Home Making

Flush Door

IT is presumed that a room door fitted with a mortise lock is to be the subject of the operations. First of all, examine the door to make sure it hangs correctly and is unwarped. It is impossible to make a success of a door that has bent or warped out of the flat.

In order to avoid complications, endeavour to work so that the hinges need not be shifted. This means, if both faces of the door are to be covered flush, that the plywood cover on the inside face (the side where the knuckles of the hinges are) will have to be bevelled back and cut around the knuckles. The plywood, of course, adds to the thickness of the door, but if the edge mentioned is bevelled, the fact that the door projects inward . here will hardly be noticed. At the locking side, the door stop can be adjusted so that the face of the door, after covering, comes flush with the door casing. The door stops will have to be taken down and replaced to suit the added thickness of the door on the outer side . The lock will not be altered, and the striking plate also should stay as before. Refer to the articles on DOOR DEFECTS and HINGES. Obviously, any defects should be noted and remedied before fitting the flush covering or in the process of that work.

Furthermore, the door furniture will have to be taken off, and it is possible that a longer square spindle will have to be bought to allow for the extra thickness of the altered door.

Take off the door furniture first, unscrewing the handles, drawing out the spindle and removing any escutcheon or finger plates; mark these plates for the face of the door from which they were taken. Next unscrew the hinges from the door frame or casing, not from the door itself. The way to take off the door is explained under the heading HINGES. If any moulding around the panels stands out from the general level of the door face, this must be taken off or planed away and sandpapered down level. If the door is painted, polished or varnished, take a cabinet scraper and scrape off the paint, etc. all around the door framing, that is, the stiles and rails or upright members. The object is to leave a clean surface to which glue can properly adhere. If the door is merely stained, a rub with coarse glasspaper at the places mentioned will suffice. Remember that furniture polish, grease or oil will repel glue, and must be removed before gluing is commenced.


Choose two sheets of oak-faced plywood with a pleasant grain figuring, which reasonably match on both faces of the door. Cut it to size, one piece for each face of the door. Mark the pieces for the respective side, and for top and bottom. See that they are used for the corresponding positions as indicated. The plywood may be left a little wide and long, and planed down after fixing. It should be cut with a fine-toothed panel saw, while resting solidly on two trestles or similar supports. This is a job where a helper is required. The saw will leave a burr on the underside, so cut from the top or best side, to leave the burr on the side that will not show.

Fixing the Flush Facing

The method recommended is to get the main fixing by means of fine screws (Gauge 4, $in. long), and to use 1 in. veneer pins where the board shows any tendency to belly out. Hot Scotch glue will be applied to the under side of the board where it will come against the cleaned parts of the frame, and these parts also are to be spread with glue. The worker will need as many small cramps or hand-screws as he can provide up to about eight or a dozen. Go around the edges of the plywood, about an inch in from the outer edge, and bore holes with a drill to take the shank of the screws. These holes should be placed about a foot apart. Countersink the holes somewhat deeply, but leave enough wood for the screw head to bite on. After the screws have been inserted, the holes are filled with plastic wood, which on drying, is sandpapered level, and stained to match the oak. Plastic wood will not adiiere in very shallow holes, so countersink as deeply as is safe. Screws are to be inserted wherever there are crossbars or intermediate rails or uprights in the old door. There is not time to do all this once we have laid the plywood in place on the glued surface, for the glue will chill quickly. The work should be done in a really warm room, if the temperature outside is very low.

Get the glue ready, and make arrangements to keep the pot warm so that the glue will retain the right consistency for applying. Use sandpaper to smooth off any burr left by the drilling process on the underside of the plywood; try the latter in place, while the door is resting ready for the job. Then apply glue to the door frame, fairly liberally; lay the plywood in place and test it at the edges for correct position. Tap four 1 in. veneer pins partly through at the corners, to prevent movement of the sheet; these pins will have to be pulled out later. Now, worldng from the middle part of the door, bore holes one by one into the door frame for the screws, going in through the holes already made in the plywood. Insert the screws and turn them until they are securely home (avoid overtightening). Work from the centre out towards the edges of the door, to fides, top and bottom. If these operations proceed without a hitch, insert the screws in the holes bored along the edges.

