How to Make Shaker Cabinet Doors on a Table Saw [Plans]

How to Make Shaker Cabinet Doors on a Table Saw [Plans]

How to Make Shaker Cabinet Doors on a Table Saw [Plans]

A shaker cabinet door is a great choice for cabinetry and furniture in your home.

In a shaker door, the horizontal rails fit between the vertical stiles to form the frame with 90-degree angles.

Shaker doors are relatively easy to make using a table saw.

In this guide I'll show you how to do this by going through every little detail there is to it.

Things You'll Need

  • Table Saw
  • Wood
  • Speed square
  • Plywood
  • Pencil
  • Tape

Making a Shaker Cabinet Door on a Table Saw

Parts of a Shaker Door

Shaker Door Parts
Shaker Door Parts

Part 1- Making the Rail and Stiles for the Shaker Cabinet Door

To begin making a shaker door, first, you'll need some wood.

Here I'll be using four pieces of wood of the same width and thickness. The only thing varying will be their length.

I've taken two pieces of roughly 25 inches length for the stiles of the door. They have a width of 2 inches.

two wood pieces for the stiles of the shaker door
two wood pieces for the stiles of the shaker door

Next, we need to find the length of the rails.

Here, the width of the stile is 2 inches and I want the width of the door to be 16 inches.

Length of rail = [Total width of the door - (width of stile on one side + width of stile on the other side )]

Length of rail = 16 - (2 + 2) = 12 inches.

But we also need to consider the tongue on the ends of the rail. I've decided to make the tongue of the rail roughly 3/8th of an inch. 

So by adding the extra 3/8th of an inch (on both sides of the rail), the length of rail becomes,

Length of rail = 12 + 3/8 + 3/8 = 12 ¾ inches. 

To better understand this, use this graphic shown below

plan for shaker cabinet door
plan for shaker cabinet door

Lay the rails on the table.

rail pieces for the shaker cabinet door
rail pieces for the shaker cabinet door

Now that we have fixed our outer dimensions we can move on to making the tongue and groove joinery.

`rails and stiles laid on the work table before joining
`rails and stiles laid on the work table before joining

Part 2- Cutting the Tongue and Groove Joinery for the Shaker Cabinet Door

I'll be making the grooves at 3/8" depth. You can change this to your requirement.

Set the height of the blade to 3/8th of an inch using the help of a speed square.

setting the table saw blade height for cutting groove
setting the table saw blade height for cutting groove

Set a rail piece along the fence with the blade aligned near to the center of the rail piece.

The fence position determines the final size of the groove.

If you want a wider groove, align the blade farther away from the centre of the wood piece.

We'll be using ¼" thick plywood for the panel at the center of the shaker cabinet door.

So make sure the groove is either exactly ¼" in size or less than that.

If the groove is less than ¼", you can test with your actual plywood piece and make fine adjustments later.

If the groove is bigger than ¼", the joint will be loose and you'll need to restart the whole process with a fresh piece of wood.

setting the rip fence for cutting a groove
setting the rip fence for cutting a groove
setting the rip fence for cutting a groove
setting the rip fence for cutting a groove

With one side cut, flip the piece 180-degrees and cut it again.

The second cut will be symmetrical to the first cut and so the groove formed will be centered.

rail piece with groove cut
rail piece with groove cut

With the first rail piece grooved successfully you can make grooves on the other rail piece and two stiles with the fence at the same distance.

Make the first cut on all the pieces on one side, flip them over and run them on the other side as well.

This completes the groove cutting for the frame of the shaker door.

Take the grooved pieces and check if the ¼" plywood panel will fit into the groove. 

If not then you'll have to widen the groove.

testing the groove for panel fit
testing the groove for panel fit

To widen the groove on the test piece, place its side edge along the rip fence.

Gently tap on the fence to increase the offset distance between the blade and the rip fence.

Cut the test piece like before, once on one side and once on the flipped side.

With that, the groove should become larger.

Try dry fitting the plywood into the groove again.

 If it doesn't fit then repeat the whole process.

Remember that you can always cut wood off but you can never add it back in.

So make sure the adjustments to the rip fence are fine.

Once the groove is of the correct width, the plywood panel will fit snug in the groove.

panel fitting in the groove of the shaker door frame
panel fitting in the groove of the shaker door frame

You should end up with two stiles and two rails that fit the plywood perfectly in them.

Part 3- Cutting the Tongue in the Rail Pieces

The next part is cutting a tongue at the end of both the rail pieces.

