For almost fifteen years I’ve been meeting a friend of mine, Ken, on Friday mornings. He’s retired, but he still does a few small jobs. Sometimes he gets one that is a little over the top and asks me to help. Recently, he pulled out a picture of a door and said, “Do you think we could make one of these?” Another builder friend of his had a client who had to have the door, until they found out the price!
I started asking a few questions and found out that the door would be paint-grade, 3/6 x 8/0, and under a porch not directly exposed to the weather. I had a method in mind that I’ve used to make some interior custom doors before. But before I committed, there were a few boxes I wanted Ken to check off. First, although I was very confident my idea would work, we wouldn’t be able to provide a warranty on the door (more on this later). Second, the door had to be paint-grade. And finally, while we could make a door that closely resembled the one in the picture, it wouldn’t be an exact reproduction. I was confident we could make it work, but I wasn’t sure of the exact detail and I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner.
My idea was to order an exterior-grade, solid core flush, 1 3/4-in. Birch slab, and cut holes out (which is why there would be no warranty) to insert an upper and lower V-groove panel. In the past, I’ve used an exterior-grade composite panel (Extira) to create exterior details on houses. I thought it would be the perfect thing to use for the panels. It machines well, it’s very moisture resistant, and it’s dimensionally stable. Since it comes in several thicknesses, I was confident there would be a thickness that we could use once I figured out my final details. And we would hold the panel in place with a rebated panel molding.
Ken made a list of the materials to price out, and we estimated the labor and multiplied by 1.5—it’s always good to be safe on a job you don’t have to have. I reminded him to clearly cover our conditions for doing the job and to make sure they weren’t in a big hurry since this would be a weekend project. I also told Ken to get a 50% deposit before any materials were ordered.
When I met Ken the next week, he already had a deposit check (maybe we should have priced it a little higher!). He said it would take about three weeks to get the special order door so I had a little time to think through the details—always a good thing when you are doing something for the first time. I was confident that I could find or make a molding the right dimension to hold the panel in place. What to do about where the molding met the panel would be another story. I had to have a smooth surface at the point where my panel mold contacted the Extira panel. It would look terrible to just have a molding passing over the V-groove cuts, and that would funnel water to the inside of the door. I could just make a raised panel with V-groove cuts, but that really wouldn’t have matched the look in the picture. I started looking at the router bits in my shop and found a large Whiteside bit (#3296) that made an elongated ogee cut. It was just perfect. I had some scrap Extira pieces so I was able to make some test cuts. The bit gave me plenty of room for the panel mold but didn’t distract from the V-grooves.
Read the full article by Gary Striegler on www.thisiscarpentry.com