Monday, October 06, 2014

Salvaged Front Door (Photos)

Here are some photos of that gorgeous antique door (that weighs a freakin' TON - actually probably close to 80-100 lbs) that I salvaged from the trash several weeks ago.

There's a section at the top that needs to be reglued and clamped, and the entire thing needs refinishing, but otherwise it's as close to mint condition as I could ever hope to find. No newer lock was ever installed on this door, which is pretty amazing (I almost hate to drill into it, but I'm going to have to do it), and there are very few small nail holes for curtains, etc. No deep gouges, or other damage (with the exception of one spot on the moulding), and it still has the original lock, handle, and plates (as well as half the hinges). I'm hoping that I can find another set of identical hinges.

Part of the reason that the door is so heavy is that it's 1 3/4" thick, and it's made of solid BC fir (which is a very heavy and dense hardwood). BC fir was used to make factory floors, as well as large supporting beams, and the masts of sailing ships (tall ships). It was also frequently used (around the 1880s to 1950s) for millwork in homes. Today it's almost only ever found as fir plywood, and to buy solid lumber is ridiculously expensive. The wood to build this door (new) would cost over 1000$.

You will note that the mouldings on both sides of the door are different. The extra deep ones are on the exterior (around 1" thick) and the plain ones are on the inside. There is also a decorative frame around the upper glass on the exterior side.

You will note the one small damaged corner on the horizontal moulding just under the glass (to the left). This will be easy to patch.

Nice deep mouldings.

I kind of like the deep crackled varnish, but I'll be completely refinishing the door to give it an even colour, and better weather protection.

Interior side:

The door had been set down onto the lock side, and I assume that the lock must have been jammed in place to cause this much damage to the catch. You can see the extreme bend, and the blue line represents the correct line that the steel should follow. I took it to the vice and anvil, and straightened it out.

Once the catch was repaired, the rest of the lock was cleaned, the rust was removed, and most of the pieces repainted in flat black.

I will be cutting a custom key to fit this lock (which is a pretty simple thing to do if you can find a suitable blank).

Side notes: This door came off a foursquare just a block away (at the end of the block across from mine), and I will be installing it as my new front door. This means that I won't be using that "prairie" door (the blue one).


  1. Fabulous indeed! It will look even better once it's repaired, refinished, and installed.

  2. Such a beauty! I wonder if the door was" kicked to the curb" because of the broken lock? It is going to look beautiful redone!!

    1. I believe they damaged/busted the lock when they brought it to the road, since the door was still in use weeks before they chucked it. I am 99% sure that they got rid of it because it was shabby looking, and they wanted a new door. The current owners have a similar 1920s foursquare, which they have completely butchered. Their new front door is the typical painted steel (styrofoam core) door with fake stained glass insert. The kind of door that I've grown to despise.

  3. Wow! That salvaged door is beautiful! Its vintage feature is really pleasing to the eyes, and its restored state is totally amazing. I just hope that everything works out well once you install it. Thanks for sharing that, JC! All the best to you!
    Daryll Smith @ Franklin Window and Door

  4. I am a huge fan of those antique doors. They don't make the front doors like that anymore, do they? They are so strong that they resist the weather and they absolutely can stand up to any intruder. We found a similar one at a yard sale and I hope to make the switch before the cold winds of winter arrive.

    Earl Mark @ Eastway Lock