DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,


I am at home using up vacation days, and so far I've been pretty productive. Yesterday I replaced the storm door on the front of the house. There was nothing actually wrong with the old door, but it was getting old and it's various operating parts were starting to creak, as aging mechanisms (and aging people) do. It also wasn't particularly attractive, and since a new storm door isn't very expensive (compared to other home add-ons), I figured what the heck.

Now I'd already replaced the side storm door back on New Year's Eve. That wasn't optional since the old door had been ripped right off the house by a gust of wind. It turned out to be a pretty easy job, apart from also having to replace the brick moulding that went with the door when it flew away.* I was very happy with the new door. The old side door had been victimized by the wind before, and it had become difficult to shut due to some bendage of the hinges. The new door was what they call a triple track, with a much larger window area than the old door and panes that slide up and down. Both the glass panes and the screen can stay on the door year round, rather than having to swap them out when the seasons change. It's a nice feature, especially when the seasons are changing, and the temperature is bouncing back and forth between 55° and 80°, as it did this week. It also has a wood core, which is a better insulator than the sheet aluminum of the old door. So, off to the Depot.

* I'm surprised I never wrote up that project. I meant to. There are even pictures.

The side door is rather plain, so I spent another $33 for a slightly fancier one. These were available with either brass or nickel hardware. I They were also apparently available in two heights, 78" or 80", so I went back home to measure. The old door was 79¾".** I new that the actual door was really a little shorter than the nominal size. There is an adjustable sweep at the bottom to make up the difference, so I figured I needed the 80". Except they didn't have any with the nickel hardware I wanted. They had a couple of 78" doors with nickel hardware. I also noticed that the sign on the demo door said nothing about there being any such thing as a 78" door, so I decided that maybe they were just owning up to the fact that the door wasn't quite 80". Worth a shot anyway. I bought the 78" door.

** I managed to badly cut my thumb via the steel tape equivalent of a paper cut doing whilst the measurement. Remember kids, even tape measures can be implements of destruction.

Fortunately I had the good sense to measure the door once I opened up the box to make sure my assumption had been correct. Nope. The 78" door is actually only 77" high. No way the 2" sweep would cover a 3" gap. I taped the box back up and brought it back. I went back to the storm door aisle to poke around to see if I'd missed an 80" door, perhaps misfiled with another style. Then I looked up, and noticed for the first time that there was a whole 'nother story of doors on the storage rack above. Better yet, the one I wanted was up there. The problem was that it was 10' off the floor. There was no way I could get at it myself. I was going to have to ask for help.

Getting the thing turned out to be only slightly less complicated than the invasion of Normandy. There were a bunch of doors leaning up against the door I wanted, and they would have to be moved first. The associate first tried getting at them with a rolling staircase, but he couldn't get the kind of grip on the individual doors that he needed to move them. So he wheeled that away, then came back with a platform lift, which didn't work at first. It turned out one of the support legs wasn't perfectly flat on the ground, and the safety interlock kicked in. He fixed that with a piece of corrugated cardboard under the leg as a shim. After that, he managed to move the leaners, then readjusted the lift, and got the door. Took about half an hour all told. Yeesh. But at least I now had my door.

Beyond that it was fairly easy going. There were only a couple of snags removing the old door: some stripped screws, one of which needed to be drilled out, and the fact that whoever had originally installed it used construction adhesive in addition to the screws to attach the door to the house. A little gentle prying with a crowbar took care of that. The only snag installing the new door came when it was time to install the latch hardware. You need to drill some holes through the door for this. For the side door's simple latch, a 3/8" drill bit was required. This door required two sizes, 7/16" and 5/8". Now the outside of the box lists the tools required. It mentions drill bits, but no sizes. Those two bits are not found in any but the most complete sets of bits, thus are not likely to be found in the average homeowner's tool box. I have way more tools than the average homeowner, and I wasn't even sure if I had bits that size. Off to the basement.

Well, I did have a 7/16" bit, but it was a brad point bit more suited for woodworking than metal cutting. I wouldn't have even tried it on the old aluminum door, but the new door is actually wood sheathed in plastic and one very thin sheet of aluminum. So I tried it, and it worked fine. Alas I did not have a usable 5/8" brad-point.*** A quick trip to the Depot showed that even they didn't have a 5/8" brad point. I did have a 5/8" Forstner bit, again strictly a woodworking bit, and one best used in a drill press rather than freehand. At this point it was getting late, and it was starting to rain so I used that. And it worked, although it did have a little bit of trouble with the metal. Just goes to show. You can never have enough tools.

*** I did actually have one, part of a super cheap set of bits that I'd bought at Job Lot decades ago. It was that particular set of bits that taught me never to buy drill bits at Job Lot ever again. Attempts to drill a hole in a piece of soft pine with one left a smudge and traces of abraded metal on the surface of the wood.

I still have one more task to do on the door. The trim pieces on the new door are narrower than those on the old, so you can see a lot of bare wood around the edges of the door where I had to scrape of the old construction adhesive. I'll touch that up when it stops raining.

Another thing I did was I finally reassembled the incredibly heavy jointer I bought two years ago, and installed it on a roll-around frame for machine tools. Now I can shove it out of the way until needed. Time to consider a woodworking project.
Tags: house, projects, tools

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