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I plan to make a front entry door. Luckily, mine will be all glass with a 6" stile and top rail, 14" bottom rail. It will be round top. What wood? Mahagony, white oak? How do I prevent eventual warping? I could do a stave-core, but I am concerned that the 'veneer' (I guess about 1/8"-1/4") could de-laminate. There will be a storm door to protect from the direct elements. Any ideas on how to manage the 1/2 round top rail? Joints?- loose tenon, M/T? Thoughts?
Actually a storm door can make the conditions worse. With southern exposure, you have one hell of a green house between them. A 14" bottom rail is going to challenge the joinery because of the wood movement. 1/8" to 1/4" thick wood acts like real lumber, not like veneer. You have to consider the same movement of solid wood when you make it that thick. So glue 1/4" up to a lamination or manmade material, and it will split the face material.
Those are a lot of fundamental questions. I will try to answer a couple, but you will learn much more from searching the archives here. If you search under "entry doors", exterior doors" , "door panels" "custom door construction" and the like you will learn something useful. David Sochar and Joe Calhoon among others have shared a great deal of useful experience.
I have made and helped make a number of exterior doors of single ply solid wood, and I attribute their stability to the fact that they were built of Honduras Mahogany and the parts were roughed out, allowed to settle and milled to final dimension in a couple of sessions. Unfortunately, good material in that species is harder to come by and few good substitutes are available. Old growth Douglas Fir is one alternative.
For 2 1/4" and thicker doors, a three ply laminate is a reasonable option, otherwise a 1/8"-1/4" thick veneer over stave core is widely accepted. There are a number of vendors who supply veneered stave core parts, or you can buy slabs of finger-jointed stave core and apply your own faces.
As Rich C. points out, your bottom rail is problematic due to its width. If you go with a multi-ply crossbanded core or something like Timberstrand for stability, you will need to keep the veneer thickness under 1/8" or risk surface checking or, worse, delamination.
The semicircular top rail should be segmented. I would use four segments joined with spline tenons.
Without a drawing much is left to the imagination. Do you intend to have any horizontal rail other than the bottom? If not, that would seem a bit sketchy to me.
Best of luck with the project. Thorough research will reduce the role of luck in your success.
If I were making that door, I would use a Timberstrand or similar laminated structural lumber (LSL) core for that door. Get a piece of LSL large enough to make the door, put two stiles on it, sand flush and laminate two door skins to it. No top or bottom rail required, unless you want them. Once you have the slab, just make your light cut-out and use lip moulding to hold the glass and cover the edge of the cut-out.
Personally, I wouldn't use stave core, too much chance of warp and twist, especially in an outdoor application. LSL is a far superior door core product in my mind.
If you still need more answers, you are welcome to post your question here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rangateconnect It's just another optional resource to ask.
Many folks on there are building doors from scantling to finishing.
Also, do you need to meet any thermal value?
If still needed, check out the workshop on Sep 23 http://alpineworkshops.com . Usually we make a door in the shaper operations workshop.
All the best. Cheers.
You'll get a wide variety of answers to your basic questions. I would follow Kevin J's advice for the most part - he and I would have no trouble making doors elbow to elbow.
I have used stave cores twice in 26 years, and one had problems (more later). All our doors, several thousand, interior and exterior, most of them with a 5 year warranty, have been made of solid wood (sometimes laminated for thickness with 2 or 3 plies), with coped sticking and mortise and tenon joints in the classic style.
Until recently, we had one exterior door give us problems and two interior doors we had to replace since 1990. Why? we know our lumber, buy from a good vendor or two, and treat it right. We make sure our customers know what to do with the doors, and we like to fit and hang and hardware our doors, as well as finish them.
The recent problems I mentioned above all stem from using Titebond III for gluing panels to width. We have had to repair or replace about 5 panels that had glue joints open up due to the fact that TBIII looses strength at higher temps - like 140 to 180 degrees. Losing 50% of its strength or more. We have glued lines open up and in a couple of cases, open all the way thru. The doors all had a dark finish, low gloss, and faced due West. I could measure 190 degrees on the surface.
The one stave core that failed had a Walnut stave core ("engineered") for stiles and rails, with a 1/16" face veneer both sides. It faced due West, and was near black. The veneer was glued on with urethane and vacuumed - it was as tight as can be. But after a few months, cracks in the veneer started to show, more at the lower edge than the middle, with none at the shaded top of the exterior side. Interior was fine. No warp, bow, twist or things of that sort. We removed all the veneer and found the cores, laid up with TBIII don't you know - had let loose as the joints heated under the face and cracked the veneers. Some gaps were .085 wide, 1" deep in a 2-1/4" door. To be fair, this was not the construction style - the stave core - that caused the problems, it just happened to exacerbate the glue failure. F#%@&# glue.
