How to Make a Dutch Split Door

How to Make a Dutch Split Door. The upper and lower halves of a Dutch door open independently of each other, making it possible to keep the upper half open while the lower section remains closed. The doors originated in the Netherlands, where they were used to allow breezes to cool the home, keep children safe inside, and prevent animals from entering the house. Typically used as exterior doors, they add a country cottage element to a home.

Things Needed

  • Replacement door
  • Sawhorses
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • Router
  • Plastic weather stripping
  • Paint or stain
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hinges, 4
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Spring latch
  • Deadbolt

Step 1

Lay the new door across two sawhorses. Use a straightedge to draw a horizontal line across the center of the door. Use a circular saw to cut the door in half. The door must have a solid core.

Step 2

Use a router to cut a 3/8-inch rabbet ¼-inch deep on the outside bottom edge of the upper door. Make the same cut on the inside top edge of the lower door. A rabbet, a step-shaped cut or groove along the edge of a piece of wood, allows the upper door to open inward, but not swing outward. Sand the surfaces until they are smooth and attach weather stripping to the cut edges.

Step 3

Remove the door and hinges from the existing door frame. Patch the door frame with wood filler. Let the door frame cure for the time recommended by the manufacturer, then sand it smooth.

Step 4

Paint or stain the Dutch door. Painting or staining the door before it is hung keeps messes to a minimum.

Step 5

Attach two evenly spaced hinges to the upper door and two evenly spaced hinges to the lower door. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the right way to attach the hinge. Door hinges, depending on their type, are mounted on the surface or recessed. Most exterior door hinges are recessed.

Step 6

Line up the hinges on the door with the hinges on the doorframe and screw them into place.

Step 7

Install a spring latch on the upper door and a deadbolt on the lower door according to the manufacturer's instructions on both. A spring latch has a knob on the inside but no outside keyhole.


  • The process is the same if you use your existing door. Select a new door with windows at the top and make your cut 3 inches below the bottom of the windows.
  • Reverse the rabbet cuts for an upper door that swings outward.
  • Use large, decorative wrought iron hinges or false strap hinges for a homey look. Flush hinges have a smooth, modern appearance.


  • Use a carpenter's square to check your line before you cut the door.


  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Dutch Door"
  • Ace Hardware: Installing Hinges