Should I Fill Cracks in Window Frame?

window cracks

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Desley. “My windows have some cracks that go from the outside right through to the inside. How should I fix that?” Desley, first let’s be sure what you are looking at is something that actually needs to be repaired. It’s a little difficult to tell from your picture, but cracks in window frames may be something you should leave alone. Let me explain. A window sash consists of two stiles (vertical pieces [...] Read on →

The 3 Best Mistakes I’ve Ever Made

Construction-Mistakes

I’m not usually in the habit of reliving the greatest hits of my renovation follies, but just like you I’m not perfect. I don’t always do the right thing or know that answer to every question about old houses. Just like you I sometimes act too quickly with not enough information or in other cases I put a project off for years because I just can’t figure out how to do it. The latter is what I call “Renovation Paralysis” and [...] 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 →

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 →

What Kind of Sash Rope Should I Use?

sash rope

This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Jeremy. “What kind of rope should I use to restring my windows?” There are a lot of different kinds of rope on the market, but only certain types are appropriate for your old windows. The best kind of rope for double-hung windows is cotton braided rope. Hemp rope isn’t appropriate. Full synthetic ropes tend to stretch too much and I’ve also found that they slide in the pulley tracks in [...] 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 →

Ask The Craftsman: Can I Reglaze Windows Without Removing the Glass?

reglaze windows

This week’s question comes from Amy. “Can I reglaze the outside [of my windows] without removing the panes and replacing the interior seating portion?”   Absolutely! When you reglaze windows it’s not always necessary to replace the glazing “bed” which is the putty that the pane rests on in the glazing rabbet. Replacing the bedding putty is beneficial though since it will help air seal the glass and also help to keep interior condensation from getting at the [...] Read on →

Replacement Windows: The Real Story

Replacement windows

If you own an old house you are the prime demographic for the replacement windows industry. They would love to convince you to remove all your home’s original windows and replace them with new energy efficient windows. I can hear them beginning to salivate right now. (I have excellent hearing) The replacement windows industry is out to sell a product and sell it often. I won’t hide my bias here. I am not a fan of replacement windows. [...] Read on →

Where to Find Vintage Hardware

Copyright: kiya / 123RF Stock Photo

Vintage hardware is awesome. I could probably try to find more creative ways to say that, but I figured simpler is better. The bottom line is that vintage hardware, whether it is actually vintage or a well made replica, is a solidly constructed, beautiful piece of an old house. Vintage hardware has weight and significance to it. Cheap replicas, and run of the mill hardware today feel cheap and weak and they are. Many are made from plastic [...] Read on →

Demolition is a Choice, Not a Solution

Old Home Demolition

Recently, I was at a historic homes event here in Winter Park where the keynote speaker was Nicole Curtis of  HGTV/DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. In case you haven’t seen her show, she is an energetic little thing that goes around saving old houses by restoring them with her own two hands. She’s a one-woman preservation society in the Minneapolis area and its incredible! During the speech she said something that has really stayed with me. “Demolition is a choice, [...] 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 →