The last time I was talking about the dining room doors here on the blog they were leaning against the dining room wall. We had brought the doors in from the rafters above the garage and cleaned them of the layers and layers of dust and bird’s nests but I wanted more seasoned hands than my own to help install them. Fortunately, just a week later, my parents came to the Dream House with a wood router in tow and, working together like a happy DIY family, we got the doors re-installed!
If finding the doors above the rafters in the garage felt like hitting some sort of jackpot, seeing them installed in the doorway feels like cashing that lottery check.
I was completely prepared for the installation of the doors to be a nightmare. After all, the doors (and the house) are almost 100 years old! The doors have probably expanded and contracted with the weather (especially once they were stashed in the garage) and the house has undoubtedly settled over the years. We couldn’t be sure they would even fit in the doorway any more. Besides which, the space where the top hardware would be embedded in the doorway had been filled in. Surely routing that out again would be a giant pain the ass, right?
As it turns out, installation was pretty damned easy. That router that my dad brought along wasn’t even necessary! We started using the router and then quickly realized that the patch that had been embedded in the doorway could be more easily removed with a flat head screwdriver and a hammer. And thank goodness for that! If you look closely at the photo of my father using the router, you can see sawdust whirling in the air. The router was also really hard to use in the doorway so it was hard to control. We mis-judged the size of the hardware the first time so there’s going to be a bit of patching required. By the time we got to the second one, our accuracy had improved considerably.
The bottom hardware (the springs that are the embedded in the doors) was much easier to install. The screw holes were still visible in the hardwood floor so installation simply meant lining up the hardware and driving in screws.
To our delight, the doors fit pretty well. Not perfect, mind you. One of the doors rubs the doorway a bit but the other door is perfect. We’ll have to shave down one door to get a perfect fit but that will have to wait until my parents come back for another visit. No way am I going take a sander to these doors on my own! Until the bulging door is shaved down, the doors stick when closed. Still, look at ’em! So lovely!
Now that the doors are installed, I’ll also need to go back and polish them. Yes, I should have done this before they were installed. But, honestly, we were so unsure about how they would fit that we wanted to see them hanging again before we put a lot of effort into them. I thought we’d just kind of half install them and then take them back down and work on them but I got carried away once we started hanging them.
Even in their shabby shape, however, the doors look incredible! Open or closed, from the living room or the dining room, the doors are gorgeous!
We’re going to leave the doors as-is until later this summer. My parents are planning a return trip to the Dream House and I’m relying on their DIY expertise to help with the sanding and patching. Until then, we’re perfectly happy with our imperfect doors!
— J. Blandings
Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings