Occasionally on large building or renovation project you find yourself with a heap of extra materials. Most times these can be returned for a credit, but if the material was custom or special ordered, returning might not be an option or could be prohibitive in cost or logistics. This was the case when we found ourselves with some leftover random-width yellow pine flooring on a recent job. Relegating such beautiful material to the trash heap simply wasn’t an option, so we decided to look for something clever to do with it. It didn’t take long until we settled on a set of doors for the homeowner's woodshed.
Step 1 - Mill Your Material
The first thing you want to do is build your frames. Our material started out as 6-inch wide tongue and groove flooring planks, so in order to get it to where we could assemble the boards into frames we had to first remove the tongues and grooves from each of the boards. Once you have your material milled down, you can cut your rails and stiles* to size. DO NOT build your doors to match the exact height and width of your finished opening. A good rule of thumb is to leave 1/8-inch between your doors and between your doors and frame. That means that for a finished opening 60 3/8-inches wide, you will want to build each of your two doors at 30 inches.
*”Rails” are the horizontal frame members between the vertical “stiles” on doors.
Step 2 - Drill Pocket Holes
It’s times like these I wouldn’t give up my pocket screw jig for a year’s supply of Guinness Stout and brick oven pizza. Seriously. If a smooth, professional-looking face frame is what you're after, the pocket screw jig will be your best friend.
Rail being drilled out in pocket hole jig
Pocket screw jigs position screws at the perfect angle to bite what they’re supposed to bite without protruding through the front of your face frame. Take care here: if your material has a front and a back to it, be sure to place your pocket screw holes on the back of your material so the front will keep its “invisible fastener” look.
Pocket screw holes on back of door rail
Step 3 - Assemble the Frames
As always, before screwing your components together, be sure to apply some professional grade wood glue for a joint that is less likely to open up over time. One of the nice features of the better pocket screw kits on the market is that they come with a special vice-grip clamp that aids in keeping your surfaces flush as you screw them together.
If all goes well, you will end up with some beautiful frames to accept the backing of your choice:
Door face frames, front and back
Step 4 - Crossbucks, Anybody?
For many, the proper (and for that matter, easiest) method for making crossbucks is as elusive as it is frustrating. Here is the simplest, quickest, and what I’ve always felt to be the proper way to make perfect crossbucks every time. First, take a diagonal measurement from corner to corner (where your crossbuck will eventually sit). Now take a straight edge and place it so it connects your two corners. This is your center line. Trace a light pencil line out onto your left and right rails.
Cut your crossbuck “blank” a few inches longer than your corner-to-corner measurement, and then find the center on either end of your crossbuck blank. Align the pencil mark on your blank with the pencil line you traced with your straight edge.
At this point you might want to clamp your blank in place so it doesn’t shift while you’re tracing your cut lines. Once it’s secure, trace your cut lines from underneath the frame. Repeat for the opposite side. You will end up with two blanks that are now perfectly marked to be cut into crossbucks.
After you cut your crossbucks and dry-fit them to check for size, your next step is to dado your crossbucks together. You can use a chop or table saw outfitted with a dado blade, but I find that a straight fluted router bit works just fine for this. Set your bit or blade so that you will be removing half the width of each crossbuck where they intersect.
After you dry fit your crossbucks, drill out your pocket screw holes, apply some wood glue to your joints and intersection, and screw your components together.
Step 5 - Install Backing
Now that your frames and crossbucks are assembled, it’s time to install your backing material. We used more of the yellow pine flooring, and installed it with the back (what would be the bottom when installed on a floor) facing front. The relief cuts on the bottom of the flooring made for a slatted look that added some texture to the doors
Glue and screw your backing material to the back of the face frames, and you’ve got yourself a couple of woodshed doors that are ready for paint and hardware. Enjoy!