Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

February 17, 2013

Firewood 2014 Time

Filed under: firewood,kitchen — Duane Diefenbach @ 5:04 pm

We have had 2 weekends recently with below-freezing temperatures and little snow – perfect for cutting wood.  Left over from last year were still 2 trunks of dead standing white oak (each about 20″ dbh) on the hillside. They had to be dropped downhill because of their lean, but with the frozen ground and slope they were easy to haul down with the tractor and truck.

Here’s what we dragged out and had cut and piled in the yard by lunchtime. Two pickup truck loads from 2 logs!



This year Ethan got some experience with the chainsaw, which led him to comment that now he knows why I like to cut my own firewood (because it’s fun!). That was only after about 15 minutes of cutting (before he even got warm enough to take his coat off) – but if he’s happy I’m happy (and grateful for the help).



Today we dropped some cherry trees overhanging the fenceline.  Two more truckloads and I think we’re done for next year.  Between the 4 loads we just cut and what we won’t burn this year (see this post from March 11, 2012), we should be all set for 2014.  Now we just need to split and stack it all.  Also, after lunch we cut a truckload of box elder to use as firewood for the workshop – box elder is pitiful heating fuel but contains enough BTUs to take the chill off my workspace.

So once again we have another pile of something in the yard.



Update on the house

This past week I finished the paneling above the range hood in the kitchen. These panels had to be removeable so that one can gain access to the vent and power for the range hood. I used 4 pieces of poplar as framing to attach the panels.  The side panels will be attached from the inside and the front panel will be attached with brass screws from the exterior. In the photo below you can see the framing – and the sad fact is this area has been exposed so long we were used to it… But I did get lucky attaching the piece on the ceiling as it fell exactly on a joist (that runs parallel, not perpendicular, to the outside wall!



Here’s the finished product!


Next I finally made the “double” door needed to access the space under the prep sink. I used 2 pieces of solid cherry… and have it sanded and fitted and now just need to finish them.


So you may ask, “Is the kitchen is finished?” Not really – need to add cove molding to the baseboard, cover the framing that forms the toekick under the cabinets, and probably make one last upper cabinet to go above the prep sink. And we have been doing some thinking about a pattern/mosaic to tile the wall between the range and hood.


December 28, 2012

Lots of Doors

Filed under: Exterior,Front door,kitchen — Duane Diefenbach @ 3:23 pm

The doors that have been completed in the past couple of months include all but one kitchen cabinet doors, the front door to the addition, and a storm door for the front door of the old house.

The front door is essentially complete and here is a photo. Note the pull for the doorbell is installed and I have a brass plate that says “Pull” to install.

The kitchen doors took a lot of work. There were 7 in all.  Almost every door is a slightly different size and I made the panels out of a single piece of cherry.  Here is a photo of the doors with the panels with 2 coats of finish installed in the frames (unfinished). I had to fit each door and make adjustments with a hand plane.

After they were fitted I finished them and here they are installed.

I still have one door to complete in a corner of the base cabinets. This door has to be a bi-fold door to open near the fridge so I have been putting it off, although it won’t be too difficult.  The other to-do item is a series of cherry panels above the range hood. Then the kitchen should be complete except for possible cabinet above the prep sink (above the base cabinet lacking a door).

The other door I have been working on has been a storm door for the front door of the old house. After a year of being exposed to sun (and rain/snow) the interior paint has really taken a beating, especially the side exposed to the west.  It’s clear that a storm door is a necessity to protect the entry way.  I designed the door to be similar to a four-panel door except that the top 2 panels will be windows that can be replaced with screens (if you so wish). I used antique cast iron hinges and modern brass doorknobs.

Here’s a photo of it installed. I used the same paint I used for the storm door in the rear of the stone house. It is a green similar to the green we used on the addition but darker.  I think it looks ok – decide for yourself.

Now we just need some stone steps to the front door of the old part of the house (although it would fit in well in Vermont without a front stoop)! And we’ll see how often I have to restore it because of damage from sun and rain.

February 25, 2012

Nice Accomplishments This Week

Filed under: Interior,kitchen,trim — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:15 pm

I put a good bit of effort into the kitchen and dining area this week. I installed the base for the backsplash for the countertops. This was a plywood backing with a cherry trim on top so that a 3″ wide slate piece could be installed. Once this base was in place I could trim the windows in the kitchen. This trim is only 3″ wide whereas the rest of the house is 4″ trim, but there just wasn’t enough space for 4″. I don’t think it matters given that these are the only windows in the room so it’s not noticeable that the dimensions are different.  All this will look much nicer when I build the cherry panels above the range hood.

