How to make a threshold or where to buy one
January 17, 2010 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Cuttin Wood. I need to custom make a threshold for an old doorway, and I'm having some problems.

I am trying to make a threshold to go where an old sliding glass door once was. I haven't been able to locate something precut at any Lowes or Home Depot, so I bought a 1/2" thick by 6" wide piece of red oak and cut it to fit lengthwise - 93". I want a bevel on one side as it is going over linoleum (the other side is up against the carpet). I tried to cut a ~2" wide, ~25 degree cut using an elaborate jig of scrap wood and my circular saw, but I only succeeded in ruining my piece of wood as the saw bound and didn't want to go straight. I'm thinking this has to do with cutting with the grain of the oak and the hardness? I tried two different blades, a nice small toothed finish blade and a ripping blade just to see what happened (the damage was done at this point...).

Options and Questions:

Is there anywhere I could buy a precut (with bevel) piece of threshold this long? Maybe a specialty window/door place?

Would it be possible to find a woodshop that would cut one for me, for a nominal fee? Suggestions on what to offer to have this done? I don't need it finished, I can do that.

Can I make this cut with a basic ~$100 table saw? I've always wanted one, but I don't really have storage for it.

Would a router give me a suitable edge?

Any other suggestions for this opening are welcome. There is a ~4 inch gap of subfloor exposed between the carpet and linoleum in the other room, and that's really the issue.

I'm in the Sacramento area and I'll be in the bay area this week for work, so any store suggestions are welcome.
posted by Big_B to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
You can certainly do it with a table saw; you can probably do it with a router, but if I'm understanding your cut right it would be a lot of wood to remove - the 2" wide bevel is fairly large. I'd call this Woodcraft in Sacramento. They might be willing to help you do it for a nominal fee, and they'll likely have the wood too. Most of their stores have a full shop in the back for teaching classes. If they can't or won't do it, I'm sure they'll have local advice on where to go.

Alternatively, you could almost certainly buy or order a piece like that at any local place with "lumber" or "millwork" in the name.
posted by true at 8:15 PM on January 17, 2010

Mark out the bevel and use a nice sharp hand plane, Or a power planer.
posted by hortense at 8:35 PM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hortense has the answer you're looking for.

A $100 table saw isn't going to take too kindly to making that sort of bevel cut on a chunk of oak that long.

A woodworking shop would likely use a jointer to cut this bevel for you.
posted by davey_darling at 8:46 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am nearly certain that Southern Lumber in San Jose will make a threshold out of lumber you buy from them. No clue if they would do it with lumber you bring in.

As to the $100 table saw; just no. There is little such a table saw would do that a similarly priced circular saw couldn't do and I suspect you would get better cuts from a decent circular saw and some good clamp down straight edges.
posted by fief at 9:04 PM on January 17, 2010

A woodworking shop would likely use a jointer to cut this bevel for you.

I don't know much about woodworking shops, but carpenters on a job site would make that cut on a portable table saw with no fuss. I can't think of a way to (easily) do it with a router -- maybe with a router table, a super long bit, and some kind of jig? And I definitely can't imagine easily doing it with a dremel.

So if you want a tablesaw anyway, this is your perfect excuse. Or just pay someone to do it -- it'll be cheaper, but then you don't get to have a tablesaw to play with.
posted by Forktine at 9:10 PM on January 17, 2010

As to the $100 table saw; just no. There is little such a table saw would do that a similarly priced circular saw couldn't do and I suspect you would get better cuts from a decent circular saw and some good clamp down straight edges.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the cut involved. But if my mental picture is correct, and you need to make a long beveled rip cut down the length of the board, there's no way in hell that you are going to be able to make as clean a cut with a circular saw as you could with even a cheap table saw. Using the right tool for the job is always going to be safer and give better results than jury-rigging something up. And circular saws in particular can be scary when used in unusual ways -- if you've ever had one bind and kick back, you'll know how frightening that can be.

tl;dr: long shallow-angle rip cuts are best made on table saws, not circular saws.
posted by Forktine at 9:20 PM on January 17, 2010

For a shallow bevel, just count on using a small table saw with your piece standing on edge. A feather board will be safer to keep it up snug to the fence. An outfeed support of any kind will also be a preserver of fingers. For red oak, dremel doesn't make anything with balls enough to route an edge unless the tiniest round over will do. Nothing less than a good quality trim router. A more manly router would be best, but for a transition for a threshold, your on the right track with a shallow bevel.
posted by Redhush at 10:54 PM on January 17, 2010

This is a 1 minute job for anyone with a decent table saw. 15 seconds getting on safety gear, 30 seconds setting the bevel and 15 seconds ripping the board. It's the kind of job I'd expect to pay $10-15 to get done and any custom cabinet or milling shop would be able to do it. It's also quite doable with a hand plane, even a standard block plane. It would just take a while. There is something very satisfying about nice long curls coming out of the throat of a jack or jointer. Or if you can borrow one a belt sander with a fairly course belt, say 65 or so.

