How to Make Ledge-and-Brace Doors, Part 1

What You'll Need
Level workbench with 2-3 softwood battens
Tape measure
Nylon hammer or mallet
120-grit sandpaper and sanding block
Tongue-and-groove wood, 5/8 or 3/4 inch thick
Ledge and brace wood, 6-by-3/4 inch
2x4 for frame
"T" hinges
Door latch or handle

Ledge-and-brace doors are simple, inexpensive doors that you can build yourself with a few tools. Typically used for an exterior door of a building, ledge-and-brace doors give homes a rustic appearance. These doors have vertical boards that create the door’s length, and they have horizontal ledges across their back. A brace is placed diagonally between each ledge, which gives the door a “Z” pattern.

Check out the materials and steps below to begin making the vertical sections and frame for the door, and then proceed to “How to Make Ledge and Brace Doors Part 2,” for the rest of the directions.

Step 1 – Choosing Your Wood

Before you can build your door, you must select the materials. For exterior doors, it’s best to choose redwood or oak, or another wood that has a moisture content of about 18 percent.

However, you can make an interior ledge-and-brace door from any wood that you see fit, as long as it has a moisture content of about 10 percent. No matter which wood you choose to use, it should have a wood grade of “5” or better

Step 2 – Creating a Frame if Necessary

On a wood-framed building, you can mount the ledge-and-brace door directly to the frame. However, if the building is constructed out of masonry or anything else, you will need to build a door frame. A frame consists of four 2x4s — two vertical and two horizontal. Measure these planks to fit the doorway, and then cut them with your saw. Then, nail the planks to the studs of the doorway.

Step 3 – Cutting the Vertical Pieces

To create the vertical pieces of wood that will make up most of your door, you will need 3-4 tongue-and-groove panels with beveled edges. Whether you choose to use three or four will depend on how wide you want your door to be. These pieces should be either 5/8 or 3/5 inches thick. Cut the wood pieces according to the measurement of your doorway.

Step 4 – Laying out the Vertical Pieces

Lay out the vertical pieces of wood along the workbench. You should lay them out so that there is a narrow board in the center, a wide board on either side, and a narrow board on each door edge.

Step 5 – Assembling the Boards

After you’ve set the board up on the workbench, assemble the door boards by pushing the tongues into the grooves on each board. Do not glue the tongues or grooves. Instead, leave a 1 mm space between the boards to allow for some expansion. Then, level up the top of the door by hitting the boards with a nylon hammer.

The tongues and grooves should slide easily and fall into place. After all of the verticals are even, you can begin building the ledges. Find the remainder of the instructions in the second part of this guide.