Dealing with knobs

The delay we had as we prepared to take Tuxedo Mask to the vet requires a bit of background explanation.

For the past while, we have been going in and out of the house through the sun room. While I did a repair on the door of the main entry, where it was falling off its hinges, it didn’t last. The wood continued to split, and the door frame itself is splitting. Basically, we need to replace the entire door and frame set, which I hoped would have been done by now, but other things laid claim to our budget. We avoid using that door, so as not to damage it even worse. We do have another door in the dining room, but that one doesn’t have a key lock, and has troubles closing. Yeah, that door and frame needs to be replaced, too, but at least nothing is splitting apart. Anymore. The storm door on the outside was badly rotted at the bottom, and my brother repaired that before we moved in, sweetheart that he is.

Going outside through the sun room, however, means first going through a door to the old kitchen. That room isn’t heated and has little insulation, so we use it for storage and the chest freezer, and it’s a critter safe place to store our garbage bags until we can get to the dump. The cats are not allowed in there, but they sometimes slip through.

The good thing is, it is a buffer zone. The old kitchen goes out into the sun room. There is the original (?) wooden door on the inside, and a storm door on the sun room side. When the sun room was added on, the storm door stayed, and comes in quite handy.

The sun room acts as another buffer. There have been times where inside cats have made it as far as the sun room, or outside cats as far as the old kitchen, but not at the same time, thankfully! šŸ˜€

Then there are the sun room doors to outside; an inner door and a storm door, both salvaged. My late brother worked in demolitions, and most of the sun room was built with material he was able to salvage from who knows where!

It’s the old kitchen door that has been increasingly a problem.

From the inside, the knob worked only in one direction. If you turned the other direction, it would just spin in place. The door itself didn’t want to stay closed, and sometimes I would think I closed it behind me, only to come back later and discover cats milling around the old kitchen! Both knobs were also loose and rattled, but the outside knob (the old kitchen side) seemed to work better.

Until today. When it suddenly just didn’t.

While getting Tuxedo Mask into the cat carrier, my daughter needed to go back into the house, and couldn’t open the door. The knob just spun in place, doing nothing. My husband had to open the door from the inside to let us in!

Before we left, I quickly took a couple of photos of the door knob, with plans to go to the hardware store while my daughter took Tuxedo Mask to the vet.

Yes, this is a very, very old door. It’s the original, I believe, which would mean it’s been there since about the 1930’s. I don’t think that’s the original knob, though.

Once at the hardware store, I asked for help, so I could be sure I got the right kind of replacement knob. The first two staff weren’t sure, so they got the manager to help me.

He took one look at the photos and said, “no.”

He had no door knobs that would work. If we tried with a modern door knob, we’d have to drill a new hole.

That would mean removing the plates, of course.

You’ll notice how thoroughly painted over it is on this side. Even if I manged to get the screws out, getting it free of the door, without damaging it, would be difficult.

Of course, the other side is painted over, too.

He suggested that I try a second hand store. Sometimes, people donate their old door knobs.

Which is when I remembered finding door knobs when we cleaned out the new part basement. Some downright pretty ones, in fact.

Once we got home, got Tuxedo Mask set up in the sun room and my other daughter let us into the house, I headed straight for the basement. The knobs were easy to find, as I’d put them all in the same drawer.

Rifling through, I found three potential pairs of knobs. There was one more, but it was a more modern knob with its own plate that couldn’t work.

I started off by trying to clean them first. My younger daughter came along to help and, from the sounds of things as I write this, she finally finished. She was absolutely determined to clean all the recesses in that one more elaborate knob. A couple of them had paint on them, and all of them were incredibly filthy.

I’m going to have to take a photo of how they look after cleaning. They are gorgeous!!!

The screw on the white enamel one, however, is damaged and we can’t do anything with it, so that one’s not an option. My daughter worked out which two fit knobs together best while cleaning them.

After a while, I went to take off the old knobs.


One of these days, I’d like to get the paint off this door and refinish it. Maybe with a nice stain or something. It’s not a standard size door, so if we were to ever replace it, we’d be resizing the entire door frame. It’s in a log wall, so that’s probably not an option.

It took a while to get the knobs off, as the bar was deeply threaded into each of them.

Can you tell which one is the one I took off the door?

Yeah, the bottom one.

No wonder the knobs wouldn’t work right.

My daughter and I were just starting to clean the knobs I found in the basement when my mother phoned. Eventually, I mentioned to her what happened to the door. As I described it, she started telling me that I could get my brother to fix it. You know, the brother that lives an hour and a half away. :-/ I told her that we couldn’t do that. Then I had to explain – again – that we don’t use the main doors anymore, and why, so these doors are the ones we use all the time, now.

As I was adding in why we couldn’t use the dining room doors either, my mother started asking, why is everything breaking down all of a sudden? I told her it isn’t “all of a sudden.” These things were breaking down for many years. It’s just that nobody noticed it happening. Even my dad, while he was still living here, would no longer have seen a lot of it and, even if he did, was in no position to do anything about it. Now we’re here, and very active, so things that have been slowly breaking down over the years are finally just giving out.

Aren’t we the lucky ones? šŸ˜€

I think she even got it a bit, because she started talking about how she had relied so much on the boys taking care of things, she didn’t know anything about it all.

Which is a huge step forward from her usual, “you need a man in the house” lecture! šŸ˜€

So, hopefully, we’ll get the door working again tonight, or maybe tomorrow morning. The knobs have been scrubbed with vinegar and water and I want to make sure they are completely dry before we put the ones we’ve settled on, into the door. Once I got them off, I realized the knobs themselves are just fine. They even look a lot nicer, once the paint and scunge was removed! We much prefer the pretty ones, though. Hopefully, it’ll work.

If not, we’ll have to start digging through some of the sheds and the barn, and see if there are some really old doors we can steal the knobs from.

The Re-Farmer

3 thoughts on “Dealing with knobs

  1. Pingback: Getting all knobby | The Re-Farmer

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