Let's Make a (Tiny) Door!

Now that the door is glued up, cleaned up, sanded, and detailed, it is time to cut a big hole in the middle of it. The original design criteria for the door called for no glass whatsoever, but after some discussion we agreed that having at least some sort of peephole would actually be more secure than having to open the door "blind." The solution was to build a speakeasy door into the interior face of the door, with a leaded glass window on the exterior face. This is actually the part of the project that I've been most looking forward to; big stuff is fun for a while, but I love doing tiny stuff.

It might have been easier to cut each half of the window-hole into the door planks before glue-up, but I was worried about things shifting around during glueup, and I wanted to make sure that the opening was completely square, with no "steps." Hence, glue up the door, then cut a hole in it. I wanted to leave as little to chance as possible (what David Pye would call "workmanship of risk"), so I ended up spending a fair amount of time getting the routing template just right. Really it's not that far off from cutting a hole to drop a sink into a countertop, except, you know, this is a really nice countertop.

These two pieces were left over from cutting the hole. They will be resawn and joined to make the panel for the speakeasy door.

Gluing up the exterior frame, which will form the rabbet for the leaded glass to fit against. (The frame itself actually sits in its own rabbet in the door's face.) I used bridal joints to join the relatively thin frame members.

Gluing the window-frame into the exterior face.

Making the leaded glass window has been its own mini-adventure. After reading Michael Pekovich's article on leaded glass in Fine Woodworking, I sort of figured "why not?" A week and a half-dozen trips to the glass shop later, I managed to get the window together. Two lessons (among many others) learned the hard way: 1) Get a soldering iron made specifically for leaded glass. I wasted an entire day trying to make my crummy iron from Radio Shack (which is made for soldering electronics) do what I needed it to, to no avail. Larger irons are expensive, but well worth it. 2) Get the special double-edged scissors made specifically for cutting out lead patterns. I thought maybe I could just measure to account for the web that runs through the lead came (and in between each piece of glass). No. No. No. Anyway, below is the partially-assembled window...
And the fully-assembled window, ready for soldering.

Scrubbing the window with glass cement. I'm told that the vile mess is actually supposed to clean the window as well as secure all the pieces.

The window, cemented and polished, ready for a patina and some wax.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The two window-hole cutouts are resawn and joined, and I wanted to cut a little V-groove in the middle of the panel to match the chamfers on the two door planks which contain the window. (Thus maintaining the shadow line running up the middle of the door.) I ground the blade of my smallest shoulder plane into a V and clamped a fence to the panel. This worked tolerably at best; I still needed to clean up and define the groove with the corner of a tiny scraper after using the plane. Really I just should have a made a V-shaped molding plane in the first place. Lesson not so much learned as reinforced: making a tool from scratch is almost always going to work better than to try and modify an old one.

Applying the first coat of varnish to the speakeasy door panel. The first coat of finish is always one of may favorite parts of a project.

Gluing up the door frame around the prefinished panel.

Mortising the hinges for the Tiny Door. I love working with Sanderson hinges: beautiful to look at, a dream to install.

And finally, fitting the Tiny Door into the Tiny Frame (which will eventually be get into a rabbet on the interior face of the door.