Reinforcing Cope-and-Stick Joinery

      Do cope-and-stick door joints require reinforcement from dowels or tenons? September 15, 2011

Question
I make a lot of paint-grade raised-panel doors, using poplar frames and ultra-light MDF panels, glued into the frame. I have a new cope-and-stick shaper set with a 3/8" profile. A current project requires solid maple raised panels. Do most of you rely just on the cope-and-stick joint, or reinforce the joint? In the past, especially on bigger doors, I would reinforce the cope-and-stick with a floating tenon done on my horizontal mortiser. More recently I've done the same with the portable Festool Domino. Most of the doors are fairly small (12 x 24), and I plan to make the rails 3" wide for a little extra glue surface. What do the big door makers like Conestoga and Keystone do?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
For us it depends on the thickness of the rails and how many mid rails. I do not think I have ever made a raised panel door taller than 40" without a mid rail, they just look funny. The mid rail adds a lot of strength, especially if it is wider than two inches. For shaker style doors with thinner flat panels we use lighter plywood and wider frames so again the frame is stronger due to the wider cope joints.

There have been times where I add dowels to the cope (we have dowel machines so this is the obvious choice for us) but it is usually due to odd engineering issues like heavy door mounted hardware or excessively wide doors. For tall raised panel doors with no mid rail I would want to add dowels. It is easy to do and only takes a minute to do. I do not have any great engineering parameters for deciding this it is based on experience. I also would not glue in the panel on a large door, even if it is MDF.



From contributor A:
The industry standard from dedicated door/drawer companies is nominal 5/8" tenons which are integral to the cope/stick. The router bit sets come with 3/8". These are not going to last forever without a dowel or true tenon. Many people use Freeborn shaper sets with 1/2" - 5/8" tenons. These are strong enough for large doors. Plenty of glue will hold forever.


From contributor G:
Iíve been relying on the glue and Iíve never had a failure in 20 years with 1/2" stub.


From the original questioner:
Thanks for the replies. Of course I would not glue in a solid wood panel, but do glue in MDF or plywood panels. Seems like I just need a shaper cope-and-stick set with a 1/2-inch deep tenon vs. the 3/8 that I have. If I use the 3/8 set I would add a tenon with the domino.



Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Cabinet Door Construction


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article