Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thar She Blows!

I think this entire house could be considered to be my white whale, but in this instance I'm referring only to the newly built and installed range hood. The installation was somewhat uneventful, in that I didn't drop any tools and damage anything, I didn't spill any paint, and I didn't knock any unintended holes in anything. I'm especially nervous and cautious when working in a room that is essentially finished and used every day, like the kitchen. When working in a room like this, my mantra is, “Above all else, do no harm”.

Building the housing for the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module was pretty straight forward. Fabricating boxes from old redwood T&G bevel board is the same type of construction I used in the cabinets for several rooms, so there is really nothing to figure out. It is pretty much just scrape paint, sand, measure, cut, glue, and assemble. Deciding on the right size was the only real challenge. I toyed around with a larger cabinet that had doors or shelves on either side of the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module, but for a number of reasons decided against it.

In the end I decided on a simple box whose soul purpose was to hold the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module. The dimensions of the box were decided largely by the location of the existing chimney vent I needed to connect the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module to. The Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module needs to be 24 to 30 inches above the stove and then tall enough to hide all of the exhaust ducts. It needed to be wide enough to hide the chimney opening and still be centered over the area where the stove sits.

After constructing the box I needed to get electrical up on the wall. Again, this was pretty straight forward. After re-wiring the entire house myself this sort of thing is fairly routine. The outlet for the refrigerator is on the wall just to the left of the stove. The only real challenges were 1) getting through the horizontal framing member that the beadboard is nailed to, and 2) getting through the wall stud. As I pointed out in my last post, the reason I'm doing this project now is because I don't want to knock a lot of holes in the kitchen walls. Because I'm going to start work in the parlors next, I have no problem knocking holes in the those walls. The whole process took about an hour.

The red lines show where the studs are and the blue line shows where the wire runs. You can see I also made a repair to the plaster from damage left over from the 2009 earthquake. This was the very first wall I every plastered. This was done in my pre-blogging days and if I could I would do it over. I really learned a lot. What is most frustrating about that damage is that the original plaster from 1895 came through the earthquake fine. It was my skim-coat that popped off. Grrrr!

On the other side of that wall is the parlor side. By measuring carefully I could cut out one section of the Carson Mill Plaster Board and then drill 2 small holes to fish the wire from the existing outlet to the spot on the wall over the stove where the new outlet needed to be for the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module.

With the electrical in place I could mount the box on the wall and install the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module. Again, this went pretty smooth. I used a lot of duct tape and strapping to make sure everything would stay secure when the next 6.0 or greater strikes. I don't want to have to open the box back up once it is complete.

And here are a few shots of the almost finished product. There is one more small piece of trim detail that needs to go on, but for all intent and purpose, this is the finished look. While not even close to the over-the-top custom range hoods seen in most design magazines, I think it has a certain understated elegance that works well with the rest of my kitchen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Parlor Pre-Project

Working on a house is like working on a puzzle. You may be holding the piece of the puzzle with the smiling girls face on it and you know exactly where it goes, but you need to finish the edges first and work your way towards that part of the puzzle. That is what is happening with the parlor project. Believe it or not, the parlor project starts with work in the kitchen.

Ahh, the kitchen. The never ending project that is The Kitchen. The first time I “finished” the kitchen I had a round kitchen table in the center of the room. That didn't work out too well, so I got rid of the table and built an island, complete with marble top and copper prep sink. Best thing I ever did.

The second time I “finished” the kitchen I removed the free standing cabinet in the alcove so I could put the refrigerator there. That cabinet ended up in the butler's pantry. That worked for a little while, but the refrigerator was awkward to get to in the alcove. To remedy that problem, I yanked out the 1890s cast iron stove, moved the gas stove over, and moved the refrigerator out of the alcove and put it where the gas stove was.

The last time I “finished” the kitchen was just two years ago when I built the marble desk in the alcove. I'm now sitting at that desk, as I write. This was another great idea and I now really had a finished kitchen except for one little thing. When I first started the kitchen back in 2005 I shopped for a range hood. The local home center has a selection of range hoods that are all totally inadequate. They are designed to go with modern cabinets and modern appliances in a modern kitchen. There is nothing the wrong with a modern design, but that is not what I was doing. Having one of those range hoods stuck on the wall over a vintage stove would have looked completely out of place.

