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I read on google

"A typical exterior wooden Door might be made out of two layers of oak planks. The grain of the wood would run vertically on the front layer and horizontally on the back, like a simple form of plywood. The two layers would be held together by iron studs, and the structure might be strengthened and stiffened with iron bands.

The studs themselves were pointed on the front so that attackers would damage their weapons (swords, axes, etc.) while trying to break through."

So is this really what medieval studs were basically for, to #1 secure laminated boards and #2 stop people from breaking through with an axe?  Or was it also for decorative purpose? Can anyone tell me more about these types of spikes? 

Also were the hinges to work as a preventative measure as well?

 

thanks :)

 

Medieval+door+3.jpg

 

 

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It's always difficult to tell what their motivation might have been, and when that motivation changed from protection to simply decoration and/or tradition.  A lot of it also had to do with how much money the person had (iron was expensive stuff) and the purpose the door served.  Interior doors didn't need armoring like main entrances because getting a battering ram into position was impossible.  Or, it might simply have been for show because there was no real threat of attack, but you didn't want to look "unprepared" when hosting a dinner party - vanity is not a modern invention.

 

Two-ply doors did form a type of plywood, obviously, but that's not necessarily indicative of their desire to "armor" up.  More expensive than single-ply doors due to construction/material costs, the crossing of the grain also helped to prevent warping.  Even in modern homes, solid wood doors like to warp because one side is exposed to the elements while the other side is kept warm and dry by the home's a/c.  The question, then, is which came first; was it the desire for a door that was more resistant to attack from people, or from the weather?  Was it coincidental that folks noticed their plywood doors were stronger doors warped less as the seasons changed?

 

The long strap hinges did help support the door's many individual boards, but decorative hinges like your example shows are more a display of wealth and breeding.  The excess metal wasn't cheap, and the labor needed to make the decorative elements only adds to the cost when compared to a simple strap.  They make the door stronger, sure, but, again, you have to look at the larger picture to determine the motivation and needs of the original owner.  

 

Just guessing, but I would deduce that the door pictured is a secondary door in a low-threat environment, and that whoever commissioned it wasn't lacking for money.  

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Thanks Vaughn, interesting input on the subject. I suppose the way the studs are laid out it would make a direct swing with an axe likely to hit one of the studs. I couldn't seem to find many pictures of the studs where they were put vertically in line. That makes me think that the diagonal pattern was used specifically to stop people from trying to cut through the door. The hinges probably also helped this. However, I tend to agree with you that the big hinges and some of the more embellished layouts had far more to do with wealth, class, and style then it did for security. I saw one door that looked like it had metal straps laid horizontally across it and they were overlapping. Straps were secured with studs. Now clearly something like that was definitely guarding a vulnerable entry and done for security and certainly not for looks. Or at least it didn't appear that way to me from the picture I saw.

I saw those studs on a website for about $2.68 USD a piece. That doesn't seem so bad until you realize some of those doors had hundreds on them. :o Plus custom hinges, plus wood and it all skyrockets into big cost fairly quickly, even if you're making them with modern equipment.

Any idea what the wood was used back then? and what might be used to day for recreation of such doors?  was it maple? oak? cherry?

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A door with a full grill of metal straps covering it doesn't necessarily mean that it was armored for defense.  Again, it all depends on the who/what/where/when.  The door pictured could be the entry to the castle treasury or the king's private chambers, and a lot of folks would expect such a door to be heavily armored.  But, you have to consider the level of threat to that particular room as well as to the building as a whole.  To get to the king's quarters, for example, you would have to breach a dozen layers of security, including the main wall, the keep's doors, the different stories in the keep, etc.  What are the odds of a successful attack on a door so far inside the perimeter?  If you are gambling that the odds are significantly in your favor, and they generally would be, then a light, decorative armor for show might make more sense.  A good lock and crossbar on the other side might be all you really need to sleep peacefully at night.

