Renovation Update: Rail & Baluster Installation

It was really cool watching the staircase come together, since it was my job to sand and finish all of the stair parts. Even though Andy built all the parts and put the staircase together, this is definitely the project in the house where I feel like I helped the most. It made it so satisfying to watch come together.

In part 1 of this post, I explained how Andy installed the newel posts on our staircase.

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Part 2 – Rail, Baluster & Newel Post Cap Installation

Seeing the rails and balusters go up was very cool, not only because I had a part in it, but because it was the first time I really saw how things happened. I was too enthralled in the process, and admittedly busy taking care of other things around the house, that I sort of forgot to take photos of the baluster installation. I’ll explain as best I can with finished pictures. When it came to the rails, which are made of walnut, I was curious to see how the exact level and angle was determined. Turns out, you need a few levels and a few clamps.

DSC_8583-01 DSC_8586-01 DSC_8590-01This method was awesome because it really gave me a chance to visualize where the rail would fall, but also to figure out if it was at a comfortable height. Andy nailed it the first try, so he marked it off with painters tape, and measured and cut the rail.

DSC_8594-01To install the rails to the newel posts Andy attached them a couple ways. Most of them were attached through a groove in the bottom of the rail, but a few needed to be attached through the top. Either way, Andy drilled two angled holes on each end of each rail at the same angle as the rail and screwed them into each newel post.

DSC_8596-01For the rails screwed through the top, Andy made plugs and glued them into place.

DSC_8939DSC_8935Each rail attached through the bottom groove didn’t need to be plugged, since they were patched after the balusters were installed.

To install the rail to the wall where we had no newel post, Andy did a simple block. We debated on doing a half newel but though a block would look better.

DSC_8940For the balusters (painted poplar, also known as aspen) Andy and I decided on a spacing we liked (two balusters per tread). Andy then cut each baluster to the correct angle and nailed it into the bottom groove of the rail. Once all balusters were installed, he then cut and placed a piece between each baluster to fill in the groove. Each piece was secured with a finish nail.

DSC_8933Once the rails and balusters were installed, it was time for the crowning glory, and the final parts, of the staircase—newel post caps. When it came to what wood to use we debated on a nice maple, walnut, or beech. We finally decided on a chunky but simple walnut cap to tie in the rail. I loved the idea of bringing in some darker wood somewhere else. Even better, Andy had a piece of crotch walnut which he could make one of the caps out of.

DSC_8938 The other two caps were made of regular walnut and are also very beautiful. To keep the balance we put the other two on each end, and the crotch walnut in the middle. We also did this because the stairwell light is directly above the middle newel post, which highlights the beautiful cap even more.

DSC_8931 DSC_8934DSC_8961Overall we really love how the stairwell turned out, so here are a few more pictures of the final stairwell.

DSC_8929 DSC_8946 DSC_8952 DSC_8957 DSC_8959This spring we’re going to start building out the upstairs bathroom, and I can’t wait to share that process with you guys. It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done and should hopefully be an inspiration for all of those with a tiny 3/4 bathroom. Once the bathroom is finished, and funds permit, we’ll be able to start the big renovation on the original house which can only mean one thing—kitchen time!

For now we’re staying busy fixing our cars that keep breaking (oy vey, don’t ask – a new car is on the near horizon), working out in the woods with our neighbor, starting seeds for the garden should the snow decide to fully melt at any point this spring, and over all just doing the day to day working & typical house cleaning and errands!

xo,

Heather

Renovation Update: Newell Post Installation

We finished the stair tread installation a while back but we had yet to install the newel posts, rail and balusters.  Up until about a month ago we’d had a staircase with no rail, but that is no more! We officially have a full staircase which Andy completely built by hand. I’ll be breaking this post up into two so it won’t be so long.

Part 1 – Newel Post Installation

I have to first say I love the newel posts Andy built. Like the stairs, they’re made of beech and they’re beefy which looks so good in such a huge stairwell area. The photos below show how nice they are, but at the end of this series you’ll get to see the caps we put on them which are beautiful.

To install the newel posts, Andy started by ensuring they would have a solid base and be super secure. We have three posts, so we picked up three Sure-Tight newel fastening systems.

DSC_8449-01Next Andy test fitted where the newel posts would go, marked it off, found the center, and drilled a hole for the screw.

DSC_8496-01To ensure the screw would thread in easily, Andy utilized a soap scrap from Green Barn Soaps.

DSC_8499-01 DSC_8501-01Once the threads were soaped up, it easily screwed in.

DSC_8517-01A quick vacuum of the soap scraps that inevitably turnout while you screw it in, and a quick ensure that the screw was deep enough, and Andy was ready to install the newel post.

DSC_8523-01To start he vacuumed out the post from the bottom and top just to make sure no wood shavings from the drilling process were in the way.

DSC_8525-01 DSC_8526-01Once the newel post is put on the screw, there’s a nut that holds it down inside. The thing is, of the hundred wrenches we have, none would fit properly to be able to screw it in. Andy, of course, didn’t let this hold him back. I give you newel post installation fabricated wrench.

DSC_8547-01 DSC_8548-01Win! Andy removed just enough of the metal to be able to fit the wrench, and also turn it to tighten the nut.

DSC_8558-01 DSC_8560-01One by one the newel posts were fit, drilled, and installed.

