Ideas for an Extra-Large Wood Entry Door

An order for double 5'-wide entry doors poses challenges for hardware and construction details. February 19, 2008

I have a very large entry door that I am bidding, and I could use some help with design. The unit would be a set of double doors 8' high by 10' wide (two 5' doors) and a minimum of 2 1/2" thick. Species would be either select alder or cherry, and each door would have 15 divided lights.

My first issue is weight. My thought was to use pine cores with cherry or alder veneer 1/4". I imagine I would have to use 3 or 4" mortise and tenons. Second, and probably most important, what sort of hardware is available for a door of this size and weight? I once saw a large door like this that sort of rotated on a top and bottom hinge or pin, rather than hinges on one end. The hinge was set in about 1/3 of the way from the wall. Where can I find something like this?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor C:
Even if you keep the perimeter at 3" thick, you can step the inner stiles and rails thinner and also keep the panels thinner yet. The weight is not that much of an issue. Four 4 1/2" ball bearing butts per door. The hardware and backsets will be a nuisance. There are some very select handmade pieces for the thick doors - White Chapel, Crown City. Commercial search. The alder would be nice and a lot lighter. Expensive here in Florida. We can get beautiful cherry cheaper.

From contributor T:
For an easier time finding hardware, stick to 2 1/4" maximum thickness. Also, pivots are what you are describing, and it is a good idea in this case. Although I think that corner mounted pivots will do a nice job for you as well as leaving a full ten feet width when both doors are open. Look at the Rixson website for your options for hanging heavy and oversized doors. I think that the joinery will be of greater concern on these doors than the hardware will.

From contributor E:
As long as you follow the standard guidelines from the hardware supplier, I doubt that you will have any issues there. However, the joinery and potential sagging of a wide door should be your biggest concern.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the tip on the Rixon hardware - that is exactly what I was thinking of. Do you know if that type of hardware can be installed after the slab has been poured? My understanding is that it must go in before.

It seems that most feel that the joinery is of more importance. My thought is to go with deep mortise/tenons and wide rail/stiles. Typically I would use a 1 1/2" M/T and a 5 1/2" stile for a 42"x8' door. In this case I would double the M/T depth and increase the stile width to 8". Does this seem sufficient? Anything I may not be thinking of?

From contributor G:
You can install pivot hardware both before/after the slab; depends on your model choice. Google commercial pivot hardware and see the million plus options you will have. I would use 6 inch stiles, 7.5 inch top rail, 16 inch bottom rail. Triple laminate all stile, rail parts and finish out to 2.25 thick. Check out the Lumicor panels - less than half the weight of glass and stronger, with many design options.

From contributor M:
I would make the mortises as deep as possible. Around 4" with a chisel mortiser. I don't think that widening the stiles will gain you much.

From contributor A:
I don't use mortise/tenons anymore. I went to dowels. With a door this large I would put a 5/16" x 6" lag bolt through the edge of the stile into the top and bottom rails. I countersink bolts so 3" is in the stile and 3" is in the rail. The downside is that you can sometimes see the plug in the edge of the stile. This method has worked well for me in the past.

From contributor N:
We initially wrote a program for true mortise and tenon screen doors (customer ran a summer camp and wanted the strongest joint we could provide). Next time we needed a square edge door design, we thought of the same program, modified it, and ran it very successfully. Assembly time couldn't have been faster. Now the program is parametric and will get used increasingly in the future.