Building Big Doors, On Site
When a custom-size door is needed, try this simple technique for a frame-and-panel look.
Synopsis: Carpenter Gary Striegler describes his method for building custom-size frame-and-panel doors. He uses poplar for the stiles and rails and plywood for the panels. Through a series of photographs, he outlines the process of building the doors: getting straight edges from the stock; gluing up the bottom rail; fitting and laying out the joinery; cutting the grooves, mortises, and panels; and the final glue up.
Recently, one of our clients decided to open up the wall between two rooms in their new house with a large cased opening. The rooms were both intended to be used primarily as home offices, so the couple liked the idea that they could be open to each other most of the time. When needed, though, the rooms would double as guest bedrooms. Since overnight guests wouldn’t be as excited about an open floor plan, we had to come up with a good-looking option to separate the spaces. A large set of sliding doors was the perfect solution.
A sliding door must be at least 2 in. wider than the jamb opening. For example, a 30-in. door opening needs a minimum 2-ft. 8-in.-wide door. Often our clients want the door to be wide enough to still cover the casing when it is closed, which means the door must be even wider. Depending on the type of hardware I’m using and the particular trim details, the door may need to be a custom height, too. Whenever custom-sized doors are needed, I have to make a decision: Buy them or build them?
Pretty early in my career, I figured out that I could build a custom door by gluing two 3⁄4-in.-thick frames back-to-back (see FHB #145, “A Different Approach to Frame-and-Panel Doors”). I still build some doors that way, but it’s labor intensive and…