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Dogwood Doors calls Holcombe home

Dogwood Doors calls Holcombe home Dogwood Doors calls Holcombe home

It has been a long and winding path, but Alan Sabatke has channeled his creativity into creating custom wood doors, honing his craft through a variety of other jobs throughout his career.

Dogwood Doors, located south of Holcombe, makes the wood doors with the buyer’s choice of wood. Sabatke then shapes the wood into doors the size, and shape, required for the customer’s structure.

Sabatke first started seriously working with wood when he was 17, helping his dad, who was a building contractor in the Minocqua area.

“He was building a large timber frame home and the people wanted some doors built,” said Sabatke. “So, Dad says, ‘Alan, build the doors.’” That was Sabatke’s first time building doors. Within a couple years, Sabatke started building log homes, something he would continue for the next 30 years. He says he built the doors for almost every log home he built and honed the product as he went.

“I developed a door which is incredibly stable,” said Sabatke. “I’ve never had one warp or twist on me.”

After building a large log home that took three years to complete, Sabatke says he realized his body was going to wear out if he kept doing that. He opened a shop in Woodruff, and starting building doors about nine years ago.

“I got tired of owning a business and went out to the oil fields in North Dakota,” said Sabatke.

When he was done working in North Dakota, he opened Dogwood Doors in Mercer, before moving the business to Holcombe, in March, and is working to get the shop set up the way he wants it.

“Eventually, I’m actually going to look organized,” said Sabatke.

He says people in Mercer caught wind that he had moved, and he now has a bunch of orders from that direction that he is working on. About one-third of the doors made by the business are for commercial buildings, with the rest primarily destined for residential buildings.

Sabatke’s doors are insulated, a feature he says many wood doors do not have.

“I actually use expanding foam on it, so it expands and fills every void in there,” said Sabatke.

He says the boards and insulation in the core are part of what lends to the stability of the door, since the door is then one solid unit.

From there, Sabatke prepares the wood of the customer’s choice, starting with 2x8s, 2x10s or 2x12s. He says Douglas fir, oak, cherry and maple are some of the more popular woods chosen, though he can use other types of wood if he can find it.

“I rip them down, slice them with the band saw and take them to about a 1/4 inch thick,” said Sabatke. “And I glue those onto the core.”

Sabatke also bookmatches the boards used on the doors, so the patterns mirror each other, a detail he says is neat if someone knows to look for it.

“It’s quite stunning and I don’t think anyone else is doing that,” said Sabatke.

The edging of the door is made of the same wood as the interior side of the door.

Another feature that sets Dogwood Doors apart from other companies, is that Sabatke’s products are made in America.

“My doors are 100 percent made in America, with American- made products,” said Sabatke. “I try to buy locally as much as I can.”

He says even all the glue and plywood are products of the USA. Sabatke says finding hardware made in America is harder, but when he can find it, that is what he uses.

Sabatke also put his creativity to the test designing a press with hydraulic rams and I-beams, which presses the pieces of his projects together until the glue dries. After he designed the press, he had it built by a friend.

“It works fantastic,” said Sabatke.

Sabatke says he can also do a number of treatments on the wood, including rough sawed, smooth v-grooved and hewn. He also has a wood design he created in his spare time, meant to set into a door, but has not gotten around to doing it.

“There’s so many things I can do,” said Sabatke. “If someone comes up with an idea, I’ve yet to be stumped by it.”

While round-top doors are not his most popular request, Sabatke says they are his favorites to make and thinks demand will go up as older homes with pre-existing round-top doors need the doors replaced.

“They look so good in a certain house,” said Sabatke.

He says every bend is a different radius, so he has a lot of jigs. Sabatke says he built round-tops with glass in them and there were over 34 jigs.

Sabatke says he can do any wood-based projects, such as specialized cabinets, though he doesn’t endeavour to compete with a cabinet shop.

“I just love working with wood,” said Sabatke.

A special press, designed by Sabatke and made by a friend, holds the parts of the door together while the glue dries.Photo by Julia Wolf Alan Sabatke, of Dogwood Doors, shows off the insulated core of the wood doors he creates. Sabatke says insulation is a feature many wood doors do not have, making his design unusual.Photo by Julia Wolf Using a hewing machine, made by his grandfather (inset), Sabtake creates hewn door textured wood products with divots throughout the board. The machine used to be powered by an old washing machine engine.Photo by Julia Wolf