Hall Door

Table of Content

Removing the old

The old in-swinging solid door will be replaced by a pair of narrow out-swinging french doors with clear glass panes so the old door and jambs need to be removed.

This is the original external doorway leading from what was the kitchen to the rear of the building and would have been exposed to all the extremes of weather. The original cedar frame has moved over time and is slightly out of square so this is the time to adjusted it back.

Image 1: some old repair grouting and mortar debri has been removed from between the frame and the masonry wall to allow the frame to move back to it's original position; the frame has been shaved at the foot to straighten the face for the new jamb.

Image 2: the frame had leaned about a centimeter to the right and was moved back to it's original position. This time a third wedge, in addition to the two between the frame and the lintel, would go between the right hand upright and the masonry wall to keep it there.

A large gap between the new sub-floor and the limestone sill was reduced so as to support the transition sill - images 3and 4.

1. Old door and jambs removed

2. New wedges hold the frame in place after adjusting it's position

3. Closing the gap to the limestone sill

4. Timber transition sill

New jambs

I decided to reuse the 90x45mm pine joists from the bedroom one demolition of the false ceiling to make the new jambs. With that in mind, it was off to Sketchup to do the design. It's build up from three separate pieces: the piece from which the doors are hung is a 65x19mm strip of solid pine, while the two pieces that form the stop and the extension to which the architrave will attach are cut and milled from a reclaimed joist. I found that the joist could be ripped in two, shaped and glued back together to provide the shape seen in image 5. Some additional moulding will likely be added later to soften the angles.

Image 6 shows the complete jamb assembly.

5. Cross section of the new jamb in place

6. Jamb assembly

Making the doors

For the french doors I decided to follow a build I saw on YouTube that uses solid merbau hardwood and loose tenons. This will be the first and simplest of three pairs of french doors that I need - the other two will be external doors with double glazing and additional hardware for security. Now that the jambs have been designed I can do the detailed design for the doors.

7. Cross section

8. Assembly

The design allows making each door, half of the pair, from one 5.4m length of 90x42mm merbau. After the stiles and rails were cut approximately to length all the pieces were milled down to 88x40mm.

This was my first precision joinery project so a lot of time was taken to practice milling with the thickness planer I'd bought specifically for this project. I started by building a couple of smaller frames from reclaimed pine joists using the loose tenon method I'd be using on the doors, which includes making my own domino-style tenons and routing the slots on the table router. These frames will actually become part of a table for the planer itself.

Another essential part of the exercise was aligning and testing the tools for square, that is, the saw and router tables and fences, something I don't do anywhere near often enough if ever.

The next project was to mill the pieces for the jambs, assemble and install them. Both these exercises were very worthwhile as I managed to make some pretty basic mistakes with measurements.

9. Dry assembly and clamping to check dimensions

The wide bottom rails are made by butting two pieces together. One long wide piece was dominoed, glued up and then thicknessed before it was cut into two to produce the shorter bottom rails for each door.

All the stiles and remaining rails were then carefully cut to length before marking the locations of the tenons. It is not necessary to precisely center the mortices relative to the thickness of each piece. For each piece I chose and marked the face I wanted on the hall side (outside face) then ensured that this face was always against the router table fence as the mortices were cut. The length of the slot is not super critical for loose tenons as they're intended to have some lateral movement during final assembly.

The domino-style tenons were made from a single strip of scrap hardwood cut 40mm wide and planed to 12mm thickness then beveled with 6mm radius sides. A total of twenty tenons, each 60mm long, were then cut from that strip.

After that everything was dry-assembled and clamped to check the dimensions. Initially the doors were too wide by about 1.5mm overall. I'd been using a tape measure to check the milled width of the stiles and so they were re-checked with calipers and put through the planer again to shave off about 0.4mm to get to the required 88mm. The 13mm rebate was then cut in each lock stile, sneaking up on the 20mm half depth dimension so that they would lap together flush.

With the practice frames I was surprised at how square and accurate they turned out. That gave me a new respect for and confidence in the process. Duplicating that result with the doors was not something I was expecting to actually achieve. However, they were within 0.5mm across the diagonals for each door and the same for both doors together. Not only that, they fitted perfectly in the new jambs (image 44).

10. Assembled doors.
Checked for fit in-situ

Two small areas with cavities in the wood were filled with a translucent epoxy coloured black by adding a tiny amount of black masonry oxide. I suspect well ground charcoal would also work or even graphite. To finish the joinery I used an orbital sander to sand the joins flush and smooth, starting with P60 then P100 sanding disks then an all over with P180. Finally, for this internal pair of doors I'll wipe on boiled linseed oil to darken the wood and bring out the grain and features.


A simple 17x12mm flat bead with a half round face and a small 1mm to 2mm rebate on one side will sandwich panes of 5mm clear glass. A 2.4m length of 90x42mm merbau will be milled to 88x40mm (same as the door stiles) then cut into six strips of 40x12mm, which will then be cut down the middle to make 12 lengths at final dimensions of 17x12mm. The completed pair of doors will need about 28m of beading including wastage. The rebate will provide a shadow line reveal detail between the door timber and the half round of the bead. Glazing silicon filler will be used to bed the glass against the beading on one side.

11. Beading

Hanging the doors

Three pair of doors will be made with similar jamb design so I've made a simple template to use to mark all the hinge rebates on the jambs and doors, which will give me the appropriate placements top and bottom and clearances. The hinges themselves all need their swage adjusted to reduce the manufactured gap between the leaves in the closed position from about 3mm down to 1mm. This is done using a vice in the usual way. The rebates will all be chiseled by hand - image 12.

One small issue: during the final trial fitting the doors did not close together. It appears the bottom of the frame on the side that had been straightened earlier has either shifted or twisted slightly by about 1.5mm. It's all held in place by friction. So, after removing the header wedge on that side, I was able to pry it back, and to keep it from moving again I'll add some shims between the transition sill and the frame.

The doors are now hung but a few adjustments are still needed to get them perfectly aligned and closing together flush from top to bottom. Once that's done I'll remove the doors to stain the jambs and sill.

12. Hinge rebating

13. Open position from sitting room

14. Open position from hall

Door Furniture

There is no latch on this internal pair of doors, just knobs inside and outside and each door will have a hidden ball detent keep installed at the top just to stop them coming ajar when closed. Door stops will also be installed to keep the knobs from bumping into the limestone quoins.


Simple polished brass 50mm diameter round cupboard knobs were used. They're identical to knobs used elsewhere in the house installed by a previous owner, which was lucky.

To make them work inside and out on the same centres I had to swap the supplied 50mm M4 metal-thread screws with 85mm bought separately and cut the head off to leave just the threaded shaft so that a knob could be attached to each end on opposite sides of the door.

15. Knobs fitted

16. Knobs inside and out

17. Close-up of door knob

Value of these bespoke built, finished and installed doors and jambs

Doors (solid hardwood with loose tenon joinery)

Timber: three by 42 x 90 x 5400 mm solid merbau: at $27 per m: $438
Hardware: About $50
Glazing: $100 from local glazier, supply only


Timber: 19 x 65 x 5400 mm solid DAR pine at $7 per m: $38
Timber: 50 x 90 x 5400 mm solid pine : about $7 per m: $38


glue, sealant, nails, screws, finish: about $30

Total materials


Labour, tools and facilities

Quite a number of hours goes into designing, making and fitting doors, including ordering and supply of materials, setting up and maintaining tooling and facilities. So I'm going to estimate this as 200% of the cost of materials.

Total value

$694 x 3: $2082