Decades of Doors at Versatile Wood Products

Hollywood Theatre. Timberline Lodge. The Old Church. The Ladd Carriage House. The Hallock-McMillan Building. Harlow Hotel. Heceta Head Lighthouse. The Woodlark. The Fried-Durkheimer House. These are among some of Oregon’s most loved and recognizable places for their historic, aesthetic, and cultural value, and conservationists throughout our region have worked diligently to save them for the enjoyment of future generations. Whether these buildings are historic or new, commercial or residential, Versatile Wood Products has had a hand in keeping many of these doors opening and closing now and into the distant future.

Newer, more modern buildings are important too and deserve the same attention to quality, style, and aesthetics. Many Portlanders will be familiar with fine restaurants and breweries like Ava Gene’s, Full Sail Brewery, Woodsman Tavern, and Pine Street Market. Students study in the newly constructed Dundon-Berchtold Hall on the University of Portland campus. And people enjoy living, working, shopping, and relaxing in places like the Cook Street Apartments, Design Within Reach, Albina Yard, Penner Ash Wine Cellars, and the Spa at Salishan Lodge.

A custom Dutch door for a home designed around porthole glass that inspired the homeowner. Photo courtesy Versatile Wood Products.

There are also many gorgeous homes in Portland and the surrounding Metro area that are important in a more intimate, personal way to those who inhabit them. Some are historic homes over a hundred years old with intricate woodwork and ornate details, and some are new, modern, and sleek.

Erica Witbeck, Operations Manager for Versatile Wood Products, explains that Versatile’s craftspeople make custom doors “by hand using solid wood and traditional joinery methods, while using modern technology and materials, such as CNC for precise arches or cutout details and high-quality composite cores for flush doors. We have the talent and experience to come up with a design that meets your needs, and our process allows for the flexibility to create truly custom designs, while being fluent in traditional door construction methods.”

“The door we did for the restoration of the Fried-Durkheimer House has my favorite juxtaposition of salvaged original architectural details integrated into a solid new door that will operate smoothly and last another hundred years.”

The Fried-Durkheimer House, also known locally as the first Morris Marks house. Photo courtesy of Versatile Wood Products.

The Harlow Hotel (1882) in Portland’s historic Pearl District. Photo courtesy Versatile Wood Products.


Versatile Wood Products has worked on multiple historic projects throughout Portland and the Pacific Northwest. They replaced the doors for the Ladd Carriage House (1883), the Harlow Hotel (1882), the Woodlark hotel (1908/1912), and the Hallock-McMillan Building, Portland’s oldest commercial building, which was built in 1857.

“When the boundaries of traditional design are tested, Versatile’s team comes together to determine what is feasible and find the best way to honor the design intentions while making sure the door will look great, operate properly, and remain solid and functional for years to come. Custom doors all come with their own set of challenges.

When we are working with very tall doors, wide and heavy doors, existing openings in old buildings that aren’t square and true, coordinating details seen in surrounding architectural elements, and addressing highly technical hardware requirements, this can be complex, but we love the work of identifying solutions and making them come to life.”

The Woodlark Hotel. Photo courtesy of Versatile Wood Products.

The craftspeople of Versatile have the necessary expertise to repair and restore original historic doors, both residential and commercial, including the ornately detailed door of the Fried-Durkheimer House, an 1880 Italianate; the beautiful landmark Heceta Head Lighthouse (1894); and the doors of several historic churches, including The Old Church (1882) and Westminster Presbyterian Church (1914).

Westminster Presbyterian Church. Photo by Jason Houser.

At the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Irvington, Versatile was hired to create a new door pair for the church’s grand entrance as part of a larger restoration effort. Erica Witbeck describes the process:

“The doors were pulled to be stripped of paint and restored, but once the paint came off we were able to see that the doors needed replacing; there was old chipboard in between the wood layers, which was part of the reason the doors were failing.