Though I can't quite picture why you want a bevel. Is the bevel going up? If it is going down why not a rabbet? With a little practice you can cut a rabbet in a 1X6 pretty easily with a good fence on your skilsaw and something to clamp the board with. I've been known to screw something like that right to the side of my work bench to work on it.

IMO those $100 dollar table saws are too dangerous to use. Step up another $100 and you get something with a workable throat plate and fence.
posted by Mitheral at 11:41 PM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

hortense has the answer here. Use a plane. That's what there're for. Mark it out first like hortense said. Sand it afterwards.

Yes. You can cut this with a table saw. However, if your bevel exceeds 45 degrees, the cut can be tricky to set up, and dangerous if you screw up. And you may need a more expensive model to do it safely. You don't need to buy an expensive power tool you don't have room for, and will probably rarely use, to make one cut.

Just use a plane. It's all you need, and much safer.
posted by nangar at 3:41 AM on January 18, 2010

If access to a table saw with a rip blade isn't an option, this is a job for a jack plane. I wouldn't tackle a board this long with a block plane unless I was really desperate. You'll need a longer iron bed and two hands to keep the bevel consistent over that length. Even with the grain, red oak can get squirrelly and put up resistance. The set-up is key to success. You need to draw your lines on the end grain and the length of the board. Then just plane down to the lines.

I think the 2" bevel on a 1/2" thick board seems severe. That's going to leave you a little thin on the low end or entry point of the threshold. I assume you're going to glue and screw this down? You can't just screw through the center or thicker portion. You'll need to put a couple of screws through the bevel to keep the front edges to the floor. If the wood is too thin, you won't have enough meat for the screws to bite into. I think you're going to wish the wood was at least 3/4" thick. Any reason you couldn't start over with thicker wood?

By the way, in a pinch, I've also done this job with a belt sander and lots of 60 grit sand paper. You could hog out the major portion of the wood with the sander then plane to the lines for looks.
posted by birdwatcher at 4:29 AM on January 18, 2010

I am a professional woodworker with lots and lots of experience. Mitheral's is the best answer here.

A dremel is absolutely not going to do this.

A $100 table saw will be very difficult, and at best do a very sloppy job of it. The jobsite table saws that could handle this are more like $500-$600.

A handheld router is not going to cut a 2" bevel.

Hand planes can do this, but they must be sharp (they're dull as hell when new) and you must be skilled in their use . I can tell from here that you probably don't have one, you wouldn't know how sharpen one, and you don't know how to use one. (No offense intended; there's plenty I can't do.)

Find a millwork shop, or even just a neighbor who does a little woodwork and owns a real table saw, and have them do this for you. This is by far the cheapest, most direct solution.
posted by jon1270 at 4:43 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Or you could just go to the Floor Zone in Sacramento.
posted by birdwatcher at 4:57 AM on January 18, 2010

I like jon1270's answer best, and all the ones along the same lines. Just for the records, I'll tell what I'd do (maybe we'll succeed educating a new woodworking nerd here, worth a try!). I'd use a large Japanese rip saw to make a cut about 0.1 inch away from the line, and hand-plane the surface to perfection afterward. This should take 3-4 minutes.
The odd circumstance being that I don't own a power saw of either kind, but a bunch of sharp saws and planes (and a Dremel tool, which works fine for grinding off minuscule plastic bits from undersides of n-gauge trains and similar tasks).
posted by Namlit at 7:29 AM on January 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great advice. This is definitely too big of a job for a dremel, but I have the router attachment and it works very well for really small jobs. I think I'll wait on picking up a table saw - a new shop is on the dream list for the backyard, maybe when that happens we'll do it.

Based on suggestions I was able to find two woodwork shops (and a hardwood supplier) within a 2 mile radius of my work which is in a somewhat industrial area. One of the places actually has some awesome ideas about how to make this really nice, and they are going to cut it for me. I'll report back after we decide what to do.

Thanks again.
posted by Big_B at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2010

« Older Random Fashion Questions   |   The last few links in the chain. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.