are professional woodworkers who occasionally collaborate on projects in central New Mexico.
We lay a bead of panel adhesive down the middle of cach insulation panel, then cap the foam with the Vfc-in.-thick plywood panels cut earlier. Before installing the plywood, you may want to paint or stain it to match the color of your twigs. But make sure that cach piece of plywood has 45° diagonal lines marked on it, in the orientation that you want your twigs to run. You'll use these guidelines when installing the twigs.
Wc paneled this door with salt cedar (tamarisk) twigs cut from bushy trees which grow wild along the banks of the Rio Grande. Salt ccdar is a vigorous, non-native weed tree; its bark is naturally shiny and varies in color from yellow to burgundy. Wc mix and match the colors; sometimes we even paint the twigs before installing them. Depending on what's available in your area, you could substitute willow, dogwood, salt grass, bamboo or a lot of other natural materials. Harvest about three times more than you think you'll need, and aim for a twig diameter between 3/16 in. and Vl6 in.
We found that it works best to install the interior trim before installing the twigs. This way, you can press the twig ends into the channel between the plywood panel and the trim. Plane a Vfc-in. bevel along the inside face of the trim, as shown in Fig. 2. The bevel will accommodate slight variations in twig diameters. To accommodate larger-diameter twigs or other interior panel material, you can increase the bevel, or even rabbet the trim picccs. Miter the trim to overlap each rabbeted opening by in. Wc install the trim with glue and 1 '/4-in. brads.
When installing the twigs to fill a panel, we work from the corners toward the center. (See bottom photo.) It's easier to squeeze in the last few twigs near the center than in a tight corner. To better maintain the 45° pattern, wc alternate thin and thick stick ends. Keep a sharp utility knife handy, since you may need to trim some ends to fit between the trim and the plywood. We glue every third or fourth rwig in place with a quick dab of urethane adhesive on the twig ends. Install the last few twigs by inserting one end into the stop, flexing the middle up and squeezing the other end into place.
The door isn't really done until it's finished and hung. For a Southwestern-style door, we sometimes wipe on and wipe off thinned coats of paint—dark green, rust red or dark gray-blue. The little bit of color remaining lends an air of instant history. For real authenticity, you could top this off with a coat of paste wax, renewed every six months or so.
When a door is slated for exterior use, we usually go with a more durable finish. First we fit it to the opening, install the hardware and hang it. Then we take it down, remove the hardware and use HVLP spray equipment to apply three coats of semigloss, water-based exterior varnish. Equal coating on both sides of the door will maximize stability. When the finish is thoroughly curcd wc put the hardware back on and re-hang the door. ▲
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