Volume 41, Issue 11 - November 2006


The Door
Just What Does it Take to Get Glass Door Panels?
by Dez Farnady

Everyone and everything has a right to retire, quit or just move to a warmer climate. After a half a century or more of faithful service I felt that it was time to allow the front door of my house to retire, or at least be recycled from its front-door duties to maybe rear-door service. An extra wide solid core with four 8-inch square beveled glass panels, it has served me well in spite of strippings, several repaints and earthquake damage. But after the last (even if incomplete) paint job, I felt it was time to give the old girl a peaceful retirement.

Searching for a New Door
While the door hunt was a memorable adventure in itself, and possibly topic for another file, now is not the time for that. Anyway, I found the door, not of my dreams, but something that looked as if it was good for at least the next half a century. But even this door was not quite right, because I wanted it to have some glass panels. While the glass did not need to be similar to that of the old door, all of the glass doors I found were not what I wanted—nothing even close. 

If you want glass in your front door, everything imaginable that is elaborate, frilly or over done is available. None of these were what I wanted. Since my door is custom, I figured, why not go for the custom glass? Nothing exotic, just a couple of three-eights bronze with an inch-and-a-half bevel, maybe 6 by 12 inches. 

Getting Close
The door I finally found had no glass, but was a raised-panel door, four panels wide and three panels high. The top row of panels, maybe 6 by 6 inches, was radiused at the top and the bottom row was maybe 6 inches wide and about 36 inches tall. This makes the center row of panels between the horizontal mullions about a foot tall each. This was the right size at just about where I wanted to be able to see outside. Since they were four panels wide I figured I would have them leave out the two center panels and that is where the beveled bronze would go. 

Now, you would think that would be both simple and obvious. You would think so, that is, until you saw the door when it arrived after about an eight-week wait. Guess which panels were left out: the two top center radius pieces. The door looked stupid. No matter, I figured, it is a panel door so just take out the two center panels and get two new radius-topped upper panels. When that gets done we just measure, get the beveled bronze and we are home free. 

Well that’s what I thought. No such luck. The cherry-stained mahogany raised panels with the bevel and the radiused top had to be made by the factory to match the color and finish. But since the factory is in Tierra del Fuego or someplace south of there, they were not about to send the door back because the lead time would have been excessive. What is the gestation period for an elephant? I thought that was excessive. We are now on about week 20 since the order was placed and my best hope is that by week 24 the factory service rep will have arrived and switched out the panels. You may ask why I have not bailed. I thought about it, but they have had a good deal of my money for a long time, so I figure it’s some kind of long-term investment. 

Once, if ever, the panels are in, I still have to get the glass fabricated and glazed and the door is still not installed. So maybe I can be done with this in time for the holidays. That would make it about a 30-week lead time. My wife is convinced that I made all this up just so I could keep “Old Betsy” out front for another decade. She told me there is no such door manufacturer as the one I was using, because its name was actually that of an East Coast supermarket chain. 

What has all this to do with glass? First, Deb Levy never told me I had to write about glass. Second, had I not tried to get some custom glass into a wood door my wife would not be blaming me for trying to buy doors at the supermarket, because a real door company would have been able to provide some customer service.

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