Exterior doors question


Hi there
After starting a minor repair on my front door i've discovered the door is made up of plywood sheets and solid block for the lock mounts. Well somewhere along the line the solid block has split is starting to force apart the panels. After closer inspection the door doesn't seem like it will last much longer or before a swift quick will tear the door in half.
I can fit a new door easy and can pick one up for about 100. The question is, would it be easy just to make a new one. What would be needed to make a 6 panel door(no glass), what timber, what tools and what skills.
TR
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TrailRat wrote:

If you are going to use standard lumberyard materials you will probably have some problems. The material you buy there is much too green to be completely stable.
But for the sake of looking, find out what the materials you would need would cost you before starting. If your door has no features (panels or openings for glass, etc.) and is smooth, you could build a door out of 2X4s and 1/8" door skins. Build your frame and attach the pieces to each other, allowing for the extra area needed to install locks.
When it is as close to square as you can make it, glue/brad one side of the skins on and make sure it perfectly square. Then put the other door skin side on and you are ready to mortise, hang and finish.
However, you should have a flat area and some proficiency with tools before starting this.
Here's the rub. Doors skins (birch) are about $12. The doubtful quality 2x4s would be another $15 or so. Brads, glue, dowels or biscuits would bring you up top about $30 for your cost, and then you would still have not only your labor to factor, but the fact that the "greener than they should be 2x4s" may still warp.
Around here (southern US) a solild core birch blank is $56. Easily worth the other $26 to go down the lumberyard (and NOT give up a day working on this) and buy the door I want that is relatively stable and is already beveled correctly for installation.
Robert
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Also, door thicnkesses are not that of a two by four and two skins. This method may look awkward unless the builder does some planing beofrehand and matches the thickness ot the seats.
Pop
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Pop wrote:

Hmmm...... while I certainly would not build one these days, I was intrigued by your answer.
One 2X4 is 1 1/2" thick.
One door skin is 1/8" thick. So figure one for each side, or 1/4".
2X4 frame at 1 1/2" plus the 1/4 inch for the door skins = 1 3/4".
In the last 30 years I've been putting them in that has been the standard thickness for an exterior door. Are the nominal dimensions of skins different thickness where you are? Just asking.
About 25 years ago we used to build doors on occasion because the blanks were so expensive. BUT, we had good wood to work with when we started. Kiln dried 2X4 pine was not unusual (try to find that now), just about .75 a board more. We cut the 2x4s down to 2x3s, and doweled and glued in four rails to full length stiles.
A lot of glue and some 3d finish nails and you had a door in a couple of hours.
We also used to cut the jambs (on exterior doors only) out of 2X6, ripped to the proper thickness. We made solid jambs by ripping out 1 7/8" X 3x4" out of the hand picked pine 2x6s. That was fun stuff.
Now I can buy a door in the jamb with all the weather stripping and a threshold for about $125. I couldn't pay >just the labor< to build one from scratch for $125.
Robert
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On 6 Jun 2006 10:34:54 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Seems like most of the solid core doors I've installed lately were made of sealed mdf sandwiches with veneer laminated on them, rather than 2x4s- that, or (even more commonly) an mdf frame with a belly full of foam. They often have pine all the way around, but it's fairly thin- in many cases, not much more than glorified edge-banding.
That won't get you a 6 panel style, though.

Generally, I agree with you, but in this case I'm going to have to voice an objection as the project is an exterior door. It just doesn't seem that 1/8" ply is a tough enough material to be a real barrier to anyone who might decide to give the thing a good solid kick in an attempt to break in. What you describe would fit the bill thickness-wise, but it just seems too dicey for an entryway, especially with the 2x4s that are almost guaranteed to warp in use. The 1/8 ply might be enough as a sheer panel, but probably not enough to hold those studs in place if they decide to shimmy around a bit. I have used your described method for temporary doors on jobsites, but not for a permanent fix.

Agreed in fact, but it's still a fun project in principle, especially if you find some nicely figured cabinet-grade ply.
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TrailRat wrote:
> I can fit a new door easy and can pick one up for about 100. The > question is, would it be easy just to make a new one.
NO.
Lew
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wrote:

