Castle’s Exterior Door

Our client’s home was built on a steep incline back in 1943. The foundation was stone and mortar, 19 “thick. There were a pair of carriage doors that were so old and racked out of square that they literally had to be lifted by the handle before they could be swung open or closed. They asked us about the best way to fix this exterior entrance to their basement.

The stone work was so substantial (even the windows sat 10” back from the walls face) that I felt the need for a rather old and heavy looking doorway. I envisioned one that might have adorned the entrance to a small castle. I quickly sketched a multi-paneled, ancient looking door with an arched glass opening in the top two panels. I also drew a paneled surround as the opening to be covered was wide and they no longer wished for double doors. They liked the sketch, our estimate and the turn around time so we got to work. I elected to use 2’ thick Honduras mahogany. This was a good wood choice for this application as mahogany has a low coefficient of expansion (does not expand and contract very much with temperature and moisture changes). As well, the mahogany is beautiful and looked right in a natural finish. No paint. Not even any stain. We always try to use a specie of wood that is as close in color to the desired end result as possible. Stain can obscure, to some extent, the wood’s grain. Wood whose patina has darkened with age always looks far superior to new wood that has been stained to look older. Sometimes the answer is to build with really old reclaimed lumber.

Anyway, the first picture shows all the machined parts labeled and laid out on a work surface.

front door prior to assembly

By doing this, I can check the overall measurements, check to see if we like the way it looks and establish / mark the positions of dowels or (in this case) bisquits used for joining. Because of the doors’s exterior exposure, I used a two-part resorcinol glue. The kind boat makers use.

Our client purchased some beautiful, well-made hardware in the Arts and Crafts style.

When completed, this doorway was perfectly suited for the old stone wall………

Russell Hudson / June 9th 2010 / Hudson Cabinetmaking, Inc.

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