Racking, Flipping, and Stacking Large Interior Doors for Finishing

Finishers describe various ways to efficiently handle man doors for spraying and drying. December 31, 2012

I would like to know what kind of racking systems guys are using for large interior doors. I have a small shipment of interior fir doors being delivered to the shop next week for finishing. Iím not sure about figuring out a way to be able to finish both sides at once and then rack them somehow to make room in the booth for the next one. I'd prefer to be able to lay them flat for spraying but will do them vertically if I have to. I'm a one man shop so I don't have anyone to help me move them around. Does anyone have any ideas out there for this kind of thing?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor S:
Start by attaching a piece of solid hardwood on the top and bottom edges 1" x 1", and then attach an 8" rip that is 4" wider than the door to that, this way you can lay the door on horses and flip them by yourself without ever touching a finished face. They can be moved around the shop on two flat dollies with a toe nail screwed through the ends to keep them secure. You can spray them flat or vertical this way, just remember to seal the ends well.

From contributor H:
The first thing that you do before you "stay" your doors is to paint the top and bottom. If the top can be seen from a staircase or upper floor, paint the color of your stain. If not, any spray paint will work, as long as the contractor can easily see that it is sealed. Next make four 3/4" plywood stay that measures about 6" wide and 12" long. Now take a 1/8" ply strip that is 6" long and 1/4" narrower than your door thickness. Glue this strip in the center point of the 12" length. Drill and counter sink three screw holes.

Each door will get two stays on each end attached with 4" screws. Mount on the rail and not on the end grain style. If they are hard hardwood doors pre-drill your holes. You want to have the 1/8" ply strip 1/8" off the edge of the rail edge so your finish does not bridge to the stay, especially if you are using WB finishes.

These methods will let the doors stand upright to save room in your shop and you can spray them flat up on used finish buckets or spray them upright if needed. The contractor that delivers the doors can also use them to transport to the job site by screwing the stays together so they do not pack against each other. Just make sure that you get your stays back.

From contributor J:

I use 1/2" dowels glued into the rails about 4" and extending about 6", two on the bottom, and one on the top. The dowels rest on the top of horses. The door ends are exposed so I can finish them. Flip the door by grabbing the bottom two, lift, and turn. If I am solo, box dollies in place of horses let me roll the doors. After the doors flash, I put a 4 x 4" plywood block with a 5/8 hole drilled in the center over the top dowel and stand the door against the wall. The block takes the hit and I can stack multiple doors against one another by resting the top pin against the block of the prior door. At the end I flush cut the dowels and dabble on some stain.

From contributor H:
I have 35 8" solid Honduras interiors coming in next week and I think that the last thing my customer would want is me drilling holes in the top and bottom of their $900 each doors. 6'8" fir interiors doors unless they are MDF core or hollow. I have seen your approach done with a 24" iron strap that has a center pivot dowel and a blank hole to put your pivot stop pin into. The strap is screwed into the top and bottom of the door and can slide into a storage rack to cure. While my approach is not very eloquent it allows one person, if required to flip the doors and they store upright so they do not take up the whole shop during drying. Also if we are shooting oil enamel or Iso the doors can be shot upright.

From contributor R:
I finished all of my main doors made of rift white oak for Oakland California City Hall. The same holds true for all the millwork as well. I lost count of the number of doors we did, but the first thing we did was completely finish just the ends of the doors.

Once dry, we installed a plywood cleat 3/4" x6"x24" to each end of the door. We attached the cleat to the door ends with wood screws. The cleats were installed so they extended 12" from the end of the door and that enabled us to place the door on a set of saw horses.

By doing it this way we were able to spray both sides of the door, take them off the saw horses, and put another one back on the saw horse. If you have a rather large quantity of doors to do you do need a lot of horses. The doors set upright (sideways) on the cleats so when setting them aside to do another one they donít really take up that much space. When were completely finished we backed out the screws holding the cleats on and then tapped an 1/8" oak dowel into the hole and brushed some finish onto the raw end grain of the dowel. The fir doors probably donít weigh in as much as the oak ones did so if youíre careful I bet you could move them around by yourself.

From contributor J:
I get what you're saying about the dowel ends. It may be an industry thing, in that I am in refurbishment, most of the doors I see have far worse than some 1/2" flush plugs top and bottom. I've done some monoliths with insulated stained glass (non-removable) by substituting lag bolts for dowels, with the 4x4 blocks trapped under the bolt head so I didn't yank the doors off the horse/cart while turning them. I then have to glue dowels in the lag holes all the same.

From contributor W:
All good methods. If the doors are not to heavy 3" drywall screws can be placed in the top and bottom at the corners. This will leave smaller holes to deal with which can be filled quicker and easier.

From the original questioner:
I tried the dowel idea because I liked how they could be flipped. Epic failure is all I can say about that. Used 1/2" wood dowels glued 3" into the tops and bottoms of some 32"x6' 8"x1 3/8" thick fir doors and the top dowel snapped on the first roll. After rebuilding the corner of the door, I tried the same with some 3/4" wood dowels. They work but I am now too scared to flip them using the method! I still have three left to finish and will just do these standing upright. I will have to try the plywood method next time, or I might use the dowels again only with steel pins (then glue/flush cut wood dowels in after they're finished).