no planing required

remember last summer when i picked up two antique doors off a curb on milverton, not realizing that doors and doorframes come in all different sizes? (oh, the things i have learned in a year!) not surprisingly, these freebies didn’t fit any existing doorframes in our house. but they were such beautiful doors i didn’t want to leave them on our curb, only to have them crushed in a garbage truck. i was thinking i might be able to take them to home again or one of the restores and trade them in for two doors that would fit in our house — a little something for the trouble we’d taken to save these doors from the landfill.

a few months ago we did just that, pierre hauling the milverton doors out of our basement and into the trunk of our civic (again). we drove (very slowly) to home again and perused their stock of antique doors for a match. having already finished the door projects in our kitchen and foyer, that left us with three doors in our house still to replace: bathroom (26″ x 76.25″), master bedroom (24.75″ x 76″), and spare bedroom (27.5″ x 77″). home again had a few options for the bathroom door replacement and we chose a six-panel ladder style door that was the right width, but just a little long, to take home with us.

aw, so ugly!

fast forward to april, when my dad and brother drove over with a circular saw and guide, their muscles and know-how. i needed help cutting some wood to size to make shelves for our bedroom closets (more on that soon) and also, our new/old bathroom door needed a haircut. it was about 1.25″ too long. my brother carried the door out of our basement and into our yard, threw it onto some sawhorses, and five minutes later we had a door that was the perfect size. husbands, dads, and brothers are so handy! i think i’ll keep mine around.

a few weeks after that, i got around to hoisting the door onto our sawhorses and sanding each side down. two coats of benjamin moore sugar cookie (in a pearl finish this time) went on each side, and then i dealt with the fun stuff — the hardware.

i’m going with gold hardware on all the doors in the house, and it’s been a little tricky, since what i’ve been able to pick up in salvage stores is usually so covered in layers of paint you don’t know whether the finish will be brass or gold until you strip it. i bought ten or so decorative plates and five locks from home again last summer ($1 for each of the plates, $5 for the locks) and unfortunately most of them, once stripped, have revealed themselves to be brass. i did have enough gold ones to do the kitchen and bathroom doors, but now i’m out, so i’m planning to go back to the store to execute another trade. the hinges were lifted off a door that was left in our basement when we moved in, and the strike plate ($2) is from the st. lawrence market. all we’re stripped with paint thinner and cleaned up with brass-o to make them look good as old/new.

after the life experience of hanging the first door in the kitchen, i knew i should put the hardware on the door while it was in a reclining position on the sawhorses, not to try and attach the hardware at the same time as attaching the door itself to the frame. i also knew all about cut-aways this time, so i measured to make sure the hinges would match up with the frame. the bottom cut-away was fine the way it was, but the top one needed to be moved up. check out that diy action — i used a hacksaw and some wood glue to attach a section of a paint stir stick to fill in the old cut-away; it’s the perfect width and depth for the job.

as it turns out, not only is it important to attach your hinges to your door before you try to hang it in the frame, but there’s also a right-side up and upside down and forwards / backwards way of attaching hinges. so even with all my pre-planning, we had to take both the hinges off upstairs and reattach them the right / front way before we could proceed with hanging the door. one was on in the right direction, but upside down, and the other was right-side up, but in the wrong direction. things i will know for next time!

since this is our bathroom door, i wanted to attach some hooks for towels. but not just any old hooks would do. i affixed these to the back of the door using the same strategy that i used for pierre’s tie rack. that is, a 3″ nail and some epoxy glue. the knobs are the old tuning knobs off our victrola record player, which i knew better than to throw away! i wanted something with some gold accents to match the hardware and these fit the bill perfectly.

fast forward to may — we were finally ready to hang the door! all the friends and family that visit us in the bungalow will rejoice: i’ve had the crystal doorknob “mocked up” on our bathroom door for a year, and since the crystal doorknobs don’t belong in the newer doors there was a certain trick to getting the door to open and close. we probably had a few guests panic over the bathroom door’s habit of lazily swinging open if not closed just so.

and then the most amazing thing happened. contrary to the hours of planing, the burning lasagna, the struggle that was hanging our kitchen door — the bathroom door FIT. it just fit. it doesn’t scrape the porcelain tile. it doesn’t rub against the frame. no planing was required. it doesn’t even squeak! even with the removing of the old door, the switching of the hinges, and the installation of the knob and strike plate, the hanging of the bathroom door took a mere 67 minutes. once it was screwed into the frame, and it swung closed on the first try without complaint, pierre held up his palm for a high five and i said, “what?!” i couldn’t believe that worked. i had already oiled the hand planer.

are we getting good at this, or something?

(just as doors come in all different widths and lengths, they also come in all different styles. up until this door project, i hadn’t been picky about the style of antique door — i just wanted doors, with mortise locks for the crystal doorknobs i’ve been collecting, that fit into our doorframes. totally by happenstance, the two doors i have replaced so far are both the same style: multi-panel ladder. and it looks great that they match. so now, i’m not only looking for antique doors that fit, but for ones that have five or six horizontal panels, too. the hunt is on for those two remaining doors!)

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