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.

Thoughts on a plywood door

If Art is an enhancement of the everyday is this door Art?

Feel the surface of the wood and breathe in the smell of wood.  Follow the grain of the wood, the imperfections, the differing tones in the colour and experience the pleasure that comes from noticing these things. Feel that strangely soft surface with your hands; the soft fuzz not yet flattened by the varnish to come – like the soft facial fuzz of your skin; consider the colour and its variations; become aware of the structure of its build, the line of screw heads that mark out the frame that lies between the skin of the ply.  Let the size of the hinges hint at the weight they hold. The hinges are magnificent, they are large, their beautiful throat is large.  They make their own statement.   The rectangular handle in satin steel complements the hinges. Notice the height of the handle. It is not set at regulation height and you must consciously raise your arm a little in order to use it. Perhaps it positions you differently in relation to the door, reminding you that a door is a tactile thing.

Having decided to replace an internal door it was important to me that the new door reflect thoughts I have about the house I live in.  This house is 1970s ex council, small and not as solid as earlier models.  The ground floor of the house had been altered and is now open plan.  This led to thinking about the construction of the whole. How some features seem a little mean, like the cavity walls that were built just slightly narrower than would accommodate insulation.  See this in contrast to the staircase, which is solid and generous.  The internal doors however are merely functional and carry an overall feeling of lack of care, of being unnoticed. These doors are mass produced, inexpensive and, although adequate, perhaps easily damaged.   This is evidenced by one door upstairs that shows the mark of a boot.  I suspect a little violence in its history.

Should not an object that is as important to the life of a house as a door deserve better?  Artists, architects, designers, have always considered our environment, questioning how we use or abuse it.  Art and life are inextricably linked; think of the arts and craft movement, de Stijl and the Bauhaus.  Modernist architects, like them or not, were also interested in developing the spaces we live in, mixing art and life.  An internal door in the house le Corbusier designed for himself was tall and wide, a part of the whole wall as well as an opening.  And now the new turner prizewinners, Assemble, a cross-disciplinary collective of artists, designers and architects, who have won a major art prize yet do not consider themselves artists. Or are they?  Everyone mixing art and life.

The places we live in speak of who we are, what we care about, and a door, it seemed to me, could have a story to tell.

So the door.  Made, built, constructed by a craftsman.  A carpenter, someone who loves wood, knows wood, knows how to build, to make, to construct a door.  A hands-on skill.  All this feeds into the story.  Examine this door and it will tell you more.  You will see how it was made and what it was made of.   It was made of plywood.  Plywood is a basic economic and ecological material, it shows its structure and you can see the layers that attest to how it was made.  It is ‘everyday’, has many uses and comes in different grades. It is unassuming, unpretentious and beautiful. To have a door that revealed how it was made, made of a wood that revealed how it was made, fitted in with the wider concept of the house as structure revealed, the house as installation, and the house as function.  The house as a site for art.

A pencil mark notes where measurement was made.  A kink in the frame will mark the point of a knot in the wood.  Being able to read how this door was constructed adds to the pleasure of this functional object.  The outer edge of the softwood frame is visible when you open the door, so too are the layers of 12 mm plywood either side of the frame.   Three layers to each sheet of ply thereby marking its own construction.  Screw heads testify to the structure of the hidden part of the frame where they fix the plywood outer skin to the pine frame within.  A visual reference connecting this modern door to doors in time past.  The ‘threshold’ lies at the top of the door along the ceiling mirroring the ‘threshold’ and the door on the floor above.  The ground floor flows uninterrupted beneath the door.

This door is not the readymade of Duchamp that is taken out of its original context in order to see it differently or to question what art is.   It is the desire to value the everyday object – a strong theme throughout the story of contemporary art – and in turn to value and think differently about the places and spaces we inhabit.  This door is connected to ideas of art and architecture and the sheer pleasure to be had in a well-crafted functional object in everyday use.

The aesthetic comes from the materials used and the function of the object; from following the theme of construction and functionality, from valuing skill, craft and the ecological aspect of materials. If art is an enhancement of the everyday then for me this door is art.

Helen Marland February 2016

Replacement garage doors

Exact replica’s were made and fitted to this garage in Southampton. The old doors were made sometime in the 1930s and the customer wanted like for like, the only difference in the method of construction was the way that I fastened the ledges and brace the original being nailed and the nails bent over to clasp the two pieces together, I used a waterproof glue with 40mm brass screws with the screw heads plugged. The originals had two tee hinges per door I fitted three per door.

Garage door in Southampton
Old garage door
Replacement door in Southampton
New garage door
Replaced wooden door in Southampton
New garage door 2