Sunday, April 30, 2006

I Ran Out Of Primer!

Arrggg! That pretty much sums it up. I got very close to finishing, though. Sherwin Williams is not open on Sundays so tomorrow I will get a third gallon. I’m amazed that 2 gallons was not enough.

As far as yesterday’s post, the hint I dropped about finding something in the yard was a complete fabrication. Sorry, I was just having a little fun. The ruse was nothing more than a vehicle to include the reference of the arrival of the curly redwood. It didn’t seem to warrant it’s own blog entry because it was nothing too exciting. The real story behind curly redwood is, I was up on the ladder painting on Friday and suddenly I got wood when the UPS truck pulled up. That’s it.

Tomorrow I finish priming and maybe start a top-coat on the shingles.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Almost Primed And Almost Ready

I got a lot more painting done today, but not quite as much as I wanted. If I hadn’t included the bay window in this section I could start a top-coat tomorrow. Because the ground is uneven it can take a while to get the ladder in place. Sometimes I have to dig a little hole so the ladder will sit level. When I was digging one of the holes I dug up a little box and inside I found….

We Interrupt This Blog Entry About House Painting To Bring You Wood

<--Redwood Alert - Redwood Alert-->
The second batch of redwood arrived for the cabinets I plan to build at some point. I wrote about the First Piece last week so I won’t bore you with the details again. I will say that the first piece was burl and these are curly redwood. I wet down one board to show off the grain.

Ooooo Aaaaaaaa


We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Blog Entry Already in Progress.

….I’m hoping it will be worth a lot of money. It could really help out with the restoration. Anyway, back to the painting.



I got kind of a late start and it is very slow going. The shingles really take a long time. Some of it is due to a learning curve. I was being to cautious with the paint at first. You know how when you are paint a room you carefully cut in the edges and the make even smooth strokes with the roller to get an even coat. This isn’t like that at all. For the shingles I have to scoop out paint on a 4-inch brush and the shove it up into the triangle formed by two shingles. Then squish it up and there on both sides and the draw it out to get the bottom part of the shingle. Repeat that step for each and every shingle.

Friday, April 28, 2006

House Paint: The First 4 Hours

Well, it is very slow going. If I had to do it over I would not have included the bay window in this first section. Because there are no windows on the main wall it is a lot of area to paint. The shingles are very time consuming. Here’s what I accomplished in 4 hours today.



It will go faster after this, not only because there will be more doors and windows, but also because I had to get used to working on the ladder. The first hour today was not very productive at all. Once I got my “sea legs”, so to speak, the pace picked up. Also, I started on the upper left and so I had to paint a lot of that area with my left hand while on the ladder. It was very awkward and slow.

I think tomorrow I can get the rest of it primed but I doubt I will get to any of the top-coats tomorrow. It looks like that will happen Sunday. This assumes, of course, that I don’t fall off the ladder and kill myself. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Color Choice Timeline

I think it took me about a week to prep the first section. That was just a butt-load of sanding, scraping, and washing. Today I washed everything down and tomorrow I will start to put primer on. I doubt I will get it all primed tomorrow so that means that if all goes well I should start putting on the first top-coat late Saturday. I’m feeling a little uneasy about the colors. Here’s how I came to chose them.

My basic philosophy about the house has always been that an original style, wallpaper, color, or whatever will take precedence over change. That is to say, if I discover some original element of the house, and I like it, I will go back to that rather than changing to something else. For me this is great because I really don’t like having to make a lot of choices about these sorts of things. Choosing colors is very near the bottom of the list when it comes to making decisions about the house. With that in mind I figured I’d go back to the original exterior colors of the house if I liked them. This brought up the question, what where the original colors.

When I bought the house it had the green asbestos siding. Obviously that was not original. When I took off the siding and revealed the original redwood siding I was surprised at first to see the brown paint with tan trim. However, the more research I did it seems that maybe that could have been the original color. By the mid-1890s earth tones were a popular choice for house colors.

There were some problems though. Where the sunburst designs had been removed I could clearly see green paint. It was green, green, green. No mistake about it, it was as green as the nose on my face. Also it seemed odd that the newly revealed second story sunbursts were painted the same dark brown as the body of the house. If you go to the expense and trouble to put the design up there why not highlight it with a different color.

Then when I started to gut the inside of the addition I discovered another color. The addition was built as 3 walls up against the house. The “forth wall” was really the old exterior wall of the house. All they did was nailed planks up to the old siding and then covered it with wallpaper. When I removed the planks the octagon shingles were mostly there and where an old downspout for the gutters had once been I could see a tiny strip of color. When they painted the house brown they couldn’t quite paint entirely behind the downspout. It wasn’t much but I scrutinized. Man, I was on a ladder with a flashlight. I got out the old heat gun and tried to carefully remove some of the brown paint to expose more of this mystery color.

In the end I decided it was a vary pale green. Now I had a connection. I had the dark green behind the first floor sunbursts and the pale green behind the second floor downspout. I had a pallet of greens to work with. I then discovered a third color, or so I thought. After the house was freed from it’s asbestos sarcophagus I had to do some repair work on the window sills. I stripped them to bare wood and found what I thought was black paint as the very first color – or was it a very dark green. After more demolition of apartment era stuff I found a piece of trim with very alligatored olive green paint on it. Yes, this was starting to make sense now. A dark green first story, pale green second story, and an even darker olive green trim.

Then I ran in to some problems with this theoretical color scheme. Back in the 1920s they added a hide-away Murphy bed to the apartment that used to be the dining room. The bed folded up into the wall that was once the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen. The bed was gone when I bought the place but the framing was still there. When I rebuilt this wall to put back the original doorway I removed all the Murphy bed framing. To shim out the frame and make it square they use scraps of octagon shingles that had been ripped off the house when they added the addition on. They removed the bottom three or four rows of shingles so they could connect to the water supply. Obviously when they framed in the Murphy bed and needed some shims they went out to the pile of construction debris and grabbed a few of the now discarded shingles. These shingle/shims that I removed from the wall were not pale green, they were in fact white. White, white, white, white, white, white. As white as my soft-white underbelly. This throws the whole green pallet idea out the window.

I went back to the downspout and looked at it again and decided I was wrong about it being pale green. It was white after all. The green paint behind the sunbursts had long since been sanded away, so I can’t confirm that now. The “Olive Green” paint that was on the window sills may have just been some sort of primer or early wood preservative. Who knows? The only thing I had – or didn’t have at this point because I couldn’t find it – was the piece of trim with the alligatored olive green paint on it. The real problem was, by this time I had already go out and bought $300 worth of the finest green paint money can buy down at Sherwin Williams. Whether I liked it or not, and whether it was original or not, I was committed to a green house. I just so happens I like green. In fact, I painted my last house green So green it is.

