BCM Door Repair

The past few weeks have been hectic, and I seem to have a few things on the go – whew!

I’ve been out to Oregon to look at material for the MFA project, and will be updating that thread soon enough. I’ve been deep into gate design these past 10 days.

I also work with the Boston Children’s Museum, which has a complete 100+ year-old Japanese merchant’s house, or machi-ya, installed within. Regular blog readers may recall a series from a few years back where I constructed a replacement hinged bench, battari-shōgi (⇐ link) on a sawhorse in my kitchen. Ah the good old days!

Just as with that hinged bench, the front door of the house takes some extraordinary wear and tear given the conditions of the installation, which sees hundreds of young and excited children descend upon the house daily. Recently the door lock completely broke and the Museum asked me to effect repairs. As with the battari-shōgi, I am choosing to replace the door’s stile, which was originally made in a softwood, and stained dark brown, with wenge. Wenge, after rubbing down with finishing oil, looks pretty close to the stained pine, however it is many times tougher. It’s a pragmatic solution to an unusual situation.

The Museum delivered the door to my shop last week, and this week I was able to give it some attention, commencing work by jointing and planing the wenge to yield a replacement stile which was 30mm x 54mm. Then I transferred marks over from the old stile, along with the exact center of the dor lock catch, and then cut off the old stile. What was revealed were multiple tenons on the door rails and nuki:

The replacement wenge stile lays atop the door, and has already been mortised for the multitude of tenons in various sizes.

The bottom of the door employs un-haunched quadruple tenons:

The top rail uses haunched double tenons:

Both top and bottom rails have a mitered return on the front face only.

The nuki have slightly shouldered bare tenons:

Here are the corresponding mortises for the upper rail, the cut out involving 0.25″ hollow mortise chisel with a 0.180″ web in between the mortises:

The lower portion of the stile mortised for the quad tenons:

After trimming an arris on the stile to fit the mitered returns on the rails, I tried a fit:

With careful measurement and cut out, the frame assembled up without issue:

With the stile looking like it would fit on to the rest of the door, I turned my attention to the door lock. The Museum’s door had been fitted with a door lock which is actually intended for use within a hollow core aluminum sliding door, which happens to be the most common sort of sliding door you will come across in Japan. Curiously, I wasn’t even able to track down a replacement lock which was intended for solid wood doors. Not even a store specializing in temple building accoutrement and minka restoration hardware could be of help. In the end, I had to source another door lock intended to fit an aluminum door. Seems to be the only game in town.

I was a little apprehensive about fitting such a lock, as the one which had been fitted originally to the door had been put in fairly crudely. They had cut out most of the stile’s cross section, leaving just a 15mm strip of material left, and then had glued in patch pieces around the lock. Not the most workmanlike job I have come across, and I worried I might have no choice but to do something similar.

After I received the new lock, which was a bit smaller than the one originally fitted, I made a test stile piece out of teak to see if I could fit the lock without hacking to door stile to bits. That test went well, so I felt I could move ahead with some optimism.

First, the edge of the door is mortised and countered for fitting the lock catch mechanism:

This mortise required some fiddly modifications with little slots and kerfs to allow the catch to be wiggled into place:

Here’s the trial fitting of the catch following cut out:

I had to make some tricky internal cuts to allow the machnism to slide on in there – the mortise for the other portion of the lock mechanism provides a convenient window into the internals as they come into place:

Down in place and working smoothly:

Then out comes an appropriate tiny VIX bit to pre-drill the screw holes:

I fitted Robertson (square drive) screws, as I prefer these (and Torx-head screws, though these are less conveniently found at the local hardware store!).

With the catch installed, the remaining portions of the lock could be connected up, the stile already mortised for those pieces:

A final trial fit of the stile to the door ensued, to confirm there was clearance for one of the nuki tenons. Here’s the lock assembly installed:

All that is left cut-out wise is to cut a couple of scallops on the stile to act as pulls. I should be able to jig up my groover to do this tomorrow. Then a finish planing and chamfering and some oiling, and I’m planning to put on teak oil, which doesn’t build up a sheen as it has little to no varnish mixed in.  Then I can glue the new stile up, and trim the ends of the stile to the line. Should be done tomorrow.

One last pic:


All for today. Thanks for your visit!

BCM Maker Faire post is the next related.

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