How To: Cut Plaster Walls

how to cut plaster walls

Yes, there are times when you need to cut a hole in a plaster wall. And before you do it wrong and knock big chunks of plaster from your walls or ceilings I thought I’d give you some tips on how to cut plaster walls the right way. I see tragically destroyed original plaster walls all the time. Usually, the damage is courtesy of a hurried plumber or electrician who doesn’t care since they aren’t the ones patching […] Read on →

What is a Dovecote?

Dovecotes

This week’s Ask the Craftsman question comes from Jennifer. “I have these little pentagon shaped openings near my roof and I’m wondering if you can tell me what they are.” Jennifer, it sounds like you’ve got dovecotes which were a popular feature on mid-century storybook style houses. A lot of folks mistake them for attic vents and in all fairness that’s all they usually are in mid-20th century houses. Dovecotes were traditionally found in the homes of nobility […] Read on →

Why Do We Restore?

Why do we restore

I just returned from a much needed 10-day vacation visiting friends and family. Over that time I had a lot of time to slow things down and do some long overdue reading and reflecting. It wasn’t long before I knew exactly what I wanted my first post of the year to be. There was one question that kept coming to my mind and to be truthful I didn’t have a good answer. Why Do We Restore? I’m sure […] Read on →

How To: Research Your Home’s History

how to research your home's history

Most of us know little about our own home’s history, but researching your home’s history can uncover all kinds of interesting stories. For some properties that history begins with the city or county platting the area and opening it up to development. For others with very old properties it may go back far enough to include land grants from nobility. Either way it’s a lot of fun play detective to piece together decades or centuries of stories.   Making an […] Read on →

Taking Back Preservation

taking-back-preservation

I’ve watched too many old windows get ripped out of houses and throw to the curb over the years. It’s a wasteful tragedy that seems to only grow. Every year there are fewer and fewer of theses original windows in our historic buildings. It’s a disturbing trend that has made myself and other preservationists feel absolutely powerless in our aims to save America’s windows. My restoration company, like many others, works tirelessly restoring hundreds of old windows every […] Read on →

What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Windows

what-star-trek-can-teach-us-about-windows

Windows are a lot like Star Trek. Got your attention didn’t I? But seriously, come with me on this. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock there is a brilliant line by the head engineer Mr. Scott (who has an awesome name). When asked how Scotty figured out a way to disable the ship that was pursuing them he responds with simple brilliance. “Aye sir. The more they overthink the plumping the easier it is to stop […] Read on →

How To: Repair Weathered Window Sills

How to repair weathered window sill

If you’ve got badly weathered window sills you’re not alone. Wood that has been exposed to the sun’s destructive rays for years without a protective layer of paint can begin to weather so badly that it may appear to be beyond saving. But with the magic of a good wood epoxy you can save damaged wood like this and make it look like new. For epoxy repairs there are a lot of products on the market but the […] Read on →

Why Are There Double-Hung Windows?

double hung window

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Jeremy. “Why on earth are there DOUBLE hung windows? Everyone just raises the lower sash, but I have a hunch that there may be a reason.” Jeremy, great question and there is most definitely a reason! A single-hung window is one where the top sash is fixed and only the bottom sash will move up and down. While there are many of these around there are more double-hung windows in […] 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 →

The Greenest Building is the One Already Built

Greenest Building

“The greenest building is the one that is already built.” Architect Carl Elefante who is the Director of Sustainable Design at Qunin Evans Architects in Washington, D.C. said it very succinctly. Eco-nerds talk about sustainability and energy-efficient design as much as us preservation-nerds talk about wood windows and plaster. But isn’t it amazing when two worlds that have little to do with each other normally can come together and fight side by side on an issue. Historic preservation is just […] Read on →

How To: Fix Creaky Wood Floors

How to fix creaky wood floors

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Heidi. “How do I fix creaky wood floors?” Heidi, there are a couple quick fixes for creaky wood floors that you can do. #1 Baby Powder Sprinkle some baby powder in the area of the squeak and brush it in so it falls into the cracks between boards. Sweep up the excess and you’re done. This is a super easy fix that works a lot of the time with really […] 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 →

Adam & Georgian Style

Georgian entryway

In America’s early colonial period times were tough and architecture was not foremost on settler’s minds. Survival was the name of the game and the architecture of the time reflected that with simple utilitarian homes. By 1700 America’s population had grown into the millions and its citizens had begun to attain some wealth for themselves. This prosperity led to a desire for more and nicer things and the architectural trends from Europe began to be imported to the New […] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: What’s With the Pineapples?

pineapple fence

This week’s question comes from…my wife. Seriously, she has been wanting me to write about this for awhile now. And yes, I’ll be sending her a free copy of my eBook as a thank you. Why are there pineapples carved on fences and other parts of old houses? This topic came up because in our neighborhood we have a house that we affectionately call “The Pineapple House.” It has at least a dozen pineapples carved into its fence and porch […] Read on →