In the Gothic-arched entryway, there was a decorative wooden transom that is in very good shape, so it remained installed. Our challenge was to replicate the design of the failed doors, but re-design them to better align with the details in the original transom. Some of the panels did not line up well with each other, and this was a chance to improve on the previous door pair. The new doors continue the panel design as though they were made at the same time.

The transom is stained oak on the inside and painted red on the exterior. We made the new doors with triple-laminated stiles for strength and stability, and this permitted us to use quartersawn oak on the interior of the door while using a more paintable Douglas Fir on the exterior.

We created new jamb legs to receive new heavy-duty hinges that were up to the task of supporting these massive, heavy doors. The surface-applied strap hardware was salvaged from the previous doors and stripped of their years of paint, and were given a fresh coat of flat black to complete the look.”

The new doors at Westminster Church (left). Versatile’s carpenters create the new door for Westminster Church (right). Photos courtesy Versatile Wood Products.


Classic designs reside between the more ornate historic styles and the streamlined simplicity of modern doors. Durable, elegant, and beautiful, classic doors lend a graceful and timeless air to an entry. Versatile has created classic door styles for Pine Street Market, Ava Gene’s, Fire Station #7, Hollywood Theatre, Full Sail Brewery, and many others.

Pine Street Market. Photo courtesy Versatile Wood Products.


The artisans at Versatile can produce a wide range of styles for every application, both old and new. The hallmarks of Versatile’s modern doors are any combination of unusual operation, clever operating hardware, unexpected sizes, and designs that emphasize materials rather than elaborate details. Modern style doors are usually clear coat or stained, because the beauty of the wood is one of the major design elements.

In October 2015, Versatile built 106″ tall flush exterior doors and full lite doors for Portland’s Albina Yard. The doors feature Port Orford Cedar on the exterior and Fir on the interior, and a continuous Port Orford Cedar veneer and matching 34” transom panel above. In addition to their impressive height, both door types are approximately 40” wide and utilize offset pivot hinges to give these massive doors smooth operation and lend a seamless modern look.

Albina Yard, with its tall modern cedar doors.

In addition to manufacturing beautiful modern custom doors, they have also been entrusted with the restoration of artistic masterpieces, like this door created by artist and sculptor Leroy Setziol.

A Leroy Setziol door and the plans for its repair. Photo courtesy Versatile Wood Products.

In closing, Erica says, “There is a certain kind of joy that comes from being a part of historic preservation projects and knowing that we are helping keep our architectural traditions alive. There is also a sense of continued mission when we help bring wood back to the forefront of modern architectural design. Being a go-to supplier for classic designs permits us to keep traditions alive across all types of building and remodeling projects.”

There’s a reason Versatile Wood Products was chosen to repair, restore, and replace the doors of so many important buildings, both old and new: they produce a diverse range of beautiful, high-quality custom wood doors to suit any application. Whether you’re looking for a door to match a historic, classic, or modern structure, Versatile’s craftspeople can create a beautiful custom wood door that you will love for decades to come.

Case Study: University of Portland’s Dundon Berchtold Hall Entries

Teamwork and expertise made this project happen. Jeff Vasey (Mill Foreman), Pete Kmosko (Cabinetry and CNC Foreman), Curtis Nagel (Drafter), and Rex Vaccaro (Product Design Manager) collaborated for months.

Dundon-Berchtold Hall is the first new academic hall that University of Portland has opened on campus in over two decades, and Versatile Wood Products was thrilled to be a part of its completion. The intention behind the design was to create a space that was aesthetically similar to the historic buildings that are on campus and in the vicinity. A classic, traditional look was the goal, with stylistic references to the Collegiate Gothic style commonly seen in prestigious East coast universities.

Versatile designed and built six door pairs with sidelites and Gothic arched-top transoms, as well as two single doors with traditional rectangular transoms. This classic aesthetic calls for quarter sawn white oak. This species is historic, durable, and beautiful, but it takes a skillful eye to select layouts from this type of wood. Pieces were selected for harmony in both grain and color. The look of the finished product is determined when we first handle the rough lumber in the mill.

