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Cutting down vintage solid door to fit smaller frame - need advice

Cutting down vintage solid door to fit smaller frame - need advice


  #1  
Old 04-19-14, 05:44 PM
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Cutting down vintage solid door to fit smaller frame - need advice

Hi, new member here, looking for some sage advice. I would like to replace a plain interior hollow door that opens into my basement man cave with a vintage opaque glass panel office door, like the ones found in office buildings years ago that had AAA Detective Agency and stuff like that printed on the glass.
The problem is, while I can find such doors so far they all seem to be bigger than my current door, which is 30" wide, 79" tall and 1 and 3/8" thick.

Questions:

1. If a vintage solid wood door is 34" wide, 83" tall, is it feasible to cut the door to the desired size - that would require approximately 2" off each side and 2" off top and bottom? If not, what is the maximum that can be cut off the top, bottom and sides of a solid wooden door? And if you can cut that much, are there any potential problems in doing so?

2. Scenario # 2, let's say I can find a vintage door with the correct horizontal and vertical dimensions but it is a thicker 1 and 3/4" thick, would this work?

3. Maybe a dumb question, but would it be any easier to replace the door frame itself with one that would accommodate a larger door or is this asking for more trouble than it is worth?

Thanks for any advice.
 
  #2  
Old 04-19-14, 06:28 PM
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I have cut down doors much as you describe. Not a big problem, but requires careful measuring, a sharp saw, and using a knife to cut through door surface right beside planned saw kerf to minimize splintering. Cut slightly oversize and run across jointer/planer to smooth out saw kerfs and achieve precise fit,a gap all around the width of a nickel.

As for thicker, if you can, move your door stop to fit the thicker door. Otherwise just live with the extra thickness protruding.

Good Luck!

RR
 
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Old 04-20-14, 05:50 AM
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You will want to get a door as close to the size of your opening though if you want it to have a centered appearance. You can take off the top, bottom and hinge side but because of the door knob holes you usually cannot take off that side so you can end up with a lopsided looking door. As for how much you can take off will depend totally on the door you find. Some doors are solid planks while others have a wooden frame with thinner decorative panels in the interior. Enough of the wood frame needs to remain for strength.
 
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Old 04-20-14, 05:58 PM
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RR, Good advice - will do.

Dane, The door I've found was part of a double door set and as such has no door knob - the only hardwear present is a small strike plate on one side.That was part of the reason I thought I might be able to cut it on both sides, yes?
 
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Old 04-20-14, 07:46 PM
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Additionally, I forgot to mention, is there a possibility of enlarging the opening to accommodate the new door intact. I just don't like taking that much wood off an otherwise solid door. I would hate to compromise its integrity just to have it fit a hole, then become useless if it falls apart. Just something to think on.
 
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Old 04-21-14, 06:18 PM
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Many of the old doors are actually not solid lumber. They are a veneer glued to a "stave" core which can be small blocks of lumber laminated to form the basic core or it can be strips of lumber arranged to provide the core for the veneer finish.

If the core is of the smaller pieces there are a few things to consider. Depending on age, the glue used to adhere the material together can be at a point where it is crystallized and not able to perform as it once did. Usually the edge of the door, even if it has these laminated cores, has a thin, solid piece of lumber laminated to it to make it more uniform for appearance purposes.

I would do everything I could to avoid cutting the width of the door. Trimming the bottom is more realistic if you need to adjust the height but to keep the proper proportions I would not consider trimming more than an inch or two at the most from the bottom.
 
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Old 04-21-14, 06:38 PM
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Since theres a strike plate and hinge mortices, he should be able to see if it's truly solid or veneered.
 
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Old 04-22-14, 04:41 AM
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OK, so I found another door that is not exactly what I want but is closer - the width is 30" which is the width of my current door, but the height is 83", a full 4" taller than the current door - is this a more doable conversion, taking 2" off the top and bottom, or am I still in the same situation?
 
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Old 04-22-14, 05:17 AM
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2" off the top and bottom can be doable if it's a solid door. Does it appear to be made of solid wood?
 
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Old 04-22-14, 05:42 PM
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Dane, I'm thinking it is, but how can I tell for sure? One thing I do know is that it weighs a ton compared to my current cheapo hollow door is it going to replace.
 
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Old 04-23-14, 03:46 AM
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A solid door is a lot heavier than a hollow core. Also if you tap on the door the sound will be different, a hollow core door sounds hollow
 
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Old 11-10-14, 06:57 PM
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Well, finally got it done - I'm slow but I'm sure.

Here's the original:



Here it is after trimming both sides, stripping, staining, addition of vintage escutcheon, Bennington brown swirl porcelain door knobs, vintage letter slot, and vintage door number rescued from old old razed convent. Just need to decide what to put on the semi-opaque wavy glass and my man cave is ready to roll.









 
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Old 11-10-14, 07:19 PM
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Very nice. Thanks for letting us see it.
 
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Old 11-10-14, 07:27 PM
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That really REALLY looks good! Fine job.
 
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Old 11-11-14, 02:50 AM
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Have you installed it yet? Interested in seeing in action. Finish job is excellent. Congrats.
 
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Old 11-11-14, 03:21 AM
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Looks good! did you remember to put a coat of poly on the top and bottom edge of the door?
 
  #17  
Old 12-14-14, 06:34 PM
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Door is on - finally. A long and winding road made much more difficult by my lack of experience with this kind of thing. Never hung a door before, let alone cutting it down and reversing the swing of the door and cutting the mortise and . . . well, definitely a learn on the job experience.




 
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Old 12-14-14, 08:31 PM
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Once again...damn fine job! Does it open, swing, and close correctly? Then you did it well! I so love things being reused!

Hey, who's the cute chick in the striped dress????
 
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Old 12-15-14, 03:22 AM
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Principle's office Looks good though, much better than most new doors would

Vic, you must not get out much
 
 

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