External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP pics

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Roger-M
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External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP pics

Post by Roger-M » Thu May 03, 2012 10:51 pm

After lots of requests for help, here and elsewhere, on the practicalities of making my own external bifold doors I finally made a decision to go for it last autumn. This was primarily after having a quote for £9500 for 2 sets of 3 bifold doors, supply only. The ones in the showroom were admittedly very nice - but £9,500? Plus fitting? Then I went to see some that had been made locally in a neighbours house. When I looked at them I was not impressed and thought that I could do better. The decider came when he said that he had been having problems with them and when I suggested that he call the manufacturers back in under guarantee he told me that it was worthless as they had ceased trading within weeks of the installation.

I had already shown an interest in the laminated approach to door making as described by Keith Smith, and had a practice making a new back door, as shown in this post. This seemed to be pretty painless so became the basis for my bifold door build to fit in the space shown in our new kitchen extension.

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I started with the frame. These are big chunks of iroko and were not easy to manage on my 8” table saw, so I invested in a Festool TS55 track saw. Brilliant piece of kit, although strictly speaking the TS75 would have been better for ripping 50mm iroko. I started with the threshold into which a groove has to be cut for the base track, using the router table.

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To cut the slope for the sill I made a simple jig which attached to the thicknessing table on my SIP p/t. Initially I tried to hold it in place with clamps but found that to be a hopeless task. Fortunately the SIP thicknessing table has a “lug” at either end with a hole in it so I bolted the jig to these as shown. It was now rock solid ...

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...... and the way the slope on the sill is cut is clearly shown here

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And the slope can be cut in easy stages until it is jsust short of the base channel.

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Here is the door head and sill dry fitted and ready for a glue up, having remembered only just in time to cut the groove for the Aquamac 21 door seal first!

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The jambs are made from 175mm x 45mm solid iroko and, again, are hefty pieces of timber to surface plane and thickness using my 10 x 6 SIP, but with a roller stand fore and aft and some running about we had a workable system. Now time to try a dry fit.

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The finished frame is 2600mm x 2175mm so it’s not the sort of thing you can assemble in the average garage, so yet again I worked outside. Initially trying to get the frame square with the sill and head was a nightmare and I tried all sorts of methods using spirit levels and a bevel box held to a post with a clamp, as shown here.

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Then I scribed the angle of the sill onto the jambs ...

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... and it fits quite nicely.

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However, I found the whole process a “bit of a faff”, so when I made the second set of frames, I simply used an offcut from the sill, held it square with the jamb using a set square and just scribed the lines for the cuts onto the jamb. So much more simple, and the end result was just as good.

The joint with the top of the jamb didn’t involve any angles other than 90 degrees so they were simple. So, now I had 2 sets of frames which were stored away until they needed to be assembled prior to fitting. Just as well we have a couple of spare bedrooms.

I seem to have run in to the maximum size of post, so pt 2 follows .....
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Roger-M » Thu May 03, 2012 10:52 pm

.... here. :D

So now for the doors (x6). These were laminated up from 3 layers of 100mm x 20mm iroko. I wanted the internal faces to have chamfered edges where they meet the glass and I dislike the “routed out” look that you so often see where a hand held router is simply run around the inside edge of a square frame, so this involved cutting the chamfer prior to assembly.
First I ran the edge of the first layer past a cutter on the router table until it was just short of the 45 deg line I needed for the corner of the chamfer.

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Then I cut a piece of scrap at 45 deg using my SCMS and held it onto the side of the workpiece with a clamp and trimmed the face using a razor saw.

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Having done this for all 4 pieces they fit nicely and are “indexed” with a 6mm domino. Not strictly essential I guess, but when you’ve just invested in a “dom” you find any excuse to use it!

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A word now about accuracy. The tolerances on bifold doors are quite tight. Not only do they have to be absolutely square, there is also little room for error on the dimensions. I’m making a set of 3 doors. The gap between each one is 4mm and this is dictated by the size of the hinges which are surface fixed. This is therefore not adjustable after the event. The clearance at the jambs is 7mm, and the only adjustment possible is on the attachment hinges for the first door at the jamb which enables you to move the door along the frame left or right by a few mm. All 3 doors have to be exactly the same if they are to fold back squarely, so it makes sense therefore to assemble each door on the same jig. I chose to make each door 1mm wider than the precise figure calculated to allow for a final trim when complete.

