Making a Front Door heads the to do list

By Andy the stuff doer

(All the Door design, build, details, videos etc.  are POSTED HERE)

A  new year and fresh resolve to get some jobs finished.  I’ve bought the timber for making my sliding sash windows and got pressed in to another job. 

Whilst I was getting a big order for timber together, the wife asked me about the front door I said I was going to make. So I added a few extra length to order and now I’ve got another job on the list.

Never mind, I’ll enjoy it when I’ve started.   The trouble is starting, I’ve spent hours trying to get my head around Sketchup and only managed a visual representation.

Victorian style front door half glazed

Sketchup of Front Door

After spending ages creating this I literally went back to the drawing board. Within half an hour I had got all the proportions right and all the dimensions for the timber sections.  Paper and pencil, a fantastic combination.

Link to the full details Timber Front Door design details. Includes- using the Golden Ratio to get the proportions right.

56 Responses to “Making a Front Door heads the to do list”

  1. Hi Andy,

    That door’s looking quite good. I have a couple of points you may want to consider…

    What will you be making this from?

    If it’s softwood, you may want to alter your dimensions depending on the sawn sizes – eg. 4″x2″ gives a finished size of 95mmx45mm for the stiles and muntins (that’s what most joinery firms do). It saves wasting extra wood… Then again, it can be beneficial to have that extra – in case the boards are badly bowed or you have dead knots on one edge.

    Bottom rails would typically be between 170mm-195mm finished. Mid-rails slightly narrower; between 145mm-170mm.

    You’ll also want to look at where you’ll be positioning the handle. I think 900mm is generally about right for most people (or was it 1m?) but, I’ve seen many doors where the handles are awkwardly low. Some people will centre these on the mid-rails and chop in to the mortise and tenon joint; others will design the door so they’re only cut in to the stile above.

    Have you checked out the FENSA regs?

    I look forward to seeing this one progress. Should be a good work out for your router!


  2. Hi Olly,
    We’re on a similar hymn sheet with the dimensions.

    Have a look here

    I cut the stiles and muntins from 50 x 175, as I needed the off cuts for my windows. They ended up 105mm, bottom rail 175 and mid rail 140.

    I’ll be fitting a rim latch (so not having to cut in to the mid rail mortise and tenon) mounted at the mid rail height. But as I can’t find these with 5 lever locks, I’ll fit a 5 lever deadlock in the stile below the joint.

    Thanks for the FENSA link, as far as I can tell the if it’s less than 50% glazed I can ignore officialdom.

    The router got it’s work out, see my head cam post on the blog, or it will be on the web site soon.


  3. Well it’s coming along nicely. The door is ready for painting now. There will be pause before it’s fully finished as the other half is going to working on the leaded glass.

    That will give me a change to catch up on the coverage. So Far I’ve posted:

    Timber Exterior Door Design

    DIY External Door Design and Proportions

    Door Tenon Theory and cutting

    Door Mortise Marking and Cutting

    Timber Door Fox Wedging mortise and tenon joints

  4. Hi Andy

    We’ve been following this journey of yours with great admiration. For someone who hasn’t done a project like this you’ve done an awesome job.
    Well done mate and keep up the great work both on projects and videoing.

    Marc 😉

    PS, Great website too!

  5. Thanks Marc,
    And Thanks for starting the thread Over at GET WOODWORKING. The folks there are really friendly and encouraging. I’ve learn’t a lot from talking to them and seeing their work. I hope my contributions give something back.

    Cheers Andy

  6. Hi Andy,

    That was a very interesting demo. You have practical solutions to achieving great results with limited tools on a budget.

    Thank You


  7. Andy.
    You do a great job with both the written work as well as the graphics on the computer to show the method of work. And the quality of your videos productions are great. I IY perslucky to do Woodworking and General Construction for a living for the past 35 years. But for the weekend DIY’er they should have no problem following your directions. I enjoy check out sites such as yours to see how others vary in their methods of work.. I try to keep a open mind and look for ways I might be able to improve my ways of doing the same job. Over the years new materials and tools have been developed. As well the consumers are better educated today. A lot of this is due to the easy access to information via the internet. To be competitive the contractors today need to keep ahead what is changing in our industry just to keep up with what are customers are looking for when thy seek us out.

    Thanks for a great site,


  8. Thanks Ed,
    I realy appreciate your comments. It makes a big difference to know folks are finding the information clear and interesting. It gives me the motivation to keep going.

