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Shop built – DIY solid core door


For those of you who don’t know, Ive been renovation the main level of my house for the last 6 months. One of the last things to do to compete the reno was to change all the interior doors. The original doors are just a oak flat panel hollow core door. We ended up picking out a single panel hollow core door which we painted white. We are pretty happy with the clean and modern look of the single panel door. When I decided to finally make the door going into the shop, I though I should probably make something that matches the rest of the doors because Even though we are not planning on finishing the basement right away, we do plan on doing it someday.

The main reason why I made this door a priority over all the over things that needed to be done around the house was the amount of dust and noise traveling  from the shop to the main level. When I started thinking about the project,  I knew a solid door would be more suited as it well help even more against sound. I went to my local home centre and priced out a solid core door to match the up stair doors and it was $129 plus tax. I then priced the material to build the door (using MDF more on that later) and because I could buy a half sheet of 3/4″ and a full sheet of 5/8″ the total came in at $55 taxes in. Seeing how it was cheaper and I get to make a video on the project, it was a no brainer.

I contemplated on several material choices before I landed on MDF. First was a hardwood, something like poplar as it is a cheaper hardwood and great for a painted project but after  taking a quick look at prices at the home centre I quickly ruled that out. If you have a local saw mill that can sell you some in the rough might make it more feezable but it was to expensive at the home centre. Next option was construction grade material, like 2 by 10″ but I was to worried it wouldn’t be stable enough and would adventally twist on me. Finally I landed on MDF, it’s cheap, heavy, smooth and stable. Why not right:)


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Here you can see where the door is in relation to my stairs which leads to the kitchen and how close my table saw is. Basically a direct path. The wall is a 10 inch thick concrete wall with an old door jam in bad shape. I removed the old door jamb and made a new one out of MDF. There was a solid wood frame behind the jamb I new I could use to screw the door hinges into thus making the door jamb not carrying the load of the door.

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Once the jamb was in I could take accurate measurements of the opening. I then could cut out all my style and rails making sure to account for the width of the styles (5″ per side) and clearance for the door to open and close (3/16″ pre side) as well as adding material for the tenon length.

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Because a standard door is 1 3/8 thick and I couldn’t buy MDF that thick, I laminated a peice of 3/4″ and 5/8″ together. I did this for all the styles and rails.

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Because I made such a mess during glue up I had to make a simple table saw sled out of some scrap material I had laying around. I just basically took a board that has one straight edge and fastened a few clamps( Bessey clamp ) to it allowing me to run it through the table saw giving me a straight edge. I then could use the tablesaw fence to clean up the other side.

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Once all my styles and rails where dimensioned and cut to length I could go ahead and cut my Center grove through all of my styles and rails. I decided the panel will be 5/8 of an inch so I needed to cut a  groove in the center by using a table saw and a Dado stack. I first made a pass right down the center, then I move the fence to the proper distance and made a second pass. Next I  flip the board and made the third and final pass, if I was happy with the fit, I then would do the rest of the styles and rails. If it was a little snug then I would inch the fence a little more and try again. Doing it this way will ensure the groove will not only be a good fit but also in the dead centre.

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Next it was time to cut the tenons on the rails, I did this on the table Saw using my mitre gauge. A tablesaw sled would be better suited but I currently don’t have one made for a dado stack. I simply set the blade height and cut the first half of the tenon and then I could flip the board and do the second half. This ensures the tenons are in the dead centre. I forgot to mention it earlier but I made the bottom rail 10 inches wide.

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For the glue up I used my end vice to hold one of the styles, I then could slide my panel in the groove. Next I added glue to all the tenons, sled them in the groove and added the top style.

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Before doing the final clamping I checked for Square by measuring corner to corner and then I could place a clamp at each joint.

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I decided to put my first coat of primer on before I cut my hinge mortises. I will save the topcoat for once the door is installed.
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Next I measured the three hinge locations and marked the location on the edge of the door making sure to add 3/16 of an inch for clearance at the top.

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I then traced out the hinges, holding them 1 1/4″ from the edge.

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To clear out the mortise, I used a 3/4″ straight bit in my Trim router . I set the depth to the thickness of the hinges. Then I clamped a block to my door for support and carefully followed my line free hand. With a little practice you’d be surprised how accurate you can follow a line with out and guide.

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I drilled the hole for the door knob using a store bought jig to help Center each hole.

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To install the door I screwed each half of the Hinge to the door and the jamb so all I would have to do is slid the pin in. One of the pins wouldn’t go in so I loosened the Hinge a little bit and the pin slid right in. I then re tightened the screws.

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Finally I added 2 top coats and called it done:) all and all I think it turned out really well. It’s nice and heavy and has a quality feel to it. I think MDF ended up being a good material choice but I guess time will tell:)

One thought on “Shop built – DIY solid core door

  1. How is the door holding up now that it has been a few months? I am considering building an MDF door as well, but I am concerned with the hinge screws loosening up over time. I’ve noticed that some of the commercially available MDF doors have a real wood insert on the hinge side stile for better screw holding ability.

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