Whilst it would make sense to assemble the first layer face down so that the next layer can be glued on top, I wanted to be able to see that the corners where the chamfers meet had pulled in tightly, and I couldn’t be certain unless they were visible - and so this is why I chose to assemble the first layer face up. Here it is after gluing and after the clamps have been removed. The new kitchen is making a useful assembly area.

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Then lift the first layer up and turn it over - it should simply drop back into the jig precisely - after all we have made it accurately haven’t we? Weather starts getting cold now so I’m able to get away with continuing the glue ups in the dining room. Here’s the next layer going on.

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These doors are clearly going to be heavy, and they’ll have to carry 25kgs of sealed unit. I decided that rather than rely 100% on the glue (TB3) I would drive 30mm stainless steel screws through layer 2 down into layer 1 to strengthen the corners. The screw heads will be hidden by the 3rd layer and they’ll never be seen again - or will they - watch this space. But I digress - here’s what I mean.

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Now for layer 3. I’ve cornered the market in Axminster F clamps. I now have about 30, and if I had more I’d have used them.

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One door down, only 5 more to go! The frames had been stained and treated with Sikkens Filter 7 ready for storage, and now it’s time to assemble them. These have to be square to within +/ – 5mm across the diagonals - I managed +/- 1.5 mm which I’m well pleased with and once assembled attach a diagonal brace from corner to corner to hold everything square. Time to install them in position.

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The frames are suspended from the flitch beam with a piece of stainless steel threaded rod at each end and in the middle which goes right through the beam. This enables me to fine tune the fitting with a spanner from the top. Packing pieces are put between the frame and the beam where necessary so that it is held tight to the beam. Then the intermediate positions are attached with stainless steel coach screws. The side is attached to the galvanised steel post with 5 hefty self tapppers.
The frame has to be precisely vertical if the doors are to slide nicely. I decided that a plumb line would be more accurate than a spirit level, so made a little “carrier” that sits in the top channel ....

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.... and the plumb bob is aligned with a line drawn on a piece of tape that is 18.5mm from the centre of the bottom channel. This ensures that the doors will hang vertically
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Next the doors are hung. I left these unfinished as I thought that they may need a little “fettling” to make them fit. Having made each one 1mm over width I took a final measurement from the installed frame and them trimmed each one to size using the TS55 and a guide rail. The finish from the 48 tooth blade is so smooth that it is ready for sanding. I’ve no photos of the installation of the doors as both SWMBO and I were needed to fit each one, but here they are, fitted but unfinished.

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The sliding action is just beautiful, and having taken a lot of time to ensure accuracy they fitted without any adjustments being required. Time to take them down again for finishing.

The doors are held closed with a recessed bolt. The slot for them was cut using a router up against a straight edge.

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And “bingo” - we’ve found those hidden screws again!

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Fortunately, although I hadn’t anticipated this at the time I made the doors, I did spot the problem before I cut the recesses and used an old cutter, and increased the depth of cut with 2mm increments and it barely noticed it, although it’s taken the edge off the cutter!

I had originally planned to glaze the doors before fitting, but I felt that the weight would make them too unwieldy at 45kgs per door, so elected to rehang them unglazed and then glaze them in situ. Two of these were invaluable.

Here’s the end result, with only the posts waiting to be clad in wood.

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The sliding gear is Centor E3 top hung, which came in at about £500 per set of doors. Glazing was £550 in total for Planitherm Total+ with Argon fill. Iroko was about £1200 as far as I can tell as it was part of a larger order to include the windows - tho’ that’s another story. Locks/handles etc came to £260. Add in sundries like Sikkens, glue etc and the final bill was i.r.o. of £3200 for 2 sets of bifold doors, fully fitted, so a saving of £6,300 plus fitting. I’ve not included the purchase of a TS55 or a Domino in the costs - but these are toys that will serve me for many years.

Why did I choose to laminate? Several reasons really. I don’t have a spindle or a morticer. Also iroko is a b***** for movement and I felt that laminations would be more stable in the long term. Obviously if you had a spindle you’d probably use it! What I set out to achieve was a major cost saving and a better end result than I saw locally. Also I like a challenge - and it was a very time consuming project - but also very satisfying. Do not under estimate the time you’ll need, or the space that is needed to assemble and store all the components - although not everyone will be making two sets of doors simultaneously.

