Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Mistake or The Work of a Master

Several months ago I wrote some blog entries concerning my subtle mistakes and also about mistakes I found on original millwork in the house. I came to the conclusion that if you stared at just about anything long enough you could find a problem with it. The solution is to not look too hard at something, or if you do and you find mistakes, don’t let it drive you nuts. It’s OK to sweat the details, but if it leads to cold sweats in the middle of the night you’re taking the whole thing too serious.

Having said all that, I’ve found some intersting “mistakes” on my new 120 year old pocket doors. Two mistakes to be exact. One mistake on each door in the same exact place. This begs the question: Are they mistakes or were they done on purpose.

The doors are really made very well. They are still pretty much square. The joints where all the rails and stiles meet are still tight. The miters of all the millwork around each panel are still crisp. After having made a small 2 panel door I can really appreciate the craftsmanship that went in to making these 2 large 9 panel doors.

Freshly Oiled Doors

As you can see in the picture above each door has 3 rows of 3 raised panels. The center panel in the middle row of each door has a flaw at the bottom of the raised portion. This flaw is only on one side of each door. In all 32 raises on the panels this flaw shows up on just two and they are in the same exact spot on each door. You can see the flaws in the pictures below.

Flaw One

Flaw Two

All Other Panels

After I found these 2 identical mistakes I started scouring the doors for more. There aren’t any. I’ mean, not every centimeter of every raised panel is 100% perfect, but even after careful study it is hard to find even minor mistakes. The mistakes at the bottom of the 2 center panels is glaring. Not only that, but these are mistakes that could easily have been fixed had they caught them before the doors were assembled. You can’t un-cut wood, but you can re-cut. There is no reason why they couldn’t have run these ends again and trimmed off that last little bit and straightened out that panel.

So why didn’t they? Here’s a few possibilities.

1)They didn’t catch the mistake on the first door so they decided to make them match.
2)It is a “signature” of the door maker.
3)It has something to do with the location or owner of the doors.

As for #3. I’ve come to the conclusion that these doors came from some public space as opposed to a home. I think they were the entrance to a hall or meeting place. There really aren’t any 20,000 sq ft Mansions in this area, and even in a larger size home for this area (6 or 7,000 sq ft) furniture would probably get in the way of big swinging doors like these. This is the reason for pocket doors. You can have impressive openings in modest homes and still be able to close them off. Perhaps this little dip in the center panels plays off some element in the logo of the building they were in or has something to do with the organization or group that used the space. A long shot, I know, but it is very curious.


Gary said...

I think it's reason # 4. Sometime in the distant future a man named Greg is going to lovingly restore the doors and be perplexed by this simple quirk for the rest of his entire life!

StuccoHouse said...

I love mysteries like this. Here is my stab at a possible answer. It isn't an optical illusion thing, is it? When the doors are left open, the trim might appear to be straight. Only one side was done like this because if they are open, the back side doesn't show.

ben said...

Perhaps it was a wonky jig, a slight enough mistake to go unnoticed during mass production. Odd that they are identical.

Jennifer Zwick said...

I did it!

Greg said...


{Me, shaking fist at computer screen} Damn you!

Dani said...

In the past some religious people made mistakes on purpose as a mark of respect to god. Sort of saying only god can produce perfection.