My Shed

I started to think about buying the side door and was intrigued by the way I almost unthinkingly chose that path well traveled, which is of course to just to buy one in. Anyway, us DIYers have many good readers for doing it ourselves and mine is manyfold for this door. I could have bought a door for around £70 with free delivery and I have used the supplier before and the quality was very good, but this is a shed. I can make my own in two or three hours knowing the quality is better and I had some studs I could use that were straight and ready for the project already.

My studs are the standard 1 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ and my door height is 6’6″. The mortises took me 20 minutes for each of the wide rails, 10 1/2″ and 7″, and about half that on the top rail. So an hour and 40 minutes chopping did it. The studs were £4.20 each and I used four to make up the laminated wide rails and stiles. £17 for wood and then cladding for the panelling. Offcuts from cladding the sides. I made the door frame from studs too so a doorframe for £10.

Here’s the thing. Doing it yourself is indeed a matter of choice. I will have a door and frame hung and installed for about four hours work and about £25 max. But the decider was not the cost nor was it associated in anything more than the desire to self make. How many of us are self-made men and women is up for dispute. Often it’s the circumstances we face moving through life that defines who we are. As with most people there is something about saving materials and reusing what at one time would have either been definitely up-cycled or despised and thrown in the land fill depending on your character. Yers, I think it a characterful thing not to waste no matter how much you own or earn. But that’s nothing more than my opinion and it’s worth nothing more than that.

The knots in my spruce are extremely hard but I edge planed to edges for jointing and considered using the belt sander for the faces as they will come out better in this case. You might not like to hear that but some woods will do more damage than good. In actuality it could also be a mixture of both. Where the hard knots are, and not all knots are hard, I think it more economical in a range of ways than planing. I am always protective of my hand tools and nowadays I can tell what I want to do more than say 30 years ago.

I may prehang the door into the frame on the workbench, it’s easy enough and I like it that way. The wedged tenons means you can remove the clamps straightaway, trim them of, plane the door edges and get on with fitting and hinging. Then you stand the door in the opening, equal out the margin around the door stile, door head and frame head and fix the frame. You’re done.

50 thoughts on “My Shed”

  1. Very cool paul. Would you consider a video on how to make a door? I need one for my garage, :P.

    1. I made doors last year for my shed. It took me ages but the satisfaction of having made them myself and that they function as intended is for me one of life’s simple pleasures. Had I known then about the knife wall, I might have made them quicker and with greater accuracy. Wedged and dowelled tenons; I’m a belt-and-braces woodworker. Kurt has a valid point, though I’d still love to see how Paul does it.

  2. it’s not about a door. It’s about spending one’s time in a way that is fruitful and enjoyable.

  3. Thanks Paul. I, like others, would love to see a video on how to make a door. The current doors inside my house are those skimmed over things with cardboard. The front door is starting to show it’s age and I’d love to make one myself rather than buy it.

  4. Michael Murphy

    In this day of mass produced, hyper thin veneers and marginal machine joinery, you’d be hard pressed to find a door built as well as yours, Paul. You are correct in the time spent. It’s not because it’s less costly (time wise) but the satisfaction of a well done project. Though the time you spent was far less than the time I would have spent. This door is worthy of a video tutorial.

  5. It perplexes me to read these comments asking Paul to put a video together on building a door or shed or whatever. Seriously, with all of the instruction Paul has put out there (a lot of it for gratis), why can not one of us put a door together using all of the hand tool techniques provided (and practiced by us?) There is a joke in there, somewhere…but I digress.
    Come on people… Just do it! Build the door or the shed or whatever. Use Paul’s techniques that we admire and apply them to any plans you have or designed yourself.
    I do like the tip of the wedged tenons . Was this a standard technique given the use (abuse) of doors?
    “Here’s the thing”……A paragraph that really hit home and an opinion held by many here, I’m sure. Every so often I take inventory of things I saved because “I could use this for something” and I end up throwing it away because after a few years I have yet to find a use for it…only to kick myself finding it’s new use a few weeks or so later! Ever happen to you?

  6. I seem to recall at one time you were making doors in you sleep. For you, Paul, it was a sweet dream. For the rest of us, a nightmare – perhaps it is the large scale mortise and tenon joinery.
    We definitely need a video series or stand-alone for making doors.
    While I’m on the subject of telling you how to run your business, let me go one step further and say that I really think you should have a camera running any time you pick up a tool, even if there is no crew. It’s not like you have to release it immediately, or at all. Production quality may suffer, but there is just too much to teach, and too little time, and it is the “oh, by the way ..” and the “here is a trick ..” that can be released at whatever time you wish.

  7. Kathleen Basiewicz

    I also would love to see a video on door making. I need to change out the one on my workshop before Winter gets here.

