A Tall Order

Last time, I talked about restoring the door to the post office and now, I’m tackling the 9′ tall double doors between the saloon and kitchen. These were in pretty rough cosmetic shape and as a focal point of the saloon, they were looking a bit too rustic. The other challenge is that they are just huge and I had to rearrange the shop to get them onto saw horses. Now, that I have one of the doors down, I can take the hardware off and get it cooking in the crock pot.

After 150 years and many coats of oil paint, these hinges are putting up a fight. The trick is to remove as much paint from the screw heads as possible and this I do with an old screw driver and hammer. An ice pick is also useful to remove the paint out of the slot in the screw head. After cleaning out most of the old paint, I then place the screw driver into the slotted screw and twist while tapping the handle of the screw driver as if it were a chisel. This helps break the paint away from the screw so it can twist out freely.

The old paint provides another hurdle in that it locks the hinge in place and it’s very difficult to get the hinge out without damaging the door. Luckily, the repair is pretty easy.

The chips can be glued back in with any interior/exterior glue. This stuff is pretty strong and should hold the chips in place for the next hundred years.

Now that I have the hardware off the door, I can proceed to the damaged trim. I’ve decided that since this is going to a focal point door, I’m going to replace the panel molding to improve the aesthetic quality.

Note the gap at the right of the panel. This was caused by the door parts shrinking over time and will disappear once I have the new molding in place. A stiff putty knife is good for getting the trim loose and the flat bar finishes the job.

With the trim removed, the next step is to repair any odd damage that is more than just beauty marks. Near the middle hinge, there is a chunk of wood missing which requires filling.

I’ve decided to splice in a new piece of wood and I’ll use the router to cut out a flat area in which to glue the splice.

With a scrap board tacked in place as a guide, I’ve cut a nice straight notch in the edge of the door and now. it’s just a matter of gluing in a stick to make the new edge. The stick I cut from an old shelf that came with the hotel. With the price of lumber these days, I hate to let anything go to waste.

The splice trick is one that I learned when working at a mill shop in Texas. Another trick that I learned is to use automotive body filler for filling large gaps.

This crack has been scraped out to make it larger and the filler will be forced into it. Then, with a bit of sanding, the crack will never be seen again.

Here is the completed crack repair along with the new molding and caulk. Then, with some primer and paint, we have a lovely restored door.

So, what is my reward for all this effort? It’s another bit of history.

While sanding off the muck, I discovered some old signage. Before the hotel was repurposed in 1935 as a mining office, the back half of the first floor was a large public dining room. This was only hearsay but it was corroborated by the calligraphy on one of the doors. I was able to carefully sand just enough paint off to find this hiding underneath. Apparently, the other door had “Dining” painted on it. Now, the intent is to find a sign painter to recreate the old lettering in the same style.