How to Make a Colonial Door Pediment Fine Woodworking

How to Make a Colonial Door Pediment Fine Woodworking:

Colonial door pediments are intricate architectural features that add charm and elegance to a home’s entrance. In the world of fine woodworking, crafting these pediments is a true testament to skill and craftsmanship. This article will guide you through the process of creating your own colonial door pediment, providing insights into design, materials, construction techniques, carving and ornamentation, finishing, installation, and maintenance.

The allure of colonial door pediments lies in their ability to transform a simple doorway into a statement piece. With their rich history and timeless aesthetic, they serve as a window into the heritage of traditional craftsmanship.

From Georgians to Federalists to Greek Revivals, the various architectural styles offer endless possibilities for customization, allowing homeowners to truly personalize their front entrances. Whether you have an appreciation for historical accuracy or prefer to infuse modern elements into your design, a colonial door pediment is sure to enhance the overall appeal of your home.

Creating a colonial door pediment requires knowledge of fine woodworking techniques and attention to detail. From selecting the right materials to mastering intricate joinery methods, each step contributes to achieving exceptional results. Throughout this article, we will explore different tools and materials needed for this project and provide helpful tips on achieving precision in measuring, cutting, carving ornate details, and finishing techniques that boost both the beauty and durability of your creation.

Join us on this woodworking journey as we delve into the world of colonial door pediments. Whether you are an experienced woodworker seeking new challenges or a novice hoping to embark on your first major project, this guide will equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to bring forth the artistry inherent in creating these captivating architectural features.

Understanding the Colonial Door Pediment

The colonial door pediment is not only a functional element but also an important design feature that adds charm and elegance to the overall aesthetic of a home’s entrance. In this section, we will delve into the different architectural styles of colonial door pediments and explore their design, function, and styles.

Colonial door pediments can be found in various architectural styles, each reflecting its respective time period and influences. Some of the most common styles include Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival. The Georgian style is characterized by symmetry, simplicity, and proportionality. Federal style pediments often feature detailed ornamentation such as classical motifs and delicate moldings. Greek Revival style pediments draw inspiration from ancient Greek architecture with their triangular shape and bold decorative elements.

Historically, colonial door pediments were included as a way to create a grand entrance while serving practical purposes. They provided shelter from rain when standing at the front door and acted as a visual focal point for visitors. Additionally, these architectural details served as symbols of prestige and wealth.

When designing a colonial door pediment, there are several key elements to consider. The size of the doorway should dictate the scale of the pediment to ensure it harmonizes with the overall proportions of the house. The choice of materials is also crucial for maintaining authenticity and durability. Common materials used in fine woodworking for pediments include hardwoods like mahogany or oak that can withstand outdoor conditions.

Understanding the history and design principles behind colonial door pediments allows woodworkers to create authentic pieces that enhance the beauty of any home’s entrance. By carefully considering architectural styles and incorporating appropriate design elements, craftsmen can achieve stunning results that capture the essence of colonial architecture.

Colonial Door Pediment StyleDescription
GeorgianCharacterized by symmetry, simplicity, and proportionality
FederalFeatures detailed ornamentation and classical motifs
Greek RevivalDraws inspiration from ancient Greek architecture with triangular shape and bold decorative elements

Tools and Materials

When it comes to making a colonial door pediment, having the right tools and materials is essential. In this section, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of tools necessary for crafting a colonial door pediment. We will also discuss the various wood types that work well for this project, including their advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, we will offer recommendations for additional materials such as adhesives, screws, and finishing supplies.


  • Tape measure or ruler: Accurate measurements are crucial when crafting a colonial door pediment.
  • Circular saw or miter saw: These tools are needed for cutting the wood accurately.
  • Chisels: Chisels come in handy for shaping and carving intricate details on the pediment.
  • Router: A router allows you to create decorative moldings and edges on the pediment.
  • Clamps: Clamps are necessary for securing pieces together during assembly.
  • Hammer and nails: These basic tools are used to join different parts of the pediment frame together.
  • Screwdriver or drill: Screws are commonly used in building a colonial door pediment, so having a screwdriver or drill is essential.