But the challenges didn’t end with lumber selection. Since Classic architectural elements are defined by their dimensionality, grand formal entrances like these call for multiple layers of trim. Large, chunky millwork profiles add depth and drama to the design and visually support the heavy detailed doors. Adding a Gothic arch to this formula made this a technical feat that we addressed with both traditional and modern methods. Accuracy was paramount in order to match up all of the curved pieces precisely, and for that task we looked to our CNC operator.

This detail from the shop drawings shows the final rendering of one of the elevations. All elements must align with each other while fitting the masonry opening precisely.

Before the pieces could be cut out, the wood blanks had to be assembled. Keeping in mind the color and grain harmony mentioned above, we also had to consider how the grain was going to be revealed on the round pieces. Quarter sawn grain patterns are revealed when wood is cut at a specific angle.

Our mill foreman had to consider how the grain would be revealed as the shapes emerged from the blanks, and with a curved piece, this is a more challenging process. Additionally, with the heavy wood and long expanses, the joints had to be robust and strong. This required compound miter glue-ups, where the face of the glue-up is angled to the shape of the final curved piece, while the meeting joints are also angled to increase glue surface. All of this planning and consideration is necessary before it ever hits the CNC platen. Once we were ready to start cutting the shapes, the CNC operator must determine the best plan of attack for the cuts—not only the direction, but the depth and speed of each pass. To lose a piece due to tear-out after all that work can be heartbreaking. The CNC is a high-tech tool but requires as much skill and thoughtfulness as any other woodworking instrument. 

This detail section shows the multiple parts used in the jamb and casing, which give the entry the imposing drama befitting this building. Note the triple laminated door construction, which provides extra stability for these oversize door slabs.

Versatile Wood Products partnered with Fortis Construction and Soderstrom Architects to bring this project to life. Our high-quality design and expert craftsmanship created these exceptional entries, which will grace the entrance of Dundon-Berchtold Hall for many decades to come.

Sovereign Hotel Restoration Award

Beautiful Sovereign Hotel Restoration

Sovereign Hotel Renovation Team Celebrates Project of the Year Award
Members of the project team behind the Sovereign Hotel renovation, submitted by R&H Construction and Emerick Architects, celebrate the Project of the Year award. (Sam Tenney/DJC)

Versatile Wood Products is proud to stand alongside Emerick Architects and R&H Construction to win DJC Top Project of the Year Award for the restoration of the Sovereign Hotel! The DJC awards are:

“… the premier awards program for the region’s built environment. Honoring the best building and construction projects in Oregon
and SW Washington, DJC TopProjects is the must-attend annual event to meet the people and firms who are doing outstanding work in the regional built environment.”


Watch a beautiful video on the restoration of this 95-year-old luxury apartment hotel here:

A Brief History of the Sovereign Hotel

Since its construction the Sovereign Hotel has been an apartment building, radio station, and home to the Oregon Historical Society.

Sovereign Hotel

The landmark Sovereign Hotel was built in 1923. The nine-story building is a Georgian-style designed by Carl L. Linde. Its first occupants were KFWV radio in 1926 until 1927. In 1938, Harry Mittleman bought the Hotel; until 1972 it was known as the Sovereign Apartments. The Sovereign Hotel was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places on December 2, 1981. In 1982 the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) purchased the building to expand the Oregon History Center.

Sovereign Hotel

One of the most beloved aspects of the Hotel is the murals. The Hotel is an L-shaped building with six sides. On four of the sides, murals commissioned by OHS were painted in 1989 by Richard Hass. Two of these murals rise eight stories.  One side depicts the Lewis and Clark expedition, while the mural on the south side shows the pioneer period in Oregon’s history. In 2014 OHS sold the Hotel under the agreement that the new owner would preserve the murals.

Versatile and the Sovereign Hotel

For Versatile, the story started in August of 2015. Our team started exploring scope options with the team from Emerick to see what the possibilities were. Versatile’s historic building experts participated in detailed site assessments to help decide how to best approach the building restoration. We were able to propose an array of strategies to choose from.

