Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Frankenstein Hutch

As some of you may know, I'm really in to salvage and used materials. I think you get a better bang for you buck, and with my budget I can use all the bang I can get with every buck I spend. Anyway, here are some before shots of my latest creation. With any luck it will be finished and assembled in the kitchen in about a month.

This is the bottom half. My neighbor 2 houses down was going to throw it away. Their house is 1928 and I think this was original to the house. It had been in their garage and was pretty nasty. Yesterday I sanded it down and painted it with the same Honied White I painted the trim. I also had to add the trim piece at the bottom to hide the toe kick. it is in great shape. All mortise and tenon construction and made out of fir. The inside will be painted dark green with paint left over from another project.

There are the drawers. The old hardware was shot (see below) so I removed it, filled the holes, and then repainted the fronts. The insides will also be painted a dark green. Two of the drawers have neat wooden dividers.

The 2 big bottom cabinets were lined with metal (zinc?) but they were ruined when someone left some cans of something in them and the rusted. Bummer.

The is the original hardware, also rusted. They do not seem to be brass, but a thin tin or something. They had a shiny finish, possibly chrome, maybe nickel. I'm not sure exactly when chrome replaced nickel as the metal of choice for plating things.

This will be the top half. It came out of my house and was used as part of the wall that divided the kitchen and the bathroom that was added. Judging from the trim on it and the style of the glass front doors (next picture) it is from the 1890s. There are 2 more drawers on the bottom and then 2 big glass front doors for the top part. I will need to strip the paint, fill some nail holes, and then repaint. It shouldn't be too bad because it was originally shellacked and that is fairly easy to strip. This is made of redwood.

Here are the glass front doors. I am missing one pane, but the other three are nice wavy glass with little bubbles and flaws. Very cool!

This is some 1x6 crown molding I salvaged from exterior of the 1922 addition I removed last fall. This will go around the top of it. I have about 30 feet of this molding so I will also use it around other cabinets.

This is the "new" hardware. The 2 large pulls will go on the drawers on top half of the hutch, and 5 smaller ones will go on the 5 drawers of the bottom half. It is weird that I bought these 7 pulls in 3 different transactions, but they all have the same pattern. It must have been popular at the time. The little cabinet latch (there will be 3 on the hutch) is a restored antique I bought from Ed Donaldson Hardware (~Drool~). I bought a matching set of 10 so all the cabinets in the kitchen will have them. It is interesting that the restored antiques where actually a few dollars less than high quality reproductions.

When the whole thing is put together it will be about 5.5-feet wide and a little over 9-feet tall. It will have cost me about $120.00 for an antique "Victorian" hutch.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Thinking Some More

Just to clarify yesterdays blog entry: I’m not loosing sleep over the corner block, but I do over my own mistakes. I think I was trying to point out that even back then they made mistakes and most of the time we don't notice them, and when we do, we consider them “character”. Perhaps I did not write that as well as I should have, or maybe I wasn’t even sure what I was writing (this is more likely), but reviewing it made me think some more.

I wonder how we will be viewed in 100 years for what we are doing now? Will this time be viewed as the Great DIY Era in American architecture or interior design? Granted, none of us invented the DIY attitude, but it seems that a lot of homeowners are doing work that is of a higher quality than what was done 30 or 40 years ago. Am I right, and if so what can we attribute it too? I think there are a number of things.

1) I grew up mainly in the suburbs. My Mom was an interior designer, and our houses always looked better than most, but we lived in Ranch style homes and I was never exposed to the great Craftsman and Victorian interiors of our past. Once I saw it, I was like, “Wow! I’m not in Kansa anymore.” I knew what I wanted, whether I could afford it or not. As it turned out I couldn’t really afford it and that is why I have the house I do and why I’ve become this hardcore DIYer.

2) The internet. I have learned soooo much on-line. Not only from fellow bloggers, but from the great forums and other sites that just post information about how to tile and put up crown molding. True, there were always books on the subjects, but the internet has made it much more accessible, at least for me.

3) Cable shows. This doesn’t really apply to me because for most of my life I’ve lived without cable, and the rest of the time I’ve only had basic cable, but I’ve heard of all the shows, and they have to have had an impact.

4) The Big Box home centers. Again, this one doesn’t apply to me because I’ve never been in one, but I hear everyone go one and on about the selection, so this must have been an impact as well.

So how will we be viewed? Will we be included with the Arts & Crafts Movement of the early 20th Century and the Aesthetics Movement of the late 19th Century, or will it be something else?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

How Perfect Does It Need To Be?

I’m not a perfectionist, I know it. I like things to be done well, and there are something’s that bother me more than others. I like tight joints in finish woodwork. Gaps in joints really bother me. Other things I can let slide. I know my limitations when it comes to working on the house, and for the most part I except them, and I try to live with them. I'll admit that it's not always easy. I am my own worst critic. I have a bad habit of first pointing out my mistakes to people and then showing them the things I'm proud of. Some things seem to bother me a lot more at 12:00 at night when I’m laying in bed then they do at 12:00 in the afternoon when I’m working on a project.

Someone made a comment on another one of my blog entries about some vintage millwork in a house. After paying close attention to some milling while trying to duplicate it, this person noticed that it wasn’t really that accurate. It is not something you would notice if you were just sitting in the room absorbing the ambiance. If you really start to look, though, you can find mistakes in a lot of things. So maybe I shouldn’t be beating myself up so much for my minor mistakes. Maybe partial ignorance can bring enough bliss to satisfy me.

I’ve been working on the kitchen since the late 50s now and I did a lot of paint stripping. I had to go over everything 5 times. First the heat gun, chemical stripper, sanding, primer, and finally paint. I had my face inches from every inch of woodwork in that room for weeks on end. If there were any flaws I noticed them. I noticed nicks and scratches, and some loose joints, but nothing to major. I except those kinds of things on 110 year old woodwork. It is what we call “character”.

Then today I noticed something about one of the corner blocks that I didn’t notice before. I don’t see how I missed it. If I had milled this piece of wood with this flaw it would have gnawed at me and I probably would have considered it a failure and tossed in the waste bucket. I walked by this corner block every day for three years and did all the work of stripping a repainting it. I’m amazed I never saw it.

