Thick as a Brick

Not every day of work on an old house like 118 Henry Street is a calm smile of serenity. Like a man walking 50 yards with a broken back, a sprained ankle, and some broken toes, I made it to the top of the road and back today. That is, very slowly with great effort, pain, and difficulty.

I continued to work on the upstairs study windows. Generally, the morning was going well replacing the glass panes in the first of the last two sashes. After much obsessing..ehh..analysis, I figured out that some of the broken glass panes from the last window were caused by the nail brads completely penetrating the mullions from one light into another.

These last two windows face westerly and take the brunt of all the spring rains and the winter storms. They were more “experienced” than their south facing counterpart. After all the old glazing and paint were removed, these two had much more epoxy repair and restoration before being rebuilt. The extra wear and weather damage was most evident on the thin mullions between the glass panes. When freshly built, the wood between the panes is only 1/4″ thick or so. After mildew, mold, weathering, paint removal and sanding, many of the mullions lost lots of their thickness.

A 1/2″ brad driven into the 1/4″ window trim at approximately a 60 degree angle stays inside a 1/4″ mullion. However, if the mullion thickness is much less, the brad sticks thru the other side and presses on the adjoining glass pane. The solution was as effective as it was simple: cut a bit off the end of the brads. With the total margin of error being about 1/16″ of an each, clipping the point off the brad was enough to suffice.

Even with obsessing..ehh..analysis, solution derivation, and having to prime more trim, things were making headway. With only 3 panes in the sash so far, very slow headway, but headway nonetheless.

Maybe it’s because these last 2 windows are not in as good a shape as the others, maybe because I’m trying too hard (read “obsessing”), maybe because the weather’s right for yardwork not indoor work, maybe, maybe, maybe….Anyway, this afternoon was an exercise in perseverence and frustration management.

Here’s the litany:

1) The millwork store had sent me some 3/8″ window trim mixed in with the 1/4″ I ordered. When I primed just enough plus 1 stick to finish this window, of course, I didn’t notice. With caulking setting up on a glass pane and a mitre cut almost done, it hits me!

2) After finishing one sash, I set it next to the already finished ones. A pane on a sash I assembled Saturday is cracked! How did it crack!?! Unknown, but it has to be replaced.

3) The upper sashes on all the windows have slots on the top row of lights wher the upper edge of the glass pane inserts. On this particular window, the wood above the slot is thinner than the others. Net result: 2 broken panes (!!) from brad penetration syndrome despite cutting their tips.

4) With all those glass panes breaking from brads, bending, and spontaneous cracktion, I had to mix old “wavy” glass and new “shiny” glass on the same sash. Argh! the shortcomings of today will be forever immortalized.

At ten to six, I’d had all the character development I could stand for one day. The last sash for the room sits on the work table upstairs waiting for me to prime one last stick of trim and finish it.

Maybe tomorrow night, I’ll mow the grass.