Posts Tagged Door

Room to Spare

Spare bedroom, that is.

Several months without a post. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy, just that I haven’t been working on my own home. In fact, in the last two months I’ve helped my brother-in-law with different aspects of their master bathroom remodel, and a partial remodel on my mother’s kitchen (reconfigured the existing base cabinets, installed a dishwasher, built additional base cabinets, and installed new countertop).

But sometime in between building cabinets in my unheated garage in the middle of an Ohio February, I finished painting the spare bedroom and nailed the window trim & baseboards back into place. Wow, did that make a difference!


P1040906While reinstalling the baseboard, I added outlets to the perimeter of the bedroom through the baseboard. Each bedroom only had 1 original outlet to begin with. And I added the new outlets in the baseboard, just as the existing outlets were placed. I used brown outlet and outlet covers to help them disappear into the dark woodwork.



I already described the process of sanding & re-painting the wardrobe, and installing the light. Along with all new wiring, I can add this room to the 99% finished list along with the bathroom and laundry. (Like nearly every other room, the floor needs a few nails here and there to secure the boards, and then a whole-house floor refinishing party.)

Lastly, I found a door to fit at an architectural salvage store (the spare bedroom was door-less when I bought the house). It matches the bathroom door, but unfortunately was painted on one side. I spent the better part of 2 days stripping the paint – first white, then orange underneath.



It was the correct height, but actually just about 1/4″ too narrow. I glued & clamped a thin piece of pine to the hinge edge of the door, then with a hand plane and sandpaper made it flush with the sides of the door.


The other side was stained & varnished almost a matching color to my woodwork, so I just sanded off the finish and then re-stained both sides of the door to blend the color. It took 2 coats of stain on the freshly stripped side to get dark enough, then 2 coats of satin polyurethane. The piece I added to meet the right width is almost unnoticeable.


I’ve been collecting glass doorknobs when I find them inexpensively at antique stores or Goodwill, so I just had to buy the mortise latch threaded spindle – which I was pleasantly surprised to find they still sell at the hardware store. For me, there is nothing so rewarding as the feeling of putting the finishing touches on a completed project.



So now I begin the same process to the other bedroom, starting with stripping the woodwork and restoring the windows again.

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Getting a Handle on Things – part 2

So the bathroom door is installed, varnished, and looks beautiful. But it was missing a door handle. No worries, my cat doesn’t seem phased that I don’t shut the bathroom door when showering or brushing my teeth. But having friends over occasionally and having them panic when they hastily shut the door closed was getting old. (Knowing how to open a handle-less door with a flat-head screwdriver should still be taught as part of 2nd grade curriculum.) But what does the perfect bathroom door handle look like for my house?

Well, the only existing original door has a handle that looks like this:

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There is a great little architectural salvage business in downtown Fort Wayne (Indiana) just to the west of us, and it is room after room, after patio, after whole ‘nother building full of salvaged antique house parts. In fact, an entire small room is devoted to hardware – door handles, hinges, mechanism, and escutcheon plates. But nothing that matched this one. Not even close. And although they had glass doorknobs, they didn’t have any exact matches of these either – mine is slightly smaller and with more facets around the edges than any I found there.

So after a little while (2 hours) staring & sorting through the hundreds of escutcheon plates (also known as ‘door knob plates’), I decided upon a certain style because they had 5 matching sets exactly the same, and in pretty decent shape. Dirty and scratched, but not bent out of shape like some of the others. By buying them all at once, I now have enough for all the future doors in my house, including modifying them to make them fit the inside of the front & rear entrance doors.

While traveling for a work event earlier this spring, I found a lonely little glass doorknob in a small antique shop in Downtown Medina, Ohio (an incredible downtown, by the way – seriously, go there sometime!). I was pretty certain it was just like mine while in the store, and the price was safe enough to take it home. Sure enough, exact match!


So put the two together and now I have got to be the proudest bathroom doorknob owner on my block.

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I like that the plates are dark to look like hammered metal, but still rather rectilinear which fall right within the design mindset of the American Craftsman time period. Round or curvy shapes are found sparingly in Craftsman homes. Instead you find lots of square motifs – from the built ins, divided light windows, and even small trim details and original wallpaper styles of the time. It was hip to be square.

Earlier (aka, before I realized my actual home-improvement budget) I was drooling over these handmade reproduction door handles – I liked the 4 square detail in the corners.

