Stiles and Rails

what is a stile and rail

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.

The rails are the horizontal pieces and the stiles are the vertical.  I always think of the rails like a railroad tracks and that’s how I remember that they’re horizontal.

woodgrained panel

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:

* the Stiles cut the Rails (in the most simple sections)

* the Rails cut the Stiles when the outer rail is a long expanse as part of a multi-paneled section (like a wall)

when stiles cut rails

When woodgraining, often I 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).

process of woodgraining

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

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  1. nice tips and good illustrations

  2. Judith Glick-Ehrenthal says:

    When is you next NYC classes

    • Pierre Finkelstein says:

      Judith, we don’t have any classes at this time. However, make sure to sign up for our newsletter so you will receive any information on upcoming classes.

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