Friday, August 11, 2006

Making & Filling Holes

I managed to get my lazy butt up off the couch for a few hours the past two days to get some work done on the arch trim over the big stained glass window. Yesterday I stripped it with the heat gun. I would say that was maybe an hours worth of work because, as I’ve said before, when it was painted 6 years ago they did NO PREP. The old paint was barely hanging on and they just slathered on more.

Here’s the arch, for those of you not familiar with it. This is a very old picture. The bush has been gone for 2 years, at least.

Today it was time to take care of some of the problem areas on the arch trim. Because the top half of the window forms a 180 degree arch you get grain that runs in all different directions on the face of the 2 main boards that make up the two halves of the arch. In a few places the nails had caused the board to begin to split. At first I thought it was a bad repair job and they hadn’t drilled pilot holes. Now I think it’s just 111 years of Eastern Sun and bad paint jobs taking their toll.

In two places small, triangle shaped sections of the wood had broken off. The boards split along the grain right where a nail went in. Picture a right triangle of wood with 2 to 3 inch sides. The two triangles of wood had separated from the rest of the board. One was still hanging on but the other piece was mostly gone and had to be reproduced. The rest of the wood though, was in very good shape. Really, the problem areas accounted for less than 5% of all the wood. This is good, because I really don’t want to have to replace this wood. Cutting a new 1X6 arch about 5 feet wide would not be fun.

I took the rotozip and widened any small splits to remove paint and crud, and to give me clean wood to work with. I also removed all the old putty over all of the nails and drilled down in the areas around the nails to removed any wood that had degraded because of the nail rusting. You always get black rot around nails where they begin to rust. The rot may only extend out an eight of an inch, but rot is rot. The rotozip is very effective at getting rid of it. I also used the rotozip to take the rust off the head of the nail.

I also removed the broken off triangle pieces. One I was able to reuse, but what was left of the other was a lost cause. It’s 7/8-inch redwood so the salvage redwood I have is perfect. It didn’t take to long to reproduce the missing piece.

Finally I cleaned up the areas where two boards met. Because of age they had already separated an eight of an inch or so and old caulk and paint and crude had filled in the gaps. The rotozip bit is about 3/16 of an inch, so I ran it through the gaps. This got rid of all the crud and effectively sanded the opposing end grain where the two board met. The gaps now had good, clean wood to accept the filler.

For filler I used a marine epoxy called PC-11. I really don’t know anything about other than it is expensive. A 2 oz. Jar cost around $7.00. The two main reasons I bought it were because it is a paste and not a liquid, and it explicitly says on the label that it is paintable. There must have been 7 or 8 different epoxies to chose from but this is one of the few that said on the label that it is paintable. The paste part is important because I’m filling holes, and also because of the triangle pieces I’m reattaching. I used it as mortar basically to glue them in to place. I don’t have to uses nails and worry about this happening again. Hopefully.

This epoxy is pretty amazing stuff. It says it cures wet or dry, even under water. It’s water proof and after it sets (over night) you can drill it, sand it, carve it, and paint it. It’s expensive, but for this kind of repair, it’s worth every penny.

Here’s some pictures.

Nail With Split: before, during, and after.

Triangle Repair: before, during, and after.

As it sits now. Tomorrow I sand and prime.


StuccoHouse said...

Ok, I am using your post as a primer for repairing my own overhang - nail splits, etc. this weekend :-) I had been nervous about putting filler over the existing old nail heads & replacement pieces - like someday they may need to be removed - but I see I was off base on that. Your "before" close-up photos could have been taken directly from my house.

I have small jars of a under-water-curing epoxy called Supermend. It rocks. I used it to seamlessly reattched the corners of my stucco that had fallen off. Epoxy, I have discovered, is a very, very good thing.

Greg said...

I should have prefaced that entire post by saying, “I’m not an expert”. I’m really making this up as I go.

My opinion is that if it all needs to be replaced someday, then it’s hard for me to do damage to it now. I mean, if it’s bad then trying to help it can’t really make it worse unless you do something really stupid, or do a half-assed job. From what I know of you, you’ll do neither.