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Welcome House 'n Home Wood work


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Hollow doors Solid doors Stable doors Cupboard doors Sticking doors Tips and Tricks


Tools required:
  • Plane
  • Crosscut saw
  • Ripsaw
  • Drill and spadebits
  • Chisels
  • Brace and bits
  • Marking gauge
  • Mortise gauge
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Small wooden wedges or plastic door wedges
  • Screwdrivers
  • Carpenters rule or measuring tape
  • Paint brush
Other thingies
  • Polyurethane paint or varnish
  • R5 coin
Hollow doors
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When hanging a new hollow door, which is the norm for interior doors, first determine where the lock block is. A lock block is built into hollow doors to provide you a solid piece of wood to fit the lock into. Some doors are marked on the top or bottom end. This normally means that the lock block extends from the top to the bottom of the door. Doors which have the lock block marked on the side have a limited lock block. Lightly mark the position of the lock block on the face of the door as you will probably remove the factory marking when planing the door to fit. Most hollow doors are hung in steel frames which have hinges built into them.
  1. Measure the width of the door opening exactly and deduct 4 mm. Plane the door to width taking equal amounts from both sides. Bevel the lock side of the door slightly towards the frame rebate to allow the door to clear the frame when closing.

  2. Put the hinge side of the door next to the door frame’s hinge side and mark the height of the opening. Similarly put the lock side of the door next to the lock side of the frame and mark the height. If both sides are equal cut or plane the door allowing 2 mm clearance at the top (the new R5 coin is about 2 mm thick ) and as much clearance as you require at the bottom. The bottom clearance will depend on the floor surface of the room into which the door opens. If this is a carpeted surface more space will have to be allowed than in the case of a wooden, tiled or concrete floor. Try to take a similar amount off the top and bottom of the new door. If this is not possible it is better to take more off the bottom than off the top.

  3. With the door now fitting the hole and wedged underneath with door wedges, allowing for the 2 mm gap at the top (put your R5 coin on the top of the door), mark the position of the hinges. In the case of a wooden door frame that has not been fitted with hinges both the door and the frame have to be marked. Typically the top of the top hinge is positioned 15 cm from the top of the frame and the top of the bottom hinge 23 cm from the bottom.

  4. Place the hinge flap on the door and mark around it with a pencil making sure that the knuckle (pin side) of the hinge flap sticks over the side of the door and that it faces in the right direction. Similarly mark the bottom hinge making sure that the knuckles are both on the same side!

  5. With a sharp chisel make a recess for each hinge. Score marks along the 3 sides of the hinge to a depth of the hinge flap thickness and remove the wood from the side.

  6. Finish by removing such wood as may be in the way of giving the hinge a nice flat bed. Screw the hinge onto the door using only two screws as you may have to reseat the hinge after a test fitting. Pilot holes are a good idea as hinge screws are generally fairly long.

  7. Should you be hanging a door in an unused wooden frame you will be using 110 mm butt hinges. Mark the hinge on the frame and recess the frame to fit the hinge. It is easier for test fitting if you remove the knuckle pin of the butt hinge by filing away the rounding on one side and knock it out with a 150 mm nail.

  8. Test if the door fits. You only need to push the knuckle pin through two holes of the hinge at top and bottom. You may have to plane away some more of the door material at this stage for a proper fit or reseat the hinges.

  9. If the door binds at the vertical lock side bottom and the top put a piece of metal (the handle bar of the lock is ideal) in the top hinge and gently close a door just enough to bend to top hinge of the steel door frame. Should the binding be the opposite way then bend the bottom hinge or the steel door frame hinges may be adjusted by placing a blunt cold chisel against the knuckle and knocking it back with a hammer.

  10. Once the fitting is satisfactory, take down the door and fit the lock. (see: Fit a lock)

  11. Before finally fitting the door paint the underside with a good polyurethane paint or varnish giving it a few good coats. This will probably be the last time you will have an opportunity of doing this as doors are seldom removed from their hinges when painting and it will prevent moisture doing damage to the bottom of the door.

Solid and stable doors
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These are mostly used for exterior doors. Hang these doors the same way as hollow doors but ignore references to the lock block. Slatted solid doors must he hung with the open end of the slats downwards to allow water to run off the door. Stable doors simply have another two hinges to fit. It is not possible to replace an existing solid door in a metal frame with a stable door.

Cupboard doors
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Piano hinge
This strip hinge can normally be bought by the metre.
  1. Open the hinge fully so that the flaps are at right angles to each other and the knuckle pin is visible on top.

  2. Fit the right angle snugly on the side of the door and screw the hinge to the door using an awl to “pre-drill” a guide hole.

