Friday, December 18, 2009

The Door Plan

So as I'm painting the second parlor and the trim in the dining room, it occurs to me that I'd better do something about the doors. You know, the doors that some dolt sawed in half length-wise. The doors that are almost certainly original to the house. I cannot comprehend why someone would do that...but I've ranted about that plenty of times before, so I'll spare you another one. I do not like their current sawed-in-half state. As I see it, that leaves me with three choices: learn to live with the stupid sawed doors (and paint them along with the trim), try to fix the doors, or replace them. I myself would have no idea how to fix them. I don't think Gorilla Glue's gonna do it, and that's about the extent of my carpentry skills. Fortunately for me, I know Mare. And Mare has this idea that he might be able to fix the doors. I don't remember his plan, exactly, but I do remember the warning he gave me: "And if I fix 'em, you can't go gettin' all pissed off and slam the doors because they might break in half again." This man knows me too well...  Actually, I think he said something about biscuits and a couple thin pieces of wood, and then a wider piece of wood along the bottom. The doors are about two inches shorter than they need to be, to accommodate the three layers of carpet that used to be on the floor. (That's an old photo; the carpet's gone from the front parlor and so is a lot of that painted-over wallpaper.) This is actually an advantage, maybe, in fixing the doors. Mare thinks that putting a strip of wood along the bottom edge of the door might make it stronger.

Or maybe it won't work at all, and then I'll spend a lot of time in the basement of the Missouri River Antique Company with a yardstick, sorting through the old doors Sue has stored down there. While I'm there, I'll ask her if she has any old doorknobs, plates and latches. The marks of the original hardware can still be seen on the doors, but the hardware's long gone. I have this recurring dream that I'll find a big box of the door hardware someplace in the house, but after living here for three years without a sign of 'em, I'm beginning to think that's not gonna happen. I did have both my son and the insulation guy conduct a thorough search of the attic, just in case, but they didn't find anything.  What I can see of the basement crawlspace reveals nothing, either. Darnit. There are ghosts of the latches, too, badly filled in with wood putty or something, sometimes painted over and sometimes not, and in one case the original latch is still there. We can tell which way the doors were hung originally.

There is one bit of happy news: whoever sawed the doors in half did keep the original steeple hinges, although they're oddly re-distributed among the seven doors. Some doors (like in the front parlor) have no steeple hinges at all, and other doors have two sets of them. Mare and I held our breath as we walked through the house counting sets of steeple hinges. Seven. All of them are still here. Covered with paint and certainly candidates for the boiling treatment y'all so kindly told me about, but here. Amazing. I can't wait to get the paint off of 'em and see what they look like.

So that's the plan.  I'm not sure when Mare will be able to take one of the doors or when he'll get it fixed.  Heck, I don't even know if the door can be fixed, but if anyone can do it, it's Mare.  It's definitely worth a try, in my opinion.


  1. Let me ask my brother what he thinks about the doors. He does woodworking as a hobby. Dunno if this is in his area of expertise, but if he has any thoughts I'll pass them on.

  2. Wow, sawing the doors in half!? That might actually top all the things I complain about previous owners doing to my house (putting asphalt shingles over original good cond slate roof, painting over stained beautiful beadboard porch ceiling, painting over original brick fireplace, etc). I would go w/ the biscuit repair idea, or salvage hunting.

  3. My brother says biscuits also. For the size the doors look like, 8 or 10 or maybe even 12 per door.

    He says you can buy a biscuit cutter for about $100. It would take forever to chisel instead.

    Put glue in both sides before inserting the biscuits. When you clamp the door for the glue to harden, be sure the door is level.

    Use the biggest biscuits you can buy that will fit in the doors.

  4. p.s. He says with that method the doors should hold up to normal use fine.

  5. I think Mare sounds like he knows what he's doing. Should work fine. You'll probably want to keep them painted to cover the seam but they should be able to go back together. Just don't go gettin' pissed off like he said. LOL

  6. Sounds like an ambitious -- but incredibly worthwhile project. Glad you brought the elf off the shelf to help. :-)

  7. Karen Anne, Thanks a LOT! I think that sounds like what Mare was talking about. My knowledge of carpentry can fit on the head of a pin.

    Nina, Asphalt shingles over a perfectly good slate roof?!! Naw, that's lots worse than my doors!