Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Almost Skirted and Faulty Footers

The framing for the lattice skirts on the deck are built and fitted in place - now just need paint and lattice installed. Also finished the bead board on the stairs and added some additional trim work.

To fit the skirts, it was finally time to remove all the stucco off the brick footers supporting the rear section of the house. Needless to say the bricks were literally falling out of the stack. Fortunately my buddy John mortared them up to last another 100 years and a bit of finish pointing to boot. Here's a before and after of the north corner with loose bricks removed and after repairs....

yikes!.... and this is with top loose bricks still in place

this may actually support something now

By the way - that was the good side! The brick footers sit on leftover stone from the main house construction - how deep is any one's guess. But amazingly the rear has not really settled despite the condition of these corner footers. The two in the middle (4 total for the addition) are fine and the stucco still intact, probably helping keep them together. Under the stucco is cinder block that replaced old bead board between the footers. The areas not covered up by the deck will be replaced as original with bead board, the rest can stay just the way it is.

the master at work... just about every brick on this footer was loose

not bad for an "electrician" - thank again John!

And here is the same spot in 1945 with Norris's grandson Russ whom I met when the family came to visit. This is when this area was still an open corner porch entrance. You can also see the bead board that originally covered the crawl space before the stucco covered cinderblock. The upper bricks look loose even then too!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Handmade Handrails

Next on the decking to-do list was building a railing system. Taking some inspiration from the porch, I came up with something similar in design so I wouldn't end up with a 1990's deck on a 1900's house. Using a table saw I ripped cedar 2x4's through at a 15 degree angle to center of the 2x4 creating a V sloped top to the handrails. Then I took about 1/8 inch off each side so they would be just a bit narrower than the 4x4 posts. For the bottom rail I just cut a 15 degree slope on the outside edge angled in. The spindles were off-the -shelf 1x1 cedar that I spaced 3 1/2" inches apart (max code spacing). I pre-built each section flat on the ground using a wood block for spacing spindles consistently and laying 1 inch boards under neath the spindles to get them a consistent depth from the edge of the rails.

After the railings I added trim for the rim joist - a 1x6 PVC no-rot type of material and a PVC ogee trim. This was one area where I really wanted to shy away from pine trim and this new stuff works really well - and you can't tell. The remaining 1 1/2 inches of the joist will be my mounting surface for the lattice skirts which still need to be built (same as the porch project a few weeks back).

Finally - the stairs. It took a little trial and error to get the right measurements to use the material I had and have a usable set of steps. I went with the pvc trim again this time 1x8's for the risers and 2 cedar 1x6's for the treads leaving an inch overhang. My stairs are about 5 feet wide so I had to make 4 stringers on 16 inch centers. An added rise goes behind the rim and bolts to a floor joists. Of course I had the added chore of busting out the corner of the cement drive by hand - just the beginning of the fun I'll have removing all of that so I can get my yard back.

Then the risers and treads were added and another set of posts were added to the outside stringers for handrails. These were ripped in the same style as the railing, just no spindles.

Stay tuned for skirting, bead board, and some finishing touches....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Deck Part 2 - The Smell Of Fresh Cedar

Working with cedar definitely has an added bonus - the aroma when cuttin it! I spent the last few days adding 5/4 x 6 cedar decking to the new deck in between rain drops. The fresh cedar smell even blows in the house taking away the stale funk that still resides on the 2nd floor....

I had to use a 16 ft and an 8 ft board to make the slightly over 20 ft span, staggering the joints. The leftover ends are just to expensive to throw out, so I'll end up making some flower boxes from them. The posts for the railing are 4x4 cedar double bolted to the rim joists and are 36" above the deck surface. The tops I cut into a pyramid design - a shape that is reflected in many of the details of the house. I've also started design on a railing which will be made similar to the porch. The top and bottom rails will be custom cut from 2x4 cedar and the stiles can be purchased in 4 ft. lengths - so I plan to design a rail using 24 inch stiles - to expensive to have waste with this stuff!

