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Daddy Soreback
Old Doors

I'm not sure I'm posting this question in the correct place but here goes. I own a great old home built in the early 30s. We love it and are planning on living here for a very long time. One of the problems that we have is that the interior doors are warped making them difficult to close. We end up slamming which makes the door knobs loosen up and eventually fly off. I found replacement door knobs which are great but ultimately the same thing happens. The doors get slammed and the door knobs end up getting loose.
If anyone has an idea about how to remedy this situation please let me know.
Daddy Soreback

Re: Old Doors

I also have an old house, pre 1900, and also have the occasional problem with doors. The thing I found was that some times it is actually a hinge that is not tightened properly that makes a door hard to close, hence people slam them to get them to close. The other issue I found was that the striker plate may have been improperly installed and is set back too far and the plunger doesn't get into the hole easily. Good Luck!

Mae Baker

Re: Old Doors

A lot of home owners are blaming the doors and hinges.

Most of the time it is the house settling itself which causes the door frame to go out of position.

You may not feel the uneven settling from one room to another but you can see by looking at the gaps between door frame and door or the crackes on wall or ceiling.

Re: Old Doors

I'm wondering if the doors are twisted, that is no longer flat, or if they seem to be a little to big for the opening. The latter situation is more common and easier to deal with. As Walt pointed out, this is likely due to the door frame moving around as the house settled. I've been repairing and replacing some doors in my house, and the jams aren't always plumb. You'll need to remove some wood from the door so the door fits properly.

Study the door carefully to determine where it is hitting the jam. It may be hitting in just one spot, or along the entire edge. There are several ways you can trim the door. On the vertical edges, I found a block plane works best. You'll need a decent quality plane, which ain't cheap (I inherited a few from my Dad). The blade also needs to very sharp for it to work well, but boy it does a nice job. Remove the paint first with a paint scraper. If you need to trim the top of the door, the plane may not work as well since you'll be going across the grain at least part of the way. There you can try wood rasp if it's just hitting near the corner, or break out the random orbit electric sander. REMEMBER, you can always go back and trim a little more off, so take it easy. If you want to take a little off the entire edge, you could use and electric circular saw, but you MUST use a straight-edge to guide the saw. You can buy an 8' alumnium straight-edge at the hardware store for 10 or 20 bucks. Cutting off just the width of the blade should do the job. Follow the saw with a light sanding to finish the surface. AVOID using a belt sander, which is way too aggressive and will make the edge all wavy and out of square. Don't ask how I know this.

When hanging a new door, you can mount the hinges, hang it, and trim the other side so its perfect. Since your doors already have all the hardware installed, if you want to reuse all the original locksets, I recommend trimming hinge side. The reason is it's easy to take a chisel and make the existing hinge mortises deeper to make the hinges flush again after you trim the door. If you trim the other side, the latch may stick out too far, and moving it in involves moving the entire lockset, which is a royal pain in the butt. However, if you plan to replace the locksets anyway like I did, you can leave the hinges on, knock out the hinge pins, and trim the latch side. The old 1950s locksets in my doors used a hole about 7/8 of an inch. I plugged the hole by gluing in a dowel, trimmed it flush, and drilled the new 2 1/8 inch hole with a hole saw in the correct location.

The door can also warp so it is no longer flat. The top or bottom corner of the door hits the stop molding, while the other corner is away from the stop. That's tougher to deal with. We have wood doors at the office that have warped like that. On one door with a metal jam, I had to chisel away part of the door where it hits sthe top. With a wood jam like you have, it would probably be better to chisel away part of the top where the door hits it. Or you could remove the stop entirely with a chisel and/or flat pry bar, scrape and sand the paint off, and install a new stop that follows the shape of the door.

Keep in mind that if there are many coats of paint on the doors and jambs, if you're lucky, simply stripping and repainting might
give you the needed clearance.

Good luck with your project!


Re: Old Doors

This is a big job but you have to strip the door down to the bare wood submerge or hose it with water and get it saturated, then you have to bend it until its straight(you may need several people to assist you)and hold the door secure by clamping it to a secure footing to hold the door in place hold it there for several days. Slowly release the clamps and see if the door is straight. Then either stain,paint or use natural wood oil as a protector and finish.

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