Front Screen Doors

Because of the fact that we purchased the house in the Spring, one of the first projects I decided to go after was the restoration of the two front screen doors.  The screens were falling out of them and it sounded like a logical place to start. 

Unfortunately for the sake of documentation, I did not photograph the restoration as it was taking place. I can say that I worked on those doors daily for almost three months to complete them.  There were eight or nine coats of paint to contend with along with extensive water damage that had to be cut out, replaced and blended in.  All of the cast iron hardware was stripped and repainted.  The non mortised door latch was disassembled and all of the brass pieces were polished back to shiny and new. 

One of the few cases where I decided to modify the original design was in the corners of each of the openings.  I designed new fretwork based on the clover designs seen in the gables of the house.  I stayed with 19th century carpentry techniques by making wood pegs by hand and mounting the fretwork using just the pegs and a mallet.  It was a bit more time consuming, but they came out really well.  The fretwork show off really well when backlit as seen here.

I replaced all of the damaged moldings around the screens with a carved molding with an ivy design.  These moldings were much thicker than the originals.  The true challenge came when having to bend them to match the arch at the top of the door.  The moldings had to be repeatedly soaked in hot water and mounted in a progressive series of custom made jigs to finally achieve the correct arc. But it was well worth it as the detail shows nicely on the finished door.

Like I said earlier, the project ended up taking a couple months.  (This was not good, because it got mighty hot during that time and there was no way to have the front doors open...Yikes!) But we are quite pleased with the results.

And as seen from the inside, showing off the newly added fretwork...



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