So the colors I’m working with are (everyone get out your Sherwin Williams paint chips) Basil for the first floor, Livable Green for the second floor, and Olive Green for the trim. I’m not sure about the third floor gables and I will probably stick with the brick red sashes and crown molding that are on the house now. My one concern at this point is the Livable Green. It may be too pale of a green for the second floor. I want the house to stand out, no question about it. If you’ve got it flaunt it, right? But I don’t want it to be offensive. The plan at this point is, if the Livable Green is too light I will use it was a first coat and then buy a darker green as a second coat. The plan along has been to put on two top-coats of paint so it’s not the end of the world. I don’t think I’ll waste any thing here.

As I said the plan is to start putting on primer on Friday and the top coat on Saturday. I will start with the second floor, so if all goes well I may have photos of a Livable Green second floor on Saturday. This should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Minor Details

I was waaaaaay up on the ladder today so I took some close-up shots of the gingerbread detail on the second story. Being that my house is a late Victorian Queen Anne it doesn’t really have the layers of trim and big heavy molding as the Stick/Eastlake, Gothic Revival, or Italianate homes of earlier decades. Remember, in just a few short years the Arts & Crafts and Craftsman styles would dominate the domestic home styles. Below is a full shot of the house again so you’ll know what you’re looking at.



The two close ups are of the sunbursts designs over the second story window and the repeating, stylized floral relief that is on the frieze. I’ve also include another shot of the downstairs sunburst to compare to the upstairs ones. The upstairs ones are much small and simpler. I can’t wait to paint them!

Second Story Sunburst


First Story Sunburst


Floral Relief


I estimated there are about 300 of the floral carvings around the house. They just go all the way around, one after the other. Each one is about a foot wide. Someone once told me they were called “Aero Smiths” (or Arrow Smiths) but I’ve never been able to confirm this. When I started to write the narrative to add the house to the National Register of Historic Places I tried to track down the source and got know where. It turned out to be a friend of a mill owner was told that someone who worked there read it in an architectural book when he was in collage in Massachusetts, or something like that. What ever they’re called I really like them. There are 3 or 4 houses in town that have them as well, although none of the designs are identical. As you can see in the full shot of the house I’m missing about 30 of them where the addition was put up. Grrrr! I plan to replace them but it’s not a top priority.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Contrast In Shingles

I just thought this was a neat image. You can see shingles in 3 different states. The gray shingles have never been painted. Those are the ones I put up. The brown ones have the 1920s paint that is falling off. The original color was a little redder than the color showing. And finally there are the tans ones that I just took the paint off of.

Why No Scaffolding

I haven’t been this sore since the great Wallpaper Stripping Marathons of 2002. It seems that stripping paint off siding uses the same muscle groups as stripping wallpaper. These are the little used stripping muscles that normally are dormant and must atrophy when not used regularly. For me it is in the shoulders and forearms. Despite the pain my compulsive nature takes over and I’m stripping purely on adrenaline at this point. I think I might be ready to prime on Friday.

A comment on yesterday’s post by Shauna suggested that I should get scaffolding instead of ladders. If the truth be told I have a slight fear of heights. Actually I think it is more a fear of edges. The thought of being on a roof doesn’t bother me but if I think about walking to the edge of even a flat roof that is higher than one story I begin to get sweaty palms. Even with a railing it kind of makes me nervous.

Two years ago when I removed the addition I was forced to get 2 sections of the masonry type scaffolding to help repair the shingles. Some call it sidewalk scaffolding. Each section is 6-feet high instead of 5-feet high. I also got the casters with it which added almost another foot. I had this all set up on the foundation and sub-floor of the addition after all the walls were down. That put me another 3-feet off the ground. So all together the top deck was about 16-feet off the ground. I’m 6’4” so that means my head was about 24-feet off the ground. I had trouble standing up. I just get this feeling of vertigo where things start to spin just a bit. I’m OK if I have at least one hand on something but the minute I let go with both hands I start to feel a little strange. It didn’t help matters that the scaffolding tended to rock a little when I was swinging the hammer nailing up shingles.

It may sound odd but I feel more secure on a ladder. That’s not to say I feel completely at home on the top of my 32-foot ladder, but I feel better on that than I do on scaffolding. I spent about 6 months on the ladder a few years back when I removed the asbestos siding, pulled all the nails, and then rebuilt window sills and fixed ginger bread. It was tough at first but I got kind of used to it.

The scaffolding is easier in that you can work on a larger section at a time. The draw back is that it takes longer to move to the next section. I would need 3 sections of scaffolding to be able reach the top. It takes time to break all that down and move to the next section. There is also the issue of the ground on north side of the house being very uneven. It has a steep slope towards the sidewalk that starts only a few feet from the house.

Then, of course, there is always the issue of cost. A friend is painting his house right now (actually he is having a handy-man do a lot of the grunt work). He figured that rental costs for 4 sections of scaffolding would be $800 for 4 months. I think that’s what it was. He ended up buying 4 sections for $1,100. That is not too bad, really, when you consider the cost of hiring pros to do a top-notch paint job. Based on what others have paid recently I estimate my house would cost between 15 and 20 thousand dollars for a good paint job.

Still, It’s a lot of money. I’m looking at spending 6 months painting my house because I’m going to be doing other work along the way. I need to do some major work on the front porch foundation, and the front stained glass window is going to be very delicate and time consuming to work on. Also, I still have to go to work and earn money at a real job. That scaffolding would be sitting there unused a lot of the time.

I think I’ll just stick with the ladders for now. When I do the front section with the stained glass window I’ll probably rent scaffolding. That is work that would be better to do standing on the scaffolding instead of hanging off a ladder.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Surprise! The Sinks Here

Yes, the copper sink arrived today. I just happened to be home on a short break and FedEx pulled up. Why they come to my house at 10:30 in the morning is a mystery but they always do and I’m never home, except this time, and it was a fluke. I was home for all of about 5 minutes and he just happened to pull up while I was there.

As for the sink, well, it’s OK. It wasn’t one of those moments where you open the package and begin to gush with joy over your new treasure. I can say that it is very heavy – heavier than I thought it would be – and seems to be well constructed. I had been warned by some that if a copper sink isn't made well there can be thin parts in the copper where cracks may appear after only a few years. A good copper sink should last a life time. From my untrained eye it doesn’t seem to have any thin spots.

The only problem with it is the finish. I had ordered ‘Natural’ finish. The picture on the web site of the sample sink in Natural finish looked kind of like copper pipe that was a year old or so. Not that shiny copper color when you first buy the pipe at the hardware store and install it. It was more that color the copper gets a year later when you have to go back and make a repair on a crappy joint you soldered.



