Editorial Note: Do It Right the First Time
Starting a project is thrilling, but reading the instructions first ensures a smoother process.
My favorite part of almost any project is the beginning—having a basic plan, grabbing some tools, and getting started. I haven’t yet made any mistakes, or uncovered anything unexpected. That first step is so thrilling—once you make that hole in the wall, or cut that piece of lumber, or tear up that floor, there’s no turning back. Taking that first step helps create momentum and incentive to finish, but that momentum has also burned me more than once. I get in the zone, make some assumptions about something I’ve done before, and then it hits me: Something is not right.
Most recently, this happened on a pocket door I installed (thankfully, in my own house). I measured the space, put up the frame, finished the wall around it, and found a door (scratch and dent on clearance). The door lockset was backordered, so I moved on to the rest of the room. I trimmed out the doorframe, making sure one side of the jamb was attached with screws so I could service the door when needed, and installed the door. It was smooth on the track, and visually almost disappeared into the wall when open—exactly what I was looking for.
When the hardware showed up, I finished painting the door and drilling for the hardware, and went to put the door in place. Everything went smoothly until I went to slide the door all the way into the wall cavity and found that the lockset was too thick. It sat proud of the door’s finished surface by 1/8 in. on each side, and I’d only left 1/16 in. of wiggle room for the door. Had I read the instructions for the pocket-door frame, and the lockset, I would have saved myself a whole lot of grief. Manufacturers want you to succeed. There’s a lot to learn by reading all that tiny text on the installation instructions.
So for now, I simply don’t open the door all the way, and I have a constant reminder: Always read the instructions, for every piece of the project. You will learn something, and it might just save you from having to redo your work.
The photo originally appeared in the article Problem-Free Pocket Doors.