  9. Well, Well, Well, ……….
    I’ve been searching for days, months for this info.
    A goldmine at last!
    Many Many thanks, Andy, for your time and effort in sharing you project in such a clear and varied way. (Head cams, videos and illustrations)
    I was hesitating on making my own doors and windows for my Lean-Too, but now I will go right ahead.
    Sketchup takes a while to get to grips but the tutorial videos help. Worth the time to get up and running on.


  10. Thanks Gordon,
    Your “Lean Too”. I’d call it a Fantastic Timber Conservatory. Stunning work.
    Your stained glass is an inspiration as well!
    Hope your door works out well


  11. Paul Watkinson on May 6th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Andy, your written instructions and drawings are excellent and the videos better the ‘New Yankee Workshop’. I am nearly 65, just retired and hoping to take up some woodwork. What I have seen here only drives me on to get going – many thanks for your inspiration.


  12. Thanks Paul, Good luck with your new hobby, I’m sure you’ll find it relaxing, enjoyable and productive.

  13. Love your work.
    Don’t know what’s more impressive though, your woodwork or your video work.
    Great to watch.


  14. Hope it meets them all important U values!


  15. Greg,
    Are you telling me that replacement doors have to meet Building Regs?
    I don’t think so in this case, it’s a replacement door, less than 50% Glazed.

    Let me know if there’s more to it than I think.

  16. Nathan Kerridge on July 2nd, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Thank You!

  17. Andy, your intructional segments are beyond comparison. Truly notable work. They are thorough and well presented. Additionally, you bring an entertaining aspect to the enriching learning experience. I must second the comments of Ed on both the written work and the graphics, and commend you on not only a great documentation and demonstration of your process, but, ultimately, a well executed creative process resulting in very fine work.

    You are an artisan, craftsman, and artist as you have taken an abstract thought and guided it into our realm of existence. And how symbolic it is that I came upon your work through this topic of making a door – a portal.

    I sincerely appreciate what you do, and how you do it. It makes me smile…

    Thank you and may your “door” always welcome in prosperity.
    Stef (a fellow maker)

  18. Oh Stef, you are too kind. I’m blushing now.
    Thanks for comments, its feedback like yours that encourage me to do more.

  19. I’m planning a very similar project – having made some new timber casement windows for myself a couple of winters ago, I’m hoping a new front door won’t be too tricky – seing your website makes me want to get started right now!

    I’m terrified that my new door will warp (the 102 year-old one I’m replacing did by 8-10mm overall) – I guess it just comes down to timber selection, sealing the end-grain and a bit of luck.

    Your door looks great and the website/video are extremely inspiring and useful. Really looking forward to seeing more.

    Cheers, JB

  20. Thanks JB.
    I think warping is becoming a increasing problem. Our houses are getting warmer and less well ventilated, all in the name of energy effiecency. The higher internal moisture, IMO, gets to the inside face of doors. Also if the draught proofing around the door has a gap then an extra cold spot can develop, making the problem worse.
    The draft proofing on my old front door did reduce the summer to winter changes in the door shape.
    Good luck with your door build, let us know how it works out

  21. Just to say how much I appreciate your set of videos on doormaking; I’m dusting off my workshop after too much time at CAD in the architects firm that I used to suffer. I have a double margin half glazed oak monster that I’m about to start on and your videos have been inspirational. Where do I send the beer to?

  22. Hi Ralph, Great to here I’ve given you inspiration. I find woodworking or making anything a relaxing balance to my day job, sat at the computer, I think I’d go mad without it. Good luck with “Oak Monster” and let us know how it turns out. As for the beer, do me a favour, some time during the build process have a good bottle of real ale in your workshop, admire your handiwork, raise your glass and give a toast to the feeling you have. That’ll do for me.

  23. Hello, I have just watched your door series and was wondering if you have ever put glass in the place of the wooden panels. If so, how? Also, are there special considerations for double paned casings and/or sealants from solder to wood? Thank you, you have the most informative blogs I have seen.

  24. Hi Chrissy,
    Thanks for the comment, questions (and compliment).
    The top panels will be glazed with very traditional leaded windows. These will be fitted with old fashioned linseed putty and wood beading on the inside. Fitting Double glazed is a totally different kettle of fish. The extra width can be accomadated easily enough but the edges of double glazed units causes problems. The sealent around the edges of units can breakdown and you end up with condensation inside them. It is possible to fully bed them in NEUTRAL cure silicone, don’t use the stuff that smells of vinegar and don’t use putty as these can accellerate the breakdown of the seals. The most reliable way of fitting double glazed units is with a ventilated air gap all the way round. This is possible in a door but, is it worth doing when such a small area glass is going have a minor effect on overall heat loss?
    Hopefully this answers your questions. If not feel free to post again.

