What were the doors made out of in the Middle Ages?

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Doors were made from oak planks which were initially split from the trunk of a tree.

Carpenters would split a trunk many times along its entire length using axes, wedges and huge wooden mallets. This produced long, narrow sheets of timber that were fairly rough on both sides. They would then split these into planks and smooth the surfaces using a side axe or T-axe held close to the surface, much like using a plane or chisel.

For doors, floorboards and tables these planks were simply nailed to cross-beams and butted together tightly, again using an axe to straighten out the edges and create a tight fit.

Church doors and doors within castles or manor-houses were built more strongly, with two layers of planks, one vertical and the other horizontal, fixing the layers together with huge rose-headed iron nails (all hand-made by a blacksmith); these nails were then clenched over on the inner side, creating a riveted effect. Iron hinges with long, decorated straps were also made by the blacksmith.

Many medieval English oak church doors survive today thanks to their robust method of manufacture almost 900 years ago.
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