Curved Doors, Part 4

This month, we continue our "Curved Doors Tutorial" with this "Part 4" by Les Hastings.

Les Hastings

Les Hastings

With the door frames made now we can concentrate on getting the door panels ready to go. First I cut all my parts about ½” to longer than they need to be. For my panels it takes three of the 3 ½” wide pieces that I milled  to make a panel.  I start by laying the location for biscuits . I use these to help the pieces stay a lined during glue up. I do not glue the biscuits in, I leave them dry.  If glued in the could telegraph through later. Remember to lay them out far enough in from the edge so they will not be in the edge profile. I use number 10 biscuits for this.

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For the glue up you’ll need to make some clamping culls, Any scrap plywood you have around will work. For this size panel three is needed.   Cut the pieces just a little narrower than the width of the panel and about 4” wide. Mark the outside radius of the panel centered on the pieces and cut them out. In my case the radius is 20 1/8. My ¾” thick panel will be 1/8” beyond the face of the door frames.  Cover the radius edges with packing tape to keep them from sticking to the panel. The glue up is pictured below.

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As you can see the radius culls hold the glued up panel at the perfect radius.

After the panels are glued its time to do my favorite part,,,,,,,SANDING.  I cut out a sanding block for the front and the back of the panel. I use 80 grit paper and sand across the grain until  I have a nice smooth curve.  Then I will sand with the grain with a stiff foam pad with 120 grit paper.  I do recommend using an orbital for this . Its really easy to create flats and waves that you will have to sand out by hand later anyway.

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After the panels have been rough sanded we can go ahead and cut them to size.  Trim the ends square to one side of your panel, Remember cut off equal amounts from both ends to avoid the biscuits. This can be done in a tray on the table saw.  Now measure the opening on the door frame to get the width of the panel. Then transfer that measurement to the inside face of the panel. Mark the end of the panel and rip it to width.  If it is still a little wide run it across the jointer doing very small cuts until it fits down into the frame. Below is few pictures of the process.

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If you don’t have a sled big enough to rip the panels you can make one.   Use some scrap and make a sled like the one we used to rip the angle on the stiles only bigger and use your fence on the table saw to make the cut.   Again use the jointer to finish up the fit.

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Milling the profile on the panels

I’m going to be using a horizontal router to run the profile, but this could also be done on a shaper. Once again you will need yet another jig. Two of the clamping culls you made for the panel glue up could be re-used here if you like. They need to be ripped down to about a ¾” thick at the center of the arch area.

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Then attached to a piece of ¼” plywood like pictured above. Double face tape this to router table top. Keeping it clear of the router bit and centering it on the center line of the bit and square to the table.

I run the radius edges in three or four passes taking small cuts for safety. Until I get to the desired depth of cut.

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Using a horizontal router for this purpose the bit is under the panel. So there fore the feed of the panel is from the left to right.  

If you feed right to left you will be chasing the panel across the room!!!!  

Not to mention getting hurt in the process!!!!!!

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Now to run the edges.

Make a mark on the panel in from the edge the distance of the cut of the profile. My is 1 5/8” in.

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The mark on the panel above is where the panel needs to be flat on the table of the router. Cut an angled spacer to go under the panel and hold it up so the line on the panel is flat on the table.

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Run the profile on all the edges of the panels in three or four passes or so.  Creep up matching the inside corner of the panel profile.  After the inside edge of the profile is matched up you will notice that the outside edge is thicker than the radius edge. This is fixed by putting three or four pieces of veneer shims on the glide that is holding up the panel. Sorry forgot to snap a photo of this. Re-run the panel adding shims until the edge thickness match that of the radius end.

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Finally the panels are done and all that is left is sanding. I sand a everything to 180.

That’s it for this time I’ll get the lip mold on the next visit.

Leaving you with a word of caution. 

When I was running the panel edges I had one blow apart on me.  This is the first time I have ever had this happen making radius panels. With the small passes it is usually not a problem. But sometimes things do happen.  I only made two panels and I don’t want to make another one so I just repaired this one. I pulled all the loose stuff off and glued what I could back together.

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I packed it with epoxy stick and re-ran it on the router table. If this was for a client I would of made another panel. But this will go in my house so I just repaired.

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Ok until next time my friends  We will finish this up next time.

Les Hastings 

Wichita, Kansas