Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beacon Hill Staircase Makeover [Step 2 - 2nd floor demolition]


The staircase remodeling is going slowly, at a rate of two days of thinking for every two minutes of actual work, but the thinking is beginning to pay off. I'm starting with the second floor run, which is straight. This is what it looks like using kit parts.


Looking at the backside, the new bits are staged. As you can see, I've started staining the new parts. I finally figured out that the stain is Provincial by Minwax.


Not shown, the delicate procedure needed to detach the flat bannister/rail piece from the staircase unit. The thinking part included a debate between salvaging the lower part and making an entire new surface.  The salvage idea won. Using a combo of sharp utility knife, mini saw, and emery board, the demolition began. I cut it away to line up with the risers and the underside of the steps. This, however, left a disturbing void between the edge of the step and the outside plane of the facing, which triggered more thinking.

The result of the thinking calls for a piece of strip wood to extend the step a bit beyond the facing. It will be rounded to a bullnose silhouette and stained to match the rest of the unit. The facing has not been glued yet. It may need some gentle sanding on one or more steps to fit the strip wood snugly enough so as not to be very noticeable. The stripwood has been ordered.


Meanwhile, the thinking has shifted to the railings that edge the opening between the first and second floors. I think the balusters for the upper run of the ground floor unit will actually be attached to the 2nd floor railings and simply hang down, so they, too, can be removable. Need to make a mockup to test the theory.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Beacon Hill Staircase Makeover [Step 1 ~ Staging]


The staircase in the Beacon Hill reminds me more of a Craftsman style, not Victorian. I see it used in other Beacon Hills and it works well, but in this Beacon Hill, I want a more delicate appearance. To that end, I've laid in a supply of Houseworks balusters, Newel posts and handrails.

Before cutting away the current details, I used a bit of poster putty to put some of the elements in place. It's obvious that there will be adjustments to be made, but all in all, I believe I'm going to love this makeover.



You'll notice that the tops of the upper balusters are cut off. That's because I want the staircase to be removable.  With the more delicate balusters, I may need to rethink how the pieces will fit together. 
Some of the balusters may have to hang down from the piece that fits above this one. I'll think about that while I prepare the components. I want to stain them prior to assembly.

This concept is not original to me. I saw pictures of this kind of staircase that someone else had done beautifully. I thought I saved the photos for reference, but now I can't find them. If anyone can point me toward them, I'd be much obliged.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Beacon Hill Tower Roof (Step 6) Time will tell


The vinegar-salt mix was applied to the copper sheeting three days ago. It has dried thoroughly and the excess salt grains have been gently brushed off. It also got a blast with canned air. The copper is still a bit light, but if the test piece is an accurate guide, it will darken in the next several days.  I like the light green verdigris. It may darken a bit as well. For now I'll leave it alone. Eventually it will be dry brushed with various shades of craft paint, which will add to the age.

There are a couple of shiny copper spots where I think there may have been some glue that didn't get wiped off completely. They are not big and may darken on their own. Time will tell. 

It is not very clear in these photos, but the greenish verdigris is very near in value to the green of the shingles. When both are aged, I believe the copper roof and shingled roof areas will complement one another. 

Notice the tower roof unit resting on top of the tabs. There doesn't seem to be any hope of getting them to fit together. I believe the tabs will have to be cut off.  Haven't decided whether to add some bits of stripwood beneath the roof unit to keep it from sliding sideways or use magnets to hold it in place. I'm thinking having it remain removable may be useful down the road. 

The window unit is not glued. It needs to be caulked and painted and won't be installed until the aging process is completed.

I should probably continue working on the exterior of the house, but the staircase is calling out to me. I want to replace the flat bannisters that came with the house with round spindles for a more delicate, refined appearance. The redesigned units will still be removable. Which way will I turn? Stay tuned!