Anyway - if you’ve got this far - thanks for reading, and I hope it’ll be of some help to anyone else tempted to have a go. Finally a huge thank you to Keith Smith (Woodsmith) who provide lots of advice as well as a copy of his magazine article on laminating doors, and to jonnyd whose post on foldy slidy WIP provided some much needed inspiration. Thanks Jon - you’ll have noticed where I pinched some of your ideas.
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Teckel » Thu May 03, 2012 11:17 pm

Well done Roger. That looks a top class job. Really looks the biz.
I wanted to make a set for my own house but the long haired commander said I enough to do in the house with all the other timberwork. Sorry I didn't put the foot down and just make them. Anyway enough of my ranting.
Brilliant job lad well done
Teckel

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by paulchapman » Fri May 04, 2012 6:53 am

Great job, Roger - looks really good.

Cheers ;)

Paul

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Mr Ed » Fri May 04, 2012 8:03 am

Nice work Roger and a very detailed WIP.

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by toolsntat » Fri May 04, 2012 8:57 am

Cracking job there Roger, well worth the hard work.

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by nickw » Fri May 04, 2012 9:57 am

That looks a pukka job. You must be well pleased with yourself.
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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by karl » Fri May 04, 2012 10:14 am

Excellent work Roger.

Quick question - on your router table, there's a hole in the table behind the cutter - is this for extraction when routing a groove (where normal extraction isn't so good)?

Cheers

Karl

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Roger-M » Fri May 04, 2012 11:29 am

karl wrote:Excellent work Roger.

Quick question - on your router table, there's a hole in the table behind the cutter - is this for extraction when routing a groove (where normal extraction isn't so good)?

Cheers

Karl
yep - got it in one Karl. This was an idea I shamelessly copied from Steve Maskery. It works very nicely unless I'm taking a very heavy cut, in which case I think the extraction hole should be nearer the cutter to stop the groove getting clogged with debris. it's just that i didn't want to drill across the edge of the insert, and also the current position is convenient for plugging in the extraction hose.

Thanks for the comments about the doors, and just to prove that these are "foldy slidy" rather than "sticky binding" here's a quick video of them in action! :D

When the building work is finished a kitchen will need to go in that space so rest assured I'll be back for more advice!
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by woodsmith » Fri May 04, 2012 12:16 pm

Brilliant work Roger and you managed to get a couple of Festools into the bargain mix together with a massive cost saving and a much beter job than you would have got had you bought them.

Well done!

Keith
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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by promhandicam » Fri May 04, 2012 2:55 pm

Well done Roger they look really well done and it must be very satisfying looking at them and knowing that you made them. An well done too for acknowledging the help received from others here, it will hopefully be an encouragement for others to both share their knowledge and give credit where credit is due.

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by jonnyd » Fri May 04, 2012 10:27 pm

Nice work Roger great thread and pics. Glad my thread provided some inspiration.

cheers

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by jake » Sat May 05, 2012 8:39 pm

Roger-M wrote:Anyway - if you’ve got this far - thanks for reading, and I hope it’ll be of some help to anyone else tempted to have a go. Finally a huge thank you to Keith Smith (Woodsmith) who provide lots of advice as well as a copy of his magazine article on laminating doors, and to jonnyd whose post on foldy slidy WIP provided some much needed inspiration. Thanks Jon - you’ll have noticed where I pinched some of your ideas.
Lovely job, much kudos to you. What happened with the buried screws? You teased, but did not do the final reveal.

Nice hat-tipping to Keith and Jonny too - it's good to share, but nice for them for the worth to you of that sharing to be acknowledged so graciously.

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by mattty » Sat May 05, 2012 9:22 pm

jake wrote:
Roger-M wrote:Anyway - if you’ve got this far - thanks for reading, and I hope it’ll be of some help to anyone else tempted to have a go. Finally a huge thank you to Keith Smith (Woodsmith) who provide lots of advice as well as a copy of his magazine article on laminating doors, and to jonnyd whose post on foldy slidy WIP provided some much needed inspiration. Thanks Jon - you’ll have noticed where I pinched some of your ideas.
Lovely job, much kudos to you. What happened with the buried screws? You teased, but did not do the final reveal.

Nice hat-tipping to Keith and Jonny too - it's good to share, but nice for them for the worth to you of that sharing to be acknowledged so graciously.
Cracking job and a pretty impressive piece of engineering too. Much appreciated.
Cheers, Matt.

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Roger-M » Sat May 05, 2012 11:26 pm

jake wrote:
Roger-M wrote:Anyway - if you’ve got this far - thanks for reading, and I hope it’ll be of some help to anyone else tempted to have a go. Finally a huge thank you to Keith Smith (Woodsmith) who provide lots of advice as well as a copy of his magazine article on laminating doors, and to jonnyd whose post on foldy slidy WIP provided some much needed inspiration. Thanks Jon - you’ll have noticed where I pinched some of your ideas.
Lovely job, much kudos to you. What happened with the buried screws? You teased, but did not do the final reveal.

