How to Build a Split Stable Door

A split stable door is divided in half so that the top and bottom can be opened or closed separately. A bolt that slides from one half to lock in the other makes the door usable as a single unit. Often used in stables, as the name implies, split stable doors allow air circulation while preventing escape by horses, or by children and pets when installed in a home. Also called Dutch doors, the style originated in the Netherlands in the 1600s as a way to keep out dirt. Used as interior or exterior doors, weatherproofing the latter can be challenging.

Horses appreciate some fresh air in their stalls. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Safety glasses

  • Dust mask

  • Solid wood door, preferably cedar, oak or pine

  • Wood putty

  • Sandpaper or sander with paper

  • Measuring tape

  • Four hinges

  • Screwdriver

  • Pencil

  • Two sawhorses

  • Straightedge

  • Circular saw

  • Router

  • 1/8-inch-thick aluminum bar slightly longer than door width

  • Stainless steel screws

  • Caulk

  • Caulk gun

  • 3/8-inch-by-3/8-inch stop

  • Sealer

  • Weatherstripping

  • Copper-plated nails

  • 1/4-inch-by-1-inch wood strip 1/4 inch less than door width

  • Wood glue

  • Finishing nails

  • Power drill

  • Two door handle sets

  • Sliding door bolt

  • Paint

  • Paintbrush

Split Stable Door

Step 1

You need hardware for the upper and lower doors. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Remove any existing hardware from the door and fill in the holes with wood putty. Sand to smooth once the putty is dry.

Step 2

Ornate hinges can make your door more intriguing. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Measure and mark out the locations of the four hinges (two for each half), installing the hardware on both the door and the door jamb. Hang the door to ensure that it swings freely. Take the door down.

Step 3

Draw your lines with a straightedge. (Image: Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

Mark two lines 1/4 inch apart where you'd like to divide the door and lay the door across the sawhorses. Cut the door along both lines with the circular saw.

Step 4

A circular saw can also cut a rabbet. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Cut a 3/8-inch rabbet (recessed groove) 1/4 inch deep along the top edge of the lower door with the router. Install the 1/8-inch aluminum strip here with countersunk screws. Caulk where the strip extends beyond the door edge.

Step 5

A sponge brush can also work to apply sealer. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Attach the stop to the bottom half of the upper door, rounding off the visible edges by sanding. Apply sealer. Finish off the bottom by attaching weatherstripping with the copper-plated nails.

Step 6

Keep your caulk gun clean for ease of use. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Rout a 10-degree bevel on the top and bottom edges of the 1/4-inch-by-1-inch wood strip. Rehang the door. With the door closed, attach the strip to the exterior of the upper door with wood glue and finishing nails. Allow a 1/8-inch gap on either side to facilitate closing the door. Caulk the strips top edge.

Step 7

Drill your holes for hardware before painting. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Measure, mark and drill out the holes for the necessary hardware, including the bolt to keep the door halves together.

Step 8

Use exterior paint for an exterior door. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Paint the door as desired, taking it off the hinges if necessary. Attach the hardware once the paint is dry.


Spread a tarp under the sawhorses to catch the sawdust, or use a saw with a vacuum attachment. Use a drop cloth when painting or staining the door.


Follow safety instructions on all power equipment.

Use paint or stain in a well-ventilated area.

References & Resources