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Thread: Coopered Doors

  1. #1
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    Coopered Doors

    I had to make some coopered doors for a project I'm working on. I found that making coopered doors was more difficult than I expected, especially in getting the radius exactly as I wanted.

    To figure what angle to cut the staves at, I made a full size drawing and measured the angle from the drawing. Then I did a test door to see how that angle would come out. It turned out that the door was too curved at that angle so I had to cut everything apart and try a smaller angle.

    When I was satisfied with the test door, I made the actual doors and the curvature came out pretty well - a slight bit more curved than I wanted but usable.

    The doors will be veneered and the project is being made from genuine mahogany. To save some mahogany, I used poplar in the center. I put a 10mm domino in the end of the poplar and attached a piece of mahogany on each end.

    Fairing the outside was no problem but getting the inside fair was a problem. I coved the staves a bit to make the fairing easier. I tried a compass plane (didn't work), curved scrapers (waaay too slow), but finally just put some very coarse sandpaper in my ROS and used that. Any suggestions for next time?

    The radius of the doors is 16 inches. They will be mounted side-by-side. I thought about doing one design that would span the two doors but getting that pressed would be a challenge. I think I'll go with two designs, each centered on a door.

    Right now, the doors are too large, both too wide and too long. I'll trim and fit them soon. Still a lot to do on the project.

    Mike

    Coopered-doors-01.jpg Coopered-doors-03.jpg Coopered-doors-02.jpg
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  2. #2
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    I Tryd to cooper some walnut for treasure chest box once and gave up,It is difficult, your brave guy adding the popler in with the mahogany.Thats some nice looking Honduras so I understand your reason.
    looks like your off to a good start. Are you entering anything in the fair this year?

  3. #3
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    Mike, why didn't you just laminate the doors from bending plywood in the vacuum bag?

  4. #4
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    Looks great Mike. I've never done coopered curved doors, seems like a hard way to make a stable radius door. I did do a giant cove molding once (like 27" of radius giant) that was glued up of 4 curved segments, we fared them with a foam block fixed to a straight line sander, then did the final smoothing with a soft pad on a ROS. It I'd be curious to know how stable they are long term? Its still wood, and its still moving. My fear is any movement in the doors can change the fit of the doors in the opening, make them head the wrong direction. Are you cross banding the veneers? I've always done bent lamination over a form for radius doors, bit of work in the form but very stable and dead smooth out of the press. Looks like a cool project.
    "A good miter set up is like yoga pants: it makes everyone's butts look good." Prashun Patel

  5. #5
    If you're going to veneer it you should do formed laminations, you can even use 1/8" hardboard from home depot. It'll be a much better surface for the veneer.
    If you insist on coopering the doors, my best results came by making a pendulum for a router set at the desired radius above the work piece. I made an open faced box and ran a pipe through the ends that the pendulum hung from. You just swing the router back and forth and move it to the side as you go. Then it's easy cleanup from there. You can do the same thing with the outside radius by making a saddle for the door that can swing over a router that you move side to side.
    068.jpg183.jpg

  6. #6
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    I've done some small coopered doors and a queen sized headboard. To smooth the inner curve, I made a Krenov style plane using a Hock blade with a big camber. I just ground the blade to the profile I needed, then planed the sole to match it. Pretty easy to make and works really well. It was still a workout to do the headboard, though.

  7. #7
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    To fair the inside curve, I use a 4" right-angle grinder with sandpaper discs. The cute thing about this method is that you can get almost any radius of curvature depending on how you hold the sander. If you hold the sanding disc down flat to the work, you produce a very large radius. If you hold the sanding disc at right angles to the work, you product a 2" radius. If you hold the sander at angles in between, you produce radii that are in between. It turns out to be pretty easy to control. I've even done coopered panels which have an oval shape -- that is, the radius is constantly changing as you run your hand across the panel.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Mike, why didn't you just laminate the doors from bending plywood in the vacuum bag?
    I thought about that. Probably would have been easier.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Zeien View Post
    If you're going to veneer it you should do formed laminations, you can even use 1/8" hardboard from home depot. It'll be a much better surface for the veneer.
    If you insist on coopering the doors, my best results came by making a pendulum for a router set at the desired radius above the work piece. I made an open faced box and ran a pipe through the ends that the pendulum hung from. You just swing the router back and forth and move it to the side as you go. Then it's easy cleanup from there. You can do the same thing with the outside radius by making a saddle for the door that can swing over a router that you move side to side.
    068.jpg183.jpg
    I'll have to think about how I'd do a pendulum for a 16 inch radius for the inside. The outside is really not a problem. Hand tools and some sanding took care of that quickly.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    I Tryd to cooper some walnut for treasure chest box once and gave up,It is difficult, your brave guy adding the popler in with the mahogany.Thats some nice looking Honduras so I understand your reason.
    looks like your off to a good start. Are you entering anything in the fair this year?
    Thanks for your kind words, Andrew. Yes, I'm entering a marquetry party stand and three veneered trays. One of the trays is kind of cute. The veneer came out looking like there are three dog faces in the design - so I call it the "Three Dog Tray." Can you see the dog faces in the tray?

    Mike

    Three-Dog-Tray-01b.jpg
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  11. #11
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    I'm making slow progress on the corner table. Here's a picture of where I am now. I've veneered the inside of the doors - the burl is myrtle, with black stringing and figured maple as the banding.

    The shelf is adjustable and is in the lowest position. I did dovetails to attach the bottom and the top pieces to the sides. Doing dovetails on a corner table is a bit difficult because you're fitting the dovetails to two sides at one time - everything has to be be very accurate. Also, the wood runs from side to side so the dovetails are not totally end grain, but cut into the grain at a 45 degree angle.

    The pieces on the top are used to stop the doors, to hold the top of the sides in the proper position, and to attach the top. Screws will go from under the pieces dovetailed into the sides into the top to hold it in place.

    I still have to veneer the outside of the doors, and make the top and base. The top will have some veneer design on it but I haven't decided what yet.

    So far, I'm pleased with the way it's coming out. I like the color of the myrtle and the banding against the mahogany. The sides are mostly poplar and are veneered with mahogany veneer on both sides, as is the bottom, the shelf, and the front top.

    Mike

    Corner-Table-01.jpg
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 04-26-2015 at 7:46 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  12. #12
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    I found when coopering, fairing the inside is a huge pain. I plan to make a wooden plane for the purpose unless I can find one.
    Shawn

    "no trees were harmed in the creation of this message, however some electrons were temporarily inconvenienced."

    "I resent having to use my brain to do your thinking"

  13. #13
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    Mike,

    Looking good. I wish I had your veneering skills.
    Shawn

    "no trees were harmed in the creation of this message, however some electrons were temporarily inconvenienced."

    "I resent having to use my brain to do your thinking"

  14. #14
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    so I call it the "Three Dog Tray." Can you see the dog faces in the tray?
    I think I see them on the road to Shambala

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Pixley View Post
    I found when coopering, fairing the inside is a huge pain. I plan to make a wooden plane for the purpose unless I can find one.
    Yeah, it is difficult. I thought I had the inside faired pretty well, but after I put the veneer on and one coat of finish, I could see irregularities in the fairing. It's not obvious and it's inside the doors so I don't think it will detract from the project.

    I tried a compass plane and it didn't work well.

    Mike

    [Regarding veneering, it's all a matter of getting some instruction and then experience (plus the vacuum pressing equipment). The tools are minimal. Like most things, you get better with each project, as long as you push yourself to do more difficult projects.]
    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 04-27-2015 at 1:10 PM.
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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