48" Pocket Door #1: Planning the practice version

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by GregD posted 12-09-2010 06:28 AM 1610 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of 48" Pocket Door series Part 2: Big sticks to little sticks to big sticks »

I have the framing and hardware installed for a (nominal) 48” wide pocket door off my front foyer. Well, it needs a door and I’ve decided to have a go at building one.

The other interior doors in my house are the common hollow core, wood grained, 6 panel doors common at the home improvement stores. They are painted white. This door will be just a few feet from the front door, which is a wood grained fiber glass door that looks like a stained & finished wood door (if you don’t look too close). It is also panel style. So its clear that I want a panel style door, but it could be either stained & finished or painted gloss white depending on how it turns out. I plan on matching the sizes of the rails, stiles, and panels that are on the other interior doors, so I am planning on 9 or 12 panels in this door.

Because of the large door width I installed the split studs to handle a 1-3/4” thick door.

I’ve looked at a number of postings on doors here on LJ and also on another woodworking site. It is probably overkill, but I am planning on following more-or-less the construction method described by a1jim here. Because this is a relatively big piece and this process uses a number of techniques that I’ve never done before I’m going to take some advice I got on my earlier post and make the first one out of construction grade 2x’s.

The first part of the process is to build up blanks for the rails and stiles. Jim describes a 1-1/4 core that sounds to me like butcher block, that will be covered with 1/4” skins. I do have a couple of questions I hope someone can help me with:

  1. Should I plan on using a vacuum bag when I go to gluing on the 1/4” skins?
  2. Does finger jointing significantly improve the stability of the blanks? It’s going to feel silly chopping up long stock into short pieces just to assemble them back into long pieces again, but if I do that I suppose that the pieces should be mixed up before assembly.
  3. When its time to make the real door out of hardwood, are there any ways to save money on the material used in the core? Can I use a less expensive species, or is there someplace that will sell short scraps at a discount?

This is looking like it’s going to be quite an educational experience. Ouch.

-- Greg D.

6 comments so far

View cjohnson's profile


13 posts in 4017 days

#1 posted 12-09-2010 02:05 PM

I am not sure what the best approach is for the core, but as far as getting wood, you should check local hardwood suppliers. They will often have “short cuts” that are sold for less per board foot. THese are generally 3 foot pieces that have been left over after cutting boards to length. My local supplier has a huge selection of short cuts in all species. If you are going to cut them up and glue back together it sounds like it might be worth while to search out a source.

It is best to ask your local supplier because the short cut bins are sometimes in some out of the way place that may not be seen.

Also you may want to look into the affect of moisture content on the stability of your project. It may be worthwhile to get a moisture meter and make sure the wood is dry enough and is properly acclimated to your shop before starting.

Good luck with your project

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4589 days

#2 posted 12-09-2010 02:19 PM

maybe a lattice half lap crisscross inner frame
to keep the weight down
if it is exterior
use some styrofoam in the voids
by making it that way
you can ad panels where they belong
to make it look like the others

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4245 days

#3 posted 12-09-2010 03:50 PM

Inner core, you might consider red cedar. It is a lighter density and still very stable.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 4355 days

#4 posted 12-09-2010 06:55 PM

I would suggest loose tenons. David and Rob steered me this way and it really simplified the door building process. And they are strong.

I would be sure to make all the stiles run one piece. That way when you start the glue up you can hold your alignment with a dry fit stile and avoid the insane race to beat the glue drying. lol This will also help to keep the door square.

Be sure your table saw is cutting square or nothing will line up and the door will make a better set of skis. lol

Good luck and we will be looking forward to the blog on your build. Rand

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 4384 days

#5 posted 12-09-2010 08:19 PM

A heavy door shouldn’t be a problem. The hardware is beefy and the header holding it is very stable.

Maybe red cedar for the practice door rather than 2x’s. I’ll have to check the cost.

I see the advantages of one-piece stiles – that is probably the way I’ll go. Haven’t thought through the details of the joinery but I know some people like loose tenons.

-- Greg D.

View dlmckirdy's profile


199 posts in 4381 days

#6 posted 12-09-2010 10:01 PM

Plan to use the filler from the practice door in the real door. Just take it easy with the glue, or use just screws to install the practice stiles. This will save on cost. Also, if you are adding a door skin or veneer to the practice door, take it very lightly with the glue so that it can be removed to use the core on the real thing. I agree that mixing the shorts up before glue-up would be the best way to minimize any warp or twist (that is the reason for using finger jointed shorts to begin with – cutting the shorts relieves any hidden tension in the wood so that you can get a board that is nearly guaranteed to stay straight).

How are you going to install the panels? Maybe the core only needs to be made of 3/4 or 4/4 stock so that there is room for the skin/veneer and the moldings while maintaining your 1-3/4” final thickness.

Good luck on your build, it sounds interesting.

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics