Repairing Antique Hinges

Hinge Sag 2

Many wooden doors that have given faithful service for a century or two suffer from sagging because of screw holes which have become, after literally thousands of sharp shocks with closing and opening, too large for the screws. The whole door binds and sags, making it difficult to shut.

Many people are of the misconception that the hinges, or even the entire door, must be replaced. A simple epoxy repair can quickly and permanently repair worn hinge holes. Many original hinges are part of the historic fabric of your old house. Many hinges dating from the Eastlake/Queen Anne Revival period are richly ornamental and are works of art themselves. Some antique hinges can be worth well into the several hundreds of dollars and are highly sought after by collectors.

One of the worst things that can be perpetrated to an antique hinge is to drive new “larger” Robertson or Phillips screws into it. The original slot screws, most of them hand-made until the mid-nineteenth century, are as important an historical feature of an antique door as the hinges themselves!

The Restoration Process:

A door should always be repaired off the hinges with the screws backed-out carefully and the hinges and screws cleaned and bagged. A couple of shims should be propped under the door to absorb the stress from the hinges when the screws are removed (see image 1). Using a drill with a 5/16” brad-point drill bit, drill out the old screw holes, in both the frame and the door, to a depth a ¼” longer than the original screws (see image 2).

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Clean the holes thoroughly with the suction from a shop vacuum. Mix-up a small batch of Rhino Wood Repair liquid two-part epoxy and apply a liberal coat in the holes paying special attention to the sides (see image 3). The liquid epoxy will act as a good hold for the next step of paste epoxy by chemically bonding both epoxies to the wood itself.

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Then mix a small batch of Rhino Wood Repair two-part paste epoxy and pack the drilled-out holes just slightly below the surface (see image 4). Once set, a furniture-quality coloured wax can be used to blend the holes into the surrounding area (see image 5).

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The door is then placed back into position with the hinges attached, again using the shims to prop, and the original hinge housings to locate the hinge. With the aid of a gimlet, (a small hole starter, smaller than the original screws), the screw holes are run through and the original slotted screws are driven home (see images 6 & 7). The epoxy repair is permanent and structurally superior to the original wood frame and door thereby allowing your door to give another several centuries of faithful service.

Stockist:

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VHC Magazine recommends Rhino Wood Repair – available online or at Home Hardware stores across Canada!