Just to the side of the flower bike (another blog post) was a really rather sad door. Here it is, now retired.
I kept the rest of the wall and made it black. As I know by now, if I want something to disappear in the garden, I paint it black. The door was another story. You handle doors so much, you get close to them. Therefore, I prefer something a little bit special than this. I mean there is nothing exactly WRONG with it, it just lets the rest of the wall down a bit. I shall donate it to the local tip shop. Maybe someone will have mercy and give it a new purpose. Enough about that door, there is a new one to be made. Below is what the finished result looks like. Well, when I say ”finished” I mean I still have a bit of painting to do. Close enough to photograph it anyway.
When you stand back a bit you can see the lemon tree planter, the bike and the new door. You would never know the bins are lurking behind the planter box. There are lemons on the tree already!
If you want to make a very simple (no joinery, can’t fail, strong) but rather laborious door, here’s how:
Tools needed: tinsnips, hammer, drill, circular saw, tape measure, pencil, caulking gun to squeeze out the building adhesive.
Materials needed: Hoop iron (comes in rolls, I get the ones with regular holes along the centre. It is used in construction, usually), sheet of pretty thin galvanised steel, spray paint (I used black and grey), steel wool, sheet of outdoor plywood, 70×19 treated pine decking (or other wood you might have hanging around), clouts (short fat galvanised nails), galvanised screws, building adhesive. Lock (if you want one), handle.
My door is about 78x 210cm. Start by cutting with the circular saw the exact fit of your door. Next cut the decking, four for the length, one as a top cap which will be the width of the door, and four for the width minus the width of the board, so than they can fit along the edges exactly. Cut the galvanised sheet of steel to be smaller than the door, but just fitting under the edge frame. If you cut it to the door edges exactly, you will run into serious trouble when you fit locks, if you have to shave a bit off for a better fit etc. No need to go all the way out!
Because the galvanised iron is so shiny, I do a loose and rough spray paint first. Somehow I am missing several pics, but you will see what I mean when you look at the steel soon. When the paint is dry, I scrub most of it off with steel wool, then maybe paint a little more until I am happy. Whilst you are spraying, cut the hoop iron into correct lenghts and spray them black.
See what I mean about the spraypainting below? So much softer than shiny steel, to my eyes anyway. Use construction adhesive and glue the sheet to the plywood. The ply might want to curl but I say NO to curling! Weigh it down with your long pieces of wood with something heavy like a brick or three on top. Missing picture of this too, you have to imagine it.
The next step is below. Mark out where your hoop iron lenghts will go. I chose a pattern of regularity. This is a sedate door, a responsible door. You can just tell by the checks, the steel and the grey/black.
Now your real job starts. Drill holes through the steel for the nails. I start a couple, bung in the clouts, and then go on drilling. If you try to drill them all at once, they will be out of place, guaranteed. Because the clouts go right through the ply, I put a piece of wood under the door for me to hammer into. I remove it as I go.
Here we are, with clouts in place. I used a bit over a kilo of clouts, I think. It is a LOT.
When I have finished a row or two, I turn the ply over and it will look like this. Hammer sideways to bend all the nails. I guess this is not an issue if you use very thick ply, but I am trying not to have a super heavy door. It will be heavy enough as it is.
It will now look like this. Pretty.
As you go on, hammering and flattening, it will begin to look like this. Yes, your arm will hurt but work through the pain. Only another thousand nails to go! When you are all done, glue and screw in the frame. I screw from the bad side into the good one, so no screw holes happen on the front. Then I put in screws from the back panel go in from the back, because I actually don’t care about this back at all.
In fact, I care so little that I used the leftovers from the steel which was not big enough to patch up the back. It will all be painted black, and will actually not be that noticable later. Really. And even if it is, I won’t care. I would have left the bashed up ply as it was but I think the surface would have been too compromised for water attack so I used a lot of glue and stuck on my steel scraps. Of course, you can use a new sheet, or more ply, or thicker ply to start off with, whatever. I did this.
Here we are, back looking at the top. Can you see the sandwiched ply between the two bits of decking? I ran the circular saw along the edge, to trim it off nicely. I have also done an undercoat, waiting to paint it black. To cap it off I screwed a final short pirce of decking to the top, will prevent water entering the ply. Now fit the lock. I couldn’t find a lock which would fit my non standard thickness. My door is 5 mm thicker than the locks available to me, so I modified it by cutting off a piece of wood to one side and adding a bit on the other. Frankly, I should have thought about this and designed the door to suit my chosen lock. I repent and suggest you buy the lock forst, and make it easy for yourself. I also found an old handle in the trusty shed.
Back to this again! I am actually pretty satisfied. Here is a picture of me, happy with my day. Hooray!