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Repairing a Long Island Metal "Man-Shed" Piano Hinge

Updated on August 3, 2017

The shed I repair has a door identical to this one

I do wish I had the "before" pictures of the torn and mangled metal to compare these close up photos below with.  Just so you could appreciate the difference, and the magnitude of effort required.  The Family was SHOCKED when I totally repaired it.
I do wish I had the "before" pictures of the torn and mangled metal to compare these close up photos below with. Just so you could appreciate the difference, and the magnitude of effort required. The Family was SHOCKED when I totally repaired it.
The door on the shed depicted below is now square and swings, like new
The door on the shed depicted below is now square and swings, like new

The photos I provide are close-up & high resolution of the job

The shed I was repairing is like the model in the bottom and middle of the picture above. These sheds are not like your common carpenter-built wood and shingle mini-houses. They are pre-manufactured from steel.

In this case, the door was torn off from the piano hinge. The doors on these sheds are comprised of two layers of steel. The steel, by itself is not all that terribly rigid, when in pure cold-rolled steel form. The steel has very little structural strength, until it is BENT. The appearance of "panels" or "ridges" in the steel structures in the picture above? It's for more than appearances.

Those folds are where the steel obtains it's strength. And the doors on these sheds need even more strength, so they are made of two steel layers, both stamped in differing patterns to provide rigidity. The back side of the door, has a couple of stamped-steel "bars" at the top and bottom edges also, they act just in the same manner as if you had built a wooden door, and had put a couple of boards across the top and bottom edges of the door to rigidify or strengthen the wooden door. It's the same concept.

Once all bent and mangled... the original structure of the hinge side of the door was destroyed. In this article I describe the procedure I used to repair it. The close-up and high quality photos I provide of the hinge edge are crucial to anyone who may want to perform a similar repair. They provide an individual with an idea of what the end result could be.

Because in these Man-Sheds, the hinges DO "go bad". But, they are actually restorable. I just wish I had taken some "before" photos of the original mess the door was, so you could actually compare the state of this hinge before then after. The steel was mangled, twisted, misshapen, holes torn where the spot-welds had given out, and was a fuhgly color of blue and rust together.

After getting the door back into proper form. The entire metal shed was treated to a high quality oil-paint protective covering. And the final restored shed is quite clean and serviceable. I expect this shed will be around another few years.

A Close-up of the piano-hinge with 3 coats of Oil Paint

I took my time prepping this hinge.  And took my time painting it.  I let thinner coats dry and bake a bit in hot sun, for a couple days between coats.  What appears to be a fine and uneaven edge??? IS... an un-even and rusted edge of well worn metal
I took my time prepping this hinge. And took my time painting it. I let thinner coats dry and bake a bit in hot sun, for a couple days between coats. What appears to be a fine and uneaven edge??? IS... an un-even and rusted edge of well worn metal

These are a few of my favorite things - I use in my HomeWorx

A friend of mine told me of another friend, who had a "Man Steel Shed" that needed some fixing, or he'd have to tear it down and get a new garden shed. So I went to check it out, and Lo, it was a problem I could solve for the guy. We hung out working on this, grilling burgers, hot dogs, and working in the hot sun.

Great Days... FUN Days for Me...

He had a Steel Man-Shed, and the door, which hung from a piano-hinge along the entire length (a 5 foot tall metal door) had been so seriously damaged that it was about to fall off the piano hinge. When he told me of this, I pictured myself running to Home Depot to grab 3 strap-hinges, REPLACING the damaged piano hinge with the 3 new hinges.

But, when I got there to inspect the shed, the job completely changed.

I decided to be Pig-Headed, stubborn, and strong, and FORCE that piano-hinge to Behave Itself.


A nearby section of hinge. No, this paint won't flake off

This is all very carefully, (if heavily) painted.  it was all prepped and cleaned well.  But, the metal here is TORN, along the length of the hinge, rusted, and very beaten in some spots.  More so in some spots.  But, it's well protected and preserve
This is all very carefully, (if heavily) painted. it was all prepped and cleaned well. But, the metal here is TORN, along the length of the hinge, rusted, and very beaten in some spots. More so in some spots. But, it's well protected and preserve

To tell the truth, the door of the little metal shed was a complete mess. The doors hinge was a piano hinge running the full length of the door. It was still attached (barely), at the bottom of the door by a 4 inch length of the piano hinge. There were 2 or 3 spot-welds still holding the mess together, and it "strapped" the door to the shed as the hinge/fulcrum of rotation. The abused metal simply flexed, every time the door was opened or shut. The hinge no longer operated at all.


What had happened, was, the door-hinge had begun rusting 2 or 3 years ago. Then hurricane Sandy hit our area. Soon, the hinge was completely frozen, after exposure to the salt water. Yet, with the metal it was comprised of, it was EASY to open or close the door. They'd grab the handle, pull it, and the entire area where the hinge attached to the door would "bend", and act like a hinge... sorta.

