Friday, April 14, 2006

Anytown, USA

Just as important as how an old screen door looks is the sound it makes when it shuts. The initial slam gives a solid thump as the wood screen door hits the wood stop. Then after that there are a series of 4 of 5 thumps with each one getting quieter and closer in succession as the one before it. THUMP….Thump…thump..thump.thump.

This door’s got the right sound. I half expect to see Auntie Em come to the door and pear out through the screen with a worried look on her face as she calls out, “Dorothy! Dorothy!”

I was worried that the springs in the hinges were shot. Two years ago when I removed it from the addition they didn’t seem to work so well. There was a hook on the door that was used to prop open the screen door. The POs would open the door and hook it against the side of the house at maybe a 60 degree angle away from the house and leave it there forever. When I first moved in I unhooked the door and the door would no longer close all the way. It would get about 4 or 5 inches from being fully closed and then stop. I guess the springs have found their natural spot again because they seem dead-on now. Even with out the wooden stop I attached to the door jamb the door seems to hang perfectly.

As I said yesterday, I had to swap the hinges and handle to opposite sides. You can see the putty marks from where I filled the old holes from the hinges and handle. When I moved the handle to the other side I noticed there were two small holes in the wood that matched up with the mounting holes on the handle. Sure enough the screws fit right in. So it would seem that when they trimmed the door they trimmed off the part where the hinges were originally mounted, then mounted the hinges on the other side and moved the handle to the opposite side.

Now, 80 or 100 years later all I had to do was click my heels together 3 times and everything’s back were it should be.

And Mortimer too?

Yes Mortimer too.


allison said...

I’ve had several crappy screen doors and it’s not fun. They are either flapping in the wind or hard to open or hard to keep shut. I guess the only solution is to buy a new one after all that. It seems that after 80 years or so, your door has given all it can give. Good luck!

Doug K said...

I don't have the screen doors for my house yet, but have noticed that a lot of new inexpensive wood screen doors have very narrow bottom and top rails. This makes it inevitable that they will fail to remain square. Some older ones have diagonal bracing built in to the design which lessens the need for wide rails. Yours seems to be sturdily built, despite the relatively narrow rails.

Yokel said...

I was flipping through my LeeValley Catalogues this morning when I came across their Hardware for making Victorian Screen Doors. Might be interesting if you have more doors to make?
and then search for 'screen door'.

I dunno if Lee Valley is in the States or not, but they're one of my favourite store. (New) old Hardware, (new) old hand tools etc.


jm@houseinprogress said...


Your writing is so full of color and imagery that it gives me goosebumps. So very cool.

And, you know, nice door too :)

Nick said...

Greg - you SO need a deck to step out onto. Nice work :)

Kristin said...

Thanks for that description of the way a screen door slams. I hadn't thought about that in years. Even my grandparents converted to a metal one several years back.

slateberry said...

When I read this post and the description of the thumping sound, I got that familiar feeling--but my house doesn't have any screen doors. Finally I realized: I can give you the names and campsite numbers of many, many sites that are within hearing distance of bathrooms with just that kind of screen door. All night long, WHUMP, thump thump thump. Nostalgia is a matter of context. Thankfully as my kids have gotten older it has become unnecessary to get a site close to a latrine. Hermit Island Ocean Sweep 7, with its hidden path out to the cliffs, was worth the 2am thumps though. Fortunately in a house, you don't typically have drunken strangers opening and closing your screen door all night long to use your bathroom. Or if you do, you have bigger concerns than the sound the screen door makes.