It’s been a while since I last posted anything here, but like the duck on the pond, all the action is going on below the surface. So I’ll end my long silence by noting that Bonny and I recently closed on a fantastic 95 year-old house.
This was not the plan I had for the year, but nothing this year has gone according to plan. In fact, the story seems straight out of a Laura Numeroff children’s book.
Last December, I set out with a plan to get my woodworking house in order. I’d started reading about 5S workplace organization, and aimed to make my workshop more functional. I built a lumber rack that got my sheet goods up off the concrete, but then the sheet goods didn’t clear the western-most rafter tie.
The bowing sheet goods (and January’s Polar Vortex) motivated me to reframe for a vaulted ceiling and insulation, but then a new job opportunity came up in April before I finished the framing, and I haven’t really made it back out to finish up.
With May came my kids’ end of school rituals: concerts, awards ceremonies, and enrollment for fall. Enrollment was a difficult topic this year, as our school district wasn’t making important programming available for David. Bonny and I found ourselves discussing policy and curriculum with the assistant superintendent for middle school and high school, but our best negotiated agreement was that we’d monitor how David’s school year went.
Negotiators will tell you to evaluate your BATNA – your best alternative to a negotiated agreement – to understand your bargaining position. Looking around at other districts, our BATNA was much better than we realized; all we had to do was move. Sure enough, one night in May, Bonny suggested moving to a neighboring school district. Eight days later, we had a contract on a house we loved in a school district we admired, and I was rethinking all of my woodworking plans.
The new house, a foursquare with lap siding and a wrap-around porch, offers some interesting alternatives to my previous woodworking arrangement. The one-car garage is built in to the nearly 1,000 sq. ft. basement. On the plus side, anything I build in this basement can go out the garage door and up the stairs to the front door. I won’t have to worry about extreme heat and cold like I did with the freestanding garage, and I won’t have to deal with my tools being divided between the garage and the basement.
It’s by no means an ideal workspace, though. I’ll need to buy a dehumidifier soon. The ceilings are somewhat low (I can reach up and touch the bottoms of the floor joists in some places), and the central location of the furnace and hot water heater (not to mention the boiler) means I’ll need to be careful with my space, setting up workstations to accommodate all of my tools.
Rather than waiting to sell our old house, we decided to keep it as a rental, so most of my tools and materials are still in the old workshop, waiting for a weekend when my time is my own.
For a wood nerd, the house itself offers much to be excited about, including oak pocket doors to the parlor and the dining room. The floors and trim on the first floor are all oak, the trim stained a rich brown color.
Most of the trim is in great shape, but as in our last house, the remodeler made no attempt to tie the kitchen trim in with the rest of the house. The kitchen cabinets were installed fairly recently, but they are cheap, home center units that will need to be replaced someday.
Our first official act was to take up the pet-stain-saturated wall-to-wall carpet in the parlor and the dining room. We’ll need to refinish the floors, but once we do, I think they will be beautiful.
My woodworking focus for the rest of 2015 (and maybe 2016 as well) will likely be to restore the original double-hung windows and wooden storm sash. While the house has two high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners, plus a boiler and (presumably working) radiators, it’s obvious which rooms need storm windows.
I’m already excited by what my initial research has uncovered on window restoration. There is a lot of material on the internet about the restoration process, but I’ll share what I learn along the way.
I’d love to try my hand at making window sash. With all of the storm sash we need, it might be easier to make than to find in architectural salvage.
I sense some tool purchases in my future. After all, if you give a woodworker a project, he’ll want to buy the right tools….