Please contact us for an estimated lead date if you require your order for a specific date as lead dates can fluctuate.
Wittswood is a family business currently run by co-directors David Witts and his daughter Sophie Witts. David started his working life in 1973 as an apprentice for British Rail, eventually becoming a cabinet maker primarily working for Lloyds Bank, he then set up on his own, working small joinery projects for the next 10 years and in 1994 this involved into Wittswood, which David initially ran with his wife Hillie. Sophie joined the family business in 2009 after obtaining a law degree at university and in need of a summer job, Hillie has now retired and David and Sophie still run the business together today. Sophie found that, like her dad, she enjoys making things and can operate all of the woodworking machinery and equipment and today specialises in the manufacture of bespoke oak doors. David mainly focuses on handmade pieces of furniture, doors, gates and any other bespoke joinery that might be required.
- Bespoke Solid Oak Ledge and Brace doors - V Groove and Butt & Bead
- Exterior Oak Doors
- Barn Sliding Doors
- Glazed Doors
- Exterior Oak Frames
- Stable Doors
- Driveway Gates
- Curved Gates
Storing Your Doors
Solid oak doors are very heavy. It’s part of their charm, that weighty, sturdy feel which can’t be replicated by an engineered alternative. But before hanging your new doors, you need to consider how that weight can affect the door. A common mistake is to stand new doors up against a wall which can cause them to bow in the centre.
Your doors should be laid flat but raised off the ground. They should be supported in at least three areas, with support spanning the width of the door and at very least at the top, middle and bottom. This method will not only adequately support the weight of the door and prevent bending but it also removes the risk of an extremely heavy door falling and potentially causing a lot of damage.
The Storage Environment
If you are not fitting your doors straight away, they must be stored supported above a flat, dry floor. Any untreated doors must be stored in a dry room which is free from any damp. This includes any recently plastered rooms where the walls are still dark and the moisture is yet to leave the plaster.
Treatment & Maintenance
All of our doors must be treated before they are hung, not afterwards. It is vitally important not to miss areas where the door has been cut for hinges or any other door furniture as this would allow for moisture to get into the door and spread throughout it. Also remember the edges.
As wood is a natural product movement can happen because of the difference between the moisture content of the wood and the moisture content of the surrounding air.
As the porous wood tries to equalise its moisture content with its surrounding environment, it will let out or take on moisture, causing it to shrink and swell and because wood is a natural material, this shrinkage and swelling does not happen perfectly evenly across the width, length and thickness of the timber, so the result can be:
- Bending and / or twisting of an individual piece of timber or several jointed (glued) timber pieces
- Splitting along glued joints between pieces, as each piece wants to pull away from its neighbour (this often happens first at the end of the pieces where moisture loss is quickest)
- Cracking within a single piece of timber as different sections of the piece shrink away from each other creating small island of wood with gaps between them – the gaps are the cracks you see.
Most movement normally occurs in the first 12 months, whilst the wood is acclimatising to the different conditions between winter and summer.
This does not mean there is something wrong with the wood. This is sometimes misconstrued as a fault in the construction of the door but this is exactly as nature intended and as we enjoy the benefits of solid oak so we must accept the nuances of a beautifully natural product. Even the process of kiln drying – which prepares timber for indoor and outdoor use – cannot mimic the many months of warm dry air in a modern, centrally heated home and/or outside elements. In fact, the kiln-drying process itself, even when digitally controlled extremely carefully over a very long period, will cause some cracking, bending and twisting. After all, we’re trying to take something – a tree – that has lived outside its entire life (maybe 80+ years for an oak tree) and very quickly force it to adapt to a completely new environment. Of course there will be consequences!
Sticking and rubbing doors are a common problem caused by wood movement. High humidity is usually the culprit, so some problems can be avoided or solved by keeping the humidity levels in your house low. But when this isn’t practical, you’ll have to resort to solutions like tightening door hinge screws or planing or sanding the door edge.
Please note applying a finish does not stop movement. While it’s true a high quality finish will slow the rate of moisture exchange, it will not stop it. Material finished on all surfaces will expand or contract at a slower rate than raw wood, but make no mistake—finished wood will eventually acclimate to environmental moisture content levels.
There are many reasons for changes in moisture levels or temperature within the environment but most notably the weather is an over-riding factor. Obviously a door cannot absorb water at the same rate as a living tree but together with changes in temperature it is enough to cause problems as it expands or contracts in reaction to its surroundings, especially if it is not properly fitted in the first place.
Solid oak doors can be expected to expand and contract throughout their life but particularly in the first year of use as they settle. However, even old doors may change slightly in size when moved to a new location as they acclimatise to new humidity and temperature levels. This is why it is imperative they are treated as soon as possible after delivery and are only stored in rooms with a dry atmosphere, even wet plaster on the walls may cause moisture problems in some cases. The best way to minimise the effect of the elements is to treat the doors with suitable treatment.
Challenges you May Face with Solid Oak
As a solid oak door expands and contracts this will affect the fit of the door in the frame. Even though the overall door width will only change by a small percentage at the most it is still enough in some cases to affect its use. Gaps between the frame and door may appear where there were none previously or alternatively the door may become tighter fitting in the frame. However, the installation process should take into account the expected small movements the door will experience throughout the year and build these into the calculations to minimise any problems.
All of our solid oak internal and external doors are supplied untreated. This provides you with the opportunity to finish your doors in your chosen tone rather than having it predetermined for you. But before we even get to that stage, your doors need to be cared for from the very moment they are delivered to your kerbside. Packaging, storage, treatment and maintenance are all vital, this article aims to make all of the above nice and straightforward so that you can enjoy your doors quickly and easily in all of their solid oak glory.