Why Frameandpanel Doors Are Better

Wood moves freely in a frame-and-panel door

The simple genius of the frame-and-panel system is in making a dimensionally stable frame of narrow members surrounding a solid-wood panel that is allowed to expand and contract freely with changes in humidity levels.

The panel may be large or small, plain or simple, but as long as it is made of solid wood, it must be given freedom to move (so that it will not split or buckle with changes in humidity) and at the same time be held securely (so that it cannot warp). Panels are typically held by their edges in grooves formed in the surrounding frame, and they are pinned or glued only at the center. Occasionally, the grooves are formed by adding a strip of molding to a rabbet, but most often the groove is integral to the frame.

The frame members are most commonly mortised and tenoned together, although other methods, such as biscuits or dowels, can be used (see drawings, p. 95). Because most panels are oriented with their grain running vertically, the rails have the most work to do in preventing the panel from warping. Therefore, the rails are usually the widest parts of the frame. The top rail is often made a little narrower than the bottom rail, so that the frame does not appear top-heavy. The stiles are generally made narrower still, giving a pleasing appearance and minimizing the seasonal change in the width of the door

The proportions of the frame joints may vaiy, depending on the size and function of the piece: More substantial doors should be joined with tenons approximating one-third of the thickness of the members;

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