Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Small House Update - Light Fixture in the Guest Bedroom

I've had the fixture for the guest bedroom (or spare room, formerly "the laundry room/kitchen" upstairs) repaired, rewired, and ready to install for at least 2 years or more now. I was originally going to wait until the ceiling and drywall in this room were finished before installing it, but it was looking so sad just hanging in the basement gathering cobwebs that I decided to just install it now. It also helps with the low (crappy) lighting situation in this room. This is a small room (maybe 9x9) and it has no windows. Originally it would have had two windows, but one is now blocked by the building next door, and the second one has been converted into the door leading down to the driveway and garage at the back of the house. I plan to eventually replace the steel door with a salvaged one that has a window in it, which will give the room a bit of natural light.

There's no real way to create nice shots for this fixture, since the ceiling is unfinished (and reinforced with screws/washers to counteract the sagging, and the room is also filled with junk at the moment. These are the best I could do, and at least you can get an idea of how this looks.

This type of 1910-20s fixtures is called a "gravity" shade fixture, although that isn't necessarily the best term. The globe in held in place with special clips that clip (and screw-tighten) onto the rim of the glass shade, while also carrying the bulb socket and a chain link. These fixtures are more commonly found in dining rooms, living rooms, er even places like stores and banks (with very long links). They occasionally have only 1 bulb (sometimes hanging down in the centre, or a bulb each (like this one).

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Stunning Antique Mirror Find

So back in May I went to a flea market with a good friend of mine and her boyfriend. I ended up finding a few clock magazines, and this gorgeous antique mirror. She paid for half (combined b-day and Christmas gift from last year) so this was a bargain find.

This is an American Gilt Wood Federal Mirror, and it dates from between around 1830-1850. This is a very small version, and it's about 19" high by 11" wide at the top. Standard mirrors like this are usually about 30" high, but there are a huge variety of sizes up to about 5 or 6 feet tall.

This one still has the wonderful original (very wavy) mirror, and the original "verre églomisé" (reverse-painted) glass. The gilt decorations and gesso are not in perfect shape (lots of chips) but that's not really a big issue. I chose to do a very light restoration on the gold by simply touching up most of the exposed white. A fair number of these mirrors have been stripped down, repaired, re-gessoed and re-gilt. That's not the look I was aiming for.


There were two thin side areas without any gold paint (just mustard coloured paint). I repainted these since both sides were in bad shape.

After minimal restoration. I have this mirror hanging above my nightstand in the master bedroom.

Repainted side(s):

The reflection in the mirror is fairly useless unless you're right in front of it, but the silvering is remarkably bright and clean. It also makes stunning splashes of light on the walls when light is hitting it.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Master Bedroom Grates

Here's something small that FINALLY got done just the other day. I had started to strip and clean-up the grates (these are the ones that go in the master bedroom) probably about a year ago, and it had not gone very well, so I set them aside for later.

I have been working on a few French comtoise clocks lately (see below), and as part of their refurbishing, the movement cages needed to be stripped and repainted. I decided that it would be a good time to finally finish the grates while I had the stripping chemicals out. Since there were mostly just a few stubborn paint spots and drips on the grates, I decided to slather them in stripper, cover them with cling wrap, and leave them to "stew" while I worked on the comtoise parts. This ended up working nicely, and the paint and grime came off nicely with a bit of scrubbing.

Here's the comtoise clock I'm currently restoring (more info on the clock blog):

Here is how the grates turned out. I am pretty sure they are cast iron, but they seem to have a copper plating on them. These were originally quite dirty, grimy, coated in paint, and I thought they were originally just rusty iron. They turned out looking quite beautiful, and the colour blends in nicely with the painted floor. I didn't photograph the second grate, but they look pretty much the same.

Here's an older "before" photo of how the grates looked before cleaning/stripping:

And here's an OLD original photo from when I first bought the house:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Some Recent Woodworking Projects

About a month ago I did a set of cabinets for a client (a former boss) and I thought I would share a few of the photos here. This will give you a bit of an idea of the kind of quality pine furniture that I used to make at one of my old jobs (2002-2008). These are made of regular "common grade" pine, with the nicest boards used for the panels and doors, and the "less pretty" boards used for the shelves. The backs are store bought t-g. The cabinets were built in his shop, and I'll be able to eventually make my kitchen cabinets in pretty much the same way.

