Cutting down an interior door
#11
  
friend asked if I could build a door to match this 24" wide x 62" high attic access door.  




She had found this door at the curb and used it to replace a plywood panel that had covered the opening to the storage area on the other side.  The door is a near perfect match to the other doors in her house so it fits right in.  Anyway, I said sure, I can make you a door to match.  I took measurements and went home to draw it up and give her a quote.  As I was doing that it occurred to me that if she could find another door in the same style I could cut it down at lower cost than building a new one.  When I told her that option she was surprised that was possible, but immediately told me she had a 24" x 80" door stored in here basement, no longer used in the house.  Perfect.  

After getting the door I immediately saw that it had been "trimmed" to fit some opening much shorter than 80", but I realized that if I could disassemble it with having to cut into the top and bottom rails I could use the bottom rail for the new top rail, and the sticking off the top rail as part of the assembly of a new bottom rail I would need to make.  Getting the door apart wasn't all that hard.  From where the door had been trimmed I saw it had been assembled with 5/8" dowels.  By drilling from the ends I was able to cut through the dowels and pull apart the door with not much more than hand power.  The cope and stick joinery did not appear to have been glued, and the dowels themselves were not well glued either.  I'm not sure what was holding the door together other than friction and finish, but the joints were still all nice and tight and the door is likely 75+ years old so I can't criticize.  


The door was made with edge laminated cores of what looked to be Douglas fir, and 1/8" mahogany skins.  The old finish was likely amber shellac; pretty ratty on the frame but in reasonably good shape on the plywood panel.  I decided to try to reuse the panel without stripping it, and was able to do so simply by cleaning it with MS, then soap and water, and then wiping it with Howards Restor-A-Finish.  I did the same on the sticking and edges of the frame members.  But the finish on the faces of the frame members had to go so I sanded them with my ROS and then put them through my drum sander, being very careful to take the same number of passes on each side so it stayed symmetrical about the centerline.  

I cut the sticking profile off the old top rail and glued it to a new stack laminated poplar core for the new bottom rail.  Then I glued on fat 1/8" ribbon grain Sapele veneer skins with TB II in the vacuum bag.  I normally don't use TB glue for veneer but decided to try it as an experiment.  So here's the new bottom rail after coming out of the bag.




By saving the old bottom rail I didn't need to do anything extra to use it beyond cutting mortises in it and corresponding ones in the stiles.  But with the new bottom rail I had to use a jack miter because I couldn't replicate the coped ends.  That's actually pretty easy to do.  You just cut away the sticking on the stiles with the bandsaw where the rail meets them and then pare with a shoulder plane and chisel. 




Before gluing up the door I cut the hinge pockets in the hinge stile and new frame I needed to make.  It's easier to handle a single stile and the door after it's glued up.  I used a simple 1/4" Masonite template cut to exactly fit the hinge, and a top bearing hinge mortising bit.  






After laying out and cutting the hinge mortises on the door stile I used it to layout the matching locations on the frame; no measuring required.  








I cut down the plywood panel and was then ready for glue up.  I really like using epoxy for gluing up doors with large, loose tenons because the glue has a very generous working time (and hour), acts as a lubricant when pulling the joints together, and is gap filling.  




  

  



Epoxy squeeze out is easy to remove with lacquer thinner or, believe it or not, plain white vinegar.  Works great.  

After the glued had cured I cut the door to final length using my giant table saw sled.  I love this thing.  Short of a sliding table saw, this thing is the easiest way I have of cutting off large panels dead square.  




After flushing any joints that needed attention, I sanded the frame up to 150 grit and was ready for finishing.  To replicate the original, aged shellac finish, I used amber shellac cut with DNA plus some Transtint Vintage Dark Maple dye.  That got me to this.




Then I needed to move the color towards brown, and I did that by switching to Sealcoat shellac with a good shot of Green Transtint dye and 1/4 that amount of Red.  Two coats of that nearly purple color got me a pretty close match to the center panel.




Just need to finish making the frame, put the hinges on and reinstall the lockset, and it will be ready to deliver.  It was a quick, interesting project, and it was nice to be able to put an unused door back into service.   

John
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#12
  Re: Cutting down an interior door by jteneyck (friend asked if I co...)
John
Well done I really like your tutorial color match looks great
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#13
  Re: Cutting down an interior door by jteneyck (friend asked if I co...)
(04-08-2019, 07:39 PM)jteneyck Wrote: Thanks John

Great project and very well done "build-along".  It is very nice of you to share your knowledge!

-Brian
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#14
  Re: RE: Cutting down an interior door by BpB123 ([quote='jteneyck' pi...)
Thanks very much.  I see I forgot to address how you deal with the other part of the jack miter, the ends of the rails.   You saw how I cut off the sticking on the stiles, so it should be pretty obvious.  All you do is cut the ends of the rail off at 90° at the ends of the molding I reused so it's the same length as the original, then do any paring of the moldings needed so the rail fits tight to the stiles on both sides.   Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the rail after I did that.  I don't own a shaper any more, so this is the process I use when I want to make a door with integral moldings.  If you work carefully no one can tell the difference from cope/stick construction.





John
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#15
  Re: Cutting down an interior door by jteneyck (friend asked if I co...)
Thanks for making the effort to put this together.

Any time I learn something about dyeing I've taken a step ahead.

Pro job, John.
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#16
  Re: Cutting down an interior door by jteneyck (friend asked if I co...)
Great project. Thanks for sharing!
Steve S.
------------------------------------------------------
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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#17
  Re: Cutting down an interior door by jteneyck (friend asked if I co...)
John,
Your build alongs are always informative and well put together. Thank you for taking the time to post them here.

g
I've only had one...in dog beers.
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#18
  Re: RE: Cutting down an interior door by rwe2156 (Thanks for making th...)
(04-11-2019, 08:56 AM)rwe2156 Wrote: Thanks for making the effort to put this together.

Any time I learn something about dyeing I've taken a step ahead.

Pro job, John.

Thanks very much.  

Learning to use dyes is worth the effort.  Many of the jobs I've gotten came because I was willing to match the finish on an existing piece.  I haven't always been successful but I've learned to use a wider range of coloring products than I ever used before and that has benefited my own projects as well.  Dyes are not always the right way to add color, but they often are, alone, or as part of the finishing process.  And dyes are very versatile.  You can apply them to raw wood, or you can add them to something like shellac to make a toner, and you can even add them to your topcoat to shift the color.  You can use dyes to adjust the color of commercial dye and dye/stain products, too, as long as the dye is compatible with the solvent in that product.  

Learning how to color match isn't that hard once you learn the basics of how colors are created from the three primary colors.  From there it's mostly about patience and persistence, being willing to make enough samples from start to finish until you are successful, having a critical eye (or your wife/husband/partner) to know when it's not quite right yet, and keeping good records along the way.  Note that I said start to finish when making samples, because nearly every step changes the color, hue, and clarity one way or the other.  

John
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#19
  Re: RE: Cutting down an interior door by shoottmx (John, Your build al...)
(04-12-2019, 01:33 PM)shoottmx Wrote: John,
Your build alongs are always informative and well put together. Thank you for taking the time to post them here.

g

Thank you.  

John
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#20
  Re: Cutting down an interior door by jteneyck (friend asked if I co...)
This is a great build along and the door looks amazing. If I could produce a new door half as nice, I would be super excited. Great work.
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