Saturday, November 07, 2015

A Comfy New Addition & Halloween

Wing Chair Project:

So the house has a new addition in the form of a piece of furniture. This is a wing chair I picked up at the curb down the road in May 2014. I have been on the lookout for a wing chair for a while, and I had spotted this one coming home from work. When I went to look at it, I noticed it had nice legs, so I brought it home.

Now, right off the bat, I knew I'd be changing the chair if I decided to keep it. I absolutely hate the back (La-Z-Boy style pillow back), and when I took a closer look at it, I discovered that the legs were just cheap plastic.

Ugh. At this point I wasn't sure if I should just put it back at the road, or try to save it. I decided to strip it down somewhat, and see if the frame on it was decent.

With just the back removed, the chair already looked a lot better. One other feature that I really liked on this chair was the lean on the back rest.

I decided that I'd make new legs, and make a few modifications to the frame. The frame on it was solid wood (mixed hardwoods) and it was fairly decent (far from the best, but it wasn't made with scrap wood or plywood).

The following 3 photos were some of my inspiration for the legs. I didn't want to do any complicated carvings or shaped Queen Anne style legs. Since I have a lathe, turned legs would be easiest option.

I decided very early on that if I was going to keep this chair, I wasn't going to spend much money on it. The new legs were made from scraps of cherry that I had on hand, and the chair was upholstered in a plain grey upholstery fabric that I had bought over 10 years ago for another project that never got done (the two previous sofa chairs I threw away when I redid the antique settee).

The new legs were done in a fairly simple, yet traditional style.

Since the legs on a chair are usually built right into the frame of the chair (for strength), these had to be tacked-on and held with large dowels and biscuits. Since the fastening method is a bit weaker, I decided to add stretcher bars in between. Normally, higher end and older chairs have these stretchers. I'm not really a fan of the stretchers, but they were needed for strength.

Also notice that the bottom curve was removed from the front rail, and a taller back centre board was added (I didn't like the flat back). I finished working on the frame and finishing the legs just about a month ago.

The chair was brought into the shop a few weeks ago, and I reupholstered it.

I changed all the foam on the chair. The arms had gotten too soft, the back was no longer the original pillow type, and the seat cushion was worn (and very cruddy).

The finished chair has nail-head detail around the legs. It's an extremely comfortable chair. Combined with the ottoman I did a while back (which matches the sofa cushions) it's just fantastic to sit in. I got the chair home just a few days ago.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. The fabric choice is a bit boring, but it works well in the room, and it was basically free. The chair does take up a fairly large amount of floor space in the small living room, so for now it's in this corner. It's hard to believe it's the same chair, and hopefully this gives you some ideas if you're thinking of having a piece of furniture redone. I often tell people that you're better off redoing an old sofa than buying a new one. Once it has new cushions, and fresh fabric, you're left with a beautiful piece that isn't shoddily thrown together like what you find today. Most of the newer frames I've worked on were garbage, and I'd say anything older than 1980s is good. This particular chair is probably 1990s, and just starting to drift into "modern junk" territory.


This year's costume was a cheapie. I'm pretty broke at the moment, so I only spent 5$ on this costume (the price of a plain red t-shirt from Wal-Mart). I went as Peter Parker, or "Spiderman in disguise".

The shirt was done using some quick sketches, freezer paper, an iron, and spray paint. For those who don't know, freezer paper (the kind used by butchers and available at most grocery stores) is a fun way to make simple stencils. You simply cut out what you want, and iron it in place. The glossy side of the paper melts and sticks in place creating a perfect stencil for fabrics.

I started with the curved horizontal lines, which were an absolute pain in the ass to line up.

The verticals were much easier, but they were also made up of hundreds of pieces. Largely thin strips, followed by tons of little bits to fill-in all the gaps.

The spider was fun. It's a mirror image, so I just quickly sketched out one half, cut it, then stuck it down.

Despite several coats of black on the spider, it didn't completely hide the web lines. The shirt still turned out really well though. I mentioned to several people that I had made the shirt, but no one really took me seriously until they saw the "making of" photos on my Facebook page.

I'll conclude by saying that I had a record number of trick-or-treaters this year. I normally buy for roughly 40-50 kids, but this year I had enough for 50, and I ran out completely within an hour! I started to get kids at around 5:50pm, and by 6:30 I was completely out. I had to be gone for the party by 7pm, but normally if I'm home for the evening, I keep handing out candy until 7 or 8pm.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Major Blog Posts and Projects List (2010 - 2015)

I keep needing to look-up most of these posts when I want to pass along the blog to friends and family, where they may not want to go through all of the current 392 posts. Instead, I like to pass along some of the highlights, but some of them are not necessarily well named, some are hard to find, and since a lot of the rooms are not DONE, I haven't made official "after" photos yet, like the bathroom (which is only 90% done, even after 5 years. It still needs a vanity top, a cover for the fan, and a DOOR).

