How to Repair an Antique Door with a Dutchman Patch

Shannon Lee

That antique door in your home is the perfect size and design for the time period you want to recreate. But what about that significant damage here and there? With the help of a Dutchman repair, you can make that old door almost as good as new--and if you are careful, no one will ever be able to tell the difference.

Dutchman Repair for Your Old Door

All kinds of things happen to doors over the years, and that wear and tear often shows in dents, dings, and sometimes even areas where the door has been broken through. Many homeowners might consider simply throwing out the door and starting with a fresh reproduction door, but those who love all aspects of their old house might want to save it.

That's where the Dutchman repair comes in. It isn't nearly as difficult as it might seem. Here's how:

  1. Scrape any paint away from the damaged area. Use paint thinner if necessary to remove paint from doors that have many coats.
  2. Cut a block of wood to a size just slightly larger than the area to be repaired. A half inch on either side is more than enough. If the door is hollow, remember to cut the wood long enough to slip into the door and hold steady.
  3. Hold the wood against the area to be repaired and mark around it with a charcoal pencil or dark pen.
  4. Using a small chisel and hammer, chip away the area inside the mark, but don't go outside of it. The Dutchman should fit snugly into the area you are chiseling. If the door is not hollow, chisel a pocket for the block of wood. Take your time so you don't damage the surrounding wood.
  5. Test the opening to make certain the wood block fits into it snugly. Before you set it further into the door, apply wood glue to the bottom to hold it in place. Use a mallet to gently tap the wood block until it is flush with the door surface. You might need to use a clamp or other means of holding the wood block in the space until the glue dries.
  6. If the wood block is not flush after the glue dries, use a plane to trim down the block. Use sandpaper in descending grits to smooth out the block. When you slide your fingers across the patch, you shouldn't be able to feel a significant difference.

Finally, paint the entire door. When it's done right, your Dutchman repair should be invisible to anyone but you.


About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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