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Install peephole viewer for peace of mind

Q: I live in an older neighborhood where there have been some burglaries lately. I would like to install a peephole in my front door. The door is very large and heavy and is solid wood. What do you recommend?

A: A peephole viewer is great, but what about a dog? There’s nothing like an animal to keep would-be intruders at bay.

The old peephole viewers didn’t let you see much of who was outside your front door. The shapes were distorted, and strangers could hide out of view. That has all changed.

The newer viewers use a prism on the exterior side of the door and provide a wide-angle shot of the outside. The view is clear, and it also helps to see places where someone could try to hide.

The peephole viewer comes in two pieces that screw together through a hole you drill through the door.

You will want to locate the hole at about eye level and through the center of the door. Don’t drill through a panel of the door; instead, go through the stile (the vertical part that holds the panels). The stiles are thicker and stronger.

Use a hole saw that is 1¾ inches in diameter (check manufacturer’s recommendations) for boring the hole. The hole saw will have a pilot bit in its center. Start the hole by holding the pilot bit against the inside of the door. Hold the drill level and very steady. Use low speed until the pilot bit digs into the wood.

As the hole saw makes contact with the wood you may notice some vibration. The key here is to check the opposite side of the door frequently for when the pilot bit exits. When the pilot bit comes through the opposite side of the door, stop drilling and remove the hole saw.

Go around to the other side and insert the pilot bit into the hole it just made on the exterior. Start the drilling again and finish the hole. If you were to continue drilling from one side only, the door would splinter as the hole saw pushed through the exterior of it. You would still be able to install the peephole viewer, but the exterior of the door would be as ugly as sin.

For wooden doors, there will be tiny teeth on the exterior prism cover. These teeth will bite into the wood as you tighten the body of the viewer. Hold the prism cover level on the outside of the door. Screw the viewer body into the cover from the inside of the door until snug.

Had your door been metal, you would have trimmed off the tiny teeth on the prism cover and applied a bead of clear silicone to the rim of it. The pieces would then have been screwed together.

If all this sounds too burdensome, there are a variety of “doorbell viewers” that work with your smartphone. They are easy to use and allow you to communicate with visitors without ever leaving your couch.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to: handymanoflasvegas@msn.com. Or, mail to: 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His Web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.

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