Making a solid-core door

Building your own custom door is easier than you think

By Gord Graff

Photo by Christopher Campbell

The Oxford dictionary describes a door as “a hinged barrier, for closing or opening an entrance to a building or room.” To interior designers, architects and DIYers, interior doors are much more than simply “hinged barriers.” In fact, the design-savvy know that doors are one of the most prominent elements of a home’s overall interior design theme. The upgrade from run-of-the-mill builder’s doors to solid-core Colonial-style doors in this project made a dramatic improvement in the look of a house.

Door-making is not as difficult to master as you might think, and this project will give you all you need to know to build a simple interior door.



Making your own doors is not as difficult as you might imagine, and the design possibilities are almost unlimited. I make a number of doors each year in different styles for clients whose homes range in age from brand-new to more than 80 years old.

Material matters

I chose knotty pine for this painted door project. Knotty pine is inexpensive, easy to work with and the knots can be sealed to prevent them from bleeding through the painted topcoat easily by applying two coats of shellac-based primer.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using dry, straight-grained lumber for a project such as this. When I began this project, the moisture content of this material was approximately seven per cent, which is just about the perfect level for making doors and means future dimensional changes of the frame should be minimal.

The materials list shows the material required to make one 30" x 80" door, a common size, but it can easily be adapted to suit doors of other dimensions.

Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Stiles 1 3/8" x 5" x 80" 2
Upper rail 1 3/8" x 5" x 25 1/2" 1
Middle rail 1 3/8" x 5" x 25 1/2" 1
Lower rail 1 3/8" x 7" x 25 1/2" 1
Upper centre stile 1 3/8" x 5" x 36 1/2" 1
Lower centre stile 1 3/8" x 5" x 26 1/2" 1
Upper raised panels 3/8" x 8 1/2" x 37 1/2" 2
Lower raised panels 3/8" x 8 1/2" x 27 1/2" 2

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools


Making a solid-core door

Illustration by Len Churchill

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