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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    SE Queensland
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    35

    Default Build a stile and rail raised panel front entrance door

    Finished painting the old house and after getting it restumped the main thing left was the verandah 13m+ across the front and 6m down one side, took me 3.5 months, solo on senior work hours but more than happy with the result.
    The only other thing left was the front door. Did build my first door (that wasn't on a shed), the back door, from tongue and groove, am pleased with the results. Although this may sound cheap it really suits the (very) old colonial, minimalist house.

    The front door needed something a bit more flash so what could be better than something very similar to what is being replaced, Think It's called a french door, rail & stile, 4 panel door or some such.

    Did some research, perhaps not enough, and ended up getting Western Red Cedar for the project, already had some problems with this strange foreign wood that is outlined in another post.

    My next query, to those with knowledge and time to reply and are still bothered to keep reading is:

    Should the joints be doweled or mortised & tenoned?

    My original thoughts were dowels as recently bought a Dowelmax, you know, like a kid with a new toy....but something is telling me I should do M & T's, and even drawbored(?) that some purist deep inside is crying out for.
    Have sufficient length in rail material for tenons and pretty good workshop with table saw, bandsaw, planer/thicknesser, mitersaw etc etc.

    Really want to make a good job of this but starting to think I may have over stepped my skill set.

    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Burleigh Heads
    Age
    66
    Posts
    2,162

    Default

    Plenty of modern doors made with machinery use stile and rail router bit sets that form joints that lock together sufficiently well with modern glue and perhaps a few dowels but it's not too difficult to do the size mortise and tenons required to build a door with a minimalist set of hand tools. I've made a few French doors in the past and believe it's a readily achievable project. Go for it!
    Franklin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Vic
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    2,473

    Default

    I'd go the Mortise and Tenon Bushie.

    Do you understand how with a M&T the slots that hold the panels run through and the tenons are placed in the same slot but deeper in or through and wedged the other side . Its a beautiful straight forward system that could be done out of a tool box with a plow plane, some saws , a Mortise chisel in the old days or now. And its very strong . A table saw can run the slots , same with most of the tenons . Or a router could help with those . The only tricky part is the Mortises. A good sharp chisel or two will have those sorted .

    If on the other hand you did the Dowled version . You have to be making slots on the Stiles that stop and not go through at top and bottom to hold the panels , A sickening sight! So there are flat spots left for placing dowels . Its more fluffing around for a very much less impressive harder to clamp up weak version of a door. Just to hold an assembled cabinet door properly tenoned with no glue at its dry run stage ready to glue up next to the same thing Dowled Biscuited or even Dominoed shows how superior the good old way is . Domino is almost as good but the other two are not as good for a door like that IMHO . They only come good with glue . Before that there all aver the place in all directions but its mainly the twist that has to be adjusted . M&T done true and Twist on the plane is right and firm .

    Rob

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Oberon, NSW
    Age
    59
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    Default

    For a front door, definitely M&T. Pretty much for the reasons mentioned in the post above.

    A properly constructed M&T will hold together and prevent the door sagging even when the glue fails. Anything else will sag if the glue lets go. By the same token, M&T has more strength should someone try to force their way in. It's usually the jamb and/or fittings that fail first, rather than the door itself giving way.

    Dowels/biscuits make for an easier job, but I'd save them for things like internal cabinetry where longevity and strength aren't as much of a concern.
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Port Sorell, Tasmania
    Posts
    370

    Default

    I went M&T when I built my doors. Use a slow drying glue, takes a little while to get everything glued, square and clamped.
    You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~Oscar Wilde

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    SE Queensland
    Posts
    35

    Default

    Good info Guy's, thanks for confirming M & T's the way to go.

    Fuzzie, I did in fact buy a stile and rail router bit kitchen set when on special, ready for a job in the future, shame they are to small for this build. Did think briefly about resawing the panels in half and using the raising bit and put them in back to back, but feel it's making to much work for not a lot of gain. Started on a raised panel jig for the panels on the tablesaw this morning.
    Really liked your door(s).

    auscab, so will drill my mortises in marked positions with a 12mm forster bit (aiming for 40mm finished thickness) on the drill press and chisel out before grooving the stiles and rails?
    Would drawbored be as acceptable as wedges?
    Really like the locking ability of the method. I have a daddo set of blades.

    Andy Mc, the added strength is a very valid point.

