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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Custom made FRONT DOORS | Architectural ornament and decoration | Copying a front door decorated with wood carving

Custom made front doors
 “Copying a front door decorated with wood carving”

It happens quite often that a carpenter or joiner relies on my craftsmanship, i.e. my expertise as a wood carver, and my knowledge of ornaments and decorations. Many of them take on a commission, but often they do not know how to include and execute ornaments and decorations in wood. At times like these a collaboration between the carpenter/joiner and wood carver is inevitable. It goes without saying that the final result can only benefit from such a partnership.

As subcontractors we have been making ornaments and decorations for in and outdoor joinery for well over 25 years now. A local carpenter was troubled with the following situation: he was asked to copy a classical double front door. This late 19th century door was ravished by the sands of time. Chronic exposure to moisture had caused irreparable damage, and besides, the door no longer met the standards set by the client and the requirements of contemporary outdoor woodwork.

However, the customer had a keen eye for detail and historic value and therefore wanted the carpenter to produce an exact replica of the existing front door. The idea was that after renovation the façade truly had to be an eye catcher in the historic city of Tongeren (Belgium).

The city of Tongeren is located in the south of the Belgian province of Limburg, not far from Liège, the French speaking part of Belgium. Starting from 15 BC Tongeren quickly developed as a Gallo-Roman settlement. It is the oldest city of Belgium. The Gallo-Roman museum and the gothic 14th century basilica are just a few of the touristic highlights. Furthermore, the “Kroningsfeesten” or Coronation festivities are organized every 7 years and every Sunday it is possible to visit the largest antique and second hand market in the Benelux. ( =Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg)

The original front door with carving, Tongeren(B)


Some detailed images of the ornaments

African Padauk

The door was manufactured in African Padauk; also known as African Coralwood. This type of wood is categorized as durability class I. An extremely durable, valuable and stable type of wood originating from central and tropical west Africa. Beautiful coral red to purple brown heartwood that is suitable for high-end applications such as outdoor joinery.

African Padauk heartwood has a coral red color, hence the name African Coralwood. It is also used as a dye in the textile industry. I experienced this first hand.

"Padauk ' used as a dye in the textile industry," experienced firsthand.

The wood pulverizes easily and stains skin and clothes, which causes slight skin and airway irritability. When unfinished direct light results in rapid discoloration of the wood from red to brown.

The color of the heartwoods differs depending on the geographical location. Under optimal growth conditions the color is coral red with black stripes (Gabon) or uniformly red in Cameroon. Near the edge of the growth area (Congo, Congo-Brazaville) the heartwood contains ugly white spots. This, however, does not alter the durability or mechanical properties of the timber.

The wood grain is relatively fine with an even structure, but, as is the case with all types of tropical wood I worked with, African Padauk wood has an interlocked grain. This type of grain makes it difficult to apply wood carving to larger panels, compared to types of wood with a straight grain. But for this particular door there were only a few decorative elements (several frames with wood carving). Therefore the presence of an interlocked grain did not constitute a major problem.

The front door with carving and prime color


 Translation Koen Verhees

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