  8. I have wanted to learn to make doors for some time now. I am also hoping your shed needs a window or two. I agree with the keep the camera rolling sentiment. I don’t know how that would work out but, I am sure there would be many lessons in it for us in the peanut gallery. There are times you do whiz through something that is second nature to you and I go back and try rewatching multiple times to try and learn from simply observing what you had done.One of the downsides of video learning, we can’t stop you and ask questions in the moment.

  9. I made a door like that for my neighbor last year, somewhat larger than yours.
    I did it for free, just wanting to make it. He bought the yellow pine, tough to work with. It turned out great, flat and square.
    For me it was a lot of hard heavy work and took substantially longer than yours.
    No sanding needed.
    I am pushing 78.

  10. Jamie ( one of the very many following from down under in Australia )

    I’m hoping to see some sash work as taught by George !!!

  11. Paul,
    Another interesting post.

    Would it be worthwhile to produce a video on building a door?
    I think many of your subscribers would be eager to see it.

    In any case, thanks again.

  12. Thanks for this post, Paul. One of the most intriguing parts of it, for me, was the use of standard 2x4s (US name) for the stiles. I have been working on a cabin interior for a number of years, and I have applied a number of the techniques (mortise and tenon doors for cabinets; dovetails for drawers) in the kitchen. I also built doors using 1×6 tongue and groove pine, making battens to hold them together, secured with black wallboard screws (looks sort of hand wrought). I presume that the process for making the door is very much like the cabinet doors, but with a middle piece (or two) mortised into the stiles for more rigidity. I have a kitchen to redo this winter; it was originally made with plywood (including the cabinet doors with raw plywood edges). I intend to recycle the doors into interior partitions, and then build doors and drawers in the proper fashion, and ultimately repaint them all to update the whole look and make the drawers (doors) work much better. I could never have thought of doing this without your excellent tutelage.

  13. I imagine it dispiriting, after publishing hundreds of hours of top quality free teaching, to read so many requests for spoon fed instruction on something as simple as door building.

    C’mon people, After all self reliance is part of what Paul is aiming to promote. He has already published dozens of free videos on M&T joinery, on edge jointing and on a bunch of methods for fitting in fill panels. Use brain to assemble.

    Or watch the videos on building smaller doors which are just like big doors but, you know, smaller. Use brain to scale up.

    Or you all have access to a hundred different doors in your own home, at work or in your friends houses you can inspect to see how they were made. Use brain to copy.

  14. Looking forward to more information on building doors of all types.
    …Please don’t “close the door” on this interesting subject.

  15. Steven Newman/Bandit571

    Have done quite a few doors, over the years…ever since reading about bulding doors in a Fine Wood Working magazine back in the early 90s, late 80S….

    Next, Paul needs to build a proper screen/storm door to go with the new door
    (Keeps the “skeeters” out, on the hot days, when you’d like a wee bit of breeze through the shop/shed….

    One project I was paid to do….passage doors, with louvers…to vent a Laundry Room, and a basement stairway….pre-hung, of course

    Joints were pinned and wedged…almost did not need any glue…

  16. Dear Paul,
    Very nice door with standard tenon and mortise, but how did you installed panels, I do not see any grove or rabbets.

    Thank you

  17. – “cladding for the panelling”
    I thought You would nail the cladding on the full width of the door. Making it as if the door was cut in the wall.
    Is “nailed” what you refer to by “planted”?

    – I think, in principle, there is enough guiding on door making in the existing videos.
    One has to be very attentive to stock preparation. Straight stiles and rails of consistent thickness without winding and with edges perpendicular to the faces. Then using the P.S. tenon and mortise technique with mortise guide and router. The lower wide rail with double tenon must of course be flat (straight/not warped).
    Now it looks foolproof when Paul does it but it nevertheless needs practice.
    I recently made two frames with plexiglas for gardening; one is flat, the other is slightly warped.
    On the other side, when looking at various P.S. videos about a similar subject, there is often a new little gem.


  18. I’m definitely with you on the not wanting to waste materials. I save all my off-cuts of redwood from my joinery work and make bird tables etc from them in my spare time.

    Also, I picked up a S&J professional saw on your recommendation. I have always used throwaway saws in my job and I have no idea why. It’s just what I was taught to use and I never really thought about it. Just need to buy a saw setter and file now.

  19. I giggled when I read your opening line. I did exactly the same thing the other day, though not with a door. I need a little mini-shed (18 inches high) to cover some outside sockets and I hit the Internet looking for such a thing. But then remembered I had a pile of offcuts – why the hell don’t I use those???

    There is a side point here, however. I might have enough offcuts for a box, but not for a door. So, if I needed a door, would it be cheaper in materials to buy the wood or buy the door? Sometimes buying the finished item is cheaper than the materials.

