Work continues on our home and over the weekend I began the construction of the porch rails.
For our house I am recreating a period design from Geo E Woodward "Victorian City and Country Houses book. If you are restoring a Victorian home, especially one in the Second Empire style, this book is an excellent reference book on period details. The book is published by Dover Press and is available through Amazon or the Dover Publications website.
We wanted something different from the baluster look that you see so often in a renovation. This design based on period drawings of the 1870's used a solid Panel Board with circular cutouts.
To achieve this, we laid out the basic design being sure to center the design to the opening between the posts. I used a rotozip tool to do the cutouts using the circular cutting template to but the inner and outer radius. The straight edges were cut by clamping a guide fence to the panel and cutting again with the rotozip tool. I find using the rotozip tool gives you better contol than a jigsaw for this kind of work.
The center medallion is stock piece that I hand painted using an artist brush and the detail colors on the house. The diameter of the, medallion dictated the inner size of the circular opening. The base for this panel is a 1x4 board with pieces of cove mold that creates a channel for the piece to sit it. Since this is exposed to the elements I made sure to paint all the edges and sealed them with a matte polyurethane which should help protect the edges. The cutouts are about 12 inches in diameter and they are placed in the upper 2/3 of the panel which will be separated from the lower by a trim detail and a second color on the lower panel, In this case the body color of the house.
I still have more trim work to do as well as construction of the "caps" that are on the base of the posts. Although it is overkill, I will also put the medallions on the inside of the porch so it the front door is open you will see the same detail from the front formal parlor. I managed to get a couple of coats of paint on it before the rains started on Sunday but I still have some finish sanding to do and of course another coat or two of paint for next weekend.