– Wood types:

  • Hardwood (e.g., oak, cherry): Hardwoods are durable and can withstand outdoor elements. They also offer beautiful grain patterns that enhance the aesthetic appeal of the pediment.
  • Softwood (e.g., pine, cedar): Softwoods are more affordable compared to hardwoods. They are easier to work with but may require extra protection against weathering.

Additional Materials:

  • Adhesives: Depending on your design preferences, you may need wood glue or epoxy adhesive to secure certain parts of the pediment together.
  • Screws and nails: Select screws and nails that are suitable for outdoor use and can withstand the weight and stress of the pediment.
  • Finishing supplies: Finishes such as stain, paint, or varnish are essential for protecting the wood from weathering and enhancing its appearance. Sponge brushes or paintbrushes will be needed to apply these finishes.

By preparing your tools and gathering the necessary materials, you are setting yourself up for a successful fine woodworking journey in creating a colonial door pediment. Remember to choose high-quality materials and ensure that your tools are in good working condition to achieve professional results. In the next section, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of building the frame and moldings for your pediment.

Step-by-Step Guide

Building the frame and moldings for a colonial door pediment requires precision and attention to detail. Follow this step-by-step guide to ensure a successful construction process.

Measuring and cutting the frame

Before starting, measure the width of your door and determine the desired height and depth of the pediment. Once you have these measurements, mark them on a piece of wood that will serve as the main frame.

Using a miter saw or hand saw, carefully cut the frame according to your measurements. Ensure that all angles are precise to maintain symmetry and balance in your design. Sand down any rough edges for a smooth finish.

Creating intricate moldings

Colonial door pediments often feature intricate moldings that enhance their visual appeal. To create these moldings, you will need a router, molding bits, and clamps.

Miter Joint Woodworking

Start by selecting the appropriate molding bit based on the desired design and size. Secure the wood onto a stable work surface using clamps to prevent any movement during routing.

Using the router, slowly and steadily move along the edges of the wood to carve out the desired profile for your moldings. Take care when working near corners or delicate areas.

Remember to wear protective goggles and follow proper safety precautions while operating power tools.

Joinery methods

To assemble the frame, you will need to make strong joints that can withstand long-term use. There are several joinery methods you can choose from depending on your skill level and preferred aesthetic.

Common joinery techniques include dado joints, mortise-and-tenon joints, dovetail joints, and biscuit joints. Research each method to decide which one suits your project best.

When constructing the pediment’s frame, ensure that all joints fit tightly together without any gaps or wobbling. This will guarantee structural integrity and longevity.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can create a solid frame and beautiful moldings for your colonial door pediment. Remember to measure accurately, use proper safety precautions, and take your time to achieve the best results in your fine woodworking project.

Carving and Ornamentation

In the process of creating a colonial door pediment, one of the most important steps is adding intricate details through carving and ornamentation. This section will explore various carving techniques, historical motifs, and provide tips for achieving precision in this aspect of fine woodworking.

Carving techniques play a significant role in bringing life to a colonial door pediment. There are numerous methods that can be employed, such as relief carving, chip carving, and incised carving. Relief carving involves removing material from the wood to create a three-dimensional effect. Chip carving involves removing small chips of wood to create geometric patterns or ornamental designs. Incised carving involves cutting lines and shapes directly into the wood surface.

When it comes to design inspiration for colonial door pediments, historical motifs play a key role. These motifs often reflect the architectural styles prevalent during the colonial period. For example, Georgian-style pediments may feature elements like scrolls, urns, foliage, and acanthus leaves. Federal-style pediments may include delicate swags and urns with festoons. Greek Revival-style pediments often display classical motifs such as columns, palmettes, or rosettes.

To achieve precision in carving, selecting the right tools is essential. Different types of chisels and gouges are commonly used for traditional hand-carving techniques. It is important to choose tools with sharp edges and comfortable handles that allow for easy maneuvering and precise control over cuts. Proper handling techniques should also be practiced to ensure safety during the carving process.

Carving TechniqueDescription
Relief CarvingCreating a three-dimensional effect by removing material from wood
Chip CarvingRemoving small chips of wood to create geometric patterns or ornamental designs
Incised CarvingCutting lines and shapes directly into the wood surface

In summary, carving and ornamentation are crucial steps in creating a colonial door pediment. By mastering various carving techniques, incorporating historical motifs, and utilizing the right tools, fine woodworkers can add intricate details that enhance the overall beauty and craftsmanship of the pediment. Through this process, they can truly embrace the artistry behind building a colonial door pediment.

