Hi, I'm planning to make two ledge and brace doors for my garage, and
was thinking of going the whole hog and making the doors framed.
I know with ledge and brace doors you are supposed to fix the ledges
to a stile and then once all ledges and stiles are fixed together, put
in the braces.
Can someone tell me - what is the procedure when making a framed ledge
and brace door? Make the frame first, or what? It doesn't sound right
to fix the ledges and braces to the stiles and then put the frame on
at the end. Not that I would know! Why is why I'm asking...
Second question - what's the best way to secure the doors? Monkey tail
bolt on one side... Night latch to secure them together, or what?
(Brief description only)
Make the frame first, using through mortise and tenon joints for the top,
middle and bottom rails and the two braces housed into the three rails. Then
fit the T,G&V boarding onto the frame - remember, that because the two
stiles are machine rebated to take the boards, the rails and braces will
need to of thinner stock than the stiles by the depth of the rebate to
enable the boards to be properly fitted.
That depends on your level of security - and remember, that due to the
design, you can fit a high quality, five-lever mortice lock to this type of
door (my preference would be a Chubb five-lever, with case hardened insert
pins and fully enclosed receiver).
I would also advise the use of good quality timber (pressure treated if
The top rail must be of the same sized material as the stiles. The
thickness of the bottom rail can either be the same as the stiles (and
rebated) so the boards fit into the rebate (a possible water trap) or they
can be thinner to allow the boards to run right to the bottom of the door
(allowing a better water run-off)
Apologies for that.
Great descriptions already...
A have a few other tips that might also help:
When using the thinner stock for middle and bottom rails, the tenon on
each end of these will need to be cut flush to one side of the rail so
that it comes out in the middle of the stiles.
I normally place the bottom rail 4" or so up from the bottom of the
stile, and let the T&G boards sail past - stops the bottom rail rotting
The traditional build order is to cut the rebates first, then make the
tenon and mortice joints. However doing it that way makes marking out
and cutting the joints a tad harder because of the rebates (especialy if
doing haunched tenons). My personal preference is to make up the all the
stiles rails and braces first, and then add the rebate with a router
after (you just need to square the corners with a chisel)
For extra strength stick a couple of cuts down each tenon about 1/2"
inch in from each edge. Then once assembled hammer glued up wedges into
the slots at the end of each tenon.
For large doors, using one continuous brace that runs from top corner to
opposing bottom corner (half lapped over the centre rail) can be a
little stronger than a pair of diagonal braces used top and bottom.
Adding feather edged capping to the top of each door also helps shed
rain of the face of it.
Many thanks for this, Cash, and also thanks to Harry and John.
I'm afraid some of this is going over my head, including some of the
technical terms. Does 'rail' denote just the 'ledges', or does it also
denote the top and bottom of the frame?
My current understanding is:
* each door has a frame with four sides, and then in addition to that,
three ledges and two braces
(but is that correct? :-) )
* make the frame using four mortise-and-tenon joints, and then
* fit three ledges into the frame also using m&t joints, and then
* fix t&g boards onto both frame (rebated) and ledges, and then lastly
* fix the braces (the ledges having been prepared so that the braces
fit into them nicely)?
Is that right or am I completely misunderstanding something?
I've never made a mortise-and-tenon joint before, but people say it's
easy with a router. Are they right? Any advice on this? Do I need a
special table for the router?
Mortise & tenon is the best way, but not that easy.
I've made them as follows, using a mitre saw;
Assuming you want a door 6' high x 3' wide. Use 4 x 1 timber.
cut 2 x 72" & 2 x 36". Now cut 2 x 64" & 2 x 28".
Laminate a 72 & a 64 together to leave 4" at each end. Do that twice.
Laminate a 36 & a 28 together leaving 4" at each end. Do that twice.
You can now build the frame using half lap joints. The 4" will be the
actual width of the 4 x 1 timber.
You can see that its easy to incorporate a central ledge using the same
Use 1 x 1 timber glued & pinned to make the rebate to hold the T&G.
Braces can also be half lapped.
Dave - The Medway Handyman www.medwayhandyman.co.uk
Thanks for this advice as to a simpler method than using mortises and
tenons. I've been thinking for about half an hour about how to half-
lap the braces. Am I right to think that with this design, they are
half-lapped to the frame, so that the leftmost and rightmost points of
the braces sit at the outer edges of the door?
If you use half-lap joints on garage doors, then you will have very little
strength to hold the things together - you're simply relying on glue and a
The only way that this method will have any strength and security, would be
if you decide to glue and nail external grade plywood to both sides of the
frame - making it into a flush (rather than an F,L,B door.
A mortise and tenon isn't that difficult to do on square timber (but a
rebate complicates things a little because you have to have one shoulder of
the tenon longer than the other) - so practice on some square timber,
assemble the joints and then use a motorised router to whip out the rebates
as required (as previously suggested in one of the replies here - and making
A suggestion, if you are not really confident in doing the job yourself, and
have a local construction college handy in your area, nip down and ask the
head of the carpentry classes if he would get the students to make the doors
as an exercise for their course-work - and you either supply the timber, or
pay the college for it.
Paying the college may be better, as their wood machinist students could
then cut the frame material from rough sawn stock (which is cheaper to buy)
as a further exercise.
If they won't make the doors, they will almost certainly show you how it's
done - and that it's a technically simple job, even using simple hand tools
such as the old style brace and bit, along with a mallet (or hammer) and a
couple of sharp wood chisels (bloody laborious and arm-aching though). :-)
My garage doors are 15 years old, made using this method and are as
strong as a very strong thing full of strongness.
On a frame made of 4 x 1 you have a glue area of 20 sq ins which when
screwed - not nailed - won't move.
My doors are 6'6" x 4' and aren't braced - and they are fine.
Dave - The Medway Handyman www.medwayhandyman.co.uk
OK, not completed yet, but I have done you some pictures (click on them
for larger versions):
Not quite, a frame with three sides, and two ledges and two braces.
The frame (i.e. stiles and top rail) is assembled with the middle and
lower rail as one activity.
I normally do this last.
and do this one before last.
Nope, sounds like you are close.
If you are talking big (ish) M&T joints like those for a garage door
etc, then you can cut the tenon with a router and a simple jig
relatively easily, but the mortices will probably be too deep (its hard
finding a 4" depth of cut router bit!).
The manual way is to mark out, drill a sequence of adjacent holes
through the stock to remove most of the material, and then use a chisel
to square up and connect the drill holes. Placing a known square lump of
wood on top of the piece you are working on to hold the back of the
chisel against will ensure you are chopping square to the top and get
nice parallel mortices.
Thanks in particular for this, which is very much appreciated, as is
all the info from everyone who has responded.
I will have to study it properly before working out whether I have any
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