48" Pocket Door #8: Preparing the bookmatched panel blanks

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Blog entry by GregD posted 10-12-2011 05:45 AM 8363 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Stile with embedded T nuts Part 8 of 48" Pocket Door series Part 9: Really this time, milling the stiles and rails »

It has been a long time since my last blog post. Sorry. I was more intent on getting the door done than writing about it.

At this point the stile and rail blanks are complete, so I turned to the panels.

One option was to make each panel the full thickness of the door – 1 3/4 inches – and raise the panel on each side. A second option is to make panels half the thickness of the door – 7/8 inches – raise the panel on 1 side, and use 2 panels back-to-back for each opening in the frame. For whatever reason, this second option appealed to me more than the first. Additionally, it was suggested by the instruction for the Amana entry door making router bit set that I used.

The blanks for the panels needed to be nearly 10” wide. Again, for whatever reason, it seemed like a good idea to make them from bookmatched glue-ups. Consequently, I started with 8/4 stock at least 5” wide. For each panel I cut 1 piece of stock a bit longer than the final panel length. Each piece was jointed on one face and planed to uniform thickness. I tried to retain as much thickness as possible on each piece, so the jointing and planing was enough to establish flat surfaces on both sides of each piece, but I did not remove all surface defects. Each piece was resawn in half to make two halves of a bookmatched pair. For each pair I decide which edges to glue. When I jointed the glued edges I ran the parts through the jointer so that the “top” of the board on one side of the joint and the “bottom” of the board on other side of the joint were against the jointer fence. This ensured that the boards would glue up flat even if my jointer fence was not exactly perpendicular to the jointer bed.

For glue up I used a pair of 4-way panel clamps from Peachtree. These clamps do a pretty good job keeping the panel aligned for glue up, but not quite as good as I wanted. Consequently I also used 3 clamps along the glue line to force the panels into alignment. Next time I have a bunch of panels to do, I may consider using this bit from Amana to ensure the panel parts stay precisely aligned. I also added several bar clamps (alternating above/below the panel) to apply even more pressure across the glue joint.

Once the panel blanks were glued up and dry they were too wide to flatten with my 6” jointer. I made a 12”x24” torsion box from melamine and clamped that in my planer to provide one long, flat bed. To flatten a panel blank I determined which side would rest on the torsion box with no wobbling, and then ran it through the planer with that side down taking a very light cut to flatten the top. Since the blanks were quite flat to start with except for some small offset at the glue line, this worked well enough. A number of light passes and each blank was flat and planed to uniform thickness. Again I tried to maintain as much thickness as possible, so I left surface imperfections on the back side of each blank.

At the end of all this I found that only a few of my blanks were going to finish out at a full 7/8” thickness. Instead I had to make due with panels that were only 13/16” thick.

A bit of a bummer that I don’t have any pictures from this part of the process. But I will cheat and show you a couple of the finished panels from this forum topic that came a bit later in the process.

-- Greg D.

3 comments so far

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 4226 days

#1 posted 10-12-2011 06:17 AM

you did a nice job with glue up and creating the hip design. hopefuly this is for interior use. typical interior panels are 7/8”
to 1- 1/8” thick; but 3/4” will work great for your door. Don’t forget, not to glue these panels in your stile and rails.

View timjr's profile


28 posts in 4070 days

#2 posted 10-12-2011 05:14 PM

those look great, what wood is that?

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 4379 days

#3 posted 10-12-2011 10:02 PM

doordude: Thanks. Yes it is an interior door. My panels were in between – 13/16”. One of my next posts will describe how I worked with that. No, didn’t glue those in.

timjr: African mahogany. I think there are several different species that are sold as this; IDK exactly what I got. The panels in the pictures have 2 coats of Waterlox tung oil on them – no stain. Very rich color.

-- Greg D.

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