Friday, August 08, 2008

Making arched top doors - part three - altering the door

The doors and hardware came to just around $100 from my local big box store. The arched opening is 46" wide, so that means two doors of roughly 23" a piece. That's perfect - 24" wide doors will fit the bill, without too much waste.

Time for a little math, the first thing is to figure out is the final width of the doors. If the opening is 46", each door (in theory) would be 23" wide. But - that's not taking into account the width of the hinges, as well as the gaps wound the edges of the doors.
I determined how much room the hinges were going to need, about 1/4" each a piece, so I measured and marked the long edge of the door that would need to be trimmed. Each door needs to be about 22 3/4" wide, so I drew that line all the way up the door.

I placed the door flat against the wall so I could trace the arch directly onto the door, lining the long edge of the door up with the jamb.

Tracing the arch wasn't easy, since the corners of the jamb were rounded. There wasn't a good way to get an actual contour of the curve drawn, so I used a piece of stiff cardboard, which allowed me to draw the exact arch profile on the door.

It actually sounds more difficult than it really was, but it certainly helps if you have someone hold the door for you while you're marking the arch.

Once it was traced, the outline of the curve was cut on the bandsaw, where I removed all the wood about 1/4" past the pencil line, on the waste side.

You can start to see the door taking shape.

Over the years, I've had shop helpers on and off, and generally found that I prefer to work alone. That's more a statement about me and my work methods, than about having an assistant. I tend to do a lot of thinking, and the work in a flurry. So it's tough to have someone standing there, waiting for me to figure something it. And it tends to make me feel rushed, which I don't want to do when I'm pondering a problem.

So working alone has taught me how to rig up some amazing temporary jigs and aids in the shop. I had to rig up a cart to support the door while I was cutting the curve, you can't see it here, but you'll see something similar later, when I sand the door. A cart moves easily and supports the door while I cut on the bandsaw, and it's a perfect way to accomplish a task like this by yourself.

Years ago, I read Jim Tolpin's book "Working at Woodworking", he had some great ideas about carts in a woodshop. Since then, I've used carts in nearly every facet of my shop. If you're having problems with the logistics of your wood working, you might want to check out his book.

A rip
on the table saw and I'm left with a hollow core door that's ready to have some internal blocking glued back into the voids.

But first, you have to clean out some of the cardboard inside the door, so it won't interfere with the wood block you're going to be installing.

A long chisel helps, but I first broke the cardboard loose with a long scrap of wood, and then simply cleaned up the cardboard residue with the chisel. It comes off quite easily.

Several pieces of scrap 2 x 4 was used to glue up the blocking that will go back into the door.

I put a few pieces down over the curve to determine how to glue the blocking up, and once I got the layout figured out, I marked the 2 x 4s so I could clamp them up in that same position.

Since I have to alter two doors, I glued up two of these wood blocks.

Once planed, you can see how they will fit into the door at the top, and give that curve all the strength and structure it will need. Then I concentrated on the long ripped edge.

Once again, I cut and planed a piece that would fit into the hollow area, and at the top, where the arch was just starting to make it's curve, I doubled up on the wood there, to give myself a little more beefyness.
Note that where the two pieces of interior blocking meet, there is an angle. I marked the wood, and cut the angle on a chop saw.

Dry fit everything!

I even marked where the top filler piece should be located with some pencil lines, as a guide for me when gluing this.

I don't want to have to guess if I'm in the right spot, so this step saves me a hassle down the line.

Since it's so warm in my woodshop, I knew gluing needed to be quick, or the glue would skin over before I could get it all together. Gluing is tricky enough, without having to fight the heat, and that generally means working fast and sloppy.

My buddy, Dave, actually has nightmares about gluing things up; he freaks out when working against a glue clock.

Luckily, I save my freaking out over other things in life.

Time to work fast, and as I learned from a Paul Levine video years ago - let gravity be your friend. I pour a liberal amount of glue into the door area, and again, on the wood piece. Gravity will keep the glue from running and dripping too much, and both surfaces will be coated properly.

Once the glue is spread, the top block in slid into the door.
Do the same thing with the long rip, apply glue, slide it in place, and make sure everything is outside of the pencil lines before you clamp it.

You want the wood blocking to extend outside the pencil lines so that when you trim it to it's final size, you get a clean, solid edge.
Let it dry over night, and toast a good day's work.

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