Setting Up for Accurate Raised Panel Cutting

Here's a good set of suggestions for setting up and tuning your equipment for precise, reliable production of raised door panels. May 15, 2012

I'm looking for some help with our procedure for raising panels for cabinet doors. We're using a shaper with an infeed and outfeed fence. They are very well aligned with each other, but on about 25% of the panels we're getting a dip on the last three inches or so as the corner of the panel leaves the infeed fence. The edge of the panels are very straight if not perfect, but we're still getting this imperfection. I'm thinking there must be a way to eliminate this. Maybe some kind of sled would work? If a sled, what do you do with large/long panels?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor S:
Do you have a guide bearing under the cutter?

From the original questioner:
No guide bearing on the cutter.

From contributor S:
I would get one for that size cutter. Then you will be good to go.

From contributor J:
It's not clear whether you are getting a "dip" in the horizontal or vertical plane. If itís the former, a continuous fence spanning the gap should cure it. If itís the latter, are you using a power feed or a featherboard just beyond the cutting circle? A powerfeed with belts rather than rollers may work best for narrow panels.

From contributor F:
I put a zero clearance board (1/4" MDF) in front of the cutters and fence. To set up, I move the fence forward past the cutters and clamp the clearance board to the fence. I then move the fence back into the desired position while the cutters cut through the clearance board.

From contributor C:
Either way will work. A power feeder is a must. We take in two passes.

From contributor M:
The easy fix is a bearing as mentioned above. It won't allow your panel to dip into the cutter.

From contributor T:
You spoke of a large panel being shaped; be sure that the entire horizontal base is supporting your project material. A zero clearance support is important to bridge the space between the infeed and outfeed vertical fences. Two featherboards should also be installed; one at each toe of the infeed and outfeed fences, pressing lightly downward on the material.

Most of all, have the feeder downward pressure (on the work) just light enough only pulling the material through without any pressure change after the material passes the featherboard. Any sudden pressure change will cause the material to dip at the cutter. These methods have worked well for my shop.