Howard Styles is a Canberra-based architect specialising in architectural door and hardware detailing and documentation.

Every major project has a request for flush doors in flush walls without a visible door frame or surrounding joinery trim. Howard’s search for a low cost flush door started while preparing a detail for a single door in the front bar of a multi-storey hotel in Melbourne. The project architect had specified a “flush aubergine wall, flush aubergine door, ‘fire hose reel’ in pale aubergine” and nothing else for the door.

Since protruding hinge knuckles needed to be eliminated, and concealed hinges were bulky and difficult to secure into the edge of plasterboard, a pivot door seemed the most ideal solution for this application. The top part of a traditional pivot set is also bulky and hard to mount into plasterboard; therefore, to secure the top pivot into the structural lintel (behind the aubergine plasterboard), the door in the detail got increasingly thicker. Eventually a 65mm thick door with a costly German pivot set added a thousand dollars to the cost.

Howard Styles was fixated on an economical flush door detail as thousands of robes and closets are built into projects every year. The design of a new affordable pivot became inevitable and at the time seemed to be worth the challenge. Once the pivot was developed, work began on the first prototype, which was duly fitted onto the bathroom door in Howard’s home. A creaking sound was the only concern with the prototype. The search began for a lubricant for the self-lubricating Nylon bushes. Since none of the commercial lubricants provided the smoothness desired, a home-made formula was concocted to resolve the issue.

For the next stage of lifecycle testing, the appropriate British Standard required the test door to be opened and closed 90 degrees, 300,000 times. The project then moved onto small scale manufacturing in Canberra’s leafy Yarralumla on a shoe-string budget. The scale of the enterprise could avoid bank loans and commercial workshop lease payments. Assembly of the parts to make the pivots required no power as most of the tools were very old.

To test the market, the pivots were exhibited at several building trade shows in Melbourne and Sydney from 2004 to 2007.

The micro-enterprise has now made and sold over 12,000 pivot sets across Australia as well as Curacao, Amsterdam and Beloit, Ohio. The pivots are surprisingly easy to make, schedule and sell. The main reason Howard still makes his pivots is that he needs to specify this flush door detail for a few very special Canberra architects. The micro-business still thrives on consulting with architects who occasionally need unusual door and hardware details.

Pivot sets are traditionally used for big heavy doors. Many pivot sets have a load capacity of 100-300kg to fit doors with a minimum thickness of about 45mm. However, 35mm doors did not have suitable pivot sets without knuckles, and this presented Howard with an opportunity. Solid core doors measuring up to 2400 x 920 mm and 35mm thick weigh close to 50kg, which is the ideal maximum size and weight for Angle-Shoe pivots.

Angle-Shoe pivots have been designed with the advantage of flush set-plaster accessories being well established. ‘Ezy-Cap’, ‘Rondo Exangle’ ‘Straightflex’ tape and ‘TrimTex’ can all be used for crisp set-plaster door reveals with these plaster products making the pivot design goal attainable.