Evans Wooden Screw Co

The Traditional Carpenter

Christmas is the time to. . .Repair a door?

A whole bunch of things are going on here at the shop. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to write posts for several of the projects and vise builds that I have either in the works or have completed, so here is a simple explanation of repairing a French door (or French-style entry door in this case.)

First, take a look at the door to assess damage. The more fragile parts are susceptible to the worst damage, but the rails/stiles get damaged too occasionally. If the rails or stiles are damaged, you may wish to build a new door or repair that first to make sure that the door is structurally sound.

Commonly, you will have only a few pieces to replace. This particular door had three muntins that needed replaced, and one that needed a small amount of repair.

Door on arrival

Door on arrival

closeup of damage

closeup of damage

Muntin end also damaged badly. . .time to replace it.

Muntin end also damaged badly. . .time to replace it.

The muntins are nearly always very small. The muntins on this door were approximately 1 x 1 3/4″. out of the square cross section you remove most of the wood, leaving a lot of very delicate areas.

Muntin cross section

Muntin cross section

When making the new pieces you’ll need to match the old profile as closely as possible. I don’t seem to have taken pictures of the process, but I will describe it.
-Mill your blanks to the exact size of the muntin height and width.
-Mark the center ridge width on one side, and square down so that the divider for the class on the other side is inline with the top. This is typically the same width, although I have repaired doors that have a different enough profile that I have had to mark each side individually.
-Mark the depth of the top profile on the ends and sides.

At this point, your methods of making the piece dictate your next action. If you are using handplanes for it all, you’ll be getting out your hollows and rounds and a fillister, rebate and possibly a few other planes to make the profile.

If you have a shaper, you are likely going to grind a set of knives to the profile, then cut out the bottom square section on the table saw.

With a router, you’ll be routing the top profile, then cutting out the waste on the table saw.

I used the third method, since I didn’t have the right hollow and rounds for the job at hand. since I didn’t have a close enough profile router bit, I used a 1/2″ roundover bit, on each side, then used a Stanley 220 block plane to take the profile all the way down to the lines I marked on the sides.

Whatever method you use, you’ll then cut your first piece to length, making sure the fit is tight. Then you get to cope the ends. Try a test piece first. You’ll want a tapping block to get the tight fitting muntins assembled without damage or marring anyhow. I used a 12″ bowsaw for this, and refined the profile a little with a round file for a perfect fit.

test piece and tapping block

test piece and tapping block

Continue with the other pieces, matching them exactly to length and fitting them as you go. Remember that every section of the door that you cut and fit determines the dimensions for the next section.

Eventually you end up with this. . .

Muntins repaired

Muntins repaired

That is as far as I repaired this door, since the customer was replacing the three pieces of glass and re-finishing the entire door. If you are doing the complete door, you’ll need some glazing compound (I like the DAP 33 glazing putty) and finish nails for the glazing bar or glass stop. The glazing bars are very simple, and rarely damaged, since they are a mitered joint. Just make sure you put a thin film of glazing on the muntin, put in the glass , then add the glazing bar. You’ll have an air tight door at that point. A good varnish improves the seal on the glazing bar, so I like to finish it after assembly.

After all of that, you have a repaired door. Call your customer, wife, friend, neighbor and and watch their reaction when you hand them the tapping block. That is a huge part of what makes woodworking worth it.

All done, ready for pick-up

All done, ready for pick-up

1 Comment

  1. Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the
    images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.

    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

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