Flash Forward to Spring of 2016:

While the window scope was being sorted out and set in motion, we next concentrated on the custom storefront and entryway system. The storefront was particularly challenging. This was because the oversized tempered glass required was larger than any domestic tempering oven that we could locate. The glass ultimately had to be sourced from Canada.

The storefront was constructed out of Sapele. This beautiful material is often selected for stain-grade products because of its rich, dark appearance. Versatile will also utilize it for paint-grade applications when high exposure calls for greater resistance to weathering and decay. The entry system, consisting of quartersawn white oak door, side panels, and arched transom, were designed to coordinate with original materials and details.

We Rose to a New Technical Challenge with the Arched Transom Unit:

For maximum accuracy, we looked to our state-of-the-art CNC machine to produce the radiused pieces. The geometric precision on some of the slender pieces was so accurate and consistent, we have since adapted our production to incorporate this strategy. This is a perfect example of how Versatile strives to bring new technologies together with traditional building methods to create the best products possible.

Additional interior and exterior oak doors were added in succession, as well as some cabinet drawers and faces (yes, we do that too!). All in all, we had 13 phases to this project, finally concluding in August of 2017.

Check Out our Photos

Sovereign Hotel
Sovereign plans and arched pieces

Sovereign Hotel
Sovereign arched transom in progress

Sovereign Hotel
Sovereign Arched Transom Gluing

Sovereign Hotel
Chuck from R&H Construction stands in front of the Sovereign door and arched transom

Vancouver Hilton Rustic Eclipse Doors

Versatile’s newest project

We’ve been busy working on an exciting  new project. Here’s a sneak preview! Working with Siteworks as the General contractor, we are custom building rustic eclipse doors.  This is a 5-panel eclipse (folding) door system for the Vancouver Hilton. It features a sturdy, stable engineered core with rustic reclaimed tongue-and-groove lumber that was precision-milled by our team to work with the extremely tight tolerances that the modern hardware requires.

Sound complicated? Well it is every bit as complicated as it sounds. This method as stated has very strict requirements but the Versatile team’s skill and enthusiasm are up to the challenge.

What Makes This So Versatile?

Versatile is known for custom built. And for quality that lasts. We use only the highest quality methods for our clients, ensuring they receive the best.

Take A Look at Some Photos From The Shop

Vancouver Hilton First Completed Slab and Giant Frame
This picture shows the first completed slab in front of the giant frame that it will be set into the panels

Siteworks Vancouver Hilton Rustic Eclipse Panels Henry
The remaining four slabs being sized by Henry

Siteworks Vancouver Hilton Fitting and Installing Panels, Thor with Henry Assisting
Installing Panels: Thor with Henry assisting

Siteworks Vancouver Hilton fitting and installing Panels, Henry Assisting
Fitting and installing panels, Henry assisting

Siteworks Vancouver Hilton Prepped Door Slab
Prepped door slab

Rustic Eclipse Doors assembled are Quite Breathtaking Both In Size And Beauty.

Siteworks Vancouver Hilton Assembled Eclipse Panels
Assembled eclipse panels

And to think that all this was finely crafted from rustic reclaimed tongue-and-groove lumber


Siteworks Vancouver Hilton Reclaimed Tongue & Groove Lumber
Reclaimed tongue-and-groove lumber

 We Can’t Wait To Show You More

Siteworks Vancouver Hilton, Beckwith Sash, Sarah
Here’s Sarah starting on some trim details for an elaborate and unique window—stay tuned for more! Oh and in the background are some enormous frames she built for the Timberline Lodge Cascade Dining Room. More to come on those as well.

This project highlights Versatile’s ability to take two pieces of a project and bring them together. The fun is in the craft and we can’t wait to show you our completed project.

What Does Custom Wood Building Mean?

Custom Wood Building

Custom wood building is an art that has been around for about as long as humans. Many of the same terms we see today were used thousands of years ago. On Raymond McInnis’s site, A History of Woodworking, he shares a piece from an article written on Stonehenge:

“…The largest weighs as much as 50 tons. Unique today, Stonehenge was probably also unique in its own time, some 4,500 years ago – a stone monument modeled on timber precedents. Indeed, its massive lintels are bound to their uprights by mortise-and-tenon joints taken straight from carpentry.”

