Monday, December 29, 2008

The End is Near

Well...the end is near.

Soon it will be 2009.

Remember back in 1999 when many, many people thought the world would come crashing down at the stroke of midnight on Dec.31?

Where has the time gone?

1999 will mark the 10 year anniversary for owning 'Simpson's Folly'. So much has been done, yet there is so much still needing to be done.

I think the following picture says it all.....

It has been a busy and eventful year and a good rest is in order.

In a few days you will hear from me again. SWMBO and I are taking a few days to recharge and make plans for the coming year and see what we really need to try and get done durring the next 12 months.

So, until next year.....


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Merry Christmas

~ from ~

Simpson's Folly

Hello again everyone.

I hope that this post finds you warm and toasty in your homes or wherever it may be the season finds you.

Here, today started with a slight ice storm and the news said we are to get more later.

Due to the season, the cold, and so much that I need to do, not much has happened around here of late with the exception of striping and prepping wainscoating.

Sadly, this is the second holiday season we have gone without decorating here at the Folly. I think it is getting to both of us. Normally we decorate to the point that we have people come by and take pictures, like this one that appeared on the front page of our local paper our first year hear.

So, with this in mind, I thought I'd post a 'Blast from the Past' entry to share some photos from Christmas past.

Sorry about the quality of the pictures. None of these were taken with a digital camera and were scanned into the system.

Our first Christmas spent at the Folly found us deep in snow on Christmas day.

In fact, the entire week before Christmas was filled with the white stuff.

However, the pictures here are from our third Christmas at the Folly and the snow had melted by the big day.

Of special note... All the greenery that you you see was hand made by SWMBO and myself. It took two days to gather all the greenery and about a week to make the garlands and swags.

The only item we did not make was the wreath, that was brought over from our first house. There is a duplicate of it on the front door as well.

Another view from the street.

If you look at the porch you can see more of the handmade garland.

There is even garland bracketing the front door as well.

One last thing...each and every window (including the attic ones) have a wreath as well. If you look closely at the top of the windows you will see what looks like dark smudge marks, those are the wreaths. However, I'll have to admit, those wreaths are artificial, just like the ones on the front door and gate.

My father-n-law loves to take pictures with his 35mm camera.

This photo, as well as those that follow, were taken with specialty lenses. We were just playing around to see how all the lights would turn out.

Here you can see the wreaths on the windows better.

In case you are wondering, there are no lights on in the house except for candles and Christmas lights.

Another view but this time the lights on the fence, as well as the three globed gas light, are on.

We wove clear lights into the greenery that was on the outside of the house.

When these pictures were taken the window wreaths hadn't had lights added yet and I haven't found those photos. Perhaps next year you will get to see them.

Also, as you know, the gas light does not work yet, so we have special candles that are in the globes. Since they have to be lit by hand those are only burned on the weekends before Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve.

This photo, and the following one, was taken without any special lenses or a flash.

We wanted to see what the photos would look like with just the candles and Christmas lights.

Hopefully you can tell that each window has a candle in it, even the ones in the attic. The large picture window in the living room had a triple candle in it as did the one in the stairwell.

Like I said, this is our second holiday season to go without decorating.

Not only are we having withdrawals, but I think some in the town are as well. You see, SWMBO has a fetish for Christmas trees and it has sort of become a game with some people in town to try and guess how many Christmas trees they can see in the house.

How many trees do you see in this picture?

Keep in mind that this picture is a few years old. As of the last Christmas we decorated each and every room had at least a small 1' to 2' tall tree in it. Downstairs we have the main tree which is 8' tall. We also have three 7' tall trees in other parts of the house. believe it or not, we even have an animal themed Christmas tree on the back porch!

One of the questions we get a lot at Christmas time, other than how many trees we have, is how many lights we have on our main tree. The main tree you can see in the bay window above. To answer the question we average somewhere between 2 and 3 thousand lights on it.

This picture was taken with a star burst lense.

I turned off lights on the garland so that my father-n-law could get a clear shot of the gas light.

I have no idea why people seem to be drawn to this thing, but we have a lot who come by just to see this light when it's illuminated.

