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Step 9 – Constructing the Frame part 1 – Laminating the Oak

General notes on laminating:

Before diving into the glue-up process you want to know what to expect and have everything ready.  The wood glue I used Titabond 3, and for that matter almost all wood glue, has a limited ‘open time’ – this is the time you have to faff about and get the pieces all lined up and clamped, before the glue starts to set. After this period of time, you can sometimes get away with making joints, if you clamp tightly, but strength is likely to be compromised.

So the key here is preparation. Make sure the surfaces are all decent and do a dry run of the glue-ups.  Below, as you can see, I spent quite some time messing about with off-cut bits, making sure I was laminating things correctly, so as they would produce the right shape for the joints.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Another thing to consider is the area in which you glue. The wood glue itself tends towards indiscriminate stickage – put scrap newspaper on the floor or the work surface you are using and wear some old clothes.

Also consider the room needed for your clamps and the unwieldy assemblage you are about to create.  Unsurprisingly, I found space a constant issue, and often found I had effectively prevented all use of the workshop until particular glue-ups had dried.  As I mentioned in a blog post, you also need to make sure the environmental conditions (temperature being crucial) are right.  I ended up using a fridge thermometer and systematically bringing bits of wood in the house to warm up by the radiators…

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Doing Wood Gluing

Ok so once we are all ready, assemble your clamps – incidentally there are never enough clamps – and let’s get laminating.  Below is one of the first – and quite a tricky one to start with.  It is the top horizontal of the fixed frame. I deliberately made this quite thin, as it will not be under a great deal of stress and I needed the extra headroom.  Clamp at as regular intervals as possible and use off-cuts to protect the wood from being bruised by the powerful clamps.  I have one or two parallel jaw Bessey clamps – these are fantastic and the protective pieces are not necessary with these, even though they are super powerful  (at least the red K body ones are).

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Supposedly the ‘clamp time’ for Titebond 3 at room temp is 45 minutes, but I pretty much always left it at least a few hours, if not overnight, to be on the safe side, and because most of the time it was a good deal colder than room temperature.

Removing the clamps is a nice feeling – you have successfully made something quite different and new. At this point use an old chisel to scrape off any glue you missed earlier.  I found that letting the glue dry for about ten mins, when it is just getting sort of rubbery, to be the best time to get it off – it just peels off effortlessly with a chisel.  On some bits the clamps are in the way though, so there is usually some clean up to be done when the clamps come off.  I can’t recommend using a cloth and water like they do on the packaging, this just seems to make more mess.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Here is the top horizontal again. Now you can see how the joint will be formed. It has had a piece with a groove for the weatherseal added.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

The last extra bit added to the top horizontal, it now has a double weather seal capabilities.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

This is one of the frame verticals (the upright sides).  I can tell this is one of my first few glue-ups because I don’t have so many clamps in operation- I bought a few more here and there as I consistently became frustrated with not quite having enough.  I am also using four simple home made, wingnut action ones to help with alignment.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Certainly a bit underclamped :(  The black and yellow quick clamps are very weak ones that cannot apply much force.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Below is a relatively big oak plank that I am about to glue to the back face of the side I just laminated.  I put plenty of glue on then spread it all around, so that no part of the face to be glued can be seen. ‘Where there is no glue, there is no stick’ – a simple rule, so don’t leave it to chance and hope that the clamps will spread the glue out for you – cover everything.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Clamping of the frame’s side piece under way.  Because it is quite wide, it is a good idea to use bits of wood running perpendicular to the length to spread the clamping load across the full width.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

A few more clamps. Now we’re talking…

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

This side piece is done. Below you can see some vertical scraps, in the vice, are holding the piece on its side while I clean it up, and plane it flat.  Now just to repeat this for the other side…

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Ok, onto the threshold.  This doesn’t have any grooves for weather seals. I figures that they would be damaged by people treading on it and other ‘traffic’. Below is a dry assembly of how it is going to be.  The two grooves are in the bottom – they are simple ‘capillary grooves’ – to help stop water travelling under the door by capillary action.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

As you can see the main surface of the ‘tread-plate’ is a single plank.  It has a beautiful knot/grain pattern in the middle.  Something that would usually be a concern as a weakness, but we don’t need to worry due to the laminated construction – another advantage.

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

Gluing up.  It’s a big one…

Constructing the Frame part 1 - Laminating the Pieces

With the top, two sides, and threshold (bottom) done let’s get onto the super exciting bit – assembling the frame itself.

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Responses to 9 – Constructing the Frame part 1 – Laminating the Oak

  1. Ken Culbertson

    Step 9 – Constructing the Frame part 1 – Laminating the Oak

    So if I understand this step this is the frame that the door will fit into. About how wide were the frames? Also I have about 1000 broad feet of air dryed oak of which about 500 is quarter sawed. Also have a 6″ jointer, planer, table saw, radial arm saw, router. So I assume I have the right tools to do this. Also I hope it will be okay to ask questions thoughout this project. Am rebuiding my sunroom and your oak doors would look great!

  2. Bongo

    Hi Ken,
    Sounds like you could do an awesome job with that bunch of tools (assuming you have a good collection of clamps as well). Of course, I would be happy offer advice as best I can, as you go along – just don’t blame me if it all goes wrong ;)

    You are right about this being the outer frame that the two doors sit in. Each door was about 1m wide, 1.9m heigh, and about 12cm thick.

    First suggestion is to consider having them open outwards if that is possible in your situation, unfortunately it wasn’t in ours. Having them open outwards allows storm winds to push them tighter onto the seals preventing the possibility of air leakage or water ingress.

    I modified the threshold, after putting this project on FE, so that it has a little channel that drains water away and out. I may have to make a diagram of this when I have more time – it is hard to describe. But was quite necessary. It would have been loads easier to build this into the door from the beginning, rather than retrofit.

    Anyway, sounds like you have all the gear to make some stunning doors. I really look forward to hearing how it goes, and demand pictures!

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