Modern Wood-Building

With the progress in modern technology and industrial demands, Woodworking as a field has changed. For example, the development of (CNC) or Computer Numeric Controlled Machines in 1949 made it possible to mass-produce and reproduce products faster—not only faster but with less waste and the ability to produce more complex designs. Along with CNCs, the emergence of rechargeable power tools sped up the creation of many projects. They also required much less body strength and endurance than in the past. Despite the increase with technological advances, the quality and craftsmanship of custom wood-building remains unmatched.

What Does Custom-Built Mean?

According to the Merriam Webster, custom built simply means, “Built to individual specifications.” Sounds pretty straightforward, however there are many intricate details involved. Custom wood building is more than making a window or door. It requires more than just the right tools and space. These are essential, yes, but custom building also requires a lot of skill. At Versatile Wood Products every project, both big and small, modern or historical, is performed with the utmost quality and dedication.

“Versatile provides historically accurate custom wood sash, cabinetry, doors and millwork using techniques originated by 18th and 19th century craftsmen. We are committed to creating spaces that honor and make history. By preserving traditional ways of building and blending them with modern technologies and performance standards, we design and build solutions that harmonize aesthetics and temperament with function and utility.”

Versatile’s experienced team specializes in balancing period appropriate architectural design specifications with modern performance standards, combining historic techniques and modern technologies.

What does manufactured mean?

Custom Wood Building




Wood is manufactured in a few types, Plywood, particleboard, fiberboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), and veneer. In addition to the CNC machine, another reason for the increased popularity of mass-produced wood products was the invention of manufactured wood. Manufactured wood products have become a popular choice because they are less expensive to produce. Manufactured wood products are also more readily available at Big Box stores.

Understanding what custom wood building and manufactured wood are is important when starting a project. For example, determining the exact specifications for choosing the right window or door is important. Having the exact build for a particular project is crucial. Not just for the aesthetics, but for long-term quality.

“By hand-selecting tight grain wood patterns and using time-honored techniques our products will last for many years to come.”

How Versatile produces lasting quality

To better understand the separation between custom wood building and manufactured wood, the following Versatile projects will highlight the distinction. In this first custom case study, the restoration of a historical landmark highlights the stunning craftsmanship Versatile (and Arciform) demonstrate. The agility and flexibility accompanied by the great care required shows why custom wood building is essential.

Restoring First Congregational Church

The First Congregational Church turned to Versatile and Arciform to stabilize and restore the wood elements of this feature. Constructed in 1895, the First Congregational Church of Portland is a dominant Venetian Gothic icon. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Portland Landmark. This historic structure towers with its 175’ bell tower at the Southwest corner.

Restoring the Gothic tracery was more than just “replacing parts.” The goal was to retain as much of the original fabric as possible. However, what appeared to be repetitive details in the columns and tracery were in fact unique. This prohibited the efficiency of replicating one element to be reused as a template throughout the entire tracery at similar locations. After meticulous documentation, all parts were mapped and translated into CAD files. Having these otherwise inaccessible components in-house provided the unique opportunity to prepare a custom library of details for First Congregational Church.

All new pieces were made of Western Red Cedar, the same wood species as the original elements. This was to ensure historic accuracy and material performance. Replacement parts were then fit in place for sizing and routed with the cove detailing ensuring the tracery appeared seamless. The final product was delivered in sections for ease of hoisting and installation by Arciform.

Modern Buildings

In these three short project highlights, the breadth and skill level of Versatile is apparent. These again demonstrate custom wood building as an art that surpasses manufactured wood products both in ingenuity and workmanship.


For The Zipper, Versatile and designer Guerrilla Development used simple solid wood frames and sills. They also used direct glazed windows in solid clear vertical grain fir. This helped to create a truly innovative modern design.

