Thursday, August 12, 2010

Arts and Crafts Door Casing

My First Built-up Door Casing

Our 12x24 ft. Shack is of plain construction, more or less Southern Country style, conventional wood framing with a shed roof, supported on concrete blocks. Inside, it is equally plain. Thin, faux white pine walls and no trim work until now. After several years of living under 2x6 rafters and drooping insulation held up by staples, a start was finally made on the ceiling - which now supports 4x4 ft. squares of 3/8 ply wall panels, the kind that has grooves machined every 4" to look like boards. Then, next up would be wall/ceiling trim strips (cornices being too grand a name for what we had in mind). But "what kind of trim?", was the question. To go "Country" would comprise of simple 1x2 strips nailed up there but it wouldn't have looked all that good. On the the other hand, polystyrene crown moulding slapped up and glued into place would have just looked stupid - plus, the ceiling panels themselves were none too straight and needed to be forced up in some places. In the end, we bought a dozen 1x6 cedar fencing boards and ripped a load of 2" strips at the trusty Chinese table saw. To fancy it up a little, a chamfer was put on the bottom side. The strips went up OK, for an amateur.

Next up for action was the entrance door which now needed a casing. Some research revealed that perhaps the most appropriate style to the Shack is the so-called "Arts and Crafts" style, proposed by the Englishman William Morris as a reaction to the excessively ornate Victorian style then in vogue. His movement caught on and was popular here in the USA from approx.1900 to 1930. Here is an example of both a door and a window casing in that style, but . . .

example A&C

. . . a pity about those light switches! Still, the nice thing is the lack of mitered joints - not the easiest kind of joints to make in boards that wide. And the header sets off the door better than just a piece that is the same section as the sides. I found a similar design in a book that we already had - a Home Depot "how to" book on trimwork.

Home Depot book


header detail

Unusually for me, I kept the design as-is and followed the instructions to the letter. I used more cedar fencing boards, quarter-sawn oak not being readily available at the local hardware store and also it's bloody expensive! Over there at Vincik's in Bellville, the nice man out in the yard lets me sort through the cedar boards to find the good 'uns.


The header turned out OK but it did not stand out against the background. So I found some dark oak stain in the barn and used it to darken the casing a bit. Here's the finished job below, contrasting nicely with the "white pine" wall panels. This was also the first time I've routed my own mouldings. I've learning to rout in stages; the first try was terrible, lots of tear-out.

finished casing

Although the casing looks overly dark at first, the plan is eventually to try and match to the door's wood. I bought the door used from a garden center many years ago for ten bucks. While nailing up the header just now, I noticed that the grain where the doorbell used to be is showing very close growth ring spacing, see below. It's about ten rings per centimeter - some more, some less - which makes this door quite old and certainly worth stripping the paint off for a look. It needs to be re-glued anyway.

door grain

No comments: