The following is excerpted from “Doormaking and Window-Making.”
As the Industrial Revolution mechanized the jobs of the joiner – building doors and windows by hand – one anonymous joiner watched the traditional skills disappear and decided to do something about it.
That joiner wrote two short illustrated booklets that explained how to build doors and windows by hand. And what was most unusual about the booklets is that they focused on the basics of construction, from layout to joinery to construction – for both doors and windows.
Plenty of books exist on building windows and doors, but most of them assume you have had a seven-year apprenticeship and don’t need to know the basic skills of the house joiner. Or the doors and windows these books describe are impossibly complex or ornamental.
“Doormaking and Window-Making” starts you off at the beginning, with simple tools and simple assemblies; then it moves you step-by-step into the more complex doors and windows.
Every step in the layout and construction process is shown with handmade line drawings and clear text. The booklets are written from a voice of authority – someone who has clearly done this for a long time.
During the last 100 years, most of these booklets disappeared. Booklets don’t survive as well as books. And so we were thrilled when we were approached by joiner Richard Arnold in England, who presented us with a copy of each booklet to scan and reproduce for a book.
We have scanned both booklets, cleaned up the illustrations and have combined them into a 176-page book titled “Doormaking and Window-Making.” In addition to the complete text and illustrations from these booklets, we have also included an essay from Arnold on how these rare bits of workshop history came into his hands.
VENETIAN, or, as they are sometimes called, marginal light, windows are very fashionable at the present time, having in a great measure replaced the bay window, although the same style is sometimes adapted to the bay, instead of the usual upai1d-down sliding sashes. These windows are, as may be gathered from the drawings, of the casement variety, and the sashes should be made to open outwards if possible, this being the better way to keep out the wet.
In Fig. 108 we show one of these windows fitted with four lights or casements, the two outside ones being hinged to the jambs, and the two middle ones, which fold together, being hinged in like manner to the mullions. The casements in this frame run from sill to head, the upper part being divided into small squares as shown, which is the simplest way of forming an artistic window.
Another method of filling in these window frames is shown in Fig. 110, which shows the filling between the mullions. Here the casements are in two heights, the bottom pair being hinged in the ordinary way to the mullions ; the other, which is wide enough to fill the whole space, is hinged at the top, and opens outwards, the bottom rail of this fitting to the others either as section, Figs. 111 or 112. The former is the simplest way and least liable to get out of order, but the latter is best as regards the stopping out of wind and water; but when the window has been repainted a few times it is apt to work badly.
Windows made in this way are very convenient, as it is possible to have the top only open, or the whole, as required. The folding casements in either style of window come together with a rebated joint, as Fig. 113.
Suitable sections for head and sill for these frames are shown in Fig. 114, the grooves in the latter being to form a cement key under, and to take the window board. It will also be noticed that the bevel of the sill finishes with a hollow, forming an undercut rebate ; this should not be omitted, owing to its use as a water trap. The same also applies to the groove in the bottom rail of the casement, which tends to the same purpose. In these windows the jambs are the same in section as the head, and the mullions the same, but worked both sides ; thus there is no need to· give sectional illustrations of these.
Fig. 115 shows a window of a more ambitious kind, and which is not strictly Venetian, though often called so. In addition to the mullions, as in the former example, the present window is divided in height by the insertion of a transome. A half-sectional plan of this window is given in Fig. 116 (this will also serve the same purpose for Fig. 108, both being alike in this respect), and a vertical section in Fig. 117. In these sections the whole of the framing is flush at both sides, the sashes being kept back from the face sufficiently far to allow of a somewhat heavy chamfer being run round, as shown in Fig. 118, but the frame is improved if the transome and sill is made to project as in the section (Fig. 119). This is also an additional safeguard against the wet, the projections allowing of a water groove being made underneath, as shown.
Fig. 119 also shows an alternative moulding on the inside of the frame, in place of the chamfer shown in Fig. 114, and in many cases the transome is made use of to introduce more or less elaborate mouldings. These, however, make no difference as regards method of making, though it may do in the setting out, which must in every case be dealt with according to requirements.
In Fig. 120 we show the rod for setting out the frame of the window shown in Fig. 115, which, for the sake of illustration, is 8 ft. wide by 6 ft. high outside, the framing throughout being 4-1/2 ins. wide by 3 ins. thick. The width of the frame is on the side of the rod marked A, the marks B show the full width of frame, outside. From B to C, inwards, should be the thickness of the framing after it is planed up, which will probably be 1/8 in. under the 3 ins., and from C to D, outwards, is the depth of the rebate. From C at each end set off the width of the side lights, or, rather, the distance from jamb to mullion, and the thickness of the framing again, which gives us E and F, and from these mark off the depth of the rebates again, thus getting G.
In setting out the stuff from the rod, the marks D and G will be for the mortises, those coming in the rebates, as shown by dotted lines in Fig. 119, and if the sashes have to come flush with the framing outside the same marks will be the shoulder lines for the transome on the outside edge. The dotted lines on the rod will be the shoulder lines for the inside of the transome, and also for the outside, if the framing is allowed to project, and is chamfered as in Fig. 118.
The height rod is set out on the side marked H, the lines I showing the full height, 6 ft. K is the thickness of the sill (which we should have said is 4 ins. instead of 3 ins.), then L and M for the depth of rebate and the bevel respectively, the latter being made to correspond with the inside chamfer.
From I at the top set off the thickness of the framing and back the depth of the rebate, thus getting N and O respectively. Now measure up the height of the bottom casements from K, set off the thickness of the framing above this, and back from each, 1/2 in. for depth of rebate, and again from the top one of these for the bevel on transome. This gives us the marks P, R, and S, respectively.
In setting out this from rod, the marks M and 0 are the shoulder lines at sill and head on the outside, L giving the angle in the former, while S will be the shoulder lines for the mullion under the transome. T is the same above the transome, and the line between R and T gives the angle.
The shoulder lines on the inside are the same as M and T at the sill and upper side of transome, and as dotted lines under the latter, and at the head.
The rod for setting out of the sashes of Fig. 118 is given in Fig. 121, and as this is simply the same as what is met with in ordinary windows, no detailed description is necessary, the sizes marked on being sufficient.