Archive for category DIY

Restore or Replace – Part 2

Part II of how I came about deciding to restore the wood windows in my house instead of simply tearing them out and installing new replacement windows. Part I at this link.

Of course, by this point I had decided replacement was not an option (except for the bathroom window, which I did replace with vinyl – I wouldn’t dream of building a shower with a wood window in the wall).

I learned about an organization in Columbus hosting a 2 day hands-on window restoration workshop, and I signed up right away. I even took my own tool belt so I wouldn’t look like such a novice. In reality, I did find I had a lot more knowledge than some of the others  – a range of individuals who had never held a hammer, to a few woodworking professionals expanding their skills. Just a few hours in, and it felt like all the reading I had done about wood window restoration was coming to life in front of me. There is nothing better than learning by working alongside a seasoned professional craftsman.

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I didn’t just learn the steps in the process, but I learned great tips from their years of experience; how to keep the sash cord from slipping into the wall cavity by accident; the right tool to carefully pry out the parting stop; how to remove brittle glazing without cracking the glass. And the right products such as glazing compound, sash chain v cord, and great online resources to order the correct replacement parts.

Beyond what I learned, the workshop took away my fear of doing a step wrong or getting in over my head.

I didn’t immediately drive home and tear every window apart – though I wanted to. But I did start ordering supplies and price checking half a dozen websites to find out which sold each product at the best price. Restoring windows on average is less expensive than replacing them, but that still doesn’t mean it is cheap – especially when the best price is ordering in bulk. So 1 gallon of this, 100 yards of that, 5 of these, 30 meters of this, and 300 copper nails. I was just about halfway through finishing the plaster repairs in the laundry room when I went to the workshop, and I made myself wait until I had the entire room painted & woodwork refinished. Then it was window time.

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I intended Part III to be a step by step photograph process of removing, restoring, and reinstalling the double-wide laundry room windows. Unfortunately my computer decided to wreak havoc last weekend and my only resort was a complete hard drive reformatting & reinstalling the operating software. Thankfully I don’t keep files on my computer very long, I’ve learned to store most of my photographs & other important documents on my external hard drive. But for some reason, I had kept my house renovation photos saved on my pc and not yet moved to the external- it was easier and a few steps faster to edit photos & update blog posts. I lost the majority of my photos of house projects from this summer. Lesson learned the hard way. So Part III will switch to a different window in a different room of the house.

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Let there be Light

I had purchased these wall sconces a while back at my favorite nearby architectural salvage shop in Ft. Wayne; sconces but no globes. Just down the street from the salvage business is the Habitat For Humanity ReStore, where the same day I found 2 glass globes that fit them perfect. Successful scavenging day!

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They were pretty dirty, years of hairspray and dust I imagine. I was cautious to try any chemical cleaners on them, so instead I used 0000 steel wool, and lightly polished them to a mirror finish. The left is dirty, on the right is freshly polished.

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And here it is hanging on the wall to the left of the medicine cabinet opening (no, I haven’t started building the medicine cabinet. I have started designing it though!). The sconces were just about 3/4 inch narrower than the 4″ round fixture boxes I installed in the walls, which meant I had to fill the space on either side. Although you can buy ready-made fixture box covers that would have worked for a round sconce, these are ellipse and the circular covers wouldn’t look right. So I made my own “medallions” by tracing the sconce onto a 1/4″ thick scrap board, and cut the outline with a handheld jigsaw 1/2″ outside of my pencil tracing. Some rigorous sanding to round over the top edges, and then 2 coats of bright white paint. Of course the wires and wire nuts had to pass through, so I cut a hole in the center of each one before painting. But it was still a trick with only 2 hands to wire the short wires together and tighten the sconce to the wall making sure the white medallion was centered all around.

But the real work this past month was going from this:

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To this:IMG_3422B

That’s not just woodwork stripped of paint, but 2 windows fully restored, ropes replaced, new lock-pulls, and weatherstripping installed. And if they look good, that’s nothing compared to how smoothly they operate and how tightly they close. I’m working on window 3 (of 10!) and documenting each step for a future post. It takes a little longer than tearing out and replacing, but the results are worth the extra effort!

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Swinging Again (or, “All that for a broom closet?”)

“All that for a broom closet?”

That is exactly what my friend said Monday evening when she was over for dinner. I showed her the finished broom closet door compared to the “before” photo.P1030339 B

“Wouldn’t it have been easier just to build and stain a new door?”

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Well, maybe. I’d like to think it would’ve been the same amount of work. But a new door would have been “fake.” It wouldn’t have the gauge near the top hinge, where perhaps the guy who installed the door slipped with his screwdriver. Or the chip on the middle raised panel, from when a little kid running to play outside hit the door with the toy in his hand. And I’d have to have found a couple special boards with wormholes dotting one side, like on the inside of the door frame. Gauged, chipped, and wormholes? Yes. Flat, smooth, perfect; no. Once again, it’s something I like to call “character.”

A quick visit to my local friendly Ace Hardware and I found specialty screws that were a perfect fit & color match for the original hinges, and the door was “swinging again” (It’s like when they say the title of the movie in the movie!) in just 5 minutes.

Unfortunately the cabinet door latch was busted – didn’t have a knob at all, and from all the paint it didn’t have it’s spring action either. (In fact, to open this cabinet, someone had folded over a piece of duct tape & stapled it to the edge of the door to make a pull tab. That’s one solution.) So I’ll keep looking through rummage piles until I find a door latch the same style. For now, the door wants to naturally stay open about 1/2 an inch, so I can use it without a knob.

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Lastly, I didn’t like how the back wall of the cabinet looked. The paint is chipping, and whatever is under the paint doesn’t even look or feel like wood- it’s almost flexible like thin hard-board paneling. So I bought a sheet of plywood beadboard panel and ripped it down to the exact width to fit inside. Once it was stained & poly’d, it looks like it has always been there. Yes, I lost 3/8 inch in cabinet depth, but there is still plenty of room for a broom, dustpan, and even a small mop handle. On my next run to the hardware store I’ll pick up a couple broom handle clips, a small hook to hold the dustpan, and I’ll be in business.

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