My daughter Emily and her partner Trav are building a Tiny House for themselves from the ground up in Nehalem, Oregon. My contribution is a pocket door for the bathroom. For this project I selected some rough sawn, old-growth, clear vertical grain (CVG) Douglas fir that I had been hoarding for 30 years for the door frame and panels. [Click on any image to enlarge, All photos Max Vollmer]
The first step was to size and plane the lumber according to my plan and cut list for a six-panel door with a stained glass mosaic visible from one side only. Then I cut the mortises and tenons for the door frame and dry-fit the pieces. It is absolutely critical for a door that the frame be dead-square, with 90 degree angles at all joints.
The next step was to cut the rabbets all around the inside of the frame members to accept the 3/4 inch thick panels. As with any frame and panel construction, allowance has to be made for the expansion-contraction of solid wood panels that occurs with changes in ambient humidity.
With the door frame members sized, the mortises and tenons cut, and the panels sized, I now had a door “kit” ready for embellishment, sanding, and assembly.
To add a little interest, I created 45 degree, stop-chamfers around all framed openings in the door on both sides.
The side of the door that faces out was planned with a stained glass mosaic depicting a cormorant perched on a piling in the surf, a common sight on the Oregon coast. Emily’s Mom, Sheila, crafted the mosaic and glued it down to a 1/4 inch thick masonite panel sized to fit the door frame.
My plan called for the stained glass mosaic to be recessed 1/4 inch in from the front surface of the door frame and “picture-framed” with thin, beveled pieces of fir. Then backing up the mosaic, and on the back side of the door, I cut and planed thin but solid fir panels to make it appear as a six-panel wood door on the reverse side.
Because this is a pocket door and will slide into a cavity in the wall rather than be hung from hinges, I used door pulls that were inset flush with the door surface, instead of regular door knob hardware. To retrieve the door from the pocket when it is open, I used an edge pull inset into the door frame. Finally, Emily wanted to employ a rare-earth magnet catch to hold the door closed and you can see one-half of that magnetic catch installed above the edge pull.
Although the framing members were glued at the mortise and tenon joints, I built in extra stability and longevity by pinning the four corners of the frame with 1/2 inch cherry dowels that are visible only from the back side of the door.
I signed the door on the bottom edge of the back side with my “makers mark,” Timothy J. Max Vollmer.
Here are photos of the finished door, front and back, in my shop.
The door now hangs in its home, Emily and Trav’s Tiny House, in Nehalem, Oregon.