Dutch Door Done Easy
A layered assembly and clever installation make building and hanging a breeze
Synopsis: This article gives details for building and installing a Dutch door using a layered-assembly technique. Illustrations show the dimensions of each layer, and a series of photographs demonstrate the method of building the door (including the sequence of cutting the rabbets to keep the piece stable) and then fitting it into the opening before cutting the door in two and adding weatherstripping and hardware.
Ever since I bought my house, I’ve wanted to replace the back door with a Dutch door. There are a lot of aesthetic and practical justifications—you can get a cooling breeze off the porch while keeping the dog inside, for instance—but there are also some fun challenges associated with the build, and that’s always a good motivator for a craftsman. The method I’ve landed on uses a layered-assembly technique, so you don’t need any plunge routers or mortise machines, or cope-and-stick router-bit sets. Instead, the door is built in three layers, yielding a stiff, strong finished product. I’ve also discovered that the best approach to fitting a Dutch door is to build it as a single piece, hang it in the opening, and then remove it so that it can be cut in two. When the top and bottom halves are put back on the hinges, it’s much less difficult to bring everything into alignment than if everything were installed separately.
Multilayer door frame is simple and strong
This 13/4-in.-thick exterior door is built in three overlapping layers, providing all of the strength of traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery, but without the fuss. the rails and stiles on the interior and exterior sides of the door are oriented conventionally, with rails butting into stiles, but in the center layer the orientation of the pieces is switched in order to stagger the joints.
ALSO SEE: Video: Build a Dutch Door
From Fine Homebuilding #282
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