Finishing and Preservation

Choosing the Right Finish

When it comes to finishing a colonial door pediment, there are several options to consider. One popular choice is staining, which enhances the natural beauty of the wood while providing protection. Before applying any stain, it’s essential to sand the surface thoroughly to ensure a smooth and even finish. Test different stains on a small section of wood to determine the desired color and intensity before proceeding with the entire pediment.

Another option for finishing is painting, which allows for more creative expression and can complement the overall aesthetic of the door and its surroundings. Consider using exterior-grade paint that is specifically formulated for wood surfaces. Prime the wood beforehand to ensure good adherence of the paint and protect against moisture penetration. Apply multiple coats for a durable finish, allowing sufficient drying time between each coat.

If you prefer a clear finish that highlights the natural grain of the wood, varnishing is an excellent choice. There are various types of varnish available, including polyurethane and spar varnish, each with its own advantages in terms of durability and UV resistance. Apply thin coats of varnish using a brush or spray gun, following manufacturer instructions for drying times and sanding between coats.

Preserving the Pediment

To ensure your colonial door pediment remains in pristine condition for years to come, proper preservation techniques are crucial. Regular cleaning is essential to remove dirt, dust, and other debris that can accumulate on the surface over time. Use a mild detergent mixed with water and a soft brush or cloth to gently clean the pediment. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that could damage or dull the finish.

In addition to regular cleaning, be mindful of any minor damages that may occur, such as scratches or dings. Repair these issues promptly by sanding down the affected area and refinishing as needed. For deeper scratches or gouges, consider using wood filler to restore the smooth surface before refinishing.

Lastly, protect the pediment from weather-related issues by ensuring it is properly sealed and maintained. Regularly inspect for any signs of water damage, such as discoloration or warping, and address these issues promptly. Consider applying a fresh coat of finish every few years to maintain the integrity of the wood and protect it from moisture. Additionally, be mindful of any potential pests, such as termites or wood-boring insects, and take appropriate measures to prevent infestations.

By following these preservation practices, you can ensure that your colonial door pediment retains its beauty and durability for generations to come. Taking care of this intricate woodworking piece not only protects your investment but also upholds the timeless artistry of fine woodworking in colonial architecture.

Installation Made Easy

Installing a colonial door pediment is the final step in completing this woodworking project and adding a touch of elegance to the entrance of your home. Proper installation ensures that the pediment is securely attached and enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of your doorway. In this section, we will guide you through the installation process, provide solutions for common challenges, and emphasize the importance of correct alignment and symmetry.

Preparing the Door for Installation

Before attaching the colonial door pediment, it is crucial to prepare the door surface properly. Begin by cleaning and inspecting the door to ensure there are no protrusions or loose components that could interfere with the installation process. If necessary, repair any damages or make any adjustments before proceeding.

Measure the width of your door frame to determine where to place the pediment. Typically, it should be centered above the door with equal spacing on each side. Use a pencil or chalk line to mark these measurements on both sides of the frame.

Attaching the Pediment

To attach the colonial door pediment to your door frame, apply a strong adhesive evenly on both surfaces – the backside of the pediment and designated area on top of your doorway. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and drying times.

Eagle Woodworking Drawers

Once adhesive is applied, carefully align the pediment with the markings on either side of your doorway. Press firmly against both surfaces to create a secure bond.

If desired or necessary for added stability, you can also use screws or nails as reinforcement during installation. Pre-drilling pilot holes before inserting screws or nails will help prevent splitting or cracking in your wood.

Symmetry and Alignment

Achieving proper alignment and symmetry during colonial door pediment installation is essential for optimal visual impact. Use a level tool throughout this process to ensure straight lines horizontally and vertically. Additionally, step back regularly during installation to assess if adjustments need to be made to achieve perfect symmetry.

If you encounter any challenges during the installation process, such as difficulty with alignment or incorrect measurements, take your time to make the necessary adjustments before proceeding. Remember that precision is key when installing a colonial door pediment to create an aesthetically pleasing and cohesive look.

