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Thread: Making your own interior doors

  1. #1
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    Making your own interior doors

    I do have a million projects going at the moment, but am considering another and wanted some feedback.

    The interior doors in our old 1930s home are solid core. Unfortunately, they are also beat up and have too many layers of paint on them.

    Options:
    1). Refinish the existing doors - lots of work, probably lead paint, some would have to be replaced anyways

    2). Buy new prehung doors. Hollow-core seem cheap and noisy to us and a downgrade for the style of home. Solid in the right style are too much $$.

    3). Build them myself. I'd use poplar as they would be painted. Joinery would be mortise and loose tenon.

    We are talking 9 or 10 doors total. What do you think? Anyone make the same decision? It's sweat vs. dollars.

  2. This is actually my next project, only my plan is to make (2) full radius arch doors and their cooresponding frames. Cheapest price I found for a pre-hung arch door was $600. I'll easily beat that by building them myself.

    You should also have no trouble coming out far ahead on price compared to buying (10) solid (probably pine) doors from your local big box. We bought a couple solid pine doors a few years back and IIRC they were almost $200/piece.

  3. #3
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    I would strip the old doors that are in good shape and only make as few new ones as possible. Are you able to match the style?

    I'd say lead paint is 100% certain. But if you use chemical strippers wouldn't that make it easy to contain and keep it out of the air?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    I would strip the old doors that are in good shape and only make as few new ones as possible. Are you able to match the style?

    I'd say lead paint is 100% certain. But if you use chemical strippers wouldn't that make it easy to contain and keep it out of the air?
    Yes chemical strippers are certainly an option...a somewhat gooey messy option but an option nonetheless.

    I could match the style of existing doors (they are 1 panel + molding), but we'd ideally like to update the style a LITTLE (from federal to federal-modern). Perhaps 4 panel.

    There was a FHB article by Paul Levine that really inspired me to consider this. He laid out a relatively streamlined process that seemed doable.

  5. instead of doing mortise and loose tenon you might want to consider a system like the amana stub spindle which integrates the tenon into each of the rails

    http://www.amanatool.com/routerbits/...tterdoors.html

  6. #6
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    Interior doors are not that difficult to build assuming you have the right tools and knowledge. From a cost standpoint I can't build a door for twice the price you can buy a decent quality door for from a wholesale supplier. But your not going to include your time so you just have to figure out your material costs. You'll probably save some money and it will be a good project so why not?

    I would probably stay away from poplar though, not really a great wood for stability. Fir was used a lot and certain pines are also good. I use predominantly hardwoods for the types of doors I make, but it ups the cost and difficulty of building.

    good luck,
    JeffD

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Robinson View Post
    I do have a million projects going at the moment, but am considering another and wanted some feedback.

    The interior doors in our old 1930s home are solid core. Unfortunately, they are also beat up and have too many layers of paint on them.

    Options:
    1). Refinish the existing doors - lots of work, probably lead paint, some would have to be replaced anyways

    2). Buy new prehung doors. Hollow-core seem cheap and noisy to us and a downgrade for the style of home. Solid in the right style are too much $$.

    3). Build them myself. I'd use poplar as they would be painted. Joinery would be mortise and loose tenon.

    We are talking 9 or 10 doors total. What do you think? Anyone make the same decision? It's sweat vs. dollars.

    Sounds like you've been reading Paul Levine's article on building doors from Fine Homebuilding. I'd steer clear of Poplar and get a moisture meter before making anything. Nothing worse than having a door you've made get all tweaked and not shut properly. I didn't think loose tenons he'd used looked substantial enough but maybe they're ok for occasional use rooms.
    Last edited by Peter Kelly; 03-23-2012 at 3:40 PM.

  8. #8
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    you may want to wait until the festool XL comes out. it looks like it'd be a great tool for this application!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank shic View Post
    you may want to wait until the festool XL comes out. it looks like it'd be a great tool for this application!
    It would probably be cheaper to buy the doors

    I would strip what you can. If you do not like the existing style then it is a moot point.

    Hollow-core seem cheap and noisy to us and a downgrade for the style of home. Solid in the right style are too much $$.
    Solid core doors are only $20-30 more than the hollow core, I realize that they are not perfect but they are so much more solid.

  10. #10
    I'm going to try my hand at making a few doors soon, but 9-10 doors seems like a pretty big project, unless your well set up.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by frank shic View Post
    you may want to wait until the festool XL comes out. it looks like it'd be a great tool for this application!
    *whistles nonchalantly* *can't look you straight in the eye*

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    Sounds like you've been reading Paul Levine's article on building doors from Fine Homebuilding. I'd steer clear of Poplar and get a moisture meter before making anything. Nothing worse than having a door you've made get all tweaked and not shut properly. I didn't think loose tenons he'd used looked substantial enough but maybe they're ok for occasional use rooms.
    Thanks Peter - yup you're right on the article. Is Poplar too soft or moves too much? What economical wood would you recommend? If the panels are plywood would you still expect enough movement for the doors to get tweaked?

  13. #13
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    alright, alright, i admit it's not ABSOLUTELY necessary... but it sure would be nice to have around! come on, guys? doesn't anyone want to build a wooden gate or a pergola or... just have the latest and the greatest from festool?!?

  14. #14
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    Islesboro, Maine
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    I went the route of buying them for our house. In the beginning I was going to make them but time was passing by & I needed them sooner than later. I found the exact door I was going to build so I bought what I needed. I already bought about 300 bdf of 1 3/4 clear pine to make them. It was cheaper to buy them. I still have the wood so I'll be turning that into a dinning table some day. I like making doors. The last ones I made were African Mahogany & there were 19 four panel doors. Used floating tenons for the joinery.

  15. #15
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    Feb 2011
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    Central WI
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    I like building dorrs but they are more time consuming than you think- even with a slot mortiser and big shaper. If you are looking for something that shows some craftsmanship and don't want to pay 600-900 for it you can make your own and save money. If you are happy with a $300 door you can spend your time better elsewhere. When I am painting a door I use maple as just flipping the door over on the bench causes poplar to dent. It is in the stained hardwood door that you can really show off the wood and make your time really count for something special. Dave

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