At the time I shopped around for custom designed range hoods, but could not really justify $3,500 for a copper, over-the-top, McMansionesq range hood. I had only spent about $10,000 on what was pretty much a gut-remodel of the kitchen and there was no way I was going spend $3,500 on something that looked like it belonged in a Roman temple. It would have looked just as out of place as the much smaller modern range hood would have.

I really couldn't find any middle ground in a range hood. I thought about finding someone to fabricate something to my design - that is, if I had a design - but the idea became very back-burner in what was a huge kitchen project at the time and eventually sort of just fell off the back of the stove. No pun intended.

The reason this has come back to the front-burner now (to extend the metaphor) is because I never gave up on the idea of a range hood. In fact, the stove has always needed more lighting. It is one of those things that I always intended to do, but sort of gave up on it because I couldn't come up with a good solution. If I'm going to install one though, I need electricity on the wall over the stove.

The thought of cutting in to the wall up high above the stove is not something I really want to do. It would be a mess, of course, but more than that the kitchen has beadboard on the lower third of all of the walls. I can't simply drill a hole and drop a wire down in the wall. There is a horizontal framing member 3.5 feet up that I would need to get through. On top of that, the fireplace for the parlors is right behind this wall. It is hard to say how far the brick extends in the wall, but the fireplace in the parlor is set at an angle and the chimney has 2 flues, one for the parlor fireplace and one to vent the original wood or coal burning kitchen stove.

What I can do though, is work from the parlor side. That wall opposite the kitchen is in very rough shape and will need to be stripped down to lath and re-plastered. Cutting holes to run wire will not be an issue at all. On the kitchen side I will just need cut a hole large enough for a single gang electrical box. It will make a small mess, but nothing compared to trying to do all of the work from the kitchen side.

In short, now is the time to do this if I'm every going to do it at all.

I'm still left with the problem of the range hood itself. I found a site on line for Vent-a-Hood that has a “Build a Hood” applet on their web site. There is one style listed as JCH/C2 that is not really over-the-top and definitely not a run-of-the-mill hood either. Also, it is not made of copper, so it could be in my price range. Unfortunately, I never found out what one would cost. Several times, from several different computers and different web browsers, I tried to use the applet to get a quote. Each time it crashed on me when I clicked the “Submit Quote” button.

I contacted customer service. They wrote back a very nice email saying they were unaware of the problem and suggested I use the “Find a Dealer” applet on their site to find a dealer in my area. I could contact the dealer and get a quote. I had similar problems finding a dealer and another email to customer service was met with silence, so I gave up.

I was at Sears the next week and I had the idea that I can buy a garden variety range hood and wrap in wood or trim it out in some fashion so it looks like it belongs. I pimped out the fridge in oak and it came out ok, so why not the range hood. The trouble with that idea is that they all have the controls on the front. It just wouldn't work. I then went to the home center to see if they had something that would work, but they had pretty much the same selection as Sears.

What the home center did have though, was a catalog from the Broan company, which makes a dizzying array of range hoods. Inside I found the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module. This is basically the guts of a range hood without the hood. This is what is used in making those over-the-top, McMansionesp range hoods that cost $3,500. The PM390 was $325 at the home center, but I found it on-line for $189 and free shipping.

One, please!

So now I'm in the process of making the box to house the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module. I'm using more of my seemingly endless supply of redwood bevel board that came out of the 2 story addition I dismantled. This is the same bevel board I used to make the kitchen island and the cabinets in the kitchen, bathroom, and butler's pantry. I will trim it out with a 3 part cornice, just as I did the kitchen cabinets I made. It should (fingers crossed) look like it belongs.

Fresh from the woodshed

Cut, stripped, and sanded

The hope is that I can have some assembly done by next weekend so I can get a sense of where the outlet needs to be. With that information I can start to open the wall to find out how much brick I need to cut through. Hopefully, not much.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I've Got It Covered

An alternate name for this post could be 'Hoarders' because I've been hoarding cardboard for the past year just for this weekend. This is my form of drop cloth. I first put down plastic and then on top of that a layer of cardboard with the edges taped together. Preferably I'm working with large pieces of cardboard or the process can be quite tedious. This is the reason for the hoarding. Anytime a box from a dishwasher or piece of office furniture came along I jumped on it.

