Door Some More

Carpenter-DoorThe dining room door. Yeah, I know. You thought it was done. Crossed off the long list of tasks to accomplish before we move. How could it not be done, you’ve lived with it all winter and … Well, about that. While the new door was installed, there were, issues. I had scheduled it to be installed on a weekend, ’cause that was all the time I had back then. I was still working for a living, back then, not like now, just puttering about, waking up and wondering what day it is… Whoa, I think the Mrs just slapped some sense into me.

So, I put the door in, and it didn’t fit the house like the old door did. Which is why we bought the new Old Doordoor in the first place. The old door was a classic from the 1950’s. 3 small windows at eye level and some curvature of the spine which let the weather in. The door knob had seen better days and looked like it had seen a crow bar or 2 sometime in the past. The new door was metal with a huge window and was very straight. It also came with brick molding on the outer side that really did nothing much but tick me off. We have plastic siding on the house. It is somewhat flexible, and this brick mold and itself did not get along very well. Yes, you may be one of those practical types, poo pooing me for attributing sentience and feelings to inanimate objects. Anthropomorphizing, you say. Fine. I will go old school and say Murphy got his grubby little fingers involved and the door got installed, minus the brick mold. It leaned a little, too, just a little. Thanks Murph.

The very slight lean and not being able to finish the outside trim were the official reasons that I gave the wife as to why there would be a redo of the new door. The inside baseball of the deal was, the plastic siding was not letting go of the old trim. The boys that installed it did a real good job of putting 7 nails into into it. Obviously, not Union men.

I hate plastic siding. A lot. Yes, you don’t have to paint ever again, but that’s about it for its attributes. It’s bendy, especially when you don’t want it to be. And you can’t color match what you have if you need to repair something. Like Kansas hail, which takes great delight in punching holes into it. The top piece of trim was held in a death grip by the siding, while the side pieces had a very French attitude. Je ne sais quoi, which roughly translates to “a certain sort of something” and that pretty much covers it.

Spray foam is one of those amazing inventions that you love and hate at the same time. It does a great job filling in all those gaps that old houses have. We used to have to stuff fiberglass insulation in small areas, and it was always a very itchy and unsatisfactory experience. Now, you shake up the can, take aim and start spraying, which is immediately followed by cursing and jumping around when the stupid stuff expands past you and gets on everything. I’ve taken to having a spray bottle of water with me to spritz the rogue foam. It works a bit like holy water, and stops evil in its tracks.

When I put the new door in, we had some nice gaps that needed to be filled. I had the door shimmed and screwed into place and thought it was stable. Apparently, applying foam topically to the door is like giving it a few hits of Mary Jane. Before foam, it was an upright, uptight, paragon of virtue, stalwart defender of home and hearth. After foam, it gets a little bent. And likes it. So much so that now, it’s sorta straight and kinda weather tight. Who knew metal doors would have a weakness for mind altering foam.  I thought about contacting Lowes, where we bought it from, and letting them know that… the Mrs said to just let it go.

We lived with the situation over the winter. Every time I came into the room, I would glance at the door, and my lip would curl. I thought I heard a “whatever, dude” coming from the door’s direction. I made plans and finally, Door Day, The Reckoning had arrived. Queue spaghetti western music.

The theme song for the epic western The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. Music by Ennio Morrincone.

The day broke hot and humid, mist swirling around. A barred owl hoots in the background as I trundle up with my wheelbarrow full of tools. I squared off and squinted at the door, the door slouched a bit more and stared back, unrepentant. A bead of moisture slid slowly down its window, as the tension built. Suddenly, a shaft of sunlight poked through the mist and I grabbed for my screw gun. The door grabbed for, nothing, because it’s a stupid door. In just a bit more than 2 shakes of a lamb’s tail, we had a big hole in the house again.

Temp DoorKnowing me as I do, I came with a plan. Plan A was a temporary door, made out of 1 X 4’s, with some chicken wire and plastic. I am pretty sure it dropped the real estate value of everything in this end of the county. Oh well, we were leaving anyway. I figured it would take me at least a day or so to right all wrongs and get the door back in. Originally, I was going to build another complete jamb and sill. I had some 2 x 12’s that I had milled down and they did what wood always does in the summer. Warp. Today’s wood is dried rather quickly, and sometimes that, along with internal grain direction, produces some tension. The recommendation is to cut and install the retched stuff just as soon as you can, because it has a tendency to twist if left to think about things too long.

And that’s just what it did. I took it in stride, knowing that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, Jamb Extentionsso onward to option B; using what I had and making it work. I got the top trim piece off, finally, and made a new sill. Got that painted up and installed. I squared up the old jamb and painted that too. It was looking like rain, so I waited until the next morning to install the jamb. It went in smooth, too smooth; I started looking for Murphy. The plastic Paint Jobsiding was getting whiny, so I put my hearing protection on and hung the door. Everything is shimmed and screwed tight. I carefully apply the insulating foam while keeping a close eye on the door for signs of a contact high. The door knew he was screwed, and no funny business occurred. So far, so good.

Now, just a few more details to take care of. I have to add to the door jamb to bring it out to the meet the trim. Scribing fun. Go look at Norm Abrams New Yankee Workshop, or This Old House, to see how the pros do it. My band saw, wood planes and old pencil compass from I don’t know where, were the key players. I used cedar for the trim and southern yellow pine for the extensions to the door jamb. It went OK. I am a Jack of all Trades, so not perfect, but good enough.

Done Deal

Finally got all of it installed and painted. I stood back and gave it a look. It looks good, better than the old door, better, even than the new door, version one. I guess the old proverb “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” really works. And if you happen to see Murphy or his Norse punk buddy Loki hanging around, better have a plan that includes the rest of the alphabet.


  1. You, Sir, are a truly talented writer. Your use of imaginative metaphors is masterful!
    Have you considered submitting your work to any Magazines?
    Wish I had a list of appropriate publications for you, but, seriously, man, you should!
    Keep ’em coming!

    1. Thanks Randy. I am glad you like my stories. Not sure I am ready for the big time. Just a guy with a few stories. Like this one time that …

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