Thursday, 14 May 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 7

Janice Bell, Tales from the Renovation Track, part 7 - Door HellCollage: construction, carpenters, hammers, nails, women, chopsticks
Credit: MS Office ClipArt - j0338018.wmf + j0228945.wmf

Part 7 - Door Hell
I must get more calls to repair doors that stick than for almost anything else. Nine times out of ten, this common situation is caused by loose screws in the hinges, either in the door or in the doorjamb.

I have a few different methods of repair that I would like to share with you, because everyone seems to have to deal with this problem sooner or later. Basically, the screws back out of the hinges or pull out from the wood altogether from the motion of the door either opening, closing or banging shut.

At first, I tried to take square shafted wooden matches, cut the flammable end off, glue as many as I could into the holes in the wood, flush cut the protruding pieces off when it was dry and then drive the screw back into the new wood in the hole. This works okay, but square does not work all that well in a round hole. Also, it is hazardous to throw match heads into the garbage. I decided to substitute the match heads for wood tooth picks, but they splintered when I flush cut them, and it took a lot of toothpicks sometimes to fill the hole. On top of that they were messy with all that glue on those tiny little pieces of wood.

Now as luck would have it, a Japanese gal hired me to do some dump runs for her as she was moving back to Japan from Canada and was sorting, packing and discarding possessions. She asked me if I wanted a pile of chopsticks, some plastic, some wood, some plain and some very decorative. I took them off her hands (just trying to be helpful), but I knew chopsticks and I did not exactly have a good relationship. I tell you, if I had to eat with chopsticks for real, I would be in the anorexic category, or conversely be accused of playing with my food. For all of my manual dexterity, the secret of feeding oneself with those devices purely escapes me.

Well, I was thinking about what the heck I was going to do with all of these chopsticks, when I had quite the inspiration. The next door with loosened screws became my guinea pig. I took a wood drill bit and compared it to the hole in question and chose one about the same diameter of the hole. Then I compared that drill bit diameter with all of the wooden chopsticks until I found one that was slightly smaller than the drill bit diameter. It has to be smaller and not the same size in order to make room for the glue.

I cleaned the hole out with the drill bit, slathered up the end of the chopstick with good carpenter glue and stuck it into the hole. I then immediately cut it flush. In my possession of tools, I own a flush cut saw, which only has teeth that cut on one side of the saw blade. The purpose for this is so the surface you are cutting against does not get ruined.

I fixed every hole like this in turn, then went back to the first hole, even though the glue had not set yet and started to drive all of the screws back in. Oh yes, I did pre-drill a "pilot" hole in the middle of each chopstick first. The pilot hole I drilled was about half as small in diameter as the screw. I do this to prevent the chopstick wood from splitting. In an ideal world, one would have waited until morning for the glue to set, but no one wants to have their exterior doors off all night long, so I had to make that compromise. This repair works like a charm. You could use doweling as well, but the chopsticks were cheaper at the time.

In some cases, a faster repair is to just use longer screws.

There are also, small pieces of metal you can purchase at Home Depot which one is supposed to stick in the screw holes and then drive the screw back in. I have tried these, but am not overly impressed with these.

If you have a door installed in a brick wall, you can still fix these as well, although a different approach is needed. I have tried many different ways to get screws to stay in brick. It is easier with the newer brick as it is harder, but the older brick is softer. I have tried everything to get the screws to stay in the brick ... tapcon screws, plastic plugged screws and metal plugged screws. I have even tried to glue the wood to the brick first, but the glue was stronger than the brick and pulled the face of the brick off.

Then my wonderful buddy Steve, a bricklayer came to the rescue and told me exactly what to do. He showed me that if I used the copper out of ordinary house wire, 14/2 for example, stripped the insulation off and put at least 2 pieces of the entire length of the hole in the brick, the screws would stay put. And by gosh, he was right! I am renovating my own double brick cavity wall house from the 1870's, so I was tickled pink to learn this! This method works well because the copper is malleable enough to let the screw threads cut into it. I tried rebar tie wire as a substitute because it was less time consuming as no insulation had to be removed first such as the electrical wire. But this type of wire was too hard, and the brick just crushed around the edges of the hole and the screw popped out. So copper it is!

Now if only I could figure out a use for all of those leftover plastic chopsticks!

Happy Renovating!

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating
2009 © Janice Bell

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator
Part 1: All in All
Part 2: Weld on Fire
Part 3: They Were Nailed
Part 4: It Pays to Be Honest
Part 5: Rural Renos
Part 6: Messy Is Costly
Part 7: Door Hell
Part 8: Just Where Do I Stop?
Part 9: Dressing for the Trades

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