With that in mind, I wanted to post the list of important posts here for all the new blog readers, and for those of you who have been around for a while, and who might want to revisit some of the projects. A lot of these are older posts, and stuff has changed or been added since then, but these give you a good idea of the progress over the past 5+ years.

Official House Tour (from the day after getting the keys, back in April 2010):


Master Bedroom:

Upstairs Hallway:

Upstairs Floors (Master Bedroom and Hallway):


Living Room:

Porch (not completely finished, but largely restored):

Video Tour 2012 (I want to do a new tour soon):

Garage Wall:

Upstairs "L" Bedroom:

Main Staircase:

Front Door:

Walls Under Main Staircase:

These posts don't include all the smaller projects, like rebuilding closet walls, repairing and replacing mouldings, fixing all the duct work, fixing light switch and receptacle locations, antique light fixtures, the built-ins, etc.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Salvaged Front Door Project Part 7 (Finale) - Interior Casings

I had decided a few weeks ago that it was getting too cold outside, and that I had no money to buy the wood to finish the interior casings, so I was going to wait until spring.

This past week, however (especially Wed, Thu, and Fri), the weather was very mild. I decided that instead of buying a full sheet of MDF and having it specially cut + delivered (which is what I'll eventually need to do for the rest of the casings I need), I could simply make them from 6" pine tongue and groove (which sell locally for under 4$ for a 6 foot length).

I had the time off from work, so I took most of Thursday to build and install the trim. The old plinth blocks were reused, new side columns were made (using the t-g pine with the groove on the back), and I had to build the parting bead from scratch as usual. I actually used a variety of scrap wood (anything that was on hand). The parting bead is actually Fir, and the header block is a rather nice piece of Poplar that I had hoped to use for something nicer.

Now, the reason I needed mild weather, is because with the hinges installed (and the door hung) it's impossible to caulk the edges of the casing, or paint. There is a tiny gap between the casing and the hinge, but it's not enough to paint in between there properly. I don't like to do anything half-assed, so the easiest solution was to completely remove the door, and all the hardware.

With everything off, I had complete access to caulk and paint everything.

I had only partially installed the bronze weatherstripping, so I removed the strike plate and lock, and the weatherstripping was masked-off with painter's tape.

Since I was using pine, as well as a mix of other woods, I decided to seal everything with some of the leftover BIN shellac primer (while it's still good). I don't have much else to paint, so more than likely the rest of it will have to be tossed. All the caulking, and multiple coats of paint were done on Friday, and by Friday the weather was starting to dip again (I think it was around 10C?) so I installed a sheet of plastic on the exterior to try to keep the heat inside.

I ended up doing 2 coats of BIN, followed by 2 coats of white semi-gloss trim paint. The door was off from around 11am to 7:30pm. Here's a nighttime photo just after I had hung the door back in the opening. Not the best photo, but as you'll see later, the lighting situation makes this door difficult to photograph in any lighting situation (too bright during the day, and poorly lit with yellow light at night).

I decided to take a nice photo of one of the salvaged hinges. This particular one is the centre hinge, which was graciously donated by a blogger friend Tracy from Bennington Colonial! Without the hinge, this project might still be on hold! Thanks again Tracy!

I also wanted to show how I made the best of a tricky situation with these large hinges. These are the 4" hinges (most old doors tend to use just 3 1/2" hinges, and often only two of them). Since they are larger the screws that I had on hand did not fit. Most hinges are set up with #8 size screws (your average deck or wood screw), but these were drilled and counter-sunk for #10 screws, which are the next largest size. I originally really wanted slot head screws, but I decided that I would just use Robertson screws (square drive), and I was able to find some in bright shiny steel. Obviously steel with antique flashed copper would look terrible, so the screw heads were spray painted with a flat brown spray paint, and I think they match pretty well!

As a side note, the cheap modern screws off my old door were only about 5/8" long, and some of the antique ones I have (from other hinges) were around 1", but these babies are 1 1/2". This might be a bit overkill, but the door is VERY heavy (75 Lbs), and I wanted to make sure it wasn't going anywhere! 3 hinges with 8 screws means a total of 24 screws.

Here's the finished door, with the hardware and doorbell reinstalled.

