Sunday, March 15, 2015

New Door Jamb

Last semester, we started working on reshaping the door opening.  We pulled out rotten bricks and dug out deteriorating mortar.  This semester we finished filling in the open spaces on the wall and are now working toward building a door jamb to fit the new opening.

Before we could begin, I needed to build some of the tools to help us build the door jamb.  Here is our workbench, and on top of the workbench, is a rip fence, made of OSB plywood.

The rip fence was built to match the exact dimensions of my hand-held circular saw, so that I could push the saw directly against the clamped fence, to create a straight cut, "ripping" through wood along or across the grain.

The most difficult cuts on the circular saw were for the bottom portion of the door jamb.  I managed to measure the pitch of the hand-cut stone drip edge threshold at 10 degrees.

So, I needed to taper the bottom end of the door jamb downward from the indoor side, outdoor at a 10 degree angle.  Here is one of the trickier cuts on one of the bottom pieces.  I learned that my saw is not powerful enough for precise ripping, unless I do little things to help it like making relief cuts with my handsaw, and just plain going slow.

Another challenge was that I had no idea how to cut the mortises and dadoes for the hinges and door jamb supports.  I figured that my best bet was a hammer and chisel, since my only power tools were a hand held circular saw and a drill.  I used a circular saw to make measured relief cuts for my dadoes, then cleaned them out with the chisel, whereas for the door hinge mortises, I used only a hammer and chisel.  It seemed more accurate that way.

There were some problems and struggles along the way, but this moment was really satisfying. Not only does the door fit nicely in the jamb, but the jamb fits nicely in the opening.

I realized during this moment of truth, that my hole saw does not cut deep enough to work two-inch wood, and that I am not strong enough to hang this door by myself.  I was advised to mount the hinges, then just "drop the pins" through the hinge holes, but the commercial grade hinges we have had fixed pins, so I would have had to support the whole weight of the door with one arm and drive the screws with the other.  Probably not.

So, the old door and jamb are still in place and the new door and jamb are sitting in the parlor, waiting for next weekend.  Eventually, we are committed to a swinging door by the end of the semester. The open panels on the door jamb you see are left that way to accommodate a black walnut decorative center panel that will be recessed to the level of the interior structural pieces and finish nailed to the cross-pieces.  We will attempt to rout the decorative reeded pattern into them before we set them in place.

Community Open House

Thanks for stopping by the Gardner Historic House blog! If you'd like to visit the actual house, now's your chance.

The Gardner House will be open to the public THIS SATURDAY, September 27, 2014 from 9:00am to 3:00pm. SEE YOU THERE! For more information, go to

We look forward to seeing you there!