Keeping a closet door open

Started 16Jun2021, updated 23Jul2021. This note is in group Hobby. One of my shortest blog note?

I thought this note should solely cover keeping a closet door open. But no, the theme closed in on me. Still, I’ll just keep the title.

Keeping a closet door staying open

The first chapter is about a mechanism to keep the door open

In 2011 I replaced some old wooden, brown, closet doors with white gouache-painted doors of “my style” (like this). (I first paint with oil painting, then wipe it off with a cloth.) However, the frame wasn’t of millimetre precision, which I accepted at the time I built it, back in 1980. On replacing the completely regular doors in 2011, I followed the same, strict rules. Not “some millimetres” wider anywhere to take up for any irregularities. I tend to do that, and instead try to absorb any offsets elsewhere, like in the closet’s frame. You can see that in the picture, with the green plastic spacer pieces.

However, on changing needs (a possibility to expand my model railroad track, called My Shelf’s Railway Strip MSRS v.3.0 into the closet, to get 60+ cm. more track), then all my shirts and suits were repositioned into this closet. They take up less height than my wife’s dresses. Then, when I opened the door and stood there scratching my head, the stupid door closed in on me. I desperately needed a rethink. I don’t appreciate attacking doors.

I though about pulling out some bar, using magnets or springs. Springs!

Fig.1 – Door springs open! Press for more pixels

Legend of numbering of the photos:

  1. Closet door is to be held closed by a lock
  2. Closet door is softly being pushed open by the spring (which wants to straighten out)
  3. Fully spring-opened door is held open (by a not fully straightened spring)
    • Close by hand by pushing the door in
  4. The door is pulled more open by hand force
    • It will return to 3 when let go

Diving into my box (here) I found some springs from a late Luxo (Luxor) lamp look-alike. It is a helical or coil spring, designed for tension. I positioned one as seen in the pictures (2)(3). The most relaxed and stable state is seen in (3). I had to stop it from becoming fully straight with a screw. If not it wouldn’t bend when I tried to close the door. It simply turned into behaving like a steel tube. It now may easily be disassembled, and I even have a spare spring in the closet (not seen).

The door also opens past the spring’s almost straight position (4), but only to be held in position with a hand. Of course, the door has a lock to keep it closed (1). If not it will softly spring open. An old wooden dice helps with this.

The push and hold of the door is now done by the spring seeking back to relaxed state, from normally staying bent. It wants to stretch out. I think that being bent means that the wire will become partly rotated plus also being partly stretched, altered for each turn of the coil. This is rather different from other uses where the tensioned state is stretched only. I use the almost stretched only state when the door is pushed to more open than stable (4). This type of spring cannot be compressed. See spring (device) on Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: This solution probably has been built and “invented” thousands of times. It may even have been patented. Since I did not search anywhere else than in my own head and in my box full of springs, I would not be able to honour any such inventor(s).

Update: I googled for something like this afterwards, but could not find any relevant hits..(?) I would certainly like to be updated on this. Comment (below) or mail me.

Summary in Norwegian: fjær som holder en skapdør åpen, om døra er montert skeivt og har en tendens til å lukke seg av seg sjøl – og du ikke liker det. Jeg hadde en fjær liggende fra en bordlampe som var kastet for lenge siden. Mekanisme for å holde ei skapdør åpen.

Making a door getting closed

Fig.2 – Having a door close automatically

Since I went out of my way describing how to have a closet door stay open, here’s a mechanism for having a door automatically close.

It’s been in use since the early eighties, when my wife had seen this solution at a fence’s door at Maihaugen (Stiftelsen Lillehammer Museum, here). I think variations over this theme has been in extensive use all over.

Between  A  to  D  there is a nylon fishing line. I made the picture mono-coloured and painted the line red so it’s easy to see.

 B  and  C  are brass pulleys with ball bearings from some old tube radios that I dismantled when I was in the teens. Right, they were old then.

 D  is a 460 grams plummet in the form of a roll from the internals of a scrapped Xerox copying machine at work. Yes, we did have copying machines then. It’s steel inside and rubber on the outside. The rubber is rather dry now, but I assume it will last our life time..

But gravity will last forever.

 B  and  C  unconnected and hung as  Z  (shown as orange, dashed lines – the plummet is now out of view) shows the door in free position. There is a small hook on the top corner of the door. This position is useful from time to time.

Every 10-15 years I have to replace the nylon thread, every 5 years I need to oil the ball bearings and every year I need to swipe the nylon thread for oil (for some reason).

Plus, on every kid’s first “look” (= hold the plummet to discover) I need to comfort and show that it only takes a second to remount the nylon line. It’s never been broken.

The mechanism is rather safe for kids since it closes quite softly. Well tuned with correct weight of the plummet we have had no accidents over the years.

Wikipedia: the article Door closer does not seem to have any gravity/weight based solution shown. I might have a look at it. [[TODO]] 21Jun2021.

Summary in Norwegian: Mekanisme med et lodd og trinser, pluss et nylon fiskesnøre til å få en dør til å lukke seg automatisk. Ikke barnesikker, men den tar bare et sekund å henge opp igjen! Og den er lett å koble ut.

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