Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Casing The Joint

I've just been hacking away at things the past few weeks. With the patching of the west window casing done, I've started working on the east casing, which is in better shape, but that's not saying much. It needs so much LiquidWood that I actually ran out, so I moved on to the addition while I waited for Abatron to send a new supply.

As much as I love restoring old things, I must admit that after what I've been doing these past several months, it's been rather a kick to be working on some new, sound materials for once, materials that don't need a lot of reconstructive surgery.

Not that it's all simple patching and sanding. I mentioned a while back that the contractors left certain jobs undone. One of them was the installing of the casing piece under the sill. To be completely honest, this was one detail I failed to notice for a few years. I did notice a chronic problem with spiders in the first-floor bathroom, and I couldn't figure out how they were getting in through a brand-new window, but it took an embarrassingly long time for me even to consider that maybe I should check the outside of the window to ensure it was all sealed up properly. As it turned out, it wasn't; there was a half-inch opening below the sill that was partially obscured behind its downward slope.

Note that this is a definite code violation, one that is immediately evident to one trained in such matters, and yet our hyper-officious City inspector failed to take note of it. Yes, he and the foreman got along very well.

I made the missing piece and primed it front and back, but before I nailed in in place there were a few more steps to complete. First, I had to make some cuts in the piece to accommodate two steel straps that run down the sill piece to support it.

This was essential in order to close the gap completely and permanently, but it was something of a tall order for me, because it necessitated some rather fine work with a coping saw; with my weak eyes and ruined hands, it proved to be quite a challenge. Happily, I had some assistance.

I got this done passably well, but not without having to patch up one significant error. Once that coping saw gets going in one direction, it can be pretty stubborn. But in my artless way, I made it all come out all right.

With this done, I moved on to the task of filling the space under the sill, to insulate it properly and to prevent insects from getting in—in other words, to bring it up to code. For this, I used some spray-in foam sealer. I knew from observing the contractor that this is the proper procedure, but I didn't understand quite how much that stuff expands after you spray it.

Shades of Ricky and the arroz con pollo! This was not a problem in itself; I expected that I would have to trim the foam somewhat. In practice, however, I discovered that it was not so easy to do this neatly and without damaging the wood around it. Then, I remembered a tool I had bought a long time ago just because I figured it would come in handy some day: a Japanese saw, a kugihiki, a thin, flexible saw with no set to the teeth that cuts on the pull stroke. It is designed for precisely this sort of task, cutting flush against wood without marring it.

A kugihiki.

If you wave it from side to side vigorously, it sounds a lot like George Jetson's jet car. Once I had this saw in hand, the trimming was done within a minute. Truly, the right tool can greatly speed one's work, if he remembers he has it (and also where he put it).

With that done, it was a simple matter to nail the missing casing piece in place.

If it looks a bit odd to you, it's likely because the sill piece extends too far to the sides. Trimming them to the proper length was yet another of the tasks that the contractor did not complete, but I'm not going to take the time to do it now, because I'm the only one who knows for sure that something is wrong, and it has no effect on the health of the house.

And so, I have completed another task on the road to Total Exterior Restoration.

* * *

"Just keep moving, Buster. Nothing to see here. Oh, and your right rear tire's low."


  1. That molasses is the spreadinst stuff. Squirrel

  2. Glad to see the spiders will have to find a new home. Makes it ever so much more cozy!


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