Jim Heavey, of Wood Magazine, gave a great 1 hour overview of how to design and build cabinet doors. He also explained how to make curves on top of the doors.
I took short notes during the seminar. When I reviewed the notes later, I was amazed at how much information he squeezed into his 1 hour seminar!!
I decided to expand his notes, plus supplement them with my own Sketchup drawings.......then publish them on this web site for future reference.
I have only made plain cabinet doors before. They have a 1/4" wide groove cut in the rails and stiles, then a piece of 1/4" oak plywood was inserted into the grooves as the panel. I often thought about making fancier doors, but could never get myself to spend the $180 to $200 required for the router bit set to do them (rail bit, stile bit, panel raising bit). After taking Jim's class, I may bite the bullet and spend the money for a good router bit set.......and try making some fancy doors.
He suggested visiting the big box stores, with the wife is she needs to approve the design, and study how they made cabinet doors similar to what you want. He said that you will find the standard rail and stile width is about 2.25" wide, with a 1/2" overlap of the door over the cabinet opening.
When I got home, I checked the expensive kitchen cabinets in my house, and the rails and stiles are 2.25" wide, with a 1/2" overlap. On my lower cost set of cabinets in my basement kitchen, they are only 1-7/8" wide with 1/2" overlap.
He also said to pay attention to hinge selection. They come with different opening angles. Pick a smaller angle if the door might swing open and hit an adjacent wall. If you want to be able to fully access the cabinet, pick the wider opening angle.
For illustrative purposes, a cabinet with a 16x13" opening will be used to demonstrate the design guidelines.
The rule of thumb is that the radius for the top arch should be 1/2 the door height, with the smallest section at the middle being the same 2.25" width.
To make the top curved rail, he suggested making a template, then trace and cut out the piece 1/16 to an 1/8" bigger than the template tracing..........then attach the workpiece to the templated using 2-sided tape from Home Depot (you can see a web in it), then use a follower type router bit. Note that for the panel, the arch radius will be about 3/8" longer than for the top rail, because the arc swing is further out from the same center.
1. Use 1 space ball on each side
2. Make your own space balls by laying down a bead of silicone caulk on a piece of scrap wood, let dry, cut short lengths.
3. Using a pin nailer, put 1 nail in top center of panel, and 1 nail in bottom center of panel. Wood can still expand and contract ok.
He did not discuss this in his 1 hour seminar.
I have a small router table, an old Sears one from the 1980's. The hole opening is only 1.75". The Freud rail & stile set has a raised panel cutter with a 3.5" diameter, which will not fit on my router table.
I had a similar problem with a 2.5" diameter round-over bit that I used to make 1922 race cars. I solved the problem by putting the bit above the router table, using a temporary wood fence. I can probably use the same fence for the big 3.5" raised panel bit.....
I plan in the near future, on buying the Freud router bit set shown above. Then I will make a cabinet with the fancy arched top doors, as my first project.