Building a Door

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Blog entry by richgreer posted 01-09-2010 04:14 PM 986 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

All of the woodwork in our house is cherry except for the front door, which is oak. I assume the builder used an oak front door because the outside portion is exposed to the elements and cherry would not hold up well.

I have an idea for building a new door. I would like to laminate oak and cherry so I have oak on the outside and cherry on the inside. This would be a panel door and I would make laminations for both the frame pieces and the panels. I would finish the outside with a spar varnish and I would finish the inside to match the other woodwork in the house.

This seems doable. Does anyone have any thoughts, pro or con, on this approach?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

8 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#1 posted 01-09-2010 04:23 PM

Rich, this is a doable project. Here is a project that Rhett posted a while ago. He made a door laminated with cherry and walnut. It would not be any different substituing oak for the walnut.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4119 days

#2 posted 01-09-2010 04:54 PM

Might consider using an oil, like Penofin, on the outside. You’ll have to retouch the finish for a few years, but you can do it easily.

Since most doors I see these days seem to have a laminated plain-sawn board center covered with a veneer this should work just fine.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3691 days

#3 posted 01-09-2010 06:11 PM

Something that I don’t know to much about but Scott Bryan always has good info:
Dan’s idea looks good too.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3667 days

#4 posted 01-09-2010 06:14 PM

It sounds like a great project.

View sras's profile


4795 posts in 3123 days

#5 posted 01-09-2010 07:41 PM

I remember seeing a project where the interior panels were a different wood than the exterior. I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw it. Anyway, they did not glue the two panels together. That allowed the exterior wood to expand and contract without affecting the interior panel.
I did some searching and can not find the project. I think it might be in an old WoodSmith issue. I did find a door project on New Yankee is similar.
Maybe you already thought of this – if not take a look.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#6 posted 01-09-2010 09:51 PM

I also think Steve is right. As I write this, the outside of my door is subject to temperatures below zero and the inside of the door is subject to room temperature. Variations in expansion and contraction seem likely.

With respect to the panels, I can keep them together because they will be set (and not glued) into grooves. I might make the grooves a little thicker than normal.

With respect to the frame of the door, I think I have to glue them up but if I keep the rails and stiles narrow, expansion and contraction should not be a major concern.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View sras's profile


4795 posts in 3123 days

#7 posted 01-09-2010 09:53 PM

Sounds like you’re on the right track Rich!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Kacy's profile


101 posts in 3079 days

#8 posted 01-10-2010 05:47 AM

I have to admit that I’ve not done it myself, but somewhere along the line I read an article about building up a door with a core of insulation foam board, with the inside and outside surfaces connected mainly at the perimeter of the door with either a wood that moves very little or metal that is itself insulated from the panels to prevent thermal bridging. I will try to find that article … I suspect it was in Fine Homebuilding.

-- Kacy, Louisiana

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