Dog Doors and Other Challenging Projects

In last issue’s eZine, Rob announced that he is building a better dog door, and asked if other woodworkers had some off-the-beaten-path projects on their horizons. First, we have the comments on the dog door idea. – Editor

“Great idea! My golden retriever has a dog door I installed in a steel door leading to a large fenced yard. It was not a very neat job, and I’ve frequently thought about replacing it with something better-looking and less drafty. I thought about just buying an exterior wood door and installing another PetSafe™ door, but perhaps I’ll just wait and see what you come up with. Please feel obligated to complete this project and keep us posted on the outcome.” – R. Wade Covill

“I thought no one was crazy enough to consider making a dog door. I know I have, but that is par for the course. Actually, I have had no luck and would love to learn how you approach the access vs. weatherproof issue. In Montana it makes a difference, just like it does for you. Please keep me and others nuts informed of your progress.” – Al Flinck

And then we had those woodworkers who shared with us their own “challenge” projects. – Editor

“First, I don’t think your ideas are oddball. Maybe the thinker is, but not the idea.

“Anyway, I have a project that is not all that unusual; it’s just that I don’t plan on doing it in the usual way. My neighbor wants a new mantel for her fireplace, nothing new there. I am not going to make from one large piece, though. I plan on making it like a torsion box; a few longitudinal pieces and many small crosspieces dividing the interior into small cubes. I will then put on a nice skin of quality plywood so that it can be stained to look like a huge chunk of material. She doesn’t want the conventional knees to support, it so I plan on mounting it like I do cabinets: a long piece with a 45 degree cut lengthwise and the matching piece mounted inside at the top of the mantel, inset of course. She wants to be able to take it down easily in the event she wants to change the decor of the wall it will be mounted on. I use this method of hanging cabinets as it is so much easier to level and mount a single strip than fighting with the weight of the cabinet. Yes, it works very well. I have some cabinets that are over five feet long and just as tall that are loaded with items and never a problem with sagging or coming loose.

“The nice thing about torsion box construction is that there is no messy glue-ups with the small pieces, which could be difficult to keep aligned. The only glue is that which is applied to the skin material. I use a lot of clamps, I mean a lot, and this supplies all the strength necessary. This mantel will be just over six feet long and a foot wide and six inches deep.” – Robert Hoyle

(Not sure what a torsion box is? Click here for an article that explains if further. – Editor)

“I am trying to figure out a project that is a half picnic table that the top will flip toward the seat and make a bench with a back. It would be perfect for the deck, patio, and porches.” – Lynn

“I’m proud of my garage, but my wife sees the garage as a place to put stuff that she doesn’t want in the house. As a result, the garage becomes disorganized. I want to build 2 floor-standing cabinets that are roughly 4′ wide and 6 to 8′ tall. I want moveable shelves, perhaps a drawer or two, and a recycling bin. I don’t work much with plywood so, for me, this would be a good skill building project for face frame construction or ?? If I make a mistake, it is in the garage, not the kitchen or family room.” – Scott Duncan

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