Introduction: Building Frame & Panel French Doors

About: Former NFL Offensive lineman turned Furniture maker. I am self taught and sharing my experiences with the world!

Building Frame & Panel French Doors

In this video I make a set of custom Frame & Panel French Doors for my shop! I love the arts & Crafts style furniture, so i picked some simple doors to practice so one day I can tackle my front door at home! If you have been watching, you'll know that its taken me the better part of 2 months to get my shop back up and running. I build a huge wall to separate my workspace from my new show room. So to make the entrance complete, I needed some Double Doors. So I build a pair from some reclaimed white oak and hickory.


Building Frame & Panel French Doors

  1. Select Material
  2. Break Down Skip Planed Material Into Rough Dimensions
  3. Square The Door Rails & Stiles
  4. Re-Saw & Dimension Door Panels
  5. Glue Up Door Panels and Bottom Stiles
  6. Sand & Pre- Finish Door Panels
  7. Cut Domino Joinery for Rails and Stiles
  8. Route Out Panel Grooves
  9. Insert Panel and Glue Up
  10. Sand and Finish the Door.
  11. Insert Glass & Hang The Door

Before building Frame & Panel French Doors, you're going to need a few things. Here are the tools and productsI recommend for this build


Finishes/ Consumables/ Parts

Check out All of my Woodworking Tools!

Step 1: Select Materials

The first step to building your doors is going to be material selection. A few things you want to keep in mind during this step.

  • Door hardware thickness
  • Door Jamb Thickness
  • Height & Width of my door

Step 2: Break Down Skip Planed Material Into Rough Dimensions

Once you have the wood you want, roughly layout the parts on your lumber, and use a Jigsaw to roughly cut out the parts. I prefer to use a Jigsaw here because its easy to maneuver, and safe when using on a rough surface. A lot of people use a circular saw here too. I find the jigsaw faster and easier in this application.

Step 3: Square the Door Rails & Stiles

Once your parts have been cut out roughly, let the parts sit for a few days and acclimate to temperature. Sometimes this will allow the wood to make any final movements. After that, go ahead and square your parts down to final thickness.

For this i use the jointer first to plane down one of the faces, and an adjacent edge at 90*. From there i plane the boards to 1/16th proud of their final thickness, then rip them down to my desired final width.

You can at this step cut your rails to final size. For the stiles (the long parts on the sides of the door) leave them long. This will allow you to cut the door down to size with a track saw once it is assembled.

Step 4: Re-Saw & Dimension Door Panels

While the rails and stiles are acclimating, I re-saw the panel parts on my bandsaw. From there i use the jointer and planer to square the boards and prep them for glue up.

  • TIP:Leave your panels wider and longer than you anticipate the interior of the door to be. It is much easier to cut these to size after you measure your final interior length and width of your door panels.

Step 5: Glue Up Door Panels and Bottom Stiles

Now you're going to want to glue up your panels for the doors, as well as your bottom rail. I wanted an overall height on my bottom rail of 10", so i glued up two pieces roughly wider than 5" and after it dried, trimmed it down to final width.

Step 6: Sand & Pre- Finish Door Panels

Once your panels are dry, sand them down to 220 grit and water pop them. The go ahead and apply your finish. You want to pre-finish your panels so when they shrink there is no bare exposed wood around the panel insert.

Step 7: Cut Domino Joinery for Rails and Stiles

Layout the rough shape of your door in clamps. Making sure everything is square and mark the intersecting joints in order to use your Festool XL Domino Joiner to cut the largest tenon you can make. I made 14mm x 140mm tenons and used 2-4 tenons per joint.

  • TIP: Cut the tenons tight on the rails and leave them loose on the stiles. you can glue the tenons into the rails once they're cut, this makes for an easier assembly

Step 8: Route Out Panel Groove

At this stage you're going to want to fully assemble the door but NOT apply glue to the joints. Have the door sitting above the work table in clamps, there are no need for clamps to be on the top surface. This is just a mock up.

Then you will use a rabbeting bit in your plunge router to cut the grooves for your door. I use a 1/2" Rabbeting bit with the biggest ball bearing it comes with. I then work down to the smaller bearing to deepen the cut to where i want it, about 5/8" - 1/2"

Repeat this process for the top panel. If you choose to insert glass. After you cut the initial groove, you can relieve the top of the rabbet with a flush trim bit, and set the bearing to fit inside the glass channe

Step 9: Insert Panel and Glue Up

Now that you have everything fit. Round over the edges on your panels. Once those are rounded you are ready for glue up. Here I use space balls to eliminate the door rattling due to expansion and contraction over time. Use clamps on both sides of the door to keep it flat, Flatness in glue up here ie crucial.

  • TIP: Be sure to sand the inside edges of your door where the panel will inset BEFORE you glue it up

Step 10: Sand and Finish the Door

Let the doors dry overnight. Then sand the doors to 220 grit and water pop them. Final sand to 220 or 400 grit, and then use a tack cloth to remove the excess dust. Apply your favorite finish in light coats, sanding in between. 5-5 coats should do it. I recommend General Finishes Endurovar. You can also spray apply your finish sanding in between with a brillo pad or 400 grit paper

Step 11: Insert Glass & Hang the Door

The final step is to square up the panels on the door glass, and insert the glass into the door. I use 3/4" x 1/2" material for this, and i pin nail the trim over the glass on the backside. This will hold the glass in place, and not using glue allows for easy replacement shall you ever need tThank you so much for checking out this build. If you want to see more custom work from my shop, Here are a few more projects for you.

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