The Evo Building challenges were to create custom casements in Douglas fir to match historic photos of the building. It was nearly impossible to replicate a two-toned color scheme in aluminum but was easily accomplished in wood. The hinged casements on the upper floors were a fall-hazard. Versatile used a sash limiter that would open by 3″ to prevent the potential for someone to fall out.










The Albina Yard (which can also be seen on Think Wood) had extraordinarily high flush exterior doors: 142” tall and 108” tall full lite doors. In this project Versatile utilized offset pivot hinges to give massive doors smooth operation and an uninterrupted modern look. The project called for building flush doors in a continuous fir veneer with a matching 34” fir transom panel above. The design challenge was that both the flush exterior doors and full lite doors were extraordinarily high in addition to being about 40” wide.

Architecture: Lever Architecture
Contractor: Reworks Design Build

Custom Wood Building Is Good For The Environment

A report by Green Building Elements provides a wealth of researched information that supports the value of custom wood building. A study conducted by Architecture and Design reports that 16% of all the fossil fuel consumed annually is converted into concrete, steel, aluminum and brick building materials. On the opposite end, wood reduces its carbon footprint.

“When trees are made into building materials, that carbon dioxide remains sequestered in the finished products. When wooden building materials reach the end of their useful life, they are often repurposed or recycled into new products. All that stored carbon dioxide is kept out of the atmosphere virtually forever.”

Green Building Elements also reports a cooperative program between a company called Whole Trees in Madison, Wisconsin and the USDA Forest Service. Entire trees that the Forest Service harvests during routine thinning efforts and discards are used. They are turned into beams, trusses and joists to use in building construction.

Custom Wood Building is good for your Health

Custom Wood Building

Custom wood building is not just beautiful and unique in each design but is also good for your health. Another study by Architecture and Design finds that, “the feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits in people has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive social interactions.” Wood products within a room have been shown to improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity. The study also finds that being surrounded by wood at home, work or school has positive effects. Not just on the body and brain, but also on the environment. It can even shorten hospital stays through reduced recovery times.

Truly, Custom Wood-Building Is an Art Of Craftsmanship

From the use of mortise and tenon joinery dating back thousands of years to our state-of-the-art CNC router, Versatile Wood Products’ custom wood projects are built to last.

Modern Outdoor Oasis — Custom Case Study

A glowing oasis of thoughtful, modern design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.

Patrick O’Neill of Greenline Fine Woodworking was called to do a historically sensitive update to one of Pietro Belluschi’s last projects. The project came with a very cool addition: a meditation room. The meditation room was designed collaboratively with Michael McCulloch, a noted Portland architect, the current owner of the home. A Modern Design with Versatile

Modern Design

Modern Design: Project Goals

The intention of the modern design was to create a space that would blur the lines between indoors and out. The effect would be minimizing visual interruptions. This also allows the space to open completely to the exterior as much as possible.

Modern Design: Challenges

Modern Design

Large, sliding full-lite doors can have challenges related to weight, stability and smooth operability. An additional challenge was to figure out how to allow the doors to meet at a corner. With only a narrow post to camouflage and complete the seal when closed, some ingenuity was required.

Modern Design

Modern Design: Uniquely Versatile Solutions

A tricky mitred corner for the track system allowed the two layers of doors to meet seamlessly in the corner. Very tight tolerances were needed to ensure a weather-tight fit when the panels were closed.

The Versatile Product Design team worked closely with the installing contractor. This was important to ensure measurements were accurate and the modern design parameters could be met.

Bringing multiple tracks together in the corners presented alignment challenges for both the upper and lower panel tracks. The low profile sill makes for a near-flush transition to the interior flooring. Metal tracks were inlaid into solid wood sills to create an elegantly integrated system.

Modern Design: The result

A glowing oasis of thoughtful Mid-Century modern design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.

