How to Make Raised a Panel Door


In the kitchen, raised panel doors add a new dimension and depth. In the bathroom, they become a statement of character. A good router table is needed as well as a set of router bits made for the purpose of building raised panel doors.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-by-2 lumber (door frames)
  • 1-by-6 lumber for panels
  • Router table
  • Router bits
  • Wood glue
  • Bar clamps
  • Table saw
  • Miter guide

Cutting the Parts

  • Measure the door openings and add 1 inch to the width and the height. Cut the stiles (the vertical pieces) first. Then, subtract the width of the stiles and add the depth of the grooves to cut the rails (the horizontal pieces). For example, if the door has to be 20 inches wide and the stiles are 1½ inches wide with a 3/8-inch groove, subtract 3 inches from the width and add ¾ inch to give you the length of the rails. In the case of the 20-inch-wide door, the rails would be 17¾ inches.

  • Measure for the raised panels as you did the rails but only add 5/8 inch. Glue and clamp as many 1-by-6-inch pieces of lumber as needed to make the door panels. Clean up excess glue with a damp cloth. We will return to the panels later. Allow for the drying time of the glue.

  • Insert the stile router bit into the router and tighten the nuts. Adjust the fence of the router table to make the desired cut. You may need to cut small depths at a time to get the depth you need without splintering the lumber. Route this profile on the long edges of all the lumber from the previous step (see References).

  • Inspect the edges of the stiles to make sure the profile is the same all the way down. Another issue to check is the depth of the cut to be certain that the entire tongue slips into the groove.

  • Remove the router bit from the router. Insert the rails router bit and adjust the height. Set the fence at the depth needed to ensure a good fit. Cut the ends of the rails with this bit so they will fit into the profile of the stiles.


  • Remove the bar clamps from the panels. Remove any glue left with a putty knife. Cut one end of the panel with the square by using the miter guide accessory and the table saw. The length of the door panel can be cut. When cutting the width, cut equal amounts from both edges. For example, if the panel needs to be 13½ inches wide and the panel is made from three 1-by-6s, rather than setting the fence at 13½ inches, set it at 1½ inches and cut each of the two edges.

  • Remove the bit from the router. Insert the first bit for the raised panel and set the height and depth as you did with the stiles and rails. For example, the raised panel for the 20-inch door mentioned in Step 1 is 17 5/8 inches instead of 17¾ inches. Apply the same formula to the height of the panel.

  • Cut the profile of the raised panel. Be certain the "tongue" created by this cut fits nicely into the groove on the frame. In most cases, the raised panel profile requires more than one bit. Set the second bit up as you did with the others and make the final cut of the profile. Add wood glue on the tongue of the rails, slip them into the stiles of the frame and slip the raised panel in place and then the other stile. Secure them with bar clamps over the rails.

  • Check the door frame parts for a good fit. If there are minute cracks in the areas where the stiles and rails meet, colored wood putty is the best answer (see References).

Tips & Warnings

  • Move the wood slowly through the router to prevent splintering.
  • Be certain the nuts are tight on the router shaft before turning it on.
  • Do not leave power tools unattended in the presence of children.
  • Do not paint or stain without proper ventilation.

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