Sunday, August 26, 2012

Soooo .... Let's Build-a-Door

I thought it might be informative to show a few pictures of the process of making a custom door.  This segment will be devoted to creating the door. 

I start with rough sawn 2” thick material that I cut oversized then the finish piece 

I joint each piece on its’ face to make it true and straight.  Then I surface each piece down to a 1-13/16” thickness.  After the rough lumber is surfaced, I joint an edge to make the stock straight and square.  Then each piece is cut to width and length and sized to my calculations for each piece.  I then layout the mortise pockets and the dowels, which I make myself out of Mahogany or White Oak (these woods don’t rot like commercial Birch dowels)
When all of the pieces are ready for assembly, they are laid out over the bench an pre-glued 3 times with the exterior glue I’ve used for 30 years without a failure. 

 After every piece is pre-glued, we start putting the door together from the bottom to the top.

When all of the pieces are put together we go to extraordinary efforts to clamp the door, flatten all the joints, and clamp the pieces from side to side and top to bottom.

Then I start cutting out the sidelights, two, and the process happens all over again

Each door is constructed with the same methodical steps, never taking short cuts or making compromises in the construction of each door, sidelight, or transom.
oh ........ by the way ...... the same attention to detail goes into each interior door, garden gate, or driveway entry gate.

There is this reminder on my shop wall,
                                 “if you don’t do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over

Please visit Our Site and my Door Gallery to view the actual construction of over a hundred doors.  I build a web site for each client to view the construction of their individual door(s), and it offers you a chance, to see for yourself, the craftsmanship and care that goes into each door.

CLICK HERE to return to my site.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Is Happening In The Shop ?

Many folks visit my “work in progress” page to see what I working on and what it takes to make a custom made door ............ so I thought I’d share some pictures of the current “traffic jamb” in the shop right now.  I have some doors completed and ready to ship out or to be picked up.  There are also some doors in progress along with some “self-commissioned” doors.  The “self commissioned” doors are doors that I’ve designed and to make available to folks who don’t have the time or inclination to wait for a custom door to be made.

Click on any image to Enlarge

Some of these doors are complete, some doors are curing between the 4 coats of varnish oil, while some are waiting for glass and panels.  One door is waiting for me to install the dentil shelf and eyebrow.  I guess it is safe to say, we have some work in progress.  I forgot to take a picture of a door on the bench to be glued up tomorrow, before the weekend comes.

I build a separate web site for each client to watch the steps it takes to create their door ........ and in the end ...... the final results of their dreams for a custom made door.

All of the panels, dentil shelf, and an "eyebrow" are oiled with 3-4 coats of our varnish oil.  We do this before they are installed in or on the doors.  That way the door is truly sealed from the inside out.  That is the right way ........ the only way.

Thought I’d add a picture of 2 sets (doors worth) of panels being pressed in my vacuum press.  I keep the process proprietary, but I thought I’d include a cool shot

to see more please visit our web site at 
and make sure to check out our Current Projects
and thanks for taking the time to investigate my world.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Trying to Show and Explain Quality and Craftsmanship

Sooo......... there are literally dozens and dozens of door manufacturers out in this big wonderful world we live in.  And I’m sure that some of these manufacturers try to make a door that is not only nice to look at, but made with the “intention” for durability.

    Many of the doors on the market are presented as “solid wood, Oak” not solid Oak wood.  That is because the frame of the door is made with a Finger-Jointed 2nd party wood such as Pine or Poplar (see a youtube video on finger jointed wood at
Here you see short pieces of wood,  joined with a Finger Joint.
This allows manufacturers to take wood scraps and
convert them to pieces of lumber used inside their doors.

Then  the substrate (door blank) is edged with 3/4” Oak and the entire face surface is veneered with Oak or whatever species they are selling.  This veneer is about twice as thick as your business card 0.040" (yikes!) There are very few solid-wood door manufactures out there, and even fewer who use all vertical grain wood in the construction of their doors.

    How the wood is cut is very important.  Less than 25% of wood milled is "vertical grain", making it  more expensive.  However, vertical grain wood is infinitely more desirable than the cheaper and more plentiful flat grain.  Vertical grain is much more durable and stable, and will last up to twice as long!  Others may claim to use clear, vertical grain wood, but looking at their pictures frequently shows something completely different.  All of the salvaged lumber we have sawn, and all of the green
eco-friendly lumber that we purchase is Vertical Grain, because that will help us create doors that will stand the tests of time and the elements.

Here is a completed entry of
vertical grain Old Growth Redwood.
It is ALL solid Redwood
   Another revelation that I had (many years ago) was that if I delivered a door that was finish sanded but not sealed, all of the door parts “inside” of the door would never be sealed, by me or by the client.  Therefore it will be exposed to humidity and moisture.  This exposure makes the wood swell, shrink, mildew, water stain, enhance cracking, and could even cause joint failure. What a nightmare !
    Solution:  We seal every door frame, door panels, jambs, and even the door stops at least 3 times (many 4 times), with out own combination of premium exterior finishes, we call Varnish-Oil.

Here is a door frame that is soaking with our Varnish-Oil.
It will be wiped down after an hour or so and will
dry for 3 days and re-coated three more times.
These panels will receive 3-4 coats
of varnish-oil, allowed to soak in an
then wiped down and allowed to cure.

The panels will receive 3-4 coats of
varnish-oil before they are installed
into the door.
Even the stops for every door are soaked in a tub of our
varnish-oil so that, with the door and panels
ALL our door parts are sealed from the inside out.

      During the entire construction of each clients door, I photograph each step and after the door is glued up, I create a website for my client (and the rest of the world!) to see the progress and watch it blossom into the door they envisioned.  That is my goal and so far (knock on wood) this process and dedication to craftsmanship and quality is being embraced by very nice folks who dream up beautiful and unique doors for their home or office.  And for that I am thankful and strive each day to do better.

This "slice" of nature is a piece of vertical grain Redwood.
It is sliced very thin and that is the summer sun shining through.

Please visit Our Website to see how we make doors.  Thanks for stopping by.