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Repairs to an original back door.

September 26, 2010

Original doors (and their glass panels) are a crucial part of an old property. They must be preserved at all costs in order to retain the building’s character and authenticity.

The back door once stripped of paint

My back door was literally falling apart. The old animal glue had broken down and only the friction between the mortice and tenons was now holding the door together. Urgent action was required.

A few years ago, prior to the age of enlightenment, this old door would have been tossed into the skip. Indeed I’ve worked on building sites where these doors would have been used to keep the braziers going in winter! Moreover, I remember in 1983 saving about 10 large planks of quarter sawn oak panelling from this fate.

My back door was in fairly good shape with no timber decay and was about to get a new lease of life.

I came to the view that it just needed to be glued back together and the timber weather strip, screwed to the front of the bottom rail, replaced.

The repair…

The stile has been removed as much as possible

The first task was to remove the original glass from the side of the door that was coming apart.  Original glass is priceless and must be secured for reuse. I then tried to remove the affected stile (vertical member of the door), this was tricky because I didn’t want to damage the timber. A piece of ash (harwood) was used to protect the pine (softwood).
I still don’t know why I couldn’t remove the entire stile from the tenons but I think the bottom mortice may have been screwed. Anyway with this operation its best to take things very slowly and stop if you think the joints are being stressed.
Glueing up a large heavy door is stressful at the best of times and the use of large sash cramps is vital for point pressure around the mortice.

Use the old weatherboard as a template

The weather board…
The old weather board was in bad shape and needed to be replaced. The old piece was used as a template, with the back bevel and its dimensions all being recorded to allow an exact replica to be made.

The new weather board with supports in place

 Once the weather board was fixed to the door the repairs were almost complete. However, having made the door narrower by some 10mm, I had to completely re-hang the door to make it shut with an even gap within the door frame. I decided to use two 100mm brass hinges to ensure this heavy door remained secure for another 100 years!

Back door after the repairs

 The photo above shows the back door repaired and re-hung. However, restoration work is also required on the frame itself. This work will form the subject of a future blog posting.

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