Inserting Glass into a Wood Entry Door

      Woodworkers describe techniques they've used to put glazing into entry doors. April 3, 2012

Question
Please check out the drawing below. The customer wants a smaller piece of decorative glass (15" x 29") and the only way (at least, how I see it) to fit it in is to place it inside of a large raised panel (approximately 30" by 40" tall). Is this a bad idea? The door is under an a-wing and painted. I'm planning on stave-core with Spanish cedar skins. The door is 40" wide by 80" tall.


Click here for higher quality, full size image

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)

From contributor L:
I'd bet the panel will crack. Why not do mullions?



From contributor M:
I don't see why that wouldn't work. You may consider a three ply panel using 1/4" ply in the middle for strength. That layout works for a speak easy.


From contributor D:
Looks common enough to me - no real issues. Panels about this wide (30") though, are about where we start suggesting they be flat plywood instead of raised solid. I don't know why Cedro Oderata is so popular. Khaya looks similar and you don't taste that bitter aspirin when you work it, especially if it's going to be painted. The design though is proven, at least in my experience, as we've built thousands of doors with speakeasy openings without any callbacks.


From the original questioner:
I was thinking about this more and could engineer a stave core raised panel to further combat disasters with seasonal expansion. Contributor D - do you have any pictures you could post of speakeasy doors you've built? My customer isn't 100% sold on the design and would like to see it before giving me the go-ahead.


From contributor G:
You should give more details about panel and glass. For example, the thickness is very important.


From contributor Y:
I agree with Contributor M - two or three ply panel. I do this with oval glass inserted in the panel, no moulding on either side. I use butal tape on the glass then pin the center 6" of panel together top and bottom before mounting in the door.


Click here for higher quality, full size image



From the original questioner:
To contributor Y: So the glass is sandwiched between the outer and inner panels? How would this be replaced if the glass breaks?


From contributor Y:
Yes the glass is sandwiched between the inner and outer panels. I loose mould the panel in to allow for removal. You could install with tight mould and route off the stick mould if you need to remove but I prefer the loose mould.


From contributor O:
We do this two ways, with wide variation of both depending upon design and glass, etc. One way is to frame the glass opening with stock at the same thickness as the adjacent stiles and rails, and what width looks best. This will make perhaps four odd shaped panels around the frame/opening instead of one large panel with an opening. Then the glass opening in the frame is stick molded on the exterior side and rabbeted on the interior so glass and then stops can be added.

Another way is to cut the opening into a thick panel - solid is fine, or tongue and groove. Then make a rabbeted molding for both sides of the opening that can be attached to the panel centers (and about 6" of width) from the outside. This will allow the glass to go in from the inside and the molding will then stop the glass in, or the molding can go in and create a rabbet for the glass, then the stops go in. The idea is to float the glass frame assembly in the panel with the rabbets. This is the way the glazed speakeasy is done in the photo below.

Either method allows glass service. Without easy/obvious glass service, the door can be rendered disposable. We see glass failing much sooner and more frequently than the surrounding door.

I have historic evidence of light wood stops tacked into solid wood openings (usually no larger than 12 x 18) to hold either art glass panels or single lights of glass, non- insulated. They condensed and leaked, but that was the norm 120 years ago.


Click here for higher quality, full size image



From contributor H:
Have you ever painted Spanish cedar? Are you aware of its bleed-through characteristics? Stain killers work somewhat, I just need to re-paint it every two-three years. Also, the panel should be done as Contributor D suggests, just be sure that the inside of the trim is secured in such a manner that it can be removed. Otherwise this is a fairly standard door.



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: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Doors and Windows


    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