As you can see in the picture the sink sort of has that color but it also has this dark splotchyness to it. I don’t remember seeing that on the web site. The other thing that doesn’t thrill me is the level of texture. I didn’t expect the hammer marks to be so prominent. Maybe I’m being too picky. I generally like the sink, but you know, it’s just that the picture in my head was a little better than the sink in reality.

I thought about calling the manufacturer and asking about the finish, but I figured what’s the point. I’m not going to send the sink back. Both the inside and outside have the black splotches so I may try some things on the outside (it will never be seen) to try and even out the color. I ordered Natural because I wanted a natural patina in time, so maybe it will even out on it’s own.

Some of you may remember that I had come up with a plan to install the sink under-mount with out moving the slab of marble off the island. I tried to do a dry run tonight to see if it will fit but the electrical box is in the way. I’m going to have to remove that before I can try. Worse case scenario is I have to slide the marble back and drop it in. That is very doable with 3 or 4 people around the slab.

I’ve decided I’m going to wait a few weeks before I install it. I’ve been making great progress in the outside of the house and we are scheduled for a stretch of good weather so I want to continue with that. Also, my router is deader than dead and I need to buy a new one before I can install the sink.

Speaking of work on the outside paint job, it as been going swimmingly. Things are progressing much faster than I had anticipated. The first floor part of the wall I’m working on is ready for primer. Today I filled holes on the second floor and tomorrow I will begin to sand. That will go much slower but there is a lot less of it.



In the picture above, everything to the left of the bay window was hidden behind the addition for 80+ years. It has 2 coats of paint (actually it is more like one and a half) and the paint is in almost pristine shape. Except for a few holes for wall planking these shingles look like there were put up a few years ago not 111 years ago. The bay window bump out is another story. There are a tenth of the holes to fill as on the first floor but all of the shingles have to be stripped to bare wood. And I’m working on a ladder. The one in the picture is my short ladder. Oh, and did I happen to mention I have a problem with heights. More on that later.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

First Piece

For some reason I’ve started thinking about a project that I’m probably not going to start for 6 months or so. This is pretty common for me. I get an idea in my head and latch on to it like a pit bull. It bounces around in my head and percolates for a few weeks or months until I have fully explored it and then I can let it go. This usually includes a purchase or two. The future project this time is the built-in cabinets that will fill the opening between the dining room and the butler’s pantry. Realistically I probably won’t start building it until October but I can’t seem to stop thinking about it.

In a post a few days ago I mentioned I had bought some burl and curly redwood for the cabinets. The first piece arrived yesterday. This is a slab of burl redwood that I want to cut 4 drawer fronts out of. The cabinets are roughly 8-feet square. I want to have 4 drawers and each drawer front will need to be about 20-inches wide.

Here is the piece of burl I bought. I wet it down a bit to show the grain.




Burl is like a tumor that grows in the wood. I’m not really sure why it forms, but makes large, deformed growths on the tree. Some may only be the size of a basketball while other burl growths can be large enough for 4 or 5 people to stand on. As you can see in the picture, the grain in a burl growth very dense and is uniquely twisted and knotted. Once that piece is sanded smooth and oiled and shellacked it will really look neat.

The slab is 2 inches thick and the idea was to cut two pieces that were 2”X 4” X 20”. I would then split them so I would have 4 drawer fronts that were each 1”X 4” X 20”. However, because of it’s odd shape I think it may be a stretch to get two pieces large enough. I have a few options.

One solution, if I can’t get large enough pieces, is to buy more burl. That is a $50 piece of wood and I really don’t want to buy more. Another option is to cut one piece that is 2” X 4” X 20” and then cut four pieces that are only about a half inch thick. I could then use them sort of like veneer and glue them to the front of the drawer boxes. Another option is to make the drawer fronts a little shorter. I’m pretty sure I could get 2 pieces that were about 18” long. There will be a lot of left over wood that I can use as the stiles between the drawers.

I’ll need to let this percolate a bit more.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Journey Of A Thousand Miles…

Yesterday and today I took the first steps in what will be a very long journey. I’ve started painting the house. I’m weeks away from picking up a paint brush, but I have started the prep work. And as they say, prep work is 90% of a good paint job.

I’m starting the with south west corner of the house. This is where the 2 story addition was and it is the least visible part of the house. I bought some paint two years ago because I thought I was going to be working on the front porch 2 years ago, but that never happened. I'll paint this one wall and decide if I like the colors I chose all those may years ago. If I like them, then I’ll move on. If I don’t it will be a huge waste of time and money.

I also chose to start here because this wall in the back corner of the house is in the worst shape. After I removed the addition I had to basically reside the whole wall. I used a lot of the siding I took off the addition so there were lots of nail holes. I also had nail holes from the asbestos siding, and then there were the new nails I drove in when I put the siding up.

It doesn’t look bad from a distance but you get up close there are a lot of little holes in the wood. The new nails had to be driven below the surface with a nail-set and then puttied, so all those little putty dots aren’t necessarily holes. Here are some pictures. The grayish colored shingles on the bunmp-out and the flare are all new and have never been painted.

Here it is with the addition Booo! Hisss!


Here is what it looked like yesterday. Not too bad, right?


Holy siding Batman! That’s a lot of nail holes.
You said it Boy Wonder.


The one good thing about the asbestos siding is that the house has only 1 or 2 coats of paint on it, depending upon where you look, and the last coat was put on back in the 20s. All of the siding from the addition had only one layer of brown paint that was hanging on by a thread. It took me about 3 or 4 hours with a random orbital sander to get the whole thing back to bare wood. Here’s where I stand now.

Bare & Beautiful


There is still a lot of work prep work to be done before I can start painting. The plan is to paint the bay window bump-out and the wall with all the holes in it now and then move on to the next section. It will be an unbelievable amount of work.

Here is the whole south elevation
Eventually there will be a proper porch in front of that door that extends the width of that wall. It's on the list.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Waiting On Infonotices

I’ve got three things coming to me via UPS. The first item is the copper sink for the kitchen island. They told me it would be 4 to 6 weeks and I ordered it on March 1st. Being that today is April 19th I think it’s safe to say they didn’t quite make the delivery on time. Every company on earth should add a minimum of 20% to all their estimates they tell customers. Even companies I’ve worked for in the past, when they tell me a certain product or upgrade will be happening by a certain date they almost always miss the mark.

I think the length of delay is somehow based on the size of the company but trying to figure it out exactly would be tough. It is that fuzzy logic sort of thing. Maybe it could be worked out with chaos theory. I think that a company starts out and things run on time, and then they start to grow and if they are successful they get to a point where the wheels fall off and everything goes to hell for a while. Then they reach their stride and things seem to run smoothly for a while. Then they start to drift. The larger they get and the more successful they are the more they drift and the less it matters. Really big and powerful corporations really don’t have to care.