The picture below shows the block with some “character” but if you’ll notice the center bulls eye is not centered. It is 3/8 of an inch off. Three-eights of an inch doesn’t sound like much, but for finish woodwork, it’s too much. This is probably not going to help me sleep better at night, and I will probably still obsess over my own mistakes, but it is nice to know that even the professional “master craftsman” of 100 years ago made mistakes.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Gonna Buy Five Copies For My Mother!

No, I’m not going to be on the cover of The Rolling Stone, but me and my house are going to be in the paper. The BIG GUEST that I’ve been alluding to for the past week or so is the reporter for the local newspaper, The Times Standard. Here is how it happened.

As you may or may not recall a few months ago I had my house listed on the Local Register of Historic Places. I had to fill out a short form down at City Hall with basic information about the house and they also asked me to write about the house and any history of the house that I know. Well, because I’m obsessed and neurotic I wrote a ton. At the Preservation Commission meeting, where the Commission decided whether my house was worthy to be added to the list (of course it was) the City Planner said that she had never received more calls on something dealing with the Preservation Commission than she had on my application to add my house to the list. When asked by the chairperson whether these comments where mostly positive or negative, the City Planner replied that they were mostly just my neighbors wondering how this would effect their property. It turns out the notice of my application was sent to everyone with-in 300 yards of my property.

At any rate, none of the neighbors are affected by this at all, and the house made it on the list with almost no complaints (Thank you Mr. Droze). I was very excited about being added to the list and started the process of trying to add my house to the National Register of Historic Places. I also told just about anyone that would listen to me for 5 seconds that my house was now on the Local Register. I got a lot of strange comments. Several people thought I was now getting special tax breaks for the city or county. Others thought I would have to get a special permit to change the carpeting or paint the bathroom. Other people told me it was a dumb thing to do because no one would want to buy my house because of all the “restrictions” that the city would put on the new owners.

I explained to them that the only “restrictions” that would be placed on anyone would be what could be done to the facade that faces the street. They wouldn’t be able to pry off the gingerbread, put vinyl siding on, or add huge plate glass windows. In short, they wouldn’t be able to butcher the outside of the house that I have worked so hard on to restore. And if someday I do go to sell the house, I wouldn’t want to sell it to someone that would want to do those things. As far as the interior goes - anything goes. Even if the house is on the National Register of Historic Places you can gut all rooms and interior walls, build a giant pink pyramid, sit under it naked, and eat dog poop. Nobody cares. There are no restrictions on what you can do to the interior or back of the house. What all this proved to me is that there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation of Historic Preservation.

But, let’s get back to the newspaper.

Once a month there is an insert called Restore & Preserve in the local paper. It is usually 8 to 12 pages long, and mostly focused on local architecture, but also does some pieces on cultural history. I read it front to back every month. After reading the issue that came out shortly after listing my house I emailed the editor with a story idea to talk about what it means to have your house listed on the Local Register of Historic places. I thought it would be a good opportunity to educated people on it, and as it turns out, a lot of people could use the education.

The editor emailed me back a few weeks later and said it sounded like a good idea and why not do the story specifically about me and my house. I was a little hesitant at first. I really don’t care for the spot light. Also, most of the houses in Restore & Preserve are, well, restored and preserved. My house – the feculent hell-hole – is far from being restored. I wrote her back and told her about the condition of my house and suggested she go and look at some photos on my web site first. If she still thought it was a good idea, email me again, and we would talk. I didn’t hear from her for several weeks and I was a bit relieved. I figured she had seen the pictures and thought twice about doing a story on my house. Well, last week she emailed me again and suggested we get together. We made an appointment for today at 2:30.

She was here for about an hour and a half with a photographer. I can talk (and write) endlessly about my house and I did. They got a picture of me standing in front of the little door I made. Not sure if I like that or not. It went well, I guess. It is supposed to be in the July or August edition. I’m going to email here some additional “before” shots, along with the paper work for the National Register of Historic Places. I’m going to ask her if she’ll put it in the August edition. That is the same month I’m having the big shin-dig at my house with all the other old house owners. I’m sure they’ll all be green with envy over me having my house in the paper. Should be fun.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I’m Pooped!

I really got a lot done today. Cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, cleaned. The house is a lot less feculent and should look nice for the BIG GUEST tomorrow. Also, I entered a contest to get my house painted. Considering the house has not been painted in 80 years or so it would be great if I won. When I pulled off the asbestos siding I found a circa 1920s paint job underneath and it is just falling off the house.

The contest is going on at the local Ace Hardware store. I’m not sure if it is really contest so much as a give-away. You take down a picture of your house and write a paragraph saying why you should get a free paint job, and I guess they just pick one somehow. They are going to be using Ben Moore paint, so I guess that’s good. It said something like $5,000.00, which isn’t enough for a good paint job, but what the hell, $5,000.00 towards a good paint job is not bad. Wish me luck.

I got just about everything done on yesterday's list except the thing-a-ma-jig for the stove vent. I’m going to have to wait until the stove is in the room. I was missing one double-switch plate cover so I ordered that from House of Antique Hardware. I also ordered a GFCI plate in the same style. I’m going to be running coax and phone in to the same box in the kitchen and the interface uses a GFCI type cover.

I also hung the lights and they look pretty cool. They did not screw around with these things 100 years ago. The sockets are all made of heavy porcelain and they are put together with tiny, tiny screws that look like they were made by a watch maker. One of the chandeliers has Thomas Edison patents on the inside of the sockets. There are 2 chandeliers like the one in the picture below, and the flush mount fixture is off to one side in a small alcove (not the alcove that leads to the backdoor).

The flush mount came with the milk-glass acorn shade, and the one chandelier came with 2 antique milk-glass shades (should have photographed with the lights off). The other chandelier (not shown) had no shades so I ordered two very similar milk-glass shades from Rejuvenation this morning. The 2 chandeliers are not identical but they are a very close match. The one shown has little brass leaves on the arms that can’t really be seen in the photo. All 3 have great patina.

I’m going to go do a little touch-up painting and call it a day. I’m pooped!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Big Weekend

Big weekend at The Petch House. It is just going to be a beehive of activity. Here is the plan:

1) Finish painting in the Kitchen (the goal to be finished on Wednesday was a little too ambitious).

2) Rewire the last of three light fixtures and get them hung. Logically I should wait until the floor is sanded, but I don’t care. I’ve been staring at them for more than a year now and I want to see them up. Plus, they’ll look good for the BIG GUEST on Monday.

