how to build french doors

custom french doors
Tools Needed
1 Router
2 Router Bit Set
3 Table Saw
4 Bandsaw
5 Jointer
6 Planer
7 Utility Knife
8 Straight Edge
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Materials Needed
1 Sander
2 Angle Iron
3 Clamps
4 Wood Glue
5 Hammer
6 Clear Glue
7 Finishing Nails
8 Drill Press
9 Forstner Bit
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Total Cost
$50-$250
Find a handyman
Estimated Time
8-20 Hours
Skill Level: Expert
The total cost and duration may vary when hiring a handyman!

Project Overview

french door

Many people appreciate the beauty of French doors. They are generally considered more attractive than sliding doors for exterior use and can create grand entrances into interior spaces. While purchasing a complete set of French doors is an option, building your own can help you keep the associated costs lower while allowing you to customize the finished product.

However, this project involves multiple high-dollar tools as well as substantial planning upfront, making it suitable for only well-prepared DIYers. Additionally, you’ll want to invest in high-quality wood, especially for the face veneers and any door that will be exposed to the elements. To help you get started, here’s what you’ll need to build French doors successfully.

Step-By-Step Instructions

1

Choose the Wood

wood french door

If you’re going to install the doors with one side on the exterior of the home, you want to select a rot-resistant wood. This allows you to avoid chemically treated options while still supporting longevity.

Options like teak, redwood, cedar, Cyprus, mahogany, and white oak can all be suitable and are typically widely available at local retailers. Once you have all of the wood, you want to select the best-looking pieces to make face veneers. Look for boards that feature tight, straight grain and that are a minimum of one inch longer than the completed stiles and rails will be as well as several inches wider.

Use a bandsaw to create veneers that are just slightly thicker than 3/16 inches. You’ll need two pieces of veneer, each 6 inches wide, for every face of the rails. Once the veneer is cut, you can use a drum sander to create an ideal finished surface.

2

Create the Core Staves

french doors

Now that you have the veneers, you can create the core staves. Taking fresh boards, cut the staves to 1 7/8 inch widths. The number you need for each stave will vary depending on the desired finished width as well as the size of the finished door. As a rule of thumb, make sure each is oversized by a minimum of a ½ inch when complete.

Additionally, your side and top rails will likely be the same width, but your bottom rail should be significantly more robust to provide support and decrease the likelihood that lower portions of the door glass will be kicked on accident.

Take the required number of the cut pieces to reach the desired size and turn them on their edge. Using wood glue, adhere the faces of the boards together. Take short pieces of angle iron to keep the pieces flush and clamp the pieces together.

In total, you’ll need four core staves for each door (two for the side, one top rail, and one bottom rail). For a pair of French doors, that comes to a total of eight core staves. Leave the core staves clamped while they dry overnight.

3

Scrape Excess Glue and Prep for Veneer

building french doors

After the staves have dried, you’ll need to remove any excess glue that leaked from between the boards. Use the jointer on one side to achieve a flat surface. Then, take a planer to scrap the other side, working until the final product is 1 ½ inches thick.

Once both sides are flat and the desired thickness has been reached, joint one edge. Next, rip to a minimum of a ¼ inch wider than the finished core. Repeat the process for each core stave.

Now that the surfaces are flat, you can apply the veneer. Use wood glue to stick the veneer to the stave and apply clamps to keep everything together. For an especially flat surface, you can use I-beams to even out the pressure. After the veneer has dried, trim any excess material and adjust the stiles and rails to reach the needed finalized widths.

4

Prepare for Routing

french door

To make sure everything is square, you need to set up the router properly. Begin by making sure the tool is square to the table and install the ½ inch drill stock into the collet of the router, rechecking to make sure everything is square from side-to-side and front-to-back.Then, create a setup board using spare stock. It needs to be the same thickness as the finished rails and stiles, typically 1 ¾ inches thick.

Add the stick cutter and install it with the bottom slot cutter set to 9/16 inch above the table. Then, position the fence flush with the bearing of the bit and clamp ¼ inch spacers to the fence, ensuring the first pass only makes a partial cut. After the first pass on each piece, you’ll remove the spacers to perform the next pass, finishing the cut.

Identify which side of each rail board will be the front and mark them. Then, use a straight edge and utility knife to mark the tenons. Make sure the shoulder of the front side is a ½ inch deeper than the shoulder on the back.

Set up the coping cutter, using the spare setup board to reach the proper height. Then, use spacers on the fence to make a partial cut during the first pass. Remove the spacers and complete the rout for each of the rails.

