Miniature carpentry : simple wooden doors

Since summer is coming to an end and the new wargaming season is opening, it is time for another little project. For this tutorial, I focused on some type of simple and quickly built dungeon or house door for wargaming skirmishes in frosty ruins or creepy dungeons.
I wanted to build standalone doors that I could put into gaps in dungeon walls or adjacent to terrain elements to indicate entrances or points of interests. A few years back I bought the Dungeon saga box by Mantic and it came with a few plastic doors. But I needed more and I wanted doors, that would fit better into my existing collection of scenery. So I tried to build similar doors, like the plastic ones from the box.

Materials used

  • wood glue (any PVA glue will do)
  • a cutter and an exacto knife
  • sand paper
  • a metal ruler for cutting and other measuring implements
  • a sharp pencil
  • a filebrush
  • some colours (will be specified later)
  • heavy cardstock
    I chose a heavier (as in weight) type of cardstock that I scavanged at a bookbinding workshop. I intend to use it as base for the door.
  • 2mm & 4mm balsa wood
  • some beads for doorhandles (not in the picture)
  • fine basing material (not in the picture)

Step 1 : Dimensions and cutting

If I had a clear image in mind how my doors should look, I was uncertain about the dimensions they should have. In the end I settled for 30mm by 40mm as guidelines. I settled for the heigth of 40mm because I still had the dimensions of my previous project (shelves) in mind. Soooo… I went on to measuring and cutting.

First I cut several 20x30mm bases doors. I added two 20x60mm bases for larger, double winged doors. The double winged doors are made the same way I used for the simple wooden doors in this tutorial. The only difference being the size.

Next comes the main gig… the doors and doorframes.

I started by cutting out the doors. I carefully measured them 22mm wide… because you know, you have to substract 4mm twice for the doorframes. As heigth I went for 40mm because 40 was the size I had in mind and I forgot to substract 4mm for the top part of the doorframe… I will notice it only later after having assembled all the doors… but hey…

The doorframe consists of 2 side pieces (10x40mm) and a wider top piece (12x30mm).

Note: the large doors are 52mm wide and their doorframe top element is 60mm wide. I know it seems evident, but I thought I better be precise.

Having cut all the elements to size, I used a pencil to simulate the boards. I should have used two separate doorpanels for the larger door instead of using the pencil-method. Also I should have used thicker balsa here. The large door is way to fragile for my taste. I might redo them eventually.

Step 2 : assembly

To facilitate the assembly and avoid breaking the 2mm(!) balsa door, I cut a small piece of styrofoam to size and assembled the door around them. I used non watered down PVA glue which dried fairly quickly (though I suppose the summer heat helped).

I didn’t glue the door and its frame in the centre of the base, but flush at one edge of the cardboard base. That way I could put it against an existing wall without creating a useless gap.

Finally I added very fine basing material to the (aha) base, some beads as doorhandles and cardboard strips as hinges and such. I forgot to take a picture, but you can see them in the next step.

Step 3: Coloring and other details

dungeon door tutorial basecoated

As per usual, the entire project got a base coat with my mix of black colour and modge podge.
The modge podge will stop the balsa wood to soak up too much water during the proper painting process.

since the doors are made of wood, brown colours were the obvious choice.
I started with a coat of a dark brown base colour. The brand I use has no designation except “dark brown”. This particular brown has a somewhat grey hue to it. I hoped the greyishness of the colour would give the doors a more used or withered look.
In a second step, I applied a heavy brushing with Sienna. This brought the woodgrain out.
The final layer was a light drybrush with Ivory. Unlike to my last project, the shelves, I did not mix Sienna and Ivory. I wanted a warmer, cleaner look for the scroll shelves. This time, as said before, I was aiming for a less clean and more used look.

dungeon door tutorial

The base got a basecoat of dark grey before drybrushing it with a lighter tone… done… no shenanigans.

dungeon door tutorial drybrush

The last picture shows the final product.
I painted the hinges of the door black. I was briefly pondering, if I should paint the door handle in a different colour (brass, metal…) but I decided against it.
The entire project took about an afternoon and produced 8 single and 2 double doors.

In the future I might build other doors, like fancy mansion doors or cell doors. I’d go for the same method, but make the doors a tad lower (30-35mm instead of the 40mm).

Happy carpenting 🙂

dungeon door tutorial final