- 19 Jan 2010
- Reaction score
I'm contemplating a Really Big Project: replacing our ruined interior doors with copies. They were badly dip-stripped some time before we bought the place more than 20 years ago, which has wrecked them. I think there's nothing that can be done to save them.
Snap from my initial Sketchup model above. I haven't shown the panels in place, nor the planted mouldings (bolection, possibly, although they stay within the panel areas and aren't proud of the frame), as they're not the real issue. They aren't all the same dimensions, even on one floor. The original drawing room of the house has a door that's 1/2" wider than this one (measured directly off the dining room, right next to it!). The heights ought to be the same (so the story stick won't change), but the stiles and/or the rail lengths will vary by about 1/2", adding to the fun.
The scale of the undertaking
If I do this properly, I have twelve or thirteen doors to make: the Caustic Wood Assassins did a thorough job. It will be expensive in both materials and effort (the door furniture alone will be more than a grand and I haven't dared think about the materials yet). Other problems include space to work and store stock (I have a double-garage workshop, bit it also contains non-woodworking stuff). It would be impractical to get the whole lot delivered in one go - never mind the cost, I've nowhere to put a small timber yard all in stick!
There are other issues too: replacements would be quite a lot heavier than the originals/ The caustic has caused them to shrivel up, literally, as they have dried out and shrunk, but they are still really, really heavy. Ideally I'd use sheet material of some sort for the panels, but everything man made seems quite a bit more dense than softwood, so that also adds weight. At least I won't have many layers of lead paint to worry about on the new ones!
Material choice - Accoya?
Rafezetter, of this parish, made the helpful suggestion of using Accoya, mainly because of (a) its reasonable dimensional stability, and (b) that it's close to untreated softwood density (but a bit heavier). This might be a good plan, and it's supposed to be available in better quality grades (and Arnold Laver have just opened a depot near us).
But I know nothing about using it, apart from this handy guide that Lavers have on their site. That goes into some detail about glue issues, suggesting epoxies and polyurethanes, neither of which thrill me and would make M+T joinery difficult. My go-to glue, Titebond 2, is out, it seems because it's PVA-family, and that doesn't like the altered cell structure.
They also suggest that finishes need to be carefully chosen, because there is residual acetic acid in the material, which is sweated out when the wood is worked. This is a worry: I don't really want tools being damaged, nor finish flaking off or orange peeling, etc. I want to end up with plain gloss white (as the Edwardians probably had them).
It would be jolly nice to do traditional M+T joinery.
I have a morticer and I know how to use it and I've made small-ish window frames and casements with it before. I also have a bandsaw and the nice Mr. Maskery's tenon jig plans. And I have a big router, so I could mortice with that, possibly, too.
The problem might be the glue-up: These frames are huge (by my standards), and there are some really big rails to get in, glued and wedged, and I think both Urethane and Epoxy chemistries tend to have short open times (and they're sticky too) so getting the joints physically together would be a challenge (especially that lock rail!).
Which all makes me wonder if this would be the necessary excuse for a Domino, and if that would actually help the glue-up issue at all -- it might not. It certainly ought to speed up construction. And it might mean I could get away with thinner panels too.
The 1/2" panel thickness shown matches the tenon width, obviously, but if there's no alignment with the panel grooves needed for the actual structural joints, there's some wiggle room on the design. The mouldings will neatly conceal a panel set-back that might otherwise look out of proportion. I might get down to 9mm or even thinner (7-8mm would probably work, but I don't think it's a standard thickness - 6mm would be pushing it, I think). Sorry to drop to metric, incidentally.
This lot above (and not having the necessary funds!) explains a bit why I've been mulling this over for ten years or so and not actually getting on with it.
If anybody has experience using Accoya for interior joinery, and/or finishing it please chip in at this point.
If you can suggest a better material for the frames (bearing in mind it's an old house where I can't realistically replace the door casings too!), likewise, please tell me I'm being daft.
I think the one approach I probably really can't take is to go completely trad with inexpensive softwood. It's simply not stable enough to go into a centrally heated house without a lot of warping. I'm going to have to laminate-up the bigger rails anyway, which is OK, but doing all of them would simply make the whole task too big.
I'm beginning to think this may be pretty impractical, simply because of the scale of the task overall, but I really don't want to leave these horribly destroyed doors for another generation to deal with (and it would be wonderful to make at least the ground floor look nice again!).
It pains me to say it, but I might even think about commissioning them to be made - someone with the space to do the whole lot together would get huge savings in setup time, etc., although twelve of these things wouldn't exactly be exciting work!
So expert thoughts are most welcome.