How to Build a Wooden Door From Scratch 

How to Build a Wooden Door From Scratch 

Building a door from scratch can seem like an intimidating process. With the right guidance and tools, however, you’ll create a wooden door perfect for your home.

Before diving in, have an idea in mind of what you want your door to look like. You’ll also need to know whether it’ll be outdoors or indoors. From there, you can follow these simple instructions to create your own wooden door from scratch:

Step 1: Understand the Basics

Many different types of doors exist. Some consist entirely of wood, while others incorporate glass or screens. Some doors are specifically for exterior or interior use, as well.

Overall, most doors consist of three main parts — the rails, stiles and panels. The stiles and rails hold the structure together. The panels fill in the gaps — you can replace these with glass or other materials if you choose. The hinges and doorknobs, then, are a part of the essential last steps when building a door.

Step 2: Take Measurements

The process of building a door from scratch will vary from person to person. Each builder will have a unique set of measurements since doors differ in size.

In general, however, interior doors tend to be 80 inches tall and one and three-eighths of an inch thick. Exterior doors will likely be thicker. Door widths can then range from 30 to 36 inches. Keep in mind these are general measurements — if you’re building a closet door, yours will be smaller. Remember to keep everything proportional.

Typically, doors should be a one-quarter inch shorter and narrower than the measurements to allow for proper use.

Step 3: Select Materials

The materials you select will depend on a few variables — strength, stability, dryness and preference. You need a strong and stable door to get the most out of your project. This means the hardware will need to be strong enough to keep your home safe. Pay attention to the wood, too. Standard woods will be strong but can warp. Plywoods are stable, but not as strong as wood. Maple, for instance, is an example of a good wood to use. You’ll need to double-check to ensure it’s dry to prevent warping.

Additionally, you’ll need to buy tools and materials like hinges and saws, which will be conducive to your work environment and the wood you choose.

Step 4: Build Stiles, Rails and Panels

The stiles are the two tall posts that go on either side of the door. These should be slightly shorter than the frame measurements. Most stiles tend to be 4 to 6 inches wide, but it will depend on your measurements. These must be straight and flat to reinforce the door’s durability and strength.

Next, make the rails. These are the rectangular, horizontal pieces of wood that go at the top, middle and bottom of the door, connecting the stiles. The bottom rail will be the biggest — followed by the top one — and the smallest goes in the middle. These will range in size, depending on your door measurements. However, they could be anywhere from 8 inches or more on the bottom to 5 inches in the middle.

Rails and stiles are usually the same material, but the panels can differ if you prefer. The panels will vary from person to person. Some people may choose to use a smaller one on the bottom with glass on the top. Others will choose two panels of equal size for the top and bottom. Either way, you will need to measure appropriately and cut each one to scale. These can be a half-inch thick or more, depending.

Step 5: Join Them Together

After you cut your wood, you can now join the pieces together. To do this step, you may want to use screws or nails, although another option is hardwood dowels. You can drill holes for these and insert the dowels, connecting the pieces.

Next, you will need to glue the pieces together as an additional measure. Use several clamps to tighten it all together, then wait for it to dry.

Step 6: Add Doorknobs and Hinges

A standard doorknob hole is two and one-eighth inches thick. These holes are also two and three-quarters to two and three-eighths of an inch from the door’s edge.

You will need three hinges on the other side, with the first going 9 or 10 inches from the bottom. Place the second one 7 or 8 inches from the top. Then, put the last one on the exact center.

Step 7: Complete the Finishing Touches

The last touches involve sanding and painting or staining your door. For sanding, using sandpaper is the gentlest approach as not to throw off the measurements. Sand any rough or grainy parts.

Then, you can add the layers of stain if you plan on staining your door. The same applies to paint — add the necessary coats until it’s complete.

Make Your Own Door With the Materials On-Hand

Once you complete the last step, you’ll have successfully built a wooden door from scratch. Now that you’ve tackled this project, see what else you can create when you put your mind to it.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington

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