Introduction: Unstick a Wooden Door With a Dremel Multi-Max

About: I tinker and make geeky things.

The Background:

The Arch Reactor ( hackerspace in St. Louis, Missouri is a 2,400 square feet of shared space for the members and guest to meet, host, hack, learn, create, tinker, make, fix, imagine, and at times simply relax. In addition to a a Social Area, a Meeting and Class Space, a Hacking Zone, Storage, and large Workshop, the members share space with other tenants in the Jefferson Underground Building located in the South City area of St. Louis. The Jefferson Underground building was built in the late 1920's as a car dealership for Chevrolet and was expanded in the 1950's. As you can imagine, the building was very well built with strong materials and craftsmanship.

The Problem - A large door that sticks:

Part of that shared space in the solidly built structure is the restrooms, which are located in the hallway just outside of Arch Reactor's interior entrance. The door to the men's restroom is made of solid wood and towers about 7 feet tall. This heavy door would allow a person to close it completely, yet opening it was always a challenge to open, due to the door becoming stuck into the frame. On more than one occasion, a guest or a member would be unable to open the door themselves from the inside and would either have to use their cell phone to call for help or bang on the door, hoping somebody would hear them and come to the rescue.

Tools and Equipment that we used:

Step 1: Addressing the Problem

Upon investigating the door, we discovered that the edge opposite of the hinges was rubbing against the metal door frame. A part of this was due to the metal frame being dented and push out towards the door. A few smacks with a hammer to the metal frame appeared to adjust that part of the problem, but the door was still sticking.

We could also see the marks on the outer edge where the wood was contacting the metal frame and decided to shave off a little bit of the wood on those locations with a wood plane. Unfortunately, I do not have photos of that part of the process.

We also discovered that paint on the metal frame was likely contributing to the problem just a bit, however we do not own this common space and decided it was best not to strip the paint and repaint the metal frame at this time.

Step 2: Just a Little Off the Top - Keeping It Smooth.

Next, we decided it was time to tackle the outer edge of the door with the Dremel Multi-Max. I added the MM14 Hook and Loop Pad Sanding attachment along with the largest grit sand paper pad for wood that came in the accessory kit. and began at the top of the door working down. Once I reached the metal hardware, I was careful to keep the pad away from the metal while sanding.

Removing some more of the wood with the Multi-Max and Sanding pad took the better part of about an hour to complete. I found that I could find a comfortable grip on the tool while sanding. I do not recall the cord getting in the way while working. Since there were high, mid, and low areas to work on, I could move to a different area any time fatigue set in from holding the tool while sanding.

Once the door didn't seem to be sticking any longer, I switched to a finer grade sanding pad and smoothed the wood out even more. By the time I was finished with this step, I could turn the knob on the door and pull it open with only the strength of my pinky finger.

Step 3: Finishing Up

After we had swept up all of the resulting wood dust with our shop vac, we thoroughly wiped down the edge of the door with a damp shop cloth.

Once that had dried completely, we applied a few coats of wax to the edge of the door, allowing each coat ample time to dry before applying the next one. We did this simply to protect the wood from exposure and possible swelling. We opted against a stain and varnish simply because the thickness of the varnish could simply undo all of our hard work on the project by making the door stick.

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