Friday, January 21, 2011

It Just Might Work

As the old saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. The method I'm using to build these windows is probably the least complicated way to do it. That also means that this method probably makes the weakest joints. I don't write this to point out that I'm making inferior windows, but rather I don't want someone to read this and think that this is the best or only way to make windows like this.

Now, I don't think these windows are going to fail any time soon, but I will be the first to admit there are better ways to do this. I chose this method because it is a nice balance between the time I can put in to the project and the skill sets I have. I get compliments on this blog regarding my carpentry skills, but really, I am no master craftsman. I accept that.

On my windows the only muntins that are solid pieces of wood are the 2 long stiles running vertically in the center. All of the rails are coped in to the stiles, and then all muntins are coped in to the rails and stiles of the frame. Rials are members that run horizontally and stiles run vertically.

There are ways to make these where the 4 main rial and stile muntins are all single pieces of wood. You could also do it where the rails and stiles of both the frame and the muntins are joined by mortise and tenons. All of my joinery is done with coping, and then secured with glue and brads. Not the strongest, but it will have to do.

Changing the bearing on the bottom gives you a different dept of cut

I used a rabbeting bit on a router to cut the rabbets where the glass will sit. It is a 1/4X1/4 inch rabbet, which I think is about as small as I could get it. You could also cut the rabbets before assembly, but that is more of a challenge. The problem with cutting them with the router after assembly is that the router leaves round corners that must be chiseled out to square.

There is a tool called a corner chisel, which I own, that will do this in one pass, but the radius left by the rabbeting bit I used is too large to work with the corner chisel I own. This means I need to work with a hammer and chisel to square up the rabbets where the glass sits. It is a lot of tedious work. On the plus side, if the coped joints I did with brads and glue hold up to the hammer and chisel I can be pretty sure that they won't fail from the door opening and closing several times a day for the years or decades to come.

After the chiseling is done I can paint the side that will face outside and oil and shellac the side that will face inside. Then it is just a matter of waiting for the glass to come in, which I ordered today. I went with the blue textured glass in the center and then red and glue chip around the edges. The guy at the glass shop told me he would have it ready by Wednesday.

If I can get the glass installed Wednesday evening then I can take it to the glass shop on Thursday to have the glazing done. I've done a lot of glazing myself, but I'm not really good enough to do it on these windows. There are 26 pieces of glass and when people knock on my front door they will be inches from it. I want the glazing to be crisp and sharp and I know my limitations.

If - and that's a big if – If I can get the windows back by Friday I can install the windows in the front doors next Saturday.


Jayne said...

I can't wait to see the finished windows. They're going to be beautiful.

Greg said...

Fingers crossed!

slateberry said...

OK, for the past two days I've been meaning to leave a comment asking about your joining methods--I was guessing glue and brads, but I was wondering about the whole mortise and tenon and coping thing. So, thank you for anticipating my question!
Did you plan your brad placement to avoid the chiseling in the corners, or did you just clip off any brad that you ran into while chiseling?
Also, I'm assuming that most things you do, you research well first. If you have a favorite book or website that you use for a project, it would be great if you mention it. But I hesitate to suggest this--on the one hand, I'd benefit; on the other, what with the web and all, readers can and should get off their toucas and do their own research. Also if you reveal your sources, it might spoil some of the mystique of your blog :-)
OK, (last question I promise) if you have a favorite coped muntin, could you post a close up of the joint? I have to replace a muntin that a po hacked out, somehow seeing what you've done might get me over my stage fright with the coping saw.
ps--you probably know this, but it's better to use oil-based paint on the side that the glazing will touch. I believe the glazing lasts longer when used with oil paints.

Greg said...

No, I don't have a favorite site for information about this project. Like most, I Google a few key words and read a little bit here and there.

The coping is actually done with a router bit. I own a coping saw and gave up on using it shortly after I bought it.

You buy a pair of router bits that are made for this work. There is a rail bit and a stile bit and they are opposites - or would it be mirrors - of each other. Either way, one cuts the profile that is seen and the other cuts the coped(?) profile that mates the two together.

lauren said...

the windows look absolutely beautiful. Great work Greg.

for slateberry: have a lot of project resources I've found.