How To Make a Plywood Door General Woodworking

There is one last thing to do to finish my shop renovation, and that is to put a door at the back stairs that go down to the basement. I could have went out and bought a new hollow core door, but decided to make my own. The advantages are that I could make it any way I wanted and it would be a very solid, durable door, ideal for the rough shop environment. Hollow core doors are well suited to houses, where there is little chance of punching a hole through with a piece of lumber.

Here’s the opening:

Doorway opening.

Plywood sheet.

And this is the raw material – a 4′ x 8′ sheet of 1/2″ plywood. I figured I could get a 2′-4″ door from this sheet, with some to spare. Additional material would be some solid wood for the edges and trim.
The plywood is G1S (good one side) pine plywood. It is virtually void free, very smooth and flat.

I took the time to work up a cutting layout in SketchUp:

Cut Sheet diagram.

Good for getting the most out of the sheet and avoiding mistakes.

First step is to cut the sheet down to size. The “core” is 25-1/2″ x 80″:

Cutting the plywood.

This panel becomes the centre of the door, giving it very high racking strength. I did these first cuts on the saw horses, using a circular saw and a saw board to guide it.

I then cut the remaining piece into five strips 4-3/8″ wide on the table saw:

Plywood cut into strips.

Stiles glued on.

These are the stiles of the door and are glued to the edge, overlapping the core by 3/4″.
The door needs to be flat and I’m assembling it on my workbench to make sure that it stays straight. During glue-up, the door will be clamped down to the bench to hold it flat while the glue sets.
I’m using polyurethane construction adhesive to glue the parts together. This adhesive is solvent based, and will not swell the wood and make it expand during glue-up. Also, this glue is much better suited to lower temperature use than regular wood glue. it’s quite a bit cooler at this time of the year and I don’t want to heat the shop for this.

Spring clamps hold it until I can get more clamps in place:

Spring clamps.

It takes a lot of clamps (homemade and otherwise) to clamp the parts together and down to the bench:

Stiles glued and clamped.

Anvil used as weight.

I needed to be a bit creative where the vise is, and used the anvil to weigh down the stile in that location.

With the stiles added on both sides, I can add the top and bottom rails:

Top and bottom rails glued on.

Centre rail installed.

And the centre rail. I’ve set this rail at 36″ on centre from the bottom and it divides the door into two panels. The bottom rail is in two pieces per side, since there wasn’t enough long grain left on the sheet this wide. Not a problem if the door is to be painted, as this one will.

For the edges, I used some very well seasoned 2″x6″, cut and planed to size:

Stock for edging cut.

I’m using shorter pieces, since I didn’t have anything that was long enough and straight.

The pieces are cut in a “T” profile to fit in the groove and are glued and clamped in place:

Edging glued in.

Scarf joint detail.

Where they join, I cut the ends to 45 degrees. This scarf joint gives better glue performance than a straight butt joint.

To make the trim for the panels, I resawed some very well seasoned spruce 2″ x 6″ to a little over 1″ thick:

Clamp screw parts

Flattening the end of the rod.

I then planed it smooth in the thickness planer. I set up an ogee bit in the router table to cut the profile on each edge of the stock.

At the table saw, I ripped the trims off to the correct thickness:

Clip the prongs off the t-nut.

I then brought the stock back to the router table and cut two more. Cutting the trim this way is more accurate, easier and safer than ripping the strips first, then routing.

All of the trim cut, plus some extra:

Clamp screw parts

Flattening the end of the rod.

The trim is cut to length with mitered corners.

I use glue and a pin nailer to attach the trim:

Clip the prongs off the t-nut.

Once again I’m using polyurethane glue to secure the parts:

Clamp screw parts

Flattening the end of the rod.

The door completely trimmed.

The door is then sanded smooth:

Clamp screw parts

Flattening the end of the rod.

And hung in the opening. It will be painted white, like the other doors in my shop.

Here are two videos I made showing how I sized the door, hung it and installed the lock: