Painted Cabinet Door Rail and Stile grain directions

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Forum topic by bujaman posted 02-16-2017 01:26 PM 1718 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1321 days

02-16-2017 01:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinets doors joinery paint grade

I am starting a large cabinet project in my house and am going to be building many paint grade rail and stile doors. I have been researching and have found that with hardwood, hairline cracks in the paint will develop at the joint of the rails and stiles due to the wood movement. My question is this: what if I changed the grain direction of the rails? Instead of being at 90° to the stiles, use a wide board or glue up a couple and then cut the rails from the glued up panels so that the grain direction for the rails and stiles is the same? Would this prevent the hairline cracks? Would it compromise the strength of the doors? Just looking for opinions and thoughts, thanks!

5 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6431 posts in 3350 days

#1 posted 02-16-2017 03:09 PM

Well, I wouldn’t. You didn’t indicate what kind of panels you’re using, but if they are flat panels (plywood) you could do what you want, glue the panels in, and not have a strength problem. If they are hardwood panels, I think there might be a little weakness in the rails from the grain going the wrong way. But I don’t think it will solve the problem….and I’m not completely sure it’s wood movement along the joints causing the hairline cracks. Regardless, some things just happen that you have to live with….this may be one. But I’m pretty sure having proper fitting and well glued joints is more important than trying to do some re-engineering with the wood grain direction. But that’s just my opinion.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 1741 days

#2 posted 02-16-2017 03:15 PM

The purpose for using Frame and Panel door construction is to reduce wood movement that would be seen in a large slab of wood. The panel moves within the frame, while the frame does not expand and contract because it is all long grain, where wood movement is minimal.

Your idea to use short grain rails or stiles would negate the entire purpose of a frame and panel door, resulting in larger expansion and contraction of the short grain members. Not to mention the short grain members would be very fragile and potentially come apart when you create the cope and stick joints.

Overall, a bad idea.

You are correct that hairline cracks in the rail to stile joints may appear. My advice is to not worry about it. It is the nature of wood and is evidence of the fact that your doors are REAL wood. It’s a feature of the door construction, not a defect!

OK, if the idea of those cracks really, really, REALLY bothers you, make your frames from a single sheet of plywood, MDO or MDF. Cut the frame out, remove the interior, route a rabbet on the backside, and install a panel. Or, even more radical, use MDF or MDO and create a faux frame and panel door by template routing details to make a single panel look like a frame a panel door—as is done with Thermofoil cabinets.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View Robert's profile


3966 posts in 2337 days

#3 posted 02-16-2017 03:56 PM

I’ve never see that as a huge problem so long as the wood is cured and you use good paint.

If you’re really worried about it, I would consider using epoxy.

I think most modern paint is flexible enough to withstand a little wood movement.

Or, you could look at it this way: if a little crack appears it means its a proper solid wood door!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View clin's profile


1121 posts in 1852 days

#4 posted 02-16-2017 04:15 PM

Another vote that it’s a bad idea. The rail would be very weak, and it’s still very likely that all the joints across the rail will eventually show through the paint. The wood will expand and contract in thickness too. While ideally the same wood will react the same, it’s no guarantee. Any two pieces of wood can be different.

I agree with those that suggest build them traditionally, live with hairline cracks, if any.

Keep in mind that the whole ideal of the panel is that it can move independently from the frame. So, you may get a crack, in the paint, all around the panel, if you paint them after assembly. If possible, paint the panels before you put them in the frame.

-- Clin

View bujaman's profile


5 posts in 1321 days

#5 posted 02-16-2017 06:43 PM

Thanks for all the replies, after these comments and more research, building them the traditional way is the way to go. Thanks!

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