Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mortise and Tenon Who?

Dealing with my garage carriage doors is becoming quite the journey.

So I've been learning the hard way
  1. Don't be more anal that the tradespeople you hire
  2. If you can't afford more anal tradespeople then you have to
    (a) Get used to it
    (b) Learn how to do it yourself
For the most part I've done ok with (1) or (2a), but when it comes to intricate Victorian woodwork I'm really learning that's not the case. It's something I feel strongly about, and want to do the history right. The amount of artwork and craftsmanship in a Victorian Carriage Door (http://www.carriagedoor.com/), is just exquist, and I've inherited some that are just falling apart.

Up until recently, I've been totally intimidated by the doors - We have a more complicated version than shown here: http://www.carriagedoor.com/carriage_house_doors.php). Terri's been showing me how they were put together and that just intimidated me more, and I just couldn't fathom how mortise and tenon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortise_and_tenon and a page with a nice illustration: http://www.valleycustomdoor.com/mortisetenon.html) worked at all especially on something as large as a door. Carriage doors are amazing puzzles that hang together just so.

I had someone working on the doors and when i got them back I wasn't happy with the door that was the worse off (the other was ok and we had managed to do the other two ourselves). After staring at it for a while I decided that I needed to really commit to learning how they fit together and do it right as doing that meant that the money I spent would net me more skills (and more tools!).

So I undid the sloppy patch and am now contemplating what's really involved. The thing that was really getting to me was that I just couldn't visualize how routing really worked despite all the pictures I looked at. Enter: You Tube. What did I ever do before Google and You Tube? I watched 10 or more routing demonstrations of varying quality. My favorite was the slightly goofy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot6pfnDabAQ, but there were a whole bunch of other ones. As I watched, my imagination worked out how it could work on my doors and then I had it all in a flash (mostly).

The cool thing is that Terri inherited a router from her Dad. After my You Tube session we dug it out and I started seeing how it worked and what we needed. The hard thing about routers is their versatility and the fact that this weirdly shaped bits can carve out something beautiful.

So then it became what router bits will create the right shape so we can recreate the broken piece of the door that has to fit in just so - but not quite "just so" as the other side is kind thrashed too.

When you look for router bits you need to look at the profile that they carve. This site showed exactly what we needed: a Beading Bit : http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/smarthtml/cat/Site/0013.html The wood will have to have the beading bit pass over the edge on each side and a regular bit to carve a channel (clearly I'm going to need a picture here.)

Fortunately the beading bit has a little roller on it where it can roll along the wood. The tricky part is cutting a straight channel down the edge of the wood (that holds the interior panels in place). That took a lot more thought last night. This is going to require the application of money but not as much as I thought (and the router bits aren't that expensive fortunately.

The thing that we need to insure a very long straight channel is the same concept as putting a saw in a table (i.e. a table saw). Yes a "router table." Turns out that routers are built with the idea that it can be guided by hand or bolted into a table and they are not priced in the stratosphere at all and cost less than half a day of a craftsperson's time. Here's a basic one and I think it's all we need: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/s_10153_12605_Tools_Power%20Tool%20Accessories_Router%20Tables%20&%20Attachments
What I find amusing is that you can't even see the router in the pictures because it mounts upside down. They have these mounting holes in the router that allow you to do this to it (how very clever.)

So after staring at these doors for years and doing small piecemeal work on them like patching/puttying holes and replacing the windows, I can now better see the big picture and I'm actually excited about this. I'm sure reality will set me back a bit, but I'm enjoying this small euphoric, rose-colored, highly theoretically-based insight.

1 comment:

Elf said...

Great links! Tools! Ooonh ooonh ooonh!