Best way to repair a solid front door

Page 1 of 2  
The front door to my house is ancient, made back in the 1920s and hasn't really been kept up well over the years. I had been planning on taking it down, completely stripping, repairing and refinishing it this summer when the weather was warm enough not to have a front door for a couple of days.
Yesterday, I saw that there is a floor-to-ceiling crack on the outside that is getting wider by the minute. I can no longer wait until summer, I need to fix it before I've got two doors, not one.
So far, I've come up with two concepts and wanted input as to which is better, or if there's another way entirely.
1) I can take the door down (it's solid mahogany), cut the door in two at the crack and reglue/clamp it back together. This is probably the best solution, but it removes 1/8" from the width of the door and it's not all that weather-tight now.
2) I can drill in from the edge and countersink some long lag bolts through (the split is about 8 inches from the edge) to pull it back together, then plug the holes. This can be done without removing the heavy door and will maintain the width.
Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Brian Henderson" wrote

Sad to lose such a piece.

Ohh, bad news.

I do not know as much as you on this as I can only see this resulting in a weak door that has to be replaced.

This sounds like it may work for a bit until you can replace the door. It sounds to me, like that's what you will end up having to do.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
cshenk wrote:

I can't imagine it being any weaker than when the door was first constructed, after all, gluing up panels is how they made it in the first place, isn't it?
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Dunno, I'd have thought solid or if not, with them wood joints you slide the panels into?
Either way, I suspect you have more experience on this one than I do.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Brian Henderson" wrote:

Something to consider.
First you have to address the issue of taking down the door to do the repair and establishing weather and security issues while you do the repair.
After that, consider taking the split to separation, then using epoxy, which has at least an hour pot life with a slow hardener, buttering the split faces, then clamp together.
If the crack is advancing as fast as you indicate, a partial repair is probably not going to solve the problem.
I don't envy you the job, but have fun anyway.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lew Hodgett wrote: > First you have to address the issue of taking down the door to do the

I want to salvage the door if at all possible because it is so old. I've seen them salvage similar doors on projects on This Old House so it's not like it can't be done. The only reason I'm leaning toward the lag-bolt version is because I don't have to take the door down to do it, I can fix it in place and worry about a more complete fix this summer.
I can always just replace it if I absolutely have to, but finding, ordering and getting a door with a similar appearance would probably be difficult.
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Brian Henderson" wrote:

I understand, I'd want to save it if I were in your position.

A possible alternate:
Can you get your hands on some plastic strapping material and a take up handle?
You indicate the door may be a little slopping in the caseing and strapping is no more than 1/32-3/64 thick.
You could do a temporary strapping around the door using plastic strapping as a temporary repair to use until summer.
Might even take 2-3 bands.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lew Hodgett wrote:

The only issue with that is that the door has started to bend slightly at the crack, making it already a bit difficult to close properly. Strapping it into place won't stop it from flexing, it needs structure to keep it straight and true.
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Brian Henderson" wrote:

Slip a caul in under the band on the convex side and allow it to spring back into shape.
Lew
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

pulling the screws tight. Done properly it should be good for a few more years, or even decades. Wouldn't use lag bolts though - I'd use something along the line of 5 inch #8 or #10 deck screws, every 8 inches or so, well contersunk and the plugged with dowels.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
clare at snyder dot ontario dot canada wrote:

5" won't do it, the crack is about 8 inches from the edge. I know I can get 1/4" lag screws that long but that's about all I know for sure that I can get (although I haven't looked yet either).
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 05 Mar 2008 06:49:09 GMT, Brian Henderson

a 5" counterbore, and put in a 5 inch screw. Gets you 2 inches of thread into the main part of the door. (tip of screw is 10 " into the door) Not difficult to do at all, and it WILL work.
--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I definitely wouldn't try to draw the wood together with screws (I'll explain why later).
I'm assuming from your descriptions that the door is composed of stiles (vertical components), rails (horizontal components) and panels. It sounds like it's a beefy door with the crack in a wide stile (lock side or hinge side?). Being as old (and as dry) as its age suggests, if you split the crack completely, as was suggested, you'll likely get uneven splintering and irregular separation of the wood fibers along the longitudinal axis of the grain. One would hope that you could apply glue and piece it back together like two pieces of a puzzle, but trust me, it won't work. (Don't ask me how I know this! lol)
I'd recommend gluing it together. If properly glued with the adhesives available today, the joint will be stronger at the glue line than the natural resins that bond the fibers of the wood. The trick is to "wet" both sides of the crack with glue as completely as possible and to apply sufficient clamping pressure. It shouldn't be too difficult.
It would be best to remove the door and lay it across saw horses... or across some 2x4's on the floor on edge.
Buy a cheap syringe at the drug store. Buy a small paste brush at Home Depot or Lowes (it has short, stiff bristles and is used to apply flux for soldering) and purchase a good quality, exterior grade glue (TiteBond). You can thin the glue with some water (experiment so that you thin it only as much as is necessary to make it flow through the syringe needle). Have enough clamps on hand to apply them 6" - 8" apart for the length of the crack.
Gently pry the crack open with a screw driver, if you can, so as to get the brush into the crack and spread the glue onto both surfaces. If you feel that prying will increase the crack, stop! Use the syringe to flood glue into the crack as far down as you can (gravity will pull the glue lower into the crevice... so give it a minute). Plenty of glue is good. Whatever squeezes out after clamping is easily cleaned up. Once you've got as much glue into the joint as you can, apply the clamps. A thin strip of wood (3/4") between the clamps and the door edge will protect the door edges from clamp damage and will also help to distribute the clamping forces. Alternate the clamps on each face of the door to prevent the door from bowing under pressure from the clamps (one on the outside, next on the inside, next on the outside, next on the inside... and so on). Wipe up any glue squeeze out and leave everything for at least four hours to ensure sufficient initial cure ('cuz some glue has been thinned).
Remove the clamps, close the door (gently 'cuz it'll need 24 hours to reach it's strongest bond), stand back and admire your handy work!
Why not to screw?
You stated that the crack is about 8" from the edge of the door. You'd have to bore a pilot hole into the edge of the door about 4" past the crack, or 8"+ 4" = 12", to have sufficient depth for the threaded part of the screw to bite. You'd need about 4" from under the screw head to the crack, for enough wood mass under the screw head to bear pressure onto the crack. You'd have to counter bore 4" into the hole for the screw head to enter the hole unrestricted. Eight inch screws are available (not readily though) but they'd be too weak at that length and would likely snap if under #14 gauge. You'd need a six inch #3 Phillips or Robertson driver bit to reach far enough into the hole, and the bit would likely "cam" out of the screw head under the forces you'd be applying (if you round out the cavity in the screw head when it's buried in the door, you'll never get it out!)
And lastly, but most importantly, the forces required to draw the crack together would be greater than the resistance applied by the screw head, and the threads would likely just draw the screw deeper into the hole without completely closing the gap (if the screws don't break!). Been there... done d'at. Don't do it.
When the weather permits... refinish the door. The hot summer heat (and cooler interior) and the cold winter air (and warmer interior) create expansion and contraction forces that constantly flex a wooden door (worse if exposed to direct sun). There's also usually a humidity differential on both sides of the wooden door during the changing seasons. All these factors contribute to wood fatigue... hence the crack. If soundly repaired... and properly refinished... it should last another generation (with proper maintenance).
Thanks for enduring this lengthy post. I hope I've been able to help you salvage and restore a venerable old soul, that's been hanging around longer than you and me (pun intended)!
Good luck.
Michael
--
Message posted via CraftKB.com
http://www.craftkb.com/Uwe/Forums.aspx/woodworking/200803/1
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 05 Mar 2008 08:03:18 GMT, "toolman946 via CraftKB.com"

