project, Woodworking, joinery, household, Home Improvement

Closing the door on a long standing todo.

Some time ago I started a project..., OK quite a long time ago..., alright - I'm slightly embarrassed to admit it was over 2 years ago. I would try to claim it has taken so long because it was such a big project. But in truth most of that time I have just left the project unfinished. When I moved in to my house, the wardrobes I had were on their second move. And things that come flat packed do not like to be taken apart again and moved. Let alone to have it done twice. They were in a pretty bad state by the time I assembled them again and I resolved to make myself something better. My bedroom is pretty big so I decided it could stand to lose a couple of feet to have a decent size built-in wardrobe.

So I set to work, on what was probably one of my biggest DIY jobs to date. Certainly the biggest that would be in daily use.

I built the structure in 3 sections that bolted together, forming 2 main wardrobe spaces, 1 at either end of the wall, and 1 central space for shelves of folded clothes. It took a long time, I recall regretting a design that called for 14 shelves to be cut to an L shape and then routered to round the edges. Then given about 4 coats of paint... It took a *really* long time.

The final challenge was to plaster the new 'wall' in which where 3 door frames, leading to each of the 3 sections of wardrobe. This I did myself, and was pretty pleased with the results, however I certainly would not attempt to plaster any wall more prominent in my house :-)

After this mamouth task, I was faced with a fully functioning wardrobe, looking like it had always been there.

With 3 empty door frames.

But doors are expensive and I had a very specific idea of what I wanted. Not just 3 doors, but 3 pairs of doors where a pair of 2 closed looks like the other doors in my house, and opened would take up less space into the room than a single full size door. I actually started out on a plan to make the doors myself...

I made one half panel from MDF (it's what I had) as a solid structure in much the same way you might actually make a door out of more traditional timber. However this took a long time. And the result was not really good enough. I knew I could make it OK, but at the cost of even more time. The plan needed re-thinking.

It's at this point that the fact of having a functioning wardrobe, and the cost and complication of dealing with doors, lead me to put it aside...

For about 2 years.

Earlier this year I finally decided to look into door options again and I found a door at my local homebase, that was almost exactly what I wanted. The style of door was the same as all the other doors in my house. And it was setup to be bi-fold, it came in two sections. So with a little light modding, they could form a pair.

I bought 1 door to have a go with, and hit my first little problem.. I based the door frame sizes on the door to my bedroom. I figured I wanted them to look the same kind of door, and be the same heights etc. However what I didn't check was whether the door to my bedroom was a standard size....oh dear. The doors were about 70mm too big, which at least is better than too small. However most cheap hollow doors aren't intended to be modified by that much because the frame inside doesn't go that far. So it called for slightly heavier modding that I intended...

door-open-end1
door-open-end1

Basically chop off equal amounts that the top and bottom, leaving a big hole in the top and bottom...

famepiece1
famepiece1

Then rip out the wooden baton that formed the top/bottom of the frame,

resetframe1
resetframe1

and reset those batons into the frame.

Easy! Fortunately the widths were just right, so no serious modding in that direction.

I made door handles on my lathe, using a duplicator rig that I created. Which was a bit hacky, and did little more than beat the wood into submission. But it did give me good copies, albeit with a rough surface. All told it took a few days to get one door up and in place. I told myself I'd get the next door soon and slowly work through them....

But what I can say... I'm a busy guy.. I had stuff to do, places to be, I had to see a man about a cat...

And 8 months later I had a gentle nudge from the philomathickat that perhaps it was time to finish the job... ( I had started talking about making a clothes valet for the bedroom, so I drew attention to things that needed doing first ...)

And two weeks ago on Monday I went and bought the last 2 doors I needed.

I hate doing doors, I think something about having to go back and forth between hanging them, taking them back down to trim and adjust, back up again etc. It's also relatively heavy work. I had to make 2 new handles, because I'd lost one I made before. This time I made them by hand and properly...harder to get good copies, but nicer results.

And today I sit here with the job done. Well almost done. I just need to buy some magnetic door clip things to hold the doors shut when closed.

They do look really good, despite the fact that I had to introduce a design 'feature' to deal with a cockup on my part. On the first set of doors I set the handles 5 cm from the edge and 5 cm from where the centre panel started. On the second set of doors I did the same, but stupidly didn't check that I was measuring from the same edge of the centre panel. So I ended up with 1 door with handles slightly down from the top of the centre panel, and the second set with them slightly up from the bottom! I didn't even notice this until I got into bed and looked at the fitted doors together for the first time. As it happens I fitted the second door at the opposite end, leaving the middle doors for last. Deciding that I would do more damage trying to fix the mistake. I elected to make a design feature of having handles at decreasing heights. The centre doors taking a height right in the middle. I call this an homage, to Monsieur Cockup, famous architect and designer....or perhaps that should be Bloody Stupid Johnson.

Anyhow, the job is done, 2+ years in the making, but it is finished, and it actually looks really good. The room feels much tidier, it's nice to be able to put things away in the wardrobe out of view.

wardrobe-doors2
wardrobe-doors2

Now I can move on to new projects without that niggling guilt at having something unfinished.