Monday, December 22, 2008

Resorting to Chemicals

I think I have removed about as much paint from the crown molding as I can with the Silent Paint Remover.
I really wish they made a smaller version that I could fit into corners. I am now resorting to chemicals. Last time I used a less toxic chemical stripper I tried Ready Strip. Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled with it, so this time I am giving Soy Gel a shot. I am starting with a less toxic stripper since the room has pretty much no ventilation right now. I am starting in one corner just to see how it does. If it fails, I may just put it off until spring and resort to Zip Strip. Once I get most of the paint off, I am going to go back through with "furniture restorer" (thanks to Shane for his suggestion in an earlier post). One thing that makes stripping the woodwork easier is that it all seems to have been originally finished in Shellac, which is really easy to remove. I will be refinishing it in shellac if I ever make it to that point.

In the meantime, I have been messing with something that has bugged me since we moved in, the gouges in the floor in the doorway to one of our bedrooms. My theory is that the whole house was carpeted at some point and that it wasn't removed all at once. As a result, the floor was sanded and refinished at different times. The other option is that someone really half-assed it. Regardless, I started sanding it to see if I could just get it to be less obvious. In the end, the stain proved tough to match (I probably should have cleaned up the sanding dust around it before taking the picture as well). I think the issue was that the floors are just the natural oak and the surface finish has darkened over time. My best guess is that it is polyurethane of some sort. It's not perfect, but at least it isn't an obvious gouge any more.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Generous definition of progress

The popcorn ceiling in the dining room is officially no more. Unfortunately, the paint on the crown molding is another story. The Silent Paint Remover and scraper is working nicely on the flat section, but pretty poorly everywhere else. The biggest problem is that I can't focus the Silent Paint Remover on small enough areas. You can see the "progress" I have made so far. At this point, I am going to get as much as I can and then use some sort of chemical stripper to clean up the rest. The good news is that the wood underneath is in excellent shape and I am guessing is also the original finish. It is quite a bit darker than the woodwork that isn't painted. My goal is to refinish all the woodwork eventually.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Belated Preparation for Winter

We are lucky enough that our house has all of its original windows, and most of the original wavy glass still intact. They were a big part of why we bought the house in the first place.

Unfortunately, we are not lucky enough to have the original wood storms, with the exception of the basement ones. After we moved in and I had a chance to really look at these, it became painfully obvious how bad of shape they were in. The glazing had deteriorated so much on one that a pane of glass had fallen out and was slimply set on the ground and leaned against the window.

My goal was to repair and reglaze all of them before winter. I figured I would have them done in about a week. Unfortunately, it seems to be taking about 10 times longer than that. The process of removing the old glazing, getting the glass out, repairing the rot, and prepping the window for new glazing is taking a lot longer than anticipated. The pictures show the progress thus far. Given that these are only basement storms, I am probably being way to much of a perfectionist about this.
One of the pathetic 2 that have been reglazed and are actually ready for paint.
Rebuilding missing and rotted pieces with WoodEpox.

By the way, the floor under the windows is the alleged asbestos flooring in our basement. It is a lovely combination of dirty green and equally dirty tan. For some reason though, I still kind of like it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fun with refinishing

I have decided it is time to stop putting off working on the woodwork in the dining room. I started picking at the popcorn texture on the crown molding and was pleased that it did come off with hot water alone. Unfortunately, removing the popcorn texture just revealed about 4 layers of paint beneath it. The only good news is that I think the oak beneath that still has the original finish. I can't say the same for the rest of the woodwork in the dining and living rooms. It is all quartersawn oak as far as I can tell, but it was refinished in this weird scummy glaze who knows how long ago. At first I really couldn't tell if it was original or not since it was such a thorough refinishing job. Eventually I found a spot they missed though, the underside of the built in just above the mirror. You can see it was never an especially dark stain, which we saw in nearly all of the houses we toured when we moved to Minneapolis. My intention is simply to remove the scum and get the finish as close to original as possible. Any tips on how to gently remove this glaze without damaging what is underneath would be greatly appreciated. I was planning on attacking it with the silent paint remover, but I don't know if that will be too harsh.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally done

The linen closet project took much longer than anticipated. I think I set a personal record for swearing on this one. Despite the frustration, I think it turned out well. The stain is original, touched up with a little bit of Watco Danish Oil in black walnut and finished with amber shellac. I am guessing that the wood itself is birch based on the grain pattern. In case anyone is wondering why the doors are stained but the trim is white, it turns out that was how it was originally. I started stripping the trim, only to realize there was just a coat of primer and many layers of white paint. Given my experience with the upstairs medicine cabinet, I decided that if it was originally white, than white it is. Here are the after pictures. Unfortunately, my camera was having some focusing issues.