    I was noting this the other week. I am making shelves/folding desk and window seat for the house. Since they will be painted, I am making them out of MDF. But I briefly considered making them out of pine.

    I reeled when I worked out the price of the wood. Although they would be the wrong shape for my needs, buying a pine bookshelf from a flat-packed retailer would be much cheaper than me buying the wood.

    Pity that.

  20. Hi from Portugal. I’m currently building a playhouse for my daughter and I have been entertaining the idea of making doors and windows myself. Would it be too much of a bother to do a series of videos on this topic? Thanks

  21. No doubt your door will stand the test of time. I bought an exterior door from a well known builders merchant, 3 years later it was sagging, no through tennons, probably dowelled together.
    Price of joinery quality timber is shocking, although professionals obviously get trade discount.

  22. I collect old woodwork and building books. In my previous life making carpentry to renovate cottages in Radnorshire I would often refer to the proper way to make windows and doors. They show all the details of joints needed to make things ‘George’ would be proud of. So next time you are in town check the bookshop for old carpentry books. I always check for the drawings of the gent in his waistcoat and pipe working on his project. Fab. Bet Paul has them in his bookshelf ??

  23. Hi all, yes I have to agree that the price of good quality timber around here is very high,I did price up a door ready made for our extension ,it came in at just on £120 , timber came in at just over £100 plus vat and plus delivery so it was a no brainer really, even though I was looking forward to making my own.
    Thank you Paul for your inspiration, I am gradually getting rid of the must have power tools too

  24. Paul,
    GREAT post!
    I was waiting for you to say to all those asking for a video or tutorial – “I have given you everything you need to design and make your own door.” “Just try it, have a go. If it doesn’t work, put your first learning effort in the fire ring, grab the kiddos, some marshmallows and enjoy the family time! Then tomorrow get up and try again.”

  25. Because the door is made from 2x4s there is plenty of depth to plane in some rabbits all around each opening for the panels to inset. I’ve taken apart and rebuild a goodly number of doors and gates. Never seen a wedged tenon yet, I will from now on be using wedged tenons where possible, it just makes sense. Face palm.

  26. I certainly have enjoyed all of Paul’s instructional videos. And I enjoy the blogs as well. But it most be a little disheartening for him, after all the videos, teaching all of his techniques, to have people asking to be shown the step-by- step process of every simple little project he does. Learning is a journey. At some point you have to take a few risks on your own, and try to be CREATIVE! The only risk is that you make something less than perfect, and you learn from your own mistakes. I’ve made a variety of doors, and not all have been from a plan in a book or video. After a while you’ll realize they are all variations on the same theme. Enjoy the journey!

    1. No, I’m not disheartened at all, David. Whereas I think it is true that most would never realise how much my work takes me far beyond the 9 to 5 norm for others, it is after all my choice to blog and vlog, video and write. These things are important to me a grow ever more important the older I get because I like the thought that I might get more and more off of the conveyor belt that has become so preeminent in displacing my craft from the ordinary people I seek to guide and steer. Even if it is only a dream for some, it might well lead to the day that they take the plunge.

  27. Paul, you and your team have been very inspirational to me. I have a ton of projects in which I’m always placing placards: “In Work…” I enjoy your gardening especially since it reminds me in my military travels how people maximized their food yield with extremely small plots. I enjoy your work ethic which reminds me when walking in Atsugi Japan and seeing “Machine Shops” so close to the road, it has always amazed me even though I seen it in Jamaica, some parts of Europe and Africa. Just yesterday I helped two of my neighbors by teaching them how to pull roots out of the ground manually. The workout was great plus getting to know my neighbors is a plus especially nowadays when no one knows their neighbors. I have an extremely long way to get anywhere close to you, Izzy or your family members, but I’ve learned to maximize my workspaces and time at work. Instead of watching the news whilst waiting for my aircraft to land I continue on my “In Work” projects. Also at home my neighbors say that they always see me doing something around my home, they have young families and I tell them that I didn’t have the time to do this when my children were young. My wife and I have plenty of time(almost) for our personal hobbies since they are adults. One day I’ll make a door(It’ll be In-Work) for my sheds on my to do lists. I read all of your posts and with all the rapid changes in our world you are the “Eyes of Our Storms” when I know that you and your team are keeping the calm part over my area I’m motivated to do something worthwhile for friends and family.

  28. Chris Harmston

    I am in the same position as many others above where I need to replace my homes double entry doors. I have scoured Youtube and watched some pretty good content but I would greatly appreciate a series from you, Paul.

