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Thread: Frame and panel door, how to construct the panels?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Frame and panel door, how to construct the panels?

    Even though I had thought about using cedar but it was starting to make this to complicated. This is my first rail and style door and I am making it out of treated lumber for exterior access to crawl/basement space. I have milled down 2x8's into 4" styles, a 7" bottom rail, 5" lock rail & top rail. In the middle I am planning on using a 3" piece or narrower off cuts to connect the rails (not sure if that is a middle style?).

    Question: How to assemble the panels? I have cut a 1/2" groove in the rails and styles that matches my 10mm mortice chisel that I will use to cut the mortices. It is a little over 3/8" where the panel material will go. My idea for the panels are:

    1) Tongue and groove the 3/8" thick slates that make up the panel but not glue them together to allow for expansion and entire panel will also float.

    2) Make a panel by gluing up treated pieces and plane a bevel to fit in the 3/8" groove.

    I have Tite Bond III for glue but I have never worked with a treated panel or use glue on an exterior piece. Do you think a glued panel can hold up? House has a wide overhang but some splashing will hit the door at times. Thanks in advance for any help or ideas. This is my first door build.

  2. #2
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    I would make three sample joints using scrap to perfect the joint.

  3. #3
    I would not glue anything. With this type of thing, you could easily have to replace the bottom rail or part of panel. You want it to come apart very easily.

    I guess you could glue up panels, but they should be somewhat captured in the frame, so they cannot really fall apart. I would lean toward groove or rabbet joints. With the crawl space on one side and the weather on the other there can be quite a differential moisture environment.

  4. #4
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    May 2021
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    Very interesting but I don't think I can get an exterior door to hold together with a friction fit if that is what you are getting at. I haven't really gotten much of a response on this probably because not many people hand build a exterior door out of treated wood. I think I will need to glue up for strength and might even run a pin through the tenons. I am also thinking of beveling (hand plane) the non show side of the panels so the panel can be slightly larger than the groove and hopefully be forced to the front of the groove to limit moisture. I don't have a lot of material cost in this and like all I do it is a training project. The education will continue as I see how well it wears and lasts, if it doesn't make it I can build another.

  5. #5
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    Scott, for sure you want to glue the M&T's that hold the frame together and pinning them wouldn't hurt. Also recommend gluing up the panels to the dimensions you need to fit the frame (no reason to leave an unglued joint here).

    If your central question is how do I fit/retain the panels in their frames- fiquire how much expansion/contraction you can expect based on your current Humidity and the range over time and plane the panels to appropriate width. Back bevel on the inside is also a good idea. If the width of the panels captured in the groove is small ~1/4", compression of the panel will provide a little extra cushion for expansion, recognizing in exterior application a tight fit will help keep water tight.

    Don't know what to expect with PT lumber for expansion? Titebond III is good for exterior applications. Love to see some pics of your progress.

  6. #6
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    Ok...been a long time since I have done doors....last ones were passage doors...and a couple screen doors..

    I used through mortises....with both pins and wedges. The panels were raised, but they were glued up.....they were a hair undersized as to width...to allow plenty of room in the grooves, IF need be. On the "inside" face of the doors...I place a small finish nail deadcentered on each panel, one top, one bottom....Keeps the center of the panel in place, yet allows the panel to swell, or shrink, as they see fit....and the panel will NOT rattle.

    Last Passage door I made....was a "Pre-hung", Louvered, to go between the basement and their Kitchen.....that is build the door, build the jamb, install the lockset...then take the assembly to their house and install it....then let them paint as they liked...all I did was sand, and primed. That was almost 30 years ago, BTW.
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  7. #7
    Yes, you want the door held together with pins. The pins you can knock out from the back side. Using waterproof glue in mortises could easily tip the balance from just replacing a part to junking the whole thing and starting over.

    You can have the backs of the panels tapered so they fit nicely in your grooves, but the grooves should have extra clearance for expansion. This is an exterior door near the ground. Between a damp, rainy spell and a hot dry spell, there could be a lot of movement in the panels.

  8. #8
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    Let's see..
    top rail mortise.jpg
    Top rail through mortise
    IMAG0193.JPG
    Lay out marks..
    IMAG0204.JPG
    Lock rail mortises...
    pins & wedges.JPG
    Lock Rail...pins and wedges
    Attached Images Attached Images
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  9. #9
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    Agree with Lowell...Joints very important...Test on scraps of same thickness before diving in.
    Jerry

  10. #10
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    In a recent thread about choosing wood species for drawboring a user here Tom King was talking about the old houses he works on and how the window parts are MT joints, pinned but with zero to minimal drawbore and no glue. When he needs to replace a part he can knock the pins out, take out and replace the one bit that needs replaced and then pin it back together and paint.

    It makes perfect sense to me. I can't see the old timers making it hard on themselves to maintain their homes before latex paint was invented.

    I have never glued PT, but I have read countless times you want the wood to dry out first. If the wood is damp the glue won't cure until the wood dries and then the glue dries, two years from now.

  11. #11
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    As requested, some progress pictures. Tenons rough cut. My grooves are possibly not dead center so I will fine tune with my router plane to get them dead on.
    20210715_205301.jpg
    20210715_213614.jpg

  12. #12
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    I think I like the idea of using treated plywood. So let me make sure I have this right. With plywood it is dimensionally stable so I can than glue it in place and not only will it add to the strength but also allow me to seal (caulk) the plywood where it meets the frame rails & stiles. Does this sound correct?

  13. #13
    Yes, that's correct

  14. #14
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    And a big thank you to all who have helped me over think this project.

  15. #15
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    While the plywood is dimensionally stable, the door frame pieces are not. If you glue the panel inside the frames, as the middle lock rail expands and contracts Im guessing there will be added stress on the glued styles. Id be inclined to let the panels float inside the frames. Side to side you may make the panels fairly tight, top to bottom, Id allow for some movement of the rails, especially the lock rail. In your region, are crawl,spaces typically vented? They are here, so having air tight door panels wouldnt buy much. Maybe Tom King will chime in. My sense is he has a good deal of experience with door and window construction techniques.

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