3) Put up all the light switch and outlet covers. I may have to order a few more due to some last minute changes in the kitchen. Two years ago when I rewired the house I put in push-button light switches in every room and bought these nice cast brass covers from House of Antique Hardware. At that time, I tried to anticipate what was going to be in the kitchen and I bought all the cover plates for that room as well. Some where in this feculent hell-hole (This is my new favorite term. From now one when someone asks where I live I will tell them, “Oh, you know, its that feculent hell-hole at 9th and M. Yes, that’s the one.”) is a box of outlet and switch covers for the kitchen. I don’t think I’ve seen them in over a year.

4) Put un the cast iron thing-a-ma-jig for the stove vent on the wall.

5) Sunday I’m going to clean, clean, clean, clean, clean. I’m hoping by Monday the house will just be a hell-hole and no longer feculent.

There are 2 big events happening on Monday. First, the flooring is arriving. There was a last minute snag with shipping from the mill. The freight company wanted to add a surcharge due to the length of the boards. The owner of the mill had already quoted me a price, and I have already paid him, so rather than come back and ask for more money he is going to deliver the wood himself!! Talk about service! He and his wife have wanted to get away for a weekend anyway so they are going to drive up here (about 300 miles), stay the weekend and see the sights, and then deliver the flooring Monday morning.

Of course, also on Monday the BIG GUEST is arriving in the afternoon about 2:30. As I write this, it is a little more than 48 hours until the BIG GUEST arrives. I’m a little nervous. It is all so exciting. I’m normally kind of a private person (except on my blog) so this is a big deal to me.

Here is another shot of the kitchen. The sink will go under that window. The window used to be taller. It went down to about 18-inches off the floor. It was raised in 1926 when a bathroom was added. Just about a year ago there was a toilet under the window, a claw foot tub to the right, and there was a wall between where I’m standing now and that window. I thought about keeping the toilet in the kitchen. I mean, think of the convenience! But, at the last minute I changed my mind. I’m slowly working away from the whole feculent hell-hole theme that previous owners had instilled in the home. You have to make compromises.

The door on the left leads to small alcove. Immediately to the right, in the alcove, is the back door, and to the left is the door to the scullery. The scullery will become the downstairs bath. The little alcove was opened up to the back porch in 1926 to add additional back doors. I had to re-enclose the porch by building 2 small walls to create the alcove. I added the little stained glass window you see in there. I bought 2 matching stained glass sashes as a local salvage yard. There is the one in the alcove, and the other will go in the scullery/bathroom.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Set Faces On Stun

Ok folks, here are some pictures with paint. I’ve included a few before shots to bring everything in to perspective. This is also an interactive blog entry because I’m looking for some feedback, but first, lets look at some pictures. You might want to put a towel down on the keyboard or just grab your drool bucket before you start viewing.



Now for the questions. The color swatch below is the color I’m considering for the roller shades for the windows. Eventually I would like to do something a little more elaborate with the window treatments (And no, I’m not celebrating Gay Pride this weekend just because I’m a man that uses the term Window Treatments - Not that there’s anything the wrong with that. Everybody’s personal sexual preference is there own business.), but right now I’m hemorrhaging cash, so I’m going with a simple roller shade from Smith-Noble. The question is, would that color go well with the walls (See, a Gay man might know the answer to this question), or should I go with a darker or lighter color?

Also, would the cabinets look odd if they were painted the same color as the rest of the trim, or should I play off the green of the walls. I like the simpler approach, but that’s just me, and I accept the fact that I’m a bit odd in these areas, and don’t always make the best choices.

Now let me switch into Corporate Shill Mode for a moment…processing…processing…processing….

The little bucket below I picked up a few days ago. It is so useful for painting I wanted to share it with you. It is called The Handy Paint Pail and it really is handy. I painted with oil based paint for about 5 hours today and didn’t have to wash my hands afterwards. There are disposable liners. It is comfortable to hold – even for 5 hours, and there is a little magnet at the top that the metal part of the paint brush sticks to. This is by far the best $10.00 I have spent in a long time.

Also, If you’ve never been to the Smith-Noble web site to order blinds or drapes you should try it. It is very well designed considering they are dealing with things as complex as blinds and drapes (lots of options). The web site is easy to follow, well laid out, and fast.

Now switching out of Corporate Shill Mode…processing…processing…processing….

Ughh! I need a shower.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I Think I’m Going To Be Sick

I started painting the trim in the kitchen and it is looking so nice I’m becoming physically ill. I think I’ve become so accustomed to living in this feculent hell-hole (Is that too strong a term?) that my body is rejecting anything nice. It is kind of like a man who has almost starved to death will become sick if he eats too much too fast.

Hopefully I can get this finished up tomorrow. I need to start cleaning the house for the BIG GUEST on Monday. It is all very exciting. I’ll be sure to post All The News That’s Fit To Blog on Monday after the BIG GUEST leaves.

Until then…

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bitch & Moan…And For What?

I know I like to listen to myself complain endlessly about my problems. So naturally, I assume everyone on else wants to listen as well. The constant drone of a nasally, whining voice going on and on about how things aren’t working right. Who wouldn’t love that? Case in point: My plaster work.

For weeks I’ve done nothing but complain about my skills as a plaster, the mess, how it is taking so long. And then, of course, there was yesterday’s issue with that one area of the room that I am no longer mentioning by name. You know what I’m talking about.

Well, anyway, here’s the kicker. After I went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about how much everything sucks, and what a pain in the ass it all is, it really doesn’t look that bad. In fact, I’m quite pleased. (Except for that one area. Shhhh!). I got the first coat of paint on and it looks good. The dark green does a good job of hiding some of the, shall we say, less than perfect areas of the room. What really came out better than I expected were the areas that I rebuilt from scratch. You can hardly tell where the two doors used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t perfect walls. I’m aware of that. This is only the second room I’ve plastered at it was a tough one (There I go again). I knew going in that it would not be perfect, and I except that. On the plus side, it only cost me $120.00 in plaster and about $20.00 in sand paper and I learned some lessons about plastering. Ideally, there would have been improvement over my first plaster job and the kitchen would have turned out better than the bathroom. The bathroom turned out shockingly well for a first attempt – or even a 10th attempt. Perhaps that was part of the problem. I did so well with the bathroom, I got cocky with the kitchen, and when things started going bad I panicked. We’ll call that a working theory.