And now all of my bizarre behavior over the past year is finally paying off.

The big opening between the 2 parlors was reduced down to a pair of french doors during the apartment days, so that will all need to be trimmed out again. I imagine there was a nice spandrel or some fret work there at one time. The verdict is still out as to whether I will attempt to redo that. In a picture below you can see where there was once a door that lead to the kitchen. This was also during the apartment period. It has already be closed off and plastered over on the kitchen side.

The drop-cloth will stay down until after the plaster work is finished. Then I just slice it in to sections, roll it up, and off to the dump it goes. The walls in this room are par for the house. Not the best, but definitely not the worst. The rolling scaffold I made when I did the dining room and then I used it again in the foyer. It has been dismantled and tucked away in the garage since last year. Best $75 I ever spent.

This wall, while it doesn't look too bad, is really little more than a sheet of plaster leaning up against the wall. Most of the keys are broken. How it survived the 2009 earthquake, I'll never know.

These are the other 2 really bad walls that will need to be completely redone. The rest will need patch work and then a skim-coat for the everything. Fortunately, the ceilings are in very good to near perfect condition. There is one spot in the front parlor that has issues, but other than that they are in good shape. This is good because even with the scaffold I hate doing ceilings.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Parlor Pieces

Although the front and back parlor collectively make up more than 25% of the first floor of the house, I'm hoping that the cash outlay over the next 6 months will not be a lot when compared to other rooms. This is mainly because I've already made most of the major purchases for the 2 rooms.

One of the first purchases I made for the house was a collection of 4 light fixtures which came out of an 1890s Victorian in Main. The guy was doing a gut-remodel and getting rid of all of the “old stuff”. I bought 3 chandeliers and a smaller, 2-light ceiling fixture. One of the chandeliers was installed in the dining room. The smaller fixture is in the upstairs bathroom.

The last 2 will be going in the 2 parlors. They are very similar, but one is little larger than the other. This works well in the parlors because the front parlor is little larger than the back parlor. Both fixtures have been rewired and are ready to go.

Years ago I also purchased two new plaster medallions to replace the originals which were ripped out when they put sheetrock up over the plaster. Again, the lager medallion will go in the larger front parlor and the smaller one in the back parlor.

The sheetrock over the plaster was possibly the worst thing that happened to the parlors. This is not so much because I think there is anything wrong with sheetrock. It's because of what the installers did to make their job easier. Not only did that pry off the plaster medallions, but they sawed off the tops of the head blocks.

Head blocks are like corner blocks except they have a crown detail that extends the block a few inches above the top piece of casing that goes over doors and windows. So they wouldn't have to fit the sheetrock around the detail, they sawed off the blocks so they were level with the top casing. Years ago I went down to Blue Ox Mill and had replacements milled.

Also at that time I had new casing milled. I needed casing for a few spots in 3 rooms to fix areas that were modified when the house was cut up in to apartments back in the 1920s. I also had replacement plinth blocks milled at that time, so all of that is just waiting to be installed. I may need to get some baseboard milled, but I am way ahead of the game when it comes to millwork for the two parlors.

Years ago I also purchased replacement hearth tiles. Just as with the dining room, the hearth tiles were beat to crap from heat, tenants, and carpet installers. I would say 40% of the original hearth tiles were just gone, and 20% were damaged beyond use. The original surround tiles are there and in very good shape, but the cast iron fireplace cover is missing, so I've already purchased an antique replacement.

Then of course there is also the pair of pocket doors and pocket door hardware I purchased, restored, and installed. That was a huge job all by itself. Stripping those doors was a lot of work and it took me nearly 3 years to find a set of antique Ives pocket door rollers.

In addition to those expenses that I don't need to worry about now, I have also already rewired both rooms for electricity and ran new cable for phone, internet, and cable TV. I also don't need to worry about dump runs for old flooring and sheetrock, because that was done years ago as well. All told, this amounts to thousands of dollars in material and months worth of work.

