I Need to Shut Up

Out on the forum we had a little discussion on how I stabilize rails and stiles on doors, especially long ones with narrow rails and stiles. Here is the Link.

Well…last evening I ran into an issue with one of the doors on these cabinets. One wanted to cup and twist some. Now we did all the right prep and everything, but alas, it wanted to move….it’s wood, you ‘ll have that. The problem was I had a big cathedral grained piece in the middle and it was wanting to pull in the direction of the growth rings which are concave to the face. So having been here before, I did my trick. I ran a saw kerf right through the middle of the piece (back). I ran it twice, same setting. The first one removed the stress and allowed the door to go flat, the second, holding the door flat as it went through the table saw and insured the kerf was uniform in size.

1/8 Kerf in Back of Door/Panel

1/8" Kerf in Back of Door/Panel

I then clamped it to my bench, nice and flat and using some good polyurethane glue, I glued in a spline.

1/8 Pine Spline

1/8" Pine Spline

Spline Glued In - No Big Mess

Spline Glued In - No Big Mess

I did both doors as they were initially glued up in one long length so the other door had the same board in the middle of it. It wasn’t as pronounced a concave grain, but hey, don’t want to take a chance. The photos are pretty self explainatory. Now I have dead flat doors.

Spline Clamped in Back

Spline Clamped in Back

Over All Clamped Flat

Over All Clamped Flat

Spline Glued In - Not Much Mess

Spline Glued In - Not Much Mess

Flat & Level - Door Face Up

Flat & Level - Door Face Up

Completed - Sanded Flat

Completed - Sanded Flat

End View of Spline in Back of Door/Panel

End View of Spline in Back of Door/Panel

The spline did two things. It relieved the tension and once glued in place, it will cause the door to have to pull the glue seams apart to cup. Now all of these doors will get “Z” battens on the back to prevent cupping and warping, but I didn’t want to rely on them to “pull” this door flat. Holding wood in place is one thing, pulling it is another.

I hope you never need the spline thing but don’t hold your breath. The woods we deal with today are 2nd and 3rd and even newer generations, a lot of this yellow pine is a Hurricane Katrina gift. Those vast acres of yellow pine growing in the south are brought down and subsequently harvested and here it is. I lived in Charleston, SC during Hurricane Hugo and saw this first hand. To the point, it is grown on controlled plots with fertilizer and growth agents so what we get is not what our forefathers had. Larger growth rings as a result of rapid growth, they are not stable, not dense so movement is far worse and it’s in every species. Learning some tricks to deal with it can save your project.

In the case of these doors I could have made new doors but I could have gotten the same thing. I should have avoided the “Big Convex” grain in the center but with all the gluing I was doing, I missed it so I corrected it with the spline. Good stuff, catalog it in your mind….just in case.But if i had kept my mouth shut on the forum..I probably wouldnt have had to do the spline….but hey…we hopefully learned something..since i wrote this i have hung the doors and they are dead on…


Okay, I shrunk the 60″ cabinet down to 36″. Wasn’t too bad. The pocket screws holding the face frame really helped. I was able to remove it and work it separately. What I did was to jig saw the case down, close, then I used a straight edge and a flush trim router bit, cleaned up all my edges and re-assembled the case. For the face frame I used the original stiles and re-cut the rails. I had initially wrote that on the narrow rails (1 1/4″) where I could only get 1pocket screw they seamed to want to twist. Well, I went back and added glue to the joints, then pocket screwed them. When I had to take this frame apart the glue wasn’t letting go. It’s an end grain to flat grain and it wanted to pull the flat grain out, it really held. It made a huge difference so glue them pocket joints.

Interior - Cut Down Cabinet

Interior - Cut Down Cabinet


Just in case you haven’t heard yet, we announced a weekly contest here In Our Workshop, here’s the details one more time!


