How to Put a Door in a T-Bucket, T-Bucket Doors that Open, Part 2

Recently, the subject of opening T Bucket doors has become a hot topic on social media. And there’s good reason for that. Maybe it’s the aging T-Bucket population. Hey, when a hot rod is that good you stick with it! Or maybe it’s as simple as making it easier for passengers to get in and out.

Bob Hamilton continues where he left off in Part 1 of How to Put a Door in a T-Bucket. This is a very meaty subject that we can only highlight in print. Bob covers opening T Bucket doors in much more detail in the very informative T-Bucket and Model-A Hot Rod Mod’s DVD available at our sister site,

Follow along to see how you, too, can fabricate opening T Bucket doors. And at the end of this installment we’ll outline how much more detail is covered in the DVD if you want to see exactly how it’s done to ensure your opening doors will be trouble-free.

Building Opening T Bucket Doors, Part 2

“After laying up flat pieces of fiberglass on the table, I cut them into strips 1 1/4 inches wide with a band saw. Next, they were trimmed to length from the top of the door to just where the radius for the bottom was to take place. I decided to round the bottom corners, but I could have made them square also. The strips were set in fiberglass bondo and 90 degrees to the door. I cut a piece of a bondo spreader and sanded a radius on one corner and then ran it along the fiberglass bondo (NOTE: fiberglass bondo is the shorthand term Bob uses for fiberglass reinforced body filler) where the strips meet the door. This gives a nice fillet on both the inside and outside. After the bondo was set, I lightly sanded the fiberglass bondo and then laid two layers of fiberglass mat on the inside and the outside. This makes a very strong addition to the door.”

Opening T Bucket Doors

“To get the rounded corners, I cut a piece of 1 oz. fiberglass mat that I laid up, and then curved it around on each corner and attached this with fiberglass bondo and held it in place with a couple of spring clamps. This was done prior to adding the two layers of fiberglass mat. This way both sides can be laid up all the way around the subframe at the same time. When everything was cured, I trimmed the excess with an air saw. I use an air saw because it is small, easy to handle, quick , and a lot easier to control. With the excess trimmed, I took a long board (sanding block) and dressed everything and made it square.”

Opening T Bucket Doors

“This picture shows what it looks like after sanding and smoothing.”

Opening T Bucket Doors

“Now I took the fiberglass that was laid up in the 2” angle iron and cut, trimmed, fit, and attached with two sheet rock screws for alignment. I made cardboard patterns for the corners and then transferred these to fiberglass mat that was laid up earlier. Here you could use two layers or three. I used two layers. These will be held in place with fiberglass bondo and a couple of spring clamps.”

Opening T Bucket Doors

“This picture shows everything in place using fiberglass bondo as the ‘glue’.  Notice the clamps holding the corners and the sheet rock screws holding the long pieces. Also notice that I added a couple layers of fiberglass at the top of the door to bring it closer to the same height as the sides. Where the angle fiberglass pieces bond to the straight pieces, there is a natural rolled space, this is a great place to gain additional strength by filling in this area with fiberglass bondo. After everything is set up, use a sanding block or small electric sander, and smooth everything out. When the finish work starts, I use ultra-lite bondo to work everything smooth and nice for primer.”

Opening T Bucket Doors

This second installment on building opening T Bucket doors just scratches the surface compared to the detail that Bob Hamilton shares in the T-Bucket and Model-A Hot Rod Mod’s DVD. For example, here’s what all that DVD covers just about opening T Bucket doors:

  • Why it’s important to have a plan before cutting doors out
  • How “body stress” can be a problem when cutting the door out and how to avoid it
  • Two ways to reinforce door and frame before cutting
  • How to install “bear jaw” latches
  • [thrive_highlight highlight=’default’ text=’light’]How to use $5 hardware store hinges, rather than paying $50-$120 for special street rod hinges[/thrive_highlight]
  • How to build reinforced door jambs that will look great and ensure smooth door operation
  • Which side door you should always start with first
  • How to lay out door outline before cutting and why pre-cuts will help
  • Where your final cuts should be to avoid problems
  • Which edge of the door is best to do your alignment from
  • How to build up sheets and strips of fiberglass matte and resin to build your own door jambs for a finished look and durability
  • How to plan ahead for easy upholstery panel mounting
  • How to mount fiberglass strips around 90 degree curves
  • Where to center your hinges in the door
  • Where and how to mount the door latch
  • How to modify a striker bolt to lengthen it and give longer life, smooth operation
  • How to easily square a door edge that wasn’t cut perfectly straight
  • How to build door upholstery panel mounting structure
  • Why you should start saving your popsicle sticks
  • How to reinforce the door for hinge mounting
  • How to ensure precise top and bottom hinge alignment for smooth, dependable opening and closing
  • How to tighten door gaps for that real “pro” look
  • How to “bed” the hinges in fiberglass
  • How to tighten or loosen hinge tension
  • How to build door sills
  • Optional ways of further strengthening door jambs, while also providing upholstery panel mounting
  • How to most efficiently and effectively prime the interior door fiberglass work

You’ll be confident fabricating your own opening T Bucket doors when you follow the methodical and practical instruction Bob Hamilton shares about it in the comprehensive T-Bucket and Model A Hot Rod Modifications 2-DVD set. We’re proud to make these DVDs available through our sister website,

Street Rod DVDs
Collect the complete StreetRod 101 DVD Library: available at our sister site,

Click on the image above and you will see for yourself the incredible range of helpful, educational and informative hot rod building “how to’s,” money-saving tips and and frustration-saving details that are included in these terrific DVD sets. Stay tuned for Part 3 in our little series on How to Put a Door in a T-Bucket.

Bob Hamilton

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