Sunday, November 19, 2006

Flying On The Cheap - Door Skins

A 'door skin' is a 3' x 7' sheet of 1/8" Luan plywood. It differs from a regular four-by-eight sheet of eighth-inch luan ply because door skins are usually fabricated using waterproof glue.

The simple test for waterproof glue is to boil a sample of the plywood. The regular stuff comes apart almost as soon as you drop the coupons in the water whereas the waterproof stuff can be boiled and dried several times before it starts coming apart.

Door skins tend to cost about 10% more than the regular stuff, partly because of the different glue but also because each sheet will have one perfect face. Typical example of the cost difference (as of 18 March 2006) is $6.98 for a doorskin (ie, 21 square feet) vs $9.79 for a 4x8 sheet of 1/8" luan (ie, 32 square feet). (Dixieline Lumber, Escondido, California)

The box stores tend to not carry door skins; most of their clerks won't even know what you're talking about but will try very hard to sell you whatever they do happen to carry.

Door skins have flown in Fly Babys, Volksplanes and a number of similar designs, albeit without benefit of clergy. When properly glued, carefully varnished and religiously maintained, the common door skin has proven to be a trust-worthy material for those of us who are flying on the cheap.


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