Cutting door width 2 inches

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  #1  
Old 05-16-18, 05:33 AM
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Cutting door width 2 inches

I want to replace an old 1912 door that is in bad shape with a better old door. It's an odd size just under 32" x 84". I found a nice solid oak door that's about the same vintage that matches my craftsman style house but it's just under 34" wide. I'm getting conflicting opinions from people about cutting the width of the door down. Some have said that it will weaken the structural integrity of the door to take an inch off of each side of the rails and others say it will be fine. I realize that I'll probably have to fill the lock/handle holes and then paint the door, but I'm okay with that. The door is probably 100 years old and looks like the rails are solid wood. So I have two specific questions.

1. Is there any reason why I cannot take 1" off each of the rails so the width of the door is 2" narrower?
2. If the lock/handle hole is now 1" closer to the edge, is it possible to fill them and find a lock/handle (perhaps a historic looking one piece plate) that will cover the patch so I can leave the natural wood finish and not have to paint the door?

p.s. I did look into buying a custom door that fits that size, but the price is off the charts. A salvage door seems like the best option but finding the size and style I want is proving to be very difficult. I've already looked at every arhitectural salvage place in my city.
 
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  #2  
Old 05-16-18, 05:52 AM
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I'm assuming the door is solid wood. I see no reason why you can't take off 1" inches from ether side. How about taking off all you need from the back or hinge side thereby not affecting the latch holes? Will it look too far off in appearance?
 
  #3  
Old 05-16-18, 05:57 AM
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I would assume the rails are solid wood, maybe the panels are laminate, but it's probably 100 years old. The perfectionist in me thinks that 2" off one side would not look good.
 
  #4  
Old 05-16-18, 06:10 AM
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It may depend on how the door pieces are joined together. It would look better if you could take 1" off of each side but then the lockset hole would be in the wrong place. Are you sure about the 84" height?
 
  #5  
Old 05-16-18, 06:27 AM
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Yes, 84 or just under 83 3/4". The height is not the issue since I'm building the frame. I can't use the wider door because there's a wall on one side and stair treads on the other. What do you mean by how the pieces are joined together? I'm 99% sure the rails are solid oak.
 
  #6  
Old 05-16-18, 06:34 AM
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I couldn't look at the top of the door to inspect the wood and the joint because it's in a frame in a salvage yard, but I have a similar door at my house for a front door. (I want to replace the back door with a similar door) and the rails on that door are mortice and tenon and made of solid oak. I suppose an option would be to remove and replace the entire rail with a new mortice and tenon rail that doesn't have filled lock/handle holes but then we're getting into a lot of work and I'm fine with painting if needed.
 
  #7  
Old 05-16-18, 06:40 AM
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Oops, just realized I'm using the wrong term, the long vertical pieces are the stiles. I meant to question about 1. whether or not you can cut 1" off each of the stiles and have the door maintain structural integrity and 2. whether or not there's a lock/handle set (maybe a wider historic looking plate) that can cover the filed holes.
 
  #8  
Old 05-16-18, 09:35 AM
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Norm Abram in this article seems to think the stiles will look funny if they are 1" narrower. I don't quite understand this because I've seen doors with different width stiles and never noticed them looking bad. Thoughts?

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ask-toh/trimming-wide-door
 
  #9  
Old 05-16-18, 09:39 AM
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That's the difference between how most people look at things and how an architect, designer, or finish carpenter views things.

Most people wouldn't notice. A carpenter would. It would bother some but not others.
 
  #10  
Old 05-16-18, 09:42 AM
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The trouble for me is that it might bother me, but I won't know until I see it. I'm concerned with how it will look, but I'm equally concerned about structural integrity. Then, of course, price is an issue too and a salvage door is 10x less than a custom door.
 
  #11  
Old 05-16-18, 10:26 AM
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What do you mean by how the pieces are joined together?
Some of the older doors used dowel rods to hold the pieces together.
 
  #12  
Old 05-16-18, 10:40 AM
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Every door I've seen from the early 1900s has been mortise and tenon.
 
  #13  
Old 05-16-18, 11:43 AM
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Most doors are mortise/tenon but I've cut down a door or two over the years that had dowels. I don't know what time period they were from ..... maybe they were just odd ball doors.
 