    Tony, good point re the glue, used epoxy for the first time recently and even though it's fussier to use I reveled in the time I could take. I get into a real tizzy with conventional glue on big projects, especially when it's hot.

    Cheers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Vic
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bushie View Post
    auscab, so will drill my mortises in marked positions with a 12mm forster bit (aiming for 40mm finished thickness) on the drill press and chisel out before grooving the stiles and rails?

    You could drill first but Id be running the slots first and then taking out the mortises . Just because they will guide you a bit and there is slightly less wood once slotted . I do them that way myself . Slot them then use the mortiser with the chisel or chain just resting off the walls or dead on in middle of both .



    Quote Originally Posted by Bushie View Post
    Would drawbored be as acceptable as wedges?
    Really like the locking ability of the method. I have a daddo set of blades.
    Drawbored is nice . I think through tenon and two wedges would be stronger and hold forever better. Thing about drawerbore is a peg goes right through. It doesn't have to but its got to be one side or the other at least, but mostly right through in doors . So an external door is probably going to move a bit , getting warm the one side and not the other , or sun one side and cool inside ? basically the peg will show that movement with the finish . If its rustic, which pegs look great on then good . But if your paintingand doing a clean new look or doing clear and are fussy then the peg cracking the finish and doing what they do may annoy you ?
    I peg a lot of M&T stuff . Using mainly 1/4 to 1/2 pegs through the M&T. Even with the Domino now. That amazing machine allows a very old way of jointing boards together where a mortise is done each side of a board . loose tenon fitted and pegged both sides . The pegs look good left slightly high and rustic like on rustic like stuff. Id not be pegging in highly finished stuff where it was never used before traditionally .

    Rob

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    SE Queensland
    Posts
    35

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by auscab View Post
    Slot them then use the mortiser with the chisel or chain just resting off the walls or dead on in middle of both .
    Understand how the slot would help guide and less material to hog out but I haven't got a "mortiser with a chisel or chain", that's why I thought to drill first to be able to clearly follow the set out marks, then chisel out, 60mm is a long way with a forstner bit though(?).

    Ah! That's the info I wanted to hear re drawbored, it should be right then as looking for a rustic oiled look as think it will suit the old place and my new oiled veranda boards.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2005
    Location
    Oberon, NSW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushie View Post
    Understand how the slot would help guide and less material to hog out but I haven't got a "mortiser with a chisel or chain", that's why I thought to drill first to be able to clearly follow the set out marks, then chisel out, 60mm is a long way with a forstner bit though(?).
    When doing M&T's by hand I'll drill with a 3-4mm bit first, coming in from both sides to about half depth, until the holes meet. A pedestal drill with a fence to keep things square makes things much more accurate.

    Once I've drilled both sides I'll run a slightly larger drill (5-6mm) through so I have a straight bore. I'll use this straight bore to guide a spade bit of appropriate size. If the "bore" wanders off-centre too far - it only happens occasionally, but it does happen - I'll size the spade bit to match the minimum distance for that hole. Better to have to do a bit more chisel work than to try to add material back into the hole!

    Then comes the chisel work of course...

    It's not as... awkward or slow as it sounds. I can knock out a usable mortise in less time than it's taken me to compose this post.

    Ah! That's the info I wanted to hear re drawbored, it should be right then as looking for a rustic oiled look as think it will suit the old place and my new oiled veranda boards.
    A through mortise really doesn't take much longer than a stopped mortise and is stronger mechanically when it comes to sag. Throw in a couple of wedges and the job is as strong as it's going to get. Pin it if you want the rustic look, but I strongly recommend wedging as well...

    ...after all, it's your front door! Trust me, you really don't want to be reminded "I shouldn't have taken that shortcut" every time someone open or closes it.
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    SE Queensland
    Posts
    35

    Default

    More great advice, this forum is beaut.

    I will try this drilling method on some scrap, sounds good. I have a fence and table on the drill.

    The best of both worlds, yeah wedge and drawbore, why couldn't I have thought of that, will do if i have enough usable material on my .9m stock.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    2,323

    Default

    Hi Bushie

    Some excellent discussion, but still some lingering doubts.

    I would be a little concerned by your choice of WRC for an external door; in my view it is way too soft. Possible issues are:
    • Hinge screws, which bear the full weight of the door continually, may pull out after a couple of years,
    • Draw bore pins may tear the timber rather than drawing the joint tighter,
    • Front doors get a lot of usage and any knocks will show as highly visible dents.


