This week we've been getting stuff done.

That's about as simply as I can put it. We haven't had enough time for major projects due to continued hectic schedules, so I've been making a concerted effort to accomplish at least one thing in three categories each and every day. My goal is to get more done than just three tasks, but my focus is to ensure at least one task in each category gets checked off of our list.

Our To Do list is way too long and overwhelming to just start working through things, but if we don't start somewhere, it's never going to get done. So I've broken the list into three distinct categories.

1. Daily chores/maintenance (like laundry, cleaning, watering flowers, etc)
2. Home improvements/fixes for our Old Town house
3. Project work for our second home

Pretty simple, right? Get some chores done around the house, take care of a nagging thing that's broken or incomplete that needs to be done, and do a little work to move along the HVAC or project work at the other house? Well, as anyone without enough hours in the day knows (I think that's most of us) it's so much easier to use any extra time to sit on the couch, sleep in, or any number of things that's not nearly as productive.

I won't bore you with step by steps on the mundane things like "I did the laundry and watered the flowers," but I will bore you with the details of two items I checked off the list yesterday under bullets #2 and #3.

First, we had a little issue with our front door knob a few weeks ago. Perhaps you remember this door knob that we painstakingly selected for our salvaged and restored French doors?  Here's a refresher of how it looked before.

Well, after having a ton of rain, one of the doors swelled up and started to stick. Apparently it really stuck one day, and when the mail person tried to close the door he ended up ripping the knob right off of the door. 

I was home the day it happened and heard a bit of a commotion with the delivery, so I went to the door to check it out. When I opened the door, a sheepish and very apologetic mailman was standing there, door knob in hand, handing it back to me. I knew this was a risk, and the knob had been wobbly after a previous person did the same, so I told him not to worry about it and that I'd be able to fix it. I felt bad because of how bad he felt. But really, not a big deal.  

So I dug through our treasure trove of salvaged hardware I've stockpiled in the basement, and while I had a ton of white knobs, I didn't have any more black knobs. So I chose one of our marbled brown knobs instead. After cleaning it up a little bit, painting the exposed cast iron with the Flotrol, and getting it on the spindle, we had ourselves a functional knob once again.

I kind of really like the marbled look. It's different than anything else in our house, but it's sort of cool. While I had planned on getting another black knob on our next trip to the salvage yard, I think we'll leave it like this for a while. 

The other task I just knocked out was a small element to move our living room project forward at our other house, which is harder than you think if you're not actually at the house to do work. While much of the original moulding in the house remains, several of the beautifully chunky door casings in the room are actually repurposed window casing with poorly placed cuts since the lengths weren't long enough for doors. 

Additionally, portions of the baseboard base cap are missing in the living room, as well as completely missing baseboards in other rooms where radiators caused them to be removed.

One of the very cool things about our house is the fact that there's a pile of original moulding and original woodwork in the attic. These are items that were removed from the home's rooms at some point and stashed for future use. I can't tell you how happy we are to have this resource. 

Our home has three primary profiles of mouldings that we'll ultimately need to replicate for various projects around the house. There's the downstairs and main hall window and door casings, the bedroom door casings, and the base cap. I pulled a sample of each so that we could have them replicated at our favorite mill, Mad River Woodworks

In order to replicate mill work that you can't find the profile for in a stock catalog (which is often the case for profiles from old homes), custom knives need to be cut based on sample pieces. Mad River has been our go to for this sort of custom work for over 10 years now. I reached out to Tim, the Mill's owner, to see what he'd need to replicate it. He told me to just send a few small samples of the moulding and he'd figure out our next steps.

To do this I pulled the nails and cut a few inch piece from each of the samples I'd pulled. He really doesn't need more than just a few inches.

Once I had the pieces cut, I had to strip the paint from them. The true detail in the moulding is lost under multiple layers of paint, so sending a bare wood sample is very important. To do this I broke out my small quart of SmartStrip and started slathering it on, especially in the crevices.

SmartStrip is a long acting paint stripper that must be kept wet while it works. I find it worked really well if left on for about 12 or more hours. While Peel Away offers their paper to cover the product while it works, I find it works just as well to cover the work in standard wax paper. This is especially true for small pieces like this that can be completely wrapped in the wax paper. For a larger item, like a door, the Peel Away Paper does tend to work much better due to the coverage area.

After letting the SmartStrip sit and work, I got up bright and early yesterday morning and started to remove the paint. The moulding at our new house apparently has far fewer coats of paint than the stripping I've been used to. It typically takes two or three applications of stripper to get down to bare wood with our previous experience, but this new moulding was right down to bare wood in just one session.

I used a little coarse scrubbing pad, the dental tools for the crevices, and a little water to wash the residual paint away and before I knew it I had a nearly completely paint free set of mouldings. 

I've spent the last 12 years stripping the most stubborn paint from every moulding and door surface in our house in Old Town, and I've sworn to never spend that type of time and effort in the future, but this ease of stripping had me thinking twice and, for a moment, considering the thought of stripping everything in the house. Then I realized that it must have been the early morning hours that was causing my crazy thoughts, and there was no way I'd do that again. But it's good to know that a single application of SmartStrip is enough, you know, just in case I need to take some paint off of something at our other house. Just sayin'.

After all was said and done I popped the sample pieces in a priority mailbox and sent it off to Tim at Mad River. I'm looking forward to getting the order of custom reproduction millwork and adding to this home's beauty.

I've got a ton of other little tasks we've been taking care of, like tree trimming, yard work, chimney repair, and water flow issues, but the two I mentioned are some of the most fun, so I thought I'd share. But one of the highlights of the week for me was when Mel walked into the shower while I was working on the shower valve. I looked down at him and saw his lip was hung up on his tooth. This always kills me and I find it to be the most hysterical thing ever. It makes him look even grumpier than normal.

Have you been knocking out tasks on your place this summer? Or have you been spending the days in a more lazy R&R type manner? 

Comments 5


8/28/2015 at 4:27 PM

Picture of Mel = priceless.

8/29/2015 at 7:21 AM

The Bennington knob is perfect.

9/22/2015 at 9:40 AM

Thanks for the tip on using SmartStrip. Stripping paint is always a pain! Think I will try your method on the next project.

9/22/2015 at 9:44 AM

Thanks for the tip on using SmartStrip. Stripping paint is always a pain! Think I will try your method on the next project.

Margaret Schleicher Bjorklund
5/19/2016 at 10:02 PM
They are neverending!
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