Tuesday, March 03, 2009

$100 Quarter Sawn Oak Front Door

I have been meaning to do a post about our front door for a while. The door has been a project I have been working on for several months on and off. For the house addition we decided to site-build all of the doors. This includes the 12 interior doors. These are more akin to furniture with the amount of finish work that has gone into them.

The door is quite large but the scale is perfect for our porch. It measures in at 4 feet x 8 feet, not including the casing or side lights and is made entirely out of quarter sawn oak that we cut on site. The door is so heavy that I used 5 hinges to hang it. For more about the quarter sawing you can check out a previous post.

When you go into any big box store you can order up the large "custom" entry doors. They come in a variety of woods and wood looking fiberglass. They can run upwards of $5,000 for a fully custom door. Our only expense was some custom insulated glass panels from Clear Vue Glass in Durham and the finish. Okay ... while the door itself may have only cost under $100, my overall investment (including the shop, sawmill, tractor etc) raises the cost of the door.

The following picture provides a good example of the quarter sawn oak that we were getting out of our logs. It is fairly labor intensive, but the process gives you a great grain pattern and a stable product. The rails and stiles are actually laminated, or made up of two 3/4 inch boards glued together. This results in less warpage and allows you to use regular 4/4 stock instead of starting out with 8/4 stock. We used the standard dark stain formula that I came up with several years ago after doing a lot of sampling of different stain mixtures. It is the same stain that we are using on the interior trim and some furniture.

The interior is still lacking its final trim. The ultimate plans are to add some stained glass in the top window and the side lights, but that will have to wait until we get the stained glass materials out. You can see an amber stained glass fixture above the door. As it works out, and one could even say as planned, it is perfectly framed in by the window in the door as you walk up to the house.

With much of the trim and wood work in the house I have tried to keep true to the wood that we have. While much of the quarter sawn boards are clear of knots, some are not. Instead of being overly selective with the boards, I routed out the few knots and placed some dutchmen so the door looks like it has been there for 100 years and has had some repairs. It is a what I call "perfectly imperfect". Gustav Stickley would have been proud.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Weekend in Chicago (lots of pictures)

Last summer Stephanie and I took a trip to Chicago for a long weekend. It was perfect weather, not too hot or humid. We stayed in our old neighborhood or Oak Park at the Carleton Hotel. During that time we had a chance to walk through the historic district that has numerous Frank Lloyd Wright houses, including his home and studio.

Within walking a few blocks you can get a glimpse of the evolution of his designs, from late Victorian styles (Gale house),

to his shingle-clad home and studio, to my favorite Oak Park design where he started hiding the front door and turned the houses 90 deg on axis to make them sit wide on their lots.

A striking house that sits across the street is the Moore House that he originally designed in 1895 and then redesigned it in 1929 after a fire. It is a Tudor style with this tall wide chimneys. It was a perfect Sunday morning for a walk.

A few days later we had a chance to tour the Robie house. The house is located on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. We took the Red line and transferred to the bus. After a quick burger at the Woodlawn Tap we walked a few blocks to the house. It is currently undergoing restoration, but it is still a sight to see. It sits on the corner and overlooks former prairie which is now university buildings.

Once again there is the hidden front door motif. This time it was to the left and around the corner.
Part of the attraction of this house was that Stephanie had just finished reading Wright 3 to our sons, Jacob and Joshua. In the book one of the main characters, Tommy, lives in the apartment next door (as seen the in the photo).

All in all it was a great weekend, and yes we did do a lot more than take pictures of FLW houses.

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