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Old 05-12-2013, 04:29 PM   #1
troidus OP
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Un-twist French doors?

I've got a set of French doors that each have about 1/4" of vertical twist. The latch mechanism is a detent ball in the top of each door, and either door will stay closed independently, but together they touch at the bottom before the primary door latches at the top. Pushing on the door will get it to click, but the twist is strong enough to pop the door back open as soon as pressure is released. Pinning the secondary door at the bottom isn't an option because the whole doorway is only 30" wide.

Suggestions?
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:53 PM   #2
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Replace the POS with a regular door with side-light windows.

Sorry...both my front and rear doors are french doors, and both of them piss me off to no end. Can never get them to seal correctly, can never get them to latch correctly. When the weather changes, the way the doors work changes. I fucking hate them and want them gone ASAFP.
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:10 PM   #3
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Bend the hinge with a crescent wrench. Google it. I can't articulate it in words. Sorry.
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:42 PM   #4
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you can move the hinges on the jamb and doors. Little here, little there.
The doors may not be warped, you may have what carpenters call "crosslegged jambs" if both side jambs are not in the same plane.
I've set hundreds of doors like you describe, they always need a little "tweaking" to close flush top and bottom.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DirtyOldMan View Post
you can move the hinges on the jamb and doors. Little here, little there.
The doors may not be warped, you may have what carpenters call "crosslegged jambs" if both side jambs are not in the same plane.
I've set hundreds of doors like you describe, they always need a little "tweaking" to close flush top and bottom.
Maybe a little of both, but I can see the warp in the doors and it shows up when I lay my 4' straightedge on them. The glass panes are individually framed with stiles and rails (ten panes per door), so there are a ton of joints in the doors. The primary appears to be the worst offender (big surprise), and I've already re-set the top hinge on that side to take up some of the gap. I don't know what will happen if I push the frame side of the bottom hinge out into the room. I'll go find out.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:15 PM   #6
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That seems to have done the trick. The doors don't fit well to each other because both are warped, but they at least stay closed. I had to kick the bottom of the primary out 1/4" by shifting the jamb side of its bottom hinge and kick the bottom of the secondary in 1/4" by shifting the door side of its bottom hinge. The center hinges had to be redrilled, too. I've got wood epoxy hardening in the old screw holes for the hinges.

Thanks. I would have preferred to straighten the doors, but that's probably not the easiest thing. At least now when prospective buyers try the doors they stay closed.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:23 PM   #7
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Wouldn't it be easier to merely plane the offending door to a consistent gap? The configuration would be esthetically appealing as well.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:26 PM   #8
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Wouldn't it be easier to merely plane the offending door to a consistent gap? The configuration would be esthetically appealing as well.
Not when the total gap is 1/2" and the doors are only 1-3/8" thick.
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Old 05-12-2013, 09:13 PM   #9
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Not when the total gap is 1/2" and the doors are only 1-3/8" thick.
I'm definitely not getting the picture then...If the dors are touching at the bottom you're saying the total gap is 1/2 inch at the top??
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:27 PM   #10
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I'm definitely not getting the picture then...If the dors are touching at the bottom you're saying the total gap is 1/2 inch at the top??
Yes, just not in the plane you're thinking of. The doors are square in the opening and square to each other, but because they're not flat, they don't completely lie in the same vertical plane when closed. In fact, because the doors are twisted vertically, they're not planar at all.

The doors each have a piece of trim that covers the gap between the doors when they're closed. If the trim weren't there, the bottom of the primary door would pass the bottom of the secondary door when closed. Instead, the trim hits and keeps the primary door from swinging through the plane of the door opening. What I did was shift the bottom end of both doors at the hinge side so that they appear to be planar where they come together. This lets the header detents hold the doors closed.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:36 PM   #11
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You did the right thing. Untwisting the doors is not an option, wood shrinks and bends in mysterious ways. . . . the cure for a twisted door is to make it work, or get a new door. tweaking the legs is one way, the other way is to make an astragal with the correct taper to accommodate the difference between the doors.

If you have to move the hinges much, it becomes better to move the whole jamb, so the reveal from door to jamb stays consistent.
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Old 05-12-2013, 11:51 PM   #12
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If you have to move the hinges much, it becomes better to move the whole jamb, so the reveal from door to jamb stays consistent.
Not possible in this case, because it's between the kitchen and what was once garage space, so it's more-or-less an exterior wall, and is most likely load-bearing. Looking at the floor tile, the jambs are square with the house, so it really is the doors that twisted that much.

A PO abandoned the in-slab HVAC ducting in 1991 in favor of attic ducting, and I think the garage conversion to living space happened at the same time, so the French doors are probably at least that old. They're 14-7/8 x 78-7/8 x 1-3/8 and have ten individual panes of glass each (2x5 array), so it's not a surprise that they've changed shape over the years.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troidus View Post
Not possible in this case, because it's between the kitchen and what was once garage space, so it's more-or-less an exterior wall, and is most likely load-bearing. Looking at the floor tile, the jambs are square with the house, so it really is the doors that twisted that much.

A PO abandoned the in-slab HVAC ducting in 1991 in favor of attic ducting, and I think the garage conversion to living space happened at the same time, so the French doors are probably at least that old. They're 14-7/8 x 78-7/8 x 1-3/8 and have ten individual panes of glass each (2x5 array), so it's not a surprise that they've changed shape over the years.
Load bearing or not doesn't matter, the jamb only supports the door, and the wall is supported by the framing of the door opening (unless your house is really screwed up). It's not about twisting the jamb legs relative to the wall, it's about moving the bottom or top in/out so that they are each leaning out from the wall just a bit in different directions, to compensate for the twisted door.

The 80s and 90s were not a great time for the quality of wood in doors. Then again, don't assume that these were put in correctly in the first place.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:06 PM   #14
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Load bearing or not doesn't matter, the jamb only supports the door, and the wall is supported by the framing of the door opening (unless your house is really screwed up).
Given some of the other things I've found in this house, nothing would surprise me. I described elsewhere the saga of installing a fire-rated door between the expanded living area and what's left of the garage. When I removed the old door, I discovered that the jack studs went to the top plate, and the top plate wasn't continuous, so it was really two separate walls with a door strung between them. The door "header" was just two 2x4s toenailed (with screws, so toescrewed?) into the studs. I had to splice the top and bottom plates to make a one-piece wall, cut the jack studs down to accept a proper double 2x10 header, and build up the sill support so the door would clear the floor in the room.

Another source of annoyance is that none of the interior walls appear to be fastened to the floor. They're all 2x2 construction, so I'm certain that none of them are intended to be load bearing, but it'd be nice if they didn't scoot when pushed on.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:14 PM   #15
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Yeah, that's pretty bad. I've never heard of 2x2 interior walls except in a mobile home. I do see 2x3 interior walls, but that's mostly on old houses where a 2x3 wall with plaster on each side ends up as thick as a modern 2x4 wall. I don't really work with recent construction much because most of the houses in my area are 1910-1940s.

good luck with it.
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