Monday, May 30, 2016

Curtains on a doghouse

Longtime readers of this blog may recall that I was mightily perturbed some time ago when I read another blogger characterizing the side boards on a Nicholson workbench as akin to "curtains on a doghouse."  So, it was with special pleasure that I received my wife's admiring comment this past weekend as she was helping me put our front door in place so I could work on it:

She was impressed that the door fit so perfectly and was interested when I explained that the bench was designed with this in mind.  I told her to think of the side boards, or aprons as some call them, as a vertical workbench.  She does not see the resemblance to curtains on a doghouse.  Harrumph.

After thirty years, it was past time to replace the latch and deadbolt and I expected, correctly as it turned out, that it would be much more involved than it should be, for the simple reason that this is always what happens when I undertake a simple household maintenance task.  Here is a picture that will explain:


The metal strip you see is for the old burglar alarm system and runs in a rabbet completely around the door.  It interfered with the old latch and deadbolt, so the original installer just ground off the side of the hardware.  As you can see, the rough edge of the deadbolt caught as I was pushing it out and split off a piece of the door.  In addition there was no mortise for the old hardware while the new hardware requires them.  Not having a gouge the right size, I used a forstner bit for the corners and then my Veritas small router plane, which worked great.  The only issue with it is that it is hard to set the depth but Veritas now sells a depth stop for it, something I will definitely acquire.  I had to file off the sides of the plates on the new hardware for it to fit inside the burglar alarm strip and, after gluing in the piece that had split away, the latch and bolt were in place:

Thinking I was almost done, I was chagrined to find out that the deadbolt and latch were too close together.   You'd think these distances would be standard.  Since I obviously had to use the original holes, the only option I could see was to file a notch in the handle plate:

Looks terrible, but the end result isn't half bad.  Before I started hand tool woodworking, I would never have done anything like this.  Might seem that there is no connection, but there is, at least for me.

The boss wanted a new matching kickplate but the ones at the orange box store are 8" wide and I only have 7 3/4" thanks to the rabbet for the burglar alarm strip, so I am going to paint it to match.

  1. Nicholson workbenches are fantastic;
  2. There is a hand tool mindset that comes into play even if you are doing something seemingly unrelated, like filing the hardware to fit, for example;
  3. It will always be the case that all home maintenance tasks are an order of magnitude more involved than they appear.  It's a law. 

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