5 panel exterior door Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by LuLuBean posted 05-14-2017 06:30 PM 999 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View LuLuBean's profile


11 posts in 2106 days

05-14-2017 06:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: exterior door door question floating panel question

Hello fellow Lumberjocks,

Armed with my Festool Domino 700, I am diving into the world of exterior doors. A client asked for some 5-panel exterior doors. He wants them pre-hung. After reading some books, I feel more comfortable with the idea. The client was adamant that he didn’t want any moldings inside the panels.

My Game Plan: I found some really nice 8/4 cypress wood for the rails and styles. These will be painted so he didn’t care what the panels were made from. I have a few questions.

1. Exterior plywood for panels? – Never used this before and don’t have any experience with brand or sources. Is there anything to look for or anything to stay away from?

2. Do I double up the panels? Do I leave an “air gap” between them like double paned windows? If I don’t leave an air gap, do I float the panels touching each other or glue them up cross grained?

Anyone that could give me some guidance on this topic, I would really appreciate it!

8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4254 days

#1 posted 05-14-2017 06:36 PM

1. ply is fine but plain MDF is fine too. You can
prime it before glue-up.

2. I did some awhile back and I used 1/2” thick
veneered MDF panels in the center of the door.
As I recall they were 1.5” thick so the set-back
on each face was 1/2”

View Rich's profile


5141 posts in 1196 days

#2 posted 05-14-2017 09:02 PM

My exterior doors are 1-3/4” thick (the standard) and the panels are 1-1/2” thick. The panels are raised and fit into 5/8” grooves in the rails and stiles however, so making them that thick in your case wouldn’t be possible since the customer wants no molding. It might be worth discussing with them since a 1/2” panel for an exterior door is pretty weak. Even my interior doors have 13/16” thick panels. Check your local codes too, to make sure you’re compliant.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View waho6o9's profile


8812 posts in 3183 days

#3 posted 05-14-2017 09:15 PM


Medium Density Overlay paints up well and is rated for exterior use.

For the panels:

View Luthierman's profile


222 posts in 1694 days

#4 posted 05-14-2017 09:42 PM

+1 for Mdo. Do no this use mdf. That will just be a huge world of problems.

-- Jesse, West Lafayette, Indiana

View Rich's profile


5141 posts in 1196 days

#5 posted 05-14-2017 09:50 PM


Medium Density Overlay paints up well and is rated for exterior use.

For the panels:

- waho6o9

I love that photo. Leave it to Woodcraft to make it look like you need about 20 times as many as is actually necessary. Besides, you can buy a bag of 1000 for $15 on Amazon. The same quantity from Woodcraft would be $65.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View LuLuBean's profile


11 posts in 2106 days

#6 posted 05-15-2017 01:21 PM

Thanks for all your responses. Does anyone see a reason that I shouldn’t use two-1/2 inch panels in the same slot?

View Madmark2's profile


716 posts in 1195 days

#7 posted 05-15-2017 07:19 PM

Put a little silicone between the panels to avoid rattles . . .paint the bejabbers on your panels as drips will go directly onto your panel slots.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View magaoitin's profile


249 posts in 1556 days

#8 posted 05-15-2017 09:43 PM

This is probably a bit far afield (and too custom for most clients pocketbooks), but I have one very unique example on a multi-panel door of using something other than wood or glass for the panel inserts.

One project my company did with custom multi-panel doors and matching windows (transoms, side relights, and room windows) we picked an acrylic panel from 3Form and had a custom layup, material, and frosting for the acrylic.

3Form Varia Ecoresin

They cast wood, twigs, leaves, grass, paper discs, metal strips, you name it, into the acrylic. Our project had full 8’ sheets cast and cut so the twigs would match running up each panel on the doors, and left to right matched in windows. (hard to explain since I don’t have any photos)

Here is the material:

digital rendering of a 4×8 sheet

Actual material cross section:

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the doors and windows we installed (they turned out really cool too). It probably would break the bank for your client, but it is an interesting alternative. You also dont need to worry about air gaps, front and back sides, painting, etc, just stain the Cypress and depending on what you have cast in the acrylic it can really make an outstanding door.

We used a material called Varia Ecoresin with the pattern Trailside. It has twigs/branches cast in the acrylic, and then the acrylic is slightly frosted so you cannot see inside perfectly (but you can order it completely transparent or any gradient to opaque), but can see shapes on the other side, plus it is shatter resistant. Our finish was called Patent and you can see below how transparent it is in my stair wall. We used 1/2” material but you can get it up to 1” thick.

Here’s a photos of the extra material I salvaged from the project and put into my shop.

We used a fairly light opaquing finish called “Patent”, but they have light to heavy sandblast as well.

and a sample of other other other patterns we ultimately rejected

It makes a very unique and custom application that your client would never see anywhere else. Might be a selling point. IIRC a single sheet 4×8 was around $1200-1500.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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