November 21, 2014

What could possibly go wrong?

Today I felt that I really had to tackle the new threshold piece and weatherboard on the kitchen door. The job had to be done before the weather turns cold and wet again and as I will be off with Wim tomorrow picking up several trailer loads of firewood, if I hadn’t done it today I would have had to do it on Sunday instead. That would probably mean that I’d then miss the chance to get a flight in before the weather turns cloudy and wet again, probably in the early part of next week.

The door was not like the one on the back of the house as it had some kind of weird draught excluder fitted to its bottom edge. When I checked this out a few days ago, I found when I removed it and another strange wooden panel along the inside of the bottom edge, that these were actually a bodge-up to disguise the fact that when the door was fitted it wasn’t actually tall enough for the door frame.

To explain for readers who don’t know – when you buy a door, it’s usually of a standard width but taller than you actually need. You then cut it down in height so it fits snugly in the door frame to minimise draughts and get a nice looking job. Well, this door had never been cut down, and when it was supplied, the two side rails extended several centimetres below the lower edge of the bottom rail, making a hole like a soccer goal mouth. To get round this, whoever had fitted the door had then just nailed thin panels to the front and back of the door to cover the hole, and Bob’s your uncle.

Trouble was, that was no good for me, because when you fit a threshold piece, the door has to butt up closely to it, which meant that the front panel had to come off, exposing the hole. The only way around this was to cut the bottom of the door straight across and add a strip to it to make it taller. This was annoying, but it also presented me with an opportunity.

Because the bottom of the door was only skimming above the surface of the floor tiles, it was never possible in the past to have any kind of proper door mat, which meant that in the Winter, you always walked rain and mud in onto the kitchen floor. However, as I could now make the door any height I wanted, I could now allow for a thin door mat to go on the floor beneath it. The questions were, ‘where could I get such a door mat’ and ‘what thickness did I need to allow for?’ The answers I discovered, were (i) Leroy Merlin and (ii) I didn’t know until I got it, so before I could get cracking, off I had to go to Chancelade to pick a mat up.

The time lost meant that I couldn’t start the job proper until after lunch, but although this gave less time to complete it, it didn’t matter, because what could possibly go wrong? It wasn’t long before I found out. I’d lifted the door, which is quite heavy, off its hinges using the time-honoured garden spade method and lent it up against the inside of the door frame while I lowered the legs on my Workmate. As I did so, there was a slight gust of wind that was nevertheless strong enough to blow the door over, which then came crashing in on top of me!

In hindsight, I was very lucky, because the full weight of the door initially fell against my left elbow, which now has a large bump on it. But then it continued to fall and as it twisted, my head smashed through one of the top glass panels showering me with glass fragments and sending shards of glass all over the kitchen floor. Luckily, the damage done to my head was minimal, which I find extraordinary under the circumstances, but as it fell, it caught my right knuckle and sliced a neat little triangular piece of flesh out of it.

I’m very philosophical about the whole thing because although it was all a bit messy, there was no serious damage done, and even my sliced knuckle was more of an inconvenience than anything else because the wound, although small, was in a very difficult place to stick a plaster and every time I did, it fell off again. But despite all this, and the additional time I lost clearing all the mess up, I still managed to get everything apart from the weatherboard, which isn’t critical anyway on this door, completed before it got dark.

The first shot, below, shows the strip that I attached to the bottom of the door after I’d cut it down to the height I wanted.

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The next two shots show the door and threshold piece from inside and outside.

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Unfortunately, when I drilled the floor a fillet of mortar that I’d put in along the edge of the tiles not long after I moved in, partially broke away, so I’ll have to go back later and replace it. It won’t be very time-consuming or difficult, just a bit annoying, but no matter. The next shot shows how snugly the door butts up against the threshold piece when it’s closed.

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Finally, the broken pane.

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It’s no big deal and in fact when I go up to BricoJem in Rouffignac to get a replacement, I’ll also be able to order a second piece that I’ve been meaning to buy ever since I’ve lived here, to repair a cracked pane in one of my lounge windows. So I guess one way of looking at this afternoon’s debacle is that if it hadn’t happened, I still wouldn’t have got around to fixing the latter, and now I might as well. So every cloud does have a silver lining 😉