My feature image my look like a pile a junk wood (it is), but what you don’t see are two pallets that were set out for trash that once held piles of moulding. Santa brought me a burst of energy and I am now 3 doors away from a 100% complete interior.
All of the 5″ floor moulding is in place. The gap moulding (not sure what it is really called, but the thin strip next to the floor) is in everywhere except where a door needs to be installed. I am so proud to share that every room with unpainted moulding has moulding original to the house. I thought I would need to buy new moulding for the guest bedroom because my memory from taking it down was that it was not usable due to the fire damage. So wrong. I just had to cut out a larger patch where the outlet that caused the fire was located and scrap away some of the charring.
The walls separating the dining from living rooms needed moulding left over from upstairs, so it took the most work because it had to be sanded down and stained to match downstairs. The only large piece missing was the closet wall in the office and it took a patch of two pieces from upstairs to make it work.
Now I’m no professional finished carpenter, but I can’t label myself an amateur anymore either. The only areas that gave me trouble were the openings where I had 45 degree miter cuts on both ends. I mis-cut 4 of the 5. Thank God for spare moulding.
I said in my I Would Buy Stock in Howard Products post that I wouldn’t write much with the finished moulding post since the process for restoring the wood was covered, so, here are the pics that got me to this point.
Sister Girl with Skills has figured out that she loves working with her hands. As if that isn’t evident given the massive restoration of my home I’ve been doing for the last two years. Early in the project I had a dozen plus trees cleared out of my yard. There were a few walnut trees that were picked up by Randy Wipert with Woodwrights Portable Saw Mill. I gave them to him with the agreement he’d cut enough slabs for me to make my dining room table. There was also a huge mulberry tree in the back corner of my lot. When it was cut it revealed a cool yellow hue, so I asked the company cutting down the trees to save me a chuck of it also, which Randy also cut in slabs for me. I thought I’d make my office desk with them.
Mulberry tree far left, walnut tree right
Two years ago the idea of making my own dining room table and desk was more of a romantic notion. I have built a couple things with cheap plywood, but nothing with real wood that would be meant for everyday use. Fast forward two years, if I had known I’d develop such a passion for working with wood I would have kept all the logs and just paid Randy for cutting and drying.
When I picked up my slabs, after a year of drying in his shop, Randy mentioned that one of the mulberry slabs cupped (curved, bowl like, while drying). He thought it would make a nice charcuterie tray. I took his recommendation and decided to take that slab to the Wood Shop as a first project. I cut into four pieces of almost equal length. The rough cut surface is hard to see in this picture, but the surface felt fuzzy, roughed up. Getting itsmooth is where the real work begins. I started with the piece on the far right.
I started this project in August. The Wood Shop was having a show of projects made in the shop and my board was going to be my entry. I didn’t make the show because I had to travel and return my focus on finishing the master bathroom.
My first task was toning down some of the live edge, the bark. Food will be placed on these when finished, so I didn’t want deep crevices that it could embed in. For that I went way old school and used a draw knife. I’ve got earphones around my neck because someone else was working on a piece of equipment that made a lot of noise.
After that the strenuous work began, scrapping the surface until smooth. There are a lot of motorized tools I could have used at this stage, but I went old school again and used a cabinet scrapper. This it what was used before sand paper was invented.
That blade would get hot after several scrapes and my thumbs started to ache as those digits applied the most pressure. There is an almost erotic sensation in working with wood at this stage. You are scraping, massaging, and with each stroke the wood is coming to life in your hands. The smell of the fresh wood is like an endorphin to your system.
Once I got the majority of the machine tool (saw blade) marks out with the scrapper I did use an orbital sander for the final smoothing. I also used an electric planer on the bottom of all four pieces to flatten them out so they wouldn’t rock. No pics of those steps. This piece had a natural gap where a branch was starting to form. I used 2-part epoxy to fill the gap; taping the underside, so the epoxy wouldn’t run out through. The epoxy is clear, but once dried it turned black in the crevice, absolutely beautiful. I wasn’t expecting that.
