Keeping an interior barn door from twisting (walnut)

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by yellowtruck75 posted 09-03-2012 01:17 AM 3854 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3090 days

09-03-2012 01:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: walnut

I have an order for an internal barn door that will be a pantry door. The door will be three separate panels with the outside being 1.5” thick and the inside panel being 1” thick. I am building the door out of solid walnut and I will be utilizing my Festool Domino for strength. How do I make sure that this won’t twist in a few years? I plan on getting the walnut next weekend and after planing letting it sit for a few weeks in my shop to acclimate. I will be using an oil finish.

Dimensions are 84” x 33”

There is the potential for a future order of the same door.

Here is a link to what the customer wants duplicated.


13 replies so far

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4115 days

#1 posted 09-03-2012 04:52 AM

That’s a lot of wood!

First, be sure the wood’s moisture content is suitable for your area. If you live where relative humidity is high, 10%-12% may be acceptable. I live is a high desert environment, I shoot for 6%-8%. Rough cut and plane is OK when you get it, but leave a little for your final dimensions, after it’s been acclimated to your shop. Once wood is properly dried it will expand and contract with changes in humidity, but not twist if you’ve machine it flat and square.

For your application, you need straight grain lumber. Although wild walnut patterns can be a nice design element, I believe that it would contribute to the twist you’re trying to avoid.

-- Nicky

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3671 days

#2 posted 09-03-2012 05:02 AM

Just build it right. Long tenons and deep mortises will
help it stay flatter but it’s probably overkill since the door
will be indoors. Use a moisture meter and make sure
all the wood you use is around 7% and let it move as
you work with it. Walnut is also one of the more stable
fine woods. Avoid using stock with distorted tissue.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2212 days

#3 posted 09-03-2012 05:11 AM

Twist ? That shouldn’t happen if you use non-reaction wood walnut, properly aclimatized and allow for movement in the construction.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3090 days

#4 posted 09-05-2012 01:26 AM

Would it help to use a seer of 3/4” walnut veneer plywood as my center panel? Would this prevent or reduce twisting?

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3671 days

#5 posted 09-05-2012 01:40 AM

No. Twist in a frame and panel door of that sort of proportion will
be in the frame, not the panel. A cabinet door with a 3/4” x 2”
frame and a big panel can have a situation where tensions in the
panel overwhelm the frame and twist it, but in an entry door
with a recessed panel your problems, if any, are more likely
to be in the frame. A veneered panel can be a good thing
though because you can glue it in so it won’t rattle.

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3090 days

#6 posted 09-05-2012 10:47 AM

I cut the side rails yesterday which are 7.6” long (not trimmed yet) by 4.25” wide and 1 3/8 thick. I will let it sit for a few days to acclimate to my shop before putting it together. I have inquired for a price form the local mill for walnut plywood so that will definitely help with glue up

Just got an order for 2 more of the same door so hopefully this one goes well

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2992 days

#7 posted 09-05-2012 01:49 PM

I recommend using winding sticks to check there’s no twist in the stiles, also use them when doing a dry fit and gluing up to make sure there’s no racking.
Check the shoulders on the rails – if they are not quite level you can glue in a warp when clamping. Make sure your assembly area is perfectly flat when it comes to final assembly.
Once you’ve got your components to the right dimensions, check them all again for being straight and square.
If you find the stiles develop a twist or bow, you might consider laminating the stiles. This is something I have had to do previously on walnut cabinet doors that came off the planer perfectly, but went totally out of shape within a couple of days. Hopefully you won’t have this problem seeing as the door is so sturdy. I think you’re right to put in a veneered plywood panel.
The only thing to look out for on the veneer is the way its knifed and put together. If there’s any sapwood in the veneer and the pattern repeats it can look like the front of an Edsel.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3671 days

#8 posted 09-05-2012 03:25 PM

Also, the veneers will take the finish differently. The veneers
will be about 1/40” thick and the glue used to attach them
to the substrate gets up in the veneer fibers and inhibits
finish color penetration. Basically, you should be prepared
to stain the veneer darker to make it mach the finished
frame. It’s easier to figure the finish out before assembly
than after.

View yellowtruck75's profile


469 posts in 3090 days

#9 posted 09-05-2012 05:09 PM

I plan on using a blend of poly, tung oil and boiled linseed oil. Will this show up differently or finish the same?

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8085 posts in 2352 days

#10 posted 09-05-2012 06:57 PM

I’ve wanted to convert a swing door on our downstairs BR into a pocket door for ages…. but don’t want to rip up the wall with plumbing vent and electircal in it.

I think I just figured out how to accomplish my goal, by looking at your link :^)

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3671 days

#11 posted 09-05-2012 07:06 PM


View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3159 days

#12 posted 09-05-2012 07:17 PM

FWIW, when I built a 48” wide frame and panel pocket door I built the stiles and rails up from poplar “butcher block” cores edged and faced with African Mahogany. I documented a bit of the build in a blog series, but didn’t follow through to the end. I got this method of construction from a1jim, but I’ve seen it elsewhere also.

-- Greg D.

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3006 days

#13 posted 09-07-2012 02:33 AM

i won’t coment too much cuz you’re getting alot of ideas. i sell and build doors for a living. interior doors are 1-3/8 thick,at finish. panels are 1-1/8” thick, floating,you could get by with 1”,but never GLUE or nail in place.mortice and tenon is best, but if used stricktly for interior, you can dowel the stile and rail. don’t use your three part finish.use either laquer or brush on poly by minwax,exterior finish.the 1-1/2” thickness was used pre 1950; when lumber was very straight grained.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics