Standing up in an Icelandic forest

In the denouement of building the kitchen wall,  Deshawn’s move to the west bedroom required scheduling some help from my 2 sons (forthcoming) and the house restoration budget for the month was spent. We felt a bit adrift in the doldrums of what to do next.

Analyzing our list of projects, for both cost and timeframe to completion, was a very interesting and challenging activity. We have developed work plans with budgets for every room in the house, as well as for re-roofing, replacing all the iron pipe plumbing with PEX, switching to a heat pump…well you get the picture, a lot of data.

For example, a project like the kitchen is at one end of the project continuum, it is both expensive and a long time to complete. At the other end of the project continuum are projects like re-doing the flower beds, relatively inexpensive, quick to finish but of little direct impact on our daily quality of life.

Turns out the best option for us in this 4th quarter of 2010, is to complete Carole’s “sewing room” in the addition. We’re calling it a sewing room but it’s really her equivalent to a shop. Along with her sewing machine, there will also be book shelves for her impressive library of academic and dramatic arts books. There will space for a work table, possibly room for a small couch or love seat, and easy access to my shop for tools. Here’s a recap of the final floor plan:

Along the way, we will open the addition thru the mudroom

Putting the work plan and budget to the calendar, we are left with a month or so of saving money before making new materials purchases. Fortunately (or is that unfortunately), there are plenty of “no-cost” project activities at 118 Henry Street, some of which actually further the sewing room’s genesis.

In 2003, we contracted some electricians to re-wire the 2nd floor, replacing all the knob & tube circuits with modern wiring. The results were spectacularly underwhelming (here and here). So underwhelming, in fact, that we bought books and learned how to do electrical work both technically and to building code.

One of the many results of their..ahem..efforts, was leaving about 100’ of 12/2 wire strung to nowhere under the house. The circuits, because they never went anywhere, were never connected to the breaker box. My resolve was to recover this wire and put to use in more productive ways, some related to the sewing room.

One other “no-cost” task was rehab’ing 2 doors picked up by the side of the road for use in the addition. We collect a fair amount of “architectural antiques” from remodeling projects around Chester, doors and windows being the most coveted.

So, after our massive efforts last weekend, to insignificant ends, yesterday and today were blissfully productive with these 2, very budget friendly, items.

Collecting the wire took about an hour under the house, so no good pics for that. For the doors, we’ve covered paint removal and repairs before, but wanted to give the topic a more in-depth pictorial treatment.

The first step in re-using one of these doors is removing all the old paint. The original paint is always lead based so caution in removal is important.

Although we’ve done this in an unused room of the house before, I always do this work outside now. Here is my setup:

Trying to catch all the lead paint fragments

It’s kinda funny to think of vacuuming the driveway, but this is part of getting all the paint up.

The basic idea is to heat the paint until it’s rubbery, then scrap it off with various sizes and shapes of metal scrapers. If done carefully, the paint comes off in big, brittle curls that are easily vacuumed away.

At 1000 degrees, gloves are a requirement

The bigger the curls, the better for recovering all the lead paint

The net result is a relatively clean wood surface that needs only a bit of sanding to finish.

I love old doors

Shortly, we will look at typical repairs.

Wondering about the Icelandic forest? Check here, and listen to Hera’s music as well.