I remember Lilly Tomlin did a skit on Saturday Night Live where she resurrected her phone operator character from Laugh In. This was just before the brake up of Ma Bell. She was going around unplugging phone lines and disrupting long distance service and finally she said, “We’re the phone company. We don’t care. We don’t have to care.”

Fortunately I’ve become so jaded that I now expect failure at every turn. In those rare instances when a big corporation actually does what it says it’s going to do I consider it a fluke. I called the people today about the sink and they said I should get it by the end of next week. Friday of next week is April 28th so I’m expecting the sink sometime in the first week of May. And I’m not holding my breath for this one.

Oddly enough, given the diatribe above of Corporate America, and the fact that I’m waiting on all these deliveries from UPS, UPS seems to be a company that is run well. Maybe it’s just one of those flukes. Maybe they miss delivery times all over the world but Eureka is in this weird place were everything comes together and all the pieces fall in to place. All I know is that when I get a UPS tracking number, and their web site tells me the package will be at my house on Thursday, the package shows up on Thursday. I can also pretty much guarantee that the truck will pull up to my house some time between 3 and 4 o’clock on Thursday. Maybe they’ve reached their stride or maybe they just haven’t gotten big enough yet that they don't have to care.

I’ve also ordered some burl and curly redwood. A better way to put it was that I was the high bidder for the redwood. Here I am in the heart of redwood country and I’m buying redwood on Ebay. Isn’t that strange. I found burl redwood locally but it was half as much on Ebay. Sometimes the wood goes for really high prices but I happened to get a good deal. The burl slab is going to be cut in to drawer fronts for cabinets that I will be building someday. These are the cabinets that will separate the dining room from the butler’s pantry. The originals were removed back in the 20s. All the woodwork in the dining room is burl and curly redwood so I want the new cabinets to look like they belong. If you’re not sure what burl and curly redwood is you can click on the link here to see the other woodwork in dining room. Of course, I will be posting pictures as soon as the wood arrives. When ever the hell UPS decides to show up with the stuff. Those fat bastards!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On This Day in 1856 & 1906

The event of April 18th, 1906 is pretty easy to figure out. That was the day of the biggest natural disaster to ever hit the US. It was, of course, The Great San Francisco Earthquake. The city was first shaken apart and then it burned out of control for 2 weeks. The death toll was put at more than 3000 people but you just know they didn’t bother to count the Chinese immigrant deaths in China Town, so it was probably much higher.

San Francisco Burns


City Hall Afterwards


The quake is estimated to have been at 7.8 on the Richter Scale and shook for 60 seconds. The one major earthquake I’ve been in was the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. I was only about a half mile from the epicenter for that one. That was the one where the Cypress Structure freeway collapsed and it happened during one of the games of the World Series. That was a 7.1 and shook for 15 seconds. I couldn’t imagine 60 seconds of shaking. Picture yourself in an old VW with bad shocks and there are 6 big football players standing around the car shaking it as hard as they can. Now imagine if that car was your house and it went on for 60 seconds.

The Richter Scale is a very irritating thing to try and wrap your mind around. You would think that a 7.1 quake and a 7.8 quake were sort of close together in the amount of energy released, but it doesn’t work that way. I don’t fully understand it but it is sort of like each full point increase of the scale increases the amount of energy 10 fold. So a 5.0 earthquake is not 20% greater than a 4.0 quake, it is ten times greater. They should really change the whole system if you ask me.

Regardless of what it was on the Richter Scale the 1906 quake released the energy equivalent of 6,000 of the A-Bombs dropped on Hiroshima, and then the so called “Ham & Eggs” fire burned just about everything else to the ground. It is said that someone was trying to cook breakfast a few hours after the earthquake on a stove that was vented through a cracked chimney. That supposedly started the fire and because all the water mains were broken no one could stop it. I believe that about as much as I believe that Mrs. O'Leary's Cow was the cause of The Chicago Fire of 1871.

To stop the fire they tried to create fire breaks by dynamiting a lot of buildings, including many of the homes featured in Artistic Homes of California, but nothing stopped the raging inferno. It took on a life of it’s own sort of like the firestorm that incinerated Dresden during WWII. San Francisco was basically abandon until the fire burned itself out.

What is even more remarkable than the destruction was the pace of cleanup and rebuilding. The city was largely rebuilt in about 3 years. That is something you couldn’t do today with all the bureaucratic red-tape of building codes and design review. Nine years after the quake San Francisco hosted the Worlds Fair with the Panama Pacific Exposition. Anyone think New Orleans will be hosting a Worlds Fair 8 years from now? The rebuilding didn’t come without a cost, though. It is estimated that 15,000 horses were worked to death in the first few months of the clean up operation. The Army was brought in and many people were put to work at gun point.

The quake did a lot more destruction than just wiping SF off the map. The cities of Santa Clara and San Jose also suffered a lot of damage, and even Ferndale, a little town just down the road from me took a beating. Here are a few shots of Ferndale from the 1906 earthquake.








Close-up of the building above



Eureka, suffered some damage but it was relatively minor. The only thing I’ve heard of was a dock that collapsed and the statue on top of the old courthouse was leaning at a about a 45 degree angle after the quake. Below is a picture of the old courthouse. It was later damaged beyond repair (or so they say) in a 1952 earthquake. I think they razed it in the name of progress. In it’s place was built the ugliest concrete courthouse you have ever seen in your life.



Anyway, I also said that something happened on this day in 1856, and while not as momentous as the 1906 Earthquake, it is note worthy all the same. It was on April 18th, 1856 that Eureka, CA officially became a city. So, happy birthday Eureka, and may there be many more to come. You can keep the earthquakes coming but let’s try and keep them below the 6.0 level. You know, just the little ones every now and then to release stress on the fault lines.

The 1906 quake was on The San Andreas fault. That is the type of fault where two plates slide past each other. Up here in Eureka we have the Cascadia subduction zone. That is where one plate dives under the other plate. This is the same type of fault that created the Tsunami in the Indian ocean in 2004. I bet everyone wished they lived here now!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Aaaaaaand It’s Up

I awoke this morning to a strange yellow orb floating just above the horizon. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. As the day progressed the orb climbed higher in the sky. Slowly I regained memories of what this thing was. And then it dawned on me – It was the sun. I had forgotten what it looked like. It was a spectacular sight, but that’s not what I’m talking about when I say It’s Up.

Today, in celebration of the return of blue skies and warm sunshine I decided to hang the fabricated Queen Anne Door. I was going to put it off because now that I have the new side door I don’t use the back door as much, but what the hell, the door is there and I’m still in limbo waiting on the sink for the island. I also had the other deadbolt just begging to be installed.

