A-Door-able

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Matt’s propensity for punning is apparently rubbing off on me.

One of the (many) random “features” of this house was the lack of a closet door in Wesley’s nursery. We originally put up a tension rod and curtain, but that just didn’t look terribly finished and we’ve been meaning to get a proper door up there for ages.

By some crazy stroke of luck, the door frame was actually a standard size.* By some other crazy stroke of luck, I was able to find a 5-panel door that was a reasonable match.  Not perfect, but for $50 it was pretty damn good! I’m pretty sure the only way I could have found a better match would have been to order a custom door which would have been super pricey. I’ve already mentioned that our house work is much more renovation than restoration, so the investment in a custom door just wouldn’t have been worth it in this case.

So door. $50. Good deal. Part of the reason it was so cheap is because we ordered a door slab vs a pre-hung door. The difference is just what it sounds like. A door slab is just a slab of wood–no hinges, no pre-drilled anything. A pre-hung door is both the door and door frame already connected by hinges. One of these is a little easier to deal with, but we didn’t choose that one.

Because we had an existing frame, we first needed to check the fit. The frame may have been a standard size, but unfortunately it wasn’t square.** In order to get the door to fit properly, we had to plane off a good chunk from every side. This would have been super easy, except for the way hollow-core doors are constructed.

Planing is meant to happen with the with the grain, but at the top and bottom of the door you hit the vertical supports of the frame, and it’s REALLY hard to go against the grain.  Matt ultimately took a hand saw to the edges–he figured out how much we needed to take off from the corner, sawed that off, and planed the rest down to that point.

After planing (lots and lots of planing), I took a palm sander to all the edges to smooth them out nicely. And yes, we were totally working on our upstairs landing since we had to keep checking the fit of the door and didn’t want to be constantly hauling it up and down the stairs.

To add the door knob, we bought a simple kit that came with a guide and hole saw bits for a drill. The guide clamps onto the door and then you just drill on through.  We managed to position our door knob right over one of the cross supports on the door so it was a little more difficult to drill through, but not a huge problem.

 

Mort likes to supervise things.

The hinges were a bit more problematic. The frame already had places for the hinges, and we even had some extra hinges that were original to the house… we just had to mount said hinges to the door itself. You can get hinge kits like the door knob kit, but they usually require a router, which we don’t have, so we decided to half-ass it. Typically you would route out only the exact size of the hinge, so you’d leave a little strip of wood along the edge.  Instead, Matt just planned out the entire depth of the frame to accommodate the depth of the hinge.*** It’s only noticeable from inside the closet though (and only if you know what to look for), so not a big deal.

Whoa! It’s a door! That opens and closes! Craziness!

Don’t mind the random futon.  We did some furniture shifting and need to figure out a permanent home for it.

My only real disappointment with this door is the knob. I assumed I’d be able to switch out the actual knob on a new latch set. Wrong. Current latch sets are designed to interlock and screw together in a way that makes switching out any one part of them impossible. House of Antique Hardware has vintage-looking knobs/latches designed to fit modern construction, but I can’t quite justify spending $140 on a closet door knob… although I am scoring an extra bonus this year at work…

 

 

* “Standard,” “square,” and “level,” are terms that don’t tend to exist when dealing with 100+ year old houses.

** See what I mean?

*** And only planed off a small amount of his thumbnail in the process.

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