Monday, November 14, 2016

Hold On! Just Two More House Projects

I have been trying hard to wrap up the house projects for the season while also focusing on preparing for winter* and also some more crafty-type DIY projects.

Renaissance Handyman Nick has finished our exterior doors! We can now have a doormat inside the front AND the back/mudroom door! And someday I'll find some really great looking, super functional, cost-effective door mats. For now I have super-functional and cost-effective, at least.

He reset the whole door and frame up about 3/4" so while he was at it we got new brick- and stop moulding which I pre-painted. It'll be next spring before I can fill and paint the jamb, though. On the inside we got new weather stripping and new moulding!

Look! Even the view through the window is better! Note that you can see light both above and below the door in the before shot? Sheesh!

I don't know that they insulated AT ALL when they enclosed the back porch to create what we call the mudroom. So dealing with this door was less about weather-proofing and more about varmint-proofing, being able to open the door all way, annnnnnd have a doormat. Time to clean the doors!

Nick also taught me how to figure out the angle of the stair rail so I could build it the way I want it and finally get the rail installed.

After all that and it just looks like... just that. At least the next time one of us has an injured leg we'll be more stable on the stairs.
I wanted a "return" and I wanted the bottom, flat part of the handrail moulding to remain roughly parallel to the floor. My carpenter friends in Oregon enlightened me to the fact that I'd have to level out first, so I knew I'd need Nick to teach me how to figure out that angle. And then as I was playing with some scrap pieces I realized a couple of things: I didn't like the way that looked at the bottom of the stairs and It was really challenging (i.e. scary and probably leaning towards dangerous) for me to cut small pieces with my beloved, beautiful compound miter saw. Then I watched a YouTube video on the This Old House channel to see about how to assemble all these parts and saw that they just did a simple 90-degree return, flat part of the moulding being parallel with the floor be damned. Well, screw it, if it's good enough for Tom Silva, it's good enough for Tara Fields. **Eric Fischl won't even notice, you can count on that.

Look at all that spackle! Filling all those holes and divots! Yeah, yeah... I'll get to it.

Months and months ago I searched and searched for handrail brackets that I liked. It's probably usually not such a big deal that they have a certain look, but since we can look right at them from the sofa, I wanted them to be an appropriate finish and style for the rest of the updates we've made. Also months and months ago, I discussed this project with my dear friend, Dale, who had been a finish carpenter for years and years and he suggested that I match the angle of the handrail to the angle of the stair wall/moulding on the living room side, rather than the stairs. BRILLIANT. I mean, it's really close to the same, but maybe not exactly. Walking up or down the stairs with your hand on the rail you wouldn't notice a slight difference in angle, but you sure would see it from the sofa!

Here's a close-up shot of the last owners' pink paint and not-great DIY texturing of the wall.

A LOT of time, effort, and planning went into this project and I must say that the finished project is underwhelming. After months of on and off work, sourcing, research, phone calls, emails, IMs, psyching myself up and down it just looks like it should've looked the whole time... like a normal, up-to-code, handrail. At least I got those cool, pewter finish, cast iron rail brackets. Sigh.

*Preparing for winter includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Ordering firewood for delivery, then stacking it in the woodshed.
Getting the canopy back on Bert, the pickup truck, loading the sandbags & tire chains.
Putting away all the patio furniture, hoses, etc., like people everywhere.

**Until/If he reads this. Or I tell him. Which I did.

UPDATE: Long Winter's Nap

Delia mostly kicked the blanket off herself in a fit of nest-making, so I finished off the job and now the fancy new store-bought dog bed in the "new" kitchen is nekkid.


I added a new page called Glossary and Cast List. I started putting it together ages ago and had a heckuva time "publishing" it, but suddenly last week I spotted a button I hadn't noticed before in a place I didn't expect one to be and it finally is out there. It's up there in that bar under the title if you've been dying to know what some common abbreviation is or are otherwise interested.


  1. OH, you should have told me you wanted to create tabs on your blog. I know exactly how to do it and could have shown you easily.

    The handrail for the stairs looks FABULOUS! I am always so proud and impressed with all the house projects you do.

    1. Well, I already had a tab! And obviously I didn't care too awfully much. ;)


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