I use the same panel moldings to frame glass panes, stained-glass panels, and mirrors. I start by carefully laying out and cutting the opening in the door (see slideshow). Next, to create a split jamb that will hold the glass, I rip stops that are equal in width to half the thickness of the door minus the thickness of the glass panel. I size the jambs so that they’ll fit snugly in the opening, with about 1/16-inch of clearance.
When I fasten the frames to the door, I take care to align the jambs on either side of the door, but only glue and pin one side. Next — since tempered or safety glass is generally required in doors — I remove the temporarily tacked frame and call in the glass company to measure the opening. I schedule the door for finishing while the glass is being fabricated. I want to make sure the door is stained or painted before the glass company comes back to install the glass.
The final finish is critical for a great-looking door, so before I hand the door off to my painting sub I take care to lightly sand everything with 120-grit paper to remove scuffs and other marks. My painting subs usually work on site, setting up one room to use as a spray booth. They use oil-based primers, paints, and stains. All of the stain finishes are protected with a sprayed lacquer finish.
Cost. Depending on the number of panels, a door may require as much as 32 to 40 lineal feet of molding per side. Although some stock panel molding costs as little as 70 cents per lineal foot, the more expensive embossed panel moldings from White River cost more than $2 per lineal foot, and can add significantly to the cost of a door. To save money, some of my clients have opted to leave the moldings off the back of closet and bedroom doors.
Glass is usually pretty reasonably priced. My glass company charges about $50 per door if its workers are on site for other work.
Set-up time adds to the cost of production. Once I’ve set up for four or five doors — the best number for the most efficient production — it takes me about a half-hour to panelize a single door.
Gary Striegler is a builder in Springdale, Ark. Photos by Bryan Striegler.