Every home needs a door. It’s a tricky bit that must fit well, open and close easily, provide some security, and hopefully, look good doing it.
We found a mahogany, two-panel door at the Habitat Re-Store in Lubbock a couple months ago and since the price was right ($10), we bought it. It was clearly well-made and I suspect it ended up at Habitat due to a largish scratch near the bottom on one of the rails. The only down-side for me was it’s height. At 94″ (2.38 m), it was far too tall for a simple, tiny vardo. I knew I had to cut it down and was willing to risk the $10 as it went to a good cause either way. I suspected the panels were solid but, as is usual with this type of door, the rails and styles would be laminate over pine (or similar). I had not initially considered a professionally made door but the final selling point was the nice arch-shape to the top of the upper panel. It was an arc that I could match when came to finishing the door.
Some stressful cutting; 20 inches removed.
The circular saw seemed the obvious choice for a long, straight cut like this so I set up a board as a guide and went at it, taking a full 20 inches out of the middle.
Matching the glue surface.
The top was then folded down for planing to get a precise fit for gluing surface. This part took a lot of fidgeting and tweaking to get it correct over the entire run, but I achieved it in the end with only a little frustration and some muttering.
Clamping it back together.
To hold it all together, I decided to use polyurethane Gorilla Glue. I don’t use this for much but it can make an extremely strong and waterproof bond. A couple very long screw completed the hillbilly engineering and I was confident with the result. With the loss of 20 inches from the middle, the grain no longer lined up perfectly, but at a short distance, it isn’t very noticeable. Hey, it’s a $10 solid mahogany door after all. Talk about some good and frugal recycling.
Top arc is cut and the glue line looks pretty clear here. It’s less noticeable in real life and will be less so as the door darkens with age.
I cut the top of the door to match the arc of the inset panel and I think it’s a great match for the curves of the wagon. But now, it came down to making a door frame, after the fact, to match the new door shape, compound arc and all.
Square hole, rounded door. A scrap of wood was secured to hold the door in position while fitting and marking for the frame.
Obviously, the hole for the frame was the next step; requiring another stressful free-hand cutting job.
Matching the arc in the opening. There is hope for the new door.
Cutting and sanding complete, it was time to build up the frame from oak to provide stiffness and stops to seal the interior. Fortunately, outside of a couple fierce storms, the weather has been extremely clement this winter, making for good working conditions.
Mortising for the hinge.
A smattering of new and old hardware.
I both got lucky and splurged a bit on new hardware. The hinges are real beauties and very sturdily built. There is no perceptible play in them whatsoever and they operate very smoothly. I went with a 19th century Eastlake pattern from House of Antique Hardware in Portland, Oregon. Great stuff, great service, just too much to choose from.
The door is nearly fitted into it’s final position in this photo. High quality hinges not only look nice but function so much better than the cheap, temporary ones they replaced.
I’ll admit that this tricky bit of framing isn’t perfect but is far better than I could have hoped for and suits us fine. A small speakeasy grill will complete the door and even serve as a small vent when necessary.
Eastlake style. Notice the beauty of the natural mahogany next to the oak.
Test-fitting the new hinge mortises. I just couldn’t pass these beauties up. Still some finishing work to be done on the door but without an indoor shop, something had to be in place.
There are lots of small steps that still need to happen but at least there a door in the hole.
Piecing together the door jamb and frame.
There is a lot more to report and I’ll get it posted as soon as I can. Great things are afoot and I can even see a distant light at the end of the tunnel.
For Part 1 of the rebuild/addition then CLICK HERE.
Or on to PART 9.