Pennsylvania Limestone Farmhouse Renovations to an 1863 farmhouse built of limestone

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.

September 15, 2012

Installing the Front Door – Part III

Filed under: Front door,Porches — Duane Diefenbach @ 3:05 pm

The front door is now pretty much finished. All I have left to do is clean up paint on the glass of the sidelites and transom (but I am letting the paint harden because it comes off easier with the razor blade rather than peeling up), installing the weatherstripping on the door bottom, and finish installing the doorbell. But I get ahead of myself (and there’s still more to do about the porch).

Here is the door without the trim installed.

Installing both interior and exterior trim was somewhat of a challenge because the walls were not quite plumb and so the door frame was either recessed or stood proud in different places along the wall. This meant I had to cut variable depth dadoes in the trim so it fit flush to both the wall and door frame. The photo below is of a piece of trim primed and ready to be installed (notice the taper in the dado).

Here is the finished interior and exterior

The doorbell is an antique my parents found in Vermont. It is a pull design but I only had the brass bell mechanism. I bought 2 window sash pulleys from the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and drilled a hole through the wall to run a brass cable from the interior to the exterior and then mortised the sash pulleys into the wall so they were exposed the proper distance.  Here as some close-ups of the result.

I still need to find some sort of pull to install on the other end of the wire. I think the heavier the better because it takes a pretty good yank to ring the bell. If someone can get to the front door without being heard, the dogs don’t bark at the bell (yet) because it sounds like another clock in the house – but because the dogs rarely let anyone arrive undetected I really don’t think the doorbell will get much use.

The other projects that have occurred in the past month include getting an old cupboard for the front porch to store boots. For the past 2 years the front porch looked like it was home for cast-offs from a cobbler shop, which included hunting boots, sneakers, farm boots, etc. The cabinet is not old, but is made from old wide pine boards and the door is an antique single pine board. The door was painted red with milk paint so I wanted to paint the cabinet in milk paint and make it look old. After pricing milk paint I decided to buy some pigment and make my own. I followed directions from here and it turned out pretty good. It’s amazing that you can curdle some skim milk, add some lime and pigment, and make paint.  I should have used a little more pigment, but it looks ok even though in the photo the red color tone seems a little too pink.

Also, on the back porch I finally installed the overstock pavers we bought about 2 years ago. I used some aluminum angle bracket material as edging to keep the pavers in place and finely crushed limestone underneath.

And today Lisa and I had a lot of shopping to do so we included a stop to get porch ceiling lights. Now we just need to take care of the lights for the front porch (if you were observant above you noticed one is silver and one is gold – we’re thinking bronze might work better).

So now I am caught up on the blog after almost 2 months. Next I need to return to making 7 of 8 more doors needed for the cabinets in the kitchen.

July 28, 2012

Installing the Front Door – Part II

Filed under: Front door — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:29 pm

Hanging this door is not fun or easy – but it is challenging! If I had known the density of white oak, I would have made this door 1-1/2″ thick instead of 1-3/4″. However, given the number of times the door has “gone on” and “come off” Ethan and I have become quite the door-hanging team.

For about the past week, living in our house has been like living in a tent – opening and closing a zipper! Fortunately, the cost of losing cooling is lower than the cost of losing heat.

I wanted to try to hang the door in the workshop, but because the door was so heavy I was afraid that the frame would be distorted and any fitting would be for naught once the frame was installed in the house. So when it actually came time to fit the frame we tried to make sure it was as square and plumb as possible. [Actually not possible when the door is not in the frame].

Next, because the hinges I am using are 120 years old, I had to make some adjustments to the mortises I made for the hinges. Specifically, I had to cut correspondingly deeper insets for each (higher) hinge so the door would hang square. Also, the door frame was made of pine (cut on our property) that is not very dense and to truly seat the screws in the hinges I had to add a hardwood filler. This also significantly strengthened the door frame. You can see both the hinge mortise and filler in this photo.

Once we had the door hung square we found that the door frame was slightly twisted. This was after we had shimmed and screwed the frame to the opening and foamed the gaps for insulation. The door frame was off by about 1/8″ so I remove the screws on one side, cut the bond of the foam, and then hooked up the truck to the door frame with tie-down straps.

