Let’s Not Get Creepy

Brooke here:

I did a little reading on the history of Dexter locks before writing this post. It was as exciting as it sounds. Woo.

Except for the bathrooms, which don’t lock at all, every door in the house has a deadbolt.  We’ve been here long enough to not notice them, but when you first walk down the hall there’s an unnerving tap on your midbrain because your subconscious would really like to know why you’re in a house where the weird people can shut you away forever.

I’d like to emphasize that these are very old locks, definitely, positively, and absolutely installed before the previous owners bought the property in the mid-90s.  I mention this because anyone who knows anything about child molestation laws looks at the deadbolts and their eyes get extremely wide, extremely quickly.  As these deadbolts are locked from the outside and as they predate such laws by several decades, it’s almost certain they were installed to protect the Jarrells’ private rooms when they had parties.

But we don’t want them.  The “Deadbolts! Deadbolts everywhere!” connotation is not … well, we want nothing to do with that for eye-widening reasons.  So somewhere on the Neverending List of Things to Do is remove a crapload of deadbolts.

Leaving, of course, a crapload of holes in doors. My question to you is what we should do with these holes.  The doors are solid wood – oh, the joys of old houses – so I can cut wooden rounds and patch them with no problem.  But does anyone have any suggestions for something clever to do in the space instead?  I was thinking stained glass inserts, or decorative metal that doesn’t look or function like a lock, but I’ve never seen anything like these.  Any advice?

15 thoughts on “Let’s Not Get Creepy

  1. The Ursula Monster says “Beer Cans”

    My thought is, only if you can keep them cold. But then, who wants beer in their doors?

    In all seriousness, replacing the doors was my first thought, but to get another set of solid wood is pricy. VERY pricy. So I’d opt for either cutting rounds or maybe gluing in some carnival glass rounds if you can get something interesting that matches the room.

  2. University town, right? If the art department has a potter, perhaps commisson of set of ceramic plugs with a “historic location marker” look saying “Randall Jarred House, 19xx-19xx”

  3. Various hand-cranked Victorian whatsises, ranging from coffee grinders to Van de Graff generators powering arcane spark gap niftiness. Also, small storage areas for such odds and ends as breath mints, spare ammunition, and extra-spicy hot sauce.

  4. Antique doorbells are about the size of a deadbolt and rather pretty.

    If you have an antique mall nearby, that might be a good place to go for inspiration.

    I actually have a glass door with a removed unnecessary deadbolt (which froze up) and its $%^& nonstandard bolt length means we haven’t been able to replace it. Where would one find a glass round to fit in a deadbolt hole? That sounds appealing.

  5. Well, from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t have to be a *round* piece of glass (or other insert)

    Just use the hole in the side (where the deadbolt stuck through) as a starting point, and use a jigsaw (or a keyhole saw) and a straight edge to cut a rectangle in the center of the door. Slide an ordinary rectangular insert in, and when you look through the round hole on the facing sides, you won’t be able to tell what shape the insert is. Then you can use wood putty and a small filler piece to patch the edge of the door. Paint it over, and leave the guests wondering how you got the insert into the door without making the hole any bigger 😉

    Hopefully that will widen the selection of inserts to where you can find something cool 🙂

  6. Faces. Tiny faces making faces, with tongues and teeth and probably one of them’s mooning you, like in McKinley’s Sunshine I think. With eyebrows and noses and ears. Maybe hair, maybe not.

    Or wee dioramas.

  7. I go with the pottery idea. Also, I don’t know anything about child molestation laws, I’m assuming that it says locks must unlock from the inside or something? Also, why do you know about those laws?

  8. I have been Reliably Informed that almost any crafter of stanined glass could do plugs for the holes, at almost any degreee of complexity. Same with any metal smith… I asked around at a craft show, and this seems to come up quite a bit, more often in replacing mail slots.

  9. I like the idea of pottery faces or other artwork. How about a doll house scene? Or maybe a [URL=http://hippiekiller.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/troll.jpg?w=400&h=300]Troll[/URL] would fit in there.

    Also, they don’t all have to be the same concept. Then if one breaks in a few years you won’t have to match it.

  10. I’m thinking patinated copper or bronze plates, inside and out to cover the holes. If you feel like getting crafty, you can purchase chemicals to rapidly patina a metal disc (yummy stuff like ammonium sulfide and cupric nitrate). Hit your metal bits with a blowtorch and swirl the chemicals on(wear a respirator and gloves!) and you’ll end up with some wicked cool looking patterns.

    See: http://www.metal-art-tiles.johnsearles.com/metal-field-tiles.html

    1. Dang, would you believe I’ve been looking for tiles just like that for the kitchen backsplash? We’re trying a ferrous backsplash so the entire thing becomes a magnetic spice rack when cooking. I’ll be ordering some of these or trying to make some myself (blowtorch… blowtorch…). Thanks so much!

  11. In your research about Dexter deadbolt locks, did you locate anyone that sells the old ones? We have to put my mother-in-law’s house in Chicago on the market and the front door deadbolt is shot. The holes for the old 40s and 50s deadbolts were cut further from the door jam and so a modern-day deadbolt won’t work. We have to try to find something similar. Any guidance is appreciated! Miri

    1. I’d recommend recoring the lock or swapping out the entire door. It would probably be easier and cheaper to replace it, or recore it, than track down an old lock. There’s a Habitat for Humanity store in our area where you can get front doors for about $25.

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