Tag Archives: formal methods

Fixing pocket doors with captured-nut hangars

The captured-nut pocket door hangers my 2005-vintage pressed-shitboard house came with are the absolute fucking worst.

This bolt (that threads into carriage running on the pocket door rails behind the moulding)…

…will back out of the threads on the carriage over time.

When it does, one side or the other of the pocket door will drop down to the floor, and leave you with the threaded part of the nut poking up out of the door. Good luck getting a wrench up behind the molding to screw it back into the carriage.

Since this has happened to me on 3 separate pocket doors in my house over the last year, I have tried umpteen different approaches to getting these bolts back into their carriages and the doors rolling smoothly, and I have finally developed a formal process that works every time. It’s a giant pain in the ass, but it is at least less obnoxious than staring at a cockeyed door poking out of the wall that you CAN’T EVEN USE TO CLOSE OFF THE SOCIAL PART OF THE HOUSE FROM THE CHILDREN AFTER BEDTIME, or flailing un-directedly at the problem with no plan.

Trust me, I’ve lived both of those stories. This repair method works, and doesn’t require that you take off moulding or make any other destructive repairs to the foamed-wood-product buttbox Americans call houses.

The fix.

  1. Detach the pocket door from the other hangar. In my experience, this is always the “shallow end” of the door, that makes contact with the wall when the pocket door is closed.

    Rotate the retaining clip into its non-retaining position, lift the door up, and push the bolt out of the receiver on the top of the door:
  2. Remove the bolt that has unscrewed itself from the carriage from the other receiver at the other end of the door. In my experience, this is always the “deep end” of the door, that recesses way way way back into the wall.
  3. Thread the bolt from 2 back into its carriage.
  4. Tie a string around the bolt from 2 in such a way that you can yank on it for a bit before it comes untied, but use a knot that will come undone after a reasonable amount of wiggling so that you don’t end up with a string stuffed up in your pocket or heaven forfend, dangling over your door causing a permanent eyesore.
  5. Using a prybar, shim the door so that the bolt-receiver is juuuust below the z-height where the bolt would slide into the receiver:

    Protect your shitty plastic laminates from the metal! The children do enough damage to the house already, you don’t need to compound it while effecting a fix.
  6. Position a chair such that you can gently lean on the prybar with one foot.
  7. Lever the door up just enough for the nut to slide into the receiver, and pull on the string from 4 until you get that satisfying *click* indicating the bolt-head is firmly seated in the receiver. You will have to wiggle the door up and down while pulling on the string in order to get it past a detent.

    If the string comes off the bolt, go back to step 4.
  8. Rotate the clip back into position.

    To hang the door on the second hangar, you can use the exact same technique, or take an easier approach:
  9. Lever the door up until the bolt-receiver is in the appropriate position.
  10. Using a long, thin rod (I recommend small-diameter carbon fiber tubes, an essential tool in my toolbox of weird), push the bolt into the receiver until it clicks

    The reason that you can’t do this for the “deep end” of the pocket door is because you simply cannot get a rod into the gap that the door recesses into in such a way that you can push on the bolt. Instead, you need to pull on it, which has been the source of pretty much all of my howling about how to fix these doors.
  11. Slide the door into the recessed position, and using your long thin rod (or whatever, a knife will work at this point), rotate the retaining clip into position.

Voilá, you have a properly-rehung door again. You also know how to reset it after the children slam it against its stops fifty times and that accursed bolt backs out again.