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Thread: Entry door wood: glue joints spreading?!

  1. #1
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    Entry door wood: glue joints spreading?!

    I built an entry door unit for our house out of Mahogany that was installed 2 years ago
    (documented here: http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...-)&highlight=).

    The door is facing east and doesn't get rained on but we have sun and very harsh winters.
    It is 8' tall, 42" wide, 2.25" thick, stave core. The construction was true M/T (3.5" deep) for the door itself and I used west system epoxy for glue-up. For the side-lights I opted for 5" dowels and IIRC I used titebound III instead of west system for the glue-up of rails/stiles.

    It was a big project (lots of hours into it).

    The first thing I noticed after one year was that it seems that the door developes a slight bow (due to sun I guess?) that goes away in winter. I noticed this because when you want to lock the door you had to push the lock side a bit so that the lock engages. In winter this doesn't happen. This a bit disappointing given that I thought with that method of construction it should stay flat all around but wasn't a big deal; it is seasonal movement it appears.

    However, today I noticed something that is a bit more concerning. First of all
    here are a couple of photos of glue-up showing the joint constructions I mentioned above:

    e70.jpge73.jpg

    Here is how the door looks overall:

    n1.jpg

    Today I noticed some of the joints (both for the side-lites and the door itself) have opened up a tiny bit, only from outside (i.e. the same joint from inside the house is as perfect as it was, no visible movement).
    Here are a couple of photos showing a joint for the middle rail of one side lite (middle rail is about 8" wide):


    n2.jpgn3.jpg

    Here is the joint between the middle rail of the door and the top mullion (mullion is 6" wide)

    n4.jpg

    This was the worst of them, I didn't use any M/T other since I thought it is not under stress, only the cope/stick profile.
    Here is the middle rail of the door and hinge side stile (rail is 8" wide):

    n5.jpgn6.jpg

    the bottom rail which is 10" wide looks fine. The gaps are not big but some are enough that I can insert a finger nail in between.
    The openings are mostly on the ends of the joints (i.e. the middle part seems mostly intact yet).

    Obviously I am concerned why this has happened. The joints had plenty of glue, so they were not glue starved.
    - Is it because of the width of the stock (6-8") and the expansion/contraction?
    - Am I safe to assume that the M/T joints with epoxy are holding up fine and hence the door is not coming apart?
    - What is the cause and what should I do (if any)?

    I repeat that none of these joints show any gap whatsoever from inside.

    TIA

  2. #2
    In the close up it looks like the cope and sticking are tight. Makes me think the cope might have been a little shallow. Best not to have a joint recalcitrant even with good materials and high grade glue. The color seems a little dark and maybe overly toned so the sun probably heats it pretty hot. Ive noticed most people with stained wood doors eventually give up and paint them. If that happens ,consider a faux mahogany paint job. It's the best way to get a good mahogany look outside. But I doubt there will be any further opening as is.
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 06-21-2016 at 12:25 AM.

  3. #3
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    Obviously that is mostly an end-grain/face-grain joint right at the edge where the gap is. So I am hoping that the M/T is not moving (as I thought I've done everything by the book so to speak). You are right that the stain is dark and it gets hot with the sun.

  4. #4
    I think you can be confident in the door holding together as the interior joints are tight. The wood at the exterior surface is moving slightly do to exposure to the weather, plus the dark stain adds to solar gain. Exterior wood doors benefit from shelter. You are in the position of a bright-finished wooden boat owner (minus the water exposure) and have a constant maintenance task ahead of you. Nice work by the way. A project like that is a real challenge.

  5. #5
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    Mreza

    If it will make you feel better I see that on expensive factory doors more often than not when exposed to the same conditions, extreme humidity/temp swings/ inside /outside temp differences. Even mine.

    One thing I do with mine that seems to help is do a base coat on the door, both side with West 207. Its a pain, but it does slow down the moisture transfer rate.

    I do not think you have to worry about the door falling apart, very nice, but I do disagree with not doing a MT for the center rail. I figure that is just as important to the integrity of the door as it gives roughly 1/3 more strength for racking and hold the center of the door in a plane both vertically and horizontally.

    To tell you the truth Mreza I have gotten away from traditional construction on exterior doors. I will make a door that will look exactly the same, but it is in reality two half doors sandwiched on an Appleply/foam/appleply core all bonded together with a liberal dose of West System. I know it is not traditional, but who can tell. I tried it on a commercial door 25 years ago that I was replacing because of sun related problems, and it is still there today after being abused at a busy bar for that long. Even when they neglected the finish for many years the door stayed together. I did it as an experiment, but after seeing it laugh at the conditions it was exposed to for a few years I made it standard practice.

    Another thing I do if real wood is finish the doors with automotive clear coat over over the 207 sealer base. I use a coat of clear adhesion promoting primer as is used on urethane bumpers followed by several coats of a more flexible clear. the finishes are far superior to what we in the wood world normally use.

