How To: Determine Different Types of Wood Finish

How To Determine Different Types of Wood Finish

This week’s Ask The Craftsman Question comes from Johnathan. “How can I tell what type of finish is on my wood floors?” Johnathan, get out your chemistry set and I’ll show you how to determine the different types of wood finish. The process is fairly simple you just have to test in a specific order because certain solvents will dissolve several finishes while others will only dissolve one type. Make sure to do this test in an inconspicuous [...] Read on →

How To: Replace Glass on Steel Windows

Steel windows

Working on steel windows is a completely different experience than restoring wood windows. Their construction is different and the techniques and tools used are different. One of the most common repairs you need to know is how to replace glass on steel windows. So, I’ll walk you through how to get it done safely and quickly. Replacing glass in steel windows often results in the glass breaking on its way out if it isn’t already broken. Steel windows [...] Read on →

How To: Remove Stain From Wood

remove stain from wood

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Douglas. “What do you recommend to remove stain from an antique mantle?” Douglas, I’m assuming that we are not talking about pets stains here. Stains from pet urine blacken wood in a way that cannot be removed without replacing the wood. Removing a stained finish from wood is another story though. Wood stain penetrates deep into the wood and can’t be removed just by using a chemical stripper and scraper [...] Read on →

How To: Get Huge Discounts on Tools

how to get huge discounts on tools

I love tools! When I see a tool that I don’t have my mind tries to create some need for it. And I already have a ton of tools. There is no way around it in this business.  But from experience I have learned when to splurge and when to go bargain shopping for a massive discount. For example, do you know where you can get free hand tools? (I’ll tell you more about this in a bit). [...] Read on →

How To: Lead Safe Work Practices

lead safe

Last week I talked about how to properly test for lead paint. While testing for lead paint is an important start, simply knowing if there is lead or not won’t do much to protect you. You need to know how to safely renovate in a house with lead paint. I’ll cover important principles of dust control and clean up and of course give you some tips I’ve learned along the way to make the whole process much less [...] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: How to Fix Sagging Beadboard Ceiling

beadboard ceiling

This week’s question comes from Chris: “I have original beadboard on my porch ceiling and it’s sagging in some areas.  What is the best way to repair?” Chris, beadboard is one of the most common materials used for porch ceilings and eaves in old houses. Its tongue & groove design allows it to hold tightly together and keep bugs and the elements out. There are a couple things that might be causing the problem and the solutions for [...] Read on →

How To: Test for Lead Paint

how to test for lead paint

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about lead paint so I wanted to try to address some of those questions to make folks feel a little safer in their old homes. If you live in a house built before 1978 you need to know how to test for lead paint, especially if you have littles ones. Lead is toxic to humans. Children under 6 are especially vulnerable to it since their bodies absorb lead at a much [...] Read on →

How To: Find the Best Paint Brush

Paint brush

There are so many different types of paint brushes out there today. So, how do you know which one you need for your project? Should you buy a bunch of different brushes specific to each use or maybe just one all-around brush? What about cost? I’ve got so many bite marks on my tongue (biting my tongue to avoid piping up) from watching homeowners pick out the wrong paint brush. They just don’t know. But not anymore (at [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Primer

Choosing the Right Primer

Using primer should be an easy choice before any paint job. You don’t always have to prime before painting, but in the end it saves you time and money. Priming helps your paint cover in less coats, last longer and look better. It’s a win/win/win (if there is such a thing!) Choosing the right primer is paramount to making your paint job last. Using the wrong primer (or no primer at all) can actually cause paint failure if [...] Read on →

Rotted Wood Repair with Abatron Epoxy

How to repair rotted wood

You live in an old house? Good! Then you have rotted wood and know the frustration and worries it can cause. When a tree is still alive water is its best friend, but after we turn that tree into lumber, water is the last thing it needs. There are lots of products on the market today to patch wood. I listed some of my absolute favorites in this post here: The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood But [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 3 Steam Heat)

how-to-strip-paint

This is the last post in our 3 part series on how to strip paint. In the first one I talked about working with chemical strippers and when and how to use them. Last week we delved into the world of elbow grease and talked about how to scrape like a pro. This week I want to talk about using heat to remove paint. Specifically, steam heat, but we’ll also discuss infrared strippers and good old-fashioned heat guns. [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 2 Scrape Like a Pro)

how-to-strip-paint

This may be the least exciting method of paint removal, but I have found it to be one of the best ways to remove decades of old paint quickly and cleanly. If you can learn how to strip paint without chemicals or heat your prep/clean up time can be significantly reduced. In this post, I’ll show you the tools and methods for how to strip paint effectively from just about any wood surface. A little elbow grease and the [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 1 Chemical Strippers)

how-to-strip-paint

I know a lot of you have questions about stripping paint from old woodwork. I know because it’s one of the topics I get emailed about the most. So I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. There are three primary ways you can remove paint (scraping/sanding, chemicals, heat) and we’ll talk about all three in this series. Today let’s focus on chemical strippers, which are really your best option if you have detailed or ornate moldings to [...] Read on →

How To: Insulate an Old House

how to insulate an old house

I get asked a lot about insulating old houses, especially in the wintertime. It makes sense. People fall in love with the character rich architecture of these homes, but they don’t want the crazy heating and cooling bills that come along with that character. Chances are good that if your house was built before the 1960’s there is little to no insulation. Before the energy crisis of the 1970’s energy was abundant and cheap in America and it [...] Read on →