Custom Door

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Project by riverguy posted 05-30-2013 06:33 PM 2620 views 9 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Through the Web site, “Custom Made,” I took on the job of building a custom door and the art-glass window mounted in it. It’s a narrow door, only 31” wide, and is to hang on contemporary barn-door-style rollers. The client wanted clear, vertical-grain fir to match her existing refinished vintage floors, and the door was to have full-thickness, vertical-plank inset panels.

Since the inset panels had to float in the door as any inset panels must, I built them as shown in the photo and glued each panel up solid. Then each of those panels floats on four splines in the door frame and is centered with “Space Balls,” small neoprene balls manufactured just for this purpose. They allow the panels to float, yet keep them centered.

Since this door was to hang from its top and would never be subjected to the stresses placed upon a hinged door, I just used four biscuits at each joint of the frame. I’ve done this several times on sliding/rolling doors and have never had a problem, even when I was building doors in Hawaii’s humidity.

The client wanted the door to have a vintage look, so I didn’t plane the 2x stock, but just sanded it with an orbital sander prior to stain and finish. This left a less-than-perfect irregularity and a few lumberyard bruises here and there that darkened nicely with the stain.

I used Minwax Polycrylic satin for the finish, spraying on four coats. The finish is nearly flat, just as requested. I’ve had really good luck with Polycrylic for interior doors and trim, and even some furniture. I brush it on small projects and spray for something like this where it would be difficult to keep a wet edge while getting into all the nooks and crannies.

My “rotisserie” for finishing doors works like a charm! The trick is to drill the holes slightly off-center so the door is a bit heavier on one side. Then a 1×2 gets screwed into one corner on the heavy side and hangs down to catch the weight and keep the door firmly horizontal. I use 18” long pieces of 3/8” steel rod and the holes in the door are about 4” deep.

-- Skip, Forestville, CA,

12 comments so far

View madts's profile


1959 posts in 3679 days

#1 posted 05-30-2013 08:18 PM

Very Very nice door.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27258 posts in 4444 days

#2 posted 05-30-2013 08:27 PM

Great door!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View simarilan's profile


145 posts in 3851 days

#3 posted 05-30-2013 11:23 PM

Excellent job, very nice. Like the style and finish, and the stained glass puts the finishing touch on the door.

-- Quality is easy to see - but hard to explain

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 4308 days

#4 posted 05-31-2013 12:02 AM

Nice job. The rotisserie you describe is on my ‘to do’ list.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4029 days

#5 posted 05-31-2013 12:25 AM

Beautiful job!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View riverguy's profile


110 posts in 3403 days

#6 posted 05-31-2013 12:28 AM

Thanks for all the kind words, everybody! As usual, I learned a few (more) things on this one, the most important one was on how (not) to price a door! I went on the absurd notion that I could still buy CVG fir for around $3/bf. NOT! I found some pretty nice stuff at $5, but then in the back of the rack were these amazing 2×10s with really tight grain that matched my client’s old-growth floors perfectly. That price of $5 was for 2×6’s. 2×10’s, I found out, were $7/bf. Anyway, it’s good that this is largely a labor of love, so $/hr isn’t all that important. It was a fun and interesting project.

-- Skip, Forestville, CA,

View Jason72's profile


7 posts in 3160 days

#7 posted 05-31-2013 02:07 PM

I wish I would have found this about 3 months ago. That rotisserie idea would have saved me a Lot of time. Fantastic job.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4205 days

#8 posted 05-31-2013 02:10 PM

This is a wonderful door. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View pintodeluxe's profile


6520 posts in 4152 days

#9 posted 05-31-2013 03:40 PM

Great door! I love the overall look, from the color of the fir to the glass work – just beautiful.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4924 days

#10 posted 05-31-2013 04:23 PM

I need one exactly that width too well done you are a true craftsman beautiful sturdy work. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Ken90712's profile


18100 posts in 4528 days

#11 posted 06-01-2013 10:16 AM

Great job love the door.. pricing can be a tricky thing, I think we all have been there.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Skylark53's profile


2867 posts in 4399 days

#12 posted 06-06-2013 01:15 AM

Great project. nicely done.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

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