  #14  
Old 05-17-18, 09:12 AM
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The trouble for me is that it might bother me, but I won't know until I see it. I'm concerned with how it will look, but I'm equally concerned about structural integrity.
Here are some pictures of a door that was cut 2 inches to fit into a narrow opening at the top of stairs into an attic converted to a master suite. The latch side is 6 inches, the hinge side is 4 inches. The difference has never bothered me but that might be offset by the attention drawn by the windows and partially hidden by the curtain. The closeup is taken a at a slight angle due to the narrowness of the space and that also skews the appearance. This is a solid oak door. No tenons show on the side where it was cut so it was not a full mortise but enough to keep the door structurally sound. It is probably a 105 year old door, original to the house (1912), from the hall to the dining room, found in the basement, and was cut and rehung 32 years ago with no issues or problems since.

You could photoshop a picture of your door as it would appear when cut (either 1 inch each side, or 2 inch hinge side) to get a feel for how it would look.
 
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  #15  
Old 05-17-18, 09:43 AM
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This looks natural because you expect more wood on the handle side.
 
  #16  
Old 05-17-18, 06:49 PM
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It doesn't look bad to me. The perfectionist in me would prefer a symetrical cut off both sides but I can see you wanted to keep the natural wood finish and your method accomplishes that.

It also just occured to me that I could buy a standard size craftsman wood door that's 32x80 and add a 4" mortice and tennon piece to the bottom of the door and that may be easier than dealing with cutting the stiles. If I'm painting the door it shouldn't matter or show if done well. Those doors can be found for under $500 but a custom size door starts at $2k.
 
  #17  
Old 05-18-18, 09:49 AM
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add a 4" mortice and tennon piece to the bottom of the door
I suppose you could do that in a couple of ways. The easiest would probably be to just add a solid 4" piece to the bottom. ( A glue joint with biscuits should be enough.) A piece with vertical grain would likely match better than a piece with the grain running horizontal. Whether it would show depends on how much filling, sanding priming and how many coats of paint. The seam may still open up with changes in weather. (A horizontal grain against a vertical grain will definitely move differently.)

If you use a solid piece with vertical grain, you should score a line at each stile to make it look continuous from top to bottom. Or you could rout a decorative groove lined up with the seam and with the stile joints to look like a small panel. Or install a brass kick plate to cover the joint and stile seams. (That would be my choice.)

If you use a piece with stile pieces on the edges there will be more seams to try and hide.

And the lower hinge should be above the added piece for stability of the door in the frame.

You said in Post #1 that you had exhausted your search of local salvage places. What about on line? (Freecycle, Craigs List, etc.)

In Post #2 you said height was not an issue since you were building a new frame. Why not just use an 80" door?
 
  #18  
Old 05-18-18, 10:08 AM
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Thanks, the kick plate is a good idea. I've seen 80" doors fitted with a top filler and it looks cheap to my eyes. I actually installed a cheap screen door with a filler to make up the 4 inches and I ended up tearing it off. I agree that the seam will probably show at some point but if I do a good job with an quality oil primer and paint, it should look good for awhile. I'll check those online places, thanks. I saw some nice doors on eBay but shipping is often more than the door. My local craigs didn't have anything but that's definitely one of the best sources.
 
  #19  
Old 05-18-18, 10:44 AM
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If you reframe the door you won't need a filler.
 
  #20  
Old 05-18-18, 12:14 PM
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It depends on how you define filler. I could re-frame for an 80" door, but then I'd have to change the height of the molding. My 1912 house has 6" wide molding around the door, so the top piece would now have to be 10" to make up the room between the top of the door and where the stucco ends. It wouldn't look good and I'm tall and I like the tall doors in my house. As a 6'3" person, I find the 80" standard door height to be too low, 7' would have been a better choice imo.
 

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  #21  
Old 05-19-18, 07:03 AM
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Take a moment to reconsider...

Before heading down the path of a bottom or top filler or a shorter door you should reconsider the options.

If this is a real passion project for you, you could consider taking the door apart and reduce the width from the center. Remove one of the stiles, shorten the rails and cut new tenons, cut the panels and reassemble to the narrower width that you want. I think this was done in one of the recent TOH projects. I have done it myself with a raised panel cabinet door. (Certainly a much smaller project than a full size door, but the concept is the same. In that modification I cut the panel down the middle since I did not have the means to duplicate the edge profile. Although it was a stained piece even after glue-up the seam was barely visible as it followed the grain of the panel.)