 

It's a lot like the beautiful steelwork folks put on their doors today.  Yea, that iron grill will stop a thief from busting through your all-glass front door in the middle of the night, but you aren't really under a significant threat of that happening.  The grill is more decoration, tradition and display of wealth.

 

As for woods used, it's dependent on what's there.  Folks back then weren't dumb and knew all about the properties of the various woods in their locale.  Importing woods for decorative doors wasn't nearly as common as it is today, obviously, and I would expect a door like that to have been made from whatever common woods were available in the area and were suited for the task.  Assuming that's a door somewhere in Great Britain, I would assume it was a variety of oak.

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I'd like to address another aspect of the nails appearing to be on the diagonal.  If there is a second ply running horizontal behind the vertical ply as seen in the picture and the nails lined up in a neat grid, there is a good chance that they would split the horizontal ply from being in line with the grain and too close together.  As such it may be that the motivation behind the diagonal pattern originally had nothing to do with damaging any weapon swung against it but was there due to characteristics of the lumber used.

 

ron

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I think this is another example where it started by "making do" with the materials they had and it eventually  become trendy, a bit like how most modern cooking recipes are derived from the poorest underclasses of people.

 

the fact that the door is laminated means you dont need a 150 ft tall perfectly straight tree with good grain to start with, you can use timber that is left over from structural work. Same with the iron, low quality, minimal working, quick and easy to make, can be done with small bits of iron from the furnace.

 

If the door is made with green oak the shrinkage as it dries will hold the rivets even if the heads are sheared off, the whole structure would be tied together like modern crossbracing no twist or sag , and solid oak is very fire resistant.

 

It's a good design for a defensive gate.

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I didn't think by posting the picture people would be so concerned with THAT picture. It probably is a cheesy modern knock off. I'm asking in the general sense about these types of doors. If you go to google and type in medieval door you can see hundreds of them, the vast bulk of them authentic or exceedingly well created replicas. I just grabbed a picture at random that had the studs on the door.

 

Now here is the million dollar question. Does anyone have any good construction tutorials on building these types of doors? Any carpenters who can walk me through the process?

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 What are you trying to accomplish with said doors? Are you going for an accurate historical recreation,  or do you want something that just looks "heavy"?

 

 

I ask because I can think of a bunch of different ways to make a door. Many would make use of more modern materials, but leave you with a stouter more stable door.

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I want a modern door that looks medieval, heavy duty, can resist burglary (so it has to have a keyed lock/latch, a cavity for filling with insulation (probably spray foam) and that's about it. I'm thinking some kind of oak frame cavity, faced with oak, spray foam in the middle, and the back (inside shop) with oak running the other direction or diagnol? Am I way off?

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The modern equivalent would be the highest grades of plywood. I used to call it "marine ply" it is hardwood timber with no defects that is cross laminated. 1 and a 1/2 inches of that stuff (2 x 3/4") will stop most things, the outer surface can be veneered and you could bolt through it using short lengths of pipe as spacers between two sheets leaving a gap for insulation, the bolt head and nut could be capped with a fake rivet head.

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Making a replica of that type of door is rather easy, actually.  At least, the wood part of it is.  What types of woodworking tools do you have?  How is the opening for the door designed?  Is this going in a stick-frame residence, or a cement-block framed industrial building?  Do you have the heavy duty hinges?

 

The door in the OP splits in the middle, if the hinge straps are an indication, and that would mean you could use lighter hinges than if it was a single door.  But that also complicates the build a bit.

 

Still, I'd make a template of the opening in the wall.  Build a framework with 1" stock that fits the opening in the wall.  To this framework, I'd attach a sheet of 5/8" exterior grade marine plywood.  Use a quality adhesive to join the two (maybe gorilla glue).  I'd use a router to run beads down the length of the plywood, creating those "joints" like in the OP and giving the impression of multiple boards joined together.  On the inside, I'd use plywood, again, but I'd route the beads to look like 8" wide planks (depends on door height, I'd want a full width at the top of the arch and at the bottom of the door).