Anyway, the paint’s on the walls and I’ve got about a half gallon left to touch up some areas tomorrow. I’ve very pleased with the paint. The color is fantastic (pictures soon) and the coverage is great. Tomorrow I’ll start on the trim. Wish me luck.

PS In other news I got a call-back from the job interview I went to on Tuesday. The message was on my machine. I think they are going to offer me the job and I think I’m going to decline. I’m just not ready for full-time work. Besides, if I went back to work full-time, who would stay home and care for the house.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Doh! Doh!

Ran in to a little problem with the ceiling. As you may or may not recall, this kitchen was split in to different rooms and areas. There was a kitchen, a bathroom, a closet, a Murphy Bed alcove (for lack of a better term), and a small area was opened to the back porch. The “bathroom” and “closet” ceilings will not hold on to the skim-coat plaster. I thought I had solved this issue but apparently I had not. Lakewood 2-Flat mentioned a product called “plaster weld”, but when I asked for it down at the local hardware store I was met with blank stares from Jethro & Betty Lou behind the counter. Someone else mentioned shellac on the bare plaster, and if one more person mentions joint compound I’m going to explode. If plaster won’t stick to plaster then why on earth does someone think that joint compound is going to magically adhere to the plaster?

What happened was this: As I rolled the primer on to the plaster the skim-coat basically peels off with the roller leaving behind a stream of very thin plaster flakes. Not all of it comes off, but enough that it is unacceptable. I had a few small areas on the walls in those two “rooms” where this happened as well, but nothing like the ceiling. The areas on the walls are not really an issue. One spot will be behind the cabinets on either side of the sink and the other will be behind a 9 foot tall hutch. I scraped off the chips and re-primed. These small portions of the ceiling have to be re-done.

I’ve decided I’m not going to re-plaster. I’m just too far along in the process to start that again. Besides, for the “closet” area this will be the third time. There is no guarantee a forth time will be the charm. It seems this is a prep issue. Working on the ceiling is awkward and I guess I wasn’t as thorough when I scraped, sanded, and cleaned. I also noticed that it holds on to the plaster in areas where the plaster is thicker. Along the edges where the ceiling meets the walls the skim-coat plaster is thicker (due to my poor skills) and in that area it is fine. The rest of it has to go, though. I scrapped it all off. This accounts for about 20% of the room.

What I’m going to be left with is different textures on different areas of the ceiling and numerous little plaster flakes in some areas. The skim-coat plaster is smooth while the original lime and sand plaster has a coarse texture to it. Actually “coarse” is not the right word. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but suffice it to say it is different. What I’ve decided to do now, is just to prime and paint the whole room as I had planned. Down the road I can put up a tin ceiling to cover it up. A tin ceiling was part of the plan originally. I got a quote of $972.00 for the materials delivered to my door, but decided it was not in the budget. I have other things I need to do while the weather is good, so this will be a nice rainy weekend project this winter.

Now the problem is, what do I tell people about the ceiling. I’m having that group of people over in late August. This is a group of old-house owners and they are all going to be very curious about the progress. They are all pleasant and nice people, but some seem to have forgotten that there Mother once told them, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothing at all”. I will be getting the question, “What is the deal with the ceiling?”. I’m working on a few responses.

1) “Don’t you just love it. I saw them do this on HGTV and I just had to have it. It is called {French term for Chipped Plaster}. It is all the rage over in Europe right now.”

2) “I wanted to preserver the history of the house. I think it is important for the historical context to keep a “living record” of the changes and modifications the house has gone through. The ceiling will be my living record" (a tear in my eye and a deep, introspective sigh)

3) I look them in to the eye with a wild expression on my face and yell, “Oh, so are you going to point out all my mistakes, now”. I then grab them by the arm and pull them from room to room demanding that they point out any of my mistakes in these room. “What about that electrical outlet? Is THAT too crooked for you Your Majesty? My father always pointed out my mistakes. Are you my father now!?!” I trail off in gentle sobbing and then collapse on the floor and begin to sob uncontrollably, occasionally looking up and demanding that everybody leave my house AT ONCE!!!

I’m kind of leaning towards number 3. What do you guys think?

Monday, June 20, 2005


The previous owners of my house subscribed to the age old adage that everything can be fixed with plywood. So instead of fixing the leaky porch roof over the small alcove off the kitchen they put plywood over the damaged plaster inside the house where the leak was, and never fixed the leak on the outside.

This a common leak for a lot of houses. It is where a first story roof meets a second story wall. About two years ago I removed the plywood and all the plaster came with it, along with mold and dirt, and who knows what. The plywood didn’t stop the water put it did divert it in to the wall. Yea! So the wall was ruined too. Anyway, the first time we got rain I had a puddle in the kitchen. Actually, it wasn’t the kitchen at that time. The house came with 4 kitchens and I was using one of the rental kitchens in the house.

As soon as I got some dry weather I went up on the porch and fashioned some flashing. You can see it in the photo below. That second story wall with the shingles is now my bedroom. It was one of the rental kitchens. You can see the small square vent on the wall. That is what is called a “California Cooler”. They were popular in the Teens & 20s around here. When ever you see them on a 19th century house, like mine, the cooler is a later addition.

The way a California Cooler works is that you have louvered vent on the inside of one of the kitchen cabinets. This vent lets cool air in to the cabinet from the outside. The shelves in the cabinet are thin wooden slats or wire mesh so the air can circulate. They used it to store dairy and other semi-perishable things in the days before the refrigerator was a common household item. The weather here is remarkable on the coast in that it stays cool all year round. Temps in the 50s are the norm for over-night lows in the summer, and the days never get over 75. High 60s and low 70s are common for daytime temps. In fact, I’ve been wearing long johns for the last few days while painting in the kitchen. I’m down to a plank sub floor and the cool air comes up through the cracks in the floor. It is a little cool while sitting on the floor painting the bead board. But I digress. Back to the leak.

