A door, a fix, some lessons

I dislike the doors in our house. I love the knobs though.

The doors, however, have faults. They’re old and hollow, the veneer is peeling, the springs in the deadlatches don’t spring as much as they used to, and the regrettable decision by the previous owner to put carpet over the hardwood floors means that they’ve all be cut too short. However, these are the door we have.

During a lazy sunday afternoon I finally gathered the energy to address a problem with the door to my daughter’s room. This particular door would rub against the jamb whenever swung open or closed. A scratch-screech as the fibers worked their way past each other screaming protests. One of many minor annoyances of a 60s kit house that you quickly learn to live with amongst the deluge of other minor annoyances. Until you think about it and the problem grows roots and becomes The Current Fixation.

I mentally prepared to take the coward’s solution: just sand the thing down. Make a millimeter less door to impede free movement. Of course, as these things go and will always go, upon inspection the problem rested not in the door, but the hinge.

Whomever had hung it had done so half-heartedly. They chiseled enough material to roughly seat it and no more. And compounding the problem on the other side they also stopped short on the strike. It’s probable that decades ago this was enough to get it in just fine. To do it properly would have meant shaving a bit more space for the hinge, a bit more space for the strike, a bit more time and energy when it likely wasn’t needed. But, as we all know, houses flex and relax and shift and breath and smrik at our half-measures.

Once identified, the problem then became a series of small steps: the hinge pins were removed and the door placed gently elsewhere. For all its other faults it wasn’t in trouble today. Then the hinge and strike screws were unscrewed. Then the hinge and strike pried off. Then 20 minutes of inexpert work with a dull chisel and utility knife—both found in their proper place rolling around the bottom of the toolbag. 15 minutes of cleanup work with a toddler helping.

Now the door swings and closes and the only sounds the slight woompf of air pressure and the metal on metal grind of the deadlatch.

Soon the daily annoyance will evaporate into the ether replaced with a memory more and more infrequently recalled. Time will proceed as follows: its absence will be savored, then unnoticed, and finally a new annoyance to take its place.

Repeat and repeat and repeat.