Here’s what it looks like.


I think those may be the worst colors imaginable but its all I had. I primered and painted the new decoration at the bottom. I wanted to get at least one top coat on before it was subjected to the elements. This was the only exterior latex paint I had and the new house colors will be greens so I painted it green. The door is still that 1950s Pepto Bismol orangeish-pink color. By itself it’s not completely hideous, but together they make me want to barf. Maybe it will deter thieves.

To give you some perspective, the window on the left is the window that is above the kitchen sink. The wall that the door is hanging from I built a year ago in January (15 months ago). This was the small area of the porch that had been opened up in the 20s to add more exterior doors to the house. The door jamb, threshold, and siding and trim all came off the 1920s addition I dismantled.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Slug Fest

We are having a miserable, cold, wet weekend here, and there was a fresh dusting of snow in the hills over night. What ever happened to that In Like and Lion and Out Like a Lamb crap that was supposed to happen with March? And don't give me April showers bring May flowers. At this pint I couldn't care less about flowers. I want sun and lot's of it. The only solace I can take is in knowing that The Bay Area is actually getting more rain than we are this year (Sorry House Made).

Back in the late 70s my family moved to California and we settled in the LA Area. Actually it was worse than LA, we moved to Orange County. Most of the Counties are huge in California, except for Orange County, which for some reason is relatively small. There also happens to be no central area of Orange County. I mean, there’s Disney Land, but that’s not really a population center. There is no There There. It’s just Orange County. It doesn’t really matter which city you live in it all looks the same. It’s all Orange County. It’s like someone knocked over a can of suburbia and it spilled out over the flat landscape and slowly covered orange groves and strawberry fields with a thick, viscous, stucco colored ooze. Cities congealed from the ooze, but it’s like trying to differentiate between different parts of an ameba. It doesn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to get out.

When I left in 1985 I moved to Santa Cruz which is about 75 miles south of San Francisco. All my friends warned me about Santa Cruz, and The Bay Area in general. They all said the same thing, “You know, it rains a lot up there.” They said it as if being (half) baked in the So. California sun was so much better. When compared to So. California, or just about any place on the globe, Santa Cruz is a paradise.

Then after Santa Cruz became so congested and over-priced that I could take it anymore I decided to move on to someplace else. I searched all over the country using realtor web sites, on-line newspapers, and a book called Places Rated Almanac. Places Rated Almanac takes 400 cities and metro areas in the country and rates them on things like affordability, jobs, weather, traffic, schools, etc. They had the cities ranked in each category, and then an over-all ranking. At the time Santa Cruz was one of the top places in the country for weather and 4th worst in the country for housing prices. Starting with the worst, I think it went SF, NY, Honolulu, and then Santa Cruz. Just over the hill from Santa Cruz is Silicon Valley. Need I say more.

Anyway, I searched and read and read and searched and a few cities percolated to the top. I wanted a small city, with a university near by (bring in some culture), and a stock of old housing that was still somewhat affordable. Weather was not a top priority. When you live in paradise it’s hard to find better weather. I looked at places like Burlington, VT, Madison, WI, Missoula, MT, I think someplace in N. Carolina, and maybe a few others. Eureka, CA wasn’t even listed in the almanac because it was too small an area.

I honestly don’t really remember when I first learned about Eureka. I knew nothing about it but I found a realty web site and figured the prices for houses must be typos or something. How was it possible you could buy a Victorian home in a costal city in California for less than $100,000. There had to be something wrong. I found a very charming little 1875 Greek Revival on a web site that was listed for $60,000! I emailed the realtor and made an appointment to see it.

I drove up the following weekend and walked through the little Greek Revival hell hole. The place was a real dump. One might even have called it feculent. I spent the weekend in the city and drove around. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I went back to Santa Cruz and after about a week I made an offer on the house. I got it for $52,000. I quit my job and 3 months later I was living in Eureka. It was a very strange experience. I fixed up the little Greek Revival and ssold it two years alter and then bought the Palatial Petch Manor.

When I told all my friends I was moving to Eureka they all said one of 2 things. It was either, “Where’s Eureka?”, or “You know, it rains a lot up there”. Yes it does rain a lot in Eureka, but I don’t care. I really like it. I mean, weekends like this suck, but we’re at the tale end of a wet winter, so it’s expected that I should be complaining about the weather. Everybody is. It’s a local pastime. It could be worse, right. I mean, I could be in Seattle or something. From what I hear, it really rains a lot up there.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Anytown, USA

Just as important as how an old screen door looks is the sound it makes when it shuts. The initial slam gives a solid thump as the wood screen door hits the wood stop. Then after that there are a series of 4 of 5 thumps with each one getting quieter and closer in succession as the one before it. THUMP….Thump…thump..thump.thump.



This door’s got the right sound. I half expect to see Auntie Em come to the door and pear out through the screen with a worried look on her face as she calls out, “Dorothy! Dorothy!”

I was worried that the springs in the hinges were shot. Two years ago when I removed it from the addition they didn’t seem to work so well. There was a hook on the door that was used to prop open the screen door. The POs would open the door and hook it against the side of the house at maybe a 60 degree angle away from the house and leave it there forever. When I first moved in I unhooked the door and the door would no longer close all the way. It would get about 4 or 5 inches from being fully closed and then stop. I guess the springs have found their natural spot again because they seem dead-on now. Even with out the wooden stop I attached to the door jamb the door seems to hang perfectly.

As I said yesterday, I had to swap the hinges and handle to opposite sides. You can see the putty marks from where I filled the old holes from the hinges and handle. When I moved the handle to the other side I noticed there were two small holes in the wood that matched up with the mounting holes on the handle. Sure enough the screws fit right in. So it would seem that when they trimmed the door they trimmed off the part where the hinges were originally mounted, then mounted the hinges on the other side and moved the handle to the opposite side.

Now, 80 or 100 years later all I had to do was click my heels together 3 times and everything’s back were it should be.

And Mortimer too?

Yes Mortimer too.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What I Didn’t Do Today

Reading that blog title you just know that this one is going to be non-stop action, so hang on to your butts.

I didn’t get the screen door hung today. As soon as I held it up to the door it was obvious the hinges where on the wrong side. I wish had noticed this yesterday because I would have remedied the situation then and I could have hung the door today.

The screen door has a distinct front, back, top, and bottom, so I can’t simply flip it around or anything. You also want the screen door hinges to be on the same side as the door hinges otherwise it becomes awkward to hold the screen open and unlock the door. So the hinges had to move. You would think that it was a simple matter of removing the hinges and moving them over to other side and reattaching them. No way. Nothing is that simple.

