Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Bad Door Made Good (Part 3)

As I’m still waiting for the weather to improve so that I can finish painting our new back door and show you some finished shots; in the meantime, I thought I’d try and update you a bit about what went on in between the previous post and now. Although I didn’t take any ‘progress’ shots of the door hanging-process in action, I can at least show you the kind of state my workbench ends up in – even though I’m working away from the workshop…!

Not a pretty sight!

It had been a good four-years since I’d last hung a door. Even then, we were only fitting a load of ash-veneered internal doors, which requires little more than planing  the edges down carefully to fit the opening, chopping and fitting a pair of hinges and then fitting a simple latch or lock. I remember we were able to do eight doors in a single day, back then (bearing in mind that I was only just finishing college and it was one of the first jobs where I was able to get my hands on). Yet, for some reason, it’s taking me the equivalent of an entire day just to fit this one exterior door!! There wasn’t much material to plane off, which is why I left the power planer behind and instead used a Stanley no.5. How many hours did I spend fiddling with the fit of that mortise sashlock… I really don’t want to think about it!! Which is why I’m not going to divert over to looking at the old door…

Here, the goal was to save as much wood (and glass) as possible, for future use.

It was clear that this door had lived a life of neglect. Looking at the way it had begun to deteriorate below that old coat of paint, I was expecting to find some kind of softwood underneath…

Below, you can see where the only effect the ‘stop block’ had was in damaging the lower end of the hanging stile; only 1½in away from the shoulders of the dowel-jointed rail…

Needless to say; once I’d got the frame apart (with the aid of my jigsaw), I ended up cutting off and binning most of this section, due to wet rot.

…All the glazing bars ended up in the wood-bin as well! Like the rest of the construction, they were only dowelled together as well. Not even a single lap joint where they overlap. Most of the glass panes were removed in tact; only a few were broken and ended up at the local Recycling Centre. I may just try and hang on to these for a rainy day….

My power planer came back in to action when I wanted to remove the layer of paint to get a better look the condition of the wood underneath:

This was where I realised that the door wasn’t made of a softwood, at all…

Yep, this stuff looks much like iroko to me; one of the most naturally-durable timbers you can still buy today, along with oak. Only really succeeded by the likes of greenheart and teak, which are in short supply and certainly not native to these isles. So, that fact that it’s been attacked by rot as severely as it has in certain areas then, is a great surprise to me! There’s also the issue of the nasty dust which can cause you all sorts of problems beyond the respiratory system (swelling of the glands, being one other). So, where I was once considering making something else out of this reclaimed door, I’m not sure what I am going to do with it, just yet…

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