Help : Indoor narrow frame-panel door slides - rails recommendations

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Forum topic by lepelerin posted 12-08-2013 12:30 AM 1539 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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495 posts in 2566 days

12-08-2013 12:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip

Hi all,

One more time I am asking for your advices and help here. The right community to get the right solution.

A friend of mine asked me if I could make a door for his basement room. From the way his house is designed it would not be practical to have one regular size door. We agreed that 2 narrower doors would be better.

Each door would be 15.5” wide by 6’6”. The door will be oiled, waxed … no paint. I want to keep the price as low as possible. I do have multiple questions:

I was thinking to use hard wood for the door frame and maybe for the panels.
Which hardwood would you recommend for the frame? He wants to have a color contrast between the frame and the panels. (ie: cherry/American beech/red elm/padauck/walnut or whatever is good for a frame and yellow birch/maple sap/pine …for the panel … to give you an idea). I read that padauck is not friendly with lighter color wood. It might not be a good idea then. If you have any suggestions, please feels free to share.

Price will certainly dictated the wood and the go ahead on this project.

My first concern is the size of the slides and rails.

As you can see in the diagram, there will be 2 stained glass on the top and 2 longer panels (E) for the rest of the door.

Quarter sawn wood?

How thick the frame should be? I was thinking about 1.25” to 1.5”. Is it enough?

How thick the panels should be? 1/2” to 3/4”. Is it OK?

Which width should the stiles be (A). Is 3” appropriate (too narrow, too wide?)

Which width should the rails be (B, C, D)?
Should B and C be the same width and the bottom rail (D) be twice as wide as the others rails.

Thank you in advance for your comments, tips, advices, recommendations. All input will be read and appreciated.

11 replies so far

View MacB's profile


38 posts in 1881 days

#1 posted 12-08-2013 01:22 PM

I’ve used maple and walnut in combination on several projects. These 2 woods have great contrast and always look good. I think I would base the species selection on how it’s color would look with other colors in the room, not that they need to match but the colors shouldn’t conflict with one another.

Frame thickness: I would stick with standard thicknesses, unless there is a unique reason to do otherwise. Indoor is usually 1 3/8”, exterior is usally 1 3/4”.

What hardware are you using?

Is this a mission/craftsman style house? I would consider 1/4 sawn if this is the case. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get too fancy bc you will already be using different species…may get too busy.

What are the other stile and rail sizes in the room/house. You probably want some kind of consistency throughout the whole house. You want this new area to be nice, while also maintaining some continuity. I think too, that the stiles and rails should be in proportion to the overall size of the door.

Hope my opinions help.

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3276 days

#2 posted 12-08-2013 01:48 PM

I would go1-3/4 thick, that will give more room for joinery of the rails and stiles ,look at old doors for widths, stiles need to be wide enough for a knob unless you aren’t using one

View mahdee's profile


4045 posts in 2008 days

#3 posted 12-08-2013 02:17 PM

I would consider folding doors.


View JoeinGa's profile


7740 posts in 2248 days

#4 posted 12-08-2013 02:52 PM

Any chance you could open up the wall and put in a sliding pocket door?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3071 days

#5 posted 12-08-2013 03:13 PM

I’m curious to the circumstances that make having 2 doors necessary. With basically a 31” opening this is easily accomplished with a single door. Half the work also, more or less.
Also what type of hardware are you looking at? Standard butt hinges, bar door hinges (double swing), standard tubular handle set, spring hinges, bolt throws, etc. These would somewhat regulate the thickness and width of your rails and stiles.
As for wood choices any straight grain, properly dried and acclimated hardwood would be great. QS even better more more stabilization.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View a1Jim's profile


117420 posts in 3818 days

#6 posted 12-08-2013 04:04 PM

I think a combination of walnut and maple looks good. None of the woods you list are cheep.

Rails and stiles 11/2’-1 3/4”

1/4 sawn wood is always more stable.

