Friday, August 30, 2013

window work

As it turns out there are an infinite number of bad puns I can make about panes of glass, none of which are clever enough to inflict upon you. But the restoration and reglazing continues - I'm done with the schoolhouse sashes that were in good enough shape for me to work on myself, and there are four left that need new muntins cut and fit, which I decided was beyond me (i.e. cheaper to let our carpenter fix them than buying the router and bit and learning to do it ourselves). I'm also half done cleaning up the queen anne window which will be getting some stained glass. The paint on it hid a multitude of horrors, so it's been a slow process, although at least no one glazed it with caulk like the school house windows! I took a ton of pictures thinking perhaps I'd write a tutorial, but realistically, I'm not reinventing the wheel here, so let me just refer you to the brilliant one at Old Town Home (
). But since I took the pictures anyway . . .

I don't know why I didn't bother to take before pictures, but this is some caulk left in the corner of one of the busted windows. Although I knew not to caulk instead of glaze, I never understood just how bad it was - removing it shredded the wood of the very delicate window, broke the antique glass in a number of windows, took ages, and was just generally awful. Don't do it folks, if it's an emergency fix you're looking for just smooth some glazing in the gap with your finger. Also, don't use finish nails driven all the way through the muntin in the place of the two glazing points you should be using. Just saying . . .

This was my set up for glazing, for glass removal I recommend a regular table as it'll let you put more force into removing the glazing without pushing the sash off the sawhorses. For glazing you want to easily be able to reach underneath the sash to move the glass around, so sawhorses are perfect. And yes, the Sarco dual glaze is an integral part of my set up. Buy some. You need it. The whole sash was sanded, loose joints glued and clamped, and everything but the sides painted with oil based primer. Once the finish coat of paint goes on (after the glazing sets up) I'll wax the sides to protect them and help them slide.

Not bad for 138 years old . . .

windex and a razor blade before you even think
of putting glass back in a window!

Some panes of glass are just suicidal, they will break no matter what you do, so try not to cry (or let them cut you). If you have very stubborn glazing, or a very delicate window you may help your mental health by holding the window (with clean glass) up to the light, and evaluating which of the panes you couldn't bear to break (this only applies in the case of antique glass), focus on getting the wavy, distorted pieces out intact, and don't worry to much if the others don't make it. Here in Pittsburgh antique glass is easy and cheap to get, if this isn't the case where you are call window replacement companies (small family run ones are best) that work in historic areas. A nice phone call (do not berate their chosen profession!) and offer of a bit of cash will get you a phone call next time they're ripping out historic windows, after all, they normally have to pay to trash them, they'd rather give them to you as long as you make it easy for them . . .

In the windows I've disassembled I've noticed that glass that's been bedded in glazing is generally unbroken, with the wood in better shape in the rabbet. So, that's what I do . . .

When I install the glazing points I count them out and put them on the panes before installing them as I mysteriously tend to forget them if I don't.

Carefully flip the window over and remove the glazing that's oozed out, I love my teardrop paint scraper for this, just be careful not to gouge the wood - this doesn't require any force. That scraper blade, along with the chisel side of my glazing tool gets the brunt of the initial glazing removal in the break-down stage as well.

This is what you'll be left with. Remember, this will face inside, so make sure it's pretty.

Flip the window over, apply the glaze and use your glazing tool to make the bevel. Pull the tool towards you slowly and at a hard angle, leaving just enough glaze to cover the rabbet visible from underneath to the top of the frame. I start from the middle of each side and pull straight through to the middle of the next side, being careful to keep the angle through the corner. Although glazing is somewhat a point of pride for DIY'ers, I'm the first to admit I'm not that great at it - what's important to remember is to keep a sharp angle, and make sure the putty is bonded and smooth to the wood and the glass. Remember, this is meant to be functional, not an art form!

And look, this sash is half done. Why half you ask? Because this was the last of the original glass that could be saved . . . More to come . . .

Sunday, August 25, 2013

liberty cat

So today we drove to Arlington VA to pick up an 1886 school bell to hang in the bell tower of the schoolhouse. Although we know the original bell had been stolen decades ago, and was hanging in the front yard of a neighbor, they never came forward and we were unable to track them down. It's sad to be sure, but we were worried we wouldn't be able to install the bell after the building was completed, so we had to track another one down. This bell is in wonderful shape, and although it's a few years newer than the school, which was built in 1875, it was cast the same year that our house was built in 1886. The family we purchased it from has some wonderful history with it, and may be sending us some documents about it which I'll share once I'm sure I have the details right.

The road trip insured no house work got done today, but it was a beautiful drive, and reminded me of how much I miss magnolias, crepe myrtles and live oaks . . . Oh the trade offs we make for real seasons . . .

