of the workbench, I'm guessing those panels are actually ship-lapped boards, and possibly nailed into a rabbet.

Also, use the largest diameter casters you can manage, to roll more smoothly over uneven surfaces. 

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1 hour ago, Chestnut said:

So portable and able to be rolled around. I'd make sure to make the legs solid and square. The ability for frame and panel to resist racking is dependent on how wide the rails are. Narrower rails will be weaker than wider ones. I'd have at least 4"-5" wide rails. If that doesn't fir your ideal style, you could make the lower rail wider than the top rail, you can also cut in curves to reduce the center width of the lower rail which will make it look visually lighter.

For something mobile I know you mentioned solid wood panels but this may be a good case for plywood. Instead of free floating the panels I'd glue plywood panels in place. A glued in plywood panel will make a frame and panel structure a LOT more rigid than a floating panel will. For a plywood panel I'd probably choose 1/2" ply, instead of doing a groove I'd cut a rabbet on the inside of the rails and stiles. I'd then glue the panel in.

Yah. One way to think about this would be the BGE grill cart project from TWW but, instead of a grill cart, this is a cart with trash storage in the interior. 

One of the reasons that I wanted to use solid wood is that I wanted to use this as an excuse for learning frame and panel techniques.

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Sorry i got confused. I thought this was going to be an indoor project. I forgot that the intent for this is outdoor use. Plywood is unlikely to hold up long term outside.

Getting practice with frame and panel construction is worthwhile. The construction method is everywhere in fine furniture to kitchen cabinets.

Nix my plywood suggestion.

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1 minute ago, Chestnut said:

Sorry i got confused. I thought this was going to be an indoor project. I forgot that the intent for this is outdoor use. Plywood is unlikely to hold up long term outside.

Getting practice with frame and panel construction is worthwhile. The construction method is everywhere in fine furniture to kitchen cabinets.

Nix my plywood suggestion.

Ok. So MT for the frame with beefy rails and stiles and a solid wood panel (1/4") in the grooves. 

 

 

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Yep. Just as a note make sure you can resaw a 1/4" panel before you cut grooves and end up short. Obverse if you can resaw a thicker panel both the mortises and grooves could be adjusted accordingly.

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You might also consider a thicker solid panel, with 'raised panel' edges to fit the 1/4" groove. The raised panel face could go inside if you prefer the flat look. I mention this because I worry that a large 1/4" panel might deform in an outdoor environment. Yes, I also overlooked that in the original post.

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That's a good idea with using larger stock. I will have to resaw on my table saw, and I'm not sure how things I can go on there. Definitely going to do some testing with the resawing before committing to an approach.

Are there any videos/books out there that would be a good intro for beginners to frame and panel? In all the frame and panel builds I have found on YouTube, they seem to fly through the panel construction, and it is very difficult to tell what they are doing (and, perhaps more importantly, why they are doing it.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb-pRu6ihrI

This cremona project is all frame and panel.

Marc gives a long video about cabinet doors here might answer some questions but it's cope and stick construction which is different.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEtFvFwsaHY

If you have the questions post them here. The construction method is just M&T construction the material just has a groove that a panel fits in. There really isn't a whole lot of what and why. Biggest what and why is to account for wood movement. The panel will expand and contract so make sure that the groove is deep enough or the panel is sized such that it won't blow the frame apart. Or fall out. My personal technique there is to make the grooves 1/2" deep. I then measure the opening and make the pannel 1/2" larger. This will fill each grove with 1/4" of panel and allow 1/4" of expansion. I typically glue the center of the panel in the opening to make sure it doesn't work it's way 1 direction and fall out.

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58 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb-pRu6ihrI

This cremona project is all frame and panel.

Marc gives a long video about cabinet doors here might answer some questions but it's cope and stick construction which is different.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEtFvFwsaHY

If you have the questions post them here. The construction method is just M&T construction the material just has a groove that a panel fits in. There really isn't a whole lot of what and why. Biggest what and why is to account for wood movement. The panel will expand and contract so make sure that the groove is deep enough or the panel is sized such that it won't blow the frame apart. Or fall out. My personal technique there is to make the grooves 1/2" deep. I then measure the opening and make the pannel 1/2" larger. This will fill each grove with 1/4" of panel and allow 1/4" of expansion. I typically glue the center of the panel in the opening to make sure it doesn't work it's way 1 direction and fall out.

Thanks so much. That is exactly what I was looking for!

 

In the part of the video I just watched, he cut the grooves first, then the mortises. Is there an advantage to doing the grooves first?

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Doing grooves first will allow you to use the groove to set your router up to make a deeper mortise more accurately. If you don't center the mortise location the grooves may be harder to match to the mortise.

I suggest a spiral bit for the mortises. A 1/4" carbide spiral bit is pretty inexpensive and will go a long way. (https://www.amazon.com/Whiteside-Router-Bits-RU2100-Standard/dp/B000K2BGNS/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=1%2F4"+spiral+bit&qid=1621521155&sr=8-5) Upcut for mortises.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So I'm getting close to ordering the lumber for this project. I'm thinking that I will use 3x3 for the entire frame, then add the panels to the sides and back and discussed before.  The last thing I need to figure out is how I am going to install the floors of the carcass. If I am sticking with solid wood, should I make up 2 panels for each side of the case, then add a groove around the rails to accept the base panel? Is there a woodworking term for building a floor like this? Looking for something to google. 

For the trash can, I am going to use some pullout hardware from Revashelf that mounts to the floor of the carcass. As I understand it, this means that the base needs to be the same height as the top of the bottom rail.

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I was watching the build below for ideas on how to add a solid wood bottom to this thing. Around minute 6, it looks like he cuts a tongue on some glued up panels and then sets then in grooves that run along the rails. The video moves very quickly, and it is hard to see the grooves. 

 

 

 

 

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Here is a great resource to help with the construction of this project and many others you might attempt to build in the future. 

The book is called (Cabinetmaking How to Design and Construct Furniture That Works) By Bill Hylton 

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1 hour ago, bradpotts said:

Here is a great resource to help with the construction of this project and many others you might attempt to build in the future. 

The book is called (Cabinetmaking How to Design and Construct Furniture That Works) By Bill Hylton 

Thanks. Does the book discuss solid wood construction? I was looking at a few cabinet books that they have at our library, but all of the books assumed that you were working with plywood.

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1 minute ago, TomInNC said:

Thanks. Does the book discuss solid wood construction? I was looking at a few cabinet books that they have at our library, but all of the books assumed that you were working with plywood.

Nevermind. I found the table of contents. This does look like a fantastic reference. 

I am still building out my library. Any other recommendations for must-have books? I currently own Flexner's finishsing book, the complete book of woodworking, the complete manual of woodworking, and woodworking basics. Now that I am getting more comfortable with how to properly use the tools that I have, I am looking to learn more about the options for designing and assembling different types of furniture. The Hylton book looks spot on in that regard.

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