By Christian Becksvoort

Spinners have been used for years to keep barn doors shut. I've redesigned the spinner for my cabinets from the simple but effective exterior latch to a refined and almost completely hidden mechanism within the door stile.

The earliest spinners consisted of a small piece of wood with a pin through the center mounted on the frame next to the door. With the spinner in the vertical position, the door can be opened. With the spinner turned horizontally, the door is locked.

A few years back, I decided to incorporate the spinner inside the lock stile of the door frame. I make the spinner into an oval. The result is substantially more work in layout, mortising, and fitting, but it's much cleaner-looking and is almost entirely out of the way.

The doorknob must be placed on the centerline of the door stile, and the spinner must extend out of the stile by at least Vi in. when closed, yet fit completely within the door stile when in the fully opened position. Begin by drilling the knob hole through the stile. Then make a cardboard cutout of the spinner, sized so that it won't reach into the door-panel groove. Locate the mortise by swinging the cutout in a 90° arc around the doorknob hole. The width of the mortise should be about a third the thickness of the door frame—say, Vi in. for a 3/4-in.-thick frame.



Lay out the mortise in the door. With the knob hole drilled in the center of the stile, use a cardboard cutout to determine the spinner's placement. Then mark the mortise Vie in. larger than the spinner itself.

Once the mortise is complete, shape and drill the spinner

I aim for close tolerances between the knob shaft and matching hole. For most cabinet doors, I use knobs with V2-in.-dia. shafts (3/8 in. dia. for very small doors). To make life easier, I shape all knob tenons with a plug cutter, chuck them into the lathe, and turn the knob proper. If you think about it, the knob shaft is the only critical part of the process. The V2-in.-dia. shaft must fit precisely in the matching hole bored into the door. The plug cutter eliminates the most difficult portion of the task.

For a V2-in.-dia. knob shaft, drill a 33/64-in.-dia. hole through the door stile and a V2-in.-dia. hole through the spinner. Now the knob will spin freely in the door frame yet hold the spinner securely. If all works well, you will pin it in place with a small brad or a brass escutcheon pin. The spinner should not be glued, because there's a great risk of glue getting onto the knob shaft and mucking up the works.

With the spinner to the closed position, align the grain of the knob with the grain of the door frame. Then turn the spinner into the open position and pin it. Now the grain of the knob lets you know whether the spinner is open or closed.

After 30 years as a woodworker, I was proud of myself for coming up with this idea of installing the spinner in the door frame. Then in 1996, while shooting photos for The Shaker Legacy (The Taunton Press, 1998), I came across a small chest with drawers and doors at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, Mass., in which the door knob passed through a mortise in the edge of the door. Although the spinner itself was missing, it was clear that the Shakers had the same bright idea more than 160 years ago.

Christian Becksvoort is a furniture maker of 45 years and a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking.

Christian Becksvoort Chisels

Chop out the mortise. Becksvoort chisels out the mortise by hand.

Drill for the pin. To avoid splitting the spinner, drill a hole for a small brad or pin.

Slide in the knob and spinner. The knob should go in easily, and the spinner should swing freely and be hidden when the latch is open.

Chop out the mortise. Becksvoort chisels out the mortise by hand.

Drill for the pin. To avoid splitting the spinner, drill a hole for a small brad or pin.

Slide in the knob and spinner. The knob should go in easily, and the spinner should swing freely and be hidden when the latch is open.

Flipper Catch

A spring-loaded solution to keeping doors closed


I discovered flipper catches in one of James Krenov's books on cabinetmak-ing. I like these catches because they are easy to make and allow me to utilize exotic hardwood scraps. The one I frequently use is an L-shaped wood flipper that is recessed into a mortise in the case bottom. A small spring keeps the flipper engaged with the bottom edge of the door.

Check the fit often as you work; you don't want



Christian Becksvoort

I make the flipper out of a durable hardwood, such as ebony, because it resists wear. Although I make the flipper to fit, one made for a 3/4-in.-thick door will typically measure approximately Vi in. thick by 3/8 in. wide by IV2 in. long. Cut it out with a handsaw, then shape the flipper with a file or knife. Drill a slightly oversize hole for the attachment screw. This will allow the flipper to pivot. Countersink the hole so that the screw is flush with the top of the flipper.

Next, cut the sloped mortise, which allows the flipper to recede when the door is closed. Use a plunge router with a fence to make the mortise. It is a short mortise the mortise too wide.

(only IV2 in. long), so be careful not to cut too deep too fast.

Square up the mortise with a chisel. Drill a hole in the deeper part of the mortise for the spring. The hole should be about Va in. deep and the same diameter as the spring. I use Vs-in.-dia. springs from ballpoint pens trimmed to Vi in. long, but you also can get springs from a hardware store.

Put the flipper into the mortise to test the fit. It should be snug but not overly tight. If it fits, place the spring in its hole, put the flipper in place, and secure the assembly with a small wood screw.

I usually make a shallow notch (V16 in.) in the bottom of the door to engage the flipper. If the door is made of very soft wood, such as redwood or pine, it's not a bad idea to insert a piece of hardwood in the bottom of the door to prevent excessive wear.

To determine the location of the notch, first close the door several times on the flipper, which will create a shiny spot where it is nibbing. At the end of this shiny spot, make the notch for the door to catch. If this shiny spot does not appear, rub the top of the flipper with a pencil and then close the door. The pencil mark will indicate the location of the notch.

A variation on this catch is to include a positive stop. By shaping a shoulder onto the flipper itself, I can control the closed position of the door. I use this variation on inset-door applications or on double doors that can be opened individually.

A little trimming here and filing there, and you'll have a good catch that makes a subtle "click" when the door is closed.

Doug Noyes is a furniture designer and woodworker in Guilford, Conn.

Catch assembly. The spring sits in a hole bored in the deep end of the mortise, and the screw threads through the back end of the flipper.

Cut the sloped mortises.

Use a plunge router to make a sloping mortise for the flipper.

Cut the sloped mortises.

Use a plunge router to make a sloping mortise for the flipper.

Chisel the mortise to length. Scribe the length and width, then pare close to the layout lines.

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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