How to disassemble a wood door

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Forum topic by stcin posted 07-08-2011 10:40 PM 22779 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 2894 days

07-08-2011 10:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello all,
I just got a pair of wood doors back from the stripper and they are in very rough shape. First order of business seems like replacing a plywood panel in one of ther doors (see picture). It delaminated and rippled in the striiping tank. It is (I believe) beyond repair. So, I can make a new panel, but, how do I disassemble the door enough to replace the panel? There are no visable fasteners or dowels. Although I may be able to use a clamp set up as a spreader along with a heat gun to disassemble the door, I am only guessing. Any experienced advise will be helpful.

thanks all

18 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 3013 days

#1 posted 07-08-2011 10:46 PM

1) I would evaluate an ovelay panel
2) bandsaw the bottum rail out right at the sticking line. (cant tell your profile from pic.), insert new panel then spline or dowel the rail back in position.
Good luck with it.

On the other hand you can remove the bottum panel easy enough than install a stop of sorts, install panel then use applied mollding on both sides.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3490 days

#2 posted 07-08-2011 11:29 PM

Unless it was assembled with hyde glue, which is unlikely unless it is an antique, you are probably going to have a difficult time getting it apart. The old hyde glue would come apart with heat and steam, but newer glues will not. If the joints are loose however, you can tap the apart with a mallet and block, or even with a clamp as you suggested. Don’t be suprised if the wood spinters and breaks within the joints. Be very gentle.


View Mario's profile


182 posts in 3600 days

#3 posted 07-08-2011 11:53 PM

Slice it at the rail joints with a bandsaw, remove and replace your panel and put it back together with floating tenons or thick dowels.

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2759 days

#4 posted 07-09-2011 12:37 AM

if the door has blind mortise and tenon joints then it probably has internal wedges as well…which means it won’t come apart….look under the bottom rail for any telltale signs …there may be signs where it has been haunched….if so then slice the bottom rail out hopefully the panel is floating. you will most likely have to replace the bottom rail as well because it won’t pull up parallel again.will also mean cleaning out the old mortise joint so you can slide in a new rail. then just glue in a filler block on the bottom of the stile sand it up it it will be as good as new
we have had to replace panels in our gates and that is how we do it….i have done it with doors as well.

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3187 days

#5 posted 07-09-2011 06:41 AM

Sometimes when dip stripping doors the joints can become loosened during the stripping process. First check and see if any are loose and need to be re-glued. Chances are the joints were done with cope a stick joinery and dowels. Here are some steps you can take to help loosen glue joints so they can be re-glued.

This comes from wood central:
Hide glue can be “de-activated” on joints that are still stuck by saturating the joint with alcohol. Squirt some alcohol (I use denatured alcohol) along the edges of the joint and it will wick in by capillary action. After several minutes the joint will be loose enough to pull apart.

PVA glues like Titebond and Elmer’s are very difficult to remove. If you suspect that one of these glues was used, wetting the joint in hot vinegar loosens the joint enough to wiggle it apart. Unlike hide glue, PVA glue does not re-bond to itself so you must scrape off the old glue to bare wood. If you are gluing a broken piece of wood with irregular edges, soak the glue with hot vinegar and remove it with a brass bristle brush.

If you’re not sure which glue was used you can do a simple test. Place a drop of hot water on the glue and wait several minutes. Hide glue will become sticky and PVA glues will turn white.

Other glues you may encounter are epoxy, urea-resin and super glue. All of these glues should be treated the same as PVA in that they are non-reversible. However, none of them can be softened to aid in disassembly. Since most of these glues are brittle, a sharp blow with a hammer usually breaks the glue line.

I would try to remove one of the stiles very carefully, replace the panel and glue it back together.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2879 days

#6 posted 07-09-2011 11:56 PM

I took an old door apart. I removed the glass then started pushing it apart with clamps. It had hand cut dowels in it. I took it all apart and replaced some broken dowels. I just took my time and made spreader clamps to open it up.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3272 days

#7 posted 07-10-2011 12:07 AM

Unless you have a really special door, it probably won’t come apart without a lot of aggravation. Most doors are built to go together but not be taken apart. Panels are usually done the same way as cabinet doors – the panel sits in dados in the rails and stiles.

If the only problem is the panel, you can probably use a router to cut away one side of the rail and stile dados that hold it in place. Pop out the bad panel and install a new one. Replace what you cut away with some new molding.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View tblank's profile


62 posts in 3174 days

#8 posted 07-18-2011 01:21 AM

What sawkerf says. Rout out the cope and bead on one side, drop new panel in and trim out with new sticking stops.

View stcin's profile


29 posts in 2894 days

#9 posted 07-18-2011 11:33 AM

Thanks everyone – I have decided to “Rout out one side, drop new panel in and trim out with new stops”. It sounds like a plan to me. Thanks for the help.

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3888 days

#10 posted 07-18-2011 07:20 PM

That’s just how I’d do it, stcin.

But make sure you are routing out the same side of the door that the glass bead is on in the glass opening.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View stcin's profile


29 posts in 2894 days

#11 posted 07-19-2011 01:59 AM

Excellent heads up tbone – Thanks. I might have thought that through and I might not have – Now it will be on my mind- Good Help!

View stcin's profile


29 posts in 2894 days

#12 posted 07-26-2011 11:16 PM

As Sawkerf, tblank and tbone suggested I did use a router to cut out the old panel. Using 1/8 birch ply with some figure on one side I glued two 1/8” panels back to back so figure would show on both sides of the door. Then made trim to retain the panel and reinstalled everything. You guys were a big help. Thank you.

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 3042 days

#13 posted 07-27-2011 12:27 AM

I have a vintage door that is very loose- the whole panel is beveled glass. Well, I saved that door for many years hoping I could do something with it- like fix it or something. Well,,, when David (Patron) was here- he said to throw the door away. I haven’t done it yet- but I am going to throw the glass away and probably keep the wood. Don’t you love a compromise?

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View tblank's profile


62 posts in 3174 days

#14 posted 07-27-2011 12:36 AM

Stcin, Well done. Good idea with going back to back. Did you contact cement the two together? Replacing the panel worked for me once doing a dog door repair. A month from now no one could ever tell.

View mdafran's profile


3 posts in 2703 days

#15 posted 07-27-2011 01:31 AM

I guess just tackle the rail joints, but dpepends.Anyway thanks to Gregn.It gives me idea on how to settle a problem my friends had. Its quite hard to deal with well stick glue at the doors.

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