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Old 06-25-2012, 07:43 PM
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Default Shoji-style doors

As I mentioned in another thread (Japanese-style pantry folding doors) I wanted to build some doors to replace some very bland, very crappy folding doors in our front (dining) room. Here's what I was dealing with:



I wanted something with a Japanese flavor. After much deliberation and experimentation, I came up with this design:



I decided I'd make them out of Douglas Fir, since I had access to long (16') straight-grained, quarter-sawn planks that were 1 3/4" thick by ~6" wide.

My first task was milling the lumber. I wanted to try to make each door from a single plank. The doors were 79" tall, and the rails and stiles were 2 5/8" wide by 1 3/16" thick. The panels below were a bit over 10" wide.

The first thing I did was rip one edge straight using my TS55 and 2700 rail. I then resawed a 1/4" thick plank off one wide face of each board. This brought the remaining plank to the right thickness for the door frames, and gave me a long, thin plank to make the door panels with.

I made the door frames using dominos: two in each joint at the top and bottom, and one in each side of the middle rail (for a total of 10 dominos per door):



I used chalk markings to keep track of all the pieces of lumber - it's easier to erase than pencil.

I wanted the panels to be really stable, so I glued the 1/4" pieces to 1/4" mdf to give a 1/2" thick panel:



I should have been a bit more careful about applying lateral pressure to make the glue joint disappear, but it actually came out really well - you don't notice it unless you know what to look for.

The upper part of the door consisted of a lattice work (kumiko) and paper. I was worried that traditional paper would be too delicate for these doors, which get used many times each day. So I found some Tyvek in large rolls that had a nice grain to it, much like handmade Japanese paper (washi). To give the paper more durability, I glued it to 1/4" black melamine. The black color brought out the beautiful texture of the paper - white would have made it disappear.

Gluing the paper onto the melamine was a bit tricky. I first roughed up the melamine with 200 grit paper and my ETS150. I then sprayed it with photo adhesive (3M). I cut the paper to the approximate size (overly large), and rolled it loosely onto a 2" diameter piece of black PVC pipe. I then carefully (and quickly) rolled it onto the sticky melamine. For the 4 panels, I did it 7 times - a few got wrinkles that I couldn't get rid of. Pushing hard on the pipe and rolling consistently got it done - the panels look perfect!

The next issue was the lattice work. I had the pattern, but I wasn't sure what thickness of wood to use. My first attempt was 3/4" stock:



Here they are, taped to the door frames to see how they look. They came out pretty much like prison bars. Eew!

I spent some time looking at kumiko online, and decided to go with 1/4" wide, by 1/2" deep pieces. The joints are all half-lap. They're pretty tight - cut with my bandsaw and a chisel, with other tools for the final finessing.


There were so many pieces, it was really important to carefully label everything!

The kumiko sit in small dados in the door frames:

I was hoping to cut these with a router, but there was way too much tearout. I ended up doing them with a chisel and mallet. I got pretty good at them after doing 40 or so!

I then routed a groove on the back/inside of the door frames to hold the kumiko/paper panels, and the wood/mdf panels. These grooves were different depths, as the kumiko/paper was 3/4" thick (the paper/mdf being 1/4" thick), while the wood panels were 1/2" thick.

I popped the kumiko and wood panels into place

and then held them there with trim stock that I pin-nailed in place (thanks to ScottW for persuading me to get that Senco pin nailer and compressor at the WIA a couple of years ago!).

The doors were finished with Minwax Wipe-On Poly (gloss) - it took about 4-5 coats. Here's the first finished door:


The mounting hardware was made by Johnson, and is available at HD:
Johnson HardwareŽ 1700 BI-FOLDING DOOR HARDWARE
They have a great video that shows you how to install everything. It was pretty simple, though tricky to do by myself. But I managed, and sustained no major injuries!

So here's what the doors look like now:


And here's one with a gratuitous picture of Wally:


I spent several hours at San Diego Hardware looking for handles. I finally settled on some that looked like twigs, but were smooth so things wouldn't catch on them:


So there you have it: shoji-style pantry doors.

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Old 06-25-2012, 09:33 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Very nice, but we wouldn't expect anything else from you. Funny, when you first mentioned the three mountains I thought you were crazy, now that's all I can see when I look at the pics.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Thanks, Brice. It's interesting, isn't it, how one's view of something changes after some pattern has been revealed. I've always found the same thing with art: once someone explains it to me, I have a completely different view of the work.

That being said, I hope you like the mountains!

And I should hasten to add, that the kumiko patterns evolved somewhat randomly. It was only quite a while (months) after choosing this pattern that I came up with the "mountain" explanation for why it felt right to me. There are probably others... But the mountains weren't incorporated intentionally beforehand. I just felt that there needed to be something in the lower left and lower right corners. Those little pieces really anchor the "big" mountain.
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Last edited by Poto; 06-25-2012 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:04 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Very nice work, Peter! (as usual)


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Old 06-25-2012, 11:34 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Thanks so much, John! One of the things I really like about these doors over the others is that they are quieter. They're so much more solid that they don't have that cardboard-y rattle when then open and close.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:40 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Excellent...! Nice work Pete. And doug fir my favorite wood... love the smell working it and the color/grain.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:44 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poto View Post

... It's interesting, isn't it, how one's view of something changes after some pattern has been revealed. I've always found the same thing with art: once someone explains it to me, I have a completely different view of the work.
As an example of this, do you see a young lady, an old woman, or both?:



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Old 06-25-2012, 11:48 PM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

From the "design" thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poto View Post

I'm also looking for ideas for replacing that closet door to the left of the folding doors.
Peter, did you give any thought to my suggestion on this?


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Old 06-26-2012, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Quote:
Originally Posted by joraft View Post
From the "design" thread:



Peter, did you give any thought to my suggestion on this?


.
I did think about that, John. One problem is that the folding doors are set back from the wall - we'd lose closet space if we did the same with the closet door. And I'm also concerned that it might be a bit much of a muchness - too much shoji for the room. An accent is fine, but a wall of it might be overwhelming.

Instead, I'm thinking of a craftsman-style door. I'll try a mock-up in cardboard and see whether it works or not.

Definitely worth thinking about, though.

And, for the record, I first saw a young woman, then I saw the old woman, but I had to look for her (I knew she was there, as I'd seen the illusion before). I wonder whether anyone would emphatically state that there is NO young/old woman in the picture?
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:10 AM
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Default Re: Shoji-style doors

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfoot View Post
Excellent...! Nice work Pete. And doug fir my favorite wood... love the smell working it and the color/grain.
Thanks, Bigfoot! I agree about the smell - it was wonderful working with the wood. Made me think I was in a forest somewhere...
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