Monday, November 22, 2010

Knox Hill Project: Weekly update

Work proceeds up in the front Master Bedroom suite with the window seat which is coming along nicely as is much needed insulation of the North wall.

The most 'Visual' change is with the addition of some simple "ball and stick" fretwork which is new but designed to look like something you would expect to find in a cottage like this.

However the first step is to "trim out" the surround of the window seat. We chose a nice grade of pine for this as the wood mantle for the room is also pine and we will be able to come up with a consistent "blended' finish for the old wood of the mantle and the new wood of the yet to be installed baseboard and the trim around the window seat.

The building of simple fretwork is easy and well withing the ability of the average homeowner. The  wooden balls and the round dowels can be purchased at most hobby store and the wooden balls can be purchased pre-drilled which is perfect for this kind of application. The frame is simply 3/4 square stock you can buy in any home improvement store.

The biggest thing is proper layout and after I cut the frame pieces I simply laid out the frame then laid out the dowels and balls , playing with the overall design until I found a pleasing pattern. In this case I chose a simple 1 then 2 repeat pattern. Once you know your overall interior dimension simple find the center and work out in each direction , adjusting them as needed. Once you find a good spacing simply mark the location where the dowels will be installed on the bottom piece then place the tow long ends together and mark the location on both. That way you are sure the dowels are properly aligned. Find the center of the space and that is where the dowels are drilled. TIP: determine the hole depth and put a piece of tape around the bit to control the depth.  I have built enough of these that I glued up clear plexie to make a sliding template that fits over the wood with a hole drilled so I can line up my drill but if you mark it with a pen and maybe use a vice you can achieve the same results. For large runs I use my drill press but for a simple one like this it wasn't necessary. If all this is simply beyond you skill level I can build these for you (contact me at victiques@gmail for a price quote).

I assemble the dowels, with the balls on them (loose) and  the frame. Once it is all together , I align the balls where I want them using a spacer (here I used a 1" paddle drill bit). The balls are held in place with hot glue. You simple move the ball back put the glue on the dowel then with a twisting motion roll the ball back over the hot glue up to your spacer. This gets even coverage and you never have to work about these moving. TIP: it is easier to pre-stain the balls. I do this by stringing the balls on a piece of twine and simply lowering them into the stain. You get great coverage with minimal mess. Once the stain has had time to work I simply roll them in a terry cloth towel which gives the outside edge a little 'wear' which makes them look old. When building 'new' things to go into an old house, try to make you base stain slightly uneven, so it looks like it has some wear caused by years of being around, I like to just take some rough sandpaper to distress the wood slightly before applying stain, it make for a more authentic 'worn' look. I will just use a brush on the dowels later to match. All of this will receive a shellac finish to replicate what would have been used years ago. You can use poly but Shellac is a more appropriate finish and adds a warm orange tint to the stain.

The Ball and stick spandrel will eventually have two small scroll cut bracket beneath it on either side. When the wall is all done, everything is stained, the goal is for people to come in and remark "how lucky' we are to have the 'original' fretwork and window seat.

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