Resizing Antique Single Panel Interior Door

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Forum topic by letmework posted 10-09-2010 07:51 AM 3259 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 3327 days

10-09-2010 07:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: antique door panel resize

Hello, I am new to woodworking and certainly have more enthusiasm and ideas than skill or knowledge. That’s why I was so excited when I stumbled across this site! I have a number of projects that I aspire to do but certainly will need lots of advice. Please excuse my entry-level, beginner’s questions. My current project is a bed that I am building for my “babies”. They are 8,5,4 and 3. It is a full size bunk bed. The base is a full size captain’s storage bed with 6 drawers which I have already built. Now for my dilemma: I am using two 5 panel antique interior doors for the headboard and footboard of bottom bunk, and two single panel antique interior doors for headboard and footboard of upper bunk. I need to cut the doors down to the width of a full size head and footboard. The five panels pose no problem as I can just start from the center of the door and cut off both ends and will have design centered. On the single panels however if I cut off both ends to size, I will be removing the borders from both ends. I have toyed with slicing off one end a little way in from the border, cutting off a piece out of main door and then splicing end piece back on. But even with the difficult task of cutting edges straight, lining up correctly, best case scenario, won’t the door’s strength be weakened? The other idea, if I could just get the molding piece off the end of the door, I could then cut off the panel to width and then glue the piece back in and the original profile would be restored without having a spliced piece. However the door seems to be very tightly constructed and even after stripping all old paint off I cannot find any loose place to pry or work with. I see no brads or nails in this door. Has anyone here ever attempted to remove these pieces from old doors. They are old, solid wood and heavy. Any expertise would be greatly appreciated!

5 replies so far

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 10-20-2010 09:35 PM

Couple of things come to mind – if these doors are old enough, you might try heating the joints to see if the glue softens enough to take them apart. If they were glued with hide glue, they might well.

If you posted pictures of the doors, and what/where/how you plan to do with them, it would probably help the rest of us visualize what you have in mind. Working blind being difficult.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View Jonnyfurniture's profile


59 posts in 3367 days

#2 posted 10-22-2010 02:56 AM

With the door standing in the position as it were hung on it’s hinges so you know what I’m describing, Cut up from the bottom along the outside of the joints through the stiles. This will cut off the tenons. There will be a little strip of the stile attached to the ends of the rail after it is cut. At the end of the cut where the panel starts cut inward until the bottom rail is free. Slide out the panel. Trim the stiles to length. Then cut molded edge off of the two stile ends for the width of the bottom rail and miter or cope to meet the rail. ( yYou might also rip down the bottom rail to match the top at this time) Cross cut the rail ends back to the original joint and prepare it for joining back in place. The only hard part of this is reshaping the bottom of the panel after you cut it down unless it is just a flat panel.

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 3537 days

#3 posted 10-22-2010 03:09 AM

Some of the old doors have through tenons, held together with a dowel. If you can find the dowel punch it through and the door should slide apart. You will have to remove one side, either the knob side or hinge side.
The panels were set in loose to expand and contract with the moisture. When you have the pieces apart it is easy to duplicate the tenon and place the rail where you need it. Have FUN . I do !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Jonnyfurniture's profile


59 posts in 3367 days

#4 posted 10-22-2010 03:22 AM

Some really old ones will be fox wedged.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 3316 days

#5 posted 10-22-2010 04:13 PM

Not to be a problem, I would make new panels for the kids’ beds. Antique doors – prior to 1978, may have lead in the finishes and leave traces in the wood. From the ‘50s, could also have traces of DDT, used heavily back then. New—well, you know whats there.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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