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Helping owners, tradespeople, contractors and professionals understand and maintain their historic and older buildings.

It is worth taking care of what you have. You don’t have to spend big piles of money to have a nice place to live and work. You can swing into ongoing routine maintenance and minor repairs. If you do have big piles of money, it’s worth assessing conditions and planning an effective project. Either way, I can help you “git ‘er done.”

Learn to care for your fine old home. 
Learn here. 
Learn how. 
Learn now.

Care for a house, it becomes your home–a safe haven for the comfort of your family. 

Got peeling paint? Crumbling bricks? Rotting porch columns? Not sure which way to jump first?

Wish you had a brother in the business who could tell you what’s what and who’s who? Well, I’m not your brother, but you can still count on me for objective advice not tainted by the construction industry’s marketing hype and hidden agendas. I don’t do paid product endorsements. I don’t do “associate” sales where a link to Amazon.com gives me a percentage of what you spend there. I don’t even take “free” samples from manufacturers. You will notice that there is no outside advertising here at HistoricHomeWorks.com. So, you know that my recommendations and advice are objective. If I mention or recommend a specific material or product, that is based on my own personal experience and I find that it actually works.

— John
By Hammer and Hand Great Works Do Stand
By Pen and Thought Best Words are Wrought

17 thoughts on “Home”

  1. Hello I have old windows, from late1800’s-1950’s, min.$25
    please let me know if yourself or anyone you know that might be interested, Thank you

    1. Hi Robert, Do you mean you have windows for sale? Where are you located? What size and what condition? Do you mean $25 minimum each or for the whole bunch? Can you post a photo? –John

  2. Hi,
    I own a mid century ranch home built in ’69-70 with wood exterior casement windows. They are Pella Windows and the sashes are in bad shape. Can these be restored as Pella does not offer services or parts for these windows. Can you direct me in the direction to go out give me some insight? Replacement windows are expensive and they change the look of the home.
    Thanks in advance.

  3. I have columns dating back to 1867. All wood, and they have water rot on the base and the bottom of the columns. Dimensions are 20′ tall, 24 ” diameter, fluted. We want to raise the columns, cut about 2 inches of rot off the bottom of the column and replace the bases. The bases are currently wood, and we’d like to replace with a PVC look-alike to eliminate the potential of this happening again. It appears it has happened in the past and the bases were cut out and replaced about 40 years ago.
    We want to maintain the historic nature of the mansion, but there seems to be discussion about using newer materials even though they have the look of the old.
    Referred by Bob Yapp.

  4. Hi John,
    I’m making some wooden storms. I have one surviving wooden storm, #41, and the bottom rail is 4.25″ wide, all others are 2.25″. Do you suppose that all other storms in the house would have had these same dimensions?

    Do you know of any formulas or tips for these bottom rail widths and for storm window dimensions?
    Are both panes of glass supposed to look the same size? They are on #41.

    I’m thinking that if I made all rails/stiles 2.25″ then put the muntin at the meeting rail point, that the top storm pane would be smaller than the bottom and there wouldn’t be the same proportional width all around the window.

    I’ve been watching alot of your windows videos and reading all your information. I appreciate it!
    Sam Packard
    Lincoln NE

    1. Hi Sam,
      That surviving wooden storm has typical dimensions for storms made from the 1920s through the 1950s. I know because I put up and took down the storms for about 15 years while I was growing up in the house my dad built, right over on 38th Street, between Sheridan Boulevard and Calvert Street. (That’s right, I grew up there in Lincoln.)
      Typically, bottom rails are 1 1/2″ to 2″ wider that the stiles.
      Give me a call (207 773-2306) if you’d like to talk more about storms.
      Here’s the discussion on making wooden storms:
      http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2555

  5. is the scraper for muntins hand made or commercially available? I have 53 windows, 106 sash to restore on my 1895 Victorian thanks

  6. My 1930’s home is currently under renovation. I want to retain all of the original doors & more importantly the glass door knobs and mortise locks. The renovation is also an expansion and we’ll be adding additional bedrooms and bathrooms. This requires 10 new doors. I was able to find identical matching door knobs and mortises and I’d like them installed in the new doors that are required. My GC seems to be unable to commit to being able to use these old knobs and mortises in the new doors. What can I do to assist/convince him that it can/should be done? I was also able to get an original french glassed door and i’d like him to install that. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks!