Easy? Probably not. The millwork aspect of it is not that bad, but wooden entry doors are becoming a rarity for a reason- the variations of temperature and humidity on each side of the door really do a number on them, and most I've seen were warped very badly. Of course, they are also very old- it may be that they were fine for the first 50 years, and then started to warp!
Interior doors use standard 5/4 kiln-dried stock of whatever species. I believe the standard for an entry door is 7/4, but there's no guarantee on that one (the real dimention is usually about 1.75") The most common wooden exterior door I've seen is quartersawn white oak, but anything that is going to be reasonably protected from the elements (perhaps by a screen door?) should theoretically be ok. The plywood can be whatever you buy, so long as it is thinner than the frame stock so it can be fitted into the dadoes in the frame.
Tools for six-panel doors as I've made them are a tablesaw for general ripping and dadoing the grooves for the panels, a good router (variable speed helps a lot with this project) and a set of bits which you can use to make the joints in the wooden frame. A sander, chop saw and cabinet scraper don't hurt either, along with the standard list of carpenter's tools.
Skills are good familiarity with the router, an ability to read the grain of the wood at least a little, a good estimate of how the wood is going to move, being able to set up the saw to cut dadoes, and patience. When it comes time to install the door, you'll also need to be able to mortise for hinges and the lock plate on the door, and have at least a rudimentary knowledge of general door installation in case you have to shim the hinges.
FWIW, unless you just really want to make the door (and I can understand that) it's almost certainly simpler and less expensive to simply buy a steel one. If you buy one, you lose a lot of the character of a wooden door, but you gain a lot of stability. Whichever way you decide to go, have fun- making doors can be a blast, or it can make you want to rip your hair out, it all depends on the individual.
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I would buy a new pre hung door fully weather sealed door. Metal for cheap or fiberglass if I wanted a wood look.
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Whoops.... I just re-read Prometheus' post.
A six panel door?
If you want to make a six panel door by surface mounting a pattern of trim on the door itself, fire up the miter saw and get with it. If you are wanting true raised panels, you should know this is no beginner's project.
A nice six panel Doug fir door is about $80 - $90 bucks. Worth every penny. Buy the door. Now is not the time to learn to use a shaper and invest $400 - $500 in a good set of shaper blades to cut the panels, rails and stiles.
Scratch what I said about building it yourself unless you want to surface mount your panels/trims. You could wing that one. But after all these great posts, would you want to?
Robert
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Thanks for all the great posts.
After reading them I think I shall stick to buying one as I know I can this easily, having done that part myself before.
I should point out that I lack any powered bench tools apart from a rudimentary drill press and only power tools I do have is a circular saw and handheld router.
I have enough manual tools though to do the work of the missing power tools and do prefer working without power tools.
Might give this project a go as just a project. Not with any real intention of using the door in the near future. It may see use in my workshop when I finally move house to a place where I can set one up.
Thanks for the advice.
TR
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easy or cheap to make your own exterior door. Jim
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On 6 Jun 2006 22:19:14 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Agreed, but it sure is a fun one... I don't think I could ever get a customer to pay for it, but in my own house sometimes things are a different story.

A guy can make them with a router and dadoes instead of a full shaper- at least I have. But it really is a lot of time and labor, especially when they've become so cheap.

The other method I've seen used that would be fine provided the door was to be painted is laminating a bunch of MDF together and routing all the recessed areas out and cleaning up the corners with a chisel. Easy, fairly fast, and simple- but very, very dusty. I don't think I'd do it for the front door because I'd never justify the sheer volume of dusty crap in my shop for something that I could have bought really cheap- but if you wanted a really custom job (not just a standard 6-panel), there might be some merit to the idea.
Ultimately it comes down to the choice of style- you can't go to a big box store and throw a rock without hitting a six-panel door, and the price is right. Now if you wanted someting you couldn't just buy right off the shelf, that's a different matter entirely. Say you wanted 12 panels with your surname carved into one of the crossmembers, or a big sunburst pattern on it, or whatever it was you couldn't just go buy - it might be well worth your while to get out the router and go to work.
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Prometheus wrote:

Maybe if I wanted to do something great. But for wood in the hole, I would rather be doing something else.

OK, now. Remember what I said about this NOT being a beginners project. And if you are going through all the gyrations of dadoing and shaping and all the other processes with routers and such.... sheesh. You have to be kind to the guy asking an innocent question!

Seen that too, and just hated it. It looked OK from a distance, but up close it looked like a cheap factory door. This brings up another nasty dimension to this: does he have access to the properly dried and prepared wood? Can he dimension and surface the wood himself?

LOL. Poor guy doesn't have a garage full of tools. In my mind's eye, I can see some guy working his ass off in front of his house under lights cursing the day he read your post. And explaining the significant other ," but the guys on the wreck said it wasn't THAT hard...."
Robert
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On 7 Jun 2006 22:01:35 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:
<<< Snip >>>

Now that is a funny image, in a very cruel sort of way... reminds me of myself trying to change spark plugs. All joking aside, it never seemed that hard to me, but I suppose it all depends on the person- I have trouble with things that should be stupidly easy sometimes, like pouring oil in the car, or sewing on a lost button. Give me a hunk of wood, and I'll make any shape you can think of with a fairly high degree of precision, but ask me pick out ripe fruit or fry some chicken, and I turn into a retard. There have been more than a few cases where I was that guy with the lights in front of the house, fourteen hours after I optimistically started a project- cursing my stupidity for buying the line that changing a CV joint is "pretty easy".
Like I said, funny in a hindsight sort of way.
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Prometheus wrote:

I'm right there with you. In fact, today I am refinishing a door (day #2 on a one day project) that I thought I could just repair the veneer on and then strip and refinish the exterior side. Should finsih that bastard tomorrow. Sigh.
When I was starting out in business, I don't know how many of my projects were finished under the old fashioned floodlights. Too man to count. And even now I have about four sets of halogens.
I guess some of us never learn.
Robert
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