Now is the time to use the cramps, interposing slips of waste plywood between the jaws of the cramp and the faces of the door. Take out the temporary pins first inserted. Watch carefully to see that the sheet does not bulge or belly out between the screwed fixings; by taking out a screw here and there such a defect can be at once remedied. Speed is as important as cautious and accurate assembly if disappointment is to be avoided. Perhaps here and there a veneer pin can be driven in so as to take down any swelling, but if the door face is level there should not be much trouble. Go over the screws to ensure they are fully home, after which the door, with cramps on, should be placed more or less upright against the wall in a warm room, with the faced side showing. It will thus rest or, the uncovered edge, and there will be no end pressure on the plywood edge at the bottom.

The second side of the door can be tackled after the glue has set hard. But before the second side is put on mark and bore the holes for the door furniture, I.e. handle, spindle and keyhole. These are marked with a fine bradawl from the uncovered side of the door, where the existing holes will guide us. The spindle hole is merely a round one of ample diameter; after marking its centre with a fine bradawl from the uncovered side, bore through the exposed or outer face of the plywood sheet with a brace and bit; this will avoid splitting out the plywood.

Similarly, mark two holes to show where the bit has to go in at top and bottom of the keyhole; bore these holes through the exposed face of the plywood panel, as before. See the article on LOCKS for directions about boring for door furniture. A keyhole saw can be used to connect the two holes and form a slot to allow the door-key to enter. Do not drill and saw out the second piece of plywood until it is finally fixed.

The final job is to glue on and fix the second sheet of plywood. Lay the door on some clean paper to protect the face already covered. Proceed with the attachment of the second sheet of plywood as for the first. Allow this side to rest until the glue has set hard, and then clean off the edges of the plywood sheets all round, using a block-plane and a chisel, and finishing with sandpaper. Mark and bore the holes for spindle and key. If the door was painted, the edges will have to be cleaned and stained to match the oak face. The edges of the plywood will need to be stained also, and Vandyke crystals dissolved in a little water make a good stain for the purpose. Do not make it too dark, although the stain when wet always appears somewhat deeper in colour than after it has dried in.

No polishing or varnishing should be attempted until it is certain that the stain has thoroughly dried in. French polish is the best, if the worker has had some practice, but do not make the door the first job. An alternative is to brush on glaze of similar composition, and to rely afterwards on good applications of good quality wax furniture polish, which in time and with plenty of elbow-grease, will give a satisfying gloss. Another alternative is to oil the door faces with one of the furniture oils. Several applications should be made over a period of two or three weeks to get the best results.

When all the rest of the work has been done, the door furniture can be replaced; as mentioned earlier, the spindle, if short in the first place, may need replacement by a longer one, which can be bought at most ironmonger’s shops. Usually, however, there is ample length as fitted.

Door Stops

Take off the stops carefully if they have to be used again. Prize them away with a thin chisel; the nails may come out easily, or the stop may pull away over the heads of the nails, leaving the nails to be pulled out with pincers. In some cases the edge of the stops may need to be planed down to reduce the width, though usually there is plenty of room in the casing to allow the stop to come farther back, and it is merely a question of refixing in a suitable position to accommodate the extra thickness of the door. Knock out the nails, and use new oval brads to fix the stops again.

But before putting the stops back we must rehang the door, so as to see where they should go. The door being hung again, cut some slips of cardboard, about as thick as a penny, and, the door being fastened by its latch, place one of the long stops against the door face, with two pieces of cardboard interposed, one about 6in. From the floor and the other at the same distance from the top. The idea is to allow a little clearance between the door and the inner face of the door stop. After the latter has been fixed, there will be the thickness of the cardboard between it and the door face. Tack the stop in place temporarily with two nails driven only part of the way home. Put up the top stop similarly, and the opposite long side. If all is correct, and the door shuts satisfactorily, without too much play, proceed to nail the stops home. The nails are driven in, punched home, and the holes stopped with plastic wood or putty; the latter should only be used when the main surfaces are to be painted.

Since so much trouble has been taken to furbish up the door itself, it is worth while, when the other decorative finish is in keeping, to fix new door stops made of oak. About 2jin. X ¾ in. is the usual section for this, and it may be moulded on the outer edge or be left quite plain. A chamfer looks well on oak. Fix the stops in this case with I-½ in. lost head nails, which can be punched in and the holes filled with plastic wood for staining or polishing. Plastic wood can be had in natural shade to match the wood, or in a darker colour suitable for dark oak finish. Try out the selected kind, before use on an actual job; this is necessary because the colour will be slightly different after drying.

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