Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Door Is Up, But…

Late last summer when I was filling in the wall that separates the dining room from the kitchen I agonized over the doorway. The opening had been widened to add a Murphy Bed so I needed to reduce the opening and add a doorway. Framing the door had to be as accurate as I could possibly get it. If it was crooked or out of whack in anyway the a door would not work properly.

My feeling on a lot of these things is that as a novice I’m bound to make mistakes, so for something like this I should spend extra time scrutinizing every last detail. Odds are I’m still going to miss something but it is better to miss 1 or 2 details than 10 details. I spent a lot of time with this doorway and It seems to have paid off, but there is something wrong.

The door hangs straight in the opening but it won’t close. On the doorknob side it hits the edge of the jamb instead of closing. My first thought was that either the door was too wide or the opening was too narrow. I almost considered trimming the door, then I stopped. Cutting old wood is a last resort. Perhaps it was something else.

I went around the house and measured doors and openings to see how close the tolerances were. I only have a few doors hung in the house and of those only two are doors that were hung in 1895 and are still hanging in their original place. One of these is the foyer closet door. That opening is 30 & 1/16 inches and the door is 29 & 15/16. That is a difference of an 1/8-inch – maybe 3/16-inch - between the door and opening.

With my door and opening I am right about there. I didn’t strip the paint off the edges so it is tough to get a real accurate measurement on the door. I would say the difference between the width of the door and the opening varies between zero and 1/8-inch, depending upon where you measure. It doesn’t seem like the problem is an over-sized door or under-sized opening.

I think I can do 2 things to remedy the situation. First, I could mortise the hinges a hair deeper. There are a total of 2 mortises per hinge, one on the door and one on the jamb. If both are 1/16 of an inch off there is an 1/8 of an inch right there. Second, I can clean the paint off the outside edge of the door. As we all know, paint builds up pretty thick over 100 years. I could have a 1/16 of an inch of paint on both edges. That’s possibly another 1/8 of an inch. I’m not exactly sure why, but the plan was to strip the edges of the door after I got it hung. I’m going to have to remove the door again anyway, so what the hell. I think I get impatient sometimes and want to see the finished product before it’s actually finished.

So tomorrow I will remove the door and hinges, mortise the hinges a hair deeper, strip the paint off the edges, and rehang the door. The door will open and close perfectly, I’ll have better sex, win the lottery, and add 10 years to my life. Done and done.

7 comments:

Patricia W said...

I'm interested in seeing what fixes the problem. I am dreading having to install all of the doors this house needs....

Aaron said...

Doors are funny, aren' they? My house has settled so much over the years that most of my doors don't close properly. I like your idea of adjusting the mortace...that adjustmet helped get my french doors to line up and close properly.

Kristin said...

Good luck. If properly closing doors equals good sex, I'm in serious trouble over here.

derek said...

if you switched the direction on the swing, it might be beveled in the wrong direction in the edge. I think they're usually bevelled 2 or 3 degrees. I've never had luck getting doors to fit to those tolerances.

Greg said...

Patricia, I'm not going to sugar coat it: Doors are a pain the ass. Or as Aaron put it, a bit more politely, Doors are funny.

Derek, I checked. There was no bevel. That would have explained some things.

Kristin, you're too far away or I'd offer my services to help you...with the doors. Yes, doors, help you with the doors. :-)

Mike said...

You could use a sander to ease the inside corner a bit, giving the door just a bit of a bevel, but without changing the way it looks to the outside world.

The only way you'd notice would be if you were in the closet. So to speak.

Greg said...

I started to sand it last night but stopped. You really don't get a clean edge with the sander and this door will be open most of the time, so it will be seen. I'm going to call a friend and see if I can borrow and hand plane. Maybe it's about time I bought my own.