Hardwood door renovation

The customer assumed that the front door to their property needed to be replaced. 
I was keen to renovate the door as all joints were sound and there were no signs of rot.

Being a 36 inch wide door a replacement of similar design would be in the region of £1000. After removing the various bits attached to the door, a thorough sanding and finishing with 3 coats of light Oak Satin varnish the end result looks very presentable. 

I am all for this type of renovation. If we are going to be serious about  future natural resources and carbon emissions we are ALL going to have to reduce reuse and recycle.  A win win for  the customer -they saved at least £1000 .

A win win for the environment – one less door to get rid of and one less door having to be manufactured . 

Replicating a garage door in a conservation area.

I had to replicate this set of garage doors as it is in a conservation area of Southampton so aesthetically the same although the construction method employed differs from the original.

One of the issues that arise from traditional board faced doors often using TGV is that the boards will move substantially during periods of dry sunny weather and equally move during periods of wet weather. This process of expansion and contraction can be seen on virtually every board faced gate and door . The tell tell sign often being the exposure of the tongue (the T ) which leaves an unpainted or unstained vertical line which is the case with contraction or pinched boards with expansion and the forces involved in the pinching means that boards come away from the frame behind.

Even if this movement is not so visually apparent the process eventually results in the fastenings working loose. This being the case with these doors along with rot to the bottom third. So to overcome this I went down the route of laying the frame onto 18mm Marine Grade plywood which is pretty well bullet proof when it comes to movement and future rot issues. This method is often employed on board ships and larger vessels where a TGV boarding effect is desired often on dog houses and the forward facing section of wheel houses without having to deal with movement issues which would be
exaggerated in a marine environment.

It’s my opinion that as we move into a time of climate change and chaos with extreme heat and colossal amounts of rain over a very short period ( As I write this post stair rod rain is happening outside) all new exterior joinery needs to be future proofed against such extremes and often the methods adopted in the marine industry need to be employed on land. A bog standard gate or set of garage doors from one of the large retail chains no longer will be adequate for the job in hand and will literally fall apart over a period of several years not decades.

The process of laying the frame onto the plywood starts with cutting the sheet of ply to the size of the gate. Then the frame with halving joints is manufactured and glued onto the back of the board. The glue used is an exterior grade adhesive with a lifetime guarantee against chemical breakdown due to moisture. The ‘sandwich’ is then cleaned up and housings cut for the locks etc. The face of the garage doors is now marine ply and the back of the garage door the frame from Joinery Grade Redwood. You could go even further with this and use Acoya instead of Redwood which I have written about here and then you would have a set of doors that would last almost forever. The effect of a V joint to mimic traditional TGV can be machined out on the face of the Marine Ply but in this case battens were fixed onto the face. Finally the doors are hung using 600mm strap hinges . The only deviation from the original was that I used 3 hinges for each door as the weight of the new doors are that much more. The battens are machined to a D profile and are fixed to the face using Stainless Steel screws.

Rebuilding a Victorian Style door.

This door was almost beyond saving indeed at one point I thought is it really worth it.

 The glazing had not been installed with adequate sealants so the rain had penetrated behind the beading at the base of the glass and the result as you can see was extensive rot   to the middle rail.

This was an event that took years of water ingress to end up in such a state of disrepair.

 A new piece was introduced and fitted by keys rather than a mortise and tenon joint. The reason being that I did not want to open up the door further than I had  to. All beading was  replaced as well. A lot of this was also rotten. It had been pinned to the door with very little adhesive so the result here was rotting along the bead line. 53 hours later, one very happy customer and a door good to go.

It was primed with a yacht primer and will be painted by a third party. This is a mass produced door sold by a national chain the core is made up of Rubber wood and from what I could deduce Meranti which is a low grade Hardwood. It is then overlaid with a veneer giving the impression of a solid Hardwood door.

All well and good the core being made of timber staves glued prevents warping. But if more attention was made to the glazing and beads then this would not have happened.

Replacement beading to exterior doors.