Nice hat-tipping to Keith and Jonny too - it's good to share, but nice for them for the worth to you of that sharing to be acknowledged so graciously.
Thanks Jake. The buried screws reappeared when I cut the slots for the retaining bolts. There they are, all bright and shiny at the bottom of the recess.

Image
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by modernist » Sun May 06, 2012 6:00 pm

Great job and a fantastic end result. Nice to come across another fan of building boards.
Cheers

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Davespiers11 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:31 am

Hi Roger

I'm new to the Woodwork UK forum, i was drawn here by your brilliant bi-fold door post! I am planning a similar project myself and these posts have been like a godsend. the only thing that i am still unclear about is how you went about glazing the doors - i may be asking a very stupid question, but figured if i was going to ask then you were the man to get in touch with!

any help from the forum would be greatly appreciated

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Davespiers11 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:27 pm

Hi Roger

These doors look brilliant, I'm inspired! These posts are so helpful and thorough. I am planning on undertaking a similar project myself, though I think I will avoid laminating as I'm worried it may take too long and I don't have a massive amount of time to get them made.

When you get the Centor kit does it come with decent instructions for fitting for the frame and doors? Im just starting to plan the sizes, thicknesses and construction. If there are any tips you have for the planning phase they would be GREATLY appreciated.

Cheers

Dave

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Roger-M » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:41 pm

Sorry for the delay in replying Dave. Been away. Welcome to the forum, and thanks for the kind comments. It was this forum that convinced me that I would be able to do the job.

Glazing was relatively easy. The units are 4/16/4 - so 24mm thick in total. The units rest on plastic packers so that in the event that any rain gets past the bead they are not sat in water. The packers are "heeled and toed". i.e, for a door with a left hinge line, the weight of the unit rests on a packer at the bottom left, and a packer at the top of the right stile stops it tilting. By doing this, all the weight of the dg unit is close to the hinge line which helps stop any tendency for the door to "rack". The units were bedded against 2mm double sided glazing tape, and another strip of the same tape was stuck to the inside of the bead which was attached from the outside to hold the unit in place. I found it easier to predrill the bead for some stainless steel pins to prevent the bead splitting. Once in place, I ran a thin bead of clear CT1 along the top of the bead to effectively seal the top of the bead against the glass.

There is no reason why you can't make these with one piece solid stiles and rails. I laminated them as I was using iroko and it can be a bit unstable, so felt that laminating would help stabilise the components. However, if you are confident with your m&t jointed corners, and you are selective with your timber, there is no reason why one piece stiles and rails should not be just as good, and in fact I'm sure the purists here would say that it would be better.

The instructions are so-so. Basically all you get is what you can download from the Centor eu website, and it's worth printing out and absorbing its content. Several of us on the site have now made bifolds and although it requires accurate work, it's not rocket science. Just needs attention to detail, both during the manufacture and the fitting.

Two years after fitting, they run as effortlessly and as smoothly as the day they were fitted, and this hot weather the default position for them is that they are open from dawn til dusk. It's really worth digging deep into your wallet for top quality running gear. That way the doors will be a pleasure to use.

Good luck and just ask if you have any more questions.
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by leeco » Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:16 pm

Very helpful thread as I plan on making my own too.

Where did you buy your track from>?

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Roger-M » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:34 pm

leeco wrote:Very helpful thread as I plan on making my own too.

Where did you buy your track from>?
Thanks. I bought mine direct from Centor UK in Solihull as I couldn't find them anywhere else at the time i was buying. However, I see their website has changed and it is not immediately obvious whether you can still buy direct from them. No harm in picking up the phone to them and asking. Alternatively a quick bit of "Googleing" shows that the E3 system is sold by Marches Ironmongery. I've had other stuff off them and they've been fine to deal with.
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Louis84 » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:56 am

Superb! Bravo! Well done!

How many hours in total did it take?
Measure twice, measure thrice, cut once, glue a bit back on, cut again, bit of filler, done

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by Roger-M » Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:11 am

Louis84 wrote:Superb! Bravo! Well done!