This is the tree during our first Christmas here. There are only about 1K lights on this one. BTW - did you notice the real candles on it? There are about 50 of them on the tree and yes, we do light them. We light them for only a few minutes, on Christmas Eve, without the rest of the Christmas tree lights on.

We no longer use this tree as our main one. About two years after this picture was taken we replaced it with a tree that looked more realistic (well - as realistic as a fake tree can get). However, even this replacement tree is being replaced. Last year we were able to get our hands on a tree that looks so real you have to touch it to tell it's fake.

To give you an idea about our trees and how we deal with them, each one has a them.

The main tree is decorated with nothing but old family, handed down, ornaments and glass ornaments. We have another tree that is decorated in nothing but crystal; one in silver and gold; one in Victorian glass and Dresden; an animal themed; and a few with just the basic, standard type decorations. There are also some that have nothing but lights on them, including the two on the front porch.

I will leave you with the following picture.

This is my favorite picture of our first Christmas tree.

One thing you might notice is that the tree is perched on a dais. It is an 8' tree and the dais about 1.5' tall. We did this for a special reason. Instead of placing presents under the tree, we have antique toys as well as unusual, classic toys.

If you squint real hard, you will see an antique toy wooden castle that lights up; a wind-up ferris wheel; a large pirate ship; a toy rocking horse; some old dolls; vintage toy soldiers; and a sleigh. There is even a train that goes around the tree.

So, as you can see, we normally go all out for the holidays. Hopefully, next year, we will get to decorate.

Anyway...enough of the's to the present and the future...

From our house to yours - may your holiday be bright and warm and may the love you have be felt by those you love.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

Till next time...

Larry ~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Crown Moulding

Okay, I'm jumping the gun a bit on this one - so sue me.

I wanted to share this info with all of you and decided to do it now.

SWMBO and I do not always agree on things such as colors, textures, design, etc. (why do you think it's taking so long to do all this work?!). Crown moulding is one of those items we have not been able to agree on - till now.

We knew we wanted crown moulding in the kitchen, but couldn't decide on what type and style. Then, while helping our friends pack we were given a magazine with a picture of some custom kitchen cabinets in it. What jumped out at us was the crown moulding!

We both knew "This is the one"!!

It is the brain child of the people over at Crown Point Cabinetry. It is a simple design so it should be easy to duplicate. As they say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

This picture is a scan from the magazine add.

At first we thought it was a bathroom, but it is a custom Victorian design.

The scan isn't the best, so I would suggest you go here to see it in more detail.

Here is a close up of the same type of crown moulding.

It is actually called 'Bracketed Crown Moulding' and is a mainstay of the company's Arts & Crafts Designer Series.

The big difference between this and the Victorian is that the piece of molding the brackets are under in the A&C version is flat and the Victorian on is half round.

Also, we plan to use something similar to the toekick plate that they use in several of their Victorian kitchens. In fact, we are 'borrowing' several design elements from them.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Wainscoating Up-Date I

Hello again everyone!

Before I get to the wainscoating let me tell you about the new toy I picked up during our trip. Bill and I made a few trips to the DIY stores in his new area to get supplies. I couldn't believe it, there are three of these and they are LARGE! Within a 1/4 mile area there is a Lowe's, Home Depot (unfortunately they are going belly-up) & the biggest Sutherland's I've ever seen!

Anyway, while at Lowe's I picked up the following new toy.

It's a Swanson 48" Adjustable Aluminum Drywall Square.

Who ever came up with this deserves a medal. I can't believe something like this hasn't come about before - perhaps it has and I just missed it.

Speaking of Lowe's....

We went to all of these spots and the customer service was outstanding! In the amount of time I was in the stores I was waited on more than all the visits to my local ones combined! Get this...they came to me and asked if I needed help! They had a smile, was polite and showed a genuine interest in what I needed and in helpig me.

I miss that place already...

Okay - on to the wainscoating.....

Speaking of wainscoating - how many of you are aware that the item is spelt two different ways? You have 'wainscoating' and 'wainscoting'. Along with the different spellings you have three - yes THREE - ways to pronounce them!! You can say it with the ending sounding like 'coat' or 'cot' or even 'scoot'. CRIKEY - can't anything be simple any more.


Here is the first batch cleaned and ready for stipping.

Right now I'm only going to do enough to cover that small half wall.

