Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hardware Dilemma

Even though I’m probably a few weeks away from being ready to hang my ultra-cool, more-spectacular-than-you-could-possibly-imagine pocket doors I need to start looking for hardware like yesterday. Because the doors were originally double doors and not pocket doors I’m going to have to modify them to except pocket door hardware. To do this I’m going to have to break one of my own Cardinal Rules Of Old House RestorationNever Cut Old Wood – but rules are made to be broken. This is an extreme case so I won’t be losing sleep over it. Well, not a lot of sleep anyway. Of course, I need the hardware before I can make any modifications. I can’t just begin to blindly cut away at wood and then hope something fits. No, first I get the hardware, then I cut the wood, then I go straight to hell for cutting in to the doors. That’s the plan.

As they exist now one door has a mortise for a large lockset. There is evidence that it had a Eastlake style plate attached to both sides. The existing lockset mortise can be reused. I will need to make a mortise for my currently non-existing pocket door pulls. The pulls, of course, need to be recessed into the door so they are out of the way when the door slides back into the pocket. I want to get pulls large enough to cover the existing marks from the old plates that used to be attached to the doors.

The other door is another store all together. It has never had a mortise for a lockset because it was the stationary door. On double doors only one door has a door knob and lockset. The other door acts as the door jamb and has only the catch for the lockset. This door has top and bottom bolts that keep it secure. When the stationary door needs to be opened you release the bolts at the top and the bottom and swing it open. I was lucky in that the bolts on my ultra-hip pocket doors were surface mounted and not mortised in. Unscrew 8 tiny screws and they will be history. This door has only a shallow mortise for the catch.

I want to try and avoid having to do a full mortise on the stationery door. I’ve done two full mortises and it is a lot of work. The way I can get around this is to get what are called “edge pulls”. Edge pulls look just like standard pocket door locksets but there is no locking mechanism so they are much smaller and require only a shallow mortise of about 2 or 3-inches at the most instead of the full mortise of maybe 5 or 6-inches. You see them come up on Ebay from time to time but the full mortise locksets are much more common.

I found the pair pictured below at Charleston Hardware. They are an 1880s reproduction of a pair of nested edge pulls. I like them a lot and they on-sale right now for only $45 for the set. The problem with them is that they are a tad short. The existing mortise on my door is for a lockset with a 6-inch face. This edge pulls are only about 4.5-inches. It is in the ballpark, and could be used in a pinch, but a 6-inch face would be ideal. I’m am left with a Bird-In-The-Hand dilemma. I could get these edge pulls now, or wait and hope I find something better. The edge pulls at Charleston Hardware aren’t going anyplace, and their site says they have 47 pairs available.

This one is from Kilian Hardware and is the perfect size, but it lacks the panache of the Charleston Hardware one.

The plan at this point is to continue to strip the doors and while simultaneously continue the search for The Perfect Lockset. When I feel I’m a week out from having to mount the hardware, and if it looks like I won’t be able to get what I want, I will buy the Charleston Hardware edge pulls and do what it takes to get them to work. Above all else it can't look like a hack job.

You can just cut the tension with a knife, can’t you?

1 comment:

Nick said...

Greg –

I've had this dilemma myself with a few doors. In one instance I wanted the door to swing opposite than originally and so had to figure out what to do with the original lock and hinge mortises.

I saw a New Yankee Workshop onetime when Norm made a "duchman" patch, which is a clever wooden patch used to repair an area of wood. Basically you cut a thin piece of wood with similar grain, then carefully chisel out the area to repair. Glue in the patch, sand it down, and finish. I used variations on this technique to patch the hinge mortises, to fill the original lock mortise, and close the holes from the original knobs.

For your doors, I was thinking you could completely fill the existing mortises with a carefully sized piece of redwood. Then, you could cut a new mortise that would be the exact fit for whatever hardware you WANT to use – not hardware that's ideal only because it fits the existing hole. Likewise, you could Dutchman-patch the doorknob holes.

Just a thought!