Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Door Project

As many of you know, Judy is into stained glass and has been for many years.  She's very good at it and has made a lot of stained glass pieces in all sizes and shapes.  Each seems to be more beautiful than the last one as her skills and experience grows.

So it was no surprise a few years ago that she made the beveled glass panel for our front door.  It was beautiful and greatly improved the front appearance of our home.  It has held up well over the years.

A few days ago a neighbor brought their old stained glass door over and basically said, "Here, do what you want with it."  They had already replaced it due to some glass breakage which they could not repair.  Nor did they want to pay for someone to repair the broken glass, which could run into the hundreds of dollars.

We quickly saw the extent of the damage and our first thought was to just break out the remainder of the glass and salvage what we could.  But old stained glass is often brittle and does not cut well.  So that part was 'iffy' at best.  But there were a number of beveled glass pieces that appeared to be in pretty good shape.  So maybe those could be salvaged.  For what, we didn't know.

So we looked at the damaged pieces and thought, "Why not see if we can repair it first?"

We had never taken on a repair mission like this and we both knew it would not be easy.

There was lead came (the lead that outlines each piece of stained and beveled glass to form the pattern) that needed to be removed and replaced along with new glass.  But the damage was entirely inside the frame that surrounded the glass panel.  How on earth could we install new lead came with new glass in all the broken places when they were in the center of the panel?

So we went to YouTube and watched a lot of experienced and inexperienced stained glass people do what we wanted to do.  Some made it look easy and some made it look difficult.  So we tried the easy ones first.  And when that didn't work, we tried the hard ones.  When that didn't work either, we were left to our own devices.  We had to come up with something that worked or toss the door altogether.

Through a lot of trial and error, we finally figured out a way to repair it.  It took us about five days to do it but we were finally finishing what we started.  Just as we were laying in the final piece of glass, we heard a crrrraaaaacccckkkk.  %&#!  The stresses we were putting on the glass was apparently too much and another piece broke, then another.  It was obvious that these broken pieces needed to be repaired in order to even try to sell the door, hopefully for enough to recover our growing glass and lead costs. not to mention the time we had put into it.

This is where Judy's skills and experience paid off.  She tried a new idea and it worked.  And within a few hours we were ready to begin the grouting process to seal the individual pieces of glass into the lead came.  We did the entire panel rather than the ones we repaired.

That done, I sanded down the wood and applied two coats of stain, followed by three applications of spar varnish.  The door was starting to look really good.

Then we cleaned the glass and lead came really good.  Finally, we applied a chemical to the lead came that evened out the patina in the areas where we had to solder the new lead came in place.

Now it looked really good.  That's when we decided to sell it.  It took a while but we finally got an offer of about half what we were asking for it.  The lady didn't have much money so we said okay because it was enough to cover our expenses, plus some which we shared with the neighbor who gave us the door.

It was a challenge for sure, but also fun.  And we learned a lot.  But we won't be doing that again...

Here's the finished door.

No comments: