Hobbit Door

December 9, 2016

This article was originally published in Timber iQ magazine, April-May 2016 issue 25. It showcases Johan Nel, founder of Knysna Woodworkers, when he custom made a Hobbit door for a client in North America.


Hobbit Door creator, Johan Nel: “My client, a medical doctor from New York – USA, contacted me after seeing photographs on my website of the previous ‘Hobbit Door’ that I had made.  He felt it would suit his family home, which is situated on Wellesley Island on the St. Lawrence River in North America and undergoing renovations.

While Oregon Pine might appear to be the most obvious choice of wood for this project, on further investigation I felt it would be far better to use Afromosia (found from southern to mid-Africa), because the natural high oil content of the wood would protect the door from the harsh weather conditions experienced in that part of the world.

ptdc0016aAfromosia is a dense wood, with a deep, rich colour.  It is at its most attractive when oiled and polished.  It cuts and planes nicely,
and it sands to a fine finish.

The hinges were custom-made to my specifications, from 10mm mild steel.  The handles, lock and keys were similarly custom-made.  And all these fittings were produced locally, in Knysna.

ptdc0025aThe size of the door is 2,4m x 2,2m.  By itself, it weighs just under 400kgs.  The hinges were heavily bolted on both its sides, giving the door the required strength.  Specially designed brass bushes were used to hold the weight of the door, whilst allowing for easy opening.  The hinges, locks and handles were treated with textured paint to give it that ‘old’ look and feel.

With the door very well oiled and polished, it was ready to be crated.  I proceeded to make the crate as well, since it had to be very secure and house the door safely on its travels – first by ship to Montreal, and then by road directly to Wellesley Island (where it has since arrived).

It gave me great pleasure to build this door – not only to execute the design, which incites the imagination, but also to work with this magnificent wood.”

Hobbit Door Gallery

Click on an image for the zoomed-up view.

If you’d like a unique door like this of your very own, Johan can build one for youContact Johan here. While he is based in Knysna, South Africa, he successfully supplies to clients worldwide.