With the orbital sander I started with 80 grit and stepped it up to 120, 140, 320, and ended with 600. The surface was a smooth as a baby’s bottom. I put poly-acrylic, 3 coats on the bottom and sides, but on the top I put Watco’s Butcher Block Oil, which is FDA approved oil for food contact. I applied two coats with a sanding of 400 grit paper in between.
One of my favorite DIY shows is Salvage Dawgs. They make stuff out of salvage materials and sell it from their store in Roanoke, VA (I have got to get there to see it in person). I surf their site for doors and inspiration for my dining room table and I stumbled across their charcuterie boards. They had one made out of black walnut with handles they were selling for $279, which must have sold out because that page is now gone from their site. If they can get almost $300, I wonder what I can get for mine?????
I’ve got the second board almost complete, the largest of the four due to its width. I could not have imagined the beauty that would emerge. The veins and color variations are amazing. The last two, which are more rectangle in shape approx 2′ x 8″, I won’t work on until after I’ve completed the inside of my house and built my dining room table, unless there is a buyer interested. As you can see from the ends of the slabs, I will definitely have more wood available. If you’re interested in one, let me know.
All the windows are complete. I finished the last two in my office in time for the final inspection. I caulked the hell out of the window frames before putting on the moulding. I know air was seeping in around the edges and through a seam in the middle of the frames. I could see the curtains blow. Granted we haven’t had any arctic cold temperatures, but I’m seeing a market difference in temps on the first floor now that all the window moulding is in place.
Upstairs floor moulding was a piece of cake/walk in the park as compared to downstairs. The top edges are caked with paint, caulk, and tape. They are extra filthy, smelling of animal urine, caked in roach waste, cracked, or junks missing. I found the living room pieces first, but once unwrapped I thought no way they were usable. Howard’s Restor-A-Finish is a miracle product. The end result, is truly amazing.
The first piece I treated per the instructions from the video that first introduced me to the Restor-A-Finish product. I washed off the dirt, attempted to clean with the denatured alcohol, before applying the product. Unfortunately the paint was so thick on the edges that I was scrubbing hard with the steel wool and it wasn’t budging even though it was slurring the stain. I took a paint scrapper to it. I noticed that the areas that were still moist from the alcohol did not scrap as well as untouched areas where it seemed to pop off. I decided to change my game plan, scrape first, even before washing off the dirt. Scraping removed the top layer of stain, but that turned out to be advantageous as it made the denatured alcohol step faster.
Right side is wood after scrapped and then cleaned with denatured alcohol; left side has Dark Ebony Restore-A-Finish
Every piece needs to be fully scrapped and the majority of the pieces also need some type of mending. The easy mends were gluing pieces that were cracked or completely broken off. Amazing how many broken pieces I was able to not loose as the piles were jockeyed around. I pin nailed were I could and clamped until glue dried.
The harder mends were those where the broken off piece was missing. Only one so far and for that I made a splice out of moulding left over from upstairs. I had to sand the patch piece down to the wood, to remove the wrong color stain. I lined it up with the damaged piece and clamped them together along with my straight edge set at the angle I needed to capture all of the broken area. I used my mini circular saw to make the cut. I impressed myself with how this mend turned out. I used the custom colored Zar stain on the patch piece.
The other difficult mend was filling the holes from where the electric outlets were located. The living room only had two outlets (today’s code I have 8), so I employed some of the technique I learned from the This Old House video I found. I did not make a jig or use a router since my pieces weren’t attached to the wall. Instead I used my jig saw and traced the shape of my patch piece onto the piece I was cutting. I did sand after gluing, so the dust would fill in the slight gaps. Again I impressed myself although moving forward I will be mindful of the grain of wood used for the patch. The second one didn’t match as well as the first.
With the pieces mended, cleaned, and restored installing was a breeze. I used my Walabot stud finder to make sure I was hitting studs and I used 16 gauge, 2″ nails loaded in my nail gun. Finding studs was key because the pieces were warped and bowed from not being stored flat. This was corrected by the force of the nail pulling the board into the wall. Hitting drywall only would not correct this. The only wall that I had to treat differently was the exposed brick wall. The moulding originally went into plaster, now it had to attach to brick. For that I marked the mortar area in 4 spots and drilled a countersink hole in the wood. I used masonry nails to attach to wall. With the nails being black they blended perfectly.
