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How to build an interior door?

How to build an interior door?

Building an interior door involves the use of lumber and the right tools. Now, put together the plan to build one. The steps may involve certain challenges so solve these as you go along.

How to Build an Interior Door from Scratch

● Understand the door’s anatomy: The doors can be anything from the barn to slab doors with the basic ones consisting of the parts – panels, stiles, and rails. Stiles from the central structure and undergo wear over time so make this straight and stable. Rails connect stiles at multiple points with the panels filling the gaps in the interior door.

The material is the same for stiles and rails but there is variation in the panels like the presence of screens and glass. The height is often 80 inches, and the thickness is one and three-eighth inches and the exterior doors are thicker. The width of the standard door is 30-36 inches.

● Space preparation and measurement: When making the door you want to take measurements first. The doors are often one-eighth to three-sixteenth inches smaller than the door frame.

For building and installing the frame, measuring the width and shimming add a degree of thickness. Wait for the installation of the frame before constructing the door and build it together simultaneously. Building the frame is necessary.

● Material selection: Masonite is the common material for designing interior doors and this is wood fiberboard pressure-molded and steam-cooked on a thin wooden frame. This creates slab doors with panels, rails, and stiles that are simple to paint, stable, and cheap. The insulation is not that strong, and it appears cheap.

The choice of the material affects the functionality and quality of the door. Look for the right balance of stability and strength. Composite boards and plywood are stable but fall apart in time so solid wood are stronger. The choice of hardwood of furniture grade is a good choice or the chance of warping increases.

Different panel options are present so you can use solid wood or do raised panels while being aware of the movement of wood. It is important to take precautions against cracking of the door with the changing seasons. Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and plywood are good paneling options, easily available and stable.

● Building panels, rails, and stiles: After the material selection, start building the door components. You can start with stiles because they are an important part of the door. The width depends on the door style with most being four to five and half inches or ten to fourteen cm in width.

Square stiles offer both aesthetics and functionality to the door. Most of the doors have the height of eighty inches so straightening the boards this long is difficult. The methods include table saws, hand planes, and jointers with each having its advantages and limitations.

Make sure that the other door components are straight as well and squaring up the smaller parts is easier than the larger ones. The size of the rails varies based on the door size. It is important to cut the rails to the same length with the width varying and the bottom ones are often large up to 10 inches.

This prevents them kicking in when opening. The top ones are smaller but larger than the middle rails. Cut the top part of the door to make it fit with a top rail measuring six inches. Middle rail tends to be the smallest with the size varying based on the door style.

You can design panels from any material and when cutting allow for extra panel space to fit the groove. After laminating the boards, leave them for some time to acclimatize to reduce the chance of warping.

● Joinery of the door: Poor joints can make the complete door fail and there are different joinery methods with most requiring specialized equipment and tools. Some methods require skills or are time consuming.

Whatever the route selected, the joints for the interior door should provide strength besides being structural. Join the doors with hardwood thick dowels and for this, you can create a doweling jig for drilling the required holes. Besides the dowels, you can use a router for creating a half-inch groove on the interior edged of stiles and rails.

This has room for the positioning of the panels. When there are no panels present, the use of a square spline gives the strength of the door besides aligning the pieces. Now, just glue all the pieces and allow them to dry.

● Hinges and doorknobs: After building the door cut room for mortise hinges and doorknob. The standard whole size is two and one-eight inch and a cross bore opening for the latch should have a one-inch diameter centered in the knob hole and door.

Before installing the door, measure hinges placed followed by mortise in the frame when necessary.

● Painting or staining and sanding: paint after mortising the hinges and drilling the holes. Use one primer coat and two paint coats, then allow this to dry and after this, you can install the door.

● Be proud of your work: installing the door gives you a sense of accomplishment so it is now time to simply sit back and be proud of the achievement. This surely gives you a nice feeling.

Also read: How to choose interior doors?

Frame-and-Panel Style

This type of interior door works well for the A/C dresser, fireplace mantel, and bathroom vanity or cabinet for tool storage. It contains a frame surrounding panels that float in grooves routed in the frame. This allows for the shrinking and swelling of panels with the changing season.

Paneled doors

There is the routing of the groove in the frame for receiving the panel. The design of the groove uses routers mounted on the router table with bits for cutting slots.


With the successful installation of an interior door, you get a sense of accomplishment so sit back, enjoy the handiwork. As you can see, such a project is simpler than one thinks.

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