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Divided-Light Doors Salem NH

Mill all the door parts to final thickness (7/8 in. for this door). Make a few extra boards the same size as the rails. Use these for making the muntins and for testing the router bit and mortising machine setups. Crosscut all the pieces a few inches long.

Rockler Woodworking and Hardware #34
(603) 898-5941
373 S. Broadway
Salem, NH

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Jim Rogers Sawmill
(800) 422-6250
117-R Jewett St.
Georgetown, MA

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The Mall At Rockingham Pk
(603) 894-7700
77 Rockingham Park Blvd
Salem, NH
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Sears Stores
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Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:8-21
Sun:10-18.5
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Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:8-21
Sun:10-18.5

Abbott-treat Industrial
(978) 685-5115
20 Winter St
Lawrence, MA
 
Westville True Value Hardware
(603) 382-5600
63 Plaistow Rd
Plaistow, NH
 
Northland Forest Products, Inc.
(603) 642-3665
16 Church StreetPO Box 369
Kingston, NH

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All Righteous Woods - Fruit of the Earth -
(978) 948-7329
288 Newburyport Turnpike Rte 1
Rowley, MA

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Lowe's
(978) 241-1861
25 Computer Drive
Haverhill, MA
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M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm

Bridge Street True Value
(603) 635-1521
122 Bridge St
Pelham, NH
 
Bruckmanns True Value Hdw.
(978) 686-4105
179 S Broadway
Lawrence, MA
 
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Divided-Light Doors

Divided-Light Doors

Add a masterful touch with classic glass doors. 

by Tom Caspar

Anatomy of a Divided-Light Door

Three major parts make a divided light door: stiles, rails and muntins. Every part is locked in place by a mortise-and-tenon joint. In this six-light door, the two horizontal muntins are the same length as the rails. Three short vertical muntins fit between the rails and horizontal muntins. 

Although proportions vary among furniture styles, in this door the lower rail is 1-1/2 times as wide as the top rail. All the lights are the same size and evenly divided.


Tools You’ll Use

To build these doors, you’ll need a router table and a set of special bits (see Sources, below). You’ll also need a metric ruler, tablesaw, planer, jointer and some means of making mortises. 

Design Your Door

Let’s start with some old-fashioned terms. The openings for the glass are traditionally called lights.  They’re “divided” by bars called  muntins. 

Start by drawing your door. Determine the door’s overall size, the widths of the stiles, rails and muntins, and the size of the lights. 

Next, select a set of divided-light door router bits. Each set is designed for a specific range of door thicknesses and requires a different setup, but the general steps are the same. Visit the manufacturers’ Web sites for details. We used bits from Freud ($150, see photos right). They’re suitable for doors from 13/16 to 1-1/8 in. thick with 5/8-in. or wider muntins. These bits make tenons; some other sets do not.

Start Cutting Parts

Mill all the door parts to final thickness (7/8 in. for this door). Make a few extra boards the same size as the rails. Use these for making the muntins and for testing the router bit and mortising machine setups. Crosscut all the pieces a few inches long. 

Rip and joint the stiles and rails to final width. Cut the stiles to final length. Leave the rails and muntin boards long. The muntins will be 3/4 in. wide, but don’t rip them yet. Leave them as part of a wider board.

Two matched router bits cut all the profiles. The cope cutter shapes the ends of all the rails and muntins. It also forms a short tenon and a rabbet to receive the glass. The bead cutter shapes the long edges of the stiles, rails and muntins. It also forms a rabbet.

Both bits may be adjusted to fine-tune the tenon’s thickness. You simply take apart the bit and add shims above the bearing. These shims come with the bit and are stored under the nut and washers.


Determine the Length of the Rails and Muntins

Cut every part of the door to exact length in these steps. Use the actual stiles to calculate the precise length of the rails and muntins.

Photo 1: Cut two spacers to spread the stiles to the door’s final width.

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