Trsh Walters

is a freelance writer living in England. She writes extensively on the subject of traditional rural crafts.




Build the Frame With Biscuits; Add Panels to Taste by Sven Hanson and Chuck Ring fi — -

Southwestern flavor. Tongue-and-groove boards> installed diagonally, form the panels on the exterior side of this easy-to-make door. Inset: Door frame joints get their strength from oversize "5-6" biscuits, used three across.

c build doors professionally but instead of relying on an industrial shaper and an array of expensive cutters, we use a tablesaw, chop saw and biscuit joiner. There are no mortise-and-tenon joints in our doors. To connect frame members, we use Lamcllo "S-6" biscuits—oversize, football-shaped wafers of compressed beech. Joints made with the S-6 biscuits are remarkably strong. In tests done here in Albuquerque (at the Sandia Laboratory), more than 800 lbs. of force were required to break a biscuit-joined stile-to-rail connection. And the joint didn't fail; the wood around it did.

Biscuit joiner)' isn't the only thing that makes this door easy to build. Applied moldings also simplify the construction process. By keeping the construction simple, wc make a door that lets simple geometry and native materials speak for themselves. The pine frame and the diagonally installed paneling and twigs fit perfectly in the Southwestern-style homes in our area. But with different wood, panel material and hardware you could easily make a door more indigenous to your home ground, using the techniques shown here.

Start with the Frame

Most of the entry doors wc build are 36 in. wide, 80 in. high and 1-V4 in. thick. We like to use a 5-in. width for the two stiles, or vertical frame members. This width gives a standard-size door good proportions and strength, while allowing ample room for lockset hardware. (See Fig. 1.)

To keep things simple and get the most out of our wood, wc also use a 5-in. width for the top rail, the middle rail and the two vertical dividers. The bottom rail of the door is 8 in. wide. This extra width at the base of the door adds strength, helps the proportions and also protects the bottom panels from errant feet.


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