Remember those door handles Bradley welded for the guest bedroom French doors? They ended up sitting in our garage for a week until we finally got around to finishing them.
The first thing Bradley did was drill holes down the center of each handle. He also used a special drill bit to countersink the holes so the screws will sit flush.
The steel had rusted a bit from sitting there, so after drilling, Bradley grabbed his grinder and cleaned up the metal.
After that, he sprayed each handle with 3 coats of clear lacquer to keep it from rusting again.
And dragged both handles upstairs for the exciting part — the installation.
Bradley started out by checking to see that everything fit properly. In order for the door to sit in the frame properly, we had to cut a little notch at the top of each handle. Bradley measured and marked each handle, and then pulled out his grinder again.
With the notch cut out, the door closed all the way and sat perfectly flush within the frame. The only problem was that the added metal made it harder to close both doors at the same time. The metal would rub together and eventually the lacquer would wear off. And we really, really don’t want to re-lacquer these things ever couple of months.
Bradley begrudgingly removed both doors.
We moaned and groaned about how frikkin’ hard it was to get the doors installed properly the first time around. A lot of threats were bandied about (“If it doesn’t go back up easily this time, lets just smash it,”) but we had no problems getting the doors back up afterwards.
Bradley made a guide to help him cut straight, and then used a circular saw to shave off a 3/8″ piece from each door. He could have taken the doors downstairs, across the yard and to the garage where his table saw is, but it seemed like way too much trouble for such an easy cut.
Once the doors were the right size, Bradley screwed the handles to the doors:
He used black screws so they wouldn’t be as noticeable.
And then he put the doors back in place.
He also added hardware to the top of each door so they stay shut.
It’s a basic ball-and-catch setup that keeps the doors from swinging open every time a breeze blows through the hallway (super annoying for the past few windy weeks!).
Here’s how the doors looked once everything was in place:
The doors will be painted black to match the floors. Or white to match the floors. We’re back on the black-or-white wagon and really can’t decide what colors we want our floors. In all honesty, it’ll probably be a last-minute decision made at Home Depot when we’re at the paint counter. That’s how we roll.
The handles are velvety smooth — no texture at all — and glossy from the lacquer:
But they have an etched look from the marks left by the grinder:
We love the contrast of the soft, smooth feel and the textured look. We also love how low profile the handles are. They stick out just enough to fit your fingers behind to pull the door closed. And, most of all, we love how they take a pretty generic French door and make it look really different.
In much less exciting news, we also installed the guest bedroom closet door handles:
Not custom and not unique, but we think they look pretty nice.
Plus, they make it way easier to open the closet doors. We were jamming our fingers under the door to pry those open in our pre-handle days.
What we learned from this project:
- Clothes make the (wo)man. Handles make the door.
- Each custom door handle cost about $20 to make. Each teeny weeny door knob we got from Lowe’s cost about $6 to buy. We might be making a lot more of our own handles.