Plywood Door – Part 1

Pools + Babies = Significant legal liability

All access points to pools must be secured with self-closing mechanisms and latches at least 54″ off the ground. Swinging-style doors and gates (as opposed to sliding doors) must open away from the pool, so that a latch failure will not allow a child to push the door/gate open.

My back yard is compliant with this, but once you are out in the back yard there is nothing separating anyone from full access to the pool. And I would really like having an outdoor area that my family and friends could be in without worrying about the kids being combined with the pool in any unplanned way.

This is why I am building a pergola off the back of my house.


The barrier to the pool is a deck railing of wood and tempered glass, and I would normally make a gate the same height as the railing, but I want to place the latch up high, and I think there are better looking alternatives than the commercial pool gate latches.

So rather than building a gate, I’m building a door.

The opening I am filling is just over 40-inches wide, so it will be a big door. And I want the door to feel like it belongs with the rest of the design, which is very open with large glass panes, so it will have a large single sheet of 3/8-inch tempered glass within the frame.

I did a little research into the best wood to make a door out of, and the two woods people recommended most where white oak and mahogany. I eliminated Mahogany quickly, because I don’t want to pay for it. White oak was interesting, but even then I would pay around $100 for the wood, and I’m stingy. I considered poplar, which is cheaper, but there were a large number of warnings against using it for doors due to warping in exterior conditions, which would be bad for my application (which is essentially a wooden frame around a large piece of glass).

So I needed something inexpensive that could handle weather and stay perfectly straight. It then occurred to me that Plywood might be the answer.

I didn’t find anything online indicating that this was a bad idea (not that I would have listened anyways).

I could buy a sheet of good quality multi-ply and build it up into the thick timbers I needed by gluing layers together.

Building the frame out of layers would make it a simple matter to use a form of mortise and tenon joinery in the corners that would make this a very strong frame; which it would have to be, considering that it would be made of a nearly full sheet of 3/4-inch plywood and a 6-foot by 32-inch piece of 3/8-inch glass and would easily weigh over 100-pounds.
Before rushing off to Home Depot, I did a quick proof-of-concept in Google Sketchup, just to confirm that I could make everything out of a single sheet of plywood.

Plywood Door Layout

It all worked out in theory, now for reality.

(To Be Continued…)


One thought on “Plywood Door – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Plywood Door – Part 2 | GarageSandals

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