To cut the tongue onto the ends of the rail, draw a line flush with the bottom of the groove using a speed square and a pencil.

marking the cut line to make the tongue part of the rail
marking the cut line to make the tongue part of the rail

Set the depth of the table saw blade using one of the previously grooved woods as reference. 

The blade height should just stop short of the groove.

If the blade height sticks into the groove part, you'll end up with an incorrectly sized tongue.

table saw blade height setting using the grooved wood
table saw blade height setting using the grooved wood

Next, set the rip fence at 3/8" distance from the blade to make the tongue length at 3/8".

cutting the tongue of the rail on table saw
cutting the tongue of the rail on table saw

While shaping the wood to reveal the tongue, as the blade thickness is less than the amount of wood you have to remove, multiple passes may be required.

rail with tongue and groove completed
rail with tongue and groove completed

With the blade height set correctly, you can now cut both the rails correctly and end up with tongues on both ends. It should look something like this.

With the rails also done, you'll have made two finished stiles and two finished rails.

Fit all four pieces together for the frame of the shaker cabinet door.

frame of the shaker style door completed
frame of the shaker style door completed

Part 4-Making the Plywood Panel for the Shaker Door

Measure the inside of the frame using a measuring tape to figure out the length and width of the plywood panel needed.

inside dimensions of the frame of the shaker door
inside dimensions of the frame of the shaker door

In this particular case, after measuring the length and width for the panel I needed 21" x 12" panel.

This however will not be enough as I have yet to factor in the groove depth too.

Since the plywood will occupy the space inside the groove, that also has to be added in.

so my actual length will be the sum of the measured length and two groove depths from either side.

Actual length = Measured length + Groove depth + Groove depth

Actual length = 21 + 3/8 + 3/8 - 1/8 = 21-5/8"

Notice that I've reduced 1/8th of an inch from the actual length. This is to provide some wiggle room in case the fit is too tight.

Using the same formulae from above the actual width comes to,

Actual Width = Measured Width + Groove depth + Groove depth - wiggle room

Actual Width = 12 + 3/8 + 3/8 - 1/8 = 12-5/8"

Here my final size for the plywood panel will be, 21-5/8" x 12-5/8"

Set the rip fence at the appropriate length and width before cutting out the panel from the plywood.

The blade depth should be set to a quarter of an inch or higher as we use plywood that is a quarter of an inch thick.

making the panel for the shaker door
making the panel for the shaker door

With the last piece also cut, it's time to dry-fit the whole thing.

shaker cabinet door made using table saw
shaker cabinet door made using table saw

You can now glue the whole setup together and clamp it down for about 5 hours for the glue to dry.

To check if the door is square, measure both diagonals.

If they are indeed square, the length of the diagonals will be the same.

After that is done, all that is left to do is sand and finish your shaker door.

Tips for Accuracy

  • While adjusting the rip fence for widening a cut, always adjust by gently tapping on the fence and not by sliding.
  • Use a sharp blade with an appropriate number of teeth. More teeth on the saw blade means better cut but takes longer to cut and large teeth means quick but rough cuts.
  • If you are using wet wood or treated lumber, use a blade that's appropriate for that purpose.
  • Make sure to cut outside of the line, so the wood piece that you intend to use has the correct dimensions.
  • Miter fence of the table saw can help create perfectly square cuts as its parallel to the blade as well as perpendicular. This is a much better alternative than using hands to push the wood.
  • If the length of the edge that is against the fence is shorter than the distance between the fence and the blade, Then dont cut it using the rip fence.

Tips for Safety

  • Do not try to force the plywood into the groove, if it does'nt fit then widen the groove or else you'll risk breaking the board or even injuring yourself.
  • Never stay right behind or too close to the running blade to avoid injury in case of kickback. Kickback is extremely dangerous and must be prevented at all costs.
  • Inspect the power chord for exposed wire and cuts. If the insulation is removed or exposed, consider changing the power chord immediately.
  • Using excessive force will create pinch points in the wood leading to damage for both the user and the saw.
  • When using a table saw, You should not use gloves. In addition, remove any rings, bracelets, or other clothing that might become entangled in the table saw or material.
  • Never lift the saw blade above the material being cut by more than 1/4th inches.

About V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to Mellowpine. We play around with beginner woodworking projects, CNC for hobbyists, and general woodworking tips.

If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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V Susan

Hi! I'm Susan. I am passionate about DIY projects and dark chocolates! Welcome to Mellowpine. We play around with beginner woodworking projects, CNC for hobbyists, and general woodworking tips.

If you'd like to connect with me or talk about something you like at mellowpine, drop me a mail at susan@mellowpine.com

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