"All the particulars of the woodwork,"continued Eugene,"ought to be furnished before a house is begun to be built, for the first consideration in work of this kind is selecting the materials, and only employing wood that is thoroughly dry, and has been sawn out some years. We have had but a short notice, and have not been able to pay attention to this important part of our undertaking. Fortunately I am acquainted with a joiner at Chateauroux, who has a stock of well-seasoned wood of good quality, which he is not very willing to part with, as he keeps it for special work; but he will let us have some, as your father has rendered him some services.
"But while only sound and dry wood must be employed in our joiner's work, it is not less necessary to combine the parts according to the nature of the materials, and not infringe the conditions imposed by them. Wood is sawn according to certain dimensions dictated by custom and the size of the trees. Thus, for example, a plank is only 8 or to inches broad, because trees fit for joiner's work are scarcely of larger diameter, when the sapwood is removed; in making panels, therefore, it is advisable not to have them more than 8 or 10 inches wide, that they may not exceed the width of a plank. If two or more boards are joined to make a panel, they will separate in drying, and leave a space between them; whereas, if we give each panel only the width of a plank, even if it should shrink, the shrinking occurs in the tongue, and there is no disjointing. These tongues must, however, be wide enough to bear the shrinking without leaving the rebate. You will understand that better by and by.
"In the last century many doors were made wide framed, that is, doors the panels of which, framed in moulding, are from i6 to 20 inches wide; this was the fashion. But at that time they employed none but very dry wood, that had been felled and cut up for several years; and these panels, made of two boards, notched or simply jointed, did not shrink. You see doors thus made in your father's drawing-room, and there is only one in which the panel has opened. In the present day such wood cannot be got for love or money; we must therefore be content to give up those wide panels. Or, if we insist upon having
them, they must be made of white wood - of sycamore, because this wood dries quickly, does not split nor warp, that is, it does not curve across the grain. But sycamore is a soft wood, liable to be attacked by worms, especially in the country. Let us therefore keep to oak, and construct our doors so that the panels may be only about 8 inches wide. We have folding and single doors. The folding doors are 4 feet wide; the doors of a single leaf 32 to 40 inches. Their height varies from 7 ft. to 7 ft. 4 in.; for it is quite useless to make them higher, as we do not walk into our rooms with crosses and banners, and the human stature rarely exceeds six feet. There are many inconveniences in having doors too high; they are liable to twist, are not easily shut, and, if it is cold, every time they are opened they let a considerable volume of damp, freezing air penetrate into the rooms, chilling them proportionately.
"Let us begin, then, by drawing a folding-door. We shall make the framing of this door of wood i inch thick. We call the outer upright pieces (Fig. 56) the hanging stiles; the pieces, A, the meeting-stiles; the horizontal pieces between them, the rails. The stiles and the top and bottom rails shall be each inches wide, the mediate uprights, or munton, 2 inches. Now each leaf - deducting an inch for the rebate, or overlap, in the middle - will be 2 feet wide, since the doorway must have an opening of 4 feet : deducting 41 in. + 2 in. + 32. in. for the two stiles and the munton - total, io inches - there remain 14 inches for the two panels, i.e., 7 inches for each panel. The middle rail must be placed so that its centre shall be 3 ft. 4 in. from the ground; for it is on this rail the lock is fixed, and this rail should not be less than 6 inches wide, so that deducting for the mouldings, say 2 in., there still remains 4 in. for the room of the lock, whose box is usually from 3 to 4 in. wide. This kind of door is called square-framed : all the joints being square, without mitres, and the panels being narrow, these doors do not give, and are perfectly ridged.