Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adult Education; or, A Chump Smartens Up

As I promised last time, here is the newly-repaired corner board:

I had to use so much putty because, as I described last time, I did a quick repair. If I had done the by-the-book repair I described, I would not have had to use much putty at all; but then, I'd probably still be working on it.

Today, I noticed another repair that has come undone, on the east window casing:

At first, I ascribed this to the various stresses caused by the windstorm, because of the slight circular protrusion below the crack revealing where a screw hole was patched. This indicates that the board moved inward relative to the rest of the house. Given that there's no evidence of anything having hit the board, this movement almost certainly was caused by the house's reacting to earth movement—and there was plenty of that during the windstorm.

Then, however, I noticed the circular depression up at the top of the long crack. Sure, one could ascribe that to the same cause, but something about that screw, and that crack, tickled my memory. I looked back through the posts until, sure enough, in the post "Onward" I found this picture:

I included this picture in that post to illustrate how effectively the LiquidWood bonds wood together. The wood was warped outward, and where I placed the screw was the best place to bring the board back into alignment.

What we have here, clearly, is a Teachable Moment. And as with a schoolteacher back in the Old West, I'm sometimes only a lesson or two ahead of the class. The bulk of what I know about the home-improvement subjects I discuss herein I have learned from experience, and as you can see, the learning never ends. That's what makes life so fun.

What I said about LiquidWood was not wrong, per se, because the mend did withstand the screw's intrusion without complaint. Nevertheless, a mend is still a weak point in the wood's  structure; to counteract that, I would have had to impregnate the wood on both sides of the mend more thoroughly with epoxy, and further back from the mend line. As it was, the mend was already under constant stress from the wood's desire to return to its natural contour, and the added stress of the house's movement caused the mend to fail.

It is thus clear in retrospect that I should not have placed that screw right along the mend, but what should I have done then, and what should I do now to fix it?

To answer the first question: because the wood was warped and I wanted to bring it back into alignment, I should have been more thorough in impregnating the wood at the top of the board with LiquidWood, just to give it more strength and resilience. When bringing it back into alignment, I should have used smaller screws and more of them, placed more carefully back from the edges of the board.

To answer the second question: I think it's too late to depend upon epoxy saturation to keep the mend together, because there is now cured epoxy along both sides of the break. The best thing to do for the good of the house would be simply to replace the board, but that isn't going to happen. So I guess I will have to remove the offending screw, re-mend the crack, bring the piece back into alignment with smaller screws placed carefully to the right of the crack, patch it up, and see what happens. The worst that can happen is that I learn some more stuff.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Triple Dog Dare Ya!

And I have the wherewithal to do it!

Yes, December was an eventful month here at the Farm House. First there was the epic wind storm, of course. Then came the cleanup, which is ongoing. Then, I fell ill with whatever flu is in this season, a pretty virulent one that lasted pretty much the rest of the month. The puppies came on the shortest day of the year, and somehow we managed to fit Christmas in among the other things. What with all these matters, I was not able to get back to the painting prep until this week.

The last thing I did, as you will recall, was to epoxy the crack at the bottom of the front cornerboard. Unfortunately, that mend did not hold.

The Farm House nearly always manages to punish me when I am in too much of a hurry. I did not properly prepare this crack before I mended it. Instead of drilling some ancillary holes to make sure the wood on both sides was saturated with epoxy, I just injected some into the crack and clamped it. Obviously, there was not enough epoxy to generate the hold needed to counteract the wood's desire to spread apart at the crack.

The proper way to mend it at this point would be to fabricate a backing piece that would run the length of the crack and most of the width of the board, sand the oxidation and dirt off the back of the board in this area, epoxy the backing piece to the board, clamp the crack closed, then drive screws through the board into the backing in several places along the crack to clamp those pieces together front-to-back.

Nevertheless, this is not what I did. It would take far too much time for too little benefit. Instead, I dug up a strip of wood from my scrap pile that just filled the gap between the corner board and the siding.

I was pushing the boards together here to check the fit.

I trimmed the strip so that it ends just shy of the corner board, and then screwed everything down on both sides of the crack.

The corner board was twisted outward here on the right side, so while this repair makes the corner board stable and square, the wood to the right of the crack is a bit lower than that to the left. For this reason, I had to do a lot of puttying to finish the repair. I'll show you the results next time.

* * *

"There goes the neighborhood."