Ethan carefully ratcheted the tie-down until the door was plumb to the door frame. Here is the result with the door hung square and plumb.

The next step was to rout the grooves and rabbets for the weatherstripping and to finish the door. This meant (once again) removing it from the frame, taking it out to the shop for a final shaping and sanding, and then moving it back into the house to apply the finish. This took most of the week (you can only finish one side per day, and it took three coats per side.

Once the door was finished (Early American stain with 3 coats of exterior polyurethane) I applied the 17N bronze weatherstripping to the door. The November 1999 issue (No. 126) of Fine Homebuilding has an excellent article on how to install this material.

Here’s a photo of the weatherstripping as it comes near the lockset mortise.

Now I had to (again, with Ethan’s help) hang the door and first install the strike plate.

Once that was installed I installed the interlocking weatherstripping above and below the strikeplate and a piece of spring bronze across the strikeplate. The next step was installing the weatherstripping along the hinge side of the door. This weatherstripping is nailed to the door jamb and as the door is closed it mates with a groove just behind the hinges of the door.

It took me ALL day to fit the door. But now it closes with a solid “thunk” with little effort (but don’t get your finger in the way!). Here’s a photo of the lockset installed in the door.

Next is to complete the trim around the transom and sidelites, installing exterior trim, installing interior trim, and final coats of paint.  That will be Part III.

July 22, 2012

Installing the Front Door – Part I

Filed under: Front door — Duane Diefenbach @ 9:23 pm

Upon return from our vacation Mom and Dad were here for a day to help me start installing the front door (although I’m not sure that’s why they stayed!). The first step was to remove the temporary front door, which was a purchase at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and was a “beautiful” Penn State blue. When the house was built the door rough-in was 74″ wide x 96-1/2″ high and temporary framing was installed so that we could hang this temporary door.

Removing the door meant cutting sheetrock on the inside and removing trim and cutting the siding on the outside. The resulting opening was pretty big!

Then we had to get the door frame out of the workshop and to the worksite.

Now for problem number one. The rough-in width was 2″ too narrow!! I didn’t want to make a new door frame (simply modifying the frame was not possible because of the construction with mortises, tenons, blah, blah, blah). Could we remove one of the king studs framing the doorway?  If you look at this old post you can see a photo where there are 4 studs on the right and 3 on the left, Given that the plate from which the 2nd-floor joists were hung above the doorway  extended past the door frame, I think we’re ok with 3 studs on the right and 2 on the left. So we removed a stud on either side and the door frame fits!

Once the frame was plumb and level we shimmed and screwed it to the studs.  Then we installed the windows and a zipper door. Do you like the 150-year-old glass?!

Next up is hanging the door.

July 1, 2012

Installing the Vanity

Filed under: Front door,Interior,mudroom — Duane Diefenbach @ 5:16 pm

I put a wipe-on polyurethan satin finish on the cabinet and the trim around the top of the sink. Next came the installation, which wasn’t all that bad (just 2 trips to the hardware store for the correct drain fittings).

I next worked on making a raised panel door. I thought it came out quite well and I had little trouble fitting the mortise and tenon joints.  And I have become much more proficient using hand planes and scrapers to clean up saw burn marks and level the wood where 2 joints come together.  Here’s a picture of the door with one coat of finish on the raised panel (I do that before assembling the door).

The only problem was that the opening of the cabinet is 27-5/8″ tall and I made the door 25-5/8″ tall…

If you need a cherry door that is 25-5/8″ x 18-1/4″ let me know, I will let it go cheap. Unfortunately it’s too tall for the kitchen cabinets (and they all need doors!).

Here’s the correct sized door with  the first coat of finish drying.

While waiting for the glue to cure after I assembled this door I cut a backsplash for the vanity. I simply used a piece of slate.

The other project on hold has been the front door (see the blog entry). I bought an entry lockset and 3 bronze hinges on Ebay, and ordered the interlocking weatherstripping. All should arrive this week. Here is what the lockset and hinges look like.

So our new door will have parts from the 1850s and 1880s, and wood from the 2010s, but I hope it all comes together.

