First Exterior Door Frame

The Setup

We’ll have three exterior doors. The first one is on the actual back side of the house. We wanted a door with a large window in it so plenty of light can come into the house, and also so we can look out into the backyard. The next one will be on the side of the house in the kitchen. This will be a utility entrance – pull into the carport, drag all the groceries out of the car and use this entrance to bring things into the kitchen. The front door will be the formal entrance. Use the front door if you don’t know us very well.

Our logs vary in diameter by quite a bit – from 24 inches down to 12 inches. How to build a door frame that will accommodate those differences? My idea was to go somewhere in the middle of everything and make door frames that are 16 inches deep. And beefy- at 4 inches wide.

In this post, I’ll explore how to make a door frame for an existing door that works for a log home.

Materials

We left a lot of trees standing when we were stacking walls because they were too crooked for that part. But for a door, you only need it to be straight for about 7 feet, so we have plenty of wood for that. And to purchase a 4×16 from almost anywhere is pretty expensive.

I tried to get the most out of each piece of the tree.

Putting it together

I was surprised at how heavy they were – still wet – they weigh about 500 lbs when fully assembled. I had to use the block & tackle to get them into the house to dry.

Once we had enough lumber, we had to decide which piece went where, then line everything up and bolt it together. It’s not really important how you hold the door frame together at this point because the strength comes when you bolt it to the walls, but I went ahead and used two 1/2″ x 8″ lag bolts and washers on each joint.

Installation

I dragged out the pulleys again to put the frame in place. Cutting the logs is pretty scary at this point- you can’t un-cut logs. It just so happened that the top log would have had about 2″ of excess above the head of the frame. We thought that might look weird, so we’ll just settle for extra chinking above the door frame. No big deal.

Also, at the bottom of the door frame, you have to think about how high your floor is going to be. We went back and forth on this one. There are two ways to do the frame height:

  1. line it up so the finished height of the threshold is the same height as the finished floor.
  2. make the threshold just a bit taller than the finished floor.

Advantages of #1 – you can sweep dirt and debris right out of the house, with no lip of the door in the way. Disadvantages are that if you have carpet or a rug or something, you’ll want to make sure you get this height perfect so the door doesn’t drag on the floor. Advantages of #2 are you can get away with less than perfect on your floor height. We went with #2. I had to cut out quite a bit of the 1st layer of log to get the door frame to fit just right. Once installed in the wall, you get the whole frame vertically level, and then bolt through each log in the wall. Tighten or loosen the bolts as needed to keep the frame square. And put some bolts in the header and the threshold if you want to make it extra secure.

stick a door on it and finish it

Even though I made the frame perfectly square, installing it into the house couldn’t help but deform it- tightening down the lag bolts always bows things a bit, so we had to fiddle with the frame a bit to get everything perfect. I’m glad I bought a doorknob hole cutting kit- makes everything so much nicer. We also bought 1×2 lumber for stops. And some cool looking weather stripping.

Conclusion:

It was a lot of work. It always is. Making a door frame from tree to finished frame is quite a job. The most surprising thing was when the door frames were being built, Julie said over and over – “they look too big”. I was worried she was right. But when we installed them in the log walls, they look regular. The next adventure is to build my own doors for the other two entries. A lot of folks in our group build Z-doors. They are quick and easy, and very sturdy, and add a nice touch to a log home. Since I’m a rebel and like to do things the hard way, I’m going to build a Z-door where the Z is on the inside, following these instructions: https://baileylineroad.com/how-to-build-a-door/

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