All seemed fine with my flashing. For almost 2 years I’ve had no water in the kitchen – until I plastered. We got rain on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It really came down hard on Saturday, all day and night. On Sunday I noticed a small wet spot on the plaster. You can see it in the picture below, in the upper, right-hand corner. That is just below the flashing the first photo. The plaster is still very firm, and it didn’t seem to have suffered any real damage, but it was a disappointment to see it. This means another trip up on the porch roof tomorrow. One of two things has happened. Either the flashing never really worked completely, and a little water has always gotten in, but only enough to dampen the framing, or this is a new problem. Not sure which it is, but at least I discovered it before I painted.

Speaking of painting, I’m in the middle of it right now. I got the walls and all the trim primed. All that is left to do is to primer the ceiling. I took a little break to post to the old blog and shove some grub in my gut before I finish up. I also had to do some laundry because I have a job interview tomorrow. I’m not sure if that is a good thing yet, but I had to dig out something nice to wear, and I rarely wear anything nice, so I had to wash it. It is not a suit and tie, don’t worry. I own one suit and the last time I wore it was when my Mom remarried. I told her then, the next time I wear it will be at a funeral and it will probably be mine. She didn’t think that was funny.

The interview is in a different profession than I normally work. I’m looking for something different. What ever I put down in my blog profile was a lie. That was all part of my master plan to thwart the international gang of identity thieves that hound me at every turn. Right now I work for a small, local manufacturer doing sales and IT work. It is only part-time work, that is why I’m able to do so much work on the house and actually get things done on “a school night”. The new job is for a small telecom company. It is an entry level position but I need a change. I guess the fact that they are giving me an interview is a good sign. I mean, they didn’t just laugh and throw away my resume. Not sure it I’m ready for full-time work, though. Some how I’ve managed not to work full-time for more than 15 years now. We’ll see what happens. Don’t wish me luck.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Artist Formerly Known As Grex

When I was about 18 or 19 I got a job as a busboy at what was at the time the largest restaurant in the country. There were 14 or 15 dining rooms and they could seat about 600 people at any one time. During the busy summer months they had over 100 wait staff, 30 busboys, 20 or so dishwashers, and the same number of cooks on the schedule at any given time. The place served breakfast, lunch, and diner and it was a freakin’ mad house. It had been in business since the 20s or 30s. The woman who ran the kitchen looked like a Marine Drill Sergeant and had worked there for more than 40 years. It was the only job she ever had in her whole life.

Anyway, I worked there for 2 or 3 years as a busboy. As a busboy I made frequent trips back to the dishwashing room. The dishwashing room was as big as most restaurants. It was run by conveyor belts, shrouded in steam, and occupied my Mexicans. One evening I was there unloading a load of dishes when suddenly out of the steam I saw one of the dishwashers waving his arm at me and he shouted, “Grrrex Morgaaan!”. He shouted it very enthusiastically, trilling the “r” in “Grex” for a long time and extending out the last syllable in “Morgan". I had no idea what the hell he was talking about so I just sort of waved back and headed back out to the dining room.

For the next several weeks, every time this guy saw me he would yell, “Grrrex Morgaaaan!”. It was very odd. A couple of my buddies heard about this and thought it was cool. They all started calling me Grex. So for the next few years I was Grex to 4 or 5 of my closest friends. A few years went by, and we drifted apart, and the name Grex sort of fell by the wayside along with weird hair cuts and bad fashion choices. I haven’t used the name Grex in years.

Last year I was the victim of identity theft. Somehow, someone got a hold of a credit card number of mine and started charging things around the world. I got home from work and there was a message on my machine from the Citibank fraud division. I was getting very nervous listening to the message on the machine. I called them back and they were very helpful. Apparently, the modus operandi of these people is to get a credit card number and make a few small purchases over-seas to make sure the number is valid. In my case they ordered something from Indonesia. If the number is good they will quickly make a few large purchases at brick-and-mortar establishments here in the States before the card is shut down. Citibank is aware of this practice so the small purchase in Indonesia followed by a large purchase at an auto parts store in Phoenix set off a red flag in their computer system. They discontinued the card number and called me.

All went well at my end. I didn’t have to pay for anything and they issued a new card. However, it made me very aware of how I treat my personal information. One area I started to think about was all of the crap I write on-line about me and my misadventures of restoring an old Victorian. When I started the blog a few months ago I decided I needed a new on-line persona that would leave my true identity seeming like an enigma, inside a mystery, wrapped in a riddle. I decided to resurrect my alter ego “Grex”.

All was well except for one thing. I don’t feel like a “Grex”. Grex was a gangly, awkward 19 year old. Now I’ve matured into a gangly, awkward 43 year old. Grex just isn’t me anymore. So I’ve decided to go back to my real name. How much can someone get from a first name, right? So, if any of you are still reading this, from this day forward, you can all me G-Diddy. No I’m only kidding, my name is Greg. A real mystery, uh? Bet you didn’t see that one coming. I was hoping to thwart the master-minds of an international identity theft ring by changing the last letter of my first name from “g” to “x”. It was a fiendishly clever idea, I’ll admit, but as I said, I’m just not a Grex. It doesn't feel right. So, back to the boring life of Greg, and Greg is going to go paint the kitchen now.

PS Just incase you’re wondering, my last name is not Morgan, and to this day I have no idea where that dishwasher came up with the name Grex Morgan. It is one of life’s little mysteries.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sticker Shock

I guess I should expect it. It is easy not to think about every cost associated with fixing up a room. I just didn’t think the paint would be that much. I went with the Sherwin Williams Majolica Green in Latex Satin for the walls, and Honied White in Oil Semi-Glass for the trim. I got the Pro Classic Enamel which is normally around $41.00 a gallon but it was on sale for $31.00 a gallon, so it could have been worse. I’m terrible at cleaning and taking care of paint brushes so it seems like I have to buy new ones every time I paint, and this was no exception.

Here is what I ended up buying

3 gallons of primer (I can return un-opened gallons),
2 gallons of each color of paint
2 trim brushes
1 bundle of 3 roller covers
4 Tack Cloths
1 bundle of 5 tray liners
1 bundle of latex gloves

Out the door: $249.17

As you may recall from earlier blog entries I have been thinking about paint for the past few weeks. For some reason I had this number in my head of $150.00. I’m not sure exactly where I came up with the number, but when ever I thought about paint I figured $150.00. I wonder if I should revise the numbers in my head for window treatments and the kitchen faucet (last 2 big things I need to buy).

