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
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
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
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.
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
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.
On 6 Jun 2006 10:34:54 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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
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?
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.
On 6 Jun 2006 22:19:14 -0700, email@example.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
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.
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
On 7 Jun 2006 22:01:35 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Like I said, funny in a hindsight sort of way.
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.
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