Door with Wooden Hinges

This entry is part 21 of 21 in the series Timber Frame Gazebo

I found this great old door at the local architectural salvage shop. It was missing the glass in the windows, but it appealed to me because it used through mortises and wedge tenons. It also had working latch hardware and was only missing the handle. I found a nice brass handle at the same salvage shop.

In keeping with my intent to use as little metal as possible, I decided to make my own wooden hinges. To mount the hinges in the door frame I needed to mortise them in place not just for looks, but also for strength.

I used an antique dado plane that belonged to my Great Uncle, Henry Budgen (He was a carpenter). It was probably a bit unorthodox to use a dado plane to make the outer edges of the hinge mortise but it made nice uniform edges and I only needed a chisel to remove the middle portion.

The mortises on both the door frame and door were necessary (in my opinion) because the wooden pegs and clue might not have been strong enough to support the door long term. With the deep mortises, the edges of the mortise do most of the heavy lifting and it is only up to the pegs to keep the hinge in the mortise.

I used three hinges to support the door. Two probably would have been sufficient, but because of the window in the upper portion of the door, there is only a small amount of the door to be held by the hinge, so I chose to use three hinges. The door is exposed to the heavy winds off the lake which can be pretty strong (60-70mph) and needed to be extra strong.

This top hinge was made out of maple and came out looking great. I love the way the Tiger stripes popped when the stain hit it.

I had wooden hinge pins all ready to go, but I had the fear of them seizing up in the hinge and not being able to be removed easily. So I machined some hinge pins out of some barn spikes.

One of the hinges must have been a little out of alignment with the other two, because it quickly developed a crack right through the fingers of the hinge. It struck me that the maple was of course hard and not flexible enough. So when I replaced the broken hinge, I replaced it with one made of Douglas Fir.

It wasn’t as pretty as the Maple, but it was a bit more forgiving.

Roy Underhill of the Woodwright’s Shop has a bit of directions on cutting a knuckle-hinge joint.

Due to the wind, and the outdoor placement, and the fact that our B&B guests might not treat the door as carefully as I would like, I put Lexan (plexiglass) in the windows of the door instead of glass. I just had this vision of someone letting the wind slam the door and the glass going flying…so I went with the safer option of the plexiglass.

Okay so the final metal count for the gazebo came down to just these:

  1. Nails for the roofing
  2. door knob hardware
  3. hinge pins



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