Lately, a number of woodworkers have come to us looking for “style and rail” router bits. If they’re having trouble finding them, it’s no wonder: there’s actually no such thing. There is, however, such a thing as rail and “stile” router bits. They’re a common type of door making router bit used to make raised panel doors – or any other type of door constructed with an outer frame and an interior “floating” panel.
The confusion is easily clarified: “Stile and rail” refers to the parts of a door frame. The rails of a door – including cabinet doors, entry doors, and many other types of door or frame – are the horizontal members of the outer frame. The word “stile” – which has nothing to do with the word “style”, and comes from the Old English word “stigel”, meaning “device for climbing” – refers to the vertical members of the frame. Stile and rail router bits cut a decorative profile and panel slot into the interior edge of the door frame, and they also cut a special “mirror image” profile known as a “cope” into the ends of the rails, allowing the parts of the frame to be quickly and accurately joined together.
Now that you know what to call them, where do you get stile and rail router bits? You’ll be glad to hear that Rockler offers a broad selection of cabinet door making router bits, including stile and rail router bit sets, raised panel router bits, and a number of door making jigs and tools that will help you make your stiles and rails in style. And we’ll help you get started on the right foot with our article, “Raised Panel Door Tools and Techniques”. In it, you’ll find advice on the best tools to use, and step-by-step instruction for making an arched top raised panel door.
We encourage you to read through the article, or pick up a book on the subject, like Bill Hylton’s Frame and Panel Magic. You’ll find that making cabinet doors isn’t all that difficult. With the right tools and equipments and a few basic woodworking skills, you can have professional-class results beginning with your very first try.