My next project promises to be the project from hell. During the great popcorn ceiling craze in Minnesota, someone decided it was a great idea to popcorn over the crown molding in the dining room. We have matching (unpopcorned) molding in the living room, which is quartersawn oak. Also, we will be painting the room something other than the teal green shown in the picture.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Old Hardware

My wife bought me the Silent Paint Remover for my birthday recently. I immediately tested it out on the linen closet in our hallway (shown below). The paint is coming off nicely, but it forced me to go look for new hardware. The hardware that is currently on it is definitely not original. The entire hallway is as white as possible, white walls, white trim, white hardware. The laundry chute in the second picture is on the opposite side of the hallway.
For some unknown reason, I decided I wanted octagonal crystal knobs with brass bases. Also, I needed 9 that matched, and they had to be antique. My first stop was at Guilded Salvage, which I think is a great store. I found a set of 9 yellow-green uranium glass (actually made with uranium, type it into google) that would have been great. Unfortunately, they were $65...a knob. I decided to pass.

After searching dozens of salvage websites, I came across, aka Architectural Artifacts in Toledo, OH. Incredibly, they had exactly the hardware I was looking for, 6 larger glass knobs for the drawers and 3 smaller ones (2 for the linen closet and 1 for the laundry chute). They were extremely helpful and significantly less than $65 a knob. Hopefully I will actually finish stripping the paint so I can install them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

26 Extra Windows

Unfortunately, one of our neighbors decided to replace their original windows with vinyl shortly after we moved in. Not wanting to see the original 1924 windows head to the landfill, I asked if I could have them. The house is very similar to mine and the windows are identical. After my wife yelled at me for about 5 minutes, we picked up all 26 windows and walked them back over to our house. They now reside in our basement. I am not sure what I am going to do with them. It would be ideal if they could wind up on an actual house again someday. If anyone needs 26 windows, let me know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Project #1



When we bought the house, the tiny half bath off the master bedroom needed some immediate help. The brass drain pipe under the sink was so corroded I could poke a hole in it with my finger. It was also patched with duct tape...seriously. The original sink and mirror were also in rough shape. The sink was badly corroded and the mirror had a crack through it.
I honestly thought the sink was beyond repair so I started looking at every salvage store I could find in Minneapolis and on the internet for an exact replacement. It is a "Standard" so I figured it would be pretty easy. Fortunately, I couldn't find one and became determined to restore the original one. After cleaning and removing the rust, I used an epoxy called loctite hysol 1C which worked amazingly well. I finished it with a product called "Surface Repair" in plumbing white, which blended extremely well with the original color. I also found they don't really make drains for this size drain anymore, so I had to use a dremel to expand the drain until something would fit. The first time I reassembled it, it leaked in no less than 4 places. After some swearing, I regrouped and fixed the leaks.
Fixing the medicine cabinet was equally painful. I used Ready Strip to remove the six layers of paint it was covered in, which took seemingly forever. Once I got it down to bare wood (pine), I used Watco Danish Oil in Natural and Amber Shellac. Thankfully the shellac part of this went really well thanks to some tips I got at 3121 Park Ave during the Park Ave walking tour.

The name and exterior pictures

The name is based on our complete lack of furniture, or at least decent furniture. The house is a 1924 bungalow my wife and I bought when we moved to Minneapolis a few months ago. You can see from the picture of the outside there is a lot to do. We are putting off the major exterior stuff until next Spring, but it will theoretically consist of removing aluminum soffits (and restoring who knows what is underneath), replacing the horrible storm doors, repainting, etc. I think the spots of primer you can see on the window sills in the picture really add something.