Building interior room doors

      Pros share their methods for constructing custom interior doors. June 6, 2001

Question
What methods of door construction are you using?

Forum Responses
When still in the business, we made custom frame-and-panel doors for local residential customers and builders.

Typically, we built from hardwoods like cherry or oak using 5/8” panels back to back for the thicker entrance or passage doors. We used standard cope and pattern shaper tooling with heavy-duty shapers running 1 1/4” spindles and an air-assisted coping fixture. We developed a system of doweling that made for very tight joints and fairly easy assembly in the small production shop environment.



Typically, for custom interior doors we have been asked for 1 3/4" thickness. We use a mortise and tenon construction, but with cope and stick cuts. Tenons run 2 1/2"-3" in length. We only use the long tenons on the rails. On intermittent stiles we cut the short 5/8" tenons. We also use two 3/4" panels back to back.

I use a Maka mortiser and a Wadkin "BEM" shaper for the tenons and panels. I made my own tenon fixture for the BEM. The tooling is not quite off-the-shelf, but the tenon disks are. Profiles are standard. We use a JL Lancaster frame clamp for assembly. And to sand it all up we use a Tagliabue 37" two-head wide-belt.

Probably not the most cost-effective method, but it makes a bulletproof door! And since most custom doors are high-end, this seems to be what customers expect. It seems most of these orders are for 7'0" and 8'0" heights, also.



I like the method using the male and female pattern plus dowels. That’s typically how most doors that I have used are constructed. As suggested above, most of these doors tend to be custom and are 7’-0” or more in height, as opposed to 6’-8”. Likewise, pretty much all commercial stuff is at least 7’-0”.

I think a lot of guys who make cabinet doors think "I’ve got this equipment here, I could use it a little more if I also made house doors." In my opinion, it’s a completely different monster. The same basic principles apply, but you need to deal with the additional dowels, plus you have to have heavy equipment. You cannot make house doors on your router table with some off-the-shelf male/female router bits from Freud. You are also dealing with 8/4 material for the frames vs. 4/4 in your cabinet doors, with the addition of either a thicker raised panel or a two-piece panel.

Another note: are you going to supply the doors finished or unfinished? If you are going to do the finishing in house, are you prepared for the additional material handling in the finish room? If you are planning on supplying them unfinished, then when a problem arises over a warped door, who’s responsible--you or the finisher?

And I won’t even go into the exterior side of this equation--that’s a whole other subject. I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to make their own doors, I'm just pointing out that doing so is a whole other ballgame than making cabinet doors.



Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Custom Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Doors and Windows

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining

  • KnowledgeBase: Solid Wood Machining: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article