Got something new for ya, a weekly contest, and we’re gonna start small and build. So, every Monday morning in my blog, I’ll be asking a question about one of our sponsor’s products, about woodworking, or somethin’. I’ll tell you each Monday how to enter that week and then announce the winners the following Monday. This week you can enter the contest by posting a comment to any of my blogs this week. You may enter multiple times as long as you include the answer to the question each time at the end of your comment. For each correct answer posted, your name will go into the hat and next Monday we will announce the winner of our weekly prize. One more thing, once you post your comment and answer, the correct answer will be removed and replaced with “Correct Answer”. So here’s this week’s contest question/task and prize.


As most of you are aware, what to finish those cutting boards, salad bowls, and items that come in contact with food is an on-going discussion with woodworkers. New to the woodworking scene is a great Food Safe Wood Finish called George’s Club House Wax. Now available at Woodcraft. Tell us the ingredients and you could win some George’s Club House Wax, compliments of Woodcraft and The Workshop of Charles Neil.


Okay, time to wrap these babies up, they leave on Saturday!

Catch Ya Later!

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8 Responses to I Need to Shut Up

  1. birdsill says:

    So now you’ve made more work for me. Besides the cabinet I’m making the tall glass door for, I’m also refurbishing the kitchen in a house my father-in-law built 46 years ago. The kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts are all solid birch, and since I (and they) couldn’t see scrapping them, I’ve removed them all and am refinishing them. They are in relatively good shape, but a three of the doors have cupped. I’m thinking I can follow your lead here and fix that. you think?

    Oh, Correct Contest Answer Entered
    and as always, thanks for the priceless education.

  2. intheworkshop says:

    yep Birdsbill It will work…and you are welcome my friend….thanks for the nice comment…

  3. Ken Weinert says:

    So, do you think a spline in the back of one of those cubes of mine will help?

    I really like the way you’re doing the blog and I appreciate your advice even though I’m working in a completely different realm than you are.

    The cabinets are looking good. And, at least this time, you did measure twice but at least cutting twice fixed the problem. I usually end up with an error the other way and I don’t recall seeing that any of your sponsors are selling board stretchers yet.

    Contest: Correct Contest Answer Entered

  4. Denis Rezendes says:

    that spline stuff is a cool trick! i think i might try that next time i have to do a door.

    contest – Correct Contest Answer Entered

  5. David Harms says:

    Charles,

    Do you use a kreg pocket hole jig or something else? i’ve seen some floating around the internet at about half the price of the kreg some even less and was just curious what you found works best.

    Correct Contest Answer Entered

  6. Texas Timbers says:

    I like that spline trick. I have a wide Sweetgum book matched bar top I’m going to use that trick on for sure. It has already cupped a second time, and i took it down to 4/4 for this reason. But it is still strong stuff and wants to do what it wants to do.

    My questions is, on the opposite book matched part it has cupped the opposite way of course, so is there is any reason I couldn’t insert a spline into convex side? Can’t put it both convexes on a booked set because one wpould be on top.

    It’s a 22″ wide top, so the boards are 11″. Might need two spline equally spaced in each board. Whatchya think?

  7. Texas Timbers says:

    Oops, correction. Where I wrote

    “Can’t put it both convexes on a booked set because one wpould be on top.”

    I meant to write “Can’t put it both *convcaves* on a booked set because one wpould be on top.”

    Where is the edit button when you need one!

  8. intheworkshop says:

    hey david, yea i used the kreg….works great ,havent tried any others though.was happy with it, if ya try something else let us know…I just always found it hard to beat someone at their own game , if ya know what i mean…

    texas…the spline thing will work on book matched as you described..concave or convex..its the stress relief and the ridged glue line..just be sure to run it twice,,first to relieve the stress then holding it flat to make sure the kerf is equal size…as to dual kerfs..sounds reasonable to me, actually I did one once where i did a center and two farther out so it had 3..Object also is to protect the face..everyone knows about cutting them in half and regluing, this is basically the same , just saves that beautiful face (the wood’s , not yours he he)

    Ken ..I wish it would help the cubes but probably not..what we need to think on is a way to do thes in larger chunks..Im working on it…think i got a good idea…

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