Game of thrones doors: The Story

Cutting Edge Designs was contracted by advertising agency Publicis London to machine 10 intricately designed wooden doors for Tourism Ireland, working in collaboration with HBO for the sixth season of their hit television series Game of Thrones. The Doors of Thrones where part of a global tourism campaign driving fans of the show to Northern Irelands shores.


When Storm Gertrude partially destroyed the Game of Thrones filming location known as in the Dark Hedges in January 2016, Publicis London set about using the wood from those downed trees to create 10 beautifully crafted bespoke doors. Each one based on the storyline from a new episode of Game of Thrones. A new door was unveiled each week as season six of the show unfolded. Iconic symbols and references from each episode were incorporated into the each of the doors, all designed by a handful of 2D and 3D illustrators from around the world. Once completed, each door was installed in a local pub or venue located in or near one of the many filming locations used in Game of Thrones. The doors eventually formed a trail across the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

Game of thrones door The Process

The first thing the organizers of the campaign had to do was design the 10 doors using rough plot outlines provided by HBO. Once designed and approved as 2D illustrations, these designs had to then be recreated in 3D, in order for the artwork to be converted for the machining process – undertaken by our engineers here at Cutting Edge Designs.

Next, the organizers had to find each of the 10 doors a home in a pub located in or near one of the popular Game of Thrones filming locations dotted around the country. Once HBO and Tourism Ireland were happy with each location, they were given the green light to proceed with the manufacture of the doors. Each of the chosen pub doorframes were then measured and used by Stephen from Hazzles Hardwood to adapt the existing designs, and produce each of the initial blank door templates using the precious Dark Hedges wood.

Game of thrones doors The Artwork

Before starting the carving process we routinely checked over the approved 3D model artwork, making alterations to ensure details would not be lost during both the conversion & 3d milling process. Once the final version of the 3D model was ready, we converted it into our CAD/CAM software so it was ready for tooling, we used a STL file format which is basically a triangular mesh that when rendered creates a high detailed 3D model. At Cutting Edge Designs we can use any type of 3D file, but we mainly use .RLF or .STL, as we find these work the best for these types of projects.

Game of Thrones Doors

Door no4. after cnc machining by cutting edge designs

Game of Thrones Doors

Game of thrones door in 3d before machinng

Game of Thrones Doors

Game of thrones 2d sketch

CNC Routering the Game of thrones doors

Once the file was double checked and imported into our CAM software we then set the job up for the intricate cutting process using our CNC Routers. This was one of the most important parts of the job, as any wrongly entered information like tool size, depth, speeds, feed rate, cutting position etc could potential destroy these specially made doors work plus you could damage the expensive CNC Machines, Luckily at Cutting Edge Designs we have over 20 years experience of doing this kind of work so we know what we are doing and in all fairness the doors where pretty easy to do

Game of throne door blank set up

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Game of thrones door 3d model negative image view

Game of Thrones Doors

game of thrones door 3d model in our cam software ready to get toolpaths

Game of Thrones Doors

game of thrones door 3d toolpath closeup , red shows what the machine will cut

Game of thrones doors : Machine time

Once we set up the blank doors on the CNC router we need to make sure its square to the x axis once square and in position we then clamped it down making sure none of the clamps are in the machines tool paths as its very easy to hit a clamp and destroy the tool , door or even the machine so close attention to this is critical , once the door was fully aligned and set up correctly we need to double check the tool parameters and run a cutting simulation , this helps show the final result plus indicate any potential problem areas within the tool paths .

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CNC maching roughing pass closeup

Final door finished

We decided on using a 12mm ball nose for our initial rough cutting – this removed the excess material so it would be easier for the smaller tools to do the finer details. A 90 degree to wood cut angle was also implemented so as to not lift or split the wood along the grain. We then added the small 3mm ball nose to achieve all the important finer details.
The rough cut cycle took about 6 hours per door, but once finished, the finer detail work took an average of 50 hours per door to complete. Once the door was finished machining and any problem areas fixed it was sent to be sanded and professionally stained by one of Game of Thrones own set painters.


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