Your initial question about trimming 1" along each edge is also a possibility. We steered away from that due to the issue of relocating the lockset, but that can also be done satisfactorily. Since you are going to paint the door, I think making that work is more likely to be satisfactory in appearance than adding a filler piece at the bottom. Maybe you can find a mortise lock, or a tubular lockset replica that is the correct size for the existing holes. But you can also fill the existing holes and drill new ones in the correct location after the door is trimmed. I did that once on a front hall closet door where someone had replaced an original mortise lockset with a tubular knob lockset (in a Craftsman style house.) I glued in a wooden plug the size of the tubular opening and sanded it (a lot!) until it was flush with the door surface on both sides. Then I chiseled out the opening for the mortise lockset and drilled the appropriate holes for the knob. After priming, painting and installing the knob that had a matching rosette covering part of the patch, it was not noticeable to the average observer. And the fact that the hardware matched the adjacent doors made it even less noticeable.

Since you want to stay with a taller door opening, I will not address the possible ways you could add trim to meet up with the stucco, etc.
 
  #22  
Old 05-19-18, 03:47 PM
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Taking the door apart and cutting the rails instead of the stiles seems like a good option, but the door I'm looking at modifying has an 8 panel glass at the top of the door. So it's not just cutting rails, you'd have to cut glass and then the glass would not be symmetrical. The only option for using this 34 x 84 door is cutting the stiles down 2 inches. I've thought about just making the opening bigger, but there's a wall on one side of the door and stairs on the other, so that's not a possibility. Maybe if I make it an out-swing door, there'd be a way to keep the 34" width, that's what I'd really like to do, if it's not too big a hassle or I'll regret it later for all the reasons people seem to be against out-swing doors. Any thoughts about this?

I am very interested in learning about if there would be hardware to replace the existing deadbolt and old-style handle (that is a mortised cartridge type) with a larger one-piece lock/handle that would hide the 1" move/patch. I don't have any experience with this aspect so I don't know if something like that is available. I'm thinking something like this might work. https://www.build.com/weslock-7641m-lh/s889484?uid=2252535&source=gg-gba-pla_2252535!c1045779808!a48065171981!dc!ng&gclid=Cj0KCQjwlv_XBRDrARIsAH-iRJQa37DmvrHt7VMmlOuktLIJZe6gp21VhUdAK0AKRi_b8kLYEO4e7qkaAnYxEALw_wcB
 
  #23  
Old 05-19-18, 04:04 PM
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I still think you should go the route that 2john (post14) suggested. It's easy, quick and looks good. You are too close to the project and are putting too much thought into it. Remember the KISS. keep it simple stupid
 
  #24  
Old 05-19-18, 05:16 PM
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Post a picture of the door, full size, and close up of the handle area. The handle you attached might work. There might be other options for fabricating a plate that will cover the patch, if one is even needed.
 
  #25  
Old 05-19-18, 06:34 PM
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I don't have a picture, but it looks basically like this with flat instead of raised panels.

https://www.winecellarinnovations.co...QaAtMGEALw_wcB
 
  #26  
Old 05-20-18, 08:17 AM
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If i see a picture of the latch area as it is now I will have a better idea of how to advise you. I have asked my daughter to send me a picture of the door I patched to show you how it looks.
 
  #27  
Old 05-20-18, 04:37 PM
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Handle patch

Here are pictures of the handle patch I did on a closet door at my daughter's house. I did not try as much to make it disappear on the inside because it is on the inside and not usually viewed.

Her comments:
It does show on the inside but I had no idea it was there. You never really look at that area straight on.

It's hard to see from the picture, but on the front there is a small outline of the larger knob hole underneath the doorknob. It's in the shadow and you don't see it at all unless you're looking for it. Again, I didn't know it was there until I looked for it.

When Geoff stripped the gumwood trim in the dining room it occurred to me that this door should be wood colored, not white. I was wondering if the doors were gumwood underneath the paint. But the existence of that patch would be a reason not to do it. (Now, if there's another door down in the garage with its original handle hole, and it happens to be gumwood under the paint....)
If I see a picture of your handle area I could probably suggest a way to cover it after the door is trimmed and new hardware installed.
 
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  #28  
Old 05-20-18, 06:07 PM
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It looks good, but it's painted, which I will do as a last resort if I can't find a way to cover the repair with a plate. I wasn't really asking about making a patch look good if painted, I know how to do that. There's no way to make a wood patch (not painted) be invisible, it has to be hidden under a plate. Even if you do a Dutchman patch and match wood and grain direction it will be visible. I was wondering if anyone knew of off-the-shelf hardware (such as the historic looking on-piece lock/handle set I posted a link to, or something i'm not aware of) that might have a large enough plate to cover the 1" move. I don't want to fabricate any plates, that wouldn't look good, I want to buy something that is 1912 historic looking that's designed to cover up more space.
 
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