Out from Under the Weather

But not the clouds.

Got a fair amount of work done on the (planned-to-be) upstairs study this morning. I got up about 6:30 in hopes of getting a jump on the day. It’s rained 3 or 4 days of almost every week this spring and been unseasonably cool. We don’t so much mind the temperatures in the high 60’s to low 70’s but the lack of sunshine has everyone a bit stir crazy. The rain for this week stopped last night. Today, though cloudy, has been pleasant.

Of the two windows remaining to be restored in the upstairs study, I got the glass panes back in one. Each glass pane takes 8′ linear of caulk, 4′ of window trim, and 10 1/2″ brads. For a complete 6-over-6 window that’s 96′ of caulk (almost a half tube), 48′ of window trim (6 8′ strips) and 120 brads. It doesn’t seem like that much when it’s all put back together.

The bad news for the day is that I’ve shattered (pun intended) my old record for breaking panes of glass.

The rules for constructing new houses rarely apply to an old house like 118 Henry Street. Floors are not level, ceilings aren’t parallel to the floor and corner angles are not increments of 90. When reading books on the various techniques involved in house restoration, you must learn to translate before applying. For example, if you read “Measure the distance….”, that means “Cut to fit”. Don’t worry about the numbers on the tape measure, use an old piece of trim or rig up a caliper out of scrap wood to get the right length. If you read, “Insure that the line is level…”, that means “Make all the lines in the room visually parallel”. Lastly, if you read “Mitre the corners…”, heaven forbid do not assume 90’s. “Split the corner angle” is what will work the best.

Almost any “science” used in new construction will be magically transformed into an “art” when applied to work in an old house.

So it is with the window sashes and the panes of glass. The glass “lights” of the windows are approximately 9-7/8″ by 13-7/8″. The word “approximately” most definitely applies to the original wavy glass from 1921 with the side measurements varying by up to an 1/8″. Don’t even assume that the panes are rectangular. Similarly for the openings in the sash: approximately 10″ by 14″ and rectangular only in theory.

On other days and other windows, I’ve test fitted every pane on a sash before starting the assembly. This is important because the panes may fit partially down into the rabbits and look like they fit. But, when the trim is nailed in place, it puts extra pressure on the trying-to-bend pane and cracks a corner or side. My old record for broken panes was 2 on a window.

This morning, I forgot this step and before I knew it, 3 panes were in with no problem! Why do we assume good luck will continue? By the time I’d finished, I had cracked 5 panes of antique wavy glass. My haste and hubris had destroyed almost a complete sash worth of the old glass. Ah well. Of the glass panes I cracked, 4 can be trimmed and used in the downstairs windows as replacements.

Before stopping work upstairs, I gathered all the remaining old glass panes, the new ones I use as replacements, and the remaining window’s sashes. After clearing the table, I carefully test fit every pane.