Joinery Barre VT
Stile and Rail Joinery
A reversible stile and rail bit makes perfect-fitting frames for doors and cabinets without dowels, mortises or biscuits.
Reversible bits have removable profile- and slot-cutting wings alongwith shims and a guide bearing mounted on a single shaft. Depending onits orientation, the profile cutter either creates the profile on thestile (above, left) or its coped negative on the rail (above, right).Changing the setup means disassembling the bit (below), rearrangingthe wings and reassembling—a two-minute process. Make sure to orientthe cutting wings correctly, so they face into the cut. Shims allowadjusting the fit.
One of the best buys you can make for your table-mounted router is aset of stile-and-rail bits. These bits allow you to join frame piecestogether by making a decorative version of the tongue and groove joint.This joint is often called a “cope and stick” joint, because the railis coped to fit around the profile that's “stuck” onto the stile. Whenassembled, two stiles and two rails form a frame with a groove aroundits inside edge, perfect for holding a panel. Stile-and-rail bits comein a variety of profiles (Fig. A) and are great for making kitchencabinet doors and other frame and panel structures. Most manufacturersoffer them either as matched two-bit sets or as a single “reversible”bit. With the two-bit set you get one bit to make a “profile” cut onlong grain (the stile cutter) and another to make a matching “coped”cut on the end-grain (the rail cutter). With the single, reversible-bitsets you get removable parts that can be configured to make both cuts.
Matched sets with separate bits are best in production shops, butreversible bits are a good choice for anyone working with a budget,because they usually cost less than matched sets and still offer greatperformance. Using a reversible bit is a piece of cake (Photos 1 - 6,below), as long as you remember to make the cope cuts face-side up andprofile cuts face-side down. Making the changeover from profile to copecutting (or back) takes only a few minutes. You'll be impressed withthe quality of the fit and the speed with which you can make a quantityof doors or frames.
Fig. A: Stile-and-rail bits come in a variety of decorative profiles.