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Storm Door Brace: Now, With Inserts!

The mid-1950s wood doors on our house have wood storm doors with interchangeable wood-framed glass and screen panels. Twice a year, the diligent homeowner will swap the panels to match the season; during the last 60+ years, the glass panels remain undropped.

The back door has a diagonal tension brace to hold the door in shape; the door may be slightly distorted or the frame slightly out of square. In any event, the brace obstructs the panel, so the semiannual ritual includes loosening the brace and removing four screws. During the last 60+ years, the screw holes have required repair / filling several times; about five years ago, I plugged them with epoxy putty and drilled them to fit the screws.

That repair having aged out, I was about to renew the epoxy when I realized that I now have brass inserts that would work even better, if I replaced the original wood screws with 10-32 machine screws.

I cut the screws to the exact length using the brace and brass insert as a fixture:

Storm door - screw cutting

Storm door – screw cutting

The vacuum cleaner nozzle to the lower right inhales the debris from the Dremel cutoff wheel that would otherwise fill the shop; I used up the last half of a wheel on four stainless steel screws.

Because each end of the brace has two screws, I knew that I couldn’t just drill out the four holes, plant four inserts, and be done with the job: the first insert on each end could go pretty nearly anywhere, but the second insert must match the brace hole spacing. The only way I know how to do that is to epoxy the first two inserts in place and let them cure, drill the other two holes slightly oversize, mount those inserts on the brace, butter them with epoxy, put the brace in place, tighten the first two screws, snug the brace, and hope I didn’t epoxy the brace to the door or the screws to the inserts.

Slips of waxed paper between the brace and the door prevented the first problem and oiling the screws prevented the second. It’s not the best-looking job I’ve ever done, but nobody will ever see the inserts behind the brace:

Storm door - inserts

Storm door – inserts

Now, we’re ready for winter and I’m ready for spring!

Most likely, the new owners (whoever and whenever they may be) will never use these inserts, as they’ll replace all the windows & doors, plus sand & refinish the hardwood floors, before moving in …

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  1. #1 by captnmike on 2016-11-05 - 11:42

    Well done – yes the sequence is very important – should last near forever

    There are also threaded inserts that have threads on the outside of the insert – bit tricky to thread straight into the hole and the hole size is important to be exactly right (no don’t ask how I know all of the above) – but they work nice

    • #2 by Ed on 2016-11-05 - 14:48

      An ultrasonic insert in hand is worth a dozen wood-specific inserts on, uh, Amazon … [grin]

      • #3 by captnmike on 2016-11-05 - 16:43

        I have an advantage, I think there are 4 stores (maybe one or two more) within 3 miles of me that have the threaded inserts, three of them are locally owned and two have prices that should match Amazon easily.

        Makes the odd project easier for sure

      • #4 by RCPete on 2016-11-06 - 20:15

        Home Depot sells that style of insert, too. IIRC, you can get them to fit #10 and 1/4″ threads. Check the random-bits wall in fasteners. I rather like the epoxy bit, too. [thinking of how to build a new greenhouse door that won’t fall apart.]

        • #5 by Ed on 2016-11-07 - 08:37

          HD’s online inventory says the little ones are neither in stock around here, nor available for order, which explains why I never even thought of looking for them; Lowe’s has (some) Helicoils and not much else.

          The 1/4-20 inserts would stick out the far side of the door!

          Wish I’d discovered threaded inserts long ago…