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]