These doors in essence are in good condition. Indeed the french doors are handmade from Burmease Teak -probably the most robust of all timbers but alas no longer available and actually illegal to import into the uk. These are about 30 years old.So the beading has come away from the rebate and the rain is doing its job filling the rebate with moisture, left as is wet rot and a new door would be the only option. I had to wait for the weather to be dry for at least 5 days in a row.I needed two days to do the job and at least 3 days of dry weather prior to that so that the rebates were at least dry enough for the sealant to adhere to. It’s laborious.180 mitre joints had to be cut and fitted but worth it and economically viable as replacement doors would have cost considerably more. There is the environmental argument as well a lot less resources are used. The customer then followed on from me staining them to match the doors.   

Wardrobe doors from Pallet wood

A project undertaken by Suzanne Carr. This will one day be the norm , upcycling materials; in this case pallets into sliding wardrobe doors. Unique and stylish I think this is a brilliant use of reclaimed wood I helped Suzanne with some of the technical issues that arose but apart from doing some machining of the pallet wood the doors were manufactured and installed by Suzanne.

“I am really pleased that I became involved in this project and would be very happy to advise you if you are considering something similar.

‘Having had quite difficult experiences with rented accommodation over the years, I have always felt very appreciative to now be living in ‘my’ house, owned by a housing association. It’s been important for me to make it a real home for my daughter too and I’ve always been keen to do as much as I can myself, DIY wise. Some time ago I knew I needed to make more storage space in my bedroom. I decided to build my own sliding wardrobe doors as I wanted something a bit different and was on a limited budget.

I approached different skilled trades; carpenters and blacksmiths, to see if my idea was possible – I had found an image of a door online I really liked and used it as inspiration, made from horizontal wooden planks sat in a rectangular steel frame.

Door made of Pallets
Wardrobe doors from Pallet wood. By Suzanne Carr, Made with upcycling materials

Phil Candy, a blacksmith near Otterbourne, really helped me put my plan into action and was an incredible support right from the start. He made four steel frames for me from 25mm steel.

I then ordered some reclaimed pallet wood online from a really helpful guy in Wellingborough, who sent approx 6 sqm of pallet wood. I also sought a lot of advice from Chandler’s Ford Timber in Eastleigh, who were fantastic.

I encountered quite a few problems on the way as when I originally constructed the doors and put the wood in the frame, the pallet wood bowed the steel completely out of shape! I had really underestimated the strength of the wood. I was devastated as I’d already built the structural frame for the doors to sit in and at that point was unsure if I would be able to use the 80 bits of pallet wood I’d purchased, sanded and varnished or the four steel frames! I phoned round some carpenters to see if there was anything that could be done and was lucky enough to come across Ian Stone.

He had such confidence in my project and such a passion for sustainability and using reclaimed materials, it gave me renewed determination! He also really brought it home how important using recycled alternatives is for the planet, not to mention that you end up with something different and individual.

He advised to use a thicknesser to take the pallet wood down to 8mm, to then insert a large piece of Eastern plywood into the steel frame first, then once that’s secure (from the back with screws) finally attach the pallet wood onto the plywood with a polyurethane glue. It was also really important to weight everything down so the wood didn’t bow out before it was set to the ply, therefore keeping the shape of the steel and door itself.

I am so pleased to say, I finally finished the doors and now have unique, self made wardrobes that I absolutely love. Not only did the experience teach me so much, but it was a pleasure to work with so many inspiring and skilled people. I could not have done it without them, Daryl, who helped me immensely and my daughter who put up with our house being turned into a workshop for some time, and as always, gives me purpose!”

Suzanne Carr , Hampshire

Driveway gate in Southampton

A single driveway gate with an entrance door fitted in the middle. These gates are heavy so a jockey wheel has been fitted to take the stress off the hinges thus ensuring that the gate will not drop over time. The door opens independently or the whole gate can be opened as a single leaf. Manufactured from tannalised softwood for the frame and tannalised tongue and grove for the panels this should last. Overall its 2.6 Meters wide and 2.2 Meters high. The images accompanying this show the manufacturing then the final piece in situ.

