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"It starts with knowledge..." is more than a motto to us- it's how we do business. Our first goal is to share some of what we have learned about our trade with you.
Panel Shaping and Installation
Adding a solid-wood panel to your door (be it exterior, interior, or for a cabinet) might seem like the simplest part of any stile-and-rail project, but don't overlook it! Often when a door fails, suboptimal panel shaping or installation is the culprit. By using some good design principles based on wood science, you can stack the deck in your favor, and build something that will stand the test of time.
Advantages of a Square Tongue Panel
Panels can have a tapered tongue, or a square one. A square tongue is likely to give you a better fit during installation, with less chance of rubbing or splintering as it enters the groove. It also decreases the likelihood of any future wood movement causing problems with the fit.
Using cutters which ease the corners of the stile/rail groove reduces splinter damage when milling and assembling the door, and provides better penetration of stain and topcoat. This can reduce the occurrence of white lines (unstained material) or cracked top coat showing if the panel contracts in a drier RH environment.
Use Fasteners Carefully
Room to Breathe
Any mechanical fastening of the frame you use should allow for some natural movement. Use only one brad at the top and bottom, in the center of the rails, and attach the fastener from the back.This will allow expansion and contraction across the panel and keep it centered in the frame. Fastening all across the panel edges could result in cracking.
Exterior Doors - Maintaining Equilibrium
The interior side of an entry door is usually more climate controlled. More changes in moisture content, temperature and wood movement take place on the exterior side. This is where possible defects or failures in wood, glue up, or finish may occur.
Creating a Thermal Break
A center layer of plywood, or water resistant HDF can be laminated between the wood panels to reduce differential movement. This can also contribute to increased security. Depending on the other construction details, the panel can be a weak point for natural or man made intrusion. Some manufacturers laminate in a solid center cross ply for the same reasons.