Q: I have been making raised panels for a few years now, and it seems no matter what speed I have the router set at and the moisture content of the wood, I always get tearout when routing the profiles on the edge of my rails and stiles. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
A: We always have to make some assumptions when answering questions about machine setups we can’t see, so I’ll make a few here. I’ll presume that your cope and stick bits are clean and sharp, and that when you set up the sticking cuts on the rails and stiles you are closing up your router table fence facings around the bit as much as possible. Dull bits or gaps around the cutter can lead to tearout. It also might be the case that your router isn’t quite powerful enough for the task; I wouldn’t use less than a 2hp router for door joinery like this. Regardless of the variables, here’s something to try: instead of cutting the entire sticking profile in one deep pass, try taking it in a few shallower passes, resetting the fence to expose more of the bit each time. (The bit height stays the same — only the fence can move.) There’s no rule that says you can’t “sneak up” on this cut, and removing less material almost always reduces the tendency for tearout (especially in wood that features wild or curly grain). Just make sure to have a featherboard in place over the bit to keep workpieces pressed down against the table when making multiple passes. Any vertical movement will ruin the cut.