Introduction: Build a Panel Door
This is my first instructable and my first try at building my own door. Please be light on me as I know I make mistakes. I do think the finished product turned out great.
Materials used were
3 - 2X6 X 8 foot
1 - 2X8 X 8 foot (this could be 4 foot)
1 - 2X2 plywood ( decide thickness by tools and technique used, more later )
1 - 2X4 plywood ( same note as above )
Screws, I used 4 inch
1 length of dowell ( size decided later )
Door hardware ( lockset and hinges )
Finish of choice
Table saw or substitute
router with suitable bits
Drill ( cordless is best ) and various wood bits
other common tools normally found in home shop
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The first step is selecting the material. At the lumber yard keep in mind what each piece will be used for and how it will match the rest. Straight and flat is always best. I used common 2X 6 and 2X8 because of it being my first attempt and I disn't want to take a chance on high priced lumber. Make your choice according to your budget and skill.
At home inspect material again and decide where each piece will be used. Look for defects that will have to be worked around and how each piece best matches the others.
Ok, it's time to make sawdust. Setup your router with the profile bit you want to use. Keep your router setting the same for all profile cuts in this step. You will cut a profile on both edges of one side of both stiles and top and bottom rails. Then on both edges of both sides of other two rails. Do not cut the rails to length yet. I found out after I started this project that I should have used my router bit without the back cutter ( 4th photo ). First photo shows the profile cut on one edge of one side. photos 2 and 3 show the results of using 1-1/2 inch lumber and bits made for 1-3/8. Photo two shows the material that has been removed in photo three. If you have a planer you can plane the thickness down to 1-3/8, I didn't have one. When your router is set up, cut a profile on the edge of a scrap piece of wood to test for perfection. Router on Right - Material on left when cutting. Always use safety glasses no loose clothing and follow all safety precautions.
Now cut a profile on one edge of one side of a stile. Check your work and look for defects like photo four that will have to be covered up or cut out. With the width of the material some can be cut off and then re-cut the profile. I was able to cover this spot up with one of the rails. Continue to cut a profile on both edges of one side of both stiles ( 2- 2X6) and top and bottom rail ( 2X8 ). Cut profiles on both edges of both sides of third 2X6 for use as other two rails. If this is not clear refer to photo six with notes. Click photo to see notes.
If you used a profile bit without back cutter you will now have to cut a dado on edge of stiles and rails that have profile cut. Center the cut or cut from same side of each piece so the dado will be same measurement from face of board. Use a cutter that matches your panel thickness.
Now cut all four rails to finished length keeping in mind that their length will determine the width of finished door. Make sure they are all exactly same length. Don't cut length of stiles ( 2-2X6 with profile on one edge ) yet.
Now is a good time to lay out your work and get a visual of how it will go together. Check the width of door. you want to end up about two inches wider than finished door to allow for trimming after assembly. Photo one shows my layout. Photo two shows how I blocked edges of rail to keep from splintering before cutting profile. If your measurements are still in spec, setup router to cut end profile on rails. Be aware that you want the tab on end of rail to fit dado on stile as well as matching the profile cut (third photo). Test cut and adjust then test cut again before cutting on good material. Always cut with router on right (not left) side of material.
Dry assemble everything and square it up. Decide where to put rails and measure and cut panels. Reassemble with panels. Make sure everything is square. Use clamps to keep everything together. Make sure you have about two inches of length and width to allow for trimming to fit. Mark where your rails join to stiles ( 3rd photo ). I used a support to keep my drill square when I drilled starter holes for screws. I used two screws in each rail countersunk about two inches. Leave stile on one side attached. If everything is ok go to glue step.
Photo one shows one choice of glue. Others work just as well. Any glue squeeze out can be removed with a damp cloth or sanded away later. With one stile still attached insert panels and spread light glue on rail ends on open side. Do not glue panels. They must be left to float. Attach stile with screws and clamp. Leave long enough for glue to set before going to other side. Once glue sets on first side remove clamps and remove unglued stile. Glue it as same as first side, screw together and clamp. Wait. Photo three shows glued up door. Almost finished.
First photo shows door sanded down and trimmed. Trim and square all sides. Use of a straight board clamped to work piece makes cutting with circular saw easy (sorry no picture of that step). If you used countersunk screws now is the time to plug holes and cut plug flush. In above photos screw holes have been plugged with one inch long dowell. Use whatever diameter you made countersunk holes. Photo two shows finished door. I used a wipe on stain that I had on hand then four coats of polyurethane ( also on hand ) sanding between coats after second coat. Finish sanding with 150 grit. ( It's a door not a fine cabinet ) I am not including hanging door and installing hardware in this instructable. Thank You.