 

Again, this is as much for visual appeal as anything.  The problem with plywood is that the outside ply have the grain running the length of the sheet and you would want the door to appear to have horizontal planks on this side.  That means you'll have a very real seam between two sheet of plywood somewhere on the door, approximately 4' up from the floor.

 

If you use solid wood for the inside, it would look more realistic, but you also have a lot more problems with warpage over the years.  Cupping and twisting, seams opening up, etc, will be a constant battle.

 

When all's said and done, I'd use a piece of thin iron to go around the perimeter of the door, hiding the edges of the wood so you couldn't see that it was plywood.

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Typical modern insulated wood/steel/fiberglass doors have a rectangular wood frame capped with a sheet material. The wood frame isolates the sheets and gives you something to attach your hinge screws and latch screws too. It also forms the cavity that is filled with foam insulation. For exterior applications marine ply would be my choice. 2 1/4" sheets plus 1 1/4" frame would give you a standard 1 3/4" door. I'd probably add a few pieces of blocking to the center to prevent the insulation from bowing the thin plywood.

 

They make foams specifically for filling hollow wall cavities. In this case you'd glue up your door, leaving the cavity inside empty. Then you'd drill holes at predetermined locations and squirt in the foam. you have a few "vent" holes also to allow air to escape. When the foam reaches th event holes you know the cavity is full.

 

Option 2 would be to treat it like an open wall cavity. In this case you spray the foam in the open cavity and allow it to rise. When it hardens, you shave off the excess and close up the cavity. With wall studs, they use extra long sawzal blades for this. I'd be tempted to set up a "gantry" like rig to support a router and use the router to cut down the excess foam to give me a nice even surface to attach the 2nd side piece of plywood.

 

If you want that heavy individual wood slat look, you'll either have to go with a sheet good like beaded plywood, or sacrifice interior insulation to use thicker boards. 2 layers of 1/2" oak would leave you with only 3/4" of insulation. standard 3/4" thick 1x would only leave you with 1/4" and wouldn't be worth it in my opinion. If you go this route, I'd tongue and groove all the boards and glue them together as well as glueing them to the back layer.  This would also allow you to have that beveled look that would set of the individual planks from one another. Down side of this is that you will limit the expansion/contraction of the wood and may end up with cracking, especially if you use  large pieces.

 

Another option would be to simply go with one layer of extra heavy planks backed up with cross slats. The typical old "barn" door. Again I'd tongue and groove the main planks and glue them together. The cross slat I'd treat like the cross slats that are used on typical table tops and allow a bit of an elongated hole under the nut to let the slats expand contract a bit. This is fairly well covered in most woodworking books or instructions on solid plank table tops. I know Norm Abrams has covered in several times on New Yankee Workshop, so it's probably in a video online somewhere.

 

As far as studs, take a look at the doors I posted up in the thread on the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. All those studs/bolts are hand forged with hand forged nuts on the back. If you really want a studded look, that would be the way I would go. It wouldn't be all that hard to cut square stock as nut material, then hot punch ( or drill) and thread. Bolts, either start with standard bolts and reforge the heads, or  go completely from scratch. You could draw down stock with a power hammer to a fixed size and thread with dies relatively simply.

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OK first thing is to discard all the suggestions on how to build a modern door.  (For one thing the grain pattern is all wrong with plywood as it's rotary sliced from logs,  glaring if you know what to look for---unless you buy quite expensive sawn lam plywood where lower grade oak *might* be cheaper!)

 

Next don't use red oak; white oak is much closer in appearence to european oaks.

 

Next you want air dried lumber if possible instead of kiln dried, it tends to be a bit tougher than kiln dried and what was used in medieval times.

