Refinishing the Cherry Storm Doors

Luckily, the original solid-cherry storm doors were both intact and still in use protecting the front doors of the house. The front doors are solid cherry as well and need refinishing however are in much better shape being protected. Being well covered by the large front porch had the storm doors in relatively good shape although the finish was practically all gone. The cherry had a very heavy “patina” on it that needed to be sanded off before any accurate assessment of the doors could be made.

Unfortunately, there was some ireversible damage to one door due to a dog or two that appeared to try to paw his way into the house several times. By the size of the scratches, the dog was big and claw-marks ran deep … too deep to completely sand out but not so deep to give up on these beauties! Neighbors tell us that previous owners had several large dogs. Our mailbox is at the sidewalk becasue the dogs were allegedley sgressive.

The hardware was not very special although the hinges did have nice finals on the pins. They were at one time copper plated. Someone had painted them and it would appear that the paint was strong enough to attack the thin plating and reach the steel … causing major rust. Not really a big deal. We’re very fortunate to have much of the original hardware in the house and for what is either missing or absolutely must be replaced (like the rusty hinges) there’s Van Dykes Restorers!

One Clean and One tarnished Door Knob

Van Dykes is a pretty decent resource for anyone in need of hard to find replacement hardware and fixtures. They have very reasonable replacements, many perfect matches, for Early American, Victorian and Golden Age homes. They have added more Arts and Crafts style items too.

But I digress and am not endorsed or compensated by VanDykes so back to the doors!

The door knobs seen in the picture are recycled from an old door we found saved in the garage. Karyn cleans them with fresh lime juice and salt! They come out very nice … not looking brand new and artificial but very much improved and authentic! These two will be repurposed on the storms after refinishing.

You have to love sanding if you’re going to refinish wooden items or do any serious woodworking. Lucky for me, I love sanding! It’s both therapeutic and extremely rewarding. Karyn loves vacuuming like I love sanding. They are similar in a way, both create newly cleaned surfaces however my sanding always requires vacuuming afterwards!

Before and After
Shown here in the image captioned “Before and After” you can clearly see why sanding is a love of mine. after sanding the doors with three subsequent grits of sand paper (120,180,220) I then applied one coat of Red Oak Minwax Stain. Allowing the stain to dry for 48 hours, I followed with two coats of semi-gloss Minwax Helmsman Spar Varnish. The results are quite nice and the varnish will last a solid 2 decades outdoors, likely more considering the porch protects these doors very well. Modern Spar Varnishes are very flexible yet wear-resistant and have UV inhibitors in them causing them to outlast older formulas.
Here I am in the garage with the window inserts for the doors.
Window Inserts

The glass and frames were in decent condition only needing sanding, stain and varnish. This picture was taken about 3 weeks before my father-in-law cleaned out our garage. If you saw the after pictures of the garage, you know he actually vacuumed our garage leaving it practically clean enough to live in! Now I know Karyn’s love of vacuuming is genetic 🙂

Hung in their final place, the front doors are now well protected. Next spring I will need to refinish the front doors (as you can see the actual front door on the right is not as nicely finished as the newly refinished storm door on the left) but for now, these storm doors enhance the appearance of the front of the house nicely!
Refinished and Done