  25. I believe you are right about raising the position of the knocker on your door. It should also be fastened securely to the door. Here in the Colonies, we prefer knockers to be high and tight.

  26. Hi just seen your video of making a wooden door and it has been very helpful as i’m doing a carpentry and joinery course, are you gonna do a video on making sash windows.
    I look forward to seeing more of what you do.

  27. I found your video and information excellent. I would like to buy a router and router bench but I am confused by the choice etc can you confirm what you use and whether you have any recommendations/comments?



  28. Hi Bill, Thanks for your comment. I use a Trend T10 router and a Record router table. The Trend I have found no problems with. The Record table had a few teething ptoblems that I soon sorted. It’s a solid table but some of details especially the Fence could have been better. I know some folks make their own router tables with impressive results. It could be worh you having a look at the Trend Website, they have quite a bit of “beginners” info on there. As with all tools my advice would be to get the best you can afford (or justify). All the best Andy.

  29. Andy,
    I hate you! I’d sell the wife for a workshop like that.
    Brilliant video. Got to be a Spurs fan with those sort of skills.:-)


  30. Robbie, See if you can work out a away of getting the workshop (I built mine) without selling the wife. They do come in handy, and they aren’t any bother when you’ve got a workshop to hide in, as long as you make some stuff for the house.

  31. Brilliant, I am about to attempt two hardwood doors using your recipe!
    I am lucky as I have a big workshop and when I see the area you work in and the results that you get I am full of admiration for your skill.
    Above all it is very generous of you to share it with the world, so thanks.


  32. Rass, Thanks for your comments and have fun making your doors.

  33. Hi Chap, ex-brummie now living in northern Toronto, Canada. on browesing the you tube, found your site and had a great time reading and watching you vid’s on making a door. Thank you for sharing hope you do more stuff for us all to watch.
    nick name is PIth.

  34. Great video and love the attention to detail. Is the a pic somewhere of the finished door?

  35. Thanks, There will be a pic as soon as the leaded glass is done.

  36. Got here from You Tube and the vid on making raised panel doors. Planning on remaking an old, rotting, beveled glass panel front door, and changing it from 2 different width 3 glass panels, and 2 wood ones, to 3 & 3 of matching widths, which I think will look better. I haven’t done much woodworking to mean much since an injury from chemicals that damaged my body and brain 20+ yrs ago, but when I want something or to do it, I still want to and at least plan. but don’t always do it after planning and buying materials. I like to build and fix things, and I still want and try to do it. This site is a blessing for me, if only to agree with my beliefs, and give me ideas. I like to make do with the minimum if I can, to get the job done as cheaply as possible, and to figure how to manage it. I can use all the help I can get, just attempting the task.

    Thanks for the great site…

    Vince F

  37. I was planning on using dowels instead of tenons, to make my door easier to build for me. Looking at your mortise and tenon page saw some interesting things. Wondering what problems I may run into with dowels, or if they will do the job? Found a simple dowel drilling guide from Rockler I want to get.


  38. Thanks Vince, It’s good to know the info is useful and inspirational. Finishing jobs is something I have a problem with, you might be interested to read the posts my other half has been adding. I have to try and stay focused on a job before moving to next one.
    All the best Andy

  39. Dowels are often used in modern door construction. I have had to repair some in the where the glue has given up and the joints have started working apart. With dowels, its only the glue that hold the joint whereas with a wedged tenon there is the mechanical locking of the joint as well.

  40. It all makes for great reading, watching and listening! And I’m learning. Thanks Andy. Best,Chuck.

  41. A quick update – the Glazing of the door is well and truely WORK IN PROGRESS. It’s over to Wendy for info on the leaded glass

  42. Hi Andy

    Great videos and explaination.

    You dont seem to use a hold down on your hollow chisel morticer. Did you have to do much work on the chisels to get them smooth so they can pull out easily?

    Are they a certain brand of chisel? Or the ones that come with the machine?

    Do you put anything on the chisels to lubricate?

    Many thanks


  43. Hi Paul,
    I recognise your email name from the one of the woodworker forums, I’ve not been active over there recently but I was/am AGBAGB

    The door stiles where too big to fit under the mortiser hold down clamp. I don’t find it a problem using it without on big heavy sections. The bits are from a cheap set I got from screwfix, a bit rough and ready straight out of the box. I polished the flats a bit with a diamond card then I think I might have used some wet and dry. Nothing used as lubrication.


