I recently took down undesired sliding doors (solid wood, of some variety) to put up bi-fold doors in their place. In looking at new bi-fold doors it occured to me that I might be able to put the detailing I am seeing in the new options, into the old doors and just buy the appropriate sliding hardware. This is preferrable for environmental reasons. However I am unsure whether there is wood that cannot be used with a router, similar to how manufactured wood is hard to reshape out of the form of it's manufacture.

Can anyone advise:

1) How one can determine wood type?

2) Any wood types that are probably best not to have DIY detailing put into them?

2 Answers 2


The first part of your question was addressed well over on woodworking.SE, at this link.

For the second part, there are a few reasons that I might not want to do a decorative detail on a piece of wood- 1. The wood and/or project isn't worth the effort, 2. The wood is hard on tools, or 3. The wood is hard on the wood worker.

Routing decorative detail can be a time-consuming process. I might need to create jigs or fixtures to guide the router. I might have to make a profile with multiple bits, each requiring set-up time. If the wood is especially hard, I might have to make a cut in multiple passes, sneaking up on the desired depth a little at a time.

Regarding #2- some woods (Teak, Cumaru e.g.) contain silica, and will quickly dull router bits that are used on them. I might limit the profile carved, or use an old bit that I don't mind sacrificing.

Regarding #3- some woods produce dust that can cause allergic reactions, and others (pressure treated, e.g.) contain chemicals that are harmful to people without proper protection.

  • Hmmm.... Lots of points I hadn't considered/some I couldn't have without your knowledge. Assuming I am determined, don't mind sacrificing a bit of two, and use proper ventilation protection, many of your points seem to have a basis in wood identification. Apart from using the Wood Database from the Woodworking SE link provided, are there any more practical ways to find out if my doors are made out of wood that is relatively hard or has silica in it? Also, I assume inside doors would not be pressure treated?
    – user66001
    Jun 24, 2015 at 19:24
  • Correct, interior doors are not likely to be pressure treated. One thing to consider about interior doors is that even though they may be solid wood, they may be a thin veneer of nice wood over cheaper wood. Routing profiles might expose that inconsistency. Assuming the doors are unpainted you might want to post a pic here and see if any folks here can help ID it.
    – TX Turner
    Jun 24, 2015 at 19:34
  • I don't believe they are 'veneered'. Please see my last comment on Ecnerwal's answer for more info. Unfortunately they are painted. I will scrape a small portion of the paint on the side of one of them off, and post a pic here in a day or two.
    – user66001
    Jun 24, 2015 at 19:45

Many solid wood doors are not "solid wood" in the usual sense - they are "Solid particle board" with wood veneer skins. That will not look good when routed. Clear, in focus pictures of the edges and ends would help in diagnosing this .vs. "solid wood, as in a plank, that came from a tree"

  • Unless the door is very old (unlikely, if it's sliding) I think it's virtually certain that the door contains particle board or other built-up wood pieces. In addition to being cheaper it actually makes for a more dimensionally-stable door.
    – Hank
    Jun 24, 2015 at 18:47
  • Ecnerwal - I am familiar with the wood veneer skins you describe, as I recently got a door (free) from someone who seemingly didn't know the difference, and had already committed to taking before collection. By the difference in weight, and that the free one I can see the veneer and I cannot on the sliding doors, am pretty confident that it is solid wood, in the usual sense. I put my comment about the suitability for reshaping of manufactured wood in my question to try and convey I knew the difference. @HenryJackson - Sliding doors are quite possibly original, circa 1970.
    – user66001
    Jun 24, 2015 at 19:06

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