I made a 36"x 80" raised panel (6 panel) front door plus sidelights about 18
months ago. I used 8/4 Red Oak for the rails and stiles, but cheated and used
3/4" stock glued back-to-back for the panels. It was considerably cheaper, and
the joints are invisible. The door has held up perfectly, although the oak
threshold is ready for a sanding and another coat of Spar Varnish. I should
note that I've got a South facing front porch, although it is covered, so the
door gets little direct sunlight. Also, I live in Colorado, and the humidity
is pretty constant (low).
In general, building and entry door requires some skill, but isn't much
different than an "ordinary" raised panel door. I did all of the cope and stick
joints and panel raising on a router table, using a 3+ hp, variable speed
Milwuakee router. The bits were purchased from MLCS, and I went with their
Katana bits, since the Cope and Stick cutters included the elements needed for
booth 1/2 and 1/4 inch slots for the panels. I was also making several matching
interior doors, and needed both.
Probably the biggest problem I had was running the rails through the Jointer
and Planer. I've got a 6" Jet jointer and a 13 in Jet Molder/Planer. Both have
plenty of oomph, but handling 80 inch lengths of 8/4 stock can be a challenge.
Joints were all mortice and loose tenon on the front door, but I relied on the
cope and stick for the interior doors.
Having done it once, I wouldn't hesitate to take it on again. I had priced a
similar door and sidelights at around $3500, without installation, and I figure
I've got around $1200 in this one, including the Milwuakee router and the bits.