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The Art of Carved Doors

by Arnim Rodeck
Duncan, BC Canada

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

I am a woodworker living in Duncan, BC in Canada. I studied Electrical Engineering in college and now I travel around the world, working for HP. 7 years ago I wanted to do something completely different from my day job and so I chose woodworking as a hobby. I had no previous experience, but I figured I would try it since it wasn't too expensive to start and it was something I could learn to do over time, and if I dedicated enough time to it I could become good at it. I set out a timeline for myself: 10 years I would be okay at it; 20 years I would be even better; 50 years I would be really good.

Milling a piece of Douglas Fir.

I have not taken any woodworking courses and have no official training. I thought it was important to not pollute my mind with education and wanted to invent my own wheels, even if it meant making mistakes. I believe that mistakes are the biggest gift in life and are so powerful. They come with an opportunity to learn something. I started my woodworking business without a clue about doors or woodworking, but that level of ignorance was extremely helpful. After every project, I do a post mortem and that is my learning time, where I analyze the mistakes I made in order to improve upon them for the next one.

I feel like we've lost the art of having something that is really about you, which is what woodworking does for me. It tells a story either about you or the person you are creating it for, and can really make an impact. Sure, the high tech industry can make an impact with a new product on the market, but a year later that product will be replaced with something brand new. With woodworking, your projects will outlast you and many generations to come. They are also created with trees that have grown for so long, and will be able to exist in a form that will last as long as the trees themselves took to grow.

Creating Carved Doors

These days, I like to tell my stories through the creation of carved doors, my specialty. It is a medium that allows us to say a lot. We all go through a door - a door has a reason to be there and is very important to us. It separates the outside from the interior. Once you have crossed a doorway, you often forget why you went somewhere. The reason is the door has a deeper meaning; a door is a welcoming method. It is the first thing that visitors see when they come to your house. My doors are an excuse to meet people and find out who they are.

A door has two sides. I never make the same design on two sides of a door:

Dome door
Not many are around but there are still a few geodesic domes out there.
One of the many challenges of a geodesic dome is that you don't want to cut into the struts.
Hence the unusual shape for this door opening.
As with most of my doors, the inside is quite different to the outside.

I don't believe there is such thing as good or bad wood. I believe that the person behind the wood will define what you make out of it. More specifically, I try to use local woods like Douglas Fir (soft) and Red Cedar (soft/durable/nice to carve) when I make a door. I will often ask customers if they have a piece of wood that has meaning to them, like an old chair from their grandfather, or an old tree on their property.

Below are even more of my carved doors, each with their artistic explanation describing the inspiration behind them, and for some what they are made out of.

MetCal entrance
A Rocky Mountain vista creates that home-away-from-home feel for this Albertan couples West Coast house.
The skyline wraps around the sidelites into the door itself, and also into the adjacent wall.
The double casted glass gives it a distinct three-dimensional effect for the clouds.
The overall dimensions are 3" thickness, 95" height, and 155" in total length.
The doors and walls are filled with symbolism.
Inside, the door hosts a male/female dragon carving, while the wall represents a Buddha pond,
a reflection of the clean Asian decorative style within the home.

Lugares door
You might never have guessed it, but this door represents on the exterior side a map of places the owners have lived in.
The door is framed in Sapelle wood with it's unique figure.
The interior side honors our old growth forests in BC.
You might have also noticed the doors are "S" shaped.

Salmon-run door
This 48" by 80" majestic door represents the various natural wonders of its home on Salt Spring Island, BC.
Made of hundreds of pieces of wood, the door is unlike any you have ever seen.
Incorporating a twisted willow from Saskatchewan, this entry door boasts dozens of salmon with the occasional pickerel,
a kingfisher on the hunt, and an elegant heron casted into the glass.
A 3-Dimensional special finish distinguishes the old growth douglas fir.
This masterpiece took more than 500 hours of handmade labour.

Playtime door
Caucophonous ravens oversee your welcome at this front door while eyeing the family cat below.
Once you are on the other side, you discover that the game has changed
as the cat spies on the plotting ravens from his perch above.
This door is full of attentive details including visible joints, a welcoming quote, a unique finish
and beautiful old growth Douglas Fir panels made with thick laminates and a foam core.

Eagle's Nest
A majestic 107.5" tall by 92.5" wide door that depicts the view from a magnificent home on the Moose River in Alaska.
The exterior gives us a glimpse of nesting eagles with the abundance of the salmon run below.
In contrast, the inside represents the winter season, with snow-capped mountains just beyond the river's temperate edge.
Double weatherstripping, triple glazing and insulated carved panels
are some of the many features of a door made for the cold climate up north.

Uralt door
These huge 220-pound (each), 2.5" thick doors are made of quarter sawn white oak.
The panel is composed of old pine woods from a barn on the east coast.
The goal was to create a majestic seasoned set of doors that will welcome people into an amazing house on the Sunshine Coast.
The door holds several secrets, including a hidden Lasqueti silver coin.
The texture added to the woods gives them the combination of an old look with a very smooth and elegant appearance.

People always think they need a great shop to do their work. The smaller a shop is, the more artistic it is, and it shows who is actually working in the shop. The old woodworkers - their shops are amazing, a piece of art. Tools are out everywhere, but when they work, everything makes sense. I want the shop to reflect my character. You can view a video of my workshop here: HERE .

You can email Arnim at and check out his website at .

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