Do not use TBIII. We are now using TBII, until we get ourselves back in a reasonable mood. Or epoxy. Or urethane. Or plastic resin.
As for the half-round head, we used to cope and tenon the rails into carefully laid out mortises with a generous haunch and set them at 45 degrees to the stuck stiles. Glued and clamped, then the inner radius is sawn and the sticking is run on the shaper for the curved rail, left long at top dead center. This made the sticking winnow out at the transition from curve to straight, and was never clean. So now we haunch back the stile and allow the curved rails to sit on that haunch and the sticking then butts into the stile sticking. The joint is a square edge M&T, with no copes. This cleans up the sticking problem. Then the top rails are cut to width/length on the saw, and a double spline is made with long grain bridging the joint. This is glued and clamped when the other rails go in at assembly. Most arch head doors are drawn full size so we know exactly where everything needs to go.
I would never recommend a stranded or man made core. You do not know what it is really designed for - except for the fact that it is not designed for doors. You do not know the MC of it and would have to research the performance data. It is not a proven solution. There are some European products that appear to be excellent solutions, but they are not prevalent.
I build doors on what I have observed over 45 years and from what I can learn historically. Those methods were pretty good, and we have made lots of improvements in the construction methods to help drain water, keep things glued (with a few exceptions....), and disprove all those marketing phrases coming from the plastic, metal and fake wood people about wood doors cracking, warping, rotting, bowing, warping, etc. You unconsciously repeated one of their marketing phrases when you said" How do I prevent eventual warping?" There is no reason to expect a well made wood door warping. I do expect the doors we make to outlast the owners, their children and perhaps even the building.
If this door is for you, fine. I would not recommend making a door for sale that you may have problems with down the line. You cannot make any money on the first few doors you make. You haven't asked about the frame yet. And there are many other things - hardware, finish, weatherstrip, sill types, glass, sealants, etc. All of it has to work in all kinds of weather, at extremes, and perform all the time. It also has to look good, and be secure, but easy to operate and maintain. Lots happening in a small space, more than any other wood project.
Storm door? Why? That will certainly heat up the glue. I have seen plastic plant-on door moldings on metal doors melt and sag when under a storm door. They are effectively a solar collector. You protect the door by using the proper finishes, shading it architecturally and other methods. The storm door is just another thing to get in the way.
You seem to have some experience with Timberstrand for doormaking, and I would like to learn more about it.
My experience with wood and wood-like products has shown that when cutting large pieces into smaller ones, or making large cutouts in sheet goods, significant movement often results. With solid wood or stave core I can use my jointer and planer to flatten stiles and rails and join up a reliably flat door from those components. Have you made a door as Alan S. describes from a slab of Timberstrand that stayed flat within normal limits? (I am not sure what you mean by "Get a piece of LSL large enough to make the door, put two stiles on it..." Do you mean "band the edges"?).
Does Timberstrand move much when you cut it up or make cutouts in a sheet? Do you need carbide tooling to machine it? What moisture content does it typically have, and how does it react to changes in ambient humidity?
I see from Weyerhauser's product information that it is used in the door and window industry, but there seems to be a limited acceptance of it in the custom door market(?). Can you comment? Obviously the ability to make a door by cutting that shape out of a sheet of reconstituted wood fiber is a major labor saver. Can I rely on it?
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Yes, I worked in the interior commercial door business for many years and have a great deal of experience with Timberstrand and Huber as a door core, although interior use only.
The commercial door company I worked for started using Timberstrand in place of stave core about 15 years ago. There was some market resistance for the first year. Our competitors went on a negative marketing campaign telling customers we were "cheapening" our product. The long and short of that was that all of our competitors were offering the LSL core themselves within two years (that tells you something).
The LSL products are very, very stable. Warp and twist (quite common with stave core) went away completely. The product is consistent in moisture content through-out (8%), no moisture pockets like stave core.
We made our "full-light" door with a slab of LSL and two wood stiles, one glued to each vertical edge. After sanding flush and laminating two ply doorskins to it, it went right to the tenoners and into machining for hardware prep and light cut-out. I can't ever remember a LSL door warping, twisting or moving in any way after processing.
