Prepare Big Doors for Glue Up
Builder Gary Striegler gives some helpful tips for making a big custom door.
I do a lot of custom trim and cabinetry work on site, so I take the time to set up a pretty nice job-site shop. But some projects still stretch my capabilities. I recently built some big, custom doors that were a challenge to make on-site, where I didn’t have a jointer or a really great assembly table. Most of the process is really about getting the parts—the rails, stile, and panels—ready for tight joints and a smooth glue up.
The first key is to get consistent parts from the milling process. My tip: adjust your tools as little as possible for consistent dimensions. When I’m milling lumber on site, I either use multiple tools or mill all parts without changing the settings on my tools. This ensures that all of my boards are uniform dimensions, which makes all of my work better.
One of the milling challenges is not having a jointer. But I have a pretty good tip for straightening a board on a tablesaw. All I need is a long piece of plywood with a good factory edge and a couple of clamps or some site-made hold downs. Then, I pass the boards through the planer on edge. Running a couple of boards through together helps to keep them square as they run through the machine.
When the time finally arrives to glue up the door, there are some helpful rules I follow. First, I get a friend to help. This is not a one-man job and an extra set of hands is a must. Second, I make sure that I have a flat surface ready to glue the door up on; you don’t want to build a warped door. Third, we make a plan before we put any glue on anything.
Check out the video for more information on these tips, and find more in my article in FHB #275: “Building Big Doors, On Site.”