Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

July 9, 2013

4th of July Marathon

Filed under: Living room,Stairs,Stone house restoration,Upstairs — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:50 pm

It’s felt like a marathon but with not much running involved. Just lots of dirt and sweat beginning on the 4th and continuing through the long weekend. And lots of sweat is an understatement because it was in the mid-80s the whole time with high humidity. I began with removing the stairs that were installed in the 1950s.  Two joist were cut from the second floor to make a space about 48″ wide to go from the first to second floor – and a joist was removed from the 1st floor to provide access to the basement.  The stair treads were solid oak and trim was pine all finished in stain and then varnished.  Removal was not difficult but took time because when I finished you could fall directly from the second floor to the basement!

Here is a photo removing the treads.

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When I got near the bottom of the stairs I pulled up a tread and found a 1952 nickel, which would be right around the time the stairs were built. I like to think the contractor left that there to be found by someone.  All in all I found $0.49 in quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies.

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After removing the treads I removed the drywall that then exposed the window that until now provided light to the basement (it used to be the entryway from the old kitchen in the 1950s addition to the basement – you can see a photo of this window as a doorway in this blog entry).

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Once the last of the stairs were removed I found that there was even a linoleum “rug” on this floor with newspapers underneath.  When they built the stairs they didn’t bother to remove the linoleum!

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So when all was said and done this is what the living room looked like. Much bigger with 2 window openings to the front of the house.

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The next step involved reflooring the 1st and 2nd floor openings.  I started by installing a joist (with the help of Ethan).

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And then we used flooring from the attic (and left over from what was used in our master bedroom). However, we cut the flooring to width to match the original existing flooring that was removed in the 1950s.  This meant we had to mill tongues and grooves in the flooring. I think the end result will look good, but right now the rough, dirty attic boards look horrible next to the refinished original floor.

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Part of the difficulty of replacing the flooring was that they cut the floor next to the joist (and non-load-bearing wall). To install the new flooring I had to chisel out a short piece of old flooring and then hammer in place the replacement section. This took a lot of time, but we have everything installed except for a space for the geothermal company to install a chase for ducting to the second floor.

The second floor was a little easier, because Ethan and I had experience installing the joist and we didn’t bother matching board widths. The space on the 2nd floor is going to be closets so no one will really see the mismatch in floorboards. Updates on this work is forthcoming. I’m too tired right now to finish this blog entry!

 

 

February 24, 2013

Hollows and Rounds

Filed under: Stairs,Stone house restoration — Duane Diefenbach @ 5:39 pm

One of my Christmas gifts was a recently-published book on making mouldings using hand tools, specifically hollows and rounds (H&R). These are wooden planes used until the early 20th century to create moldings.  A half set of H&Rs is 18 planes in matched pairs with increasing radius from 1/8″ to 1-1/8″. Below is a photo of the set I bought recently (but missing the No. 4 pair) and the soles of a matched pair.

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I have 1 pair tuned up and ready to use but need to buy some sharpening tools to get the rest in shape (even though they are in quite good condition overall). Plenty to keep me busy!

Below is a photo of the plane irons. You can see one has a concave profile and the other is convex.  The convex is not too difficult to sharpen but the concave is going to require some conical sharpening slips for sharpening and a flexi-shaft grinder to shape the profile.  The set of H&Rs that I bought were made in London probably in the late 19th century so they need some work to recover from neglect.

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To make mouldings you also need a rabbet plane to cut rabbets to minimize the amount of wood to be removed by the H&R planes.  I bought an old rabbet plane on ebay that was made by the Sandusky Tool Co. in Ohio that had a 1″ wide sole. Unfortunately, the plane was warped and the sides were worn.  Using the jointer I narrowed the width to about 7/8″, flattened the sole, and ground the iron to fit the new dimensions of the plane body.  It will no longer be a collector’s piece (not that it was at all rare) but it is now a useful woodworking tool. I may eventually have to box the corners with a harder species of wood, but for now it works quite well.

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My first attempt with these planes was to make cove mouldings to go against the risers just underneath the stair treads. I started by cutting a dado with the rabbet plane. I used a marking tool to scribe a line indicating the width of the dado, then held the rabbet plane at an angle to track the scribe line as I gradually cut the dado. After a few strokes at an angle you can hold the rabbet plane vertical and cut the dado.

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That left a satisfying pile of shavings on the floor.

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After the rabbet plane I used a No. 8 round plane to cut the cove.  The sides of the dado guide the round and you keep track of the disappearing rabbet to make sure you are cutting evenly along the moulding. In the photo below you can see the dado has almost disappeared.

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And then you’re done. The nice thing with cutting the moulding with a plane is that you don’t have to sand like you do after using a router. Although by hand it took me 10 times longer! I hope to get faster over time…

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Below are the results of my first attempt at making mouldings by hand. Not perfect but given that each of these will be underneath the lip of a stair tread I don’t think anyone is ever going to notice.

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Now only 8 more stairs to go!

One final note for this week, I found some money (besides pennies from the 1950s)… a Mercury dime that fell out from underneath the rubber mat nailed to the original top step of the stairs. Not that all our investment in the house has now paid off… the dime is worth about $2-$3 mostly because of the price of silver.

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