Laminating large panels (shelves in the corner unit):

The cabinets were 3 bookcases divided by 2 blanket boxes to span a wall with 2 windows. These are the three bookcase bodies:

Frame pieces for the blanket box fronts and doors:

A semi-complete blanket box:

This is how the units line up, with the large corner one off on the left.

Finished blanket box:

One of the bookcase cabinets with the door in place:

Corner units:

I don't have any good photos of the finished cabinets except for this one. As soon as I had them assembled, we brought them inside. The colour was matched to the original wood floors in the house.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cornwall - Seaway International Bridge Demolition Update

As some of you might remember, Cornwall now has a new low bridge, and the old bridge is being demolished. They are actually making a lot of progress on the demolition, and I'd say they have about a third of the bridge already removed. These are some photos I took a few days ago.

For the most part, the bridge is being chopped and removed in huge chunks with a massive crane. The piers are being jack hammered into pieces of rubble with a massive machine (the knocking action can be heard from dozens of blocks away).

For a previous post about the bridge, see:

Here you can see how they chopped and removed half a large span, with the other half held in place with temporary scaffolding. The intersection in the photo is Second Street (one of the main roads).

Pier demolition. You can see how deep the bed of rubble is in this photo (the full height of the water truck).

They were either hosing it down for the heat, or to keep down the dust. I'm not entirely sure.

Massive Construction Work (Sewers)

One thing I should have mentioned in my last post (which slipped my mind) is that my entire street is currently being torn-up. The city is replacing the sewer pipes and water lines on my entire block. Currently we're all hooked up to temporary "over-land" water pipes.

This is pretty much the view at the front of my house. There's now some huge cement sewer parts now, too.

This was down at the intersection at the other end of my block. They started there and they're working their way to my end.

This is looking down the street towards my house, which is the last one on the right side (not visible) at the end of the sidewalk.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Already

Times have been a bit tough lately, and I haven't had much spare cash to get any projects done. I have one project I could be working on (stripping and refinishing the salvaged front door) but I need to set aside some time to work on that since it will be a gross messy job.

I also want to do a few "Cornwall Homes" updates, but there's really nothing overly exciting to report.

Currently I'm building some kitchen cabinets and doors for a client, and I've been keeping busy with small projects (clocks, paintings, and other odd bits). I've actually made a bit more progress on the Cherry Bookcase, and the bulk of the ornamental top is now done. Next will be a few structural braces on the back, and some turned finials.

I'm currently enjoying the last day or so left in some beautiful peonies, and enjoying the weather before summer really sets in.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rough Stairs Finished!

Here's the last part of the staircase build. Once I can afford to cap it in the finished wood, I'll be making more posts about it, but for now, it's "done".

To secure the three "floating" ends of the stringers at the top step, I custom made 3 metal brackets. These are made from 1/8" mild steel (7$ from any hardware store). I cut the length into 3 sections, marked them, and drilled them. They were bent roughly to shape with a vise and hammer.

I could maybe have tried some sort of "joist hanger" hardware on these, but the 1/8" steel will be much stronger than the thin metal versions. Making these myself was probably cheaper as well. They are secured directly to the structural beam.

After I had the top secured (in the correct spot for my measurements) I then nailed the staircase to the walls on either side. I used large 4" nails for this.

This morning I cut and installed all the rough steps (nine 3" screws each, and also secured on the revers with 4 screws in the risers).

This shows the 4 horizontal screws on the back sides.

I'll also point out that I put all the "nice sides" on the back part of the staircase, since I probably won't finish the back. This is why the front part of the stairs already look especially cruddy (paint drips, scuff marks, etc).

For the top step, I simply installed a 2x4 filler block at the top, and made a taller riser. The riser is then screwed on the front, and on the back.

The top "step" (floor edge) will need special detailing/moulding work, and it's basically going to get a 3 sided rim (painted the floor colour), and hollow columns on the ends to continue the illusion of the door frame down to the step. A bit hard to explain, but you'll see this in detail when I eventually put it together.