Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

French Door Design

I aim to do a little more on the router table, later today. Provided that my new bandsaw blades arrive in time and, of course, that I don’t get talked in to doing some other DIY-type job! 😛 It looks like it might rain today though… 😉 I won’t have much time (if any) to work on it tomorrow but I’m already looking ahead to what will probably be my first project once the new table has been built.

Mum’s been asking again about these French Doors. I tried to patch them up and repaint them a year ago but, they’ve been in such a state for a few years now that I pretty much gave up part way through; deciding that they were, quite literally, beyond repair.

So, it’ll up to me to make some new frames and buy the double glazed units to fit. I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself but, ideally, I will get these finished in time for her birthday in the beginning of July…! 😯

They really are in quite a state; I wasn’t joking!! You can see that the beading has rotted away on the inside hear and where the moisture and damp is creeping its way up one of the stiles. Paint is falling away further up and, to be honest, both bottom rails has quite highly saturated with moisture and damp.

One of my final attempts to try and prolong the life of these doors was to to fit these timber weather bars to the outside. Previously, there was nothing there to prevent water from running down and settling on the cill. I like to think that this has at least helped these doors to survive the past winter. I’m not sure I can say the same for the copious amount of filler that went on to these bottom rails before…

This bottom rail on the left-hand door has begun to separate from where it’s joined in two narrower sections. Actually, I think I encouraged this by screwing the weather bar to both the rail and the two stiles; thereby restricting the natural expansion and contraction of the timber. But then, where the rails were deteriorating, I was lacking in ‘substance’ for which my screws could bite in to!

They really are of an appaling design… It’s the typical ‘mass-produced’ construction, which large dowel joints in place of tenons; exposed through the outer edges of the stiles (although, this may be where the fitter trimmed both doors to fit – they certainly were not made to measure!!). You may have already noticed the horrible plastic hinges and their location (particularly at the bottom), which makes uncomfortable viewing for any budding carpenter (much like my paintwork; in the eyes of a painter and decorator….).

So, not only am I going to use a timber with greater durability and traditional joint construction for the replacements but, I’m also going to simplify the design somewhat. Removing all those glazing bars should result in less materials; less time spent fitting glass and a little less work overall. Also, there will be less ‘traps’ for water to collect.

I know that I’ve illustrated a mid-rail in both drawings. After some advice I’ve received already over on The Wood Haven though, I think I’ll do away with that and keep the door frames as simplistic as possible. With the right wood that’s been properly dried and seasoned, I shouldn’t have much trouble with distortion, etc.

Where the two closing stiles meet, I’ll be rebating their edges, in the traditional manner. This is a much neater approach than what’s already there (a naff strip of 2x1in to cover the gap!) and it should make for a better draught-seal. Of course, it does mean that I’ll need one stile to be slightly wider than the other three.

It’s shocking to think about it but, the existing doors are only held in place by two pairs of these bolts; top and bottom! There’s no even a latch between the door handles; it’s a complete disaster waiting to happen! I’ll be fitting security hinges to my doors, along with a rebated sash lock and perhaps also some better quality bolts. These doors aren’t used too often and a little added security is no bad thing. Both doors are going to be painted white again so, I don’t want to use something as nice as oak. Softwood should be okay, if maintained correctly. Or, I could look at a more affordable hardwood like sapele (although, I don’t like using exotic species).

Glazing is the only part of this project that concerns me…

I don’t have much experience of working with glass (it’s far more fragile than wood!) and I’ve certainly never had to buy any before. There is a local company just around the corner from work and I’m sure they’d be able to help me. From the advice I’ve already received on the forum, I’d be looking for two sheets of 4mm toughened glass, with a 16mm gap between (preferably argon filled). It’s estimated that this could cost close to £200 for both doors! I can’t imagine the timber would cost less than £100.

I was also advised to increase my door thickness from 44mm (1¾in) to something closer to 60mm (2-3/8in), to properly accommodate for the thickness of the units. It sounds reasonable but then, I’d be looking to buy 3in sawn timber and also, I’d have to replace the existing frames as well – they are a hardwood, by the way. Possibly meranti and they seem to be in good condition.

Two-years ago, I replaced mum’s back door with a softwood (Scandinavian redwood; joinery-grade; unsorted) construction designed to take a DGU (double-glazed unit) that I salvaged from a brand-new B&Q door which was falling apart in the wrapping. It’s lasting very well, I must stress; it was made using timber finished to a thickness of 44mm. Maybe the DGU was thinner on that one?

Further investigation is required before I start but I welcome any thoughts you may have!

Thanks for reading.

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5 responses to “French Door Design

  1. Ashley 19/05/2012 at 20:24

    Hi olly
    Good luck with the build I’m lookng forward to watching it take shape, Will you be doing a video on the build
    Ashley

    • Olly Parry-Jones 20/05/2012 at 09:36

      Hi Ashley and thanks.

      I don’t think I’ll be doing a video on this but, I’ll try to take as many photos as possible.

      Still much to deliberate at the moment…

  2. Bongodrummer 21/05/2012 at 17:45

    Nice project Olly, good luck with it. Not to promote my website 😛 but have you looked at the pages on glass specifying (in the make your own composite oak french doors section)?

    4 mm toughened glass is the one to go for – low iron, if you can afford it gives better light transmittance and all round performance (unless overheating is an issue). 18 to 20mm is an optimum gap between panes, in terms of thermal insulation, if you can manage to accommodate it with your design – (bigger gaps didn’t cost any extra when I was pricing up glass, though obviously you need more wood to encase them). Soft coating is better than hard low emissivity coatings (like k-glass), especially when fitted in North-facing doors.

    How are you planning to bed the glass in? Dry glazing seal, putty?
    I still have a load of rubber glazing seal strip type stuff left over – I had to buy a load to get the stuff I wanted – might be of use?

    Cheers for now,
    Bongo.

    • Olly Parry-Jones 21/05/2012 at 20:28

      Hi Bongo!

      Yes, I do recall reading the information on your site; probably over a year ago.

      …Actually, I’d forgotten all about it until I read your message! 😳 It’s certainly worth another look.

      Thanks. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Pluggin’ Those Holes « Olly's Workshop Blog

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