This summer I meant to take off the whole summer and work on my house. But I wasn’t as into it this year. Instead I traveled to both upstate NY and the Upper Penisula. The girls and I camped and got a stand-up paddleboard.
And, most distracting of all I really really got into birding. Say your thanks I’m only sharing one photo of a bird.
And of course even “part-time work” ends up taking a lot of time.
I did however manage to finish the porch railings! I had to order even more spindles from the Amish wood turning business nearby. My dad basically helped me every step of the way. Thanks dad!
The South balustrade aka porch railing was almost a complete loss. Only the straight center part was salvageable; the curved ends and the entire bottom railing were entirely wood mush. I think I may have saved a few spindles from that side but I only ended up using old, restored spindles on the North side and I don’t remember which were which.
First we had to glue together big chunks of new poplar and recreate the curved ends of the top railing. THIS WAS NOT EASY! Dad has access to a good tablesaw and bandsaw at his work. Then I had to shape the curvy details with chisels, dremel and sanders. I cannot say I’m happy with the results, but they looked pretty good in the end.
By the time I got around to actually assembling the South balustrade it was getting cold out. It is definitely a 2-3 person job to get all the 3-D maneuvering to make it level and space the top and bottom the the right distance apart for the spindles all the while trying to pressure fit/shim the ends in place.
I’m good at installing spindles now. I actually use other spindles and clamps as a spacing jig for the installation. The spindles are 2 inches wide and the space between them is 2 inches. I chose to use exterior finish screws to secure them. It isn’t “old school” but when pre-drilled it can be done delicately compared to hammering. I then put wood epoxy over the ends of the sunken screws.
Next I custom cut and installed the tall, curved spindles that go on the ends of all three balustrades. Luckily dad had a small band saw I could put in my car and then just use on-site. I went a little crazy and jammed in as many as I could, like the original old photo of my house showed.
We had some really crazy warm weather this fall so dad took some time off of work to help me prime and paint all the balustrades. Did I already tell you how my younger daughter helped me pick the final house trim color? Are you ready? I was fussing and fussing over the colors and she said “Why don’t you just paint them white again?” OMG yes! I actually like the trim color we chose 11 years ago. Technically is is Benjamin Moore “Swiss Coffee.” I resisted buying any until I was actually ready to paint because I love opening freshly store-shaken paint.
In 2016 I learned that I prefer the wood working to actual painting. I really don’t enjoy changing into paint clothes, opening and stirring the paint, taping and draping and washing the brushes (or running to the store for new brushes because they get ruined so easily) and then waiting for it to dry to start the next layer. I don’t have other pictures of painting because it is messy and not a good time to touch a camera or phone. My dad and stepmother really helped get the project done before it was too cold and wet. My younger daughter helped paint the front balustrad-also thanks.
Dad went a little crazy and scraped down 6 extra columns, including the three you can see in the picture above. We didn’t do a really thorough job prepping those, so we shall see! I was really overwhelmed when he started working on those columns because I thought I thought I would never get done. But now I’m so glad because they helped me finish them and they look amazing from the road! Only the back column on either side hasn’t been scraped and repainted.
Here is the plan. I’m going to hire somebody to repair, prep and paint the rest of our house next season. I don’t really know how we will afford it, but it has become clear I will not be able to manage this, especially when the pregnant mothers, rivers and birds are calling me! These house maintenance and restoration projects are incredibly time consuming and get really difficult when heights, ladders and scaffolding are involved. There I said it semi-publicly, now I gotta start calling painters now to reserve their time next year.