The side casing was carefully cut to fit tightly around the lock strike.

View from the living room:

This door is much taller than all the other interior doors, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the height lines up perfectly with the window casings (accurate to less than 1/4" difference).

View from the office:

The rest of the door casings photographed fairly poorly due to the strong light, and the fact that everything is currently white-on-white.

Finally the last thing to install to finish the door was the last strip of bronze weatherstripping, and you can read all about this in my previous post: Bronze Weatherstripping For Antique Doors.

Bronze Weatherstripping For Antique Doors

Bronze weatherstripping is one of those old fashioned "tried and true" products that has been around for well over 100 years (Victorian era). I'm not entirely sure if anything was used prior to this (I know that most old sash windows were never originally weatherstripped, but I'm not sure about doors), since there doesn't seem to be much available when it comes to "the history of weatherstripping".

Some of the benefits of bronze weatherstripping, is that if it's properly installed, it will last over 100 years, and it looks very elegant when paired with an antique door. It is, however, one of the more expensive weatherstripping options, and it will not necessarily give you a 100% perfect seal around all 4 sides of a door. There will be very small air gaps in the corners and at any strike plate or lock location. However, these small gaps are quite minimal, so it will be up to you whether or not you choose to use this product for your home.

One other quick benefit that I should mention is that this weatherstripping can be quite accommodating when it comes to odd shapes (such as round-top doors, or lancet-shaped Gothic doors), and it can be adjusted to account for slightly wider, or varying gaps. It can easily squeeze into a gap as tiny as 1/16" or be made to weatherstrip a 1/4" wide gap or slightly more. You would simply nail it down, and bend it forward to increase the lift angle.

I am primarily choosing this option for looks and longevity, and I'm more than willing to accept a few tiny air leaks.

I am writing out this detailed installation guide for a few reasons:
- While this product has been around for over 100 years, there seems to be a lack of detailed information on how it should be installed. I have gone through dozens of YouTube videos, and browsed several web sites, and a lot of the information is flat out wrong, slightly off, or there are details of the installation that aren't covered.
- Most installations deal with windows.
- Most guides don't have adequate photos.

When it comes to BW (I'll be abbreviating "bronze weatherstripping" to BW for the rest of this article since it's starting to be long to type out each time) there are several different kinds offered for sale, and most of them can be found through Killian Hardware, at They carry the most common types (the flat ribbon type) as well as specialty pieces to fit around locks, strike plates, and for windows. They have single door kits available, as well as 100ft rolls.

Since I was planning to eventually redo all the exterior doors for the house, I bought the 100ft roll a few years ago. I would easily have enough for 3-4 doors and at a better price than individual kits. As you can see, the price has gone up a fair amount since it's currently on sale for what I had originally paid (probably around 4 years ago).

Useful tools for the installation include:
- Measuring tape
- Pencil
- Drill (along with a small No.54 or 1/16" bit)
- Awl
- Tin snips, metal shears, or old scissors
- Small tack hammer
- Nail set (nail punch)

For most applications, you will need what they call "lock strips". These are 12" long and $0.99 each. One strip was long enough to do the strike plate and the lock on my front door. You simply cut it to length (I cut mine 1 inch longer on either side). These get pre-drilled for copper weatherstripping nails (use and indexed drill size No.54, or in a pinch, use 1/16"). The nails are also available from Killian Hardware, or through most hardware stores.

The lock strips are a sort of "C" shape, and these are nailed to the short section of the jamb.

Nail spacing tends to vary depending on what tutorial you read. Some say every inch (a bit overkill), and some say 1 1/2", but I chose 1 1/4" for the spacing. The BW tends to want to flex around, so I preferred to use a bit of an in-between spacing. To make things easier, mark yourself a hole-spacing "ruler" from a piece of cereal box cardboard.

Start your nails with a small tack hammer, and then finish nailing them with a nail punch. If you try to nail these down using only a hammer, you will either mess-up the weatherstripping, or bang into your jamb and end up with unsightly hammer marks everywhere. You also don't want to nail it down too far. If you bang the nails too far, you will dimple and kink the metal. This is very thin springy material, so use common sense. It doesn't need a death grip to stay in place.

Check that everything still works nicely. If the lock strips are working correctly, they should form a seal and block out the light.

Next is the "ribbon" weatherstripping. BE CAREFUL NOT TO KINK IT! You need to handle the strips very gently since they are fragile and easily kinked until they are firmly nailed down. Kinks CANNOT be fixed. The strips can be cut with metal shears or a pair of strong scissors that you don't mind getting dulled.