  44. I have only just seen your site on the “Door” what a great article/video. I am now 62 and my hobby has been cabinet making, having made all my own furniture at home. What is so refreshing about your site is the comments made, the quality of your workmanship. Absolutely brilliant to see that handcrafted wood is still very alive in a world of chipboard and flat packs. I cannot add to the comments already made, but to say, I would like to compliment you on your time effort and dedication to the art of wood working.
    Thank you
    Tony Sparsis
    Ps: I am about to start on my new front door

  45. Thanks for comments Tony. It’s good to know the projects and the information is appreciated.
    All the best with your new door.

  46. Excellent demo. I have to make some sliding doors for some built in wardrobes. This has given me a lot to think about.


  47. Dang sir! that’s a smart way to make the panels. Thanks for this site. I can tell it’s going to help me a lot in my quest to learn woodworking.

    regards from the USA.


  48. Hi Mate heres a back handed compliment You are definately a joiner (or picked things up from one i.e. using the fingers as a guide to draw a line)and you have done similar things before!. I am a plasterer and there is lots of things I have not done but I have the skills to do them. Great tutorial really impressed. I am about to take up some self study to be a wood machinist/joiner (as I have picked up things over the years) and you have definately spurred me on. I only have a single garage and I have been looking at the Triton 2000 workcentre that can do all the woodworking jobs in one with had tools. Have you had any experience with it? I am worried about accuracy.



  49. Thanks Tony. I think the “finger line” was something I picked up from woodwork at school. I got an “O” Level, that doesn’t treally qualify me as a Joiner but it set me up for a lifetimes hobby. You work with your hands as plasterer so you probably have the ability for learning any craft skill. It’s something to do with how your hands, muscles etc. learn, your conscious brain doesn’t need to give your hands instructions. With a bit of practice the materials you work with gives feedback that your hands react to.
    I’ve got my self set up with some lime plastering to do, so I’m hoping the skill transfer idea works in any direction I care to go in.
    Sorry I don’t know the Triton workcentre, try some of the forums like,, there are some really friendly and helpful contributors that might be able to help you out.
    All the best with your new venture

  50. Hi there,

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge through these videos and website.
    Well done, the videos are great because they focus on the details.
    I am aware it takes lots of work to achieve this so thanks again for sharing.
    Keep up the fine work and I am already looking forward to discovering a new project of yours.

    All the best

    Best regards from France.

  51. Thanks Stephen, It’s good to know you’ve found it interesting.

  52. Wanted to say thanks for the inspiration. I’m starting work on some panelling and was going to buy a job lot of beading/moulding from Wickes but have invested the money in a router table with which I plan on making my own…

  53. Thanks Jake, I’ve had had a quick look at your blog, you are capable chap so I’m sure you’ll not have any problems. Watch out for scrap thieves in your back garden, that copper wouldn’t last long around here. The draining board grooves look good, I just did mine a couple of weeks ago. Hope the Danish oil lasts OK, permanant damp cloths etc. on our last one rotted it.

  54. Hi Andy,

    Very impressive tutorial on door making. As a Joiner with a full machine shop I can appreciate the time and effort needed to make a door the way you have. I followed your progress and watched all the videos with great delight. I love to see other peoples. methods and techniques.looking forward to the next project. Keep up the good work


  55. Thanks Keith, it’s good to hear from a pro like yourself. I’ll be posting more projects as soon as get chance to write/edit them up.

  56. Hi Andy: Pl forgive the intrusion of an email, I’m not sure if you like being contacted directly, if you don’t – apologies. I have watched your videos re door construction with great interest and they have inspired me to at least consider building some doors for our Edwardian house. We had the originals ‘dipped’ years ago and frankly that ruined them. I’d like to have a go at replacing them with 4 panel variants on your theme. My question is what kit do I need to acquire in order of importance. Space is a bit of an issue, but your guidance would be v helpful in deciding where I go.
    Kind regards

    Hi Phill,

    No Problem, if you don’t mind I add your question and my answer to the associated blog post.

    It’s good to hear you fancy giving it a go. Apart from basic woodworking hand tools. I would recommend, a thicknesser, table saw and router table, if you have these you find yourself tackling many more jobs. You can cut the mortises by hand but I treated myself to a mortising machine. If you don’t think you’ll get much use from the machines in the future you could ask at your local timber merchants to cut and plane the sections for you. The router table is only essential to use the raised panel cutting technique, if you don’t want the step then this can be done by hand planing.

    So you can make doors with just basic hand tools, I’ve done it in the past, the machines save time (and money sizing timber). I look on the purchase of machines as an investment. Space wise the router table ends up as a bit of work bench in my garage, the planer and saw bench go to one side and come out when needed.

    Hope this helps


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