 

So my suggestion: recycled white oak barn wood from the east coast of the USA

 

Note that you don't want all the boards to be the same width; but all of them should go from one side to the other---no piecing!

 

I hope you already know how to orient boards to minimize cupping (quarter swan lumber also helps)

 

Note too that many of these doors were more than 2 layers thick

 

Chalk the outline of the proposed door on your layout table and choose the best boards for the face(s)

 

Joint them and lay them out and mark them and cut them.  Note in damp weather leave a bit less gap between boards than in dry weather to allow for humidity changes in the wood. 

 

With the first layer laid out go back and lay out and cut the next layer on a slant to the first and repeat if wanted with a third layer chosing an opposite slant than the last.

 

Mount the hinges to help keep everything together (besides the clavos many of these were nailed together to keep them stable while mounting the clavos.  A modern cheat would be to glue the layers as you go; another easy method is to mark the clavos pattern on the top layer and then drill and screw the layers together on that pattern and then start replacing the screws with clavos)

 

Now predrill and insert and clinch/rivet the clavos----keeping everything in line and tight

 

As air infiltration was less worried about than angry men with axes infiltration; so these doors are intrinsically leaky.  Another modern cheat is to do a 3 layer door with the inner layer being a sheet of plywood that does not extend to the sides but has a small piece of oak rimming it so it cannot be seen but does block air getting through the joints.

 

These doors can be quite heavy and a specially built doorframe is required for moden construction.

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I don't know about the European doors, but I have seen some Japanese and Indonesian examples.  Old ones are very heavy, exterior doors, intended to resist force for a time.  Like a modern safe, they are only good for a period of time, but give you a chance to mobilize your active forces.  More modern examples are much lighter, often the studs are just a surface application, where old ones are hot or cold riveted in place.  And again, old ones will have real hinges, deeply embedded into the walls.  Newer ones are just decorative.

 

I'm thinking that the picture is a Victorian fantasy piece, it's too pretty, too regular.  The Victorians made a whole industry based on building medieval replica decorator items.

 

Geoff

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One thing not really mentioned is that the whole reason most modern doors look like raised panel doors is that the raised panel system allowed the wood to expand and contract while minimizing the overall doors size change.  Skinny rails and stiles don't offer cross grain expansion - wide raised panels set into grooves allow  the door panel to expand and contract without gaps or swelling the sticking.

 

Wood swells across the grain not along the grain. Put another way, a wet 2x4 doesn't get longer - it get's thicker.  The way those boards are aligned magnifies the swelling and all but ensures that the door will wedge tight into the frame when it's damp and rattle horribly when it's dry. 

 

It's my understanding that many ancient wood working techniques relied on exploiting green lumber and dry lumber to achieve self setting joinery.  As memory serves the typical chair leg was dried lumber but the seat was not.  Putting the leg tenon into a hole in the seat allowed the seat to dry - contract - and hold fast the leg without glue, nail, or peg.  Much of the joinery was a dry tenon into a green mortise.

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I you use solid lumber, I would recommend using toung and grove, do not glue it, leave a bit of a gap, say an 1/8" for kiln dried lumber.
If you want it hallow to use a come core, you now must chose, eithe hardwood plywood with falx joints milled in or then hardwood bead board ( 3/8" T&G) with an interior fram made up of rails and styles. If your after security, old locks (non toubler) are hard for the modern their to pick, as they lack the tools and know how.

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If you really want an eye full of some really nice midieval iron clad doors and decorative ironwork have a look at "Midieval Ironwork in Sweden", by Lennart Karlsson. Two volumes of over a thousand examples of midieval ironwork. Published in 1988, this is not your normal book store fare, however I see that each of the two volumes are available to be checked out, for a fee and shipping costs, (at least by members of the "Rocky Mountain Smiths" group) throught the following link:

http://www.rockymountainsmiths.org/library/category.php?category=Ironwork

It would be well worth the trouble to do a mail order check out if they are available to the general smithing community.

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