Advice on exterior doors

Michael Armand

Active member
  I am currently building six - 8' tall by 30" wide doors 2-1/8 thick held together by mortise and tenon joints Each door has 14 small floating panels 8" by 10" by 1/2" thick that will be held in by molding attached with nails like the original doors. My problem is the outer surfaces will be in the sun a lot and I need to find a putty to fill the nail holes that will hold up and stain well. I could just glue the molding to the frame but not sure how well the glue joint would hold up in the weather with contraction and expansion. Any advise on putty for nail holes would be welcome.
                                                                          Thanks,  Mike
Mike- The best way to solve your problem is to build the doors with the molding as part of the stiles and rails. It's more work but will never let go. If you've already built it, someone with experience in outside work will tell you what to use-Al
Mike - First, all of the structural parts of the door, stiles, rails and mid-bars, need to be quartersawn or the door won't fit eor long. All of the edges of the panel openings will be lomg grain. Make your moldings from QS stock and epoxy the exterior ones  to the door. The interior ones can be nailed and filled as is your preference. Be sure to finish the edges of the panels before installing to avoid white lines when they shrink.
  Thanks Al and Dick for your advice.
The door rails and styles are Quarter Sawn face glued with PL urethane glue and the moulding is Quarter Sawn also. I ordered some epoxy to attach the outer molding after giving it some thought and will use the epoxy to glue the door frames together also since the PL is so messy. Thank you for your advice.                        Mike
I have built a couple sets of these very large doors, and worried often about the glue. You can call Franklin(and I have), and they will claim that on well-fitting, long grain joints, and also mortise and tenon joints, their exterior titebond has greater strength than epoxy.
You just might want to consider this. I admit that because my doors were very large/complex to glue up, I used epoxy anyway.
If I were designing doors and wanted to leave the panel out until after the rails/stiles were glued up, I would make the exterior mold on the rail/stile(if possible), and apply the interior mold after glue-up, so the nails would be to the interior.
Epoxy will make a good filler for small spots on the exterior, especially on dark-colored doors(this is all I have made- not sure how that would work if using light-colored wood)
I would like to comment on the claims that Titebond is superior in "strength" to epoxy glue. I have no evidence that their claim is not true, but please read on because there may be more to the story.

I built a set of double doors some time ago, and learned to my dismay that strength as we think of it classically was not the limiting case; the door mortise and tenon joints suffered failures after about a year from creep; the slow slippage of the joints from being under load for a  long time period and in admittedly heat and high humidity; summer in Maryland.

I am not aware of the availability of long term creep test data on these glues under moist conditions , but maybe they have some.


There are so many different ideas and I appreciate the comments. That is what makes sapfm so great. These doors are big heavy doors and the styles are 5-1/2" wide x 2-3/16 thick 8 ft tall.The bottom rail is 9" tall and top 6" tall with six 1-1/4" rails and center dividers making 14 panels in each door.  I have 1" thick Haunched tenons 3" long on the top and bottom and 2" tenons on the dividing rails.  Each door has 112 separate pieces of molding and there are a total of 768 pieces of molding including the 36" tall panels that go above the doors. I could not handle the styles and cut out all the individual areas of molding where the rails would meet so I decided to add the mold separately. It was hard enough just cutting the 96 mortises in the oak.  The doors were done with jigs to keep the open areas where the panels are all exactly the same, another reason for using slow drying epoxy. I can cut all the molding on a jig on the table saw and have very little variation in size. It worked great on the upper panels as I cut the molding for them today. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
                                                        Thanks  Mike