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How to build a split stable door

Updated April 17, 2017

The ability to build a split stable door is becoming a lost art, while at the same time split doors are undergoing a resurgence in popularity as back doors. The door should be made so that you can open the top or the whole door, but you cannot open the bottom and leave the top closed. You will require time and patience to build your split stable door and should take special care when hanging it to ensure the two parts don’t gape or squeeze together.

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  1. Determine the total size of your door. A stable door for horses should be at least 1220 x 2130 mm (4 foot x 7 foot), while a split door for a home will be around 726- 926 mm wide and 2040 mm high. Measure the existing frame if you are making a replacement door. The bottom part of the split door should be about 1220 mm high.

  2. Use 50 x 150mm (2” x 6”) timber to form the frames of both parts of the door. Add a diagonal cross brace for added support. Use heavy duty screws and wood glue to connect three of the frame pieces together. Cut the ends of the cross piece so they form a mitered edge that fits securely in the corners of the frame. Attach it with screws and glue then attach the last side of the frame. Check you have everything perfectly square.

  3. Cover the outside of each frame with vertical timber boards that are 21-25 mm (0.8-1 inch) thick and 100-150mm (4-6 in) wide. Use 60 mm nails or screws to secure them. Cut the last board to fit if required, so that it does not extend past the frame.

  4. Hinge the doors with 2 hinges on each part. Measure that they are appropriately spaced. A horse stable door should always open outwards, but if you are making a split door for a house you will want it opening inwards.

  5. Hang the doors beginning with the bottom one. Allow a small space between the top and bottom parts, as the wood can swell in damp weather. Plane some of the top door if necessary to get a perfect fit.

  6. Attach a 25 mm wide 21 mm thick piece of wood along the bottom of the upper stable door on the outside (or inside for a house) so that it extends past the frame. This ensures the upper part of the door opens when the bottom part is opened.

  7. Finish the doors with paint or varnish. Take them off the hinges if required. Add bolts or other door hardware as required, after the paint/varnish has dried.

  8. Tip

    Measure carefully to get a well-fitting door and continually check that everything is square.

    Use eye protection if using power tools.

    Work in a well-ventilated area while using paint or varnish.


    Check there are no sharp edges or protruding nails on the door that could injure a horse or person.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • 50 mm x 150 mm timber for frames
  • Heavy duty screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood glue
  • Saw
  • Timber boards between 21-25 mm thick and 100-150 mm wide
  • 60 mm nails or screws
  • Hammer
  • 4 heavy-duty hinges
  • 21 x 25 mm timber the width of the door
  • Paint or varnish
  • 2 bolts or other door hardware

About the Author

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