Expenses that remain are things like new plaster, which is relatively inexpensive. I need strip paint off woodwork and sand down and refinish the floor. These are also relatively inexpensive things to do. Then there are things like primer, paint, and new rugs. All of these things can add up, but those purchases will be spread out over time, so won't really have a major impact on the monthly budget. The big expense will be be for window treatments. There are 5 large windows, so that could set me back if I do something nice. Then of course there is new furniture. I'm not replacing everything, but it is enough that I will notice the hit on the wallet.

So really what all of this means is that if I were starting from scratch I probably wouldn't be starting at all. I would probably just let out a big sigh as I turned off the lights, closed the doors, and walked away from the rooms.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let's Try This Again, Shall We

I actually had a rather large summer project that I didn't blog about at all. I painted the 2 story garage out back. It is really a pretty big structure. There are 2 apartments upstairs and 6 garages downstairs, so it is the size of a medium sized house.

I also put two new garage doors on the 2 garages that faced the street and did some siding repair here and there. I had to do a lot of cosmetic repair to the porch columns and I replaced door trim and corner boards. It was another one of those projects that just dragged on for months and months. It is nice to have it done, though. And now, with the push of a button, I can park my car in the garage.

Also, in October there was another blog-worthy event that got no mention here. I was wrangled in to doing the home tour for the Eureka Heritage Society. They've been after me for years to do it, ever since I won the Society's Residential Preservation of the Year award. It really was a honor, and I felt obligated to do it. Still, it was a lot of work getting ready for it. Just the thought of having who knows how many people come in to your home can be a little intimidating.

I was going to do the tour last year, but I didn't think I would have the foyer finished in time and I didn't want to commit myself and then have to rush to finish. This year, since the project was the apartment building out back there was no excuse not to do it. Trust me, I tried to come up with excuses not to do it.

I made the first floor available for the tour and it was an absolute mob scene. It lasted from 12-5 and I'm not sure how many people showed up. They estimate they sell from 300 to 500 tickets a year and it felt like everyone of them came to my house twice that day. At one point I counted more than 50 people in my house. It really was fun, though. I had some friends act as docents and I had a lot of displays set up that went over the restoration and talked about the original owners, The Petch's.

Every room on the first floor is finished now, except for the 2 parlors, which brings me to my winter-time project - my rare winter-time project. I'm going to attempt to get some things done in the parlors this winter and I'm going to attempt to blog about it. I'm not sure how much of either will actually get done, but I'm going to make an attempt.

Even though the parlors have been in a state of disrepair for the past 8 years, they have acted as my living room for most of that time. So this weekend the goal was to move my living room to an upstairs bedroom so that I can work on the parlors. Fortunately, a few years back I ran cable, phone, and internet to all rooms of the house, so it will just be a matter of moving furniture and electronics.

The goal for the parlors over the next few months will not be too ambitious. If I really went at it, I could probably finish these rooms in 6 months, but I won't be doing that. I have done quite a bit already. The sheetrock that was put over the plaster was removed 6 years ago, along with layers of flooring and wall paper. The rooms had also been modified during the apartment days of the 1920s, and that has all been undone.

The goal this winter is to just do some work on the plaster and woodwork. For the walls, I just want to remove the loose plaster and get the walls ready for new plaster. For the woodwork I want to strip off the paint. I'm still not sure if these rooms were originally painted or shellacked. Regardless, I need to get off the thick layers of dripping, gooey paint. There is also a lot of goop along with edges from when the sheetrock was put up.

If the woodwork was originally shellacked I will go back to that. If not, I will be repainting. There is circumstantial evidence that it was originally painted, but I won't know for sure for a few more weeks.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I’m Still Here….Barely

I am so burned out on the house, blogging, work, and just about everything else right now. So, since I can’t ignore the house, work, or most of everything else, the blog takes a back seat waaaaaaaay to the back of the bus.

I did get one project complete this year. Some might call it a pergola, while others may call it an arbor, but I’m calling it a neighbor hiding apparatus. There are potato vines growing up either side, and there are also the 2 mayten trees in the shot, which I planted last fall. All of this is for curb appeal when I go to sell the place in a year or two.

I also have six to seven hundred salvaged bricks from the old Daly’s department store that I will use to make a brick patio. The original plan was to use the bricks to rebuild the chimneys, but I don’t see that happening now.