How many hours in total did it take?
Thanks Louis. Too many! It was very time consuming, and storage of the components during manufacture was a major headache, although I was making 2 sets of 3 doors simultaneously which doesn't help. After machining all the wood (a significant task in itself) it probably took me about a week to make the frames, then about 3 days to laminate up each door (and there are 6 of them), plus time on fitting locks, hardware etc, plus general finishing with 3 coats of Sikkens. I'm guessing at around 10 weeks of steady part time work - plus fitting which took longer than I anticipated as well. There was a lot of short term frenetic activity whilst gluing up, and then off to do something else whilst I waited for it to dry, so the 10 weeks is not of solid work. But I think the end result was worth it and now over 2 years after they were fitted they work just as well as on the day the installation was complete. No regrets!
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP

Post by podengo » Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:05 pm

I think Centor only sell to account customers now. They are available through dealers.

Brio is an alternative kit, available from Anglefix.

Or Tommafold from Quest.

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP pics

Post by fatflint » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:59 pm

Hi Roger
Brilliant build
I am trying to pluck up courage and make the leap to start on a set for myself..i am thinking of maybe using sapele, ive been searching for keiths article about laminating the oak patio doors. would you happen to have a link or a copy.
yours is the best article ive found so I am pretty much using that as a rough template i really like the way you offset the 3 pieces.
and you've done a great job, how are they standing up these days and do you think TB3 is still a good option for glue,
mine are for in between my kitchen and conservatory so there internal what would you recommend as a minimum width for the frame.
hope your well and thanks for taking the time to share your build.
Thanks Mark

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP pics

Post by Roger-M » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:34 pm

Thanks Mark. The doors are standing up to use very well, and still slide as well today as they did when first installed. I've searched for a copy of Keith's article but unable to find it. However, the key parts were explained in my initial posts on this thread. I've been very happy with TB3 as an adhesive. Iroko can be an oily wood and I've had no issues with delamination. For internal doors you could get away with TB2 or any one of a range of PVA type glues, although TB3 has a longer open time than either TB1 or TB2 which is important whilst getting all the clamps in position when laminating.

I think part of the reason that they work well is that the Centor sliding gear is absolutely first class. I made the doors 60mm thick rather than the more usual 46mm to add to their rigidity, and that seems to have paid off. It's difficult to say what the minimum width for the rails and stiles for each door should be. Of course added thickness may offset a reduction in width, and in your case the fact that they are internal and not open to the elements would also enable you to go lower profile than I have done.

The final part of getting a good action is, I think, being focussed on accuracy both in the building and installation. Build the doors square and flat, same for the frame, and then spend as much time as it takes to get the frame both square and vertical during the installation.

I have looked at a number of "professional" installations since I built mine, and none have run as smoothly. These are the only ones I have ever built, so it is do-able by an amateur. Just don't under-estimate the time it will take, or the amount of space you will need for storage during the build. You will not have enough clamps! :)

Good luck. Looking forward to your WIP thread! Remember without photos it never happened!
Cheers, Roger

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP pics

Post by fatflint » Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:28 pm

Thanks Roger
Ill keep you posted, and more clamps on the shopping list. and after doing more research and finding a local supplier I am copying you again and going for the Iroko and the Centor gear too, as its well worth the money by the sounds of it, and nicely stood the test of time. Im curious what size beading you ended up with on the inside of the glass..ie was 60mm the optimum width with hindsight.
Thanks again for taking the time to put up the original post and answering me now. if they nearly as good as yours ill be happy.
Cheers Mark

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Re: External Folding Sliding (Bifold) Doors - loads of WIP pics

Post by Roger-M » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:52 am

Mark - I only used iroko as these were to be outside doors in an exposed coastal position, and I wanted something virtually rot proof. If these are to be internal bifolds this will be less of a consideration, so there's nothing magic about using iroko. If I had been building for internal use I might have considered sapele or european oak instead - but that is a personal preference. FWIW, I think your first idea of using sapele might be the right one for internal doors if that is the appearance you like. I cannot fault the Centor gear. It's expensive, but the action is superb. My beading is on the outside and is 18mm wide. There is a school of thought that the beading should be on the inside for security purposes, but I felt that in an exposed position there needed to be an exit for any water that got behind the beading so chose to have it on the outside. The double sided glazing tape I used to secure the sealed units in place makes removal of the unit without tools difficult so the security issue doesn't bother me.

If this is to be between a kitchen and a conservatory will it be double glazed? If so you might want to check the thickness of the spacer bars. At 18mm my allowance is barely enough. If I was doing it again I think I might allow 20mm so that there is no risk of the edge being exposed. Obviously this is not a consideration if single glazed. HTH.
Cheers, Roger

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