Louvered Door Project

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Blog entry by runswithscissors posted 03-22-2013 03:40 AM 3031 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A long ago craftsman (our house was built in 1953), made solid oak doors (six of them) for built-in bedroom closets. Obviously, such construction is prone to changing dimensions with the seasons, and is not a practical way to build closet doors. Considering that we are in the Pac. NW, these doors are unusual, as they are solid oak, which is not native in our neck of the woods. They are of two widths—four at 17” and two at 21 1/2”, and are about 5 feet high.

SWMBO said, “I want those doors to be louvered.”

So began the process:

Remove doors.
Rip to width dimensions for stiles
Rip to width dimensions for rails
Run through planer twice, to remove varnish.
Make internal frames for the louvers to fit within the overall door frames.
Make 552 mortises, 1/2”X1/4” for the 276 louvers in those internal frames.
Make 36 mortises for 18 rails.
Cut tenons on the 18 rails (half of these are done)
Scrounge all oak scraps available to make the 276 louver slats.
Resaw on the bandsaw, rip to width, then run through planer to make 1/4”X1 1/4” slats.
Round edges on slats with shaper.
Cut slats to length
Set up RAS with 3/8” dado stack to make 1/2” X 1/4” tenons on the slats.
Assemble (One is done, the louvers have been started in another, a third is framed up)
Sand and finish, which will be water based acrylic sprayed with a HF HVLP gun (I have used this with the same material on another project, and it works extremely well for that application).

Six of the stiles with the final mortises cut (one center mortise is too long, because I cut to the wrong line, but no matter, because it will be covered).

Finished, waiting for final sanding and “varnish” (I’ll be using Deft Water Based Acrylic, semi-gloss, for finish)

The uppermost and lowest slats in place on this door.

Frame of one of the two wider doors.

Some of the 552 1/2”X1/4” mortises. To do this many, I devised a sliding table for the mortise machine, and printed out the cutting pattern on self-stick labels. Have to remember that there are equal numbers of left and right components! Ran each stick through one direction, then reversed and ran through again (in order to get the rectangular mortises).

The sliding table on the mortiser. I can do about 6 linear inches of mortise between the hold downs before having to shift the wood. Hold downs are Bessey toggle clamps, which self adjust for different heights of material.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

3 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3931 days

#1 posted 03-22-2013 05:18 AM

Wow, that’s quite the production line you set up there! Good work repurposing the lumber, too.

-- Robb

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2672 days

#2 posted 03-22-2013 11:18 PM

I like the moving table. Good work. I remember in college we had a mortising machine wil a big pedal on it. When you let it up it racheted to the setting you had determined and it scooted the table over for the next cut. All worked off the one pedal near the floor. Don’t we all wish for one of those? You are doing a great job on these doors. If your wife isn’t proud send her to me for counseling!! LOL

View runswithscissors's profile


2751 posts in 2022 days

#3 posted 03-22-2013 11:32 PM

Thanks for the kind words. The plastic knob just below and to the left of the left side hold-down controls left and right movement of the table via a spur gear and gear rack. Left hand twisting the knob, right pulling down on the lever. This is a good way to train for a trip to the casino. Make those one-armed bandits cry for mercy!

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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