June 28, 2012

Front Door and Powder Room

Filed under: Front door,Interior — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:57 pm

Work on the door has not progressed very much partly because the lockset I ordered has been back-ordered for 2 months. I finally cancelled the order. I wanted to install a federal-style mortise lockset, which would have a simple brass knob and keyhole (oftentimes silvered) but I couldn’t find an antique one for a left-hand door.

I think we’re going to instead buy an antique Victorian style entry lockset that was made in the 1870s to 1880s. However, I need to install the lockset before I can install the bronze interlocking weather stripping. The weatherstripping will go around the sides and top of the door. On the bottom I will install EPDM (rubber) roofing material to act as a door sweep on the bottom of the door.  To do that I had to rout a dado in the bottom of the door.

The photo below shows the multiple mistakes I made with the router and had to patch in pieces with epoxy and try again. I am now pretty good at fixing these types of mistakes.

Below is a photo of the door showing the jig I had to make to support the router when cutting the dado in the bottom of the door. Also, there is a close-up of the joints and dowels holding the tenons in place. I used epoxy to glue everything together. This door is going to be REALLY heavy (like 150 lbs!).

So, once this door has a lock installed then I can get the door frame (which will include the transom, sidelites, and panels) installed in the house. Right now this is what the door frame looks like.

In the meantime, I am working on the vanity for the powder room just off the mudroom. This room has had a function toilet for a number of months but no sink.  The solution is on its way.  The design will be a cherry cabinet that supports an undermount sink on a slate top.  Here’s the cabinet:

The vanity top was constructed by first using 5/8″ plywood base with the oval cut out to allow the sink to fit. Then I fit cherry trim that will serve as edging and enclose the slate top. I glued the slate to the plywood using construction adhesive and marine epoxy to fill the gap between the slate and the cherry edging. I used a carbide-bit in a jigsaw to cut the oval for the sink and carbide-tipped hole saws to cut the openings for the faucet. Regular hole saws finished the cuts through the plywood.

Here’s a photo of the slate installed and epoxy hardening:

After the epoxy hardened overnight I then sanded everything smooth and used a 3/8″ roundover bit to round the cherry edging. I am now working on finishing the cabinet and top. Here’s the top ready for a finish on the cherry (the slate just gets mineral oil):

The next post should have the finished vanity and the installation – except I still need to make the door for the cabinet. It should be pretty easy except for accomodating the baseboard trim (not much space to work in the powder room).

May 22, 2012

Front Door – Part III

Filed under: Front door — Duane Diefenbach @ 8:00 am

The center stile was pretty simple to mill and fit to the top and bottom rails. So now the door frame is ready for milling and fitting the raised panels.

My original plan was to make the raised panels from quarter-sawn white oak that came from the property. Unfortunately, even making the stiles slightly wider than the original door (6″) I needed an 11″ wide board to make the panels. The widest quarter-sawn oak I had was only 8.5″ wide. I considered gluing up some boards to make the panel but it would be difficult to match the grain of quarter-sawn white oak .

So instead I am using plain sawn white oak from the same tree with some 15″ wide boards

Once I planed and cut the boards to size I first used the router table with a round bit to cut shallow grooves that outlined the raised portion of the panel. Then I used a raised fence with the blade tilted to approximately 8° to cut the bevel around the perimeter of what will become the raised portion of the panel. A picture might make it easier to understand

The result is pretty ugly because of the resulting burn marks in the wood.

For the door I have to make 4 raised panels, where each space in the door frame will hold 2 raised panels back-to-back. The purpose is to allow the panels to move separately in response to the temperature and humidity differentials between the interior and exterior side of the door.

Consequently, cleaning up the burn marks and fitting the two panels into the door takes quite a bit of time. I first cleaned up the burn marks and smoothed the profile using a scraper, planes, and sandpaper. I also used a rabbet plane to essentially cut a small tenon around the outside of the panel to fit in the rabbeted groove in the door frame (see photo below).

All this took a lot of careful fitting because I wanted the panels to fit snugly – and I had to fit two of them simultaneously! The first 2 panels came out quite well but it took several hours over two evenings.

Now to work on the second set of panels! But that will be easier now that I know what combination of tools, in what sequence, will get the results I need. Once I finish the second set of panels I need to finish the panels and then glue up the door.

