I want to build some carriage doors to replace a worn out garage door. I
was planning to build two doors 4 feet wide each to fill in the 8 foot
space of the existing garage door. What kind of wood should I use for the
frame? I was thinking about using mortise & tenon joints with dowels in
the tenons. Is there anything that I could get at home depot to use for
Much as it would be a lot of fun building these replacement doors,
think I would pass.
Today's product, build with modern materials, is
s....................o superior in terms of wear, thermal insulating
properties, etc, etc.(Urethane foam is a great insulator).
If I would actually build them, Houndouras Mahogany would be first
choice, white oak 2nd.
What kind of climate? When I lived in Veracruz (hot & steamy) cedro was the
wood of choice. Come to think of it, there *wasn't* much choice :)
Generally (as others said), clear fir or white oak should work OK but there
are others...black locust, cedro, (Spanish cedar), mahogany, et al.
Any need to be maintained and if well maintained most any wood will work OK.
I'm assuming you must live in a more nearly tropical climate than I do.
I have a pair of carriage doors (that swing out) on my garage, which
swing outward as usual, and it makes it pretty much useless in the
winter. Snow from the (metal) roof slides down in front of them, and
it's far more work to shovel out the garage enough to get the doors open
and drive in or out than it is to simply clear off the car. If I
weren't renting, I'd very seriously look into an overhead door, even
given the very low headroom in my garage. Although there would still be
shoveling, it would not need to get down to within a half inch of the
ground, nor cover so broad of an area to provide clearance for the
doors. Naturally, in an area that gets little or no snow, that's not a
However, in answer to your question, my main suggestion is to make sure
you think about sagging. If it were me, I'd base the doors around a
plywood (with an appropriate surface treatment of grooves or battens or
whatever) with some sort of an attached frame. Failing that, I'd at
least make sure there was a diagonal brace built into the frame of the
door running upwards from the hinge side to the center. Wood in
compression works a lot better to prevent sagging than wood in
tension--or, perhaps more accurately, the joints at the ends are a lot
easier to keep from working loose and allowing sagging.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot
I have built many, many sets of these using that exact method. Down
here in south Texas there have been mroe carport/parking pad to garage
conversions than you could imagine. Since we don't get snow or ice
except as an oddity, there are many of these conversions everywhere in
When I build this style of double doors, they are hung no large strap
hinges (three each side) and I put a small wheel on each door to roll
(if it opens onto a driveway or concrete) to make sure there is no
unnecessary downward force to make the door sag. You won't believe
how much difference that little wheel will make.
I have never built any large set of doors from anything other than a
hard yellow pine frame covered with plywood or siding, with the
appropriate bracing as described above. Never had a problem, and in
fact the doors I built for my parents this way 30+ years ago are still
in fine shape since they have been painted as needed.
One aspect overlooked when building these is to make sure that the
door is secured in place when closed and cannot move around too much.
I use a foot bolt (usually found as a "cane bolt") and a sliding bolt
as a head bolt to make sure both top and bottom are secure. They
won't warp of you put a bolt on top and bottom. The middle is secured
by a twist hasp, or in some cases (remember, very stable with a small
wheel) I use a stainless lockset.
In our area years ago the traditional wood for barn doors was willow,
fairly light weight and good in the weather. my great grandfather built
many of the post beam, gambrel (sp) roof style barns in the area back at
the turn of the century.
I made the above door out of Spanish Cedar and it has held up well.
True mortise and tenon with pegs.
The lower panel is marine ply and is glued into a plow for racking
The only thing I'd add is to consider loose tenon joinery. Norm used
that method to build a large entry door, and said he got the technique
from a door shop. In any case, when working on a large scale, I would
think loose tenons are easier to do accurately than standard mortise
and tenon joinery (if you're Tom Watson, of course, that statement may
Cedar, cypress, redwood, teak, mahogany all will take the weather
well. None are available in 8/4 thickness at HomeDepot, to my
knowledge, but maybe you can special order... Oak and maple
are 'sweet' woods - they'll get black with mildew very easily.
The rails and stiles will need strength that red cedar and redwood
cannot provide, both to hold at the tenons and to tolerate the force
hinge attachment points. Yellow cedar might be good.
Sometimes a Z-frame (horizontal battens and a diagonal brace) is a
choice for structure, and only the facing will show with the doors
closed. Hinges attach directly to the strong battens.
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