The other project I have planned for the summer is to reside one short side (25 feet wide?) of the garage building, and then paint that building. This is the 2 story, 1926 building with 2 apartments upstairs and 6 garages downstairs. The second story shingles on this one short side need to be ripped off and replaced, and then 3 rows of horizontal siding needs replacing on the first floor. I had planned to hire someone to do the siding, but after getting 2 bids, with the low one being $9,800, I’ve decided to do it myself.

Oh, joy!

I may farm out the painting, but I won't know until I start getting bids. Something tells me I'll be doing that myself, as well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vote Early and Often

Eureka, CA – Home of The Petch House – is on the 2011 Dozen Distinctive Destinations list put out by the Nation Trust for Historic Preservation. I would like to think that The Petch House played a part in the nomination, but it really didn't. Or if it did, it was a very small part. The reality is, The Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau sent in an application to be nominated, which makes it sort of a vanity nomination.

There is a contest going on where people can vote for their favorite destination. Click here to see the full list of all 12 of the distinctive cities on the list. On that page there is a link that will take you to the voting page.

Everyone will be voting for Eureka, right? Right?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Night Time is the Right Time

Yesterday I showed the new front door windows from the inside with the light coming in. Here is what the house looks like in the evening now.

What I should have gotten a picture of was the light show that was put on this morning with the direct eastern, morning sun hitting the doors. It was almost psychedelic.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And They're In!

First, a little B&A action....

One went in without a hitch and the other one went in with a slight struggle. I need to paint the outside where the glazing putty is, but after that, these are done!

The foyer is a little darker with the new windows, but it's not too bad. They really improve the room. This is another one of those projects where after it is done I have to ask myself, "What the hell was I thinking when I decided to make these windows". It was really a lot of work, but I had to do something.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Still Wood With Glass

Here is a first look of the assembled windows. I finished the corners and oiled the wood today and then went and picked up the glass. Boy, colored glass is not cheap, but does look nice. The glass is just sitting in there right now being held in place with glazier's points. There is no glazing compound.

The glass is red, glue chip, and midnight blue English Muffle. The red glass is smooth, but has flaws and a few bubbles. The English Muffle is a textured glass. It looks much nicer when it is back lit with sunlight. It also should look nice from the outside when the lights are on in the foyer.

When I installed the colored glass in the butler's pantry doors a few years back they did not go in willingly. My solution at that time was to use a utility knife to widen the rabbet just a hair. It was not easy. In anticipation of problems this time, I asked the owner of The Glass Works in Arcata, where I bought the glass, if he could shave some of the pieces down a little if I needed it. He said, “No problem”, but as it turned out everything fit. It was a nice surprise.

Tonight I will remove the glass and primer the exterior side. Then tomorrow I will paint. Sunday is a day of rest, of course. It is The Super Bowel, after all. A friend used to say something along the lines of, “I don't go to church, but football is my religion and I practice my faith on Sundays”.

If the paint dries nicely on Sunday I may try and get on a few coats of shellac on the interior side before The Big Game starts. I don't think it is blasphimous if I only listen to the pre-game shows, but don't actually watch them.

I decided to try and do the glazing myself. As I said in an earlier post, I've glazed more than a few windows myself over the years, but I was going to take these to a glass shop because I wanted the glazing to be crisp and sharp. I can do it, but it does not really come out crisp and sharp. I've always used a putty knife and a tub of glazing compound, but this time I'm trying the stuff in the caulking tube with the special applicator tip. Fortunately, this stuff takes for ever to set up, so if it comes out looking bad, I can always dig it out and take it some place.

Installation may happen next weekend.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Go Egypt!

A new symbol of freedom

Friday, January 28, 2011

This Never Happens

I can't figure out what happened this time. Everything was going along so well with the front windows and then suddenly the whole thing went sideways on me. Chiseling out the corners is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. The glass was held up being shipped because of the odd size I ordered. Work has been ka-raze-ee this past week, so I've been in no mood to work on it in the evenings. It has just been one thing after another. This never happens!

Oh, wait, this always happens. Never mind, it's business as usual.

