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 →

3 Secrets to a Stress-Free Remodel

stressfreeremodel

Some renovations drag on and on and on with no end in sight. Delays, revisions, inspections they all conspire to make your project feel like it will never end. Or maybe you can’t get your project off the ground. You’ve been planning that bathroom remodel for 5 years, but you’re still not ready to start? Something is wrong! I’m going to share my 3 secrets to a stress-free remodel with you to help you either get started or [...] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: Wood Shingle Roofs Gone Forever?

Wood shingles

This week’s question comes from Jeremy in Tampa, FL. “Why does no one use legitimate cedar or wood shake shingles anymore?…didn’t some of the older houses begin that way?” Good question Jeremy! I love the look of wood shingle roofs and despite what a lot of folks might think wood shingle roofs can last just as long, if not longer, than asphalt shingles. Shakes are hand-split shingles and regular shingles are saw-cut. Shakes are generally thicker and much [...] Read on →

The Oldest City in America

Oldest School in America

Recently, my wife and I went on vacation to the oldest city in America. Luckily, I have a wife who loves old buildings (almost) as much as I do! I wanted to share some of the history and pictures with you since it truly was an incredible experience. What is the oldest city in America, you ask? Surely, it has to be in New England near the oldest house in America somewhere around Plymouth rock where the Pilgrims [...] Read on →

What to Do About Asbestos?

Asbestos

Asbestos is that persnickety little thing that can be hiding anywhere in an old house. From siding to plaster, vinyl floor tiles to insulation it can be almost anywhere. What makes matters worse is there is no simple way for the average homeowner to determine if they have asbestos in their house. You can’t tell by looking at a material if it contains asbestos. You can’t tell by smelling, feeling or even tasting (would you really want to [...] Read on →

My 8 Absolutely Essential Tools

8 essential tools

For this week I had a completely different post in mind and my wife completely changed my mind with the most wonderful surprise. You see, yesterday was my birthday! And aside from getting to spend the day with my amazing family AND getting my choice of any meal under the sun (I chose Ahi Poke) my wife surprised me with a new tool belt. This isn’t just any old tool belt. It is an Occidental Leather 5191 Carpenter’s [...] Read on →

What is a Rumford Fireplace? (and why it’s better than your fireplace)

rumford fireplace

Fireplaces have been around since the dawn of housing in one shape or another. For hundreds of years fire was the only way to heat buildings and with indoor fires you need a fireplace. It wasn’t until 1795 that the fireplace was finally perfected by a brilliant American named Benjamin Thompson “Count Rumford.” His work instantaneously revolutionized fireplace and chimney construction. Strangely, most people today have never heard of Count Rumford even though most fireplaces built between 1796 [...] Read on →

How To Restore Steel Windows

Historic Steel Window

Historic steel windows are all across America. They became popular in big cities to combat the fires that were so common around the turn of the 20th century. Then from the 1930s until the 1950s they were a popular choice in residential housing due to the decreasing availability of quality lumber. Many steel windows sit and deteriorate across the country. While much attention has been paid to restoring traditional wood windows by preservationists, historic steel windows have fallen [...] Read on →

The Oldest House in America

Oldest House in America

  What is the oldest house in America? Is there any way to really tell? The answer is yes, we really can tell what the oldest house in America is…we think. When you go back centuries to colonial times records are not quite as complete or straight forward as they are today, but there are many ways to determine the age of a structure. The oldest house in America is a timber frame house built ca. 1637-1641 in [...] Read on →

How To: Build Historic Lattice

Historic Lattice

Lattice was a very common thing on old houses. Not just for flowering backyard trellises, but to protect foundations from critters, varmints and the neighbor’s nosing cat. Just because lattice performs a valuable function keeping your crawl space free of pests doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful part of your home’s curb appeal. Don’t settle for the dirt cheap home store version of lattice. This stuff is so thin and poorly assembled that it rarely lasts more [...] Read on →

Choosing Rot Resistant Wood

rot resistant wood

Old houses are constantly having to deal with wood rot and insect damage. While the old-growth wood used in houses built before the turn of the 20th Century are a more rot resistant wood than anything available today, no wood is rot or insect proof.  Insects and fungi (aka rot) love soft wood. Preferably soft, wet wood, which is why you’ll find termite damage in water logged areas of an old house. The soft pine, fir and other [...] Read on →

7 Great Gift Ideas For Your Handyman

gift-ideas-for-your-handyman

Christmas is right around the corner and just like you I’m scrambling to finish my  shopping list. So, I wanted to put together a list for my awesome readers of my top ten Christmas gifts for the DIYer in your life. Anything on this list is sure to get a smile and make them disappear into the garage to tinker with their new toy. There’s something on here for every budget so don’t fret. I’ve got you covered! [...] Read on →

25 Old House Terms Defined

Balusters in a balustrade

Old houses have a lot of terms that you may not be familiar with. So, having a working definition of those terms will help save you confusion and overuse of phrases like Whatchamacallit or Thingamajig. Save yourself the hassle with this handy guide to 25 old house terms you need to know. Baluster (Balustrade) – Balusters are sometimes referred to as spindles. They are the vertical members (often decorative) that make up railing on porches and stairways. A [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Fastener (Part 2 Screws)

Choosing the right fastener

Last week we talked about how to pick the right nails for the job. You can read that post here. This week we’re going to discuss how to choose the right kind of screw for the job. There are tons of different kinds of screws. While you don’t have to deal with pneumatic sizing like you do with nails you have lots of variety in screws. We’ll talk about sizing which is important toward the end, but first [...] Read on →