Plywood Door – Part 3

Continued from Plywood Door – Part 2 

After the assembly was complete, I turned my attention to the hinges. Since the door was heavy (a full sheet of plywood and a large pane of 3/8-inch tempered glass), I bought four commercial-grade 4-1/2-inch hinges for the job.

Plywood Door - Hinges
In order to flush-mount the hinge I had to cut mortises in the door and the “jamb” (the 4×4 post the door would hang from).

I planned to use a 1/4-inch straight bit with a brass template bushing in my router to cut the mortise, so I needed to make a template that was slightly larger than the hinge itself to account for the diameter difference between the bushing and the bit.

Plywood Door - Hinges

Plywood Door - Hinges

To accomplish this I measured the diameter of the bit and the bushing and then divided the difference to get the difference in the radius (what’s the plural of radius? Radii? Radiuss?).

Plywood Door - Hinges

I traced the hinge on a piece of plywood (hanging the pin side over the edge by the same amount I wanted it to protrude when installed), and then marked a second line with the radius offset on all three sides.

Plywood Door - Hinges

Plywood Door - Hinges

I cut the offset line out with my scroll saw because it makes narrow, precise cuts and leaves a clean edge that requires no sanding or cleanup.

Plywood Door - Hinges

Plywood Door - Hinges

I measured out arbitrary locations for the hinges along the door and marked the center line of each location. I also made a note of the distance between each center line so I could reproduce it on the jamb to hang the door.

Quick tip: In order to keep the door stable while working, I used Rockler Clamp-Its as feet while marking and routing the door:

Plywood Door

Because the glass was already installed, I didn’t have a wide enough surface for the clamps to grab to hold the template in place, so I clamped a plywood strip to the face of the door and clamped the template to that instead.

Plywood Door - Hinges

Plywood Door - Hinges

Cutting the mortises went quickly and smoothly, I just lined up the front edge of the template with the face of the door and made sure the center line of the template was in sync with the hinge location marking, but I wished I had a wider base on the router to hold it more securely in the parts of the cut furthest from the template edge.

Plywood Door - Hinges

Plywood Door - Hinges

I spent a few seconds on each mortise with a chisel to square up the corners and then installed the hinges.

IMAG0189Plywood Door - Hinges

Plywood Door - Hinges

I measured and marked the hinge locations on the 4×4 jamb (offsetting by the distance above the ground I wanted the door to swing) and followed the same process there, reusing the same template.

It occurred to me that I didn’t want bare wood underneath the hinges, so I removed them from the door for painting. I didn’t paint the edge of the door opposite the hinges (facing the ground in the below picture), because I planned to fine-tune the fit after hanging the door, and didn’t want paint to gum up the tools I would use to accomplish this.

Plywood Door - Paint

Plywood Door - Paint

Plywood Door - Hinges

After painting the door and the jamb, and giving everything a day to dry, I installed the door.

Did I mention that this door was heavy? As far as I know I’m not at risk for a hernia, but if there was ever a time that I came close to popping out an organ, it was while wrestling this door into place on top of a pile of shims to balance while I got the first screws in.

Surprisingly, once it was installed, the door didn’t seem all that heavy any more. I had expected an unreasonable amount of inertia, and was worried that the door would be prone to removing fingers and wrecking any latches I would use to secure it, but it actually feels very nice. Just like a good, solid door.

It was hitting the jamb opposite the hinges in some areas, but this just took a few minutes to fix with a little Rockwell power plane I have. No wonder these are a favorite of door installers, this thing was perfect for this application, and now I have a nice even gap along the length of the door and it all works beautifully.

I installed the latch up high to keep it out of reach of kids, and higher than required so that the pin was not sticking out at eye-level (no point in adding adult-hazards for the sake of child-proofing).

My daughter was thrilled with the result.

Plywood Door - Install

Plywood Door - Install

Time will tell if there is any deficiency in plywood as a door material, but as far as I can see, I’ve got a beautiful, sturdy door that serves its purpose perfectly.

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3 thoughts on “Plywood Door – Part 3

  1. Plywood is an ingenious building material, and the person to have concluded that it would make a great door frame is a genius in their own right. 3/8 inch tempered glass must have made this door very heavy, I might have used 1/4″ instead.

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