    Might be better to keep the WRC for another project and find a more suitable timber locally?

    As to the discussion about joints, timber movement, etc, here is a very interesting article from FineWoodwroking adapting a Chinese frame consrtuction technique. It is quite sophisticated.

    http://l.e.taunton.com/rts/go2.aspx?h=939315&tp=i-H43-BC-H86-qwYMB-1o-4wJ-1c-qwViz-1lWdAm&x=w1724enl%7ci-H43-BC-H86-qwYMB-1o-4wJ-1c-qwViz-1lWdAm%7cw1724enl%7c65850%7c782324567


    Cheers

    Graeme

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    SE Queensland
    Posts
    35

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GraemeCook View Post
    Hi Bushie

    Some excellent discussion, but still some lingering doubts.

    I would be a little concerned by your choice of WRC for an external door; in my view it is way too soft. Possible issues are:
    • Hinge screws, which bear the full weight of the door continually, may pull out after a couple of years,
    • Draw bore pins may tear the timber rather than drawing the joint tighter,
    • Front doors get a lot of usage and any knocks will show as highly visible dents.


    Might be better to keep the WRC for another project and find a more suitable timber locally?
    This is pretty devastating to read, I did some research (but obviously not enough) before deciding on WRC and a few web articles/blogs said it was suitable for doors.
    Have had doubts about it, thinking "this is just glorified pine" but thought it's just different to what I'm used to.

    To add to the misery, in squaring and now starting to run through thicknesser, some are not making the spec. I had planed on, for example, thought I'd get 95 x 40 out of nominal 100 x 50. Or is that to much to expect?

    Will have enough (if I decide to go ahead) to do 90 x for the stiles but then they are getting a bit on the puny side(?)
    What's worse, one length doesn't look like making 40mm finished, and one 200 x 40 (when finished) has a mark right across that doesn't look like coming out, when I finished in disgust and heat today.

    Not sure what other project I could use this stuff on and buying more timber would be hard to explain to the Minister of Finance after spending $550 on this lot.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
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    Hi Bushie

    Awkward situation, but someone might come in with some better advice.

    My house was built in 1880's and the doors have all survived. Just re-measured them:
    • Interior doors are old growth baltic pine - 4 panelled - and 33 mm thick in the rails and stiles. Remember old growth timber is heavier, denser and stronger than plantation timber of same species.
    • Exterior doors are 38 mm thick huon pine (remember I am in Tas) - also 4-panels.


    Probalbly the best sources of information on timber properties are:
    • The Wood Database and
    • Bootle's "Wood in Australia" - book.
    • For timbers I am not familiar with, I usually compare their properties with woods that I know - radiata, Tas oak, and Tas blue gum.



    Cheers

    Graeme

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    bilpin
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    2,697

    Default

    The sizes you are suggesting are well under the normal dimensions for a timber paneled door. Particularly if you are intending to mould and rebate the edges. 38mm thick is pretty much the standard and often even thinner material is used. Door styles 120mm, bottom rail 250mm, mid rail 180mm, top rail 120mm. These sizes are not set in stone and can be refigured a little to suit available material. Panels should be full thickness of the door to make for easy sanding through a sanding machine.
    As mentioned by others, WRC is a soft timber but keep in mind the cedars of all types have been used for door manufacture for a couple of hundred years. The advantage of a soft timber is that it dents rather than tears. This means a quick steaming with a hot iron and wet flannel and the dent is gone. Not so easy with a tear as the cells are broken and steam cannot expand the crushed cells.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Mareeba Far Nth Qld
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    79
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    I did time in a joinery shop as a joiner, making framed and flush panel doors. That was in about 1969, so the dimensions are imperial, sorry, after all my hair is now white.
    Most definitely use mortice and tenon joints. I prefer to run a saw cut 1/2" from the edge of the tenon and fit the wedges there. I was involved in a court case where dowels were used, the joints had failed.
    Styles and top rail were 41/4", mid and bottom rails were 101/2". External doors were 13/4" thick and internal doors were 13/8" thick. Sorry about using neanderthal dimensions, but I am nearly past the use by date.
    Would you consider getting a morticing tool for a drill press? Save a lot of hassles.

    Jim
    Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important...

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