Let's Make (and Finish) a Door!

Very exciting - the door is almost finished.

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Now all that's left is finishing it. And installing the hardware. And hanging it. And wrapping it. And delivering it. I just need to straighten my bowtie, brush the biker-bar/door-making dust off my suit, and I'm ready to hit the open road:




They say the last 90% of a project takes 50% of your time. Sounds about right. Below is the door, with two (out of eight) coats of varnish applied. On the advice of my friend and teacher Ejler Hjorth Westh, I opted for a wiping varnish, a 50/50 mix of Epifanes Clear Varnish and mineral spirits. Each coat consisted of brushing a coat on one small section at a time, waiting a minute (I timed it), and wiping off until the finish was dry to the touch. I did this for several reasons: 1)I prefer the look and feel of a rubbed, semi-gloss finish over a full-thickness, top-coat gloss finish. (I think thick, glossy coats feel like plastic, and actually "distance" the user from the piece.) 2)As a practical issue in the shop, dust wasn't as much of an issue between coats. I applied one coat a day, sanding very lightly between coats, then wiping down with naptha. Eight coats later I applied several coats of TFB's Table Top Wax.
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With both the door and the frame completely finished, it is time to mount the door. I wanted to make sure that everything fit correctly, and the door itself actually swung in its case, before it left the shop. Below, the frame is clamped to an I-beam that runs through the shop.
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Building the hinge-mortising jig. The jig has a lip that hangs over the edge of the door (thus registering the hinges on its back edge), and a removable piece that hooks onto the bottom of the door. The jig itself was built around each hinge to make sure each mortise was correctly sized.
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Planing the top surface of the jig flush so there are no "steps" when the router runs over it.
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Clamping the jig to the door. The key is to make sure the hinges go on the right, no, correct side of the door. The small vertical piece on the left side of the photo is the registration/stop block, which locates the mortises along the door's length. This piece will be removed when mortising the hinges in the frame (thus registering the bottom edge of the door with the top surface of the threshold.
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The hinge mortises are cut. I used a laminate trimmed with a small short bearing-guided bit. I still need to chop out the corners to square them up.
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I was excited to see that the through-tenon still looked good beneath the surface. (Although I was sad to have to cover it up with a hinge.)
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Two hinges leaves installed.
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Clamping the mortising jig to the frame. This procedure is pretty much the same as for the door: rout the mortises, chop the corners, install the mating hinge leaves.
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Installing the bronze weatherstripping. This part of (surprisingly) kind of fun. The arched section gets snipped at 2" intervals along one half of the V-section to allow it bend, then drilled and tacked into place.
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Weatherstripping installed.
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Installing the door latch. We outsource all our door latch-installation to a local gang of street toughs. This was who they sent.
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The leaded window and the tiny door are in place. This is the first time they have actually been set into the door. (Bonus: they work!)
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This door is pretty much ready to go. (Except for the lockset, which won't be installed until the door itself is installed.) Right now the door is supported by a pair of 2x6's screwed to the floor and clamped to the I-beam.
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Wrapped, crated, and ready for delivery. Tequila!
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