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Step 1

This is the bottom of my passengers door, with the wood being in pretty poor shape. The two pieces of wood laying in the middle of the door were easily removed from the bottom since they were rotten on the edges. Like most doors from this era they were built with a wood frame and a steel skin attached to the outside. Aluminum skins were used on Rickenbacker's 4 passengers coupe bodies, hence your looking at an aluminum door skin.

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Step 2

Here you see my new lower outside door skin brace with the steel edge attached to it for the skin to fold over on. It's laying upside down so you can see the steel edge which has been reattached to the wood brace. This the original steel piece, sandblasted, and POR15 painted onto it.

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Step 3

Before I started attaching any new or old wood back in the door frame I sanded and primed the back side of the door skin. I used an epoxy primer here since it has the good adhesion characteristics to aluminum. Coating the back side of this door to seal moisture and the elements out is very important. Aluminum doesn't rust, but it does break down just like a steel panel. You can have an alkaline reaction start which will eat right through the aluminum just like rust on sheet metal.

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Step 4

Now with my two lower braces cut and fitted I'm ready to installed them. It is very important to cut and fit these parts over and over again until your satisfied with them. Trimming and hand sanding them until the fit perfect is key: Don't get in hurry, this wood isn't cheap.

All the replacement wood I'm using in the doors is hard, dry, ASH.

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Step 5

I now have installed the lower braces and also the mid-door angle braces. Both the mid-door angle brace, on both doors, were falling out. The wood brace were still very good shape, the screw weren't holding anymore. This tells me the braces take a lot of stress to worked loose like that. I filled the old screw holes with Kwik-Poly to help give the wood extra support, then moved the screw holes on the new brace just a bit so I wasn't drilling into the same hole.

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Step 6

The mid-inside brace is now installed to help give even more support, and something for the window regular to bolt onto. This inside brace on both doors was in good shape, and didn't need new wood.

You'll also notice the lower brace seems to have a few extra screws installed in the lower right- hand corner. This isn't by design, but by accident. This was the first time I've ever used screws in hard wood; I kept twisting them off before they got tight. So I drilled another hole and twisted that one off too, then did it again. By now the words are just flowing out of my month. I tore it all back apart and removed all the broken screws. During this tearing apart and cool down period I remembered a fellow telling me to use beeswax when installing screws in hard wood. I located some beeswax and WOW what a difference that made!!! Do Not install a screw in hard wood without using some sort of wax or soap on the threads!!! Very important note to remember!!!

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Step 7

Now were going to switch doors; this is my drivers door. As you can see the top piece is rotten and missing some important tenons on this end. The top of this door was very loose and almost falling apart when I removed it from the car. On the outside of this piece of wood there is a body panel of aluminum wrapped around it.

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Step 8

Here is a good look at the cross section of my top piece I must remake. You can see all the different step cuts that are going to be required to reproduce this piece, what you can't see from this picture is the front is cut at an angle and is slightly curved. The tenons are suppose to be almost two inches long; there is about half that left now.

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Step 9

To make the 2" tenons on this piece I decided to use my table saw. I built a fixture to hold the piece in a vertical position at 90 degrees to the table. This fixture also let me keep my fingers back at a safer distance. I built the same fixture on the other end of the piece so while I had the saw set up I'd make the cut on the other end too.

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Step 10

Here you can see my cutting process. I didn't cut all the way through the base fixture board, I stopped just after the top of my blade cleared the edge of my finished piece. By doing this I was able to keep some surface area of my fixture in tack between the blade and fence. This helps keep my material at the 90 degrees position. The center cut you see I'm doing now I had to make a cut then move the fence the width of the blade and make another cut. This is a poor mans datto blade. On the two outside tennon cuts I only cut once, the furthest in cut. I will then remove the fixture board and lay the wood down on the table to cut it cross ways; shown on the next page.

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Step 11


When making cuts in any expensive piece of wood you always want to get it right the first time!!! There are many different ways in making sure your first cut is the right cut and I'll tell you my process that works for me. First off I'm always double checking, and triple checking my measurements that I need to cut. I'll draw my cuts out on the wood for visual aids so I always know where my cuts should be.

When setting up the table saw I'll set the depth first then the fence distance. Remember to measure to the opposite side of the blade from the fence, this will take in account the thickness of the blade. Once I have everything set I'll take a piece of scrap wood and run it through the saw.

Now I'll measure that cut to what I'm expecting to see that cut be. Here you see I'm measuring the length from the fence.

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Step 12

Here you see I'm measuring the depth of my cut. If everything looks good then I'm ready to cut, which usually doesn't happen first time. I'll keep adjusting until I'm happy with both the depth & length of my cut before I reach for the real piece of hard wood.

Always wear some sort of eye protection, and hearing protection isn't a bad idea either!!! Use push boards whenever possible. Keep your fingers away from the blade!!!!

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Step 13

Now you can see I've removed the base fixture, turned my piece of wood on it's side, and set my saw depth to cut just to the tenons edge. Now I have completed making my twin tenons for my top piece.

One this to note here about my piece I'm making is that each tenon is a different size, matter of fact when I get done each tenon will have a different depth also. This piece is pretty easy to make even with all these different cuts, you just have to remember the order to make all the cuts

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Step 14

The rest of the table saw process on the piece of wood is pretty easy, some more poor man datto blade work. Here is my piece of wood after completing three different depth cuts. To achive the center top cut I moved the fence each time the width of the blade to get my groove thickness required. As you can see in the close up my saw blades teeth have a slight angle to them and left a ribbed pattern design. I need to find a blade with saw tips square to the cutting surface.

The next two step cuts in the wood were just simple cuts, adjust the fence and run it through.

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Step 15

The finished piece. You can see I have already cut the front face crown. This was angled in two directions; along the full length of the board there is a slight crown, and from top to bottom there is also a slight angle. I was able to reproduce this with ease on the bandsaw. I set the table at the slight angle required to get the top to bottom angle, then cut the board following the long crown angle. I cut just a bit larger than I needed so I could touch up this process with the belt sander. The bandsaw will leave slight ribs in the product when finished; a quick touch up with a belt sander and it's perfect.

This wasn't that important since a piece of aluminum covers that outside crown, but I tend to be a perfectionist.

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Step 16

Here's a final view of the new piece and the old piece. Looking pretty good about now!!

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Step 17

Sure that piece of wood looks great compared to the old piece I'm using as a pattern, BUT does it fit back into the door where it's suppose to go??

As you can see here I've already installed my aluminum panel to my piece of wood and set my new piece into it's rightful resting place. What you can't see it the 20 trips I made from the door to the table doing final sanding to fit it in just perfect. I personally do my final fit sanding by hand: sure it takes longer, but don't remove to much to fast and then undercut the joints. You want a tight fit, not a loose fit.

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Step 18

Here is a closer view of my final assembly.

As you can see I made my tenons longer than they were suppose to be. This makes it easy to figure out a final length on them after they are installed. I cut them with a hand hacksaw to the length and angle required to match the door after final assembly. Then just a quick hand sand and they will be the perfect length.

You can also see the dark brown satin color in the old vertical door pieces. This is from Kwik- Poly. During the final assembly I poured Kwik-Poly over all my joints to help make them even stronger.

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Step 19


This process took me about 12 hours from start to finish. (Just the top piece)

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Step 20

Here's a view of my two door with all the new wood work installed. What you can't see in the picture is how strong the doors are now compared to before I started this process. They are tight and don't flex at all with the new wood.

All the wood used to repair these doors was done in ASH and was furniture grade lumber. I have $35 in total cost of the Ash in these labor was free!!!!