5

Building The Panels

woodworker using a vice to clamp down wood boards

Before you remove the coping cutter, you want to create a coped sled to provide support to the muntins during the routing process. Take a 5-inch wide and 30-inch long board that is precisely the same thickness as the rails and rout the edge. Using a mortising bit, square only the back sides of the tenon shoulders on each rail. Then repeat the process to successfully rout the ends of each vertical muntin.

Vertical muntins have short tenons, typically only a ¼ inch, since the majority mount to the horizontal muntins. Going back to the stick cutter, you’ll rout the desired profiles on the inside edge of each rail and stile as well as the muntins. On the muntins, you’ll rout one of the edges of each wide blank and then cut a 1 ½ inch wide muntin. Repeat the process for each muntin you require.

After that is complete, you’ll add the shaped edge in the coped sled you created earlier to help rout the rest of the profile. As with other processes, you’ll want to use spacers and make two passes before reaching the desired depth.

6

French Door Final Assembly

jigsaw cutting wood

Now that the routing is complete, you can use the bandsaw to cut the rail tenons down to the final width. On the edge rails, focus on the outside edges when making your cuts. For the bottom rails, divide the wide tenon into the two narrower tenons. You’ll want to leave 1 ½ inches between them. On the rails, stiles, and muntins, you want to lay out the mortises. Use a pencil and straight edge to measure out the area for each mortise, marking them accordingly.

Use a drill press with a ½ inch Forstner to clear out the majority of the mortise. Then use a ½ inch hollow mortise chisel to complete the rest. For the rails, the mortises will be 3/8 inches deep. For the muntins, you’ll want to use the coped sled for support. Begin by measuring the glass recess. Then, subtract the thickness of the glass along with the glazing tape. Finally, subtract an additional 1/8 inch.

Mill a board to reach the needed thickness. Next, rout both edges and cut the number of strips required to secure the glass panels. Begin the assembly by gluing the top and bottom rails along with the muntins. Use a water-resistant clear glue for the best result, applying it to each piece with a brush for increased precision.

Add the side stiles, without glue, and clamp everything together. The stiles provide additional support and help keep everything square while it dries. Once the first section dries, you can glue on the stiles, clamp them in place, and let them dry. After the entire assembly has dried, you can add the glass. Apply glazing tape into the recesses, add the glass, and secure the retaining strips using small finishing nails and a hammer.

Conclusion

Now that all of the pieces are together, you have two completed French doors that are ready for installation. You can choose to finish the door in a variety of ways, including with stain, sealant, or paint, but that may not be necessary depending on the wood selected and whether the installation is indoors or outdoors.

How To Build French Doors

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  1. ArmabyTek Series Modern Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 72 in. by 80 in. with Double Bore Prepview
    ArmabyTek Series Modern Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 72 in. by 80 in. with Double Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $749.00
  2. PatioPerfect Series Classic Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 96 in. with Single Bore Prepview
    PatioPerfect Series Classic Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 96 in. with Single Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $799.00
  3. PatioPerfect Series Rustic Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prepview
    PatioPerfect Series Rustic Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $727.50
  4. ArmabyTek Series Contemporary Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 60 in. by 80 in. with Double Bore Prepview
    ArmabyTek Series Contemporary Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 60 in. by 80 in. with Double Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $999.00
  5. ArmabyTek Series Traditional Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 59 in. by 96 in. with Single Bore Prepview
    ArmabyTek Series Traditional Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 59 in. by 96 in. with Single Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $1,024.99
  6. PatioPerfect Series Modern Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 72 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prepview
    PatioPerfect Series Modern Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 72 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $898.00
  7. PatioPerfect Series Classic Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 96 in. with Double Bore Prepview
    PatioPerfect Series Classic Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 96 in. with Double Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $965.42
  8. ArmabyTek Series Rustic Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 80 in. with Single Bore Prepview
    ArmabyTek Series Rustic Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 80 in. with Single Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $699.00
  9. ArmabyTek Series Contemporary Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 60 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prepview
    ArmabyTek Series Contemporary Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 60 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $1,299.00
  10. PatioPerfect Series Modern Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 59 in. by 80 in. with Single Bore Prepview
    PatioPerfect Series Modern Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 59 in. by 80 in. with Single Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $649.00
  11. PatioPerfect Series Classic Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 72 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prepview
    PatioPerfect Series Classic Double wood French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 72 in. by 80 in. with any Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $749.00
  12. ArmabyTek Series Rustic Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 96 in. with Double Bore Prepview
    ArmabyTek Series Rustic Double Composite French Door in a Cedar Color Measuring 71 in. by 96 in. with Double Bore Prep
    FocusPoint Systems French Door is a hinged, inswinging patio door with the highest-quality materials and strong tempered glass. A variety of designs are available to match the layout of your home and patio, including art glass options, exterior frame colors, and interior hardware finishes like stone, brass, or oak. All wood panels are coated with high-durability finishes, ensuring you a maintenance-free, permanent addition to your home.This door is not only beautiful, it will increase the energy efficiency of your home with energy star-rated construction and weatherstripping for a seal that will help control both heating and cooling costs. The gorgeous frame has a wood core and fiberglass exterior for maximum durability and aesthetic appeal. Hinged inswing double-pane glass door with adjustable hardware fits any standard opening, and customization is available in 1/8” increments.
    Price: $799.00
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Questions And Answers

