Back in the saddle

l’ll always love woodworking and frankly, it’s a fundamental part of my being. So when CAD projects slowed, it was time to re-hone my shop skills.

About 9 months ago, I was hired by a company making yurts and my task(s) were those of a joiner, primarily to build its doors, jambs and any specialty components, but it quickly became apparent that the shop’s needs required much more as its existing component designs were defined by previously available skillsets.

It was time for an upgrade.

Initial door leaves were simply tongue & groove plank “shed style” with zee bracing on the backs set into crude curved door frames/jambs requiring LOTS of countersunk plugged screws, excessive handwork and fitting time. The following issues were quickly identified:

  • Tongue and groove paneling was outsourced and poorly manufactured resulting in warped boards, excessive machine marks resulting in excessive sanding and wood filling of chipped faces.
  • Poorly maintained machines due to lack of training.
  • Poor in-house machining practises.
  • Excessive applied parts requiring additional processing & assembly time.
  • An inability to easily add glass lights (window).
  • An inability to hold machining tolerances to avoid hand fitting during final assembly

The Tablesaw

In any shop, the tablesaw is the primary tool and sadly, this one was in a terrible state. What had started life as a very accurate SCM panel saw devolved into something crude with many of its critical components discarded due to a lack of understanding of their application. Slowly, many of them were recovered and restored to enable this accurate and versatile tool.


An older Wadkin 4-sided planer had been used only for bulk processing of wet timber yurt frames. And much like the saw, a great deal of its potential had lain fallow due to a lack of machine familiarity. It was time to strip it down and take a closer look at its potential.

What we discovered was the remarkable quality of cut from this machine enabled us to consistently batch machine components better than ever before and with a huge reduction in final sanding.


Next, it was time to address the door design. The challenge being to:

  • Make better use of the machinery potential
  • Halve the number of parts by using accurate skilled machining techniques
  • Improve machining techniques to reduce hand fitting
  • Improve assembly & lamination techniques to reduce handwork
  • Improve design versatility to enable changes
  • Provide drawings and parts lists to better coordinate the shop floor

The drawings below are examples of some of the pages:

Additional Investment

To do this however required some additional tooling:

  • A spindle moulder with stock feeder and misc. cutterheads
  • Some misc. hand tools

This relatively small investment resulted in the following:

  • Improved tongue & groove paneling could be easily made in-house.
  • Components were easily & accurately machined instead of the previous cruder technique of applying lots of extra pieces ($$) with glue and screws.
Machining the groove in a door frame head for an integral stop with weatherstripping.

Component Consistency

The other benefit is that we could maintain consistency nearly on par with a CNC, but without the cost as shown below:

Machining a pair of door top rails (note how the use of a feeder keeps hands clear!)

Finally, even before jambs were assembled, all curved pieces were cut to size with parts mortised for hinges requiring only the plugging of some screw holes and final sanding. Then the door stiles and rails are glued together, trimmed to size, routed for hinges, followed by final sanding before oiling. All this with NO hand fitting.

When the oiling is done, the finished tongue & groove planking (or glass) is installed in the openings, with the door leaves installed in the frames (for the 1st time with no hand fitting).

Ready for packing and delivery


It’s been an inspirational 9 months working with some shop mates whom I will miss very much sharing skills, fabrication strategies and some good all around banter. Thank you guys for all your support. Lastly, please be careful working with these older machines and keep up the good work. 🙂

Best always, R

We are Shoreline Parametrics

Because our drawings are truly an extension of the maker’s hand.

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