I finished the trim around the doorway to the mudroom and the sliding door to the back porch is finished.

But I think the most rewarding accomplishment has been fitting the slate to the backsplash.

The final punchlist is getting shorter, but so are the number of days until 31 August!

A reader had asked how we joined the sheetrock to the masonry in the kitchen. Actually, we didn’t. My intention was to fit trim to the abutt the masonry, but I think just leaving the sheetrock as close as possible to the masonry, but leaving a space looks nice and clean. Here are some closer photos of where the two surfaces meet, but note that we have some work to do cleaning up paint marks on the masonry. I also include a close-up of where the broom closet meets the masonry (see this post).

January 27, 2012

Drawers and Cabinets

Filed under: Interior,kitchen,Master Bath — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:11 pm

Over the holidays I made drawers for our vanity that I installed about a year ago (see this post). They came out very well but the wood has aged a bit in the light and the walnut and cherry trim on the drawers has a slightly different hue than the vanity.

The next project I have been working on is to build and install the upper cabinets to go in the pantry area of the kitchen. The next set I ever do will turn out better but I think I have been able to hide most of my mistakes.

As you can see, a lot of doors need to be made for the kitchen. However, our cereals are no longer in a box on the floor near the cupboard. Lisa also has some organizing to do. But I was told I have to finish the drawers and cabinet doors for Molly’s window seat and bookcase (see this post for something that I was working on only 2 months ago!).

September 18, 2011

More Kitchen work

Filed under: Interior,kitchen — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:09 pm

Last weekend I cut the slat for the countertops to the left of the stove, applied thinset, and let the thinset cure all week. This weekend I filled the gaps with fiberglass resin and then sanded everything smooth! Here are photos of the results.

The resulting dust is a royal pain and I hope if we ever do this again we finish the kitchen before we start using it…

I have been informed the next task is to complete the window seat and bookcase in Molly’s room. Stay tuned.

August 28, 2011

So where was I…

Filed under: flooring,Interior,kitchen — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:46 pm

So it’s only been 3 months… and it’s been busy but not all about the house. I’m going to forget any chronological recap and just provide some updates.

In July I installed the yellow pine floor in the area off the kitchen. Now the dogs are doing a great job of scratching up the finish. While sanding the floor I discovered that one of the boards contained a lead bullet! Looks like a modern round (.30 caliber?) but I think it’s pretty cool (and it’s off in a corner so you won’t really notice it).

And Molly’s pigs are now quite big and love to lay in the mud.

And the puppy (Roxy) is getting pretty big and has chewed more of our belongings than all our other dogs combined.

Molly’s roosters went to the Grange Fair this week.

That’s Elvis on the left and Big Al on the right. Big Al was awarded first place in his category and went on to the grand championship but didn’t place. Elvis was moulting so he didn’t fare so well and placed 4 of 5 in his category. They are now for sale and we hope they don’t come home. Especially Ethan because he no longer needs an alarm clock to get up in the morning.

I have also been working on the kitchen. To the right of the stove is a prep sink and a butcher-block countertop. Underneath the counter are 3 drawers and pull-out spice shelves and a pull out rack to hold cookie sheets and other large pans.

To the left of the stove we have been using the cabinets and countertop from the old kitchen but those are now gone but I still need to install the slate countertop and construct, finish, and install doors.

May 24, 2011

Slow progress

Filed under: Exterior,kitchen,peninsula — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:43 am

Tasks now take more time because it takes several days to construct a door or drawer and then finishing takes twice that. Besides last week involved treating the cows for pneumonia and coccidiosis and the weekend involved moving the pigs to the outside pen, moving the meat birds to the pasture pens, and then cleaning the stalls in the barn. At least the dogs now have their kennel back.

The pigs are adjusted to their new pen. They found they can fit under the shelter (for now) and they can climb up in the shelter to get food and sleep. The rooting in the pen has begun.

I have also started working on replacing our boarded up windows in the stone house with single-hung sashes using old glass I acquired. The first window I was able to install this weekend was where we used to go from the kitchen in the old addition into our dining room (lower left in photo below). The other window used to be a closet in the old mudroom (lower right).

And I finally have the doors and drawers (almost) finished in the kitchen peninsula. I still need to install some trim around the dishwasher and install a cover in the toekick area.

March 6, 2011

More on the Kitchen

Filed under: kitchen — Duane Diefenbach @ 6:36 pm

I finished 2 of 3 cherry panels that enclose the ductwork from the basement to the second floor. The white “outlet” is for the central vacuum (it’s not hooked up, I just bought the fittings and ran the pipe). Enough of the chase paneling is completed so that we could move the refrigerator into the kitchen (instead of the entryway).