Do French doors open out or in?
There are many types of French doors. You can get them that swing inwards or you can get the ones that swing outwards. There are various brands and benefits of each type.
How much is the average French door?
French doors can vary a lot in cost. The average price for this type of door is between $450 and $800. However, they can range in the thousands of dollars as well.
What is the difference between a French door and a patio door?
There are some differences between French doors and Patio doors. The main difference is how these doors open. A French door will open outward, such as conventional doors do. However, a patio door slides along a track and then opens at the side. Both doors provide you with excellent ventilation.
What is considered a French door?
A French door is usually defined as one pair of doors that have glass panes which extend throughout the length of the doors. The amount of glass could vary, however.
How do you install French patio doors?
You want to install French patio doors. You will take the current door off, clean debris away, measure the door and frame it, put the bottom in first, add in new door frame and assembly, trim shims and add door and trim detailing.
Do French doors increase property value?
When you make any home upgrade, it could raise the property value. French doors have been known to increase property value, amongst other home improvements.
Why is it called a French door?
When French doors orignated was during the 17th Century. When they first came about they were actually not doors at all, but rather large windows to allow more light for homes to be lit longer than before. These windows eventually turned into doors, thus the French door came into play.
How do you measure for a French door?
Measure the height and width of your current door, round the number up. For example, you wud round 81.5 up to 82. Now, measure the width of the jamb. To do this, measure the back of the trim on the interior to the back of the exterior trim.
How much does it cost to put in a French door?
On the low side, you cant expect to have to spend about $500. This price can range upwards of this depending on where you live and the size of the doors that are being installed. You will also have the cost of the door. Installing yourself will save you money.
How much does it cost to get French doors?
The cost to get French doors could vary. If you are only buying the doors, they are generally between $700 and $1,000. The installation cost for these doors is generally between $250 and $450.
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INTERESTING RESOURCES

wood French doors

Wood French Doors

When it comes to door choices, wood French doors are one of the most classic options. They can be used for interior or exterior doors. French doors are, of course, available in a variety of materials, but wood French doors are particularly popular because of their traditional look. A wood French door with divided glass panes is one of the most well-liked looks, but if you would like a little more privacy between spaces, you can opt for decorative glass or even cover the door with curtains or blinds. read more

Sizing Is Important

wooden French doors

Wide Open Spaces

double wood French doors

You’ve Got Style

double wooden French doors
Double Exterior French doors

Double Exterior French Doors

Though sometimes used at the entrance of a home, exterior French doors commonly serve as the patio door. The aesthetic appeal of the French door is the usual reason that it is selected over other door choices. Versatility is in the bag with the French door, and homeowners will find them in assorted textures, styles, and materials, and with various design elements that let in the natural light. Made in a two-panel design of either solid material or glass, exterior French doors include a frame to support the glass enclosure. read more

Appeal

Double Exterior French doors

Energy-Efficiency

exterior french doors with sidelights

Measurements

steel exterior french doors
screens for french doors that swing out

French Screen Doors

If you are installing French doors or already have them, then you might want to consider adding French screen doors as well. These doors can come with or without the storm doors.There are many benefits that you get from adding screen doors. The biggest benefit is that you can leave the doors open allowing fresh air to flow into your home while knowing that the screen doors are able to keep the bugs out. And when used on the patio area, the screen on your French doors will allow you to have your party guests to have quick and easy access to both inside and outside of your home. Screen doors that also have storm doors can help with energy savings. They help to block of drafts in the winter and help protect your French door from the weather elements like high winds and rain/ice. The right doors will even add the curb appeal of your home because when used on the front of your home, they will enhance the value by showing quality and pride of its owners. You have a number of options and many things that you need to carefully consider before making the purchase of your new French screen doors. read more

Configuration and Size

french screen doors

Two in One

screens for french doors

Hardware

retractable french screen door
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