Kitchen / October 18, 2018 / Lena Tomlin.
The traditional look I'll build here is a full-overlay frame-and-panel door. Full-overlay doors cover the edges of the case, as opposed to half-overlay doors, which leave part of the case's edges exposed. If I were building a
traditional cabinet with a face frame, I might go that frame totally visible by using inset doors, which hang within the face-frame openings. But face frame cabinets with inset doors and drawers are more robust to build and give you less storage space than the frameless cabinets I'll make in this article.
When I build a frame-and-panel door or drawer face, I join stiles and rails (the vertical and horizontal parts of the frame) with a loose-tenon butt joint. This joint is as strong as a conventional mortise and tenon, yet it takes much less time to execute because I don't need any special tools, just a router, and a table saw. In this joint, the rails butt into the stiles, and both members are mortised so that a separate tenon may be slipped into these mortises like a dowel. After assembling the frames, I rabbet the inside edge, drop in a panel and hold it in place with panel molding. I use 5/4 stock for frames not just because it looks good but also because the thickness gives more bearing surface for clamping. The thinner the capital, the more likely it is that a clamp may pull a frame out of flat. After jointing and planing the stock, I rip it into in. Widths, then cut it to length on a chop saw.
Because the tenons are buried in the frames, they don't have to be pretty. They do, however, have to be healthy and stable, so I make tenons from poplar, an inexpensive hardwood. I rip tenons from 4/4 stock on the table saw, deliberately ripping them about 1/16 in. Thicker than the mortise. The strength of a loose-tenon joint comes from a tenon of perfect thickness. I get precisely the right thickness by thinning tenon stock on a table saw or a planer until the tenon just slips into the mortise with light force. The tenon's length and the width aren't as critical, so these dimensions are undersized to allow for glue runout and to compensate for any imperfections. I round over all edges of the tenon stock with a 3/16 in. Round over bit in the router and cut the tenons in 2-in. Lengths.