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I’ve been (slowly) working on a mortise-and-tenon screen door for the front of my Victorian house; I wrote a few days ago about the construction. Late on Friday afternoon, I routed a 1/2″ x 1/2″ rabbet in which to seat the screen inserts, and I put together the screen frames. The plan is to go into the office/shop tomorrow and paint the frames, then tack on the screening (I’ve no idea how to do that , I’m leaning toward wire staples, but if you have suggestions…).

First, however, I thought I’d best pull off the existing aluminum screen door and framing, and see what horrors were hidden underneath. The last few owners of this house did some, uh, interesting installation and repair jobs; I’m always bemused/shocked/terrified/disheartened by what I uncover when I pull up carpets, replace trim, etc. Under the screen-door framing, I fully expected to find rotting and/or missing trim; terrible, multiple attempts at hinge mortises; and who knows what else. I was prepared to spend at least a day prepping and repairing the jamb before I could even think about fitting and installing my new door.

A former owner, the guy who installed the aluminum screen door, is a bonehead (and Steve B., If you’re reading this, I’d say the same to your face). Down one side, he used nails instead of screws, and in the intervening years, said nails got covered with eleventy billion layers of caulk. Ugh. But once I scraped off the caulk and levered the nails out from the backside of the framing, I was able to get at them with nail pullers. That, however, is going to be the worst part of the job. 

The original trim is in remarkably good shape; I won’t have to match or repair any moulding at all. And, on the decorative moulding there’s only a layer of two of…shellac? varnish? so the lines are still crisp; a gentle scraping is all it will take before I’m ready to paint.

Now I’m just hoping the new door goes in with as little trouble as the old one came out.

– Megan Fitzpatrick

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  • Eric

    It’s going to come out great Megan.
    (And, Steve B knows down deep he could have done better if he had tried…..)


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