Friday, July 20, 2012


If my DIY life were a piece of music, it'd be a Baroque fugue with two or three themes running in counterpoint to one another.

Upstairs we have the work on the living room walls-- scrubbing, sealing, patching, and all the rest.  Down the basement I'm still getting the last of the paint off the salvaged screen door.  But up in the kitchen the last few days there's been a variation on the screen door theme-- transforming its original hardware.

Please pardon rotation fail.  Technical difficulties.
I've mentioned before what a jolly hard time I had even getting the pieces off the door.  Then I struggled to free the hinges from the aluminum shims the door's previous owner for some reason had to use.  Bought a new drill bit at the hardware store a couple Saturdays ago to drill out the last four screws, and that worked great on exactly two of them.  Just drilled in to weaken the remaining screw from the top, then pivoted the aluminum pieces and hit them off with a hammer.  But the last two screws were stuck in one hinge, so that technique wouldn't work.  Oh, I tried the drilling part.  Bit went dull on me and gave up any pretense to removing any material.  Ditto with one I had lying around.  So it was back to the hardware store this past Saturday to buy another bit and see if they had any other ideas.

Hinges boiled once
Happily, they did.  One of the owners simply took the offending hinge into the shop and drilled the stuck screws out for me.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Bought a new 5/8" bit anyway, since I'd trashed the other two.

Curses, boiled again!
Now that all the hardware was off and ununcumbered, I could start having fun.  The hardware as I got it was a brown tone, and if I weren't too particular I could've claimed it was patina and left it as was.  But I knew better. Using the recipe from the StuccoHouse blog, I boiled the hinges and latchset (separately) in water laced with baking soda.  The first half-hour boil made a disgusting mess on the stove (because the pan leaks and the lid doesn't fit tight) and bubbled up the brown top coat of paint.  The pieces looked rather like melted chocolate, but not a particularly good or appetizing brand, if you catch my drift.  The second 30 minutes in the pot loosened the black underlayer. 

The black may have been the finish as it came from the store, but it was compromised in many places and had to go.  Scraped and steel-wooled it off, just as I had the brown.

So by last Sunday night I had a set of nice,
Hinge parts, clean and draining
Latchset, clean
clean (if a little rusty) screen door hardware draining on my kitchen counter.  And the rust mattered, because even though this door isn't going to be directly exposed to the elements, it'll still be on the exterior and subject to humidity and moisture.  I didn't want to paint it again; what could I do to protect it?  I kept thinking "oil-rubbed," but that usually applies to bronze.  Can you have oil-rubbed steel?

A little research online unearthed a promising but alarming article on oil-rubbing, replete with instructions about heating up your metal pieces to burning-hot and melting your oil, wax, whatever, into them.  No thanks, don't want to destroy my kitchen counters or burn the house down.  The promising part came when it told me I could apply tung oil cold.  And that it was especially effective on metal that was pitted.  You want pitted metal?  I got your pits right here.

One coat of tung oil. Getting there.

Two coats of tung oil.  Much better
I found my bottle of tung oil in the workshop, but believe it or not, it took me a day or two to figure out how to get the safety cap off.  But after the ViseGrips came to the rescue, I applied two coats of the oil to all the pieces except the screws, waiting 24 hours between coats as recommended.

Finished yesterday and I think they look really neat, almost as if they were bronze.  All they need now is a coat of paste wax-- once I remember where the dickens I put the can.


Shasha Kidd said...

Those hinges turned out pretty nice.

Karen Anne said...

Yes, very nice.