July 3, 2008
Greg has been working at starts and fits on our front door project for a long time. As early as April 2006, he began to design and build the gothic arch.

On August 9, 2007, we went into great detail to describe how Greg discovered the wood to make it with at a local salvage company, and the early process of turning that raw material into a one-of-a-kind monastery door.

Using local materials to build our door would put a bit of local history into .

When last we left this saga, we got to the point of completing the door itself and building the jamb.

Now it's time to hang this thing.

Installing or hanging a door - but particularly this door - is a long process. Our front door would be no different than the other doors, only bigger and heavier. The factory-made doors we have hung so far took a couple of hours each. Most were 8' tall. Greg and I were able to hang these by ourselves. But there's no way I could help with this one.

The openable portion of our front door is rectangular and it fits into a frame in the shape of a gothic peak - which is stationery - but gives the illusion of being one big door. While this helped make it easier to build, that in no way implies installing it would be "easy".

Typically, a door is fit to the opening with the use of a power hand planer. The hinges are routed into the butt side (or hinge side) of the door and jamb. The door is trimmed top and bottom to the opening. Then the door is mounted onto the jamb and checked for any trimming that needs to be done which is typically off the lockset side. If the fit isn't right, the door is scribed with a pencil along the jamb to indicate what needs to be removed and cut again. Then back it goes onto the hinges and if it needs some fine tuning, then off it comes one more time.

Greg wanted this thing hung only once, so the fitting would have to be perfect from the get go.

As usual, Greg came up with a "workaround" that, if not easy, made it as painless as possible.

Since the door is made up of vertical planks of thick cedar, Greg decided he would hang the glued up door without the last piece that attaches to the "lock" side of the door. Once the door was up, he could fit this last piece and then glue it to the door while it was already in place.

To begin the process of hanging the door, Greg made a plywood template to rout the hinges into the door and the jamb.  Then the door was carried over to the opening - using clamps to hold it together.

This door already weighs well over 200 pounds. It's a good thing we have a helper to assist. Thank you Danny. When it's finished, it could be well over 350 pounds because the back (or interior side) of the door still remains to be constructed. We plan to match it to the paneling Greg will be building for our interior entry. But that, of course, is a long way off.

Once the door was in place, it was then set on a block that put it at the correct height in relation to the jamb. Next, the hinges were installed, the door was swung...and it was a perfect fit!  But remember, the door is missing the final piece, which Greg dry fit several times to get it just right.

I've also been working on the door these past few months and one of the projects I've been working on is designing the huge decorative "strap" hinges that will lay across the surface of the door. I was about to describe them as a "focal point" but heck, the whole house is a focal point.

When we finally take a deep breath and step back, we can't help realizing: so much work, and yet seemingly so little progress.

I will risk sounding like Yogi Bera or Norm Crosby and say...What's left to be done still remains to be accomplished!

But right now we have to celebrate where we are in the process. And Greg is deservedly proud.

July 5, 2008
Early in the day, now that the adjustments have been made, I help Greg glue up that last "lockside" piece.  Then Greg clamped this final piece to the door.

With the door in place, the next step was to seal the door with Sikkens Cetol (satin), a durable wood finish that has its roots in marine applications.

After the sealer dried, the large iron strap hinges were added.

"Strap hinges" are a fairly classic design and many companies make ready-made versions. But this door is so overscale, the proportions weren't beefy enough, so I had to remake them. I could kiss whomever invented Photoshop. But still it took dozens of hours of tedious trial and error shortening up some areas and enlarging others. Once we settled on the final look, which required making life-sized printouts of the design and putting them up against the door, we took the computer-generated image to have the shape plasma cut out of a sheet of steel. After that, I had a local machine shop add dents and scratches to the surface to enhance the vintage effect.

In addition to the strap hinges, I had seen another detail I thought would add to the illusion of an old monastery door. It was a real treasure hunt to find, but I eventually found massive rugged nails, called clavos in the Van Dykes catalog.

Eventually, Greg will turn his attention to the lockset.  Months ago, we had given a local locksmith a mock up sample of the door to help him customize a standard lockset and extend it to fit our 6" thick door.

July 15, 2008
Friends of ours who are avid gardeners gifted me with dozens of bearded iris bulbs - the result of a major garden edit.

My dream has been to have a large area just filled with iris.  But where???  Think think think...has to be where I can see them every day. 

I have a little hill at the base of 's front staircase that would be perfect, but I planted grasses there a couple of years ago to just get something to cover the bare ground. Boy, that will be a chore to even attempt to dig up.

July 16, 2008

Soon after we got framed and (at least) the exterior plywood up, back in 2006, we covered up the front doorway with a sheet of plywood. It was primed white. And there it stayed for month upon month until both of us became absolutely sick of looking at the thing.

So for my Christmas present last year, Greg got creative and painted the plywood to look like a Hollywood facade of the finished product.

After all these many many months, Greg spent a lot of the day on finishing touches and then...

As if by magic, a beautiful full moon began to rise behind us in the southeast and watched over our shoulders as Greg and I were nailing on the massive clavos - the last bit of detail before the lock installation.
Kudos to Greg on quite an accomplishment: our completed Gothic Front Door now graces the entrance to !!!

August 12, 2008
I never know where I'll find inspiration. I'm always tearing out pages from magazines - a picture is worth a thousand words and there's nothing like the ability to point to something.

This time inspiration struck while accompanying visiting friends househunting. In the backyard of one of the houses we toured was a fabulous gazebo. It's a great example of what I want to do with the railings of our exterior front staircase. There are all kinds of ways of accomplishing this, and this one looks great.

August 17, 2008
If you're looking for special and inexpensive artwork for your home, take a look at sheet music from the turn of the century. Several years ago I began a small "theme" collection. You can find hundreds of them at your local flea market or collectibles shop.

August 18, 2008
I am determined to finally plant those iris bulbs that were given to me last month.

So wouldn't you know it, here it is August, and it pours rain. I mean drenching. Our helper, Danny, was a good sport and helped me plant every last one.

I'm just hoping I didn't lose any candidates in the long wait.

August 20, 2008
Friends of ours are having the outside of their house painted and they are concerned about the moisture trapped in the shingles. So Greg offered to lend them his moisture meter which obviously measures the moisture content of wood. In order for paint to properly adhere, the moisture content should be no more than 12-14%.

August 29, 2008
Our high school helper, Danny, is working alongside Greg to organize the myriad of supplies that are underfoot in the areas where Greg is still installing the HRV and exhaust system ducting.

Wish I had a nickel for every time we've had to stop and reorganize supplies. Because they've spread out so much, they end up in just the wrong spot to interrupt your work.



And for previous house notes go to

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