Altering Oak Veneered Doors
This project is part of my larger build thread here. This thread was created to make it easier to find information regarding this project and is one of several upcoming dedicated project threads to include extra information and bonus photos that are not included in the main build thread.
Veneered doors are a great cost saving alternative to solid wood doors. The price difference can be extraordinary. However, unlike solid wood doors; veneered doors only allow for around 10mm or so to be trimmed off each side. This means if you have unusual sized door casings you normally wouldn't be able to use them and would instead be forced to either fork-out the extra money for solid wood doors, or compromise with cheaper, inferior doors.
I was faced with this dilemma during my build project (here). This circa 1890s terrace house has some odd sized door casings, hence why I first started looking at solid oak doors. These oak 5/6 panel doors are becoming quite popular and for good reason, they look stunning! At the time of writing this these solid oak doors were available from Homebase for ~£240 each (here). The same style oak veneered doors were available for just ~£80 each (here); a big price difference. At the time Homebase were running an offer for 2 or more doors and I was able to grab 2 oak veneered doors for just £130 with delivery. Bargain! Except they were way oversized for my door casings and therefore could not be used... but I had a plan.
Most veneered doors have a small solid wood trimming block on each side. This trimming block not only allows the door to be trimmed slightly but also provides the strength needed to hang the door on its hinges and fit the latch. If these blocks are trimmed too far it's not just an aesthetic issue; the screws for the hinges will not grab. The particle board inside these doors will not hold screws like solid wood, especially small screws like those used for the hinges.
In theory you could cut these trimming blocks off and attach some new ones to both hide the exposed particle board and provide a place to fasten the hinges. This would be fine if the doors were being painted, but I wanted an oiled finish, therefore I required the matching wood grain from the original trimming block.
Using my Festool TS55 plunge saw & guide rail, I first cut the trimming block off one side of the door. This could also be done using a table saw or possibly a good circular saw with a straight edge as a guide. The particle board inside these doors chews-up blades pretty quickly so a spare blade would be a good idea before starting.
With the trimming block removed and put to one side for later, the waste section of this side of the door was removed. I only had the 1400mm guide rail when doing this so I had to stop and move the guide rail up to finish the cut, being very careful to get the blade back in the same position each time. A longer guide rail such as the 2400mm would be better suited.
Once the waste section was removed the next step was to re-attach the trimming block to the now smaller door.
To re-attach the trimming block I used my Triton SuperJaws, with a long straight edge to even-out the clamping pressure for the glue.
This shows how I worked-out the cuts to get the door to the new size. 735mm is the size of the door casing, minus a 3mm gap on each side, minus 1mm for the new veneer for the latch side, minus 14mm for the width of the trimming block in my case.
Regular D4 wood glue was used to glue the trimming block back onto the door. With the surface area this glue is more than strong enough for the job.
Additional clamps were used to further even-out the clamping pressure along the entire length of the trimming block.
Any excess glue was wiped-off at this stage to make sanding easier. As you can see the joint is completely unnoticeable.
A matching roll of iron-on veneer is used for the latch side of the door since it doesn't hold any weight. This also avoids the need to have a joint in the veneer on both sides of the door. This 10m roll of American White Oak veneer was bought from a seller on eBay for ~£15. This is enough to do both doors, with some spare.
The next day the wood glue had dried and the trimming block re-attached. After a light sanding over the veneer joint line the latch side of the door was cut to size the same way as before, only this time the trimming block is not salvaged. The door at this stage is 1mm smaller than the final required width. The veneer makes-up the final 1mm to bring the door to size.