Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Entry Door



A couple of great things have happened at our house. After struggling to do anything with two kids and jobs and bands and all that, we finally worked hard at finding  new entry door. Those keeping score will know that we've already replaced the front door once before, but as cool as it looked, it was too narrow, and not thick enough, so we've battled two years of ladybug swarms and snow drifts coming in through the front door.

Let's look back to 2012 when we bought the house:



And 2013 when we replaced the door with a cooler looking but ultimately crappier door:


 Finally, Becky was fed up enough and found this door on Craigslist for $50.


Painted white on one side and the original wood on the other, it seemed perfect. Till we realized it was a right hand inswing instead of left hand, and I'd have to not only get the door to fit, but switch the hinges and handles on the door frame as well.

Becky got to work painting the door a beautiful orange (that we stole from some This Old House article, as well as subconsciously from our friends Adam & Jess' new door.) and I got to reading about how to switch a door frame. Surprisingly, there is very little material on the subject, probably because it sucks to do and you shouldn't ever do it. In hindsight, it wasn't terrible, but if anyone looks closely, they're going to realize what a hack job I did on the hinges.


A couple of days of thin coats and the door was starting to really look sharp. Becky filled in the old handle spot with some wood filler and did about 5 thin coats of the paint to get a nice finish with minimal brush stroke and no drips. When finished, it was time to take the old hinges off.


If you own an old house, please don't paint over the hinges. Or if you must, please at least avoid the screws. I don't have a sharp screwdriver so I used a knife to dig the paint out of the slots, but our good friend Jeremiah (always critiquing and giving us useful tips) reminded us that a sharp screwdriver and a hammer can be your best friend in this situation. A Facebook post rendered many other useful solutions, like using a Dremel to create a Philips from a slotted screw, heat gun and a knife, and if you're saving the hinges, you can put them in a crock pot of water to get the old paint off. Lucas also reminds us you can always burn the door and be left with a pile of hinges - THANKS LUCAS!

Now onto the switching of the door frame. I spent a lot of time trial-and-erroring on this one, because of many factors. One, the door is thicker than the old one, so cutting out mortises to match the old ones and setting the hinges at the same depth would not work - had to reset them a little further out to get the door to close properly. Two, we discovered that the door was a little warped, so it touched the frame on three sides, but the bottom right corner would not catch, requiring me to modify the latch side of the frame with my Dremel Multimax, cutting the jamb on a bit of an angle so that the top right corner could go in a little further, allowing the bottom right to close to the weather stripping.

These frustrations and others caused me to not take a lot of photos, so I'll summarize a little bit. Below is the one photo I did take - it shows where I took a piece of scrap to fill in where the old strike plates were so we could attach a hinge in that place.


I then had to determine how much I had to trim the door. I had to get 1/8" off the latch side and another 1/2" or so off the bottom. Whoever installed the door before me really freehanded the bottom of the door, so I made sure to do it properly. As learned from Jeremiah, I marked my cut lines, then measured 1-1/2" in from those marks and clamped on my metal straightedge. The inch and a half is the distance from the edge of the plate to the blade on my circular saw, so I can use the straightedge as a guide all the way down.

Once I got the door cut down and attached, I put in the deadbolt, which was easy because it lined up perfectly with the old deadbolt, and the new handle, which had to have the hole modified. The old hole was only 1" wide, and offset, so I had to drill a 2 1/8" hole for the new door handle. Using a hole saw and cordless drill on an existing hole doesn't really work as is, so I had to take a piece of scrap wood, attach it to the door with clamps, mark my center and drill through the door. I had to stop halfway to clear out the piece of wood in the hole saw, but in the end it worked perfectly.

To drill the new holes for the strike plates, I put a little mustard on the deadbolt and handle latch and closed the door with both of the retracted. Releasing the handle and setting the deadbolt left a mustard impression on the frame which I could then mark with pencil to drill my holes.

After two days of fighting, and half the tools I own, it was finally in and done.


The full length glass is great for the light in that room and for the kids to see out of. The handle and deadbolt are also much better than the janky one we had on the old door. It also looks GREAT from the inside with our old cafe lights. Too bad the iPhone can't capture the lines in the lights, but you get the idea. (I really need to use my Nikon more often.)


I know I said this last time, but we really do need to get tempered glass in those side lights, get rid of the peep window, and get rid of the intercom to nowhere.

What's next?


 

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