You if recall the screen door had been trimmed and the width was reduced by a few inches. It was obvious this had been done because the door had lost it’s symmetry. On one side the rail (or is it a stile) was 4-inches wide and on the other it was about 2.5-inches wide. I had to add about an inch and a half to the other side, not only to regain the symmetry, but also so it would fit the new side door.

Not only were the hinges mounted on the worng side, but they were mounted on the 4-inch side and I needed them to be on the other side. This is the side I had just repaired. When I was making the repair I wasn’t anticipating that the inch and a half sliver of wood I attached would have hinges attached to it. If I attach the hinges and hang the door then all the weight of the door will be hanging off this sliver of wood and suddenly the repair I did becomes crucial. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good repair, but was it good enough? I didn’t feel good about it.

Also today I noticed that the two boards that make up the upper right-hand corner were completely separated. The door is put together with mortise and tenon construction and one of the tenons was completely snapped off. Because the screen on the door is a heavy wire mesh as opposed to a flimsy nylon screen I didn’t notice this break. It needed to be fixed.

So I basically had three chores to perform today on the screen door before I could hang it. I had to fix the broken tenon. I had to reinforce the repair from yesterday so it could be the new hinge side. And finally, I had to swap the hinges and handle so they were on different sides. I won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say it required glue and nails and the glue needs to set for at least 24 hours before I can hang the door. So the whole thing is resting comfortably in the garage waiting for it’s impending hang.

One note of interest. Because I was using glue on wood I needed to get the paint off first. Naturally, I got out the trusty heat gun and went to work (Ahhh, the heady aroma of lead paint. Is there anything better in this world?). As with just about everything on the outside of the house there was only 3 layers of paint (thank you asbestos siding). When I got down to the first layer of “paint” (I’m not sure if it is paint) I found the same black, or is it very, very, dark green “paint” that I found on the exterior window sills. That’s right – black paint. It is so dark I suspected at first that it was some sort of primer, but I’m not really sure.

Even if it is dark, dark green it still must have been eye-popping. Even if it darkened with age it had to start out dark. Can you imagine my house (see picture some where) with a basic 2-tone green paint - picture forest green on the first floor and then pale green on the second floor – and then a trim color that is so dark it might have been almost black! Also take in to consideration that the house is on a very visible corner lot. I mean, there might have been horse and buggy wrecks out front from passers-by gawking and craning their necks at the contrast of the dark trim against the pale green paint on the upper floors. Well, maybe not actual wrecks, but still, it would have been a site to see.

I can’t wait to paint the house.

The other interesting thing to consider. If this screen door has the same 3 layers of paint as the window sills, all ending with this black “paint” layer, this would indicate that the screen door is original to 1895. We know, or at least I know, that the window sills are original to 1895. The screen door is kind of an intersting design. It is nothing too over-the-top Victorian, but then neither is the house. Regardless of the style you want to call, it seems to fit the style of the house. And now that it’s been repaired it seems to fit this side door perfectly. Everything seems to indicate that I am be putting an 1895 screen door back in it’s original place. I think it’s neat.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Then It’s Settled, I’m Going To Hell

I think it’s in The Old Testament, some where in the back, if you use a certain translation, it does say that if you drill in to an old door you will go to hell. In fact, if I remember the passage correctly, it says that your soul will become a urinal cake in the Devils toilet. I’m sure it’s going to be very unpleasant, but I needed a deadbolt. A mortal guy’s gotta do, what a mortal guy’s gotta do, right?

Well, today at the risk of damning my eternal soul to hell I drilled the side door for a deadbolt. The whole thing was really stressful. Not so much about going to hell, there was a good chance I was going there anyway, I was really only stressing about the door. You only get one shot to get it right. As I’ve said many times before, you can’t uncut wood. In the end, though, it came out good. The door locks and I no longer have a scrap piece of lumber nailed up there to keep it locked.

Because of the wall I built in the butler’s pantry the real back door to the house is kind of awkward to get to right now so this side door will become the primary door for the back of the house. I can get to the other back door through the kitchen, but I have it blocked with plywood right now to keep the dust out of the kitchen.

Even though this lock may doom me to an eternity of red-hot golden showers I think it looks nice. I bought two of these from House of Antique Hardware and had them keyed the same. The other will go on the Queen Anne door I fabricated last week. Here’s some photos.

Here are the holes I drilled. I’m not sure if that’s fire or brimstone coming through from the outside.


Here is what it looks like from the inside.


I’m not sure way this photo has a blue tint to it. I’m thinking it’s the work of the devil.




Tomorrow I want to put on the screen door seen above. This came off the 1926 addition I removed, but the hardware looks to be earlier. It was originally a 32-inch screen door, but somebody - maybe my future urinal cake buddy – cut 2-inches off one side so it would fit a smaller door. I added the wood back yesterday with screws and glue. The new side door faces south-east and has no porch over it, so it needs all the protection it can get.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The $75 Queen Anne Door

I went and got the brad nailer today. I bought my first Harbor Freight tool, so we’ll see how long it lasts. Harbor Freight tools a really inexpensive. I’ve known about their on-line site for a while but they opened a brick & mortar place near by recently. The nailer was only $14.99, which seems ridiculously cheap. Hell, the box of brads cost $7.00. It seems to work ok, so I guess that’s all that matters.

Anyway, on to the door. I decided to trim the quartered corner blocks a hair. Having it stick out from the door that ¼-inch or so would drive me nuts. It still has some definition, though, so it should look fine once it's painted. Getting the rays all nailed on is tricky because you want them spaced properly. I nail the 2 outside ones on first and then hold the other five on with one hand and nail quickly before they slip.

Still needs putty and paint




As Norm would say, “This was a fun project. Now here’s what we’re doing next week…”

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Queen Anne-ization of a Door

Last week I mentioned how I had purchased a 1950s door that I wanted to use as a new back door. I won’t bore you with all the details again, but the basic idea is to use leftover rays from the sunbursts designs for the exterior of the house to create new sunburst designs on the bottom panel of the door. Well, I made some more progress today.

The Door


The first idea to use a store bought bulls eye corner block to make the “sun” part of the sunburst didn’t work to well. The new corner blocks are too wimpy in size. Once I cut the block in to a circle and then quartered it there was not enough room on the arc to get the rays around. Instead, I went down to a salvage place and found some old beat up corner blocks to use. I bought two, but ended up only using one. Here is a series of pictures that shows how it worked.

Wimpy New Block


Meaty Old Blocks


The difference in size is dramatic


Wimpy


Meaty


The old corner blocks may even be too meaty. Normally an old corner block will be about 7/8 of an inch thick. For some reason these are an inch and a quarter thick. They are supper meaty. I think that they may have been an exterior element instead of an interior corner block. Anyway, they may stick out too much but because of the way they made them they will be hard to trim. You can see in the cut away that the center groove is very deep in to the block. If I trimmed it I would have to cut from the top and that would take away from the design.