All that is left is to physically paint the room. I got a call from the person milling the flooring material on Friday and he said it could be here as early as Wednesday. I’m thinking Friday, if I’m lucky, so that gives me a good 5 or 6 days to get the room painted. The goal is to be finished by Wednesday. I had wanted to paint after I had the floor in and sanded, but I’m not going to sit around and do nothing for a week, so painting it is.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Stripping Pictures

SEX! Ok, now that I’ve got your attention…

That probably doesn’t work that well anymore to get peoples attention in our society. We are so bombarded by sexual images in advertising that it has all just become a blur. But, everyone tells me this is the greatest country on Earth, so it must be all good. Anyway, this is about paint stripping, as if you didn’t already know.

Kristin, over at 1902 Victorian gave herself the stripper name of Tina Tingles. I thought that was hilarious. Over the past three years I have become a paint stripping machine, but I’m not sure I’m ready for a stripper name. I toyed with the idea of Pistol Pete. It sort of keeps with the whole heat gun thing. I just don’t know, though. I start to picture myself in leather chaps with 2 heat guns in holsters and it just, well, kind of makes me queasy. Anyway, cute names aren’t really my thing anyway.

So, let’s forget all that and get back to the real reason for this post – SEX, I mean stripping – PAINT STRIPPING!!! That’s what I mean. Below, are two pictures of my favorite spot in the kitchen. Pre-stripped and post-stripped. The room was originally faux grained so getting back to absolute bare wood was not really an option, or the intention. I just needed to get rid of the layers of paint and the drips and runs so I could get a nice smooth paint job.

The 2 corner blocks are crammed in to the corner and they coped (sp?) them together. It is interesting when you look at it up close to see that on the bottom the one on the left is in front, but at the top the one on the right is in front. They are sort of keyed together. As a novice wood worker, I find this very impressive. It is really done well. The person who did this really knew what they were doing. I wonder if they got it right the first try, or if they had a few screw ups.

I’ve completely stripped 3 rooms of paint now. First I did the bathroom, then the dining room, and now the kitchen. All three rooms had copious amounts of woodwork. Now that I think about it, those three rooms have the most woodwork of any other rooms in the house. I guess the worst is behind me. The first 2 rooms I took back to bare wood and stained and shellacked.

If I can finish sanding today I can start painting tomorrow. So why am I here typing and not sanding?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Home Depot Score!

These big box stores really do have everything, and at such great prices. There I was standing at the check-out line and I started to browse the discount table. Underneath a 6 piece screwdriver set there was a dumb waiter style door complete with Victorian trim and antique Eastlake brass hardware! The entire thing is made of old-growth redwood!! The best part – it was only $19.99!!! It must have been a return item because it looks like someone tried to paint it, but I should be able to clean that up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Before and Almost After

A quick recap for those of you that don't keep up:

  • House built in 1895.

  • Cut up into apartments ca. 1920.

  • Kitchen was the one room really butchered.

  • Big hole in the wall was a Murphy bed.

My goal: Put it all back together. I left All The Kings Horses and All The Kings Men in my other pants so I'm doing it myself.

Big Hole

Hole Filled

Plater, Door Casing, and Wainscot Cap On

The door casing in the picture was the casing I Lucy-ed out on yesterday. To the left you can see the dumb waiter style door from my postings a few months ago ( - sigh - ). Next I'm going to build the sill and trim that out. After that I have just one small window that needs trim and then I can slather the whole room with a greasy coat of primer in perpetration for the big paint job. I still need a floor and I need to build cabinets, along with several dozen other things I can't think of right now. I'm supposed to have a party at my house in late August. Can I make it? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Remember how Lucy used to cry in the old “I Love Lucy” shows. Ricky would come home from the club and Lucy and Ethel would be caught in some hair-brained scheme and Ricky would say, “Lucy! You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!” Then Lucy would look into the camera with her mouth wide open and go, “Waaaaaaa!” That was me today. I’m Lucy.

Here’s what happened. It all started about 80 years ago. When my house was converted in to apartments they took two of the grand openings between the parlors and reduced them to single door openings. When they did this they took the existing casing and sawed it down to fit the new, smaller opening. Now fast forward 80 years. I opened the space back up but I needed new casing to fit the wider opening. So, off to the mill I went and at great expense had new casing custom milled. The old, shorter casing was fine and the plan has always been to use it in other areas of the house. I forgot about the fact that this old, smaller casing, which has been stored in the attic, is drenched in layers and layers of paint. I need to install some of it in the kitchen and that means MORE PAINT STRIPPING!!!!. I have to do 2 plinth blocks, a header, and 2 sides. The corner blocks are new reproductions so they are fine.

Here’s how it went in my head as I walked down from the attic.

Ricky: “Lucy! You’ve got some strippin’ to do!”

Lucy: “Waaaaaa! But Ricky I don’t want to.

Ricky: “Damn it, Lucy! You start strippin’ dat paint right now or I’m gonna’ beat the hell out of you!”

Lucy: “No Ricky, don’t hit me again. I’ll do it, I swear. Waaaaaaa!”

(I don’t remember I Love Lucy being so violent, but this is the 21st Century)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bony Fingers

Sand your fingers to the bone
What do you get
What do you get
Bony Fingers
Bony Fingers

And smooth casing ready for paint

Some Things Never Change

Maybe it’s better to say some things never change that much. The top piece of trim is original to 1895. The bottom piece I bought off the shelf at Ace Hardware a few weeks ago. They look very similar but the new piece is ¼ inch narrower that the old piece, and not quite as beefy. This trim is going in the kitchen to hide the gap between the bead board and plaster.

Back in the 20s when they partitioned the kitchen there was not enough of the fluted trim to cover all the new walls. When they built the new walls they used bead board but went with a flat 1X3 instead of the fluted casing. The was, of course, the popular style at the time. The same fluted trim was used in 3 rooms and the back stairwell to bridge the gap between wainscoting and plaster. I was missing short runs in all 3 rooms. Originally the plan was to have new trim milled. That gets expensive for short runs, though. If they have to grind a knife you’re looking at around $200 just for knives and set-up. I only need 20 or 30 feet, so it is tough to justify it. Now the plan is to use the store bought stuff for the kitchen, because it will be painted, and use the kitchen-salvaged 1895 redwood trim for in-fill in the other two rooms where I missing short runs. The wood in those rooms is shellacked.

