Tita’s Mexican Restaurant on Sixth Street in Courtenay needed a new door.
The old one, probably the original from when the house was built in 1938, was rotten and didn’t close properly. The difficulty was that the doorframe was arched at the top and no standard door would fit. Fortunately, some talented people in the Comox Valley came to the rescue.
The first challenge was to find full dimension 2×6 lumber as normal 2×6’s, which are not actually 2×6, but slightly smaller, which would not fit the old frame. Blacktail Sawmill in Black Creek agreed to custom mill the boards which came from a Douglas fir tree that was growing between Port Alberni and Tofino, and was taken down for a run of the river project. The beautifully clear lumber was kiln dried for several weeks. Master woodworkers Bob Slocombe and Geoff Russell then went to work crafting the door. After the lumber was planed, each of the boards was ‘splined,’ meaning that a groove was cut along the length of each board and a piece of plywood inserted into the grooves so the boards can expand and contract without leaving spaces.
Pieces of wood were then fitted across the door and inset to hold the boards together. The top arch of the door was cut using a jig fitted to the doorframe to ensure a correct fit.
Once the door was complete, iron straps were needed to further hold the boards together and to give the door a Spanish look.
Roy Sander, a man of many talents including blacksmithing, custom-forged authentic hand-beaten straps to fit the door. Before installation the door was stained and sealed with five coats of clear finish. Bob and Geoff’s final challenge was inserting the door and making sure it snuggly fit the frame.
Tita’s chef/owner Damon Ulmi is delighted with the door which he says has exceeded his hopes and is a tribute to these skilled people of the Comox Valley.