Ideally that would be flush or just below the outside trim piece.


The other thing I had to deal with today was the panel on the door. The panel is a 3/8-inch flat piece of fir. It floats in groves in the rails and stiles of the doors. The rails and stiles have an ogee detail on the edge where they meet the panel. I needed to get rid of this. The sunburst should fit flush against the edges of the door. I got out the Roto-zip and cut out the ogee off. I then got a piece of cap molding to replace it. The cap molding has a little edge on it so it will hold the panel in and give me a flat edge for the sunburst.







Because the panel is only 3/8-inch thick I can't just drive nails in to it to hold the sunburst design on. I don’t want the nails to stick out the other side because the other side will be visible in side the house. I’m going to use weather-proof glue and brads to hold it on. Brads are like thin nails with no head, and unless Norm Abram has been lying to me all these years this should work. The idea is that the brads old everything in place while the glue sets up. The glue is ultimately what will hold the design on the door. Even though the door is an exterior door, it is under a deep porch and will never really get wet.

The only other thing I did today was strip all the paint off the panel. I want a nice surface to glue the sunbursts too. Tomorrow I’m going to go buy a pneumatic brad nailer. This is an item that has been on the shopping list from some time. I'm really going to need it when I attempt to build the new cabinets that separate the dining room from the butler’s pantry (he writes with a nervous grin)

Tomorrow: Assembly

Friday, April 07, 2006

Pictures of My Stools!

I needed two stools for the kitchen island. Naturally, I went on-line first. I found a few places that carried a dizzying array a of stools. Who knew there were so many to choose from. Wouldn’t you know it, the ones that even came remotely close to looking like something I would want in the kitchen were like $300 each! That’s a lot for a stool. It would be nice if I could get some stool samples to try out first. You know, really squish your butt down in to the sample to see if it feels right. No stool samples, though. I couldn’t find any stools locally like the ones on-line to try out either.

Even if I could find stool samples locally like the ones on-line, $300 is a lot for a stupid stool for the kitchen. I’m way too cheap for that. Instead, I just went down to a place in town that sells unfinished pine furniture. They have very basic stools to chose from. My feeling is, if I’m too cheap to by really nice stools I should just get something inexpensive and try and make them nice.

The real thing to watch out for with inexpensive furniture is poor craftsmanship. Nobody wants loose stools in the kitchen. Could you imagine sitting on top of loose stools? No, you want firm stools. That’s the way to go. So, at the pine place I sat down on the stools and really wiggled around on them. They were surprisingly firm stools. And at only $25 a piece, I was very happy.

Once I got the stools home I decided to paint them with the same green paint I painted the cast iron sink brackets that help support the cantilevered counter. Here’s a picture of them. It’s spray paint and the paint is still fresh so the stools carry a bit of an odor, but I guess that’s to be expected.

Pee-Eww! I always assumed my stools wouldn't stink


I think they look nice. Who knows, maybe I’ll find something better at a garage sale someday. For now they’ll do. I’m thinking, though, that the hard seat might be uncomfortable, so I’m going to be on the look-out for some small padded seat cushions to put on them. You know, sort of a little stool softener.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Marble Finale

I wrote a few days ago how I performed a few more tests on the marble. I wasn’t doing this as scientifically as the first round of tests. It was just sort of, slap on some mustard and if I happen to think about it I’ll rinse it off in an hour or so and see how it looks. I think I mentioned I did this with coffee, cranberry juice, and mustard. Sorry, I didn’t have any Red Zinger Tea and I wasn’t willing to cut myself to test blood.

All in all the results were fairly conclusive that while marble can stain, you really have to brutalize it to stain it. Furthermore, the tests proved that if you use a good sealer it can stand up to just about anything. Tonight I took one last photo of the test subject. I was looking for a small tuxedo for the final shot, but I couldn’t find anything, so here is our hero in the buff.



While I was looking at it I noticed there was a blemish that spanned both sides. That is to say, it showed up on both the treated and untreated side. It wasn’t so much a stain as it was a subtle outline of something….a ghost of an image. You could see it best when you looked at the marble at an angle in the light.

I went back and looked at the pictures of the original battery of tests and the only thing that came close to looking like it may have left this mark was the lime test. It wasn’t even all the lime juice but just the two spots where the two lime wedges sat for 10 minutes. They seem to have left a mark on both sides. I’m not sure if you can see it in the picture, but towards the center of the untreated side is not quite as dark as the rest of the untreated side.

It seems that on the untreated side the lime juice looks like it cleaned the marble a little bit. At the same time, though, it did dull the polished surface just a bit. It is something to think about, though, if you have marble that is badly stained in a small area. The stain may only extend a few microns in to the marble. By applying the lime to the surface you may be able eat away the very top of the surface and maybe remove the stain. I’d rather have a dull surface than a stained surface.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

On Sinks, Typos, Doors, and Marble

Well, the sink isn’t here yet, so the grand finale to the kitchen island is in a perpetual state of unfinishedness (Is that a word.....spell-check will tell me. Spell check knows all). I guess it’s just as well because my router was shooting blue flames out the bottom two days ago when I made some door-stop for the new side door. If I hadn’t spent $675 on a root canal this afternoon, getting a new router would not be an issue, but I did, so it is.

I would like to apologize for yesterday’s post. The number of typos in that one was appalling, even by my standards. (maybe there all like that and I just don’t notice) If I wasn’t so lazy I would go back and fix it but….what are you gunna do. It amazes me that I can read something a few times over and still miss so many mistakes. Is there a name for this disease besides stupidity. I know I’m not stupid, but man, it sure does look that way sometimes. Maybe I do need to hire an editor.

I got the third door in the butler’s pantry hung today. This is the door on the wall I built a few days…or was it weeks ago…I forget now. The wine to dull the pain of the root canal is starting to kick in. Anyway, at some point I built a wall and I hung a door. This reduced sized butler’s pantry now has 3 doors spanning 5 decades. There is the new side door, which is the 1880s door from The Ellory Building. It has 1895 hinges on it. There is the 1895 Eastlake door that leads to the kitchen. It has 1880s reproduction hinges on it. (I’ve lost track of the Eastlake doors so this may actually be an original door to the house. Either way, I’ll say it is if anyone asks) And finally, there is the new door in the new wall which I hung today. This door (sorry, no pictures, it’s late and I'm in pain) is a door from the 1926 addition. It is the style with 5 horizontal panels, and it has the original 1926 ball-tipped hinges on it. If this room could walk it would be a walking anachronism.

