Thank you to everyone who chimed in on our little door knob height dilemma yesterday and offered their opinion and suggestions. They were all quite helpful and we appreciate them. I think we are going to swap out the knob for a black porcelain knob to start, then see what we think. Ultimately, I think I'd like to just fill the hole, repaint, and move the knob down about six inches. It's at about 39" now, and six down would put it right in line with the next muntin, but we'll see how the new knob goes first. I'm still kicking myself for not checking on it better before drilling the hole. I never do that, not sure why I did this time. Ugh. 

As a follow up, here are two "renderings" of the knob with its height adjusted.

Anyhow, onto better news about the french doors. Yesterday we covered almost all of the hardware we need to complete the project, but the last item we mentioned in the list was the slide bolt, and we didn't elaborate on it. I didn't cover it in yesterday's post because I feel like it needed its own post. Yep, I'm that excited about it!

Our french doors are installed in a typical configuration. We've opted to use a locking rim lock to function as the knob and latch assembly, but to function properly the right side door with the catch on it must be fixed in its location, otherwise the locked doors will just push open. At the same time, the door needs to be able to open easily when we need to walk through. To solve this problem we turned to a slide bolt that is used to fix the door in position when the doors are shut, giving the other door something sturdy to latch onto. Sadly, we didn't have a spare slide bolt in our stash of goodies, so we needed to turn elsewhere.

There are two primary types of slide bolts, surface mount and mortise. The surface mount are affixed to the interior of the door's surface, while the mortised bolts are recessed into a groove cut into the front or side of the door. We decided the surface mount would work best for our doors, so we focused our attention there.  

We started our search for the slide bold at The Brass Knob, our favorite (and really only) DC salvage yard. We found a couple of cool things while looking around, but unfortunately there weren't any good slide bolts to be found that day.

Since The Brass Knob didn't have any slide bolts that matched our needs I started looking around on the various Internet antique salvage sites and eBay. I luckily stumbled across a few non mortise slide bolts on Ed Donaldson antiques. I love this site and have ordered quite a few items from them over the years, and would you believe it, they had exactly what we needed.

I found a circa 1885 surface mount decorative cast iron slide bolt with catch. We ordered it on Sunday and had it by Wednesday. When I opened the package and looked at it I realized it was perfect for what we needed. The paint had already been removed, clear coat applied, and it came with black slot head screws. It was ready to be installed.

This slide bold is cast iron, is in excellent working condition with a fully functional spring, and the chain and loop at the end of it is in near perfect shape. It cost $65, but I was rather surprised the price wasn't much higher.

But what was the best part of the piece? When I turned it over I noticed the manufacurers logo stamped on the back plate. I was shocked when I noticed it was the same as the lock we were using on the door that I had purchased some eight years ago and held onto just waiting for an opportunity where we could use it. Total serendipity in home restoration if ever I had seen it.

Wait, it gets better. Back when we bought the house we noticed a weird notch in the molding above the old front door. We never knew what it was for or why it was there, but it always struck us as odd. The notch was slightly off center and had no identifiable characteristics other than multiple screw holes. We always assumed it was for a door bell or screen door latch, but really based that on nothing more than not having a better idea.

Back when I was working on the molding, I carefully filled that notch with epoxy and sanded it to match the surrounding molding. If you look at it today, you'd be hard pressed to find exactly where it was. We installed the repaired molding and didn't think twice about that notch, at least not until I was mounting the slide bolt.

While holding the slide bolt up for sizing on the right door the reason for the seemingly random notch hit me. It was where a catch for a slide bolt that was once on the left door of a long lost door set had been! I held the catch we had received up to the patched location and realized that it was exactly the same size as the catch we had received. This was too good to be true. We had selected a slide bolt to work with our new doors and it turns out to be possibly the same slide bolt that used to be on the left door back when there used to be double doors. We had come full circle, but in the case of the new doors, we're mounting it on the other side!

I determined the correct location for the slide bolt, drilled some pilot holes, and had it up in no time.

Though the old slide bolt catch was notched into the molding, I opted to simply screw it to the front of the molding. I worked too hard on this molding to start chiseling it away. I will end up putting a small spacer in the catch to account for the extra molding depth. This will ensure the door doesn't rock in the opening.

Once the slide bolt was installed we took a step back to admire a job well done. Almost immediately, Lulu took a step in to admire her new spot to people watch. 

We still need to paint the interior of the doors black (and maybe change the lock location), so we'll need to take each door out and remove the hardware to do that, but it's looking great. But we got lucky in so many ways with the slide bolt, so I'm not going to force it. I think the french doors, front door, and vestibule project has really come along nicely. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. For the smallest "room" in the house, this sure has been a MAJOR effort!

What do you think about the slide bolt? Pretty cool Victorian feature, or should we have gone with a small and simple one? I think you know my answer to that question.

Comments 9


Jerry Mulcahy
11/23/2011 at 8:33 AM
I'm friends with Eileen Brenner and she sent me the link to home restoration page. We just bought an 1895 Victorian house in downtown Frederick. The house is in great shape and much of its history is preserved. We have those exact same slide bolts on our front door. Did you consider a foot bolt for extra security?
I saw the base of the chain from the slide bolt on one of the photos on Facebook and wondered if it was similar. Your house does look like it is in really great shape. Since we have a primary door just inside of these doors, we're not too concerned about security, just that it locks. Since we have a marble floor and granite threshold under the door we don't really want to drill into it for the foot bolt, so I think we'll just stick with the bolt at the top of the door.
11/23/2011 at 10:57 AM
What a great piece of hardware (and how cool that it was pretty much there originally)!

We have mortised slide bolts on our interior french doors in the living room. They're japaned bronze, which I'm not crazy about, but I like them none the less.
They sound great!
11/23/2011 at 8:10 PM
I LOVE the slide bolt, and I thought it was amazing/hilarious/brilliant that it was by the same company. The bolt (fancy) matches your hinges.

Also, I kind of like the interior of the doors white, but I guess black is ok too.

For the knob location, I like the "much lower" photo, but I'd probably nudge it up a hair so that the centre of the knob lines up with the muntin. I think that's what you said, but in the photo it's a touch off (not a complaint, just clarifying, hehe). I also think that the black knobs will make a big difference.
11/24/2011 at 12:13 PM
The bolt is beautiful and well worth it!

Since I didn't get in on the door knob height debate earlier, here's my two cents. From the exterior, the current height looks quite elegant. From the interior, the current height looks like it couldn't go any lower and look right; if you lowered the whole assembly to "fix" it on the outside it would appear WAY low on the inside and potentially be less functional. I know it's a challenge because with the steps in front the knob is on the high side as you come in -- decide if it's easier to deal with high coming in, normal exiting, or the reverse, normal entering and too low exiting.
Thanks for your two cents bfish! The whole "two heights" thing makes it a lot more challenging. It actually doesn't feel too high as you just looks a little high for our taste. I think we'll start with changing the knob color and go from there. Hopefully that change will be enough to change our mind. :-)
11/30/2011 at 4:20 PM
Agree with bfish on this - it's going to be low or high on one side or the other. I think with the black knob on the exterior, it will look fine from that side.

I have the same issue with stairs right outside the porch door. When I convert the porch back to the open Craftsman style, it will be moot, but for right now, I've chosen high coming in and normal going out.
Status update - the black knob has been ordered! We'll start with a simple knob switcheroo, and hopefully it will make the door come together.

Your porch sounds like it's going to be great!
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