Salvaged Door Love

Some repeat clients in the Five Points/Highland Park neighborhood wanted to give their salvaged door a new life and purpose — as a swinging pantry door.  They’d already purchased the necessary hardware to hang the door, so our job was to basically refurbish the door and return to install/hang it.

There had been many coats of paint added to the old door over the years, but, with a little elbow grease (a lot of sanding), most of the old paint could be removed, and the door repainted by the clients.

So we picked it up, took it back to the shop, and a short time later started working on removing most of that old paint.  There was a lot of sweat equity poured into this task.  First, we removed all six panes of glass — they would’ve never survived the heat-gunning needed to scrape off the paint — then followed with a great deal of sanding (with small scraps of sandpaper) in every single groove — the panels, the pane keepers, etc.  The old glass panes would also need a razor taken to it — to remove paint and accumulated gunk — then scrubbed clean with Tilex.

We worked at this task for about 14 hours, almost two days.  But in the end, we had a refurbished door, ready to hang.

So we returned, installed the hardware (confusing factory “directions…”), and then set about the task of actually fitting the door into the frame (which, of course, never had this door in it in the first place).  Fitting an old door into an existing space, or a new door into an old frame, sounds much easier than it actually is.  Basically, you have to trim the door to fit the space.  And that’s exactly what we did, planing a side, placing it back into the frame, then taking out and planing again.  Repeat…many times.

We also had to replace the original threshold — the old one, although in good shape, would not fit with the bottom hardware mechanism (the “swinging” hinge part of the piece).  After conferring with the client, we all decided that a new piece of oak could be fashioned to replace the threshold.  (And she — generously — offered to head up to the Depot and pick it up, which allowed us to continue our work on the door adjustments.)

But towards the end of the day, we had the door in place.  Our clients liked the “rough” look so much that they decided to forgo painting the door, deciding instead to keep it “as is.”  And we agreed!  The door really does have a great mottled look that just sort of “fits” among the sleek, modern chrome appliances and the white-tiled back splash.  It’s also a kind of unfinished counterpoint to the handsomely-stained floating kitchen shelves that we recently built for them.

Our clients are really happy with the way it turned out, and we totally dig the look too!  The door appears to have an actual “history,” and makes you wonder where it “lived,” and how many families’ hands touched that door over the last hundred years…

So, the original plan to paint the door evolved into a desire to keep that old, hard-earned patina.  I think they’ve even decided to keep the old keyholes uncovered and visible, and possibly use nautical rope, tied into a fist knot, as a door “handle.”

Of course, we’re thrilled with the client satisfaction!  Cool clients; cool project!