Can you ID this wood from a mid-1800s door?

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Forum topic by Chambers posted 06-18-2020 11:03 PM 936 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Chambers's profile


7 posts in 464 days

06-18-2020 11:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: identify wood type door refinishing

Hi All—

I’m in the process of refinishing a door with a lovely stained glass insert that I bought in the New England area on facebook marketplace. The seller was under the impression that the door was as old as the house—that is mid-1800s—but who can be certain. I’ve mostly finished with stripping off about 18 coats of paint and am now preparing to refinish it. Alas, I’m still a novice to woodworking so I was hoping you might be able to help me on identifying the wood so I’d have a better idea of how to approach this.

Here’s the pics. Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to provide.

14 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


6029 posts in 3568 days

#1 posted 06-19-2020 12:38 AM

Hard to say from your photo, the wood looks like it has been stripped or bleached, but I’ll take a stab and say vertical grain Douglas – fir, mostly because I know that a lot of doors are made from it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Aj2's profile


4033 posts in 3015 days

#2 posted 06-19-2020 12:41 AM

Vertical grain fir.
It looks like Douglas fir but that wouldn’t be a wood that’s used east of the Rocky Mountains back then.
So if it’s fir it might have been built on the west coast and found its way to New England? After the Railroad was finished?
Good Luck

-- Aj

View Aj2's profile


4033 posts in 3015 days

#3 posted 06-19-2020 12:44 AM

One way to try an date it is to take off the trim around one of the panels and see if it’s plywood.
It sure looks like the plywood panels that my fir doors have from 1950.

-- Aj

View pottz's profile


20183 posts in 2201 days

#4 posted 06-19-2020 12:45 AM

ditto on the doug fir,especially if it’s from a house on the west coast,but east coast,could be like aj said.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Chambers's profile


7 posts in 464 days

#5 posted 06-19-2020 01:56 AM

Thanks for the help everyone!!!

Upon reflection you’re right—there’s no way that this door is from mid 1800s. The lead work on the stained glass and bronze hardware speaks to it being early 1900s, and that would make the availability of fir make more sense.

Do any of you have any suggestions for a finishing process for fir using a brown-red stain?

View Aj2's profile


4033 posts in 3015 days

#6 posted 06-19-2020 03:51 AM

I’ve used Generals finish Pecan oil based stain.
It’s a very good product that brings out the Natural color of old fir.
Whatever you use seal the wood with a sealer first.

Good Luck

-- Aj

View tomsteve's profile


1182 posts in 2436 days

#7 posted 06-19-2020 11:20 AM

top that stain Aj suggests with general finishes 450

View BurlyBob's profile


9305 posts in 3482 days

#8 posted 06-19-2020 01:08 PM

Looks pretty much like clear vertical grain fir.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1816 posts in 4066 days

#9 posted 06-19-2020 01:29 PM

If anything is lose in the glass now is the time to get it to a restorer.

I either see A LOT of sawdust or filler, unless you’ve gotten one of the better fillers like Timber-mate, you’re going to have color issues over the filler. With any finish the results rely on the prep, if that’s all filler spend the time to get it all sanded back, avoid the good enough thought, trust me, you’ll be the only one that notices, but you’ll always notice it. Fir is pretty easy to get at the store, get some and bang in some dents and then fill them, so that you can practice how you’ll cover them. I’ve found that if I use a dye first, I can get a better stain finish

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Chambers's profile


7 posts in 464 days

#10 posted 06-19-2020 01:30 PM

Awesome. Thanks AJ and tomsteve!

View wncguy's profile


501 posts in 3529 days

#11 posted 06-19-2020 01:34 PM

I think it could be heart pine… is it very heavy?

-- Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad

View tbone's profile


329 posts in 4901 days

#12 posted 06-19-2020 02:37 PM

I have to agree with wncguy. I think it’s pine.
A mid-1800’s door very likely had pegged tenons at the rails. I’m not noticing any from your photos.
Peeking at the top of the door will tell you if it’s a square cut or tongue-and-groove. That might help you date it.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View WoodGrain's profile


5 posts in 462 days

#13 posted 06-19-2020 03:09 PM

I would test the wood density to give soma additional input. I’m leaning towards Hemlock due to the straight tight grain

-- If you’re not making mistakes, your not learning

View therealSteveN's profile


8658 posts in 1791 days

#14 posted 06-19-2020 04:56 PM

Doug Fir is a North/South range, versus an East/West one. Larger number of them may be out West, but we have them in Ohio, and Maps showing range show across the top 3 planting zones for the US to have them, all across the top of the US. New England is in that range.

Sure looks like Doug Fir.

You can get a wood tested to say for certain what it is. Info below. Only problem is. Specimens 1×3 x 6 inches are recommended for purposes of identification. So on a door, that’s gonna leave a mark.

-- Think safe, be safe

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