    I am certainly not criticizing you Mreza, I admire your work as much as anyone I can think of. You are the worlds most amazing homeowner! In other words I do not think the problem lies with the work you did but rather in the traditional accepted method of making doors.
    Last edited by Larry Edgerton; 06-21-2016 at 8:09 AM.

  6. #6
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    Mo,
    That is wood movement and typical of doors with wide rails. Not so noticeable with paint finishes but normally happens with stain topcoat finishes. The Europeans figured this out a long time ago. If you round or pillow the joint this will not happen. This breaks the end grain to long grain before wood movement starts. We also use stacked rails when they get wide. The stacked pieces are tongue and grooved or shipped together, not glued but with a bead of silicone so each piece can move independent. Not everybody likes this especially architects but I always explain to customers and they normally go for it. Our cutter sets are made so the rounding can be on or off. On some historic work this is not acceptable.

    In testing doors and windows will often leak through corner joints even tenoned ones. With the pillowed joint a small bead of caulk is laid in the joint between finish coats and European water base finishes have a special end grain sealer for this also.



    plank panel .jpg
    Door M&T.jpg
    Stack rai;.jpg
    Stack rail assembly.jpg
    Last edited by Joe Calhoon; 06-21-2016 at 8:34 AM.

  7. #7
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    Finish failure always starts with these flush joints. We have been building entry doors locally for 40 years and it is a good study on what works and not.

    Here is a picture I show the customers. We did not make this door but it is only a couple years old. You can see where the finish failure starts.
    Finish cracking.jpg

  8. #8
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    Joe, you always have to sneak one of those Martins in the pic to tease me. I feel so inadequate!

  9. #9
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    Thanks folks, I do feel better now.

    Larry I appreciate your compliment. All the 3 rails have full M/T joints. What I didn't use full M/T for was the mullions (or if you call them the center stiles) into the top/middle/bottom rail as I thought cutting a deep mortise into the rails (especially the middle one from top and bottom) would make them weaker.

    I have thought about taping over the joint and then injecting epoxy (west system) into the joint using a syringe. If that would help at all.
    Or I'll simply leave it as it is.

    One thing that I liked was that the top coat I used is somewhat flexible and it has not cracked, but is stretched (kinda like honey) in those places.
    Last edited by mreza Salav; 06-21-2016 at 9:53 AM.

  10. #10
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    I don't want to hijack this thread, but if you have any drawings or photos you are willing to share, Larry, of the ApplyPly/foam/ApplyPly composite doors you described I'd be very interested in seeing them. I'm planning to build a new front door soon and would rather not use a storm door, so the construction needs to be durable. Thanks in advance.

    John

  11. #11
    I got a good talking to years ago when making some sash. I was gonna do a better job than the boss who always had a hair line opening between cope and stick. I set the machine up for a perfect fit! (with two pieces held in hands with pressure). That won't work ,you end up with tight copes BUT OPEN BUTT JOINTS. And that was with soft white pine. Mahogany does not compress well, and there is tremendous strength against compression in that ovolo. We made our own tooling and could adjust cope independent from square cut. I would have the set you used altered. You have a lot of good overkill in that job but I think the cope is a bit too perfect!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    I don't want to hijack this thread, but if you have any drawings or photos you are willing to share, Larry, of the ApplyPly/foam/ApplyPly composite doors you described I'd be very interested in seeing them. I'm planning to build a new front door soon and would rather not use a storm door, so the construction needs to be durable. Thanks in advance.

    John
    I'd be interested in that. also.

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

  13. #13
    It's "always something" with doors . Biggest complaints were about slight opening at bottom of door between stile and end of rail. We had to explain "compression ring set" and how to paint the bottom of a door to some customers. We finally
    put sticker on every door warning no warranty on doors with no paint on bottom. That stopped all nonsense. That rounded edge thing would never work on the traditional East coast. It reminds me of a guy who thinks his nose is too big ....so he wears a bigger fake nose on top of the real one...guess we've all seen that!

  14. #14
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    I have finished the top and bottom of the door. Even the floating panels (with foam in between) were finished/sealed on both side of the panel before glue-up.

    e91.jpge95.jpg

  15. #15
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    Just re-read the comments, thanks again.

    We get -30C degree in winter and +30C in summer. My concern initially was panels not holding up (cracking) or having frost forming at the corners from inside (had seen it in another house with wood doors). Other than the 1/2" foam between the panels, I used 3/16" thick foam strip all around the panel during glue-up. Seems to hold it air tight mostly. One problem I had was finding a proper shoe that would fit this size door. Went to a a couple of door making shops here (make commercial doors but didn't have a good suggestions). The first (expensive) one was an L-shaped aluminum without a thermal barrier. That didn't work as the tiny edge of it under the door would frost from inside no matter what.
    Then got a cheap plastic U with brush type feet for 1.75" thick doors and cut it into an L-shaped and problem solved.

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