Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Archive for the ‘plaster’ Category

Turning a Corner

The walls on Our New Old House separated when the house settled. When we removed the wallpaper cracks as wide as an inch were revealed where the corners should have been.


As I dug out the cracks to clean them up for repair, I found evidence of some previous repairs. Shreds of clothing had been wadded into the cracks to fill in some of the space.



I repaired the cracks by filling them in, shaping the corners with some mesh tape, and smoothing them out with a corner trowel.


I’m letting that plaster set and then it’ll be ready for sanding and priming. It’s quite satisfying putting a room back together that had fallen apart at the seams.

Plaster Takes Finesse.


I don’t have any finesse.

But I did manage to get more plaster on the ceiling than on my face.

Here’s the scratch coat. I’ll do one more rough layer and then a smooth top coat.


This is one of those projects where I feel I must remind you that sometimes this is a how-to blog, but mostly this is a “Let’s watch Kelli try projects she has no idea how to do yet”… blog.

But I’m learning. And hey! It’s entertaining, right?

What’s my favorite kind of donut?

Glazed, of course!

In my last post (A Spa for Window Sashes) I stained the window sashes and prepped them to start putting the glass panes back in. That process is called glazing, hence my stupid donut joke.

But really, glazed donuts are my favorite.

To further prep the wood I applied a 50/50 mix of linseed oil and mineral spirits.


Only mix up as much as you’re going to use at a time. I used an old candy bucket.


Linseed oil something I wasn’t familiar with until recently. But I’ve since learned that it is sort of a natural primer for wood. It helps seal the wood cells and strengthen the surface of the wood a bit. It adds a slightly golden color to raw wood, and once the excess is wiped down and absorbed leaves a nice natural surface. Because it is a natural oil, it may need reapplication on exposed surfaces and is not recommended for use on things like chairs. Sitting on it might let it absorb into clothes.

It’s the ideal product to use on certain parts of a window because it helps create a seal against moisture and allows moving edges of a window to slide against the frame without gumming up like paint would. Additionally, linseed oil is one of the components of glazing putty and it’s the part that helps it oxidize and harden.

I applied a thin coat of linseed oil/mineral spirits to the inside of the sash where the putty would go. I let it soak in for about five minutes and then wiped off the excess that hadn’t been absorbed by the wood. I went ahead and applied it to the whole window sash. It can be primed over again later with oil based sealant and I figured it would help condition the wood in the meantime. (The sash looks uneven and blotchy because I only stained the side that would face inward. The outside is going to be painted with white oil based primer so I didn’t bother staining it.)




Now I have to confess to a part of this process I did against the advice of all the experts I’ve talked to. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said that the Dap 33 brand of glazing compound is no good. (“Dap is crap!” is how Bob Yapp put it at his workshop.) But Dap is inexpensive and easily available. I’m using Dap on my project, but I am doing so with the understanding that 1) my windows will be protected behind very good quality storm windows, and 2) I’m going to take great care to make sure the remaining sealing steps get done really well to make the best seal possible. I’m fully aware that the experts recommend a product by Abatron, and if I had my way, I’d do every last thing according to the experts. This is one of those corners I’m going to have to cut, but hopefully I can do it with a little care so that the results won’t be drastically different from the good stuff.

When I bought my first can of Dap, I opened it up and pulled out a golf ball sized wad of it. Some of the oil had separated out of it, so I started kneading it to reincorporate it. But it was so sticky it soon coated my hands and was impossible to work with. In frustration I scraped off what I could and dunked my hands in a small can of mineral spirits to wash it off.

When I was a kid my dad was a baker. I remembered that when he was showing me how to knead bread that was too sticky, he floured his hands first and worked some of the flour into the dough until it was the right consistency. I read somewhere that plaster dust could be added to glazing compound to make it more workable, so I took a tip from the bakery and dusted my hands and my worktable with some plaster patching compound.


With my hands coated with plaster dust, the glazing compound worked into a soft, malleable ball.



I kept a small cup full of plaster dust handy as I worked and re-dusted my hands any time the glazing got too sticky. It made the whole job so much easier.

The first step in setting the glass back in a window is to lay a nice soft bed for it. To do this I pulled a quarter sized ball of glazing putty, rolled it out into a worm, and smooshed it into the rabbet. (That’s another cool word I learned! The notched out ledge where the glass will rest is called the rabbet.)




On a large single pane window, the glass actually slides into a slot at the top of the sash and then rests on the other three rabbeted sides. To create a good seal and give the glass an evenly cushioned set, I squeezed some putty into the slot where the top of the glass would go. I also took care to squeeze putty firmly into the corner.


Here you can see putty going into the slot and squeezed in along the rabbet.


All the sides of the sash had putty now, so it was time to set the glass in its nice soft bed.


