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DIY Dutch Door

  • August 29, 2016


I’ve wanted an interior dutch door in my home for a long time, but it was a pretty low priority as far as “need” goes. As a result, it has remained in “project no-man’s land”; never really having a chance, but never really going away either. Turns out, all I needed was a new baby!

After having a surprise baby last spring, we needed a bedroom for said baby- which gave me the perfect excuse to build that dutch door. (It’s just a fancy baby gate, right?)

Instead of buying lumber to build this baby gate/dutch door, I needed to sacrifice something. Hmm… something that I already had on hand. Something I could literally, cut. in. half. (I’m looking at you, 1983 hollow core door.)

The finished project ended up even nicer than I’d hoped, and the featherweight hollow door is absolutely ideal in my particular situation.

***Older doors like the one I upcycled here, have personalities of their own. It’s a good idea to re-hang the door(s) multiple times as you go, to check for clearance and fit.

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  1. Project Steps

    1. Step: 1

      Large e57a2efd 8922 48ec ad18 7b90fd8aa3f8

      Measure your existing door and decide the height you want the bottom half to be. (My door was 79.75”.) I used painter’s tape to help me visualize, and settled on a height of 40.25”. (The 1” thick shelf that I added later, brought the overall height of the bottom door to 41.25”.)

    2. Step: 2

      Large f09a0e45 50b5 483b 84cf e319453f6208

      Next, (before taking the door down) measure and mark where you want the new hinges to be on the door AND on the door jamb. This will ensure that things will line up. Before cutting the door in half, I used my router and the Ryobi door hinge template to route out the new hinges that I had marked. (The template made this step about the easiest thing I’ve ever done.)

    3. Step: 3

      Large a36dae16 1758 4ceb 87d8 8a392a03ef0b

      Clamp a board or other straight edge to the door to use as a guide for a circular or jig saw. Make sure to secure both halves of the door to prevent them from shifting or falling while you make the cut. You’ll need to remove a section from the middle of the door, if you are adding a shelf like I did. (Meaning, you’ll need to make two cuts.) I removed an inch in order to use a one inch section of wood I had been saving for the shelf.

    4. Step: 4

      Large 7b79ed59 f840 457f 80cb 3b9726ca1805

      Next, measure the inside of the door halves and stabilize with a few pieces of scrap wood. Glue and nail the scrap pieces from both sides (front and back of door), spacing them out equally. I used three pieces of scrap on each half-door. The scrap pieces will help stabilize the center of the hollow door and give you something to secure the shelf to.

    5. Step: 5

      Large 4f1522ba 95cd 4f59 ac91 5aaeecf2e1af

      Measure, cut, and attach your shelf using a smaller strip to brace the underside/front. Add trim if desired, and caulk seams.

    6. Step: 6

      Large cb5c0d56 9919 463d 9208 50985f3cfe4c

      Next, prepare your door jamb to accommodate any new hinges you already added to the door. Using the markings you made while the door was still hanging, chisel out a section for the new hinge(s) in the jamb. (I was not very aggressive with my hammer/chisel action, so it took me at least 30 minutes notch out the spaces for two hinges. I think I drove everyone in the house, nuts with all the hesitant “tapping” on the chisel.) Ha. Chisels.

    7. Step: 7

      Large 1a11b6dc 0f98 460c 8036 6b4715560ff7

      Remove a section of the door stop if your shelf is robust like mine.

    8. Step: 8

      Large cd6474fa 20cb 42a1 a788 101014d8498b

      At this point, it’s a good idea to hang both door halves and check the spacing. I had to smooth out the bottom of the upper door to get perfect clearance. I also temporarily installed the doorknob while the door was up to make sure it would function smoothly.

    9. Step: 9

      Large c03ca995 698e 4832 ab85 f4553e4591a6

      I used my electric planer to shave down some edges that had always stuck in the door jamb when opening/closing the door. (Why on earth didn’t I do THAT a long time ago?…)

    10. Step: 10

      Large cba0f97a 6742 461e 88f4 268bec472f7b

      Once you’ve checked for straight/smooth lines, remove the top half door and secure a thin strip of wood along the bottom edge. (Glue and nail the strip into the pieces of scrap wood you installed earlier to stabilize.)

    11. Step: 11

      Large c3ba42ba 60ee 419f a443 4834e0f6095a

      Add another strip along the back if desired.

    12. Step: 12

      Large e5712695 d73a 4cc1 8a4a f14adc0a8511

      Prep, paint, and install your new dutch door when dry. Also install any additional hardware such as a latch or surface bolt for those times you want to keep the half doors secured together. And there you go. Not too bad for an old hollow core door. I will also be looking into installing some kind of safety feature doohickey to the top/rear of the upper half. I want to be able to secure it to the wall when I’m only using the bottom half of the door. (…because nobody wants to be caught in the middle of a dutch door scissor kick.) Thanks for reading!

