panel door finish

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Forum topic by Stanvet posted 01-17-2017 11:18 PM 494 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Stanvet's profile


1 post in 1269 days

01-17-2017 11:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am doing my first raised panel doors. The panels are made of 2 pieces glued together and I am not intending to glue them to the frame because of concerns with shrinkage causing splitting of the panel. If I wait to stain and finish until after assembly is there concern with shrinkage of the panel exposing unstained wood at the periphery? How would others address these concerns?

3 replies so far

View Millertime24's profile


6 posts in 1313 days

#1 posted 01-18-2017 12:08 AM

I would imagine it would depend on the particular finish and humidity where you are. I don’t really see any issue with pre-finishing before assembly though. Perhaps someone with a bit more knowledge of finishes and wood movement can chime in.

-- -Mike

View Rich's profile


5619 posts in 1364 days

#2 posted 01-18-2017 12:32 AM

You are correct not to glue in the panels. They should float. Search the web for “space balls.” They are 1/4 inch compressible rubber balls that you can put in the groove in the stile that keep the panel centered and stable, so it doesn’t rattle. I use them at the top and bottom in the rail grooves too to keep the panel from bottoming out. Since it’s a raised panel, the difference would be visible between the top and bottom profiles. They aren’t essential to constructing your door, but you will love them once you start using them. Just two or three on each side, depending on the dimension of the panel, is all you need to use. I like to use gel CA glue to hold them in place so as I do my glue up, so they don’t wind up falling out.

The shrinkage exposing unstained wood is an issue. What I do is use an airgun attached to my compressor to blast the stain into the rail and stile grooves around the panel before I wipe it off. There is also nothing at all wrong with staining the panel before you assemble the door. However, depending on the topcoat you choose, you could get a ridge showing from shrinkage, so the airgun helps there too.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1695 days

#3 posted 01-18-2017 12:24 PM


Before gluing the frame together with the free-floating panel captured by the frame, I like to apply finish to the panel. I also assemble the frame separately and without the panel installed. The joints of the frame are held together with masking tape. When applying finish to the panel, the edges of the grooves into which the panel sets as well as the interior of the groove (sides and bottom of the groove) are finished.

Once the finish is cured, the frame is glued together with the panel captured within. Depending on how careful the assembled and frame is handled after glue-up dictates the extent of any repairs to the pre-applied finish. The repairs are usually as simple as wiping a thin coat of finish over the damaged area, although if the damage is worse than a scuff, some light sanding could be required. Sometimes the finish on the panel gets a little scuffed from flushing up the joints in the frame or during milling of the outside edges of the frame.

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