I see it as a solid 1/7/8 or 2" plain mahogany door. Not a panel door. I had one like it on my first house - a round topped door. Almost impossble to BUY a replacement for. Would have to make one.
Anyway, it was made up of several planks, laminated together. A glue-line fails, and the door splits.
Glue and screws - draw the screws in evenly, a bit at a time to close the crack - or use a couple ratchet straps to pull it together first and just use the screws as backup for the glue.
If it's the door I think it is, this will work. If a panel door, a totally different story. But the OP DID say a SOLID wood door.

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
clare at snyder dot ontario dot canada wrote:

You're right, that's exactly the door. It's not something that would be easy to replace, it's got nice glass features, etc. that I really don't want to lose if I can help it.
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Michael. Your explanation of how to repair the cracked door stile was one of the best descriptions of how to accomplish this task that I have seen. I second your opinion regarding potential problems with the screw method. If the OP follows your advice he will be rewarded with a useful door and bragging rights besides. Joe G
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thank you Joe. You're very kind.
Michael
--
Message posted via http://www.craftkb.com


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
toolman946 via CraftKB.com wrote:

Nope, it's a flat slab, presumably of glued-up boards, although people who have owned the house for the last 90 years have put so many coats of finish on the door, it's hard to tell.
At present, the crack on the inside of the door is barely noticable and I'd like to keep it that way. I have tried to flex the door along the outside crack to see if I could get a syringe of glue into it, but it's still too tight and I'm afraid of breaking the inner face if I do. I wouldn't get much glue coverage that way anyhow and if I end up cutting apart the door with a circular saw (which will give me flat glue up surfaces), I'll add internal reinforcement with dowels or a spline or something.
--
Blog Me! http://BitchSpot.JadeDragonOnline.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
.

Brian
I too saw a similar drilling method on Ths Old House.
It seemed to me that the "lag" bolts/screws they used had threads that were just on the last few inches of the bolt, near the tip. Then a suitable shoulder for/on the head to act as a pull point to pull the joint together. In between the shoulder and the threads the diameter was reduced so the edge of the door would not split.
I would stay away from the conventional lag screws as they will cause splitting of the wood near the head because you will have to make the hole for the bolt too large. When putting another type of lag screw in the threads will go through the edge of the door on their way to the inner part and then you will be able to easily pull the split together.
Look at mcmaster.com for what you need in lag screws.
Sears among others sells a drill fixture/holder that will allow you to drill the necessary holes straight into the wood. You may have to make a fixture to provide sufficient flat area to use this drill holder on the edge of the door.
Does the door have hinges with removable pins so you can remove it for a short time to do the work?
Bob AZ
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Brian Henderson wrote:

Maybe, see below ___________

No to lags. Through and through threaded rod with large washers would work but that would be a lot of very long holes and a series of 1" plugs along both edges. Not pretty. You could avoid through and through by using shorter rods/bolts into tapped metal dowels but that would be unsightly too. Either would be a lot more work than necessary. ________

I would first try toolman946's suggestion of getting glue into the crack and drawing it together with clamps. That will probably fix it but if it doesn't you can always do your #1 idea at a later date. You could rectify the narrower width of the door by packing out the jamb.
You say the door is "solid". I take it that you mean it is a slab door rather than frame and panel. Either way, you need to figure out *why* it is suddenly cracking after so many years. The only reason I can think of is differential expansion and contraction; that is, one face of the door has dried out more than the other. A heated - and dry - interior in your house could cause that. You really do need to maintain the finish on the door to avoid problems such as you now have.
--

dadiOH
____________________________
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.