May 19, 2012

Front Door – Part II

Filed under: Front door — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:35 am

I have the frame for the front door, sidelites, and transom completed except for some final coats of paint (see I started on construction of the door, which I am making from white oak. The wood for the stiles and rail I had to purchase because I didn’t have any clear 8/4 but the panels I am making from the white oak that came down last year on our property.

Here’s what the final product will look like. Above the door is the transom with 6 panes of glass (most of the muntons are decorative interior muntons). Either side is a 3-pane sidelite above a raised panel (same muntons). The original door was simply a 2-panel door and I have chosen to replicate it because a 4-panel door would probably look out of proportion trying to get it to match the raised panels and sidelites.

The lumber has been stickered in my shop for the past month acclimating to stabilize the moisture content. I then started by planing the 8/4 stock and ripping and cutting it to the rough length and width.

The stiles (long vertical pieces) of the door needed grooves cut to hold the panels and mortises to accept the tenons of the rails (top and bottom horizontal pieces).

The base rail is 12′ wide and I made 2 tenons to mate with the stiles. The mortises I first used the drill press to remove most of the wood and then chisels to clean it up. For the tenons I removed most of the wood with a dado blade in the radial arm saw and then used chisels and planes to finish. It takes a good bit of fitting to get them to match (squarely!).

Here’s the door together, but I still need to make the middle stile and fit with mortise and tenon. The door is just under 1-3/4″ thick and once all together I will not be able to move this by myself!

Next post will be about finishing up the door frame and starting on the raised panels.

April 16, 2012

Mudroom Progress

Filed under: Front door,mudroom — Duane Diefenbach @ 7:23 am

The past several weeks have focused on the mudroom – I installed the LAST floor in the house when I tiled this room. Overall this went quite well although my decision to minimize some tile cutting resulted in a threshold gap that accentuates what is not square. When you come and visit I’ll let you figure out where that occurred!

So now the mudroom has a tile floor and (almost) all the trim installed. Because there will eventually be some cabinets and counter one corner does not have baseboard installed. Also, the real front door has yet to be constructed so trim is lacking around the entry door (because that door is temporary).

Here as some pics of the mudroom

What I have left to do in this room is to 1) strip and paint the sliding doors to the  powder room and the laundry room, 2) construct and install doors for the closet, 3) construct and install the front door, and 4) completely finish the interior trim.

This weekend I spent most of my time constructing the front door. A couple of years ago I purchase the sidelites, transom, and door to a house constructed in Bald Eagle Valley in the mid-1800s. The glass in the sidelites and transom was original and very wavy but a couple of panes were broken. Fortunately, the house (in Beech Creek) where I bought the interior doors for our addition had a sash in the attic with the same glass.

The sidelites and transom lites were strangely cared for. They were painted with milk paint and coated with shellac (typical of the time period), but at some point someone reversed them in the entryway so that the shellac was facing out… Why?  The only reason I can figure is that they wanted the muntons to “greet” guests instead the the glass glazing? Completely opposite of any window ever made. Anyway, that meant the shellac turned black from the sun and mold. A real mess to clean up but the transom and sidelites are now stripped and primed.

I have accomplished most of the construction of the frame to hold the door, sidelites, and transom. Overall is it 8′ tall and 6-1/2′ wide. I have no idea how the original frame was constructed but had to construct one that will be solid and hold all the components correctly (e.g., the side panels and door cannot be wider than the transom).

Here is a photo of the frame with the transom and 1 sidelite and panel in place (temporarily). The bottom plate of the frame is made from red oak but the rest is white pine.

The main components are 2″ thickness to add stability around the door. the pieces join with either mortise and tenon or dovetail joints.

I made the 2-inch and 3/4-inch vertical pieces either side of the doorway because there has to be a 4-inch space between the door and side panels if the door is to be ~36″ wide. To cover that space I made some fluted trim to cover the gap, except on the interior side it is only about 3″ wide because of the 5/8″ x 1-3/4″ rabbet for the door jam.

I am thinking of making the door out of white oak instead of a painted pine door. That means I have to buy some 8/4 for the stiles and rails, but I have some quarter-sawn white oak I can use for the panels. Next up is sanding, assembling, and priming the door the frame.

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