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But I really like mine a lot better. Mine don’t look as “rugged.” I sought them out and got to enjoy the thrill of discovery when finding them. And as I strive to be, these again are authentic to the time period (and most importantly, a hell of a lot cheaper).

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I still don’t necessarily shut the bathroom door during every visit (I don’t want my cat to get lonely & feel the need to claw at the door – that will get him kicked out of the humblebungalow faster than you can spell ‘eviction’) – but when friends visit they sure enjoy the luxury of a door handle. It’s the little things.

The only drawback is this plate doesn’t allow for a turn-knob lock. And it is a bathroom, after all. I imaging a future homeowner might want a locking bathroom door. So I’m thinking of making a skeleton key to fit the mortise lock. In fact, there is a great online tutorial from This Old House showing just how to do that. Then the key could hang on a fancy hook beside the door. A future project, perhaps. You know, just in case someone really wants to lock themselves in.

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Getting Hinged

So one of the last minor details to finish in the bathroom was installing a door. I say minor, but apparently a few friends that have been over seem to think it’s a big deal. And I’ll admit, having the cat watch me every time I visit the bathroom is a little uncomfortable.

I salvaged several doors before an old brick building was torn down early last year. They spent the first winter in my mom’s garage until I moved them here, and I knew I’d be able to use a few of them. Sure enough, only 1 is a 5-panel wood door and it’s the perfect width for my existing bathroom door frame. I trimmed an equal amount off the top and bottom of the door (about 1.5 inch total) and it now is the perfect height.

Unfortunately the hinges on the existing door frame and the salvaged door don’t line up. I figured it would be best to change the hinge placement on the door since it’s in the garage resting on saw horses, and easier to conceal the old hinge mortices. Plus this way they are equally spaced from the top and bottom of the door frame.

However, it’s been a little cold in NW Ohio, so I ended up with the door on my dining room table instead of in the garage.

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I used small blocks of wood to fill in the old hinge mortices, cutting them slightly thicker and glued them into place. Once dried, I planed them down flat with the edge of the door.

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Then it was filler time. The door had some pretty nasty dings, dents, and a dozen holes. I filled every spot I could find with wood filler, and gave it ample time to dry. I moved the door back into the garage and sanded until my hands were frozen. The original stain color was a good match to begin, but the varnish was bubbled and scratched all over. I sanded down to remove the varnish and smoothed out the filled spots, trying not to remove the color underneath. Once sanded, I measured the spaces for the hinges using the existing door frame and carefully chiseled out these spots. Then came the moment of truth, hanging the door on the hinges:

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It was a little snug in a few spots, but it fit! This photo looks like there is a large gap under the door, but it’s because the door hides the transition from the existing kitchen floor to the 1/2″ higher bathroom tile floor. When the door opens into the bathroom, it’s a very natural space between the door and floor, probably about 1/4″ or so.

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I took the door off the hinges again and carried it into the garage for one more round of sanding, hitting the tight spots and making sure all the wood filled spots were smooth. In total, I think I carried the door in and out of the house more than a dozen times.

By re-inserting the handle mechanism, I marked on the door frame where the strike plate would need to go. It took me a little longer to chisel out this space, because the strike plate needs to be flush with the wood and the center needs to be chiseled deeper to make room for the latch to spring out.

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This picture was after I reattached the door stop also, so the door closes tightly and latches without rattling against the stop trim.

Then it was stain time. I wiped down the door really well with a slightly damp cloth, making sure to remove as much dust as I could. Giving the door plenty of time to dry I started staining the door with a clean cloth and the same Minwax Mahogany Gel Stain. The door accepted the stain really well, but with gel stain it takes a little technique to achieve a good look. Especially in the lighter wood areas or where the wood filler was really thick, I wold try not to wipe off all of the stain to help even out the color. I might hit a few light spots with a second coat of stain, but otherwise the door is ready for 2 coats of poly.

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The contrast between the untouched kitchen woodwork and the now-beautifully stained door and frame is unnerving. I find keep finding myself staring at the door and how rich the color looks, trying to imagine how the rest of the woodwork will eventually look.

On the inside of the bathroom I nailed up the door trim that’s been waiting in the corner of the dining room. It’s finally starting to look finished – and then I realize I still don’t have outlet covers, lol.

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