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Coved Doors on the Tablesaw Helena MT

The tool of choice for most small-shop woodworkers who want to make raised panels is the router: A large one, generally 3 hp, hung in a router table, plus a set of specialized bits. The whole setup will cost $350 to $800 and is money well spent if you're going to make a whole kitchen-full of doors.

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Coved Doors on the Tablesaw

Coved Doors on the Tablesaw


Make beautiful raised panels without a router table and expensive bits.

The tool of choice for most small-shop woodworkers who want to make raised panels is the router: A large one, generally 3 hp, hung in a router table, plus a set of specialized bits. The whole setup will cost $350 to $800 and is money well spent if you're going to make a whole kitchen-full of doors.

But what if you just want to make one or two raised-panel doors, say for a bathroom vanity, a small cabinet, or a jewelry box? With our technique you can make raised panels with the traditional scooped-out profile using just your tablesaw. This process is based on the traditional method for cutting coved moldings on the tablesaw, but we've adapted it for making raised panels. You clamp an auxiliary fence at an angle to your blade, and feed the panel over the blade repeatedly, taking off only a little at a time until you get the profile you want. Cutting coves on the tablesaw can require a fair amount of trial and error, but we've eliminated that by developing a simple recipe that steers you through the process and gives you perfect results, even the first time.

 

   

 


For large doors, cutting coved panels on the tablesaw is actually a better technique than using a router. The tablesaw allows you to cut a very wide profile; wider than you could cut with a router bit. On large raised panels, like those found on entertainment centers and armoires, the narrow profile produced by router bits can look out of scale. The best way to cut these wider raised panels is with a shaper, but again, if you're only making a couple panels, this tablesaw method will give you excellent results. For many doors, you may still need a router and a rail-and-stile router bit set to make the door frames. But these are smaller, less-expensive bits, and don't require a 3-hp router. For more information on making the frames to go with these panels, see “Stile and Rail Joinery," AW #78, February 2000, page 72 and “Raised-Panel Doors,” AW #86, April 2001, page 32.

One downside of this tablesaw technique is that the panel requires a fair amount of sanding. We've developed a solution to simplify the sanding and make it go faster, but if you had to sand more than three or four doors at a time, it'll get old. However, for one or two doors, the sanding is not a big deal. The other drawback to this technique, although it's minor, is that the panel edge is not automatically cut to the right thickness. Because this is the part that fits into the groove in the frame, it has to fit precisely. It's important to make accurate measurements as you go (Photo 7). 

Locate the center of your saw arbor. Mount the centering board on the arbor as if it was the saw blade, and clamp the height board to the rip fence, with the bottom edge at the level of the s...

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