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The Door

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The Door




I recently installed an rather nice antique door from Construction Junction in a 100 year-old house in Lawrenceville with which it was roughly contemporary. The door was to be installed in a newly constructed vestibule while retaining the original doors on the exterior of the house.

The 36" wide oak door was in excellent shape as were the two sidelights. The three components were already attached to each other and topped by a 'sunrise' skylight-arch which connected all three. The combined unit, approximately 78" wide at the widest point of the arch with the outside of the sidelight jambs only 76" apart, necessitated a bit of 'carving' on the jack studs, to eliminate the need for excessive shimming when installing the unit.

The inside vestibule wall was a bearing wall, supporting a beam running half the length of the house and making the vestibule somewhat narrower than I would have preferred. This required the outside casing to fit in a 2-1/2" space between an exposed-brick outer wall and the jamb of the sidelight with the rest of the trim pieces sized to match.


I test-fitted some 4-1/2" trim which came with the arch to see if it matched the existing curvature, which was not a simple arc but had a decreasing radius toward the bottom end. It wasn't very close and was also made of six different pieces which would have had an unacceptable number of joints when put together . Since there was only enough trim for one side of the door anyway, new trim was required. I chose red oak for the material which, once stained, would most closely match the original finish of the door unit. I also felt that the "look" and sizing of the installed door called for a narrower trim than the original. Once completed, the clients agreed emphatically with the decision.


The trim work began with a paper pattern of the arch transferred via dividers to 1/4" plywood, allowing for a 3/8" reveal and a 2-3/4" width for the finished trim piece. After test fitting on the arch and making a few adjustments, I laid out the trim piece on some 1 x 10 red oak plank. I found the arch trim needed to be made in three pieces and joined with splines (hidden to the inside radius of the arch trim) in order to get it to fit on the oak planks I had. I cut the pieces a little large and finished the edges with a belt sander, test fitting them several times to get the inside radius to show a consistent 3/8 " reveal on the arch. I followed the same procedure for the other side of the arch, again test fitting and modifying a plywood pattern before cutting the oak pieces.


I also needed to add 5/8" extension jams (to allow for the drywall) to the completed arches. I used 3/4" material and cut a 1/8" dado on the underside of the inner radius of the arch to allow for a 5/8" completed extension jam. The extension jambs were rough-cut to fit in the dado, glued on and finished with a top-bearing router cutter. Before I cut them with the router, I did rough-sand them pretty close to shape with the belt sander because oak tends to splinter when larger pieces are cut with a router.

The casings were created from lengths of  2-3/4" red oak with two different ornamental profiles router-cut onto the inside and the outside edges, except for the two pieces which would butt into the brick walls which were to be ultimately scribed to the brick and had no ornamental profile applied to their outside edges. The same routed profiles were added to the inside and outside edges of the arch pieces. The extension jambs for the straight pieces of casing were able to be cut to 5/8" on a table saw since they were not curved and were then glued and nailed to either the side jambs or casings themselves.




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