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BACK DOOR

 
Larry Sarlo real estate agent helping with the back door.

When I bought the house, this is the way I found the back door (which leads on to the deck). Vandals had broken the glass to gain entry, and the real estate agent (Larry Sarlo ‒ shown in the photo here) had secured the premises by bolting plywood where the glass used to be by using four long 5/8" bolts and 2 x 4s. (red arrow).

The original window was safety glass, as evidenced by the millions of little safety glass shards we had to vacuum up off the floor and off the basement steps. There was decorative (plastic) lattice on both inside and outside, up against the glass.

The door is an insulated steel door ‒ very sturdy construction ‒ and it was worth keeping if I could replace the glass without taking out a Title Loan on my Jeep.

You can see the extent of the damage in this photo ‒ Missing molding (green arrows), broken lattice (blue arrow), and the debris swept to the corner (yellow arrow).

The ridiculously long bolts (4 of them) kept the door from opening all the way without gouging "dinks" in the wood wall paneling. This had to be taken care of right away before the paneling got damaged by the bolts. The solution was a hasty repair  (see photo immediately below) that had to do until some serious attention could be paid to this door.

Back door temporary fix for shattered glass done by vandals.

The photos to the left show the back door after I had made some hasty last-minute repairs with a sheet of mil-spec Plexiglas. I completely removed what remained of the old frame and plastic lattice, and put this Rube Goldberg in its place. Eventually, I would either have to replace the door or make the repair more aesthetically pleasing.

As time went on, I learned that the insulated metal door which measured 30 x 78" was a "non-standard" door, Lowe's and Home Depot here in New Jersey didn't have anything that even came close, and I'd probably have to go to Lowes in Philadelphia (26 miles away) to get a replacement. I decided to repair the door instead. If the repair didn't turn out as I envisioned it; then I would replace the door.

Construction of a wooden frame to hold a narrower piece of glass to replace original safety glass.

I decided to use a narrower piece of glass (that I had on hand) than the original, mounted in a frame that would fill the opening in the door where the original glass was. The core of the insulated metal door is dense, fire-retardant foam, and the door just happened to be slightly thicker (") than a standard 6-inch wide deck plank. I chose to use untreated wood, since it would be painted anyway, and untreated wood is cheaper and is easier to paint with standard outdoor paint.

I used a slot cutter for my router to cut the " wide, " deep slot for the glass around the inside of the frame. The red arrows in the photo mark repairs I had to do when the cutter ran into embedded staples in the wood that I didn't see.

1/4" wide by 3/4" deep slot cut on the inside of the wooden frame (done before the frame was assembled).

I had an old piece of laminated, tempered safety glass lying around that came from the tape vacuum columns of an old IBM 3420 Tape Drive. I was using the glass as a desktop, but didn't really need it for that purpose anymore. The glass was smaller than the original glass, but I could care less. It was better than paying $175 to a glass company to cut a "custom" piece of laminated safety glass ‒ and I would have had to construct a frame for it in any case, so I went with what I had at hand. The frame was cut and glued together, all except for one side where the glass could be slid into the frame after it was finished. I used Liquid Nails to glue the joints, which were secured by 1" long drywall screws, clamped, and let dry overnight.

Molding that was wrecked by vandals replaced and painted.

Before I started working on this little project, you'll notice where the entire door-jamb molding was replaced (yellow arrows ‒ not only the piece that was missing ‒  compare with the original photo above).

The wooden frame was then fitted into position to make sure I could get it in the space properly, and then I installed the glass in the frame.

With the glass in place and secured in the frame with window caulk, the frame was put into position and secured all-around with Liquid Nails adhesive.

The molding I used was made with my router molding bits from standard 1" x 3" straight pine lumber ‒ there was no need to spend big money on prefab molding when I could easily make my own at a fraction of the cost.

I pre-drilled and countersunk pilot holes in the molding so that the drywall screws and self-drilling metal screws I used to secure the frame to the metal door would not split the molding, and it would be easier to cover over the screw heads with wood putty before painting.

The red arrow shows a hole for a deadbolt that was covered with a bolt-on plate (see photos of the door above, where the brass-colored plate is still in place).

Rear door with replacement glass in wooden frame inserted into opening in the door where original glass was.

 

This photo shows the outside of the door before the DIY molding was put in place. The glass is in the frame (permanently caulked in and the frame glued around it), and you can see the spots where the original frame and lattice was glued to the door around the edges.

The door was slightly thicker ( ") than the wooden frame, and you can clearly see this in the top right corner of this photo (orange arrow). I solved the problem of how to get the molding to fit, by using my router and a router guide to "rip"  " of wood away from the back side of the molding, so that the "lip" of the molding would sit against the wooden frame with the back of the molding secured to the door (see diagram, below).

The red arrow shows a hole for a deadbolt that was covered with a bolt-on plate (see photos of the door above, where the brass-colored plate is still in place).

The storm door, which was pretty-well beat up, was just in the way, so I completely removed it (see finished door photos below). The joist for the storm door will eventually be replaced with a custom door frame made from treated lumber.

Cutting diagram shows side view of molding & how its cut.

To make up for the difference in thickness between the door and the window frame, I shaved " off the back-side of the molding (red arrow) as this side view diagram shows. I used a router, a " cutter, and a router guide to make the required cut, and to shape the edges of three lengths of 1 x 3 pine lumber to make my own molding.

Back door window frame with molding in place - before wood putty is used to fill screw countersinks.Back door window frame with molding in place - before wood putty is used to fill screw countersinks.

The molding was then screwed and glued to both the door and the frame, making the repair solid, but unserviceable should the glass break and need replacement. At that point, if the glass ever broke, I would just go ahead and replace the whole door, or build a new one from scratch.

This is how the door looked from the outside after the molding was screwed in place. Each screw has had a pilot hole drilled (in order for the screw not to split the wood), and countersunk for the screw heads so that the screws don't "mash" or split the wood and a clean countersink also makes it easier to fill with wood putty.

The deadbolt lock has been removed in this photo in order to provide clearance for the router cutout to accommodate the lock..

The two photos at the left show the finished door inside and out. To tell you the truth, I'm not too crazy about the Peach color on the outside, but as the old adage goes, it was "Good enough for Government work", and a week later when the VA inspector came, it passed inspection.

There is nothing like things done by hand; yes, they lack the "perfection" of machine-assembled things, but their "personality" (for lack of a better term) cannot be duplicated. This door is probably the only one in the country that uses safety glass from an IBM 3420 Tape Drive; and by the way, although this glass can be cracked, the laminated core prevents it from shattering into little tiny pieces. So if you're a burglar wanting to break the glass and crawl through, going through the wall would be a hell-of-a-lot easier.

   
   
  MORE PHOTOS SOON

 

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Last modified: 05/29/15

 

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