It is interesting to note that the 1920s bead board, while identical to the 1895 bead board in the profile, was also ¼ narrower than the 1895 bead board. This was actually what I used to determine what was a later wall and what was original. Now that I have the kitchen opened back up to it’s original size, it looks obvious that this is the way it should be. When I first bought the house, though, it was a real mystery. All of the walls (1895 & 1920s) had layers of wallpaper and then plywood on to of that. One of the walls incorporated an 1890s cabinet in to it. After careful observation I found a point where the bead board was going in the wrong direction (bead on the left and not on the right). I couldn’t figure out why they would do this. I then noticed that the 2 pieces on either side of this seam where not quite the same size. The 1895 bead board is ¼ wider than the 1920s stuff.

This actually worked out very well. I had to remove some bead board here and there to run new wires and plumbing. I also had to in-fill some areas where they had added doors in the 20s. Let’s say that the 1895 stuff is 3 ¾ inches wide and the 1920s stuff is 3 ½ inches wide. By mixing the 2 together I could accurately fill large gaps in the continues run of bead board around the room. For instance, let’s say I have a door way that I needed to close back up and this doorway needs 32.5 inches of bead board. By taking 6 old pieces and 3 new pieces I would have 33 inches of bead board – too wide. So I swap out 2 old pieces and I now have 4 old and 5 new pieces, giving me 32.5 inches of bead board to accurately fill the gap. It worked out very well

Back to the store bought casing: A ¼ inch does not sound like much of a difference but it could be a problem. Another thing different about the 1895 bead board and the 1920s bead board is the height. The 1920s stuff is exactly 36 inches. I suspect it was a stock item in the 20s and was cut at the mill to 36 inch lengths. The 1895 stuff varies in height and some of it is on the short side. It looks like they sawed it on site from longer lengths and they did not need to be accurate because they knew the cap would cover the ends so long as they were a minimum of 34 inches. The 1895 fluted cap was wide enough to cover the gap but the modern store bought stuff might be a little short in a few places. I might have to get creative with caulk and putty.

I’ve decided to put the cap up before I paint incase there are any problems. All I have to do now is sand everything in the room once more with 100 grit and I can start applying the fluted wainscot cap.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Gonna Fly Now

Ba na daaaa, ba na da na daaaaa
Ba na daaaa, ba na da na daaaaa
Ba na da da na da na daaa daaa….daaaaa

(Close up of me jogging in place on my front porch. My arms up over my head with a heat gun in one hand and a scraper in the other. Celebrating that I finished scarping paint in the kitchen)

(Music picks up in the background as the image moves up and back to pick up the whole house)
(Now the chorus comes in as I pump the air with my fists)

Trying hard now
it's so hard now
trying hard now

Getting strong now
won't be long now
getting strong now

Gonna fly now
flying high now
gonna fly, fly, fly...

(Eat your heart out Sylvester Stalone)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Ritual

I have an afternoon ritual that I go through everyday when I get home from work. It starts with feeding the piglets. My two cats are on a bit of a diet so they seem like they are on the verge of starvation when I get home. Then I plop down on the couch and do a bit of surfing. I have three or four sites I go to on a regular basis. I spend about 20 to 40 minutes on-line, depending on how much I write.

First I go to The Old House Web Forum. There are always interesting discussions with a nice group of mostly like-minded people. It is fun to answer peoples questions. I especially like the old house mystery questions. People find something odd from a by-gone era and can’t figure out what it is. Sometimes It is not always apparent to anyone at first what it might be. Of course, I always have plenty of questions myself to ask.

Next I sometimes go to The Old House Journal Forum. I used to go there more often, but I don’t like the lay-out of the forum very well. It is not user friendly. There is A LOT of clicking and waiting to go around to the different areas of the forum. There are always interesting things going on there, so it is still fun from time to time.

Next I head here to see what’s new on the House Blogs. There are a few that I read on a regular basis. I tend to read blogs that are either well written or are pertinent to what I am doing at my house. It is interesting that I can read something that I’m not really interested in if it is well written and or cleverly written. Also, if it is something I have been through in the past, or plan on doing in the future I will read it.

Next I check my email. I download the email headers only because I get a lot of Spam. Fifty emails is about normal. Some days it is over 100. I’m lucky if 4 of those are legitimate emails. I’m always on the lookout for the emails that start with [Petch House]. This, of course, means that someone left a comment on my blog. A blog comment means my life is now complete. All is right with the world. I’m not blogging to the Dead Letter Office in cyberspace. My existence in this world now has meaning. Ok, that is a bit much, but comments are nice.

Finally, I head to Ebay if I’m looking for something specific or am currently bidding on something. I couldn’t imagine trying to do what I’m doing with my house without Ebay. Especially living so far out on the boonies as I do. The selection is incredible and prices are usually very good. On Saturday I just won an auction on an 1890s, 4 piece cast iron fireplace surround and cover unit. The 2 were missing on the fireplaces in my house. I bought one on Ebay about 9 months ago and have been looking for a similar one for the other fireplace. I want them to look like they were bought at the same time. Getting 2 matching ones was out of the question, but 2 similar ones will be nice. Below is the one I bought 9 months ago. The tiles and mantle are original to the house.

This one is in the dining room. It is a pretty intense scene. Maybe Civil War inspired. There is a broken canon on the ground and the horse has been wounded. I didn't really realize what the scene was when I bought it. At first I wasn't sure I liked it, but the more time I spend with it the more I like it. It is a very powerful scene. Most people don't realize what they are looking at. The one I bought on Saturday is a little more ornate, but has the same bottom grate and same size cover. The image on the cover is some type of harp - maybe a lyre - with flowers and ribbons. That one will go in the back parlor and it will be very fitting because I have 2 large antique Cambridge Tile Works tiles for the hearth that have French Horns them. I had thought about putting a piano in that room someday so it should all tie together nicely as The Music Room.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My Plinths Are Floating

It kind of looks like all the walls in the kitchen are floating about an inch off the floor. When I removed my old floor I could just chisel it to the edges and then put up quarter round trim to hide and gap. The problem was the plinth blocks. It would look stupid to have quarter round in front of the plinth blocks. Besides they have a little detail to them so the quarter round wouldn't really work any way. The solution was to chisel and saw the old floor out from under the plinth blocks. True, I could have removed them, but there are 10 of them and they have been there for 110 years. The chances of getting them all off in one piece is slim to nil. So chisel and saw I did. I went ahead and took it out from under all the bead board so it now looks like the walls are floating above the floor.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Punching An Actual List

I’m not much of a “List Guy” normally. I know that I’m going to do a project and I just work on it in a more organic nature, rather than putting pencil to paper and making up a list. On smaller projects it is obvious what needs to be done first, and I just do it. The kitchen was a little more involved, so I made an actual List of Priorities in the order they should be done. This was a first for me.