Next time will be making and installing the railing system...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Deck The Hall House

Taking advantage of a cold snap (and bored of painting), I switched gears and started construction on the back deck. I didn't totally plan on this, I was just setting the 4x4 posts and the main support beams. But one thing led to another and a few hours later the supports were done and so was the rim joist. So I said what the hell - and kept on going. Working by myself, I used C-clamps to hold things while I squared and leveled everything and then tacked in place with drywall screws. Once all was happy I went back around with 16d nails. I used 1/2" galvanized bolts to fasten the double 2x8 main supports to the 4x4 posts. Next came adding the hangers to the ledger board, mounted on 16" centers, then drop in all the 2x8 joists. Final step to avoid any twisting was adding some cross bracing at the middle of the span.

Posts leveled, finding height to mount support header.

Closeup showing rim joists, support header, and posts completed

Joists installation complete

Bracing added - and framing stage complete

Next will be making and setting the railing posts and adding some decking.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A New Entry Oak Threshold

I crafted and installed a threshold for the new old front entry. This completed the look of the front door and came out quite nice. It is actually made from two pieces of red oak - one I made and the other I bought. The base is a solid piece of oak that I planed down and cut to size (approx. 1x6). Then it had to be rabbeted out because the cement base is actually a half inch higher than the hardwood floor inside. After a few adjustment it fit in perfect. Then I purchased a milled threshold to attach on top which is 1/4 inch thick. Once it was stained up and cleared it appears as one solid piece and should last a hundred years - unless someone rips this doorway out AGAIN!! Nothing left but weatherstripping now and refinish the door to complete the outside stage of this project.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Cool Day To Dig

I managed to get a cool day and off from work at the same time - so I took advantage of the opportunity and dug/poured the footers for the deck. The deck will be 20 feet x 10 feet, so I marked the footers 8 feet off the house - can't have more than 2 feet cantilever by code. I also place them in 18" from the sides. Using two stakes and a string I marked a common line and that became the center for my holes. About 36 inches later, I had 3 holes ready to pour cement. I made some 12 inch square forms which I set in place and leveled to get a good surface for the post to set and establish the top of the cement above grade. After pouring each footer, I inserted 12 inch all-thread bent into an L and lines up with my string. The foot for each post will be bolted to the footer with these.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Porch Gets A New Skirt

A long awaited project... I finally get to make the lattice skirting for the front porch. The PO left some sheets of vinyl lattice, so all I needed was materials to build the frames. I wanted to build the framing out of cedar, but getting lengths that I needed and to have them dead straight is a rare commodity these days. So I used 1x4 finger joint pine that comes pre-primed and in 16 foot lengths. I also bought L and T brackets to support the joints of the framing. Using original pictures I also added the little corner detail to the frames which give them a little more character. Here you can make out some of the details in this early pic.

Wally Hall in front yard - about 1916

There were 5 sections in all to build. I'll show a breakdown of one of the larger front sections. First was measuring, cutting, and laying out the basic frame and support brackets. The assembly was screwed together with 3/4 zinc coated wood screws. I did a trial fit in place to make sure it would fit before I went any further. Getting good measurements to stone was a bit tough and I ended up tweaking a couple before getting a good fit.

Next the corner pieces were added and then any bare wood from cuts was spot primed. I also used painter's caulk on the seams in prep for painting.

Next both sides received two coats of paint - I'm using the darker green I used on the railings.

Finally the vinyl lattice was cut to size and it too mounted to the frame with the 3/4 zinc coated screws.

Then they were mounted in place. A few sections needed some 2x4's mounted to the rim so there was something to hang the lattice from. I also sanded down and painted the porch rim joist and added new trim also painted dark green.

The final results really make a difference with the look of the porch - and the front of the house for that matter. This was definitely one of those fun projects with high payback for your efforts!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Front Door Gets The Trimmings

After the door was mounted and the posts secured, next project was making the trim work and mounting the side lites. The height was fine, but the width was narrower than original - so some of the gap had to be made up. First was taking 1x4 pieces and fitting them on the cement between the post and the wall. These were nailed in from the door side and toe nailed into the jamb and what bit reached the inside flooring, secured into the floor. This gave us a base to start trimming the side lites and help maintain the spacing on the bottom posts so they didn't wander over time. There wasn't a whole lot to really anchor the bottom of the posts with all the cement. Also these pieces were stepped out about 1/8 inch towards the outside to give a little step to the next 1x4 that would come next.