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What about those Hinges?

Without the correct grade of hinges your doors may fail. Failure doesn’t mean that your door falls off its hinges; normally failure comes in the form of a door starting to stick or rub on the door frame. If it’s sticking along the edge of the door against the frame anywhere above the lock or latch, then the top hinge may have failed. Often it’s the pin that stretches. This is enough to throw the door out towards the frame. Another common symptom is where the lock no longer strikes the plate in the correct place, often leading to the key having to be forced to turn.

Another tell tell sign would be hinges that start to creek – that’s the hinge saying it can’t cope with all the weight. It’s the pin or flange on the knuckle of the hinge physically rubbing metal on metal.

On a regular basis I am asked to hang doors. Often the customer informs me that they have the doors and all the ‘furniture’ (hinges, handles, locks etc.). At the moment oak veneered doors seem to be in vogue. These doors weigh 25kg plus, then you have to consider that the latches and levers or handles add another 2-4kg. The customer can easily have parted with £150-£200 for each door set, but no consideration has been given to the hinges, and more often than not the cheapest are purchased as long as they are the right colour/finish. Those cheap hinges come with screws that I put straight in the bin as they sit proud of the hinge leaf, causing binding which in turn causes the screws to eventually pull out.

So without getting too pedantic about hinges, if time is spent ensuring that the correct grade hinge is used there will be no future problems.

The most important things to consider are the weight of the door and the application. By application I mean is it in a light domestic situation? An office? A potentially high traffic area? Interior or exterior? Fire rated? If that’s the case, is there a door closure? If there is, add 25% to the door mass.

Hinge grades are from 1 to 14, grade 1 being the lightest and grade 14 the heaviest.

The most common ones available are grades 7, 9, 11, 12, and 13. I personally would not use anything under a 5, even for light weight interior panelled doors.

Grade 7: Max door weight 40kg  tested to 200,000 cycles (opening and closing a door)

Grade 9: Max door weight 60kg tested to 25,000 cycles

Grade 11: Max door weight 80kg tested to 200,000 cycles

Grade 12: Max door weight 100kg tested to 200,000 cycles

Grade 13: Max door weight 120 kg tested to 200,000 cycles

Also consider that hinges come with or without washers, or with bearings on some of the higher grades. For the door example above, that is a 25-30kg set (door and furniture), I would normally use a grade 7 washered hinge, and as it is an internal door a 75mm hinge x 3 per door would be employed.

If you really want to get into this subject there is a British Standard no.EN1965 that covers the subject comprehensively but I can think of better things to do!

Incidentally there is a patron Saint of hinges called Cardea who in Roman times was celebrated on the 1st of June.

How not to hang a door

This customer employed a cowboy who claimed to be a carpenter if you are the carpenter who tried to fit this door – hang your head in shame. The customer told me that she shopped around and went for the cheapest quote, not a wise decision particularly because the carpenter had no contract to give the customer, and no invoice for the subsequent payment made.There is a saying ‘quality endures long after price is forgotten’

This door was fitted by a person who claims to be a carpenter. What’s wrong?

door in southampton 01
Catch on the door frame or keep

The latch is not centre and stands proud, this will catch on the door frame or keep and cause endless problems.

The gap at the top is half an inch this is because the door frame itself is not square, that in its self should not be a problem – you shoot the door to the size and shape of the hole .

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Problem gap at the top of a door

This is with the door shut, it stands proud by about 1” this is because the door stops were not fitted correctly. It’s a mess!

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Door stops issues

The hinge has not been set into the door sometimes you need to do this in order to throw the door over to meet the opposite side in order for the latch to strike the plate in this instance that was not the case, also the screws stand proud so when the door is shut it will bind on the hinge causing over time the hinge to fail.

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Door hinges problems

The door does not meet the door stop when closed.

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Door and door stop alignement issues

Daylight can be seen at the top of the door.

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Light showing through the top of the door

The result is a door that does not shut properly and really doesn’t function as a barrier between rooms, on this occasion the door was removed and a new one fitted.