Comments (10)



  • Brilliant, charming, beautiful, useful and completely creative! :) Love it!!! ~ Christina in FL
    By queenopearls_117536, on September 2, 2016

  • I love this for a baby's room!! It looks GREAT!!!
    By Terlis1221, on September 16, 2016

  • Great Job! I think I may do this for my cellar way. It can act as a gate for my dog, for when I have company over.
    By fEzZ, on September 18, 2016


  • Such a clever idea! I'll be checking out more of your projects!!
    By superreader, on September 27, 2016


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DIY Dutch Door

by My Altered State
Aug 29, 2016
Medium 88a7b032 8349 4e0d be61 5aa3b9bdd0af

I’ve wanted an interior dutch door in my home for a long time, but it was a pretty low priority as far as “need” goes. As a result, it has remained in “project no-man’s land”; never really having a chance, but never really going away either. Turns out, all I needed was a new baby! After having a surprise baby last spring, we needed a bedroom for said baby- which gave me the perfect excuse to build that dutch door. (It’s just a fancy baby gate, right?) Instead of buying lumber to build this baby gate/dutch door, I needed to sacrifice something. Hmm… something that I already had on hand. Something I could literally, cut. in. half. (I’m looking at you, 1983 hollow core door.) The finished project ended up even nicer than I’d hoped, and the featherweight hollow door is absolutely ideal in my particular situation. ***Older doors like the one I upcycled here, have personalities of their own. It’s a good idea to re-hang the door(s) multiple times as you go, to check for clearance and fit.

Project Steps

  1. Step: 1
    Huge e57a2efd 8922 48ec ad18 7b90fd8aa3f8

    Measure your existing door and decide the height you want the bottom half to be. (My door was 79.75”.) I used painter’s tape to help me visualize, and settled on a height of 40.25”. (The 1” thick shelf that I added later, brought the overall height of the bottom door to 41.25”.)

  2. Step: 2
    Huge f09a0e45 50b5 483b 84cf e319453f6208

    Next, (before taking the door down) measure and mark where you want the new hinges to be on the door AND on the door jamb. This will ensure that things will line up. Before cutting the door in half, I used my router and the Ryobi door hinge template to route out the new hinges that I had marked. (The template made this step about the easiest thing I’ve ever done.)

  3. Step: 3
    Huge a36dae16 1758 4ceb 87d8 8a392a03ef0b

    Clamp a board or other straight edge to the door to use as a guide for a circular or jig saw. Make sure to secure both halves of the door to prevent them from shifting or falling while you make the cut. You’ll need to remove a section from the middle of the door, if you are adding a shelf like I did. (Meaning, you’ll need to make two cuts.) I removed an inch in order to use a one inch section of wood I had been saving for the shelf.

  4. Step: 4
    Huge 7b79ed59 f840 457f 80cb 3b9726ca1805

    Next, measure the inside of the door halves and stabilize with a few pieces of scrap wood. Glue and nail the scrap pieces from both sides (front and back of door), spacing them out equally. I used three pieces of scrap on each half-door. The scrap pieces will help stabilize the center of the hollow door and give you something to secure the shelf to.

  5. Step: 5
    Huge 4f1522ba 95cd 4f59 ac91 5aaeecf2e1af

    Measure, cut, and attach your shelf using a smaller strip to brace the underside/front. Add trim if desired, and caulk seams.

  6. Step: 6
    Huge cb5c0d56 9919 463d 9208 50985f3cfe4c

    Next, prepare your door jamb to accommodate any new hinges you already added to the door. Using the markings you made while the door was still hanging, chisel out a section for the new hinge(s) in the jamb. (I was not very aggressive with my hammer/chisel action, so it took me at least 30 minutes notch out the spaces for two hinges. I think I drove everyone in the house, nuts with all the hesitant “tapping” on the chisel.) Ha. Chisels.

  7. Step: 7
    Huge 1a11b6dc 0f98 460c 8036 6b4715560ff7

    Remove a section of the door stop if your shelf is robust like mine.

  8. Step: 8
    Huge cd6474fa 20cb 42a1 a788 101014d8498b

    At this point, it’s a good idea to hang both door halves and check the spacing. I had to smooth out the bottom of the upper door to get perfect clearance. I also temporarily installed the doorknob while the door was up to make sure it would function smoothly.

  9. Step: 9
    Huge c03ca995 698e 4832 ab85 f4553e4591a6

    I used my electric planer to shave down some edges that had always stuck in the door jamb when opening/closing the door. (Why on earth didn’t I do THAT a long time ago?…)

  10. Step: 10
    Huge cba0f97a 6742 461e 88f4 268bec472f7b

    Once you’ve checked for straight/smooth lines, remove the top half door and secure a thin strip of wood along the bottom edge. (Glue and nail the strip into the pieces of scrap wood you installed earlier to stabilize.)

  11. Step: 11
    Huge c3ba42ba 60ee 419f a443 4834e0f6095a

    Add another strip along the back if desired.

  12. Step: 12
    Huge e5712695 d73a 4cc1 8a4a f14adc0a8511

    Prep, paint, and install your new dutch door when dry. Also install any additional hardware such as a latch or surface bolt for those times you want to keep the half doors secured together. And there you go. Not too bad for an old hollow core door. I will also be looking into installing some kind of safety feature doohickey to the top/rear of the upper half. I want to be able to secure it to the wall when I’m only using the bottom half of the door. (…because nobody wants to be caught in the middle of a dutch door scissor kick.) Thanks for reading!