    My project is imminent as I have already purchased all my lumber (cherry) and have had it equilibrating in my home for 6 months. I expect to begin actual work by November. I feel fairly confident in my capability to create all the joinery for the doors and frame but where my knowledge and skill is lacking is in the creation of all the hardware joinery for the lockset and such.

  29. Looking towards the future, DIY will be required not an option. Even without the doom and gloom predictions, DIY saves resources, reduces carbon emissions and perhaps most important keeps people sane and appreciative of the things they use every day.

  30. Paul has already done a video on making doors. Look up his tool cabinet videos. Although the scale is different and the fitting perhaps a bit more delicate, the same principles apply for making any door, I think.

    Thank you, Paul!

    Best regards from central Texas.

  31. Com’on folks, making simple doors is not rocket science. Paul has given us everything we need to make doors. In fact there are videos of Paul making panel doors for a cabinet. Just substitute larger styles and rails and viola’, you have an entry door.

    I had to custom make doors for a closet in her studio dur to the irregular sized opening. This was a matter of not wishing to pay the cost of having custom doors made at the big box store.

    Between what I’ve learned here, and a few other you tube videos, I made tow custom doors from scrap 2×2 and some left over 1/4 ” finish plywood. (these were for interior use and were painted).

    I grooved the rails for the panels, morticed them for the styles (also 2x4s) and tenoned the styles, just like Paul taught us. Wish I had known of the wedged tenons, but these doors did not really need the extra strength.

    But honestly, they came out great and no one has yet to question them or realize they were the first doors I ever made.

    Practice what we have learned from Paul, and if you haven’t yet, buy his master woodworking series books and videos. If you even just like woodworking, you won’t regret it, and you won’t be needing extra videos every time Paul posts a Blog.

  32. Sorry, lots of typos in this post… the stiles and rails were 2X4. The stiles and rails were grooved for the 1/4″ plywood panels. The stiles received the mortices and the rails were tenoned. I used haunched tenons on the top and bottom rails.


  33. If I recall correctly, Paul has already covered frame and panel doors as part of the series on making a Tool Cabinet, the one with mitred coving around the top. The only difference is the size of the door and consequently, the size of the stock.

  34. Echo those above asking for a video.

    And, apologies to those who think we don’t need one as Paul has manifold taught us the necessary basics.

    That said, believe it or not, I follow all Paul’s videos on mortises and tenons closely, with multiple viewings. I have now constructed five different Paul Seller’s Guides.

    All of that focus with an ultimate goal of doing my own doors.

    Thanks to Paul, the quality of some of my work impresses all my family and friends.

    But, that door project remains daunting.

    Heritage quality, please. How to properly construct (sizing guidance) a double tenon joint without fear of later failure?

  35. I made a Gunstock front door with glass panels in the top half. The wood from B&Q was chosen beneath a hot air blower which bent most pieces beyond carpentry .But the straight pieces have lasted perfectly for 30 years . That applies to wardrobes too . The door was set into side panels and restoring that area I enjoyed a 1930s Ashes newspaper report (early insulation ) with Jack Hobbs scoring a century . (Cricket for the uninitiated ). For our antipodean mates I am reading “The Australian Essay”compiled by L.C.Rodd. All from the 1860s . There is a stack of great books mentioned in that . They enjoy the woodwork as much as we do using tools made by the same famous Sheffield artisans . Doors are no trouble.Hinges I have mastered , but doorknobs and locks are a bit of a let down with poor metal and new unreliable locks. Also our very heavy , new mahogany back door has developed cracks each summer just where the panels join.I bought that one .

  36. This reminds me that my grandad made his own shed. (made back in the U.S. Depression era, circa 1920’s). I was young when he told me how it was built, so I don’t remember much about the material, but I do recall that he was proud of the ramp leading up to it and the doors. He was also very particular as to what was allowed into the shed. Every tool had to be rinsed and dried before being stowed (and then the shed locked, which he saw to personally). I felt privileged to use such well-tended tools (and bit of trepidation that I may not have sufficiently cleaned off all the weed seeds from them).

    (@John Cadd – A mahogany door that came with our house has also warped, such that insects and, probably, mice are able to get in. One day I will take it down and restore it, but I need to find – or build?- a similar door to put up to maintain the refrigeration and the security envelope while I do that.)

  37. Thanks, Paul Good thoughts as always. Struck a chord in me in that I’ve always looked for ways to reuse many things, then just as you said, I’ll get seduced by the power of “quick”. Sometimes it’s quicker, sometimes not.

    One thing I notice (in South Carolina, anyway) is the ever changing landscape on reuse opportunities – can get some really economic deals ripping and planing construction lumber, then, on the other end of the spectrum, run into old barn doors nearly falling apart that someone wants $400-$500 for. Takes a little scouting around for opportunities

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