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Stiles and Rails

Stiles and rails are woodworking terms that refer to the outer frame of a “frame and panel” construction.  A basic frame and paneled section consists of two rails and two stiles that surround the  panel. In the picture above, these panels are on a wall.

Remember this tip from Pierre Finkelstein– The rails are the horizontal pieces and the stiles are the vertical. Think of the rails like railroad tracks to remember that they’re horizontal.

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THE TECHNIQUE

These 5 pieces are the minimum construction (called a “five piece door”).  Sometimes, a mullion is sandwiched in between the panel and stiles & rails.

In order to respect the carpentry rules when applying a decorative finish, you must follow these rules:

  1.  The Stiles cut the Rails (in the most simple sections)
  2. The Rails cut the Stiles when the outer rail is a long expanse as part of a multi-paneled section (like a wall)

When woodgraining, often Pierre will glaze the panel along with the rails at one time.  Then, do the stiles at a separate time (or in this case with oil, complete just after).

Pierre Finkelstein painting a door

See also the order to paint a room and dado for more information.

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