    1. Try this, offer to pay him by the hour to work with you to disassemble one of the original mortise lock sets, taking the lock set out of the door, examining the mortise and holes, making a drawing of the mortise with measurements, etc. You might have to get him started on it, but then let him carry through. Then ask him to think about how he would cut a similar mortise into a new door. Then do a mock-up. Take a piece of wood the same size and species as the new doors are being made of, and cutting a mortise in it and installing one of the identical locksets into the mortise. If it doesn’t come out good enough, that’s OK, there’s no shame in that. Then he can think about how to make improvements and do a second and even third mock-up, as he trains himself in how to do this work.
      If the two of you run into difficulty, just post a “new topic” with photos in the door section of the discussion Forum:
      http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=16
      and I’ll give you some detailed guidance from there.

  7. Dear John:

    I am very interested in knowing how you pick your projects and whether you would be able to provide a quote on window restoration for a 1866 farmhouse in Virginia (approximately 30 windows). They are two-over-two double hung sash windows and then one set of external french doors (very narrow) and two sets inside. We have a historic preservation minded general contractor for a lot of the work but he’s not a pro at windows and we want someone who will take great care. We also are looking to remove the vinyl siding thrown overtop the clapboard and would love to get an estimate of what that might cost us so we can plan for it in the near term. The house is approximately 2,700 sq ft if that helps. So our questions are a) are you available to restore windows in Virginia and b) can you give us a price range for what you charge for window restoration (we already have a ballpark from reading online) and for siding restoration? We just don’t have any idea if the amount we have in mind is anywhere close to what these kinds of undertakings cost.

    Thank you very much! We’re so glad true artisans like you are around!

    Respectfully,
    Anne & Ian

    1. Anne & Ian:
      These days I pick window projects that will be the new chapter in the next revision of my windows book.
      There are a lot of good window restoration specialist between here (Maine!) and Virginia. I suggest getting my book ( http://saveamericaswindows.com/get-the-book/ ) that has a national directory of window specialists, with five right there in Virginia, and at least a dozen more in surrounding states.
      One very effective way to determine costs is to do “sample work.” Pay your tradesperson or contractor by the hour to do a limited amount of work, such as one or two windows, or for siding restoration do a 10-foot wide section of wall from foundation to eaves. Keep close track of time and material costs, and divide the total cost by the number of windows or square feet done. Then you can use that “per window” or “square foot” cost to project costs for the whole project. The limited scope protects you from spending too much money, and the square foot cost figure assures the contractor he will not loose his shirt with a bad estimate. Other benefits include seeing the character of their work and learning what it is like to do business with them.

  8. Hello,

    I can use some expert experience on a glazing situation as I have only window glazed once. I have an aluminum skylight installed in the 1960’s. I spot glazed the window with DAP 33 but I did not pretreat the remaining glazing with oil prior to glazing with the new DAP 33. I have to say that I spent a long time getting the glazing to look almost perfect, and it looks really really good up close. However there are some micro hair-line cracks in the areas nearest the old glazing that are hard to see. I ‘m guessing that these are from the old glazing drawing the new glazing oil out? Or maybe because it is so hot on the roof with a metal frame? is there a remedy to midigate or reverse these micro cracks? Brush linseed oil to revive? I have not yet painted or primed the glazing and it has been one day since I glazed, although it is hot in San Jose, California and it is on my roof. The window is a two foot by three foot skylight and my window frame outside lip is about one inch tall.

    Thank you!
    Kyle

    1. When glazing metal sash use a glazing compound made for metal, such as Sarco DualGlaze, or DAP ‘1012’ Glazing.
      You are probably correct about the old putty drawing oil out of the new putty causing the cracks. Soaking some boiled linseed oil into the old putty probably would have helped.
      For a remedy removing the cracked putty, soaking boiled linseed oil into the old putty and redoing might work, but I suggest (much as it may be difficult to hear it), starting over with a better putty like the Sarco DualGlaze. Look at it this way, you have given yourself a training experience and now learned more about glazing and developed your tooling technique, so the re-do will go quicker and better. When removing the old putty take it all the way down to bare metal and glass, and so your new putty butts vertically to the old putty.

  9. Thank you John,
    Great advise and I did’nt know about the metal sash glazing products.

    On the topic of priming and painting. When is it too early to paint and when is it too late? Or, what is the most optimal time to paint the glazing related to its curing?

    Thank you again
    Kyle

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