  3. Clamp the door to the side of the cupboard using G-clamps with protective blocks. If you are working alone it is nice to have quick-action clamps with a pistol grip. Fit only a few screws into the cupboard side flap and check that everything works and is in place before finishing the job. If you are using chipboard doors and do not have chipboard screws put a little bit of cold glue on each screw to prevent the chips getting broken up.
Concealed hinges
To fit a door with concealed hinges you will need a 35 mm hinge bit.
  1. Drill 12 mm deep holes in the door where you want the hinges to be and insert the hinges.

  2. Carefully mark the position of the flap block and fit the blocks by drilling two 6 mm holes 10 mm deep and inserting the block in the holes. The hinge can be adjusted by undoing the holding screw slightly and adjusting the grub screw. Should the length of the door require the hinges to be further apart than 750 mm it is better to fit another hinge in-between. As the knuckle pins have to be absolutely in line, be very careful when marking and drilling.
Sliding doors
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Sliding gear is available for larger cupboard doors and ordinary hollow doors. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

For smaller doors plastic track of 5 and 6 mm width can be bought from your hardware store. This track consists of a shallow and a deep grooved pair.
  1. Cut to the required length and glue the shallow part to the bottom of the cupboard opening. The deep part is glued directly above.

  2. Fit either glass or wood in the groove. Measure the door height and deduct the depth of the outside of the shallow part plus about 1 mm from this measurement. Slip the door into the top groove and drop it into the bottom groove. If you are using glass doors and they are slightly too big you can sand them down using 80 grit emery cloth and a sanding block. If the door is more than a millimetre bigger you may have to cut it. (See: How to cut glass).

  3. Fit handles or finger blocks near the outer edges of the doors. Glass doors are often provided with finger grooves. These have to be ground into the glass by glass merchants who have the facilities for this.

Alternatively use a circular saw to cut grooves into the bottom and top of the cupboard before assembly. The top groove must be at least twice the depth of the bottom groove.

Self made sliding doors decorated with mouldings or other carvings are normally made with a 6 mm lip at the top and bottom to allow for easier sliding. Adjust the distance between grooves to allow for the extra thickness. Remember to make the top lip of the door twice the width of the bottom lip to allow insertion of the door.

It is not recommended that the sliding lip of a small cupboard door should be more than 6 mm wide but if this is inevitable then the width of the cut groove can be adjusted to accommodate the wider lip.

Sticking doors
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As buildings “settle” and wood expands or contracts over the years, it can happen that a door will not open or close properly. If the binding is at the bottom, top or side remove the door by knocking out the knuckle pins. Plane away the excess wood and repaint the planed faces, especially the bottom one, before replacing the door. If the door binds at the top and at the bottom of the vertical side one can sometimes adjust the door by putting a piece of flat bar against the knuckle and with a sharp rap with a hammer move the knuckle pin a fraction.

Tips and tricks
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A mortise gauge can easily be converted into a marking gauge by cutting or filing a small recess in the crosspiece to accommodate the movable pin.

Keep a door standing upright on its edge from falling over by putting two sash clamps or large G-clamps facing in opposite directions at each corner. If you are using G-clamps be sure to put some scrap wood alongside the door to prevent the clamp from damaging the door.

Mark the depth of a hole to be drilled with a piece of masking tape wrapped around the shank of the drill.

To reduce splintering when sawing a piece off a door place masking tape over the place where the door has to cut. Press it down firmly and mark the cut line by scoring it with a utility knife. When using a portable circular saw the chipping will occur at the top of the cut. Use a straight piece of hardboard clamped to the door at the correct distance as a guide for the circular saw. With a handsaw the chipping will be at the bottom of the cut so mark both sides carefully.

If an exterior door opens outwards it is relatively easy for a burglar to knock the pins out of the hinges and so remove the whole door. To prevent this, if the door is fitted in a steel frame remove a screw from the hinge. Replace this screw with a longer one. Let this screw protrude about 6 mm from the hinge and cut its head off with a hacksaw. Carefully marking the position and drill a hole of the same diameter as the protruding screw about 8 mm deep into the door frame. (Preferably use a “multi-purpose” drill bit as you will be drilling through steel and masonry). When the door closes the protruding shank will fit into the hole thus securing the door. Do this to all hinges on the door.
If the door is fitted in a wooden frame remove two opposing screws from the hinge. Replace one with a longer screw, cut of its head and drill a hole through the opposing hinge flap into the frame to accommodate the cut off screw when closing the door.

To prevent a screwdriver or wrecking bar being inserted at the lock of a door, thus breaking the lock and forcing the door open, screw or weld a 25 mm piece of angle iron about 200 mm long onto the frame of the door covering the gap between the door and the frame at the lock position and butting tightly up against the side of the door handle on the face of the door. This can also work with outward opening doors but remember to screw the angle iron to the door and not to the frame. In this case it would also be better to use a piece of angle iron at least 500 mm long.