Advice for building a solid wood entry door

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Forum topic by yellowtruck75 posted 08-15-2013 11:19 PM 17715 views 2 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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469 posts in 3307 days

08-15-2013 11:19 PM

I would like to build a mahogany or walnut entry door for my house. I will be using my Domino for the joints and more than likely will use 8/4 stock milled down. What type of durable finish should I use? I would like to put a few small windows in it but where do I get small insulated glass windows to put in it?


13 replies so far

View mbs's profile


1657 posts in 3181 days

#1 posted 08-15-2013 11:25 PM

I don’t know of a good finish that holds up to UV light. I wouldn’t use anything but some type of oil finish that doesn’t have urethane.

Make sure your wood is extremely dry because most solid doors i’ve seen shrink and warp over time. My sister has one that looked great when it was finished but looks horrible now.

Good luck.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3384 days

#2 posted 08-15-2013 11:42 PM

Sherwin-Williams Resilience Ultra Deep Base. It’s a latex exterior paint, and if you don’t add any tint, it will dry clear. As always, try a small amount on a sample. I’ve had some on a corner table on my screen porch for over a year and a half, and it looks brand new.

However, (there’s always one, isn’t there), I don’t know what kind of climate you are in, but here in Fla. I would not recommend a wood door. During the summer (which lasts six months) , the difference between the air conditioned interior and the sauna outside tends to give you different expansion and contraction on either side, bad news for the door.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14179 posts in 4223 days

#3 posted 08-16-2013 02:12 AM

try searching for the windows at menard’s … they might something

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View JAAune's profile


1854 posts in 2557 days

#4 posted 08-16-2013 03:01 AM

I’d build an exterior frame and panel door using double panels with insulation between them. That will eliminate a lot of the problems caused by difference in humidity between the outdoors and the indoors.

Unless the door is well shielded from rain and sun, any clear finish will likely need re-touching on an annual basis to keep the door in good condition. You have to keep the top coat maintained because once it starts peeling, the wood will get cracked or damaged by the weather and accelerate the aging process. Spar varnish is the most common clear exterior finish but there are probably other good ones too.

If you use the Domino for joinery I hope you have the bigger version of that tool. I have doubts that the little Dominos will suffice for something as heavy as an entry door. You may also want to make your own tenon stock because a carefully fitted, smooth hardwood tenon will have a better glue surface than the stamped Dominos.

I can get insulated glass at a local glass company that installs replacement glass for homes and vehicles. There must be similar businesses in just about any fair-sized city.

Last but not least, the door must be designed to shed water if there’s any chance of rain getting on it. Wood can get damp without ill effect as long as it’s able to dry out when the rain passes. If there are joints and corners for water to get into and the wood is permanently damp, then you’ve got a self-destructing door.

Soak the bottom edge of the door in epoxy to seal the end grain against moisture absorption.

-- See my work at and

View AandCstyle's profile


3185 posts in 2497 days

#5 posted 08-16-2013 11:43 PM

I refinished the outside of this door with Sikkens Cetol Door and Window 2 years ago and it still looks as good now as it did when the pix were taken. I wish I had taken a couple of “before” shots. It is in Ft Worth and gets afternoon sun. Sorry the pix are sideways. HTH

-- Art

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10374 posts in 4293 days

#6 posted 08-16-2013 11:54 PM

shipwright Paul made some COOL doors not too long ago… with insulation, etc.

Check’em out…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View firefighterontheside's profile


19630 posts in 2097 days

#7 posted 08-16-2013 11:58 PM

I would suggest the sickens as well. Very good for UV. Kind of expensive.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3223 days

#8 posted 08-17-2013 02:46 AM

Don’t know what weather is like in Pa. But our door panels are made with reverse grain glued back to back, creating a 1-5/8” thick panel, with a 1/2” Tung. your glass windows should be stopped in from both sides.
The finish, a good one is a water base General #465; you’ll get about two years from it with a southern exposure, more, if it’s a northern exposure. I do love the sikkens if you can get it, what does it matter how much the cost, if it saves you having to redo a finish every year. everything else you asked about just follow JAAUNE’s advise.
PS… make sure you net out at 1 3/4” thickness, hinges and lock sets are finicky, for installing them.

View petersonmurdock's profile


11 posts in 1820 days

#9 posted 01-09-2015 03:10 AM

I am picturing that you will have a good type of door and uniquely done. There are use materials for door that you can get but you need to find close door hardware in your area, if possible add a colorful to your small glass panels like replacing ordinary glass to a stain glass or create your own design by putting your designs or artwork by painting it, after all there are paints that lasts for glasses.

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3038 days

#10 posted 01-09-2015 04:08 AM

I think these are the doors Joe was talking about. They look solid but are insulated and engineered.
I don’t think they’re what you want but there may be some ideas you can use.
The finish is just oil based varathane gloss.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Jeff Heath's profile

Jeff Heath

67 posts in 3310 days

#11 posted 01-09-2015 10:09 PM

You need to familiarize yourself with stave core construction. Too much infor. to type it here. Google it. It’s how custom door makers build their doors.

A solid wood door in most climates with any seasonal change is asking for trouble down the road.

-- Jeff Heath

View billmarket17's profile


3 posts in 1477 days

#12 posted 01-21-2015 03:57 PM

Many people think that the wooden door with a small window is the best product for their homes. They didn’t have any problems with it and if they had to change the window, they resorted to Glass Replacement San Francisco services. On the other hand, there are a few people who prefer metal doors. Find such a person to ask for opinion as well.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5819 posts in 3054 days

#13 posted 01-21-2015 04:42 PM

Deft Poly sprays nicely. My front door still looks like new.
We special ordered the glass from Middlefield Glass and they do nice work with insulated leaded glass panels. They ship anywhere in the states.
Otherwise, any local glass shop can make plain insulated glass panels.

Here is more information on the topic…
The June 2012 issue of Fine Woodworking is a good resource for this build.
Good luck!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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