Until the material work-hardened and began to split apart. The door is comprised of two layers of shaped steel. So, since I'm the type that DOES like to solve a little problem. (When I used to work for Home Depot, I was in hardware, and thoroughly enjoyed the interactions with various customers, with completely varied needs). I Loved giving advice to people with a problem. Often, a customer would come back to find me and thank me, reporting success, on something like a broken Sun-Roof crank and chain, or something of that nature.

At any rate, THIS person also needed a solution to his metal door problem. It was still attached to the shed, but only down at the bottom of the metal door, and with only 1 or 2 spot-welds still holding it. The door originally had something like 10 or 12 spot-welds.

After looking it over, I told the owner that I could fix it for him, and I'd start immediately. So we fired up the backyard grill... and went to work.

It turned out that fixing the hinge itself, was an effort of will to get it mechanically mended and hanging correctly. I guess some people just are not strong enough or stubborn enough to force the metal back into proper function... There was a bit of WD-40 oiling, and waiting time, as well as a bit of working the hinge with pliers in each hand, gripping the hinge, and loosening it. Until the entire 5-foot length of piano hinge, once again operated correctly.



A section of the front of the shed, a Nice Clean Paint Job.

Overall, the shed actually looks great.  Only if you look closely do you realize the door was a horror show. (... at one time)
Overall, the shed actually looks great. Only if you look closely do you realize the door was a horror show. (... at one time)

Here, the fully functioning door and original piano-hinge

I was truly pleased with the result.  Entirely Satisfied.  The owner and the owners family... were SHOCKED that I could save it.
I was truly pleased with the result. Entirely Satisfied. The owner and the owners family... were SHOCKED that I could save it.

Once the hinge operated correctly, Then, the re-hanging of the metal door commenced.

Using some self-tapping hex head screws, I began to "Mend" the torn metal. The door frame was comprised of 2 layers of sheet steel. So I had to slide the piano hinge INTO and BETWEEN those 2 layers. Problem was, that all that metal had been warped, twisted, bent and work hardened by the residents. You see, when that door began to rust up on them, they were actually able to open and close the door. But as the hinge siezed up, the "way" the door opened was NOT by a hinge... But by bending the sheet steel at the hinge area itself.

So, I began to "Mend" the break just by roughly getting the door into position, I made sure that it was square within the door frame. And used a couple of the self tapping screws just to roughly set the door within the proper dimensions.


So far, so good. It appeared that I had the door fundamentally lined up. The Metal on the hinge side had been entirely abused and bent. So to began to straighten things out I set screws into the metal all up and down the hinge side. I "mended" the door by screwing and un-screwing then re-screwing it a couple times, slowly working it back to shape...

Finally, to prepare for the final "metal-stitching"... I drove screws only in a couple places in the top of the door, (leaving most of the hinge un-screwed). I had to actually wedge small "shims" temporarily under the edge of the heavy metal door.

I was preparing for a very "HEAVY" alignment-adjustment.

And for THAT... I needed a very large "Hammer". So I grabbed a cinder-block and a chunk of 2x4 lumber as a "pad".

After opening the metal door halfway. Making certain the hinge and all basic metal was aligned peroperly (with the hinge and back edge of door-frame) -and ROUGHLY where it had to be... the door, overall was "pulled out" approximate one-half an inch, too far, from the hinge side. The door needed to be "driven in" about 1/2 inch. What I mean is, the door still would not close properly even though it was square to the opening and in fundamental rectilinear alignment with the entire shed.

The door is comprised of two sheets of metal... and the metal at the back edge is highly warped. I had to "insert" the edge of the piano hinge INTO the two sheets, BETWEEN the two sheets, and was meeting resistance. After "squaring" the door, shimming it so it was "Level"... it was "in position" and ready to be DRIVEN IN... by a very heavy hammer.

I had a friend hold the chunk of 2x4 against the latching edge (opposite the hinge-edge) of the door. Told him ............. "Don't Move"...

And swung the cinder-block against the 2x4 in a very "solid" and strong swing.

"BANG !!!" - Driving the door ONTO the piano hinge solidly, and sinking the door back that additional 1/2 inch I required to get it to close properly and latch.

Now, I could Finish, just doing the more delicate stuff. Cleaning and painting it.

This household was SHOCKED that I was able to save the door.

If I had had a MIG welder, that would have been better

The only thing I would have changed was... if I had a MIG welder, I would have spot welded the metal again. In this case, the self-tapping hex head screws (with 1/4 inch heads) should suffice. I'd prefer to weld it, as the door was originally also welded.


But I think we are "Good" here, for a few more years.

I warned the home-owner to simply... "oil that hinge" once in a while.

PLEASE

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