Next came 1x4 pieces that I routed the edge bead into for a little detail. These would box the opening of both sides, giving a little more meat for the top and bottom of the side lites to mount and closing the gap on the sides. It also made a nice effect for trimming out these panels. Finally some 1x2 colonial style trim finished the boxing detail and closed the rest of the gaps. Then it was time to strip down the outside of the side lites and mount them in permanently.

Then I caulked up all the seams and gave a good primer coat. Some final painting and what a difference. It opens up the foyer compared to the other door which had hardly any glass. Plus it just looks "right" for the house. The door will at some point get refinished. It has it's original finish that's OK and will be good enough till next year so I can get to more pressing projects. The inside side lites will have to be stripped in place and they will be stained to match the rest of the woodwork. Then the assembly will have to be trimmed out once I get that made. Also still need to make an oak piece for the threshold and some weatherstripping which will get done before winter.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Making The Front Door "Old" Again

In this circa 1920 photo of Mrs. Hall and the twin daughters you get a good glimpse of the original door and side lites. I was told by a neighbor that the side glass was frosted and the door was beveled glass. The PO replaced it with about 5 years ago with a pre-hung steel unit from the big box store. At the time maybe it was the nicest thing in the house, but with the restoration of the foyer, a white steel door and imitation gold leaded glass side lites stand out like a sore thumb to the nice oak woodwork and other original features now taking shape.

about 1920

Very early after buying the house I decided that I would restore this back as close to original as I could and picked up a nice original fir door with beveled glass and a pair of side lites also featuring beveled glass - the door and side lites were not from the same source or originally a set. Also worth mentioning is that I picked these up before I found the Hall's and obtained early pics of the house - so I really didn't know what the original looked like other than my neighbors description.

salvaged pieces I bought

With a rough plan and not having access to see the layout of the original jamb that new door was fitted into, my buddy John and I knocked out (carefully - I hope to get a few bucks for it!) the steel door assembly and look at what we had to work with.

steel unit removed - note notches in top header for original posts

The original construction consisted of two main 3x6's that served as the jamb for the door and also mounted one side of the side lites. This made the large opening into three openings - all of which were rabbited out to receive the door and side lites. These main post were notched to fit into a hole in the floor and anchored to the sill, and up top into a notch in the header. So obviously these were the key pieces to come up with. What we ended up using was making them from the side pieces that once made up the garage opening framing and was removed when the new framing and door were installed. These were 2x10's which we ripped down to 6 and planed both side - into nice old yellow pine studs. The originals were rabbited, but we will be adding a 1x4 to each side to achieve the same effect. This will also give us an extra inch we we need, because the original side lites were 16" wide and the ones I have are 12" - so some space needs to be made up. Next the notches were made and the we fitted them into place. I made the notches loose so we could stick the door in place and fine tune the fit to the door.

fitting the door and posts

Next I got a good lesson from John about setting up and mortising door hinges. We marked everything first before securing so we could take the post back out and do the chiseling on saw horses - much easier that way. Then everything went back together and was secured down. When all was finished the door action was flawless, hung true, and stayed in any position we put it. With just a little nudge the door swings around - closes - and latches shut.... what more could you want?

Next time I'll show how we mounted and trimmed in the side lites. Time to play with the new router table again!!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Despite The Heat - More Painting

The painting of the upper half of the porch is finishing up... though the back of the house is getting completely ignored right now. The columns and main header are all done and this is the last of the roof area. Again this was bare wood that the PO installed but never painted. It was sanded down to remove some of the weathering and then coated. The trim was trashed, so that was all replaced.

Stay tuned for the replacement of the "new" front door with salvaged "old" pieces - it's coming out even better than I hoped! And we'll be making some lattice skirting for the porch.