How to cut an interior door in half

Written by henri bauholz
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How to cut an interior door in half
A split door is called a "stable door" in the UK and a "Dutch door" in the USA. (Wikimedia Commons)

Enhance the living space of your home by cutting a solid wood door in two and then installing the pair as stable-style swinging doors. This practical home addition works well to establish waist-high boundaries for children or pets, who still might need observation by the parent. Then, when you need to use the doors as one unit, just connect the two half-doors with sliding latches, and now you have one solid door.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Pair of sawhorses
  • Four long 5 x 10 cm (2 x 4 inch) "2-by-4s" -- 1.8 to 2.4 m (6 to 8 feet) in length
  • Four short 5 x 10 cm (2 x 4 inch) "2-by-4s" (cut to width of door)
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • 454 g (16 oz) claw hammer
  • No. 6 finish nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear wood sealer
  • Small paintbrush -- 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inch) wide

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Bring a tape measure with you and search the local timber retailers, salvage yards and recycled building suppliers for a door that can fit into the desired opening. At the same time, look carefully for a solid door with a large crosspiece at or near the midway point.

  2. 2

    Do the maths. Measure the door from top to bottom, find the centre point and make sure it falls in the centre of the stile (also called a crosspiece). Then check both edges of the door for uniform height. Also check the diagonal lengths, which, when equal, indicate that you have a square door.

  3. 3

    Find or make a suitable surface to lay out the door. Try a work table or a pair of sawhorses. If you use sawhorses, first place four long "2-by-4s" lengthwise on the sawhorses, so that the wooden pieces form a rough table. Make this workspace 1.8 to 2.4 m (6 to 8 feet) long and secure each "2-by-4" to the sawhorse with a long finish nail. Then place the shorter "2-by-4s" (cut to the width of the door) at right angles to the first set of "2-by-4s." Use four short "2-by-4s" to support the door.

  4. 4

    Measure the length of the door and mark the halfway point at each outside edge of the door.

  5. 5

    Chalk a line that connects the two marks in the above section to form your cutting line.

  6. 6

    Adjust the four "2-by-4s" underneath the door, making sure that one is placed at each end and one is on each side of the centre chalk line.

  7. 7

    Set the depth of the saw blade to approximately 6 mm (1/4 inch) deeper than the thickness of the door.

  8. 8

    Measure the distance from the outside edge of the saw blade to the outside of the metal guide on the circular saw.

  9. 9

    Cut a thin strip of wood to the width of the door and attach it on top of the door just above the cutting line. Use the measurement you made in the last step as the distance between the two lines. Make sure the two lines are parallel.

  10. 10

    Place a 6 mm or 1.2 cm (1/4 or 1/2 inch) piece of wood or plywood underneath the door to support the half, where the circular saw crosses the door. Ideally, the flat shims get placed 2.5 cm (1 inch) away from the centre line in the direction of the cutter.

  11. 11

    Make the cut. Use a skilled assistant to hold the half of the door that is away from the cutter. By supporting the weight of the door, the assistant must prevent the saw from binding in the door. As you progress through the cut, your helper may have to lift the door slightly.

  12. 12

    Sand each cut edge and apply a clear sealer with a small paintbrush.

Tips and warnings

  • You also can split exterior doors to make an attractive pair of swinging stable doors to install in the interior of a house.
  • After you cut the doors, add a shelf to create a traditional-looking pair of Dutch doors. This entails cutting the door a second time to allow for the thickness of the shelf.
  • Do not try to split a hollow-core door because you will have to rebuild the door to restore it.
  • Fit and hang the full door to the opening before making the final dissection that creates the stable doors. Don't forget each half gets two sets of hinges.

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