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I've seen people make raised panel doors out of one piece of MDF. I've also seen a professional machine make a shaker door out of one piece. But is it feasible for someone to make one with a handheld router? Would the inset middle area be smooth? If so, what type of bit would be best?

  • Do you have a picture of what you are envisioning? – Matt Apr 20 '16 at 22:57
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    Possible, maybe. Easy and with good results? Absolutely not. There are better ways to get shaker style doors. 1. Order them on the interweb. 2. Make them out of wood rails/stiles with whatever panel you want. 3. If you're somehow desperate to use mdf (which seems odd to me, as it's such a nasty material in so many ways), cut a panel hole out of the middle of a door and put a panel in with sticking on the backside. – Aloysius Defenestrate Apr 21 '16 at 0:58
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It is perfectly feasible to fab a shaker door from a solid slab of MDF. Routing out the interior flat area is a simple matter of proper jigging and depth control. But you will need to chisel-cut the inside corners and invest a lot of time sanding out the panel area. A router will not leave a 'finish' grade surface when the bit is acting as an end-mill. The best bit to use would be an up-spiral 3-flute bit with 1/2" shank. Bit diameter of 1/2" probably best when balancing strokes necessary to rout down versus difficulty. You'd need to set up two jigs - one as a perimeter jig and another as a platform to ride on the frame while routing down to panel surface.

BUT... That approach is not the only approach to the "MDF Shaker Door" problem.

With MDF as the material, and a router as your only tool (unless you say otherwise), the simplest approach I would suggest would be using two thicknesses of MDF, one for the frames and one for panels. Rout the frame as a unit from the thicker stock, rout a rebate on the back side to accomodate that panel, chisel-clean the corners of these from rounded to square. Then rout the panels out of the thinner stock and glue the panels into the frames.

That will get you there, but is wasteful of the thicker MDF stock (the lost middle parts), and the unsightly joint on the back side.

To do this using the least amount of material, and again with only a router, approach it as a true panel door. Rout the Stiles and rails of the door as individual items from thicker stock, rout a groove into the inner-facing edge to receive the panel (groove size to match panel material). Rout the panels from the thinner MDF sheets. Rout out some splines from the thinner stock, to match depth of groove times 2 and as long as the stiles are wide. Assemble doors with glue, sliding splines in from ends until they contact the panel. Clamp flat.

So, no matter how you go about this you are in for a fair amount of labor. My personal preference would be for the wasteful but simple way, as it asks the least sanding time after assembly.

And in closing, I suggest that you reconsider using MDF at all if that is an option. While it is cheap and in common use it is really not the best stuff to use for a number of reasons. For an inexpensive shaker door, solid pine and pine ply panels would look as good and hold up better over time. And it's doable with just the router, using the last of the options I posted above.

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Not the best idea, you should try to maybe cut it into 3" strips and glue it back which should keep it from warping. You could go ahead but I am sure it is going to warp unless you do something about it. Nothing else to say.

  • Why would MDF warp? – Steven Apr 25 '16 at 19:58
  • It always warps on me, but when I glue them it does not warp. – Ljk2000 Apr 25 '16 at 21:40
  • Unless exposed to moisture, MDF shouldn't warp. – Steven Apr 26 '16 at 1:57
  • oh, well then I must have a good amount of moisture in places where I would think I would not have any, Is suppose you would have the right idea then. But I do still think by cutting them and gluing will prevent this, because wouldn't the door be exposed to some moisture? – Ljk2000 Apr 26 '16 at 2:58

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