Thickness of frame 1”- 1 1/4” is fine

Panel depending if your doing a raised panel or not ,flat 3/8” raised panel 1/4” less than the thickness of the stiles and rails.

top rail same as the stiles, mid rail add 1/2” bottom rail add 1 1/2”

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2566 days

#7 posted 12-08-2013 08:00 PM

First of all, thank you for the very informative replies. this is reassuring when you embark on a project knowing that help is a few keystrokes away and that this wonderful and very knowledgeable community takes the time to share.

The entire basement is unfinished at the moment. The room is longer than larger. The walls will certainly be painted a light burgundy on the long walls and terracotta for the short ones. So walnut and maple would definitively a good match. 1 3/8 would be ideal as I can get 2” walnut at the store.
Hardware, Stupid me I did not think about it. Will take that into consideration.
For the other doors, either there are none in the basement or the 2 that are installed are white very cheap cardboard doors from the big stores. In the long run my friend would like all handmade wooden doors. I will make a template in cardboard to visually check the proportions.
and YES reply helped a lot. Thank you

The wood is 2” rough sawn at the store. Once squared and planed it will certainly be short of 1 3/4. I will keep it as thick as possible. Good point for the joinery. I will use tenons and mortises. I will make little wooden handles from the leftover wood. Thank you

I will ask my friends to consider it. Did not think about it. Thank you

The reason for the 2 doors. See attached diagram. There is a lower ceiling 18” from the opening of the door. You could not fully open a full door. Opening the door in the room is not an option, this is the only exit (except 2 little windows) from this room and for security concern a “push door” is more appropriate. As mentioned above, we did not think about hinges. How stupid is that? Thank you

Seems that is not the first time you are dealing with door construction. Having narrower stiles and Rails would be more visually pleasing than 3” as I was considering, would require less wood and door would be lighter. All good. Great to get a “ratio” for stiles and rails. Thank you

Many thanks to all of you, will do the number and see how much these doors would cost. If it’s OK with my friend that will be my first commissioned work.
As mentioned above I will use tenons and mortises for the door frame as it seems to be the classic way to do it.
If you have any other comments please feel free to share them. Tx, A

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3071 days

#8 posted 12-08-2013 08:21 PM

I see now on the 2 doors vs 1. That makes perfect sense.
I would have to respectfully disagree with a1Jim on the rail and stile dimensions. It seems his advice is more suited for cabinet doors not a set of passage doors.
Along cutmantom thinking…more mass, more stability. This needs to be cushioned with an aesthetically pleasing layout out rail and stile dimensions. Draw up a full size mock up on a piece of ply or your cardboard to get a good feel of what it will look like. I would say 2” to 2 1/2” stiles, do to the narrow door (you will not be able to use standard passage handlesets with this), and 3 1/2” to 4” for the top and intermediate rail, 6” to 8” for the bottom rail. The rail width is what will prevent any racking or drop in the door in the future. A solid hardwood door is going to be heavy. It could be lightened up with flat plywood panels, veneered with the wood of choice of course.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3472 days

#9 posted 12-08-2013 09:13 PM

@OP – keep in mind that maple and walnut can be heavy. I am making a cutting board out of that stuff and it is heavy – and just 15×24. Just something else for you to think about when considering hinges.

Good luck on your project.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2566 days

#10 posted 12-08-2013 09:14 PM

We thought about that but not possible. There are pipes, wires on both side. That would have been the easier solution.

Thank you for the valuable input. I will make a mock up and go to my friend and see how it would look like. cheaper to adjust a piece of cardboard than a piece of solid wood. We thought about plywood panels, but I never did veneer before and not sure where to get it where I live. The only place I found it here is a kind of pizza box with small pieces. Never found larger piece. Ordering it might end up more expensive. I will certainly check all the options. Tx again

I will take that into consideration, very good point. Thank you

View a1Jim's profile


117420 posts in 3818 days

#11 posted 12-08-2013 09:36 PM

Design for esthetics and function are always open for debate. I came up with my sizes based on the width of the door ,if you have stiles that are to wide it makes the panel very small and out of balance by my eye, but 2”-21/2” may work too. . If there is strong joinery these sizes will be very strong. If the hardware that will be used is latching chances are the stiles will have to be wider. You are right this door is closer to a cabinet size than a full size door. A full size mock up is a great idea .it will help to determine the look Lepelerin wants.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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