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Cabinet Door Shoot-Out

Mortise-and-tenon vs. cope-and-stick joinery: Experienced cabinetmakers share their preference

For this article, Fine Homebuilding brought two cabinetmakers together to see how they would approach the construction of a simple cabinet door made of cherry with a 1/2-in. cherry-plywood panel. Contributing writer Scott Gibson made his cabinet doors with mortise-and-tenon joints, and Joseph Lanza made his with cope-and-stick joints. Each cabinetmaker describes his method—including set up, cutting, and assembling—and close-up photos illustrate each step. Gibson used a tablesaw and a mortising machine as well as some basic hand tools. He admits that his method is more time-consuming than cope-and-stick joinery, but says that once the machine settings are dialed in, the work goes surprisingly fast. Lanza made all of his cuts with a table-mounted router and cope and stick bits. He likes the speed with which he can make such a door, and although he believes cope-and-stick joints are strong enough for most cabinet doors, for larger doors he would consider using slip tenons or dowels for reinforcement, or possibly mortises and tenons.

Cabinet Door Shoot-Out

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