By following these steps and maintaining attention to detail, you can successfully attach a colonial door pediment in fine woodworking. The careful installation of this architectural feature adds grandeur and sophistication to your home’s entrance, welcoming guests with its timeless beauty.

Maintenance and Care

Once you have successfully built and installed your colonial door pediment, it is important to take proper care of it to ensure its longevity and preserve its beauty. Regular maintenance practices will help keep your pediment in pristine condition and protect it from natural wear and tear over time.

One essential aspect of maintaining a colonial door pediment is routine cleaning. Depending on the type of finish you have chosen, you may need to use different cleaning methods. For stained or varnished pediments, a gentle cleaning solution made from mild soap and water can be used.

Apply the solution with a soft cloth or sponge, making sure not to scrub too hard. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry with a cloth. If your pediment is painted, use a non-abrasive cleaner specifically formulated for painted surfaces.

In addition to regular cleaning, it is crucial to inspect the pediment periodically for any signs of damage or wear. Cracks, chips, or peeling paint should be addressed promptly to prevent further deterioration. Small repairs can often be fixed by applying wood filler or epoxy followed by sanding and refinishing the affected area. However, if the damage is extensive or compromises the structural integrity of the pediment, it may be necessary to consult a professional for repair or replacement.

Proper protection against weather-related issues is another important aspect of maintaining your colonial door pediment. Rain, sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity can all impact the wood over time. Applying an appropriate sealant or protective coating can help shield the wood from these elements. Be sure to choose a product that is compatible with the type of wood used in your pediment as well as its finish.

By following these maintenance practices and regularly caring for your colonial door pediment, you can ensure that it remains in excellent condition for years to come. Remember that each piece is unique and may require specific care instructions, so it is always a good idea to consult the manufacturer or an expert in fine woodworking for any additional guidance. Embrace the artistry of maintaining your pediment and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into creating this beautiful architectural feature.


In conclusion, the artistry of building a colonial door pediment in fine woodworking offers a unique opportunity to embrace the heritage and craftsmanship behind these timeless architectural features. Throughout this article, we have explored the charm and elegance of colonial door pediments and their impact on the overall aesthetic of a home’s entrance. We have delved into the design, function, and styles of these pediments, understanding their historical significance and key design elements to consider.

Preparing for the fine woodworking journey requires a comprehensive list of tools and materials. From measuring and cutting the frame to creating intricate moldings, achieving fine woodworking results requires attention to detail and an understanding of various joinery methods. The carving and ornamentation process adds another layer of intricacy, with tips and techniques provided to achieve precision in design.

To enhance the beauty and durability of the colonial door pediment, appropriate finishes should be chosen based on architectural context. Finishing methods such as staining, painting, or varnishing play a crucial role in complementing the overall aesthetic while protecting against weather-related issues. Proper installation ensures alignment and symmetry while maintenance practices guarantee long-term preservation.

In embarking on your own woodworking journey to create a colonial door pediment, it is important to appreciate these architectural features not only for their visual appeal but also for their rich history. Fine woodworking allows us to become part of that heritage by embracing the artistry behind these structures. So whether you are enhancing your own home or pursuing woodworking as a passion, let us celebrate this art form together while preserving its legacy for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the angle of a pediment?

The angle of a pediment is the slope or inclination of the triangular gable that forms the topmost part of a classical building’s façade. It is typically measured as the angle formed by the two sides of the triangle with the horizontal line.

The angle of a pediment can vary depending on the architectural style and period, but it commonly ranges between 30 and 45 degrees.

What are the different types of pediments?

There are several different types of pediments found in architectural design. One common type is the triangular pediment, which is characterized by its simple, symmetrical shape with sloping sides forming a pointed apex at the top.

Another type is the segmental or arched pediment, which has a curved or semicircular form instead of a triangular one. This style often appears in Baroque and Rococo architecture.

What is a broken pediment?

A broken pediment, also known as an open pediment, is a variation of the traditional triangular pediment where there is an opening in its center rather than solid sides extending from the apex to the base. This opening creates a voided space within the pedimentic structure and can be used for decorative purposes such as incorporating sculpture or other ornamentation in between the broken sections.

Broken pediments were particularly popular during the Georgian era in architecture and are frequently used in neoclassical designs to add visual interest and complexity to facades while maintaining a sense of balance and symmetry.

Send this to a friend