In a way it was an odd coincidence that things came together the way they did. If I hadn't slacked off on finishing the frames and the glass did show up on time I would have been frustrated that I couldn't install them this weekend. If I had finished the frames and the glass was late I would have been frustrated as well. As it turned out there was a harmonious synergy of laziness and incompetence that means no one is really to blame.

It's a beautiful thing.

So now the plan is to finish the frames this weekend. Get the glass midweek. Install the glass and get the glazing done. Then I will do nothing the on the windows next week because it is Super Bowl Sunday and I don't want to only finish the install half way on Saturday.

See you in two weeks!

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.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Characteristic Change

This one took only a matter of hours, but believe it or not I have changed the design one last time. Well, ok, maybe it's not the last time, but I feel good about this one.

Here is a better shot of the frames. If I had to do this over, there are a few things I would have done differently. The rails and stiles are 1-inch by 7/8ths. The 7/8ths is the width and I should have made them one and and 8th or maybe even inch and a quarter. I need to cut rabbets in them to accept the glass and it will be very tight. In fact, There is a real chance I might have to start over. I'm mentally preparing myself for that.

As for the final color, I think this is the way to go. The small clear squares will be glue chip glass. As of yesterday, the large panels in the center were going to be glue chip, and then red and blue around the perimeter. I remember now though, when I was looking at glue chip samples last week at the glass shop the owner admitted that new glue chip is not quite the same as old glue chip glass. The pattern is different enough that it is noticeable.

There is glue chip and there is also double glue chip. Both are nice, but there is something different in the way it is made now. The shop owner pulled out a large sheet and we found sections here and there that would be a good match. These isolated sections are better suited to smaller squares than a large center panel.

Another option, which I'm considering, is to put the smooth red glass in the center and the blue textured glass alternating around the perimeter with the glue chip. I like both for different reasons. Having the large red panels in the center more closely matches the big front window with its large 32-inch diameter circle of red flash glass. However, the blue glass is more obscure and so leads to better privacy.

What it may come down to is what is in stock when I go to order. I would hate to postpone the installation because I'm waiting on glass to come in. I'm hoping to be able to order glass this week. That is, if I don't completely screw these up when I cut the rabbets today.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chiseled In Wood

Well, there's no turning back now. The design has been finalized and the frames are made.

There is still some work to be done before I can think about getting glass cut, but I think the worst is over.

I've decided to simplify the colors a bit. Yellow is gone and the final colors wil more closely match the other original cottage windows in the house.

Next up I will router the rabbet to accept the glass. Then I can order the glass. While I'm waiting for the glass I can sand and finish the frames. If all goes well I might install them in 2 weeks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Locked & Loaded

My Scranton, PA supplier delivered the goods today so I finally have all of the hardware parts in place to finish the doors. I purchased this in “as is” condition, so they need a little restoration work before I can install them. The post for the lower bolt needs to be shortened, as well.

This project will take precedence over the windows. Once I get the locks installed I can finish the weatherization of the doors. Given the current climate (it was 31 degrees when I woke up this morning. Brrrr!), I'm sure everyone will understand.

I encourage others take a look at what Penn Antique Restoration has to offer. This is not any kind of paid endorsement. I really did get good product at a good price from someone who was easy to deal with and very accomodating. Shocking, I know.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Texture Shopping

I went and poked around a glass shop today to look at samples for the new front windows. I wish I could remember the name of the place I go to. It is on South G Street in Arcata. The gentleman who owns the place is a pleasure to deal with. I took in my netbook with pictures from the blog and in seconds he is pulling out samples flipping through catelogs.

I looked at dozens of samples and it was agreed that the texture of the glass is the important factor. The shade of color can be off a few degrees but if you put in a texture of glass that was not used in the period it will be immediately obvious. When the time comes to pull the trigger and chose the color he said I could bring some chips home so I could view them in the light of the room.

Over the weekend I cut and planed all of the wood I will need and yesterday I ordered some router bits to make the muntins. Wood selection was important because these will be relatively thin pieces of wood holding glass that is in a door. It needs to be nice, straight, tight grained redwood to do the job.

I'm hoping I can start to make the muntins next weekend and do some assembly. Once that is done, I can order the glass. If everything is in stock, that should only take a day or two. If all goes well I can have these done in 3 weeks. All never goes well, so maybe more like 4 weeks.

