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Vintage hardware such as doorknobs, locks and hinges add character and charm to any home, whether it's old or new. Antique and vintage doorknobs are collectible items; highly sought after for period homes, historic buildings and admired by collectors for artistic design and craftsmanship. With many years of use, vintage doorknobs can start to slip when turned. Eventually, this can lead to the doorknob just spinning without opening the latch that secures the door. However, with a little cleaning and repair work, vintage doorknobs can often be restored to function properly without having to be replaced.
If you’re lucky, a malfunctioning vintage doorknob might only need to have the set screw tightened. If this is the case, your repair job can be done in literally a matter of a few seconds. The most time consuming part may be trying to locate your flat head screwdriver. Once you find this tool, look for a small hole near the base of the knob.
Check to see if the screw is still in place. If so, use the screwdriver to tighten the screw. Be careful not to over tighten because you might strip the screw . If the doorknob still slips after tightening the set screw, it may be necessary to replace the spindle.
2. Replacing the Spindle
The doorknob assembly is held together by a long , skinny metal piece called a spindle. The spindle is threaded and the doorknob are screwed on. The spindle also contains flat grooves, which allow the set screw to “grab on” to the spindle. Heavy use of a doorknob with loose set screws can damage the spindle over time . When this occurs, tightening the screw will be ineffective. To replace the spindle, you will first need to remove doorknobs. Loosen the set screw on one doorknob until the knob turns easily by itself. Keep turning the knob to unscrew it from the spindle. Once the knob is off, grab the opposite doorknob and pull the spindle out of the door. Unscrew the second doorknob and screw it back on to a new spindle that is the same size as the one you are replacing.
Take the old spindle to a hardware store and ask for assistance if necessary. You can also find replacement vintage doorknob parts online.
3. Cleaning Vintage Doorknob Hardware
A thorough cleaning of vintage hardware can help improve its appearance and how it functions. It is not uncommon to find old doors that were once painted without the hardware being removed or covered beforehand. In order to remove the hardware from the door, it may be necessary to use a utility knife to score the paint around metal plates and lock mechanisms that may have become sealed to the door. Once removed, place the hardware in a crockpot filled with water and add may have become sealed to the door. Once removed, place the hardware in a crockpot filled with water and add a couple of tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent . Cover and cook on medium heat overnight. Carefully remove the hardware and peel the paint off. Use a nylon brush for stubborn paint. Apply a protective coating of besswax polish using a soft cloth.
4. Cleaning glass Doorknobs
Do not submerge glass door knobs in hot water, as the heat may cause the glass to crack. To remove paint from glass door knobs, heat a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat. Carefully dip the end of a soft rag into the vinegar mixture . Rub the rag on the glass doorknob until the paint comes off. Rubber gloves may help insulate you hands from the heat of the rag. You can also use a razzor blade to gently remove the softened paint. Scrape very delicately to avoid scratching it.