large old wood window

raforAugust 2, 2009

First time poster here. I have a very large (5 ft x 8 ft) old multi-paned wood window from the 1940's. I would like to build a wall unit bookcase and use this window as a door to keep the dust out. Is this feasible or difficult since the window is so large. I have a high ceiling and may want to turn the window so it is 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide rather than the other orientation of 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. How would you suggest I hinge the window to the wall unit. I think I might need to support the window when I open it (which won't be very frequently! ). Thanks for any help


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This sounds like a bad idea. Windows typically get much of their strength from being shimmed and nailed into a wall; by themselves they don't have the structural integrity required of a door. If you try to support it from one edge (by hinges) it will probably be pulled apart by its own weight.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 7:32AM
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What jon stated is quite right. It's much too lacking in structure on its own. You could however make a mortise and tenon-framed door and set the sash into it, but it would end up even bigger. Let's say, 9'1"x 5'10". Think of the hinges needed to support a monster like that!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Okay, thanks for your input. So, what if I can add some support on the bottom? Say some small wheels that sit on the floor and let it roll open. Despite the large size of the window, it did not flex at all when we moved it from one house to the other in the truck. I has a very sturdy frame.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 9:17PM
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Was the window originally built to open, and if so, how was it hinged? The proposed use may not be that different from the original. Perhaps you could check the frame integrity and reinforce any points you think will be stressed in novel ways.

Having said that, it may be tempting fate to let it hang all the time hanging from one side (even if you use long hinges that extend across the top and bottom - Lee Valley has some). It seems to me it should definitely be supported when closed. If you can support it when open, even just on a stack of books temporarily placed for the purpose, so much the better it would seem to me.

Another issue is whether the wall unit will be stable with the weight of the window on the front. I've had a narrow cabinet that was badly designed, unless loaded it fell forward when the plywood doors were open. It would strike me as prudent to fasten the bookcase securely to the wall.

Or, is it feasible to make the door sliding rather than hinging?


    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Thanks for your ideas Karin. I thought about the sliding track, but don't really want to see the track when the "door" is closed and the track would definitely need to be longer than the wall unit. I never saw the window when it was installed. I got it after it was removed. It was just a stationary window, not one that opened. I think I might investigate the wheel idea a little more. I also think I would have to support the opening side even when it is closed. I plan on attaching the wall unit to the wall because I know it could fall when the door was opened. I have 2 of these windows and am trying to maximize storage in my new little cottage. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 3:36PM
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