In the mean time, Diane from Pandora's Parlor sent me some wonderful photos of cottage windows she has added to her house. She makes them herself in many cases by replacing the glass in the top sash with colored leaded glass. I encourage you to go over and have a look. It is amazing what the effect of the colored glass has on a room. Below are photos of two of her doors. Yet more inspiration for me.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Oh no, your house would have had...

Good friends whom I genuinely like and respect start many sentences with the words above. It goes something like this.

Me: I stripped my house back to bare wood and found that the original color was white.

Them: Oh no, your house would have had an earth toned color scheme made up of at least five colors.

Me: It looks like these redwood floors are the original floors and maybe they were just shellacked and then had large rugs over them.

Them: Oh no, your house would have had wall-to-wall carpeting.

Me: I don't see any evidence that there was picture rail on the second floor of my house.

Them: Oh no, your house would have had picture rail in every room and hallway in the house.

Most of these statements are based on the fact that my house is a cut above a lot of the homes in Eureka from the period. Don't get me wrong, The Petch House is no mansion. What it is is a very nice, upper middle class Queen Anne home built in 1895. From an architectural stand point it has a lot of bells and whistles. That doesn't mean that it had every little detail that was available, though. Few, if any homes did

Because I have crawled all over this house like a monkey for the last 8 years no one living or dead but the builder knows this house better then I. When I say there is no evidence that there was picture rail on the second floor it is a qualified statement. I don't care if every single house built in Eureka in 1895 had picture rail on the second floor, mine did not.

How this relates to the front door window I'm working on now is that I have been assured by these same friends that my front door windows would have had leaded stained glass or acid etched glass in the windows. In this case there is really no way of knowing what was there because glass leaves no witness mark, nail hole, or residue with which to observe and base a theory on.

In the end I must make an assumption that their assertion is based on something. My friends are very knowledgeable about what could have been, so there is always the possibility they are right. Maybe many houses of the period had these varied accoutrements or maybe only those that were photographed had them. Maybe my house was the only house ever built that had no picture rail on the second floor. Maybe my house is the only house painted white. Maybe all of the other homes did have wall-to-wall carpet. Maybe all of the other homes did have something more than just cottage windows in the front windows on their homes.

Now though, a few people have posted comments indicating that cottage windows are very common on Victorian homes in their area or that they don't see a lot of leaded stained glass on the homes of the period. So, maybe I was wrong when in my last post I indicated leaded stained glass was very common in Victorian homes. I mean really, what the hell do I know about homes in Cincinnati, or for that matter, any other city a 100 years ago. I can only speak authoritatively on The Petch House. Beyond that I'm spouting rhetoric, conjecture, and hearsay.

In the end, what does it really matter. Anybody can do what ever the hell they want. There is no rule book to home restoration and renovation. Last I checked I still lived in a free country and if I want to gut my house, build a giant pyramid inside, sit under it and eat dog poop I can. I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon, but you never know. If I want to put cottage windows instead of leaded or etched glass I can do that was well. In the end they are both period appropriate and neither could be considered a hack job.

I like my friends, I really do. The only reason I get uptight about it is because these comments are made while they are standing in my house. If you are going to say I'm wrong and insist that my house had picture rail on the second floor then at least take 2 minutes to inspect the bare plaster walls for nail holes or inspect the corner blocks for witness marks.

I think part of this comes from looking at books with pretty pictures and assuming they were the norm. It is like thinking that every home in America today looks like the homes in Better Homes & Gardens. Those places are the exception and not the rule. A photographer in 1895 probably would not have gone in to Joe Buggy Whip's home and taken photos of uninspired interior details. What would be the point of that.

Now, what is really bothering me about this is that I am now falling in to the trap of thinking that my house was unique because it did not have every detail known to 19th century man. I now am under the impression that every house East of the Mississippi had every imaginable detail known to the period. My mind has become coerced and corrupted by my well intentioned friends. It's like the peer pressure of high school all over again. That is, if I had gone to high school. I guess I can feel fortunate that my friends are only obsessed about Victorian homes and not heroin or bank robbery.

