French Parlor Doors, Part 1

Project Prep

Once again, we are working on a semi-major, structural building project in our house. Now that the fireplace is complete, we are adding parlor doors to the coved entryway between the dining room and the entry/living room.

We purchased the French doors from a souvenir shop down the street for $100. They are stained and lacquered, so we will need to strip them and sand them to make them paintable. This also means that I will need to make sidelites to match the doors exactly.


This is what we’re starting with. The curved corners are the only corners like this in the whole house; both Tera and I are going to be happy to see them go! I’m not precisely sure what I’ll be getting into, so it’s best to just start. I’m guessing the layers will be plaster, chicken wire, and a curved piece of wood.  We’ll see.



I nailed it so far on the prediction! Plaster and chicken wire.



I am continuing to remove the plaster from the chicken wire with a dull chisel and a hammer. I am also using a respirator and a shop vac to keep the dust to a minimum.



Now that the plaster is mostly gone, I’m looking at the wood backing. There are three pieces (per curve); the middle pine spacer and two curved MDF pieces. I am removing them and using tin-snips to get the chicken wire out.



Multiply those efforts by two, and here we are at the fresh canvas for this project.



I am going to start by framing in the area and figuring out how wide the sidelites need to be. I am working alone, so I need to use these screws to hold up the opposite side of the wood while I secure the other side. This is a good technique to remember if you are frequently working by yourself.



I trimmed down three 2×6 boards to the width of the wall (5 1/4″) and screwed them into the existing studs. I also measured diagonally each side (corner to corner), and the difference is about 1/8″. Looking good and square and ready to figure in the sidelites.


Please see Part 2 of this series, and leave us a comment!



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