Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Making a set of arched top doors - part one

I'm working on a project that requires a little thinking outside the box. Assignment: putting doors in an arched opening, at a price that isn't going to require a second mortgage.

After some investigating, I realized a few things. First, pre-hung arched doors are outrageously expensive! Beyond that, since archways are plastered by hand, they are usually not a perfect semi-circle. So even if a pre-hung door was used, there's no guarantee that it's going to fit properly in the opening. A few rough measurements with a tape measure and a string compass prove that the arch I was working with was low in some areas, and high in others.

My friend, Phillip, and I discussed this project over some Cuban food and a beer. He's not only a fabulous tool maker, but one hell of a woodworker, too. It's funny how getting a second opinion about a design problem really sheds light on how different artisans solve things. Not to be cliche, but two heads really are better than one.

So Phillip suggested a couple of interesting things- first of which was building the doors to fit the opening. While we discussed essentially building a hollow core door, with 2 x 2s, some interior torsion box waffles, and a couple of door skins, it finally dawned on us that it might be easier to simply buy a couple of hollow core doors, since they're cheaper than buying all the individual components. Bingo!

Short of laminating a jamb frame, there wasn't an easy solution to hinging the door into the opening. As we were leaving the restaurant, heading out the back door to the parking lot, we pushed a set of doors open to walk outside. They had two way hinges on them, springing closed after we went through them. Sort of like old two-way saloon doors.
The second light went off in our brains! Bingo, a perfect hinge for mounting a door into an opening. No jamb needed.

These doors will enclose a home office, and don't need that complete privacy that a door with casing would provide. Time to figure out what size doors to purchase, and make a few calls to locate the hardware.

Stay tuned....

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