I’m about 50% done with the floor moulding that must be restored. The guest bedroom will be the only room to get new moulding because fire destroyed the original on one wall. The moulding for the other three walls I’ll need to ensure the other rooms are complete. In some areas the original pieces will be too short due to doors that were permanently removed or I’ll need to place it where it didn’t previously exist.
Next post will be pictures only when all restored floor moulding is complete. I have an ambitious goal of having the entire inside complete by my birthday in January, which includes making my dining room table. If the doors go well it will be completely possible.
I’ve passed all City of Cincinnati inspections and now can legally occupy my house. Whew. No celebrations yet, as I still need to finish installing all the floor and door moulding and 5 doors, but it does feel good getting all the inspections complete. For this milestone occasion I decided to hang Christmas decorations.
I’m not a post Christmas sales shopper, but I got the wreaths at Home Depot on clearance last year. Regular $49.99 and I got for $12,50. I had to go to three different stores to get all I needed, but it was worth it. The wreaths have battery powered LED lights and can run constantly, 6 hours on/18 hours off, or off.
To dress them up a purchased ribbons and red berry garland from Michael’s. It was a cold and raining day when I hung them and I was able to do it all from the inside of the house just by lowering the upper window sash. Eyelet hooks drilled into the center of the outside frame allowed me to hang the wreaths for the inside via transparent wire capped with electrical connectors.
The snowman I’ve had since a child. It’s over 40 years old.
With my father in town for Thanksgiving I was able to have him help me install the last element stopping the scheduling of final Building Permit inspection for my occupancy permit; the stair railing leading to upstairs. The railing I got from Hyde Park Lumber because I wanted to have the curved ends that meet the wall. I didn’t know code required this anyway, but I was at the historic General Denver Hotel in Wilmington, OH and I took a picture of their stair rail in hopes I could find something similar.
It came in three parts, the rail and two end pieces. It would take some precise measuring and drilling to get the ends to align perfectly once attached. I figured my father would be up for that task. One end fit perfectly, the other I had to sand a bit, all in all it was a fairly easy project.
Installing window trim allowed me to find the pieces of trim that ran on top of the stair string and also under the bead board short wall surrounding the stairs, so I tackled putting them in place also. I knew I would have two issues I’d need to work around. The first was I knew the pieces would run short. Originally there was a door that closed off upstair and the trim stopped at the jamb. I had about a 5-6″ shortfall on both sides to contend with. The style/design of that trim was unlike any other trim in the house. I didn’t want to risk breaking it by taking it to Hyde Park Lumber to see if they had anything to match, so instead I used a piece of original trim not used on the Master Bath windows. I put the splice at the top of stairs since my Master oasis is not public space. Close enough in my opinion.
The second issue was dealing with larger gaps around the bead board and floor moulding created because the drywall was thinner than the plaster in some areas. On the top of the left side of stairs there was an obvious gap that bothered me every time I went up the stairs. Thanks to watching Tom install the last of the crown moulding I got the perfect idea to conceal the gap; an end cap which I made from a piece of leftover moulding from upstairs. The piece was small and all I had to work with was my coping saw as I attempted to cut the shape to match the profile of the floor moulding. A friend found a used scroll saw for me at Habitat ReStore for $15, all it needs is a blade. Sure wish I had in operating for this. All in all not a bad remedy. The right side was not as intricate as the gap was much longer and wider. More left trim from the bathroom windows took care of that.
The bottom of the stair string posed a different problem due to the removal of the jamb. Each side had different lengths. The left ended approx. 3/4″ from wall, so I decided to just fill the gap with a piece of wood that would allow me to run the floor moulding to the end of string. The right side had about a 3″ gap, so I cleaned up the edge and decided to wrap the floor moulding around the corner. Since moulding in that area didn’t exist I sanded down a piece left from upstairs and stained it to match the other first floor moulding and stair risers.
With the fixes in place installing the original trim pieces was a piece of cake. Clean up was just water and Restore-A-Finish.