Thursday, December 10, 2009

Preservation Field School 2009

I have a couple of projects from the summer that I wanted to post about.

The first one being the Preservation Field School workshop at the State Fair. I was invited to be an instructor for this week long event which was held during the Oregon State Fair. Holding the event during fair time made for an interesting format. Thank goodness that the State Historic Preservation Officers were on hand to field questions from the general public.

Window before restoration (2007).

Extensive rot in the sill (2007).

Window after restoration(2007).

The workshop was held at the Poultry Barn. This barn was built in 1921 out of hollow clay tiles covered in stucco. Each of the windows is comprised of an 8' tall fixed sash with a 4' tall arched transom that operates in the hopper style, interior swing. The bottom row of the fixed sash has a Union Jack design incorporating amber glazing. The amber glazing is original to the building and is not manufactured any more. It is thought that the amber shaded the poultry from the sun.

The students practicing their hand sawing skills.

And more practicing.

I had six students which was about the right size for the space that we had. All windows on the West elevation have been restored so for the workshop we chose one of the worst windows on the South side of the building. This window has had extensive repair work done in the past. Due to insufficient funding and/or knowledge the repairs were not the best, it appeared that they used whatever materials they had around the shop.

There was significant failure in the sill and bottom rail which resulted in the fixed sash dropping about 1 1/2".

After removal of the plywood the extent of damage to the Union Jack design became clear.

After the fixed sash was removed the puzzle began. Lots and lots of coping had to be done. Most of the Union Jack design ended up having to be rebuilt. I only had a week with these students and they had varying degrees of experience so most of the time we were trying to get a handle on the Union Jack area. By the end of the week most of the fixed sash had been repaired but that left the main frame and the transom to be fixed by me once the fair was over.

The window finally was completed at the end of October.

The stucco chicken heads go all the way around the building. They are one of the unique features of this building. Another feature is the missing fountain that operated in the center of the building. Unfortunately the fountain was removed and it has disappeared. We have not been able to find any photos of this feature. If anyone out there has any information about this fountain or other fountains in poultry barns please feel free to contact me.

Lots of work yet to be done.

I want to thank Oregon SHPO and the Pacific Northwest Field School for inviting me to teach at this field school. I attended this school many years ago and it was nice to come full circle and teach the next generation of craftspeople.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend

Here is the assembled sash. All the measurements worked out as I had drawn them. I was really surprised at how much diagonal pressure there was as I put it together.
Onto the next one. I will post more detail photos soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Waxahatchie", part 2

After the model was made I started in on mortising of the long muntins. All of the mortises are punched at an angle so the layout took a bit of head scratching, but in the end it all came together just like the drawing. Thank God they turned out parallel!
Also, you should know that the interior is stain-grade so I had to take a lot of time making sure the coping on the interior side looks extra good.

Finished muntin, interior

The next step will be to fit the smaller muntins.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's All This

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a film about Historic Preservation and sustainability. The film's website has just gone up with the film's trailer and some clips from the interviews they did. Click here to see the clip. The film is expected to come out in the spring of 2010.

Monday, November 9, 2009


About a month ago I was contacted by someone looking to replace his replacement sashes. The sashes he has currently are about 10 years old and most of the insulated glass units have fogged up (seal failure). My client has embarked on a journey to recreate the original sashes that were removed.
His house is a classic Portland bungalow. Here is a link to a discussion about the house and windows on the John Leeke website forum; if anyone is considering removing their original sashes, I recommend taking a look at the discussion. The house was profiled in 1915 in The Craftsman Magazine. My client has a book with the article in it and it says that the house was built by the people that bought the property. For some reason they named the house and property "Waxahatchie".

So I am undertaking the manufacture and installation of some of the diamond pane sash. We have decided to build the two small fixed sashes that flank the chimney.

The first thing I did was to make a detailed scaled drawing of the sash I am building. Unfortunately the two sashes are not exactly the same size, so I will have to make another scaled drawing. The importance of being as precise as possible can not be over emphasized. All the angles for the diamonds are dependent upon this drawing (no original diamond pane sashes remain to use as a template).

Making of the guide sticks. See this previous post for more information on guide sticks. As with the drawing, two sets of guide sticks have to be made since the sashes are not the same size.

Next thing I made to help with the construction were some small template blocks that have all the angles on them for the diamonds. I will use these to cut all the muntin angles.

All pieces cut to length and ready to saw the tenon checks. I usually punch the muntin mortises as well, but I knew they would be angled so I waited on that.

Running the profile edge.

Making the glazing rabbet with the moving fillester.

The rails and stiles are put together.

After this point things get very interesting.
With all the angles to deal with I decided to make a little mock-up to see how things would go together and it also helped me cut the angled mortises for the muntins.

More to come soon on this project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Well, I built 8 pairs of sash, glazed and painted them 4 times in 4 weeks. Granted, I was working every day for about 15-16 hours. of the many joys of owning your own business.
After the truck was loaded I set out on my epic adventure.
Day 1
Leaving Portland in the early morning for my first stop, Baker City. My hometown.

One word of note, the pictures in this post were taken out of a car window moving at between 65-80 mph. Not the best.

Day 2-Leaving Baker City on a lovely morning. No clouds and all sun which would come back and bite me later in the day as I crossed into Utah sweating buckets.

Entering Idaho.

Beyond this point there be dragons. Boise is the farthest east I had ever driven until this point.

Welcome to Utah. Hot!!
I spent the second night in Salt Lake City with some excellent friends. Good food, good company and Tour de France on Tivo.

This photo is for you, Grandma. Amazing building.

Day 3-After my poor 15 yr. old, 4 cylinder truck struggled to make it up and out of Parley's Canyon, we made it into Wyoming.

And then onto Nebraska. Which turned out to be my favorite state. I really liked the flat grassland and the wild weather.

So innocent looking off in the distance.
But later in the day it took on a more menacing look.

I was going to stop in North Platte which is in the panhandle of Nebraska but these dark clouds pushed me to go up the road to Grand Island. When I got into my hotel room and turned on the television there were all sorts of tornado warnings and watches for the panhandle area. I was glad that I had moved on.

Day 4- Early morning Nebraska farmland.

Finally, the destination. It is so small.

The first pair installed. What a moment.

The rest of them went in and then it was all over. I was finished onsite by early afternoon. Then what did I do? I went to downtown Atlantic, IA

Nice little factoid.

Short and to the point.

Day 5-Downtown Oakland. A town nearby on the way back to the freeway.

Abandoned church in Nebraska.

I drove on Day 5 from Atlantic, IA to Cheyenne, WY. It was a long day.
Day 6 was a short day into Salt Lake City. Just in time for Pioneer Day.
Day 7 was Salt Lake City to Baker City and finally on Day 8 I made it back to Portland.
I had a lot of fun traveling out to Iowa. It won't be soon forgotten.

Building Sash

The big pile of material waiting for the building of the sash to commence. The material is separated out for each pair of sash. I relied heavily upon Roy Underhill's book Working With Wedge and Edge for the proper sequence of cuts and other tips for making sash by hand. I recommend if you undertake this sort of project to get his book because the sequencing is very different from using power tools to do the work.

The sticking board. Crucial jig if you need to make thin muntin bars.

Using the sticking board with the new plane. Works like a dream. Thank goodness!

All mortices are chopped and the tenon checks are cut before any planes are used on the material. After these two operations are completed then I cut the glazing rabbet first and then the molded edge.

Another tip from Roy's book was the use of guide sticks. They are scrap pieces of wood that I marked out where the mortices and tenons started and stopped. I ended up having to make two sets of guide sticks because I had two different sizes of openings.