The debates are lively and a lot of fun. I now can't wait to finish the windows so I can have them over for dinner to argue about the front doors.

Monday, January 03, 2011

More on “Cottage Widows”

If you read yesterday's post you know I got the term “Cottage Widow” from Historic House Parts, a salvage yard in New York. I'm curious if anyone else has heard this term used to describe the Victorian era wooden windows made with colored glass. Is it a vernacular term used mainly on the East Coast or is it just used by Historic House Parts? Maybe it is a common term and I've just never heard it before. Regardless, I like it

Here in Humboldt County most of the stained glass windows you see on Victorian homes can be described as Cottage Windows. My own house has 3 and I plan to make two more for the two front doors.

A common design of this style of colored glass in the front door window around here employs a uniform series of glass squares around the perimeter with a large pane of clear glass in the center. I'll see if I can get some pictures soon. Although my front door was not originally done in the cottage window style, other cottage windows on my house have a similar design (See yesterday's post).

The big difference between mine and a lot of others you see around here is that on mine the panes of colored glass are not uniformly sized all the way around. There are squares at the corners and rectangles on the sides and top. This is what drove the original design for my front doors. See below.

Original Design

Then after looking at some of the samples at Historic House Parts I changed the design of my windows. My main concern with trying to do the uniform squares all the way around is that it does not leave much room for error. If I limit the design to one size of square I could end up with a window too big or too small. For example, if I had 7 panes going up the side and each square is off by a quarter of an inch that adds up to an inch a three quarters too tall or too short.

Examples of Cottage Windows from Historic House Parts

Design Round Two – Inspired by Historic House Parts

With this design I can play with the length of the center panes to make sure the window fits the existing opening on the door. The pinkish glass was added as well, and is taken from the big front window that is original to my house (See yesterday's post). The real trick may be matching the texture of the 1895 glass.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The New Frontdoor Window

So, I've decided to venture in to the mysterious and intimidating world of stained glass. {Deep Breath} I'm going to attempt to make my own stained glass windows for my front doors {Exhale}.

Now, a lot of you probably have one or two ideas of what it takes to make stained glass or what are the requisite parts of a stained glass window. From what I can tell, stained glass falls largely in to three broad categories of construction. Old school stained glass uses lead came. These are the 'H' shaped pieces of lead (sometimes zinc) that are soldered together around the pieces of glass. The more modern method, which is a late 19th or early 20th method, uses copper foil that is wrapped around the edges of the glass and then soldered together. The last method uses wood instead of copper, zinc, or lead to separate and secure the pieces of colored glass. I believe these would be called muntins.

If you lived Back East 100+ years ago the leaded stained glass windows could be easily ordered from suppliers in almost every size and shape imaginable. There were huge catalogs of designs to chose from and even modest homes might have a front window with a leaded stained glass sash. It was quite popular.

A very eclectic design from The Carson Mansion (1887)

There are some fine examples of Victorian era leaded glass in Eureka, but really it is limited to the mansions. If you walk around Eureka, almost every home you see from the turn of the century has at least one stained glass window on it. What you don't see though, are a lot of the leaded stained glass. Most here are made with wood.

Two in the parlor

Better view of the large parlor window

Upstairs hallway

Close up of glue chip pane in hallway

Close up of blue glass

With lead came the designs can be as intricate and elaborate as you want. With wood, the designs are limited to using mainly squares, rectangles, diamonds, and the occasional circle. Historic House Parts of New York refers to these simple wood and colored glass windows as “Cottage Windows”. The Petch House came with 3 of them originally, as seen above.

In keeping with the original windows, above is my first design for the front door windows I want to make. The muntins will be redwood, of course. These are roughly 38X22. The corner squares are roughly 5X5. I added yellow to the mix because I have yellow glass left over from the butler's pantry cabinets. Next week I'm going to visit a local shop to see if they have anything that matches the purple glass that is in the big front window. I would like to match the color, but also that texture.

To see some eye-popping original Victorian windows from the 19th century visit the links below. I will not be held responsible for damage to any computer equipment while viewing these sites. Cover the keyboard with a towel and have your drool buckets handy. You have been forewarned.

Easy Boo (UK)

Historic House Parts (US)