Making Raised Panel Arch Valances

Advice on fabricating arches raised panel valances. June 4, 2012

I'm looking for a good way to make raised panel arch valances. Right now I have a friend route them on his CNC like you would an MDF valance. The problem is they take a long time to sand. My local door supplier doesn't do them and I really don't want to outsource them to another shop because of cost and lead time.

I'm thinking the easiest way for me to do this in-house would be to raise the panels with a router even. I know this isn't the safest way. I am already set up for stiles and rails for the occasional door. I would just need another stile cutter in a router for the arch profile. I would make patterns for every time I do a different size to have them for the next time. If this was something I did on every kitchen I would come up with different/better setup but for just the occasional valance I think this may be the way to go. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor U:
Personally I don't think things like that are worth messing with. You should be able to outsource it and have it made in ten days, plus another two days for shipping. The key to outsourcing is to order it first thing, so by the time you do your part in the job it will show up and be ready to spray. I think people sometimes put themselves in a bind by waiting until the last minute to order components. That's just my opinion.

From contributor J:
Just take a thin primer such as white vinyl primer and brush this into the routed areas. Stay away from thick poor sanding primers. Do not pre-sand the routed MDF - allow the primer to be absorbed by the MDF. Once it dries the primer will dry/harden allowing for an easy sand of the open pore MDF.

The next step is to use an orbital sander and remove the excess primer on the face side of the door. Blow dust and proceed with the first primer coat as normal. The routed areas will now sand very easily and be ready for painting. Glue size for me was a waste. Priming does the same as well as providing a white base color. With MDF I only prime once with this method. Just be sure and not sand through the corners exposing wood.

From contributor C:

Make them yourself. We do and we treat them like any cathedral or arched door. Use a starting pin. If you are uncomfortable with your hands so close to the cutters make a sled for all the parts. We make 1/2 ply or 1/4 masonite template for the radius and after cutting the radiused rails we clean them up with a flush cut bit and run it just like a regular rail. We outsource very little.

From contributor F:
In the past I have used a trammel router jig to cut the arched rails. Place a piece of 1/4" MDF under your blank when cutting the rail and this will give you two arched pieces to make a jig to run that rail through your shaper to cut the bead profile. (I cut the cope profile in the blank before cutting the arch with the router). I glue up and cut the panel arch the same way as one piece and cut all the straight runs to raise the panel then run the radius using a pin start and rub collar on the shaper. Finally I split the panel and raise those ends using a coping sled. The trammel jig will do a 12' radius but I have done some arches that required a 26' radius. Today I cut all the parts using a CNC but they are profiled using the same jigs.