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DIY Front Door Design and Proportions

Considerations and Details for a door that looks right

We are wanting a clasic heavy look to our new front door, that in no way looks like a modern off the shelf reproduction. OR anything like the upvc front doors that come with standard panel sizes that are then cut down to some very strange looking proportions. This will be a top quality timber door that will look expensive but I can make in my limited workshop for a buget low cost.

The bottom panels are as thick as rest of the door with deep chamfers. So it wont look like the off the shelf reproduction timber front doors that are commonly available.

The panels are held in by heavy applied mouldings that will stand proud of the door face. This helps to simplify the construction with my limited range of tools as well as adding to the over all solid look of the door.

It's going to be a strong door that will last to the end of our days. So it will be a fairly traditional construction with mortise and tenon joints.

The Front Door Design – Proportions and the Golden Ratio

Getting the proportions right is important and not necessarily obvious. I've looked a plenty doors and figured out how the various dimensions work to make a door that just looks right. Not surprisingly the “Golden Ratio” comes in to play. Have a look at Wikipedia for the low down on this.

I distil this down to using rectangles with a ratio of 1: 1.6 or a with a diagonal angle of 32 degrees or to construct the rectangle from the short side like this:

Construction of Golden Rectangle

Using a compass to transfer the length of the short side down to the the long side. Bisect this to give a point equal to half the short side. Reset the compass from this point to the far end of the short side. Bring an arc down to intersect the long side. This point marks the bottom of the rectangle.

The next decision is where to apply the Golden Ration. Here you can see how I've applied this to the door design, the rectangle with the dashed line, below.

Frame Of Front Door

The Golden Ratio defines the length of the top glazed panels. The Golden Ratio can be applied to many designs. It's a useful design rule to have.

I chose 105mm for the stiles (side uprights) and the muntins (middle uprights). The top rail is also 105mm.

The bottom rail is 175mm. I chose this as it seemed to look right. With hindsight I could have used the Golden Ratio from the stiles which would have give me closer to 170mm. Too late now now as I'm writing this retrospectively.

The middle rail is 140mm again as it looked right. But as it happens, it's actually half way between the top and bottom rails.

By working out the proportions from the actual door frame size we will have a front door that looks right. Too often I've seen front doors that may look right when purchased but look wrong when cut down to fit.

With all these dimensions sorted I can purchase, prep and plane the timber. For more info on how I do this have a look at my Beginners Guide to Buying and Preparing Timber

In the next section I'll cover the design and cutting of the tenons.

Next - Door Tenon Theory and Cutting

Comments please any questions? over on the blog

How to Make a Timber Door

Part 1. Timber Exterior Door Design

Part 2. DIY External Door Design and Proportions

Part 3. Tenon Theory and Cutting

Part 4. Mortise Marking and Cutting

Part 5. Fox Wedging Mortise and Tenon Joints

Part 6. Raised Panels on the cheap

Part 7. Routered Mouldings and Fitting