Modern Design

About Versatile Wood Products | Contact Us

Roman Candle, Ava Gene’s, Woodsman Tavern — Custom Case Study

Woodsman Tavern

After SE Division’s overwhelming support of Duane Sorenson’s Stumptown cafe, he opened The Woodsman Tavern to create a gathering place for good food and good drink that felt like it had always been there. The Woodsman Tavern was a 2012 Bon Appétit Best New Restaurant nominee and launched the revitalization of SE Division Street. This led Sorenson to open Ava Gene’s (November 2012) and Roman Candle Baking Company (July 2013) a few blocks away.

Versatile was contracted by Orange-PDX to create a storefront system for The Woodsman Tavern and to supply custom entry doors for Roman Candle and Ava Gene’s.

Woodsman Tavern

What were the goals of these projects?

For The Woodsman Tavern, we were to replace the dated aluminum storefront with replicated traditional wood divided lite transoms over picture windows with insulated glass, along with custom entry doors.

The stain grade doors for Roman Candle and Ava Gene’s needed to fit the aesthetic and vibe of the restaurants. While being able to withstand harsh weather exposure.

What challenges did Versatile face during these projects?

The biggest challenge for all three projects was weather exposure as they all face south.

Woodsman Tavern

What were the Uniquely Versatile Solutions?

Hand selecting the materials played a major role in the success of these projects. Versatile’s highly experienced carpenter, Jeff Vasey, hand selected the wood to ensure each piece had a tight grain pattern to help extend the life of each item. From an aesthetic side, it was also important to find pieces of wood that matched and had complimentary grain patterns.

Versatile always tries to anticipate possible challenges before they turn into problems, and by selecting such an experienced team we were able to avoid major issues. This team included Versatile shop carpenters and installers from Orange-PDX construction.

About Versatile Wood Products | Contact Us

Witherspoon Building: Case Study Update

 Witherspoon Building

What challenges did Versatile face during the Witherspoon Building project?

The age of the Witherspoon building combined with the amount of steel that was required to bring the building up to current seismic standards made our job very difficult.

Another challenge was incorporating electronics for a security system into a solid wood door.

 Witherspoon Building

What were the Uniquely Versatile solutions?

We had to keep very close vertical and horizontal alignment throughout our storefront system. We built the rough openings around the steel beams.

To incorporate the electronics, we ran wiring through the lock rail of the door to get them from a special hinge to an electrified latch. This was then linked to a card reader. This was an extremely difficult and laborious task that our shop pulled off.

 Witherspoon Building

What was the result?

The vertical mullions at the lower and upper storefront windows align perfectly, as do all of the casings.

As for the door, the result was an end product that looks beautifully simple and historic. But upon closer inspection, actually houses a tremendous amount of hardware and technology.

 Witherspoon Building

About Versatile Wood Products | Contact Us

Walnut Doors –Versatile Showroom

Versatile Showroom: Walnut Doors

You may have heard that Versatile Wood Products is getting a new showroom! The first piece to go in were these amazing, custom lift and slide walnut doors.

Shop carpenters Jeff, Eric & Dan show off the ready-to-be-installed doors in the Versatile shop.
Shop carpenters Jeff, Eric & Dan show off the ready-to-be-installed doors in the Versatile shop.

The unusual “lift and slide” mechanism was chosen for these doors. This mechanism is primarily used for extra-large doors, allowing them to open easily without resistance from weather-stripping.

Project Goals

The goal of these conference room doors is to provide privacy, while also allowing some visibility to avoid cutting the room off entirely. Panes of insulated glass were incorporated, also providing sound reduction. To provide extra stability, all pieces were laminated together. A continuous grain pattern was selected to run horizontally through the doors. With the continuous grain and rich colors, these doors play a large part in creating the ambiance of the new showroom.

The mechanism is completely stainless steel, eliminating corrosion concerns. It can be used with doors up to 800 pounds, making it perfect for this large scale application.

Curious how it works?

To open the door, the handle raises up and lifts the door off the track to allow it to move easily without resistance from the weather-stripping. Once the door is pulled closed, the handle is lowered and the tracks make contact to create a tight seal and lock.


There are only a handful of companies that can make a lift and slide door. Here at Versatile Wood Products, we can design and build a door to meet your exact specifications. Our goal is to fulfill our customer’s design needs with the right door and hardware that will ensure a functional design and operating system over the lifetime of the door.

