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Custom doors: Making an entrance

Whether it’s glass, wood, metal, or some combination, it offers a glimpse of what you may find inside a building before you have crossed the threshold. It’s for these reasons Larry Symons, owner of L.D. Symons Co., a four-man, wood-handcrafting business in Oregon City, Oregon, finds doors to be intriguing. “Doors don’t take a lot […]
by Laura Stapleton
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Whether it’s glass, wood, metal, or some combination, it offers a glimpse of what you may find inside a building before you have crossed the threshold.

It’s for these reasons Larry Symons, owner of L.D. Symons Co., a four-man, wood-handcrafting business in Oregon City, Oregon, finds doors to be intriguing.

“Doors don’t take a lot of time to create. They offer me a fun and creative project that doesn’t include a large time commitment,” he says, adding the caveat that the labor needed depends on the scope of the project.

On average, Symons spends 40 to 90 hours crafting a door, although he admits he once spent more than 225 hours crafting a massive, 400-plus pound door that stood at five feet wide by nine feet tall and was four inches thick. “It took 40 hours alone just to distress the door,” he says.

Having started in the heating and air conditioning business when he was 19 years old, Larry was searching for something more artistically fulfilling. “In my free time, I was building furniture and wood boats, but there wasn’t much money in it, so I went into business with a guy who created circular stairs,” he says. “I’ve been in the wood business ever since and started my own business about 28 years ago.”

Symons began handcrafting doors three years ago. Although most of his work utilizes traditional designs, he has also crafted doors influenced by Asian and whimsical themes. “I don’t do much contemporary work, it’s definitely more traditional,” he says. “Each customer is different, so I try to extract ideas from each one individually. When I can personalize something, it’s more fun for everyone.”

He adds that although inspiration can come from the owners, the overall style of the home influences his designs as well. “There are little things that hit you when you enter a person’s home,” he says.

When it comes to choosing which door project was his favorite, Larry doesn’t even hesitate. “There was one door I liked best,” he says. “It was made from walnut and zebra wood. It was very different and artistic, but tastefully done without getting crazy.”

Although all the doors Larry has made are crafted for homes and businesses in Oregon, and most doors are crafted from wood found in the Northwest, he has worked with a variety of woods, including Douglas fir, walnut, knotty alder, cherry, white oak, red oak, mahogany, and maple. He typically only crafts entry doors in an attempt to keep his business more of a “specialty niche.”

“I like to keep things artistic and make sure everything we create is different. Thinking outside the box, creating something interesting and keeping my clients pleasantly surprised is really what it’s all about for me,” he says.

Published in Laura Stapleton
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