Super-solid door frame cutter
Review by Craig Bentzley
Freud’s newest rail-and-stile bit sets not only cut standard cope-and-stick proﬁles, but also create full-length (or less) tenons. The key is the two-part rail bit. After cutting the ends of the rails, you remove the top section of the bit and continue using the cutter to increase the length of the tenon. But is it as simple as it sounds? I requested a set to ﬁnd out.
The Setup and Trial Run
Freud’s basic set consists of the rail-and-stile bits, plus wrenches and a set of shim washers. The bits will handle stock from 5/8″ to 1″ thick. The shim washers enable you to adjust the groove width to match the thickness of your panel or mortising bit from about 7/32″ – 3/8″. I tried the standard cope-and-stick joint ﬁrst in my table-mounted router, and then made test cuts in cherry to produce stub tenons. Next, I set up the stile bit to match the rail conﬁguration. The cuts were clean and mated nicely. To create a long tenon, I installed shim washers in both bits to match my drill-press mortiser. After coping the ends of my rail stock, making stub tenons, I removed the top half of the rail bit and, in 1/2″ increments, routed the stub into a 1 1/4″-long tenon. To rout the opposite face, I replaced the upper cutter, ﬂipped the rail stock, and then lowered the bit until it was ﬂush with the stub tenon. Using a backup block, I repeated the cuts until the end of the rail’s tenon touched the fence. After cutting the tenon’s haunch with a handsaw and the corresponding mortise on a stile, I tested the rail/stile ﬁt. It proved airtight.
If you’re content with 3/4″-thick doors and glued-in plywood panels, you can get by with regular rail-and-stile bits, but if your woodworking includes solid raised panels, you need a longer tenon. The Freud set does both.
Cutting the tenons and mortises doubles the time some cases the strength makes the investment worthwhile. Weekend woodworkers interested in making such doors might start with the additional matching cutters for installing panels Optional sets also can cut stub and long tenons.