Friday, October 28, 2011

Passage doors

There are five wooden passage doors in the lower cabin area between the various rooms. The master cabin has an entrance door, the kids dressing room has an entrance door, the kids dressing room has a door leading to the bunk room, and both the master cabin and kids bunk room has a door leading to the common bathroom. I'm narrowing down the names for the boat and at the top of the list is: " I"m glad I did not bid this job since this turned out to be a ton more work that I'd figured". It might be hard to get that name to fit on the transom, but hopefully you get the jest of my lame joke and how much work went in to the passage door project. In all seriousness about a boat name, every time I think of naming her, I keep hearing Neil Young's opening guitar salvo of the song "Homegrown" so I'm keeping that name on the boat name list as she is totally homegrown/ built.

The first order of business on the passage doors was deciding on the method of construction. I could have made things easy on myself and gone with plywood slabs for doors. I really did not want the look of the plywood slab, so I quickly ruled that method out. I know I wanted a frame and panel door so I just needed to work out some construction issues. My cabinet frame and panel shaper cutter set seemed like the obvious choice to build these doors, but the more I got to thinking about it, the more I started to think that method would not be robust enough for passage doors. Ththe set of cutters I have is made for 3/4" thick stock. I was having doubts I could get 3/4" stock to stay flat on a door that was going to be over 6' tall. I was also concerned that the cope and stick pattern of the cutter would not give enough glue area on the joints to be able to handle a the violent slamming these large doors might see once we are at sea. Also, the shaper cutter set is tooled to form a 1/4" groove, so 1/4" plywood or raised panels would have to be used for the door panel. I did not want to use raised panels due to the environment of below deck relating to wood movement and also the amount of wood I'd have to use, so I had to consider 1/4" plywood. The problem with 1/4" plywood is that it is only good on one side so I'd end up with a door with one good veneer side, and a not so good side. If I were going to use the cabinet door shaper cutter set, I would also have to consider reinforcing the joint with dowels to give the door a fighting chance of surviving life at sea.

I have been bouncing ideas of door construction off of a builder/cabinet maker I work for, Ted Lenord of LTS builders, and he kind of went along with my fantasy of getting these doors built fast and cheap, but I think he tired of me dragging this out and one day told me "listen up MO FO, you're either going to do this job half assed or your going to do it the right way and build a mortise and tenon door." Ted was right so I decided upon the mortise and tenon method.

I started picking through my stack of air dried Cherry, and soon realized I did not have enough stock to make all the styles and rails I needed since I wanted the style and rail thickness to be 1 1/4". I for sure did not want to pay retail for this amount of lumber so I decided to laminate material together to get my 1 1/4" thick stock. I had a four inch H beam in the shop so I used that as my surface to clamp the ply's to for my laminating process. I decided to use two ply's for the lamination. The laminating process was pretty straight forward as I would pick my stock, straight edge it and rip, plane to thickness, then rip a thinner piece to make the final laminate. I would then pick the best sides, make sure the grain went opposing directions, spread glue with a paint roller then clamp both ply's to the H beam. I only had enough clamps to do one piece at a time, so getting all e stock laminated took me almost 10 days. W hen I removed the stock from the form, I jointed one edged straight, then ripped to the final width and jointed the ripped edge. I waited to plane to final thickness once I was getting closer to assembling. Laminating in this method made for a board that was straight as string across all faces and also incredibly stiff. I'm hoping that this will also make for a more stable door that will handle the moister levels an ocean going, tropical traveling boat will experience.

Once all the stock was jointed and planed to final thickness I could then plow the groove for the panel. I decided to use 1/2" Cherry plywood for the panel. I plowed the groove in the center of the style's and rail's, stopping short on the the end of the style so the groove would be hidden. I used a stacked Dado cutter on my table saw to plow the panel groove.

The next step was to decide how I was going to cut the mortise's . On projects past, I've cut mortises with a drill press, then used a chisel to clean out the mortise. I've also used my router mounted in a home made router table using an up cut spiral bit. For this job I decided to use my mill and a 1/2" up cut spiral bit. The mill was a nice tool to use for this for a couple of reasons. Reason number one is it's quiet compared to a router. The best reason I like about using the mill is the precision I get with it. I have way too much time and resource involved in laminating my stock, and I really don't want to be making a mistake due to lack of precision or careless measuring. The depth of all the mortises was 1 1/4", and I was able to do that in two passes by maintaining a slow, constant feed using the mill's hand crank table. It also helped that the tool was new and razor sharp, and that I was able to keep the mortise cleaned out while cutting it by using my shop air compressor.

To cut the tenons I again used the stacked dado cutter in the table saw. With the amount of time I had in laminating my stock, I was super cautious about cutting the tenons. I measured the thickness of the stock using a caliper, subtracted the tenon thickness, then divided by two to get the height of the shoulder cut. I then dialed in the height of the dado cutter and ran a test piece so I could accurately measure the cut with the caliper. Once I was sure of the depth of cut, I used a dial indicator to lower the cut a few thousandths to make sure my tenons finished out at least ten thousandths over 1/2" or .510. My goal with the tenon was to make sure I had a snug fit that would require a little work with a rasp and block plane to get a perfect fit in the mortise.

Having each mortise fit to it's particular tenon, I dry fitted all of the doors. This last picture only shows four doors. The door not show is my prototype door, and is already installed on the boat. I"ll post again shortly after I have the doors glued and when I'm ready to start hanging the doors on the jambs. I"m going to pre-hang the doors on their jambs to make installation easier. I've yet to decide upon hardware but I'll discuss that more in my next post.

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