rail and stile router bit question

macybabyMarch 9, 2011

My husband and I are making our cabinets. We're concerned that the router bits we bought aren't making a close enough fit.

Here is what we ended up with.

if you hold them carefully together with the back of the tongue firmly seated, they line up nicely

However it does not fit all that tight, and you can tilt it and end up with this.

Is that to be expected? Or should we invest in a better set of bits.

I'm not against spending a bit of money on this, but I don't want to spend $100+ and end up with a second set that does not perform any better.

If you recommend getting a new set of bits, could you suggest a manufacturer? This is Shaker profile and the cabinets are made from oak and will be painted, if that makes a difference.

BTW - we have almost everything done and installed, and the doors are the last part to be made.

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Are the tongues bottoming out in the grooves?

The end grain joint there is one of the weakest., as opposed to the sides of the tenons in the grooves that are long grain to long grain.

Is the set fixed spacing?

Better sets allow for some adjustment so the bits can be used after sharpening.

I would glue up a few joints before trying to make them tighter.

You DO need some glue clearance or you will wipe so much away during assembly the joint will be weak.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 2:50PM
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Thanks Brickeyee - we had used this set making our bathroom cabinets, and at that time, thought it was good enough. Since then Dh has bought some much better quailty bits and started thinking this wasn't all that good after all.

Dh looked the bits over and decided the one cutting the groove had a vibration in it, and it had more "grab" then he liked. He figured we'd gotten our money's worth out of that set doing the bathroom and ordered a set from Eagle - and a set of shims too.

This wasn't a high end set to begin with, but we bought it not even sure we'd like the profile for the Kitchen.

There are times I think paying to have someone make our cabinets may have been cheaper in the short run - Dh has used this as an excuse to about re-furbish his entire wood shop.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:01PM
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Looks to me as if you could recut the bit that cuts the slot fixing the sloppiness issue.
It would require a diamond grinding setup.
It seems reasonable to me that the manufacturer would make good on this if brought to their attention.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:04PM
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The joints shouldn't be loose at all, the rail and stile should fit snugly together. Frankly, if you're using a inexpensive bit set, that's probably the problem. The last set I used was from Amana and worked perfectly.

It is also extremely important to accurately dimension your stock. Even piece needs to be dead flat, parallel faces, exactly the same thickness, exactly the same length, and edges need to be absolutely square to the face. If those aren't right, you'll go nuts trying to get a good joint.

As I think about it, I'm pretty sure that at least one of the woodworking magazine (Fine Woodworking, WOOD, etc.) have had articles on making rails and stiles. You might want to do a little searching to see if you can turn one up.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 11:15AM
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Thanks Mike,

I was just moving some bookcases around this weekend, and got re-aquianted with my collection of homebuilding/woodworking books and magazines -some of which I'd forgotten I even own. I love Taunton Press. . .

It does sound like the bit isn't the quality we want for finishing up this project, which is what we thought in the first place but wanted confirmation before we spent even more money. We have a new one on it's way now.

And that is a good note about the differences in boards - we learned that one way back when we started assembling face frames - now every board is checked and run through the jointer or planer to make them uniform.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 12:17PM
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now every board is checked and run through the jointer or planer to make them uniform.

I hope you meant jointer and planer. A jointer makes one face flat, a planer makes the opposite face parallel to the first. Portable planers also tend to snipe (taking a little extra off the leading and trailing 3" or so of a board). Watch that carefully or mill your boards long and trim off the snipe.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Mike - I don't use those tools, my husband does. I post on this message board, he does not, so I may be getting some of the terms/procedures incorrect (I still get in trouble for mixing up joist and rafter and when something is actually a truss).

The planer and jointer were two of the larger tools my husband insisted we got before making the cabinets. (I also wanted him to get a shaper table, but he wouldn't go for that - he could have made me some really neat trim with that unit!)

I do all the layout and design (and finishing) though. I know how to use most of the tools in the shop but I've never used either of those two or the router.

BTW- I'm not sure, but I don't think our planer is considered "portable" - I know we used the engine hoist to get it out of the bed of the pickup when we brought it home.

We have the new bits on order, I'll post the results when we get them.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 9:43AM
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Update - finally got around to useing the new Eagle bits this weekend. They sure are nice. Hubby said they seem way easier to set up, though he's not sure what about them would make that different. The cut is more accurate and the boards fit snug like they should.

DH is much happier with the results, and we're on our way to getting the doors for the kitchen cabinets made - the last part of a whole house remodel.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:10PM
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