It’s a little hard to see in this next photo, but I put the top edge of the glass into the slot at the top first and pushed it in hard enough to squish some of the putty out and around the edge of the glass. That gave enough clearance to get the bottom of the glass past the edge of the sash.


Here’s the other corner of the top. You can see the glass is snugly in the slot and putty is squishing out around it.


As I set the rest of the glass down gently into the putty I pressed firmly but carefully to get a good seal between the front of the glass and the front of the window. A lot of putty will squish out, but don’t worry, that will get trimmed off later and you can most likely reuse it on the next window.




Now at the glass was evenly set in the bed of putty, it was time to put in the glazing points. You’ll remember from a previous post that glazing points are little metal pieces that hold the glass in place while you’re glazing. They come in two common shapes: triangles, which require a special application gun, and tabbed points, which can be applied using a screwdriver or putty knife. I found both kinds when I was disassembling my windows and I bought the tabbed kind.


With a rocking motion, I wiggled glazing points into the wood about 8 inches apart on the three sides of the window that weren’t the slotted side.



Next I repeated the part where I made a ball of putty, rolled it out into a slightly fatter worm, and smooshed it into the groove around the window. Don’t be afraid of putting too much putty on. It’s better to have too much than too little and the excess will get removed as you use your putty knife like I’m going to show you.

I used a bent knife because it’s easier to get the 45 degree angle that allowed me to put enough pressure on the putty to really get it squeezed in tightly. Once I had a good thick layer of putty on, I pressed my knife into it an inch at a time, squeezing and compacting it into the crevice between the wood and the glass.



The excess putty collected on the back of my knife. I took that off and made a ball of it to continue using it as I went around the rest of the window.



All that pressing with the knife left a bumpy pattern.


So I turned my knife the long way and ran it down the edge at a 45 degree angle to smooth the surface and remove more excess putty.


I carefully removed the line of excess that got squeezed off the edge.


And voila! I had a lovely straight sealed edge. It looks a little messy because I still hadn’t scraped the excess off the other side yet.


I had to smooth the corners down with my fingers. The goal is to make sure there aren’t any cracks or pockets where water can get trapped.


When I was finished with all the sides I stood the window up and scraped the excess putty that got squeezed through the front.



Ta-da! The finished product. Well, at least finished with glazing.


Now to put the finished sashes in a warm dry room and wait a couple of weeks. One way Dap is inferior to other glazing compounds is that it takes a really long time to harden a skin. Since linseed oil is supposed to help it oxidize, I’ll brush a thin layer of it over the glazing. Apparently, it can take four weeks or more to really harden, though I’ve heard of instances where months after glazing, it was still rather soft. Painting over the glazing will slow down the hardening, so I’ll put off that part as long as I can.

I’ll post some more pictures soon of the 5-light sashes. The process is pretty much the same, minus the slot at the top. A bit more time consuming. But now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s all going much faster. Can’t wait to put these beautiful windows back in the frames!

Is there an easier way to do this?

You know how you’re supposed to caulk around woodwork and stuff to make a nice clean seal between the woodwork and the wall? Well, for once, the previous owners of this house did something right and they did apply a nice bead of caulk way back when. But that was like a bazillion years ago and with the house settling and stuff, a lot of that caulk has chipped and cracked away. I’d like to remove it anyway so I can get paint right up to the woodwork and then apply a new seal of caulk when I’m all done to tidy it all up. The caulk they used a bazillion years ago hardened into a stone-like substance and the only way I’ve found to get it out is to chip at it over and over and over and over again with the pointy edge of my scraping tool.

I’m not really expecting any better answer than “Nope, that’s what you gotta do,” but if I’m wrong and there’s a faster/easier/less painful on my knuckles (from scraping against the wall repeatedly) way to do this, I’d love to hear it.

And don’t say “Have your husband do it!”

To sweeten the deal, here’s some pictures:

I used the heat gun to strip the paint off the top of the baseboards first. Between the baseboard and the plaster wall is caulk. It’s brittle and breaks pretty easily when I chop it with the scraping tool.


Like so…

Sound effect for this picture: “chop.”

Also, just to remind myself that I’m still a girl, I painted my toenails. See? Yeah, I spent the whole afternoon chopping at caulk, barefoot with pretty red toenails. It’s the little things that keep me going.

Catching up: Kitchen part 2

Finally! Some photos of our kitchen looking closer than ever to being done! At least it looks clean and usable now.





Ok time for before and after!




Woo hoo!  I have my kitchen back!  We still have plans to add cabinets over the stove and fridge,  refinish and paint the existing cabinets, and actually paint the walls something other than white, but we’re getting closer!

[tags]cabinets, paint, plaster, future plans, kitchen, ceiling, light fixtures, flooring, dishwasher, drywall, refrigerator, photos[/tags]

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