Monday, August 19, 2013

house of seven gables no more

It's official, we have a gable! This brings our gable count up to 8. More is better right? I'm sure that's how they calculate property values . . .

It's been slow and steady progress on the school house/carriage house project, but why would I argue with a carpenter who has taken it upon himself to hand notch all the oak supports?

The building still had a bit of a sway after the beams went in, so in an effort to prevent another 20 degree lean 138 years from now we bit the bullet and notched in diagonal cross-bracing, something that was conspicuously missing in the original construction. Now shored up, we should have a roof this week, and our giant pergola will be gone for good (mind you it was supposed to be at the pergola stage so we could eat under it during our family reunion)!

the "pergola"
there seems to be an errant dog toy stranded up there . . .
threshold poured for the door

The threshold, it's sad to think that Wirsing School Road
is missing its school . . .

The windows are progressing, with four sashes done, two intact ones to finish, and four to repair, along with 36 panes of glass left to cut (not including the queen anne window in the gable). I tracked down a bunch of glass over the weekend, including 4 pieces of spectacular old glass (1870's) from a house that's being parted out and demolished (sadly they wanted a fortune for everything I was interested in). Pulling the glass out of the condemned windows is a process in itself, but I should have enough to work with now... At least I don't have to work alone...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

nothing much

Just some Saturday randomness that has nothing to do with anything . . . There was beautiful afternoon light today, it was almost enough to make my house look a little less haggard.

the original front of the house (now the side)

mimosa at sunset

And now Mr. Popular . . .

Now that my desktop has been cleared of randomness, maybe I can start to work on clearing my to do list next . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

that sinking feeling

So with all the talk of schoolhouses and trees and foundations, let me demonstrate how my little scatterbrained self operates, "Oh no," she says "my paint strippers have eaten through the craptastic $99 vanity the previous owner installed! And it's just a week until 60 people descend upon my house, they won't eat my food if they think I wash things in this sink! I'd better just rip it out, I have all the parts to assemble the new one anyway!"

more vinyl to remove, the bracket on the floor is from the long
gone pedestal sink, and while ruining the sink was my fault,
that disgusting clog has nothing to do with me

About two years ago, in my search for antique exterior crown molding I came across an artist who was as obsessed with architectural salvage as I am, only he had a warehouse. Most of what he had stashed there wasn't for sale, but he liked to sell what he didn't plan to use to fund more purchases. In addition to piles of nearly the exact trim I needed, I brought home bundles of beadboard, some miscellaneous hardware, and a rather glorious old sink, although it's original purpose is unclear. A few readers that have seen my basement in person know that I am a hoarder of old porcelain (at one point I had no less than six enormous antique sinks in my basement), but this sink trumps all the others in that it's china, and that it was made the same year as my house was built.

AFO, brand, initials, anyone know?

When I bought it I saw that drain wise it would take 2 modern kitchen sink drains (literally the most important thing other than condition, at worse, you can use a single tap faucet, but without a drain you don't have much of a sink). Despite the fact that we could have used single tap faucets (which it may have had originally), the trained monkey is a fan of warm water (as opposed to hot and cold), so we had a bit of a standoff. Enter DEA Bathroom Machineries - a few years ago they produced an adjustable width bridge faucet, where the bridge sections could be cut down as needed to fit unusual antique sinks like this one. When I first contacted them (best customer service anywhere by the way, they respond to crazy people like me right away via e-mail, even when I'd never bought anything from them) they said they'd be producing it in a few additional finishes in the following year, including the raw brass I was interested in, so I decided to wait, because faucets are expensive. I randomly checked their website a month ago, and to my horror couldn't find the faucet. I finally tracked it down in the clearance section, where they had one left in oil rubbed bronze with flaws to the casting/finish. In a panic I e-mailed to find out what was going on and was told this was the last one available as California had passed new lead laws. Needless to say I ordered it (it being 2/3 off the original price was a plus). As it turns out, it had no flaws what-so-ever, and it was a beautiful antique brass color.

So now we had a sink and a faucet, and as it turns out we had a base too, in the form of a machineless iron Singer sewing machine base. I'd like to say these three things were instant friends, but I'd be lying. The faucet is designed to be deck mounted, not wall mounted, so we had to knock out some drywall behind the sink to accommodate the supply lines. The drains were also a bit reluctant to play nice, the bottom of the sink was nearly too thick for standard drains, and too irregular for a good seal with the drains designed for fireclay sinks. After much cursing and saying it couldn't be done, we got it done, but we have a convoluted mess of pvc underneath which will hopefully be less of an eyesore when painted black. If we ever find a decent plumber the pvc will be tossed in favor of brass or copper.

All this, just so our house guests could wash their hands . . .
And no, DEA Bath has no clue who I am, or that this blog exists...