Door Repair

Michael Armand

Active member
  I need some advise on how to try to get a door straightened out. I have an antique door off an armoire that has warped. The door is 2' by 4' with a solid mahogany inlaid panel that matches the opposite door. The door has warped out about 1" at the bottom where the two doors meet. It looks like the panel is the problem and has caused the inside style to warp also. I really  dont want to take the door apart because of thru tennons. Is there a simple fix to help staighten it out such as some type of diagonal truss rod to help eliminate some of the warping? The client would not mind it as long as the door is somewhat functional. Thanks for any input.
                                                                                Michael Armand
That crooked door sounds like character in an old piece, probably desirable amongst collectors. Myself, I might consider what would happen if "tweaked" the hinge placement, or perhaps inserted thin wedge-type shim(s) behind the hinges. You could experiment by removing the screws from one of the hinges, and carefully closing the door as you support it. I know this will not straighten it, you just might be able to get enough on big doors like this to make it appear "straightish". With two doors you would have 4 points to cheat from.
Sometimes, also, a big  antique case like this will have some flex to it that you migh be able to use to your advantage.
I apologize for this poor suggestion. There are many tricks to hinges, though.
"straightish" and the associated term "square-like" are not copywrite protected by myself, and may be used by the general public, if desired.
I have, on at least one occasion, removed a panel from a door by cutting the molding around the panel perimeter, then reproducing the molding and putting the panel back. It is a pain, and may not be practical on your example. Still, one would have to straighten the panel if indeed it is causing the problem.
For this reason, I would investigate wether I could make the doors appear "staightish", by moving the hinges and/or "racking" the case.
Thanks for the help Mike McGrail  on the suggestion about the warped door repair. I did shim it and it worked well enough for the door to function and lock. I have another question maybe some one can help with. I built a set of exterior doors out of Spanish cedar with panels. The doors were 2" plus thick with 1-3/4 thick panels and used Exterior wood glue on the panels. The doors are exposed to sun and weather quite a bit and after 6 months or so almost all the glue joints in the panels are starting to separate. any ideas on the type of glue to use on exterior doors? I thought the exterior wood glue was appropriate but evidently it wasn't. The finish on the doors is Epifanes varnish and is holding up great.  Thanks for any help.
                                                                        Michael Armand
The problem may be the wood, not the glue. Does anyone know if Spainish cedar behaves like tropical hardwoods, i.e. have problems with glue adhesion due to intrinsic oils?

Howard Steier
If the door is facing at least partially south, so that it get really direct sun. 8/4 panels should probablly have not had glue joints in them. If I had quarter or atleast rift sawn stock, that had been lying about the shop for a year or more, I might consider it. I think even in spanish cedar, the ratio of tangential to radial shrinkage is over 1.5, and when those pieces change moisture content, they are going to want to move. I would guess one piece wants to move more than its glued to brother, and that is the source of the crack.
Its best to have 8/4 stock laying about the shop for a year or two to be really sure it will behave.
Had you owned this stock long?
As an aside, there is a site called, and the fellow there purports to have developed a system to finish wood exterior doors tha he claims will not fail. I am not endorsing it. It seems very radical, basically an encapsulation of the wood in an epoxy and overcoating with a clear finish he has developed that bonds to the epoxy.
I am not endorsing this. I have never tried it. I don't have the courage to, either. It just is interesting reading for finishing exterior doors.
Back to your doors, and everyone else's doors. It is a lot of trouble to make, finish, and hang a door. You need your very best stock. I think the frankin exterior glue will usually hold.
I have cut the molding out around door panels before and replaced the panels. If the rest of your door is sound, it is the only way I know to repair.

        The wood was purchased from a local distributor and had not been in the shop but a few months.  I was wondering about the glue because I had been told by another fellow woodworker after the fact that he had some trouble with some of the regular carpenters glues and that he had been told that the glue maker had changed or taken out something in the glue. The glue that was used on the doors was Titebond III premium wood glue.  I would need to call him to find out where he got his info from. The panels are floating and are definitely moving some because I can see shrinkage marks along the sides. I was puzzled because of the separation at the glue joints and almost all the panels are separating. I will probably end up doing repairs on the doors and wanted to try another glue such as PL Polyurethane premium wood glue but want to try to eliminate this problem in the future. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
                                                                      Thanks,  Mike A.
You can call the people at franklin glue and they might be able to tell you if they have had problems. I called them when building some oversize doors for a church, and they had a  pretty friendly and knowledgeable technical guy to talk with. I was specifically wondering about using epoxy for my mortise and tenon joints; the fellow was really forthcoming and he might actually tell you if they had experienced problems.
I am sort of suspicious about the wood because both mahogany and spanish cedar dry so easily and quickly that I suspect they are rushed through the drying process. You can probably take those panels out in year and rejoint and they will behave. I am thinking the green to oven-dry shrinkage is only about 5-7 percent in sp cedar, so the panels shouldn't shrink a great deal in just the normal humidity variation. I am looking at some 12 inch wide walnut panels in one of my exterior doors, and I can see that they have shrunk less that 1/16 an inch(and its really dry here now). Now my walnut was never kiln-dryed, but it was quartersawn. I think if you can see an 1/8 or more shrinkage on a 12 inch piece of sp cedar, I might question if it were really dry. But I always think the lumber is the most important part of any piece of furniture, or in this case, door.
The people who have done studies of glue joints find tightbond superior to the PL glues, except where creep is concerned, I think. (pl is really good for bent laminations)
Another Mike