Hello World,

Sending you a warm welcome from Phoenix, Arizona.

Where in the summertime, construction workers often get up at 4:00 a.m. to start work at first light so they can quit early and avoid the triple-digit afternoon heat. That’s when we hole up in our air conditioned office.

Since this is our introductory post,
I’ll give you a little bit of personal scoop.

I (Dianne) work alongside Jim to promote his pocket door frames. I’m also a Christian Fiction author with over a dozen published books. But Jim’s the guy who has created our company.

Raised on a Mennonite farm and with Amish blood flowing through his veins, he’s a hard worker with excellent business ethics. He’s also a perfectionist in every thing he does. That’s why he created our steel frame pocket door system. He didn’t like the flimsy ones on the market.

We’ll both create posts which hopefully offer pertinent information about the construction and home design industries . . . as well as some personal tidbits. And through this blog, we hope to also learn from you.

excited to connect!

Monsoon Warp

Monsoon season is a welcome relief in the midst of blistering Phoenix summers and the dramatic desert weather quickly becomes the topic of valley news with its whirling dust, powerful winds, lightning strikes, hail storms and flash floods.

monsoon 2

 These monster dust storms are called ha-boobs.

monsoon 1

Lightning is a major concern for desert fires.

But this weather isn’t welcomed in my wood-shop because  it warps the wood on the occasional woodworking projects I do for long-standing contractor clients.

Wood is hygroscopic which means it resembles a sponge gaining and losing moisture. This makes the wood expand and contract according to the moisture in the air.

monsoon 5

Cacti also expand with the rains and contract as they utilize stored water.

High moisture causes wood to twist and warp, and dry weather causes splitting. When first felled, a tree is green and goes through a drying phase. Kilns dry out the wood quickly but it can still collect moisture again. Once the wood dries, however, it stabilizes according to its surrounding air. When the moisture content of the air changes, the wood moves. Finishing the wood does not stop movement. A common thing homeowners notice in their homes is doors sticking.

Once warping occurs, drying doesn’t correct the problem. But there’s no worries with Christner’s steel pocket door frames which won’t warp and cause opening and closing problems. Our doors still roll at the mere touch of a finger.

monsoon 3

But aside from the woodworking issues, Dianne and I enjoy the monsoon entertainment–watching afternoon storms roll in and peaceful evenings sipping wine on the patio while in awe of the season’s glorious sunsets.



Jim’s crazy-busy because…

…this is life at our house right now.


Well, except for the dog. We don’t have a dog. But one day while we were moving some things I (Dianne) hopped out of Jim’s truck and was startled to see this cute image of the neighbor’s dogs sticking their heads through the drainage holes in our stucco fence.


I thought they made a really sweet welcoming committee.

Here’s a peek at the new place in New River, AZ, that’s keeping Jim crazy-busy, that is aside from his heavy-duty pocket door frame business. (And he hasn’t even started hanging pictures yet.)

house new

So…before I get back to the boxes,
please…do you have any good moving advice?

Pocket Door Versatility



Pocket doors are to doors what…
Swiss Army Knives are to knives.

Forty some years ago when I was dating my future wife, her dad asked if I carried a pocket knife. He told me point blank, “You’re not a man unless you carry a pocket knife.” His voice was gruff but his eyes held a twinkle.  Nevertheless,  I started carrying a small Swiss Utility Knife. You don’t want to know how many I lost in airport security lines before I remembered that flying was obviously one time when my daddy-in-law’s manhood rule didn’t apply.

So what’s so versatile about pocket doors?

First of all, function. One pocket door set can save ten square feet of livable space. So anyplace one wishes to save space or be able to leave spaces wide open, they provide perfect solutions. It is ideal for application in bathrooms, handicap access and closets. But pocket doors can be used in any room.

Christner Woodworkers pocket door frames are also versatile. They come in all standard sizes and we do custom frames for any width, height and wall thickness. We manufacture single doors, pairs and multiple doors stacking in one pocket. We can create arches and provide hardware for surface mount sliding doors.

versatile by the way they fit into rough openings.

Often floors are out of level on one end. Our system allows the installer to level the header and allow the brackets to level out on the floor during install. Many systems would require the installer to put the header out of level.

But with all this versatility comes one constant.
quality across the board.

My father-in-law is gone from this world now, but I was happy to see the pride and admiration in his eyes when we talked about my pocket door frames. And I’ll never see a Swiss Army Knife without thinking of his advice to me when I was still wet behind the ears.

What advice has stuck with you over the years?

How Do Christner Pocket Door Frames Compare?

29981327_s A frequent question I get asked is what makes Christner’s pocket door system better than the competitor’s frames?

It’s simple. We use stronger material.

First of all, the LVL we utilize makes our header stronger because it is a manufactured product that stays straight, flat and durable unlike regular wood.

Our steel posts are 16 gauge and four sided, not three sided or steel wrapped wood. Less wood and more steel makes a sturdy frame and prevents warping. Christner’s brackets are also solid steel.


Just as a solid foundation is imperative in the construction of a home, a solid pocket door frame is crucial for easy-sliding, no hassle pocket doors.

Our track is quality, but what really sets it apart is that many manufacturers don’t use ball bearing rollers on all of their models like we do.


And when comparing apples to apples (our heavy duty frames with the competitor’s top of the line products,) ours actually cost less. We don’t offer a flimsy, mediocre model because it’s against our business ethics to provide an inferior product that won’t withstand the wear and tear of everyday use.

A pocket door system is not a place to cut corners.

Installing an inferior product will be costly to change later and will require wall repair. But there’s no need to fear or hate pocket doors when comparing apples to apples and choosing a heavy duty frame.                        See: Christner’s Products

I’ve learned my lesson by purchasing some junk tools that have been a waste of my time and money. do you have any regrets over a time when you cut corners?

