One of the top things on our 'to do' list when we purchased our home was to replace the front door. It was broken to begin with, a break that was not repairable. As we set the process in motion to replace the door, we learned a great many things.
The first one is that with a door comes a sill. The structural sill is a foundation to the integrity of the exterior wall, and of course, the door. It was suspected that a portion of our sill would need to be replaced because the brick steps built long ago were right up against the house and had no drainage, trapping water against the wall each time it rained.
Because sills (especially rotten sills) have been a theme to our renovation, I will dedicate an entire post on them in the future. I can only write this without anxiety as we are officially free of rotten sills - having replaced portions of four during our renovation.
Here's the old (although not original) broken door. This photo was taken after the sill was repaired and new sheathing boards patched in to replace rotten ones. There was also quite a bit of rot in a post that was right behind a poorly installed wall lantern which also allowed water into the wall.
You can also see a mock up that our craftsman Jack Crane did for us of the new pediment and pilaster design. The mock up has been so very helpful in determining the details of the new surround. A mock-up such as this is something you do not have the privilege of having when you buy from a large door manufacturer - although you may pay just as much for the door.
One of the themes of our renovation has been to use local craftsman as much as possible as opposed to large manufacturers. After our last house, we have the experience of both approaches and have to say that returning to sourcing local millwork and materials to the extent possible contributes significantly to the essence of our renovation.
Among other items, our restored stairs and rail, windows and front door came from small workshops made by true craftsmen. The energy that is embodied in these handcrafted items create their story. For each element, the story starts with the hands that craft it, and the thought, consideration and care that went into it. It makes a regular old door come alive with a personality that becomes a part of our home.
Jack Crane comes from a family of boat builders. Their legacy of working with wood is one that will be forever instilled in the windows and entry he has made for our home. In some ways, it lends the newly-crafted items a spirit of age when you put into context the generations of hands that lead to them.
Tools of the trade....
Our beautiful new door is nearing completion in Jack's millworks where he has the fortune of an equally-talented supporting cast in Wade and David. The door has been crafted in the Federal style, which Jack is very knowledgable of.
Like any artist's studio, it is fascinating to see the tools of the trade.
Each plane has its own story. These hand planes each have an individual profile that is used create time-period mouldings ranging in size and character
Here is the mock up that Jack and Wade created so that we could get an idea of the proportions of the pediment and pilasters.
Discussing the cornice edge finishing details with a sketch.
Here is the raw material for our future frieze. The frieze is the wide horizontal band over the door and beneath the cornice.
Mr. Jack Crane.
His work extends throughout and beyond New England.