Eventually, there will be wall cabinets above the fridge and to the left… but that will be a while.

February 26, 2011

Dust, Dust, and More DUST!!!!!

Filed under: Basement,Interior,kitchen,Masonry — Duane Diefenbach @ 6:44 pm

Did I mention it’s dusty around here?  Sorry for no recent posts but it has been a busy month. Since the last post (Feb 7th!) a lot has happened – Lisa’s stove was delivered and the propane gas was installed, the mason started on making the doorway to the basement a window again, and I have made some progress on the kitchen cabinets (but not as much as I would have liked – but a trip to Oklahoma did crimp my spare time). I’ll get to the dust story eventually.

First, THE Stove. It arrived the 16th of this month and the propane guys arrived on the 17th to install the gas line and hook up the stove.  Too bad they showed up 2 hrs late and basically made me miss a whole day at the office… but the stove works great (and looks great). It has 2 ovens (full size and a smaller warming or cooking oven), 6 burners (including a simmer burner), and a griddle. The side benefit is that Lisa is motivated to cook!  My mistake was to leave 3 days later for a meeting in Oklahoma.

Since the stove was installed we have completed “the move” from the old kitchen to the new kitchen even though the new kitchen in incomplete.  As in interim step some of the old cabinets and countertop have moved into the new kitchen so that Lisa has sufficient counter space.  Just so everyone knows, noone took us up on our offer for naming rights on a burner (see this post from January 29, 2010)

Also, Dave (the mason) completed the window that used to be the doorway from the old kitchen into our dining room. The stone work turned out beautiful and he was able make it look like it was always a window. One view is from the dining room (left) and the other is from the old kitchen (right)

So on the 19th (the Saturday before I left for OK) Ethan and I had to deconstruct around the doorway to the basement so that Dave could start work on making the door a window. However, before that we had make a new path to the basement, which consisted of removing the bookcase in the living room, opening up the original stairway to the basement, and fixing the stairs so they were useable again. What follows are a series of photos of our efforts.

We think the leather couch nicely accentuates the basement stairs (and provide a nice safety railing – fyi, this house is not child safe at this time).

So now that we can walk into the basement just as they did 150 years ago. Ethan and I next began deconstructing the doorway to the basement. This involved a lot of sledgehammering and sawzalling.

What a mess.  Plus when we bought the house 10 years ago Lisa and I poured a lot of concrete where the heating contractors punched out a bunch of stone (with no support!!!) to run ductwork. However, the mason had to do A LOT of  chiseling of the concrete so that he can re-face this area with stone.  This made MAJOR dust throughout the house and we will be dealing with the mess for weeks (months?). Here’s a close-up of the concrete and the area that needs to be filled with stone. You can see the concrete that Dave had to chisel away and the fact that the concrete completely supported 2 stories of stone above the chase that was cut out from underneath. Only idiots would do such a thing.

So to get ready for the coming week, Ethan and I hauled stones into the kitchen. We had saved these stones from the windows where we made doors to go from the stone house to the new addition. It takes a LOT of rock to fill those doorways.

January 30, 2011

Good News and Bad News

Filed under: kitchen,peninsula,stone wall — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:53 pm

The peninsula is pretty much finished in that the counter and sink is completed and all the plumbing is installed (including the dishwasher). When I started this weekend it looked pretty much like this

And as of 8 pm this evening this is what it looked like this…

This timing was fairly critical because the dishwasher in the old part of the house stopped working last week! The new dishwasher is wonderful (and we thought our old one was quiet!).

I still need to finish a little bit of trim on the left side of the dishwasher, put a few more coats of finish on the raised bar (note the painters tape on the wall), and make the doors below the sink, drawers below the pasty station (far right), and pull-out drawer that will hold the garbage and compost.  Not much that much to do!?

So that’s the good news. The bad news is that I am so pleased how well everything turned out, especially matching up the cherry trim to the slate countertop and linking that in with the soapstone sink and trim (see photo below) that I may not let Lisa use the kitchen. It’s too perfect to use!

The other side of the bar is all in cherry and is quite nice but I’m not sure if I like the design because all it needs is a brass foot rail and a barmaid. However, Hazen does match the color quite nicely.

Perhaps it will look better when the rest of the room is finished.

I am afraid the drawers and doors for the peninsula will have to wait until after I build the cabinets along the old outside wall of the house and enclose the chase for ductwork. This area will contain a broom closet (between the radon vent and framed wall), prep sink, refrigerator, and wood cutting board for part of the countertop. Below is what it looks like now. Stay tuned.

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