How To Build Frame-and-Panel Doors by Hand
Strengthen cabinet doors with haunched through-tenons
Synopsis: The doors on Andrew Hunter’s country hutch are rock solid. The rails and stiles are joined with haunched through-tenons, which are suited to hand-tool woodworking in a variety of ways: Through-mortises are easier to chop by hand than stopped mortises, and offer the option of adding wedges to the tenons for greater strength. The haunch adds glue surface and increases resistance to twisting, and it also makes the job of cutting grooves for the panels simpler.
I designed the doors for my hutch (p. 64) to be both rock solid and well suited to hand-tool woodworking. I joined the rails and stiles with haunched through-tenons, which deliver maximum strength and a batch of other benefits. When working by hand, through-mortises are easier to chop accurately than stopped mortises, because you cut them from both sides of the workpiece toward the middle. They also offer the option of adding wedges to the tenons for even greater holding power. the haunch itself not only adds glue surface and increases resistance to twisting, but it also makes the job of cutting grooves for the panels simpler. With ordinary tenons, you need to stop the panel grooves in the stiles so the empty groove isn’t visible at the top and bottom of the door after assembly. But the haunch fills that space, so you can use through grooves—which can be cut with a plow plane, a simple process— rather than stopped ones, which are more difficult to cut.
Mortises and grooves first For these doors, I cut the stile joinery in three stages: First, I cut the through-mortises; next, I plowed the grooves for the panel (in both rails and stiles); then I cut the haunched section of the mortises. If your mortises are the same width as your panel groove,…