Start with the strike side of the door. Measure and cut a strip a bit longer than needed. Remember this is expensive material. You don't want to cut an extra 3 or 4 inches (and waste it) and you also don't want to cut it an inch short, and waste a few feet! To hold the strip temporarily in place, I used the awl in a pre-drilled hole at the top.

Note: Top corners should be clipped at a bit of an angle so that the strips won't bind together at the top corner. 1/4" is plenty (yes you can eyeball this).

Mark the correct length and snip to size (these are clipped straight across).

Take the strip down, then measure out all your holes, and drill them. Near the bottom (or top) edge, you will see that your holes may not end up evenly spaced. You can easily cheat the spacing on the last 4 or 5 holes to make it look like they match-up. You can either crowd them a bit, or fan them out a bit (but stay within 1 1/2" spacing).

Start with a nail in the top corner. The BW should be spaced about a matchstick away from the front edge. This will depend on the size of the BW you purchased, and on the size of your jamb. You don't want the "high" edge of the fin (the edge that seals) to be too close to the door stop moulding, and you also don't want it too far.

Smooth out the BW to form a nice straight line, and stick-in the awl in the bottom hole. Space nails every few holes going down from the top, and nail them only part-way into the holes incase you need to adjust the strip. You want the BW to lay as nice and evenly as possible without ending up with any bows, waves, or kinks in the fin. Also remember not to go crazy with your nailing. You want the nails nice and flat, but not driven-in too far that they start to kink the metal.

You can just see small dimples around the nails. You can also see that if my ribbon weatherstripping had been a bit longer (1 5/8) or if the lock strips had been deeper, I'd have a complete uninterrupted line of weatherstripping (with the ribbon resting over the lock strip edge). I COULD have backed-up the ribbon from the front edge and made it land on the lock strip, but because my door isn't perfectly straight on this edge, it would have made a poor seal down on the bottom few feet of the door. Another option here could have been one of the alternative V strips of BW such as the 3/4" width. This one would have been face-nailed away from the stop moulding. In the end, it's really not a big deal.

The same process is used to install the centre, and bottom strips. You can see here how I installed the bottom strip, with several nails started. At the very bottom, you also might want a small (maybe 1/8") angle cut to prevent any chance of the ribbon catching along the bottom corner.

The top strip is the same. Carefully measure the length and cut it. Angle-cip both corners, then install it.

No light:

Compare with this unsealed side (lots of light):

Now the hinge side. This side seems to be the one with the most confusion. This strip gets installed backwards, and as a single length. Why not in the same direction? It's true that the strip on this side would look better, and work equally well if it were installed the same way, but the problem is the hinges. You would end up with large air gaps at every hinge. If you don't mind those gaps, there's no reason why you can't install it the same way as the others, but if you want the best seal, you would nail the strip along the opposite edge. This gives you an uninterrupted line of nails (unless your jamb is especially narrow), and a complete seal from top to bottom.

There is no need to worry about the weatherstripping passing between the hinge locations, since there is usually a pretty decent sized gap in the hinge when it is closed (1/16" to 1/8", which is plenty of room for this thin strip of bronze).

One of the drawbacks, however, is that once the strip is installed, the hinges can't be unscrewed. For this reason, it was important for me to install my interior casings, caulk, and paint them before installing this BW strip. And since I've installed it, you can guess that my next blog entry will show off the finished interior casings.

Make sure to taper the top edge, and to leave enough clearance so that neither strip will catch on the other.

As mentioned earlier, if you find that the BW is laying a bit too flat once you've installed it, you can carefully slide your fingers behind the higher lip, and flex it forward (being careful not to make any kinks), or alternatively, you can run a metal object (something not too sharp) down the crease. Be careful not to increase the lift too much. If the BW is too tight, it will make the door more difficult to open and close. You want just enough pressure for the spring bronze to lightly push against the wood door and create an air seal.

For the bottom edge, there seems to be fewer historic options available. You have the choice of a sweep (many types are available, and not all of them look nice), an aluminum strip with a weatherstrip edge (top-mounted on the outside), or something like a self-adhesive foam strip, which is what I chose.

For Round or Lancet Doors:

If you are weatherstripping a round-top or a lancet door (or a variation) the process is much the same. The weatherstripping is installed normally along as much of the two vertical sides as possible (without kinks), and the curved portion is done in sections of about 2 to 3 inches long. Each section is installed with an overlap, much the same as if you were installing shingles. In a lancet application, I would start by the top (centre) and work my way down to the vertical sides. You can see an example of this type of installation on the Killian Hardware page with the bronze Weatherstripping.