That said, we didn't expose our doors to outside weather, these were interior only doors. I am sure if the core got wet, it would expand, just like any composite core. I don't think it as likely to warp/twist, but again, we didn't test for exposure.
I myself find LSL core to be an excellent door core material. It has no internal stresses (it's a bunch of chips and glue), it is consistent throughout and no more difficult to work with than other composite products.
Once we started using it on a regular basis, I starting asking customers, "Stave core is an inferior product, at a superior price, why would you want to use it"? Then I would explain why.
Although I no longer work in the commercial door industry, I know that most, if not all, commercial door manufacturers use LSL core as a regular offering, largely in place of stave core, it's a great product.
I like solid wood for my doors for several reasons. As stated before, we just do not have problems - outside of the glue.....- and the material is very predictable. I also like using solid wood because I got into this work because I like the smell, feel and look of wood. Real wood, and good woods. All my tooling and precesses are geared to using solid wood as a result. I know the sounds of the tooling sets as they machine stiles, it is all well within my capability to make wooden doors. I'd retire if I had to use some other material than top hardwoods.
We work for the 5%, and they could probably care less about what their doors are made of, as long as they look great, and perform great. The designers and architects like to hear solid wood, I'm sure, but they have no idea what that means or theists associated with it, just that it is the real thing.
As craft is valued less by more people, the value of this particular niche will increase. Our ability to do things with real wood just like the 'old guys' should keep us in good work as long as we want to do it.
This last Spring, a beautiful Mahogany paneled restaurant I did with a crew back in 1982 was removed in a nearby hotel renovation. The seller made sure to have it removed carefully so he could set it up for his own use. When reported in the newspaper, it was reported that there "no people around that knew how to make things like this anymore". How soon they forget. But, if/when that type of work is needed, I am the one to do it.
Thank you for all of your input. I am making this for my own home. I am an experienced furniture maker, but have not made an entry door as yet.
One of my friends suggests that I 'stack' 4/4 and 5/4 to produce the thickness, rather than a full 8/4. Would 'stacking'- having glued with West epoxy- create a problem? Or, as he suggested, it would 'solve' the movement problem? If this is 'do-able', can I 1/2 lap the joints using the different thicknesses as my joint? (is that clear?). My current round top entry door that I am replacing has the radius section glued up with horizontal pieces (the grain runs horizontal) rather than sections cut with a 'running grain pattern' through the radius (several sections joined together to form the radius). So, 1. Is there any advantage, disadvantage, to laminating two boards together to get my full 1-1/2"? 2. The top section...grain horizontal or run the radius? 3. What is the widest I can make the bottom rail without fear of splitting/ issues? (current is now 11").
If you are set on using solid wood and can get true Honduras Mahogany (Swietania Macrophylla), by all means pick the best looking pieces with the least grain runout. Check the moisture content, rough out the parts and mill them to final size in a couple of sessions with time for acclimation and settling.
If you are going to laminate solid wood, use an odd number of plies. I have made several 2 1/4" exterior doors with three equal thickness layers successfully. Stacking unequal thicknesses in two layers is inadvisable, as are half-lap joints.
Laminating solid lumber is not going to solve the "movement problem", although balanced multi-layer pieces may reduce potential cupping. Solid wood is still going to expand and contract with changes in relative humidity. So will veneered stave core parts, and, to some degree veneered LSL parts and the like.
The arched top should be segmented if made of solid wood, to minimize grain runout and reduce cross-grain conflict. David S. has described a method of haunching an arched rail to help with the short grain problem at the lower edges.
11" is wider than most solid wood rails I have seen. How has the current one held up? Fred's suggestion of breaking up a wider rail into two narrower ones should be considered.
David's comment on the overall challenge is well worth repeating: " hardware, finish, weatherstrip, sill types, glass, sealants, etc. All of it has to work in all kinds of weather, at extremes, and perform all the time. It also has to look good, and be secure, but easy to operate and maintain. Lots happening in a small space, more than any other wood project."
Your work is going to be experienced by everyone coming into your home, so you want to make it right the first time. As I said, there has been considerable discussion of the subject here. If you haven't yet, delve into the Woodweb archives. After 35 years in the trade I am still learning new things from the contributors here.
OK...broke my left wrist !!! No door making for me this season. Anyone want to do it for me? Seriously? Door and jam...I'll send sketches to you if you are interested. I am in N.Y. (Long Island). Otherwise, it's gonna be a cold winter with the door I now have.