The whole room is just an odd assortment of doors. It kind of bothers me, but at the same time it doesn’t. It’s not a room that will be seen a whole lot so I’m not going to waste a lot of coveted Eastlake doors on it. I’d rather have an odd mix of doors in this room than in the upstairs hallway where all the bedrooms and closets are. I mean, really, what are my options. Unless pristine Eastlake doors start falling from the sky my options are few. I could spend thousands of dollars having custom doors made (snicker) or have a room that, if it could walk, would be a walking anachronism. Maybe I can charge admission and show it off as a freak of nature.

As for the marble, I’ve been doing more torture tests over the last few weeks…or has it been days. Anyway, I slathered on some mustard – no effect. I drenched it in coffee - I actually think I heard it laugh. And I also attempted to drown it in cranberry juice. Nothing changed. I now think that marble is the Rasputin of stones.

The untreated side seems to get very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, gradually darker in tones. Some might actually call it a patina. The treated side remains the same pearly white with subtle lines of gray and black just as the day it was cut from the quarry that produce Michelangelo’s David (Yea, right, in my dreams).

I think it is obvious what is going on here people. There is a massive conspiracy against the marble workers and lovers of the world. I think it is perpetrated by The Global Granite Consortium, of which, I’m not sure that one exists, the CIA (they’re in on everything), and Exxon-Mobile. I’m not sure how Exxon-Mobile fits in to it, but you can be sure their in on it some how. So, we all must go forth and spread the word. Marble Lovers Of The World Unite! We must hang together or we will surly hang apart. That is the only way we can beat back these ridiculous lies and the constant stream of misinformation that marble stains easily.

End Communication.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The New Back Door

When I first bought The Petch House is was covered in asbestos siding. The siding is actually mostly cement with asbestos added to it. The cement and asbestos is mixed together and formed in to shingles that are about 2-feet wide and 1-foot high. I suspect this stuff was put on the house shortly after WW II. When they put on the asbestos siding they ripped off some of the gingerbread, and sawed off parts of the windowsills so it would lay flat against the original siding. It really removed all of the character from the house. I guess this was a popular thing to do at the time and a lot of people refer to as “Eisenhowering” the house. They Eisenhowered the hell out of this place.

With Asbestos. Eewww!


Without. Ahhh!


When I was looking at the place during escrow there was a part of one asbestos shingle missing on one of the attic gables. I could see a few fish scale shingles showing through. That was all needed to see to know that there was a nice house under all the asbestos siding. Once I owned the place it was a top priority to get the asbestos siding off the house. I had to get the two apartments over the garage fixed up and rented first but as soon as that was done I started ripping off the asbestos siding. It was a big job. If I remember correctly there was 5300 pounds of the stuff hanging on the house.

Once I got it off I discovered that aside from needing a paint job most of the original siding was very much in tact and in very good shape. The first floor has 1X8 ship-lap siding. The second floor has octagon shaped shingles, and the 3 attic gables have fish scale shingles. There are also little sections on the hipped roof that have fish scale shingles as well.

I could tell what had been removed from the house because I could see outlines in the paint of what had been where. The was crown molding under all the window sills that was removed and the corners of the window sills had been sawed off. The second story windows had a simple sun burst design over each window that was left alone. They were able to get the shingles to lay over the design with out cracking. In a few places they used small pieces of the 1X3 crown molding that was removed from under the window sills to fill in voids in the second story sun burst designs. Sometimes the edge of a shingle would land in a gap in the design so they used a small piece of the crown molding to fill in. I was able to use these scraps as a pattern to remake the crown molding.

The down stairs windows had a more elaborate sunburst designs over them. They were larger and stuck out more so they were removed. The “sun” part of the design ways made up of a half of a turned bull’s eye and the “rays” were tapered, turned dowels. They actually removed all but one of the downstairs sunbursts. The one that remained was in an awkward place because of the 2 story addition that was added in the 1920s. This was good because now I had an exact pattern of what was there.

Scar Tissue
You can see the image of the sunburst and the butchered window sills on the second story


All Better


The Omega Burst


I thought about trying to do plaster molds so I got some latex and made a casting of the one remaining sunburst. It didn’t work to well for me so I decided to have them remade in wood. That is the proper way anyway. The plaster was a money saving device and I’m kind of glad now that it didn’t work. I think I needed 9 of the sunbursts remade. Before I went down to the mill I went around a measured all the windows to make sure they were all the same. It turns the two windows that are butted up against each other in the back parlor are a few inches narrower than the rest.

A Little Bit Smaller


The height of the design was the same on all of them. The designs are made up of 15 rays and so the 3 horizontal rays on either side needed to be slightly shorter on those 2 windows. You can’t simply saw down the rays because that would make them wider at the base. They are tapered, remember. There is this very precise ratio between the amount of taper in the “rays” and the diameter of the “sun”. It is a pretty crowded design and if the rays are to fat they won’t all fit around the sun.

I went down to Blue Ox Mill with my latex mold and ordered up the sun bursts. I needed 7 large and 2 small. They charged me a little bit more for the large ones than they did for the small ones. That’s fine by me except when I got them home they were all small. I started to put the first one up and noticed it didn’t quite fill the space. It just didn’t look right. There was also the issue of being charge for something I didn’t get. I headed back to the mill.

The folks at Blue Ox are nice but sometimes their business skills are a little off. I admire the hell out of the work they do but sometimes dealing with them is a major pain. I started to explain the problem and the first thing Viviana asks is, “Did you supply us with the measurements”. I said, “No, I supplied you with an exact mold made of latex”. It didn’t take long for them to come clean and admit that they screwed up. As I said earlier, it was just the 3 horizontal pieces on either side that were too short. They made me 42 more rays (6 rays X 7 sunbursts) and I was able to put up the designs. The best part is, they never asked for the old rays back, and this is where the new back door comes in.

The back door opening is 34X82. That is a big space. I’ve been trying to find and old door to go there for a very long time. When I rebuilt this part I just got a B-Grade door (factory second) from the local lumber yard and slapped it in to place. I don’t really like it. When I was out looking for a new side door last week I found the door below at one of the salvage places.

The door is exactly the right size, and I like the glass because this part of the house doesn’t get a lot of light, but it’s a little plain. The door is from the 1950s so my plan is to de-Eisenhower it with the remaining rays from when the mill screwed up. I can add two corner sunburst to that bottom panel and sort of Queen Anne-ize the door. I bought a bulls-eye corner block at the hardware store for $5 so I can create some quarter-round bulls-eyes to go in the corners and then fit the rays around. It’s going to be tight but I think it will work.

Here’s the door


Here’s the corner block I will quarter.
I will need to cut it to a circle and quarter it


A mock-up of the sun bursts. They will go in that bottom panel of the door and face the street. Take THAT Eisenhower!