August 2002 Popular Woodworking - Popular Woodworking Magazine
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August 2002 Popular Woodworking - Popular Woodworking Magazine


Divided-lightGlass DoorsThe easiest way ever to add mullionsand muntins to any door.Photos by Al Parrish.Glass doors dramaticallychange the look of furniture.Not sure you can doglass doors? I have a trick for you!A true glass door has what isknown as divided-light panes, meaningeach paneof glass is separatedfrom theothers by a woodframe. Somemanufacturedpieces of furnitureuse a largesheet of glass andoverlay a frameworkto the frontof the glass tolook like a divided-lightdoor,but it is just notthe same to me.Traditionally,making a divided-lightdoor requiresspecialmatched routerbitsets and aby Glen Hueydifficult technique known as copeand stick. But even professionals findthis technique a bit labor intensive.For years I’ve been using a simplemethod to make divided-lightdoors using simple butt joints, glueand a box full of spring clamps.This method works best with flatmulliondoors. The process can beused with profile-mullioned doors,but this heads you back into somecope-and-stick work, so we’ll startwith this simple door. This flat-mullionedstyle is appropriate for Shaker,Southern, Arts & Crafts and many18th-century furniture designs.The starting point is a door framewith a rabbet cut around the insideedges of the door frame. I use a coupleof different methods to make theinitial door frame. One is a more traditionaljoinery method called a rabbetedmortise-and-tenon joint, whilethe other is a more simple mortiseand-tenondoor with a rabbet cut inthe frame after assembly. Either works,so I’ll let you decide if tradition shouldwin out over speed and convenience.Glen Huey builds custom furniture in his shop in Middletown, Ohio, for Malcolm L.Huey & Son and is the author of “Fine Furniture for a Lifetime.”Regardless of how you make your rabbeteddoor frame, this is your starting point forthe tricky stuff to make a simple dividedlightdoor.The frames above use the traditionalrabbeted mortise-and-tenon joinery.It really does look a little nicer, and if you’realready cheating on the muntins andmullions, maybe a little extra effort on theframe is not out of line.The divider pieces for these doors are madefrom two different sizes of wood strips. Theface material is 1 ⁄ 4" x 3 ⁄ 4", while the backerpieces are 1 ⁄ 4" x 1 ⁄ 2". I use a new sacrificialfence on my miter gauge for each new doorproject to keep tear-out on the backside ofthe pieces to a minimum.This also makeslocating the cut easier by aligning the stripswith the initial kerf in the 73

To begin the muntin section of the doors, find the shelf locationson your project’s case (generally the glass dividers align with theshelves) and mark these on the edges of the door. Cut the backermaterial to run from side to side.These pieces divide the glassarea horizontally.The fit should be snug, but not so tight as tobow the frame. Glue the backer piece into the rabbet area andclamp until dry, usually about 30 minutes.Now flip the door over.The first face pieces to install are the pieces that run the full length, in this casethe center piece that divides the glass area vertically into two sections, left and right.The piece againneeds to be snug, but not too tight. Glue each end (as well as each area) where the face crosses thebackers (two locations in this case).You’ll notice that I have the door elevated on some jars.Thecontents aren’t important, but the elevation is very helpful.SIMPLE MORTISE-AND-TENON DOORSBoth methods of door frame constructionbegin with the mortises.Make your centered 1 ⁄ 4"-widemortise (for a 3 ⁄ 4"-thick door) 3 ⁄ 4"shorter than the width of the doorframe, leaving a 3 ⁄ 8" shoulder oneither edge to ensure that therabbet doesn’t expose the joinery(A).Then simply cut the matchingtenon and assemble the door frame(B).When the glue is dry, use arabbeting bit in your router tocreate a 5 ⁄ 16" x 1 ⁄ 2"-deep rabbet onthe inside back edge (C). Finally,square out the corners of the rabbetswith a sharp chisel (D).ABCD74POPULAR WOODWORKING August 2002

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