In continuation of a previous post, this is the second and final part of the exterior door project.
The first part starts with a nervous step in the project – the arch cut. Any and all mistakes would be very noticeable and unrepairable, cosmetically anyhow. The only tool I could turn to for this operation was my jigsaw.
I put on a new blade and clamped on an in-feed board to serve as a reverse backer, a “fronter” of sorts. It worked perfectly, the starting cut was smooth and straight into the door.
Extruded arch prep
The extruded arch was next, and by no means easy. My first attempt was to try a bent lamination for the underside. I created a mold and prepared thinner red oak boards. After much trouble trying to clamp them, I realized I didn’t make the shape mold correctly. It needed to be much wider than the final dimensions for the clamps and at a shorter radius in order to control the result of spring-back. What I ended up with after the overnight glue up was difficult at best.
Bent lamination – fail
With a clamp, I was able to fit the board to the bend securing it with hefty fasteners. Once the clamps were off though,the entire assembly succumb to the twisting forces of the bent lamination.
Plan “B” – much better
That was it for me, I took it off and went to plan “B”, lining the arch perpendicularly with strips of boards. Each end piece got its own custom angle cut after I ensured the end pieces had enough material. Then it was just a matter of finishing nailing which only took a few minutes.
The next step was to get the frame/jamb built so the remaining pieces could be fit properly, in particular the extruded arch. Besides the sill and thresh hold, all the remaining parts were constructed using the same material, red oak.
The narrower boards were rabbeted for the weather stripping and the bottoms were cut at an angle to accommodate the thresh hold. The jamb was built for 2×6 construction even though the new entryway was built with 2×4’s. Most Alaska walls are double thick construction for extra insulation, but for this purpose for the additional width allowed for the face material thickness; in this case, stones.
The client opted for a dark finish so I went to Sherwin-Williams to pick up the stain and top coat. I chose brazil nut as the color and spar urethane for the protectant.
Sanding all the parts to 220-grit was essential to the process. Stain brushes on easily, but wiping it off is directly affected the quality of prepared surfaces. The smoother the sanding job, the easier the wipe-off and there was a plenty of wiping. I went through two rolls of shop paper towels easily in about 3/4 of a quart of stain.
Stain application – Brush on, wipe off
It was a bit of a chore to get full coverage in the tongue and grooves, but that part added a nice linear contrast because they couldn’t be wiped down. Within a couple hours, the stain was dry enough to apply the urethane with a sprayer. I am not sure the stain would have ever dried enough to brush on since the surface was so smooth and the dye/pigment seemed easily affected by any liquids. I tried brushing it on the arch and it caused a mess even after I let the stain sit for two days. The sprayer did a super job though and really sealed the color and door nicely. It can now be brushed with future applications.
All parts were fully prepared for final assembly at this point. The first order of business was to set the hinges in place. The door is 2″ thick and I was a bit concerned when I bought 4 1/2″ ball bearing hinges only to find that the jamb screws were very stubby, but they worked fine.
If I do another door, I will make a full-sized routing template for hinges, but at this point, we went ahead with chisels and mallets.
One chance to get it right
We attached each hings in it’s place on the door and jamb leg with a couple of screws and traced the outline with a sharp marking knife until there was a nice deep line. Once that mortise was recessed enough, we did the same thing on the appropriate jamb leg. Next was the lock and handle set holes followed by the strike and deadbolt plate. The door was heavy, but we still used the drill press. We didn’t punch all the way through though.
Very thankful for something as simple as a paper template
Once the bit of the hole cutter went through we stopped, flipped over the door and finished cleanly with a drill. The client bought very nice hardware and I had it on hand to use which was esp. useful. The rest of the frame was fastened working around the door from the hinged jamb.
Gaps all around
We slid the entire assembly over the end, stood it up and clamped the side to the miter bench. The fit of the door in the frame was a bit snug, but there was plenty of room to shim it properly. I already gave the exact dimensions to the construction crew so they knew what to expect and left appropriate shim gaps.
We loaded up the door and frame separately since it was fairly heavy.
Ready to roll
Upon arriving on site, the guys were busy working on the shingles. We unloaded the door and stuck around to help install. I needed to ensure the strike plates lined up after the frame was plumb and secure. The client also asked me to make matching lamp backers. There was still stonework, trim and other components to complete, but it was apparent that impending results would be excellent.
An excellent collaboration
This was a complex project that required as much engineering as craftsmanship. The door needs to be complimentary to the entire facade as well as survive the very harsh climate. We worked to our utmost meeting this goal and we are very happy with the results. In time, I hope that others appreciate this symbolic project that represents not only a protective gateway, but most importantly, a welcoming passage into someone’s most sacred life resource – their home.
Thank you for reading.
Your Arctic Woodworking Friend,
-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) || http://www.birchhillwoodcrafts.com