Intrigued yet?

Come and see these doors, along with other beautiful custom doors and windows at our showroom launch on September 18th!


Join us for a Launch Luau

in celebration of our new Versatile Showroom

When: Thursday, Sept 18 2014
Time: 2 pm to 5 pm
Where: 2303 N. Randolph Ave
 Koin us for cocktails, tropical treats and a whole roast Kalua pig.

Plus a chance to spin the wheel of fenestration for fun and prizes.

Space is limited. Click here to RSVP by Sept 10th to join in the festivities.


Help us celebrate the launch of our new show room at this Mad Men themed tiki celebration. Kick the tires of our new custom window, door and cabinetry displays and spin the wheel of fenestration to win prizes, drinks and more.

How can we help you create a custom entry that will be the showpiece of your next project? Contact to start your custom quote.

 About Versatile Wood Products | Contact Us


Doors In High Exposure Areas — Best Practices

Best Practices

Best Practices For Doors starts with quality….

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we are faced with a lot of rain.

Here are a few ways Versatile combats the water during the build process, to keep your doors in great shape.

Quality materials are a must! We always use high quality, solid wood. The materials used will play a large role in the longevity of your door.

Most commercially manufactured doors are made up of many pieces of wood joined together. A veneer is then added to the exterior to give it the look of a solid piece of wood. At Versatile Wood Products, each piece of wood is hand-selected so our doors can be made by single, double or triple laminating, without a veneer.

To ensure that the door is completely sealed, Versatile provides a full gluing of all joinery.

Best Practices

…and technique

All doors go through the wet glazing technique, with neutral-cure silicone, instead of the dry glazing technique, which uses rubber gaskets. The benefit of wet glazing is that the seal is less prone to shrinkage and cracking.

To greatly reduce air and water infiltration, Versatile uses silicone bulb weather-stripping. This is preferred to foam filled, vinyl coated compression weather-stripping as it has superior durability and air sealing. Silicone bulb is also smaller and essentially hidden in the tight spaces that we have on custom doors.

In addition to the materials of the door, an entryway overhang can have a large impact on the longevity of your door.

Best Practices for doors: entryway overhang

The height and depth of an overhang matter. The deeper the overhang, the more protection your door will get. Depending on the direction your door faces, the distance of the overhang should be at least half of the height of the door.

Best Practices

Best Practices for doors: Water management

Water management is also important. Keeping water away from problem areas, such as the sill, framework, and top of the door is a must.

Best Practices

Using a traditional threshold, where the sill has a slope, or bevel, is the ideal way to drain water away from the framework.

Best Practices for doors: positive wash

Another key thing is to provide a positive wash (having no flat surfaces for water to pool on), this will ensure a lifespan of 15-20 years. For a door exposed to water, the sill should be at a slope of at least 10 degrees. All other flat areas should be beveled to avoid having water collect on the door.

As the top of the door is also susceptible to water damage, an in-swing door is preferred in high exposure areas to provide extra protection to this vulnerable area.

Best Practices

For taller than normal doors of eight feet or more, a multi-point (3 or 5 point) locking mechanism is recommended. This will provide additional sealing points against air and water infiltration and reduce warping and bowing of the door.

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Best Practices for doors: laminated glass

For doors with glass that are exposed to the elements, Versatile sometimes uses laminated glass. As illustrated below, laminated glass is two panes of glass with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) inter-layer. Using laminated glass will decrease the chances of breaking or cracking in stormy conditions.


Best Practices

Best Practices for doors: the finishing touch

Think about how you will finish your door. Clear and stain finishes will require more maintenance than a painted door; the door will need to be refinished more often than if it were painted. If it is in constant sun, the wood is more likely to fade when finished with a clear coat or stain.

Best Practices

Water management and quality materials are key to keeping your door beautiful for years to come. Ready to create your own durable and beautiful entry system? For more information and to begin a quote, contact Alex MacKenzie,

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