Tombstone Raised Panel

See the entry from 12/28/2008 for part 1 of the door frame construction. See the entry from 12/29/2008 for part 2 of the door frame construction.

To begin making the panel, I rough cut a board slightly oversized and plane it to final thickness. For this panel, I planed the panel thinner so that I would not need to plane a rabbet on the inside. The final thickness of the panel is gauged from the frame and is equal to the thickness from the front of the frame to the back of the groove.

I place the dry assembled frame on top of the board and trace around the inside of the frame to transfer the shape of the panel to the board. I then remove the frame from the board and add the depth of the groove to the outside of the traced lines to arive at the final panel size. Then I cut out the panel to shape.


Next I lay out the panel bevel and field. From my design, I know the exposed portion of the bevel (i.e. the entire beveled portion minus the width of the portion that will be inserted into the groove) is 1/2 M wide. Using my divider I step off 1/2 M all around the panel. The center point of the arch lies on a line even with the shoulders of the field so I find the center along this line and scribe the arch of the field as well.

I also scribe the depth of the bevel around the edges of the panel at this time. Since I do not have a dedicated panel raising and fielding plane, I use a rabbet plane to make raised panels. Since a rabbet plane has no depth stop, I need a gauge mark to tell me when to stop planing. In addition, I won’t be able to plane the arched section so I will need this depth gauge to guide my carving. I don’t scribe the depth of the field preferring to simply eye this depth as I plane and carve. It’s such a shallow cut that a little inconsistency won’t be noticed anyway.


Not having a panel raising plane, I begin this raised panel like I begin a square raised panel, by creating a rabbet all around the panel to define the depth of the field. I can plane the rabbet along the bottom and sides of the panel just like I would with a square panel. However, the rabbet at the the top shoulders and arch will need to be carved.


To begin the carving of the rabbet at the top of the panel, I use a wide bench chisel to define the field at the shoulders and a carving gouge to define the field around the arch. Here I’m using a 1/2″, #4 gouge. The sweep of this gouge was a good match for the radius of the arch. To keep the scribe continuous all around the arch I always keep a corner of the gouge in the previous cut. I make a vertical stabbing cut all around the arch to the depth of the field.


I then use a very sharp bench chisel held with the bevel down to pare away the waste at the shoulders and around the arch. I pare down until the depth of the field in these areas matches the depth of the field in the areas where I planed the rabbet. Again, I do this by eye.


The last step is to bevel the panel. Again, at the bottom and sides of the panel I can plane the bevel using my rabbet plane. I then use a bench chisel to carve the bevel at the shoulders and arch, working slowly and trying to maintain a straight bevel from the field to the depth of the bevel at the outside of the panel. A little convex is ok and won’t be noticed in the final panel but you don’t want to carve this area to a concave bevel as it would be very noticeable. I use a chisel as wide or wider than the bevel to aid in keeping a straight line from the field to the outside of the panel bevel.


Finally, fit the panel to the door frame. Make small adjustments where necessary to make sure the panel fits the frame snug but not tight. You want the panel to be able to expand and contract seasonally without binding but you don’t want it to rattle around either. It may be necessary to disassemble the frame completely and fit each frame member to the panel one at a time to make sure you only remove wood where it fits too tight. The you can reassemble the frame and fit the panel to the assembled frame.


This panel turned out pretty good. I’m very happy with it. The bevels are still a little rough and could use some scraping or sanding to clean them up but since this door is just a prototype practice piece, I stopped here. One area that was a little tricky was the junction between the arch and the shoulders when paring the bevel. A straight bench chisel just can’t get into these areas very easily. I managed to clean out the waste by using a couple of smaller bench chisels, however, this area is still a little ragged on this door. I’m going to get a double beveled skew chisel before I tackle the real door panels. I think the skew will make it much easier to clean out these corners.