A Once-In-A Lifetime Moment

canyon hike

Recently, Dianne and I were lucky enough to
experience a once-in-a lifetime moment.

Our paraplegic brother-in-law was recently able to do the Grand Canyon hike to Phantom Ranch and back successfully. Bob Headings was once an avid hiker. His three sons wanted him to experience the canyon again and came up with a plan to make it happen. A one wheeled TrailRider was purchased and Bob’s three sons and eight grandsons began training for the event.

We joined my sister at the canyon
while the guys made the hike.

They strapped Bob in the TrailRider. One son took its rear handles and one its front handles. Then they lined up all the grandsons and the third son took the rear. We heard him say to the young ones, “Stay in between the cart and me at all times.” The youngest was only nine.

It was sobering to watch them descend the Kaibab trail until they disappeared around a bend.

bob 2

The group stayed one day at Phantom Ranch. They began their ascent of Bright Angel Trail the third day. We waited at the rim, questioning many hikers about their well-being. They all knew about Bob, had either met him on the trail or at the ranch and reported good things about him and about how inspiring the Headings family was to the other hikers.

Finally, we saw Bob’s group appear.
It was so amazing, we burst into tears.

The sight was far different from when they departed. Now four family members wore harnesses and ropes to pull from the front, and two pushed from the rear. The older grandsons were needed in the harnesses. They constantly lifted the TrailRider to keep the ride smooth over all the ruts and bumps. The smaller children brought up the rear, unchaperoned now and toting their backpacks as well as those of the harnessed members. All backs were bent to the strain, even the little ones.

We started cheering.
many strangers congregated and joined our shouts.
 All at the rim at that moment were transfixed,
amazed and inspired.

It took 11 ½ hours for their ascent and everyone was tired to the core. The little ones faces were smudged with red dirt. It was truly a testament to love, family, and determination. They made a memory none of us will ever forget.

One of the reasons they did it is . . .
because Bob never gives up.
The TrailRider can be found at: http://www.kawak.ca/

How Christner Improved the Pocket Door Frame

When Jim and I first arrived in Phoenix, we lived in Fountain Hills where we fell in love with the blue skies, rugged desert and warm weather. Okay so the sky’s not blue in this photo. It was monsoon season.

IMG_4076Polaroid photo take in July, 1973

Jim and his brother Rich did framing and trim construction  for custom home builders in the area. 

In the 80’s, Rich started a trim company and Jim kept the framing at Christner Construction. Christner did a lot of custom homes in Rio Verde, Scottsdale and the East Valley, eventually spreading throughout the valley.

jim working

But his framing experience revealed the need for a hassle-free heavy duty pocket door frame.

In the 1990’s interior doors became larger and heavier, and the pocket door frames on the market were no longer strong or rigid enough to carry them. Out of necessity, Christner rebuilt the available frames, reinforcing them with layers of  plywood, but he found the wood structures useless.

The problem was solved when Christner utilized steel posts. Since that time, Christner Woodworkers became a specialty division that manufactures steel pocket door frames. Their design has been streamlined into an all-inclusive kit with snap-together tubular steel posts that prevent warping and twisting while providing strength and stability.

With Christner’s steel post system, the pocket door set is once again a favorite option for today’s marketplace, providing a maintenance-free solution for space saving designs.


this happens to people all the time.
sometimes over the simplest everyday things.
What’s your most recent…
…I saw a need
and sought a solution?

What everybody ought to know about me

I’m a middle child of five siblings born to a Mennonite couple who had left the Amish. We lived on a farm in Plain City Ohio, and everybody helped with the chores.

farmOld home place

My parents stressed the pride of quality workmanship. In my mind, it’s interwoven with my religious beliefs. Along with cleanliness and working hard. Even now, after I’ve left the Mennonite Church, it’s still engrained in me and part of the reason Dianne calls me a perfectionist. I take pride in my craftsmanship. It’s just the way I’m wired, as reflected in our business motto:

Do it right the first time.
It saddens me when contractors say they don’t like pocket doors  . . .
because I know they’d love them if they’d try mine.

But that’s a tangent of mine, and you’ll hear about it soon enough. So after I graduated from school an older brother mentored me in the framing carpentry business. I mastered the trade and was soon given my own crew. The experience came in handy when I packed up my new bride and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to start up my own business.

While I still have my framing contractor’s license,
my real passion is in producing and selling my  pocket door frames.


Looking back, a favorite farm memory is of this Amish pony cart.

When I was about thirteen, I transformed an old Amish milk cart into a pony cart. Before the farm had electricity, the milk cart was used by my Amish grandpa as a wheelbarrow to collect the metal milk cans from the milking barn hauling it to another building that contained cool water tubs that kept the milk cold. This cart held about six or eight cans. At the time of this photo, our milking barn had electricity and coolers.

There was no need for the cart so it was abandoned.

My brothers and I had a pony and got an idea to convert the abandoned cart into something that would provide us hours of recreation. Especially since our pony had a mean streak. Wanting our cart to be deluxe, we added the roof and shafts. About the time, my Beachy-Amish uncle had a milk truck route. He collected milk from the local farmers and took it directly to the Plain City Cheese Factory. Some of my older brothers got to help with the truck route.

For me, growing up on the farm was the best life for a kid. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If you have interest in the Mennonites, you can check Dianne’s website. She writes Mennonite Fiction and also has a blog about Mennonites and Amish: Website

What valuable lessons stick with you from your childhood?
I welcome your questions and comments.

P.S. I have watched some Amish Mafia episodes and it’s so not true to life. smiley face