Phil contacted us in April 2015 to discuss the possibility of restoring his 1930’s wooden front door.
After resizing the door so that it fits properly we took it away to the workshop for a bit of TLC. We fit a temporary door at Phil’s house so that we could take his door back to The Grand Victorian Workshop where we will strip it down and leave it to dry out, usually for a week.
The temporary door that we fit by the way is a fire door with two locks and grade 11 fire door hinges. It’s always more secure than what’s come off. The night latch on a restoration is always old and ready for the bin and if there’s a dead lock on old doors we work on it’s usually a 3 lever bathroom lock that somebody’s picked up from that big hardware store who wrap them up nice in a shiny plastic blister pack so you think they’d keep out John Wick.
Usually, a customer knows if their door has passed it’s sell by date. I can tell by just looking at some doors on a photograph that they need setting fire to! Phil’s door is actually in pretty good condition even though some of the face is rotten, it completely needed resizing, the beading around the traditional leaded light was botched and the letter plate was way too big for the aperture. There’s lots of work needed.
Firslyt, all the old door furniture needs removing. Sometimes there’s a knob or a letter plate and more often than not Baldwin hinges that can be polished up and restored, not on this one, everything must go. Then the paint is stripped off it. We use a heat gun instead of dipping them because we can really get to see what’s going on a lot better. I’m not happy with throwing a ninety year old wooden door into a bath of chemicals to then be soaking wet for the next two weeks.
After stripping a dozen coats of old paint from the door in varying colours we give it a good sand and fill bits that have been filled before with poly filler, caulk and other crazy things. The priming coat shows up other parts that need filling. Then it comes to me.
I cut out a proper hole for the letter plate with a router and jig. Inevitably I’m contending with ‘Dave The Joiner’s half arsed attempt on site using a 22mm flat drill bit and the best chisel in the box. You can see in the original photo (where the door is blue) that the letter plate is too big for the door, this unfortunately means that the shaped piece of wood under it is a bit butchered underneath so I sympathetically make a replica. The new M36 letter plate sits nicely on the top with a hole the perfect size. I mention the product code because I specifically made a jig up for it, the bolt holes are in the right place and of course the main hole, where the post man put’s your letters through, is the right size, shape and in the correct place.
Phil wants to keep the glass in the door, it’s nice and matches other glazing so we clean it up and strip bits of blue and white paint from the edges. I cut out for the rest of the brassware and after another sand down it goes into the paint room.
After an undercoat and a check in daylight for pinholes and scratches the door gets a rub down and it’s final undercoat.
Two coats of glass makes sure that the paint isn’t patchy and there’s no ‘ghosting’, a good solid colour. The paint job now is as good as we can make employing decades of experience. The secret to getting something right of course is giving a ****. All the old paint has been removed, the wood is sanded and the best paint we can find us used.
So the M36 and all it’s friends are gathered together to be proudly worn by this restored 1930s front door and we take it back to Warrington for refitting. Our specially made draught bead is fitted to the frame and a new Stormguard thresher on the floor (usually there’s not one at all!), the frame is sanded, filled, undercoated and glossed the next day.
One more happy customer.
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