It worked well to get the scope of the job down. It was such a big job that it seemed overwhelming and I was having trouble getting started. There was so much to do I really didn’t know where to start. The List help prioritize things, but to be honest I never really looked at The List after I made it. Obviuosly, The List System still has some flaws. I looked at The List last night for the first time since I made it. It is a Word Doc and the creation date was December 11, 2004. Almost 6 months ago!

The List below is as I wrote it in December. There are many things not on The List that were already done before I made The List. When I re-wired and re-plumbed I ran wiring and plumbing in the kitchen so those things were done (some ended up changing). When I first bought the house I was soooo broke I spent the first year doing things that only took the sweat of my brow and very little money, like stripping wallpaper and flooring, and removing partitions, so that was all done.

In many ways it helped that I didn’t have any money at first. I was able to live with the house for a while and those things that needed to be done sort of revealed themselves rather than me deciding right off the bat what I thought needed to be done.

Money was very tight when I first bought the place. When the inspection report came in during escrow it said the house needed $40,000 worth of work!! That was just to bring it up to snuff. That had nothing to do with cosmetic stuff. The report didn’t even have major stuff like roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, or HVAC. The roof was only 6 years old and structurally the house is solid as a rock. Electrical and plumbing sucked but they were functional. There was just sooooo much neglect. The big-ticket items on the report were the two porches had problems and the 2 story addition was, well, it was basically rotted and falling off the house. I didn’t want a couple of slack-jawed yokels with a Sawzall to come in and bang out $40,000 worth of work during a 60 day escrow. Besides, the plan was and always has been to remove the addition anyway.

Instead of putting 20% down and having all the work done before escrow closed I did everything but hawk my back teeth to come up with a 50% down payment to buy the house “as-is”. That big wad of cash, along with my stellar credit rating (825 – Thank you very much) was enough make the nice bank lady happy enough to spot me the rest of the cash to get the place.

Anyway, back to The List. As I said, The List System still has some flaws. I suppose if I’m going to make The List I should at least print out The List and review it more than once every 6 months. That will be something to work on in the future. Those items on The List that have an “X” by them have been finished, and those that have a “/” are partially completed. That is 6 months worth of work.

X Get trim milled
X Rebuild dumb waiter door
X Rebuild Dining room wall
X Frame 2 Stained Glass Windows
X Enclose Porch
X Install Window
X Move backdoor
X Enclose Parlor wall
X Reroute lighting wires and install new light
X Open vent and line chimney
/ Repair and paint and ceiling, walls, & bead board
Build cabinets for sink and DW
X Install gas line for stove
/ Remove old floor and install new floor
Repair salvage cabinets

Friday, June 03, 2005

Day Off…Sort Of…Not Really

I woke up this morning feeling like someone had worked me over with a rubber hose. I was just out of it. Pulling up that floor is really tough, and it was the end of a tough week. I decided I would take the day off from working on the house and it almost worked. I did go down to Sherwin Williams and pick up paint chips to look at. I’m still having trouble deciding on colors for the kitchen. I posted a question in the Old House Web Forum, so maybe I’ll get some more insight from the good folks over there.

I took a nice long walk around town and took care of some business. I’m still trying to track down the origin of the architectural term “arrowsmith” (sp?). There are dozens, if not hundreds of these stylized floral carvings on the frieze around the top of my house. They are about a foot in diameter and are butted together one after the other all the way around the house. There are 3 or 4 other houses in town that have them as well. Someone told me they were called arrowsmiths but I’ve never been able to confirm it and I want to use the term in the paperwork for the National Register of Historic Places.

I finally found the local origin of the term. It comes form a man named Eric Hollenbeck. He is a local master carpenter and runs the Blue Ox Mill. I’ve done business with him on many occasions. I called down to his mill but he wasn’t in so I spoke with his wife. She told me Eric heard the term from an architect “Back East”. The plot thickens. Eric is going to be getting back to me next week on this.

After lunch I flopped on the couch and contemplated a little nap. Just as I started to doze off I heard something calling to me. It was faint at first and then it got louder and louder. It was the kitchen floor. Calling to me. Pleading with me to come in the kitchen and do some more work. I could not resist the siren song of the floor. I put on my work close and pulled up some more floor. So much for my day off.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Totally Floored

I started pulling up the old floor today and it is fighting me every inch of the way. I’m going to be able to use all of the other 1895 floors in the house but the kitchen was just too far gone. This was the room that took the brunt of the apartment cut-up 80 or 90 years ago. About 15 square feet of the finish floor is completely missing and there are about a dozen holes from water and waste pipes.

I had already pulled up the layers of linoleum and vinyl and what I was left with was pretty much beat to hell. So many nails. At some point an over zealous floor installer with a pneumatic nail gun went hog wild with the nails. In some places they were laid every 2 inches in every direction. To make matters worse, back in the 20s about a third of the kitchen became a bathroom. The nails rusted and will not come out.

The one surprising thing is that I will actually be able to salvage some of the wood. No doubt a testament to old-growth redwood. All floors in the house are 1X6 T&G redwood flooring. I’m hoping I can salvage enough to repair a few damaged boards in the dining room and butler’s pantry. For now it all comes up and goes in to the garage on top of all the other salvage wood. Just keep piling it up.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

That 70s Color

Before I stripped off the last of it, I thought I would get a shot of this lovely orange paint that was on the wainscoting in the kitchen. I felt like I was back in 1975 just looking at it. In fact, I think I was getting a contact buzz as I was stripping it. Hmmm, that could have been from those healthful lead paint fumes. Either way, it is gone and I have that inflated sense of self esteem that one normally only gets from alcohol or hand guns! I have 2 windows left to strip and I can put a coat of primer on the whole room. Then all the little flaws will be more visible and my self esteem will be back where it’s supposed to be.