Sippican Cottage

window parts


A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Better Is Better Than Nothing

I know how you all worry. You see crazy pictures of me performing lunatic operations in bizarre circumstances, and worry that I might fall down and hurt someone you actually care about, like my wife and children. Don’t fret. I eventually installed a bona fide railing going down the death stairs to the laundry. It’s attached to a fare-thee-well to honest to goodness wood framing now:

The cat, of course, is trying to kill all of us all the time. She’s taken up a strategic position to trip the unwary. She doesn’t mean anything by it. I don’t think she’s ever purposely killed anything. I have noticed that many, many rodents have perished under questioning, however, when she brings them back to her precinct house to interrogate them about something or another.

I’ll paint the walls later.  Manana, jefe. I became fairly fluent in Spanish back in the day, when I was a welder in the desert. I learned the difference between the dictionary and the real world there. According to the dictionary, manana means “later.” In practice, it means “much later, or never.”

The railing is on the correct side now. There was a little stick for a railing on the left-hand wall before. If you grabbed it in an emergency, it would have snapped, just like your femur would have a few seconds later. If you have a winding stairs, you want to force the traffic to the wide side of the winders, so we did.

For additional safety, let’s put a window at the bottom of the stairs. There’s a boarded up hole there where a window used to be. It threw light on the landing at the bottom. We’ll put one back, and a matching window in the other boarded up hole nearby.

Hey, remember this picture?

It’s from our upstairs bathroom renovation saga. Those window frames were toast. Rotten, sagging, and filled with bees and bat guano. We pulled them out and replaced them with some twenty-year-old vinyl windows we rescued from someone’s trip to the dump. Like this:

Well, the window frames were all shot, but the sashes were slightly less disreputable than average in our house. We saved them for later. It’s always later at our house, so we’re going to use them in our potential laundry room.

If I’d known I’d be writing about this, I’d have taken some pictures while I made the window frames. You might have found them interesting. Sorry, I was too busy doing it to record it. But here’s what it looks like in place:

Nothing fancy. The windows will likely never be opened, unless there’s an emergency. I didn’t bother to put in any balances to move them up and down, or sash weights and cords on pulleys like the rest of the windows in my house. I don’t know what kind of emergency might erupt that would cause you to climb out this window instead of walking another twenty feet in either direction to a door that leads out, but you never know. Maybe if the cat trips a tax assessor on the stairs, and he breaks his neck, we can dispose of the body out the window. No one ever goes looking for tax assessors, so we could leave him there indefinitely.

I looked online for a video of someone making a window frame for a double hung window, to edify and amuse you fine folks, but nothing’s doing. Everyone either has no idea what they’re talking about, or uses $100,000-worth of stationary tools to make something they think is fancy. This ain’t fancy. In general, the window jamb is simply made from four pieces of wood. A sill, two side jambs, and a head jamb. Then there’s lots of little ticky-tacky trim work.

Here’s a diagram of an old-fashioned window:

The sill is a little tricky. When the knuckleheads former residents demolished the windows and filled in the holes, they took out everything, including the sills. I had to make everything you see in the image. The sill is slanted down and out, just like me. It’s supposed to shed water, so you have to cut some fancy angles into the back of it to get it to sit flat on the wall framing but slope outward on top. You can make the sill out of a piece of 2″ x 6″ lumber, if you’re not prone to mistakes. I made it out of a piece of 2″ x 8″ lumber. Infer from that what you will.

All the pieces for the window frame can be made if you have a table saw with a tilting blade, and a chop (sliding miter) saw. The sill has “horns” on the outside, to catch the outside window casing, plus a little extra.

Here’s a picture with the exterior sill, interior sill (stool), the interior casing, the parting bead, the side jamb, a window stop (it has three screws you remove to get the sash out if need be), and the exterior casing. And some weeds. They’re actually maple trees, but that’s considered a weed around here.

If you remove a stop, you can see the 45-degree bevel on the top. That fits into the only really complicated piece of woodworking, the head stop:

The head stop covers the gap where the top sash meets the frame.  It has to be notched to accept the parting bead that separates the sashes, and has the matching 45-degree cut to meet up with the side stop. It looks like this on the workbench:

So, the sashes needed plenty of putty love, and the interior side is still that nasty blue color my whole house was dipped in at one time, but they worked out fine. The exterior used to look like this:

Now it looks like this:

So, it might not look good, exactly, but as we say around the cottage, Better is better than nothing.

[To be continued]

4 Responses

  1. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in the Middle East, but when I was in Dubai back in the early 1990’s I was trying to get some components to an off-shore platform quickly. Every time the response to why they hadn’t gotten the parts yet was, “Inshallah” (pretty much, “as Allah wills”). It was explained to me by my mentor, a grizzled old oil-field man, that patience would be required since, “Inshallah is just like mañana, but without the urgency.”

    Nice to see your construction supervisor/inspector on the job, but if she really wanted you dead she’d be at the second step down, not near the bottom. Longer way to watch you fall, providing for more entertainment, too.

    Beautiful re-use of the old windows. One of my dad’s old expressions from the Depression (FDR re-used it later) was:
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”.
    Everything you’ve shown the world here in the making of this almost-a-house into a beautiful home has been the exemplification of that.

    1. Hi Blackwing- Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Your father was a wise man.

      I’ve never been to the Middle East. Your comment reminded me that it’s a small world, however. I worked pump and tank for four years. Sounds like you did, too, of one sort or another.

  2. They look beautiful!

    I wonder about the open section underneath that appears to go under the house–what is that story?

    The stairs look very nice, but I still worry about the laundry!

    1. Hello Anne- Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I think the “open section” you’re referring to is an optical illusion. There’s a brick wall there, painted dark (Tudor) brown underneath the siding. The bricks sit on top of a granite foundation wall, which is visible here and there. That’s the side wall of our garage/barn, that we refer to as the carhole. The house is four storeys high in the back, because of the slope of the land.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thanks for commenting! Everyone's first comment is held for moderation.