DSC_8486-01DSC_8578-01I really love how these look installed, and will be sharing the rest of the installation process of the rails and balusters this week! While you’ll have to wait, don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

DSC_8575-01xo,

Heather

Wednesday Renovation Recap: Little Items & Big Windows

Hey friends! This last week in renovation land has been slow and steady. There has been plenty done, but it’s been little items to prep for some big ones. We’re waiting for some materials to show up so we can install the windows, so while we waited we worked on a few other items.  By “we” I mean I did some painting and items around the house, while Andy actually worked on the house. Oh, I also took some photos for you of the house so this won’t be an instagram photo recap like last Wednesday.

First up, can we just discuss what a HUGE difference has been made since we moved in five years ago? I found this picture on my external hard drive and I was all, “ANDY LOOK. There’s a toilet on the porch.” Then I cringed because I remember having to blast that toilet with the power washer when we had to re-floor the bathroom right after moving in.

And from a similar perspective now. Awwww boo yeah.

This photo also shows one of the bigger of the prep items we had to do this weekend before the windows went in. All of those casings around the window openings are not the final casings for the windows. I asked Andy and he let me know these are actually called “wood bucks” not casings. I’m so super knowledgeable about these things *shakes head sarcastically*. These help hold the actual windows in place and will be covered by the window itself.

Wait for it…

Waaaiiitt for it….

THESE WINDOWS.

Oh boy do I like our windows. These are two over one windows, i.e. two panes over one pane. We debated a three over one look but decided the balance of the house and the view of the field would be better with two over one. These windows are amazing and are easily cleaned by tilting (it’s the little things in life). The green will be what you see on the exterior of the house, and the interior is a basic pine but it’s a nice pine. Once the Vycor (window flashing) comes in we’ll be set to install and it will look like a unicorn party – both magical and unbelievable.

Next up came finishing up the soffit on the addition, trim and paint.

Because the steel roof reflects light so easily, it’s really hard to get a good shot from the road. Instead I took these while up on the original roof, after I finished putting a second coating on some of the trim. Oh, by the way, the paint color is Sage Brush Green if you’re interested.

Oh, and what else is this we started? Some work on the original house? Oh yes, you know we did. You can’t exactly put siding on when the original house is still junk. The entire exterior needs to be in working order, so when I was doing inventory on my soaps the other night I heard a loud BANG BANG BANG *crunch* noise right outside my window. Turns out Andy was pulling the soffit down on the original house.

That tiny window is the window into my office right now. Someday, oh someday, I’ll have a real window in there.

The final part of this weeks renovation update actually happened tonight, so I think it deserved a spot in this weeks breakdown.

Our front door!

I never wrote about it, but earlier this spring when I was in Marthas Vineyard for my friends wedding, Andy went to the Hammond Lumber tent sale up in Belgrade. He came home with some doors, including a beautiful solid douglas fir front door.

The swing of the door was wrong, so Andy took it out of the frame and changed the mounts so it would swing in to the right, instead of to the left.

It’s great knowing that not only are the windows going in soon, but we’ll actually have a front door to the house again. As far as those lanterns from our wedding in the garage? They might just stay there forever.

We’re fancy like that.

xo,

Heather

Woodshop Upgrades

Do you remember last January when I posted about my love of a lathe, and how I wanted Andy to update his shop a little?

I knew you did. You’re so good like that.

It’s been almost a year, so I thought I would update you on the four new pieces we’ve acquired. Soon after the lathe blog post last January, we picked up our Shop Fox band-saw and jointer from an industrial wood-shop supply place here in Maine.

Our next piece, our planer, was found through some interesting Craigslist selling & buying. We sold an old fridge, and our oil hot water heater. Andy ended up getting another call about the fridge—and per what he told me, only went online and searched our town name to see if it was still listed for some reason. He swears he removed the listing—and that he wasn’t specifically looking for tools or a sawmill.

I’ve decided to believe him, with a little eye squintiness and smirk going on because I’m not 100% sold.

The search turned up a Jet planer. Even though he wasn’t the first one to call he was the first one over there with a pickup truck, and cash to pay for it. He got it for about 1/4 of what it’s worth. A little sharpening of the planer blades brought it back to near mint condition.

Finally—are you ready?

No really. Are you? Because this is exciting.

We have a lathe. Not a 30 year old piece of junk lathe but a nice lathe. I’m not sure how the conversation started between Andy and our coworker, but I do know it turns out he was upgrading from his Jet lathe. We ended up buying it, with bowl chucks, for about 1/2 of it’s retail cost not including the chucks. I might be just a little excited.

To be clear, I’m still slightly intimidated by my scroll saw so I’m ogling the lathe from a slight distance at this point.

It’s just so wonderful. Andy got all the adjustments done he needed, and then cut a piece of firewood on the bandsaw and decided to turn a “woodworking mallet”.

There’s just something so wonderful about wood shavings all over strong hands from woodworking.

I think the finished product looks like a solid oak replica of an old corked bottle. I can just picture it white washed with a beautiful hand-painted label on it.

Even though it’s meant for woodworking, or so I’m told (I am admittedly very gullible in some aspects) I still love that this was turned from a piece of firewood.

That my friends, is why I love lathes.

Happy Woodworking,

Heather