Door Frames - Curved Doors, Part 3

Les Hastings

Les Hastings

The Stiles

The stiles have had their rough in sanding and are now ready to set up and cut the angle on the inside edge. To mark the angle I use the full size drawing. Place the stile on the drawing at the stile position. Hold it slightly past the mark on the inside edge. Now mark the front and the back of the stile and connect the dots on the end of the board.

Curved Doors: Stiles1
Curved Doors:  Stiles 2

I never worry about what actual angle is I just cut and fit the parts to the drawing. 

This cut is made on the table saw. First you need to make a tray to hold the stile to make the cut. I use ½ material for this. Small radius pieces are needed that fit the radius on the back of the stile. A stop block is attached to the end of the tray to keep the stile from sliding around.

Curved Doors: Stiles 3
Curved Doors: Stiles 4

Set the angle on the saw and cut one edge of two stiles. Return to the full size drawing and but them together tightly  on the drawing and check the angle. If the stiles are not on the radius line of the drawing you’ll need to slightly adjust the angle and re-cut the pieces.  Repeat this until you get a perfect fit to your drawing. Right now these stiles are about 1” to wide.

Curved Doors: Stiles 5


Curved Doors: Stiles 6


You can now cut the stiles to length plus ¼”  The extra ¼” will trim off later when fitting the doors to the cabinet. In this case mine will be 30 ¼” long

The Rails

Rip the rails to final width plus 1/8” The extra 1/8” will trim off later when final fitting the doors. In my case 2 5/8” wide.

The rails are marked the same way on the full size drawing. Lay one end on the drawing and mark the front and back and connect the dots.

Curved Doors: Rails 1

I cut these on the table saw also, but again a jig is needed to make the cuts. They will be cut using a tray on the table saw.. I use a piece of scrap 8/4 left over from cutting out the rail pieces. Lay your rail on the 8/4 piece and mark the radius of the rail onto it.  Make the radius on the jig longer than your rail. The pictures will show you what I mean by that. Square up from the bottom of the 8/4 and hold the line on your rail square to the bottom of the jig and mark the radius. Bandsaw  the piece out and clean it up so it fit’s the curve of the rail.

Curved Doors: Rails 2

Make test cut and return to your full size drawing and but it up against one of the stiles to check the angle. Once again if its not bang on repeat the process at the table saw. Move the jig one way or the other to adjust the angle and re-cut until it fit’s the stile and it remains on the radius line.

Now take the jig and place it in the tray at the point where the line on your on the rail is at a 90 degrees  the tray. The picture below will better explain what I mean.

Curved Doors: Rails 3

Make test cut and return to your full size drawing and but it up against one of the stiles to check the angle. Once again if its not bang on repeat the process at the table saw. Move the jig one way or the other to adjust the angle and re-cut until it fit’s the stile and it remains on the radius line.

Curved Doors: Rails 4

When your happy with the set up cut one end of all your rails.

Next lay the rail on the drawing once again and mark the length of the rail. Return to the table saw and cut all the rails to same length using a stop block on your jig.

Curved Doors: Rails 5
Curved Doors: Rails 6

Check your fit one more time with both stiles and the rail on your drawing. If all is done correctly it now matches the radius on your drawing.

Curved Doors: Rails 7

Cutting the Rabbits

The doors I’m making will have a lip mold with a two step rabbit cut for the panel and the molding. This is done on the router table. I will reuse the 8/4 jig for cutting the rails to length as a fence to run the rabbits in the rails. I drill a hole in the jig big enough for the router bit I will be using. It will be double faced tapped to the router table top to make the cuts. I  always make extra parts to use for set ups. I’ll use one of those here.

Curved Doors: Rabbit 1

The first rabbit is 5/16 in and 5/8 tall.

I cut this in two passes.

Curved Doors: Rabbit 2

The second rabbit is  5/8 in and 5/16 tall

Rabbit the stiles

The stiles get the same rabbits cut in them as well, but they will start and stop. When cutting these the angle that is cut on the stiles must remain flat on the router table top while cutting.. Use one of the rails to mark where the rabbits start and stop on the stiles. You will want to do some test cuts here to make sure it matches your rails.

Curved Doors: Rabbit 3

Notice the lines on the router table top those are the start and stopping points for the cut. On the back side the stile is marks for the start and stop points. I apologies I forgot to take a picture of that.

Assembling the frames

I use domino’s for assembling the frames, but dowels will work as well. I used dowels myself until the domino’s came about. A Stanley 59 doweling jig will work just fine. But it will need wedges made to help hold it in place at a 90 to the end of the rail and side of the stile.

Mark and cut the domino’s in place. Cut them from the face side of your door.

Curved Doors: Frames 1
Curved Doors: Frames 2

Gluing Up The Frames.

To do the glue ups there is more jig work needed. Put your frames together dry and measure the distance on the back of the door between the edges of the stiles. Cut a piece of  ¾  plywood that is ¼ wider than that distance and the same length as your door stiles. In my case its 14 1/8 x 30 ¼ , Then you’ll need two mores pieces of plywood about 13 ½  long and  6” wide or so. Cut a 20” radius on these pieces that matches the outside radius of your doors. Apply some packing tape to the curve on these pieces so they will not stick to the door during glue up. The picture below will better explain what is going on.

Curved Doors: Frames 3

Prop up the ¾ plywood on some blocking and screw some stop blocks to each corner. This will help keep the door square during glue up. Do a dry run first to see how things work out.  Lay the door in place and clamp the ends until it starts to bow up. The stiles are over sized at this point so don’t worry about crushing the edges. Then clamp the pieces of plywood over the ends of the frame. Clamp down until the radius is touch the door frame all the way across.  Try and make sure that the stiles and rails are as close to flush as possible on the top side.  If all is well and your happy with the fit then glue it up. I’d let it dry over night.

Clean up

On the face side of the door I just use the stiff foam pad again to sand in the joints. 80 grit is fine here. Sand them in a circular motion in a wide pattern until flush.  The back is probably going to be a little off from flush. I use a sharp chisel to remove some of the excess material. A small shoulder plane would work here also. Then sand with the foam pad or you could use the radius sanding blocks that were made earlier. Take your time here and maintain the radius.

After the joints are sanded in its time to cut in the corners of the frame. Mark and chisel these out by hand.

Curved Doors: Cleanup1
Curved Doors: Cleanup2

And finally the frames are complete.  Go ahead and hand sand the entire frames to 180 grit.

Curved Doors: Cleanup 3

If you are wanting to make a door with molding a door with lip mold is by far the easiest. Doors with the molding run as part of the stiles and rails is one that I’ve made a lot of but there is many more steps and jigs necessary to get it done. Below is the simplest kind of curved door to make. Just square edge frames with a flat panel. All the process’s are the same except for the routing of the dados to receive a flat panel.

Curved Doors: Cleanup4

Well that’s it for now. Next time we will work on getting panels glued up. Sizing them and running raised edges. Making the lip mold frame and we’ll be done.

Remember if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

Les Hastings

Wichita Kansas