After the application of the stripper it's bubbling nicely.

Look at that!

Not to bad for a first stripping. I will finish it up tomorrow. I wanted to try and do it tonight, but have ran out of time.

Speaking of time. What do you all do to help pass the time while you do stuff like this? Usually I listen to the radio but since the election I've switched to mix CDs.

I bet none of you have as an eclectic taste in music as I do. Let's see...while waiting for the stripper to do it's thing I piddled in the kitchen and basement while jamming to Grace Slick's 'White Rabbit'; Joan Baez's rendition of 'Lilly Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts'; Aqua's 'Barbie Girl'; Eminem's 'Lose Yourself'; Presidents of the United States 'Lump', Talking Heads 'Burning Down the House' as well as a smattering of other strange music that even included opera.

So, what all do you listen to?

Okay, while sorting through the pieces of the wainscoat I found problems. They are not bad, but will have to be dealt with.

If you look at the edges of the two pieces in the picture you will notice that some of the tongue is missing. Unfortunately most of the pieces of parts of the tongue missing as well as the wall side of the groves.

Since you do not cram the edges up against each other I will have to figure out a way to fix this problem. Right now I have a few ideas, but nothing set in stone.

Then, while scrapping the paint off I noticed the corner where the half wall met the main wall.

The gap is almost wide enough for me to move the moulding in order to install the wainscoating. However - it isn't wide enough to do this so the corner trim piece will have to be trimmed.

This I do not want to do.

Then it hit me between the eyes.

The next picture will help to explain the stone that hit me.

Take a close look at the picture again, but this time with the addition of a red line drawn on it.

Do you see that small amount of trim sticking out past the line?

This bit of moulding is not even with the window. If I trim it back to make it even it will allow enough room to move the moulding without needing to trim the corner piece!!

This will be a job for the Multi-Master.

Guess I'll leave you with this picture.

Once again Shalimar made a bed out of the laptop.

I decided to take a break and went to check my e-mail and found her this way. Unfortunately, right when I snapped the pic she woke up.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Poor, Tired Kitty

See - I told you she wanted to be close!!

You can see the previous post's 'posting' page on the laptop screen.

She feel asleep right there and I would have to edit when she stretched her paws and typed.

I finally relented and let her climb up.

It could also have to do with the fact that we are having our first snow/ice storm today and it's starting up again now. It is chilly in the house and the laptop is warm.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Cat in the Woodstain and a Cleaning Rag...

Okay - have you ever had one of those days where you just wanted to toss a match in the door and walk away?

Well, yesterday was one of those days for me.

It was my first full day back from our trip to Missouri. I had a ton of e-mails to deal with and a much neglected house to clean. I also wanted to get prepped for working on that wainscoating.

So I go about my day doing some cleaning and such. At one point I decided to go ahead and clean the part of the basement I have finished out (I ought to get some pictures of it and post them - perhaps tomorrow).

As part of the cleaning I decided to take the stains I knew wouldn't be used and store them in the storage area of the basement.

Before I continue I guess I should tell you that we have a cat door, w/porch, for the kitties. It is located in the garden level window in the finished part of the basement. You can see Chloe sitting next to it in the picture below.

Anyway, to make a long story short you could say I was the unwitting participant in a 'Series of Unfortunate Events'. It all culminated in me tripping over myself, and a cat, resulting in a quart sized can of Red Oak stain exploding at the bottom of the steps.

I was so flabbergasted, and miffed, that taking pictures never even entered my mind. If someone would have been there and suggested this they would have ended up with the camera someplace 'special'.

Well, now that a day has passed and I can look back on the ordeal I can laugh and cry AND take a few pics. Unfortunately the mess, for the most part, has been cleaned up, but you can still see the signs.

Here you can see down the steps of the basement.

To the right you can see a door that leads outside. I was standing at this door's landing when it happened.

Shalimar jumped through the pet door and onto the landing right when I was taking the step. I lost my footing and while trying to right myself I lost one of the cans.

The can hit the corner area right under the light switch and popped open upside down (from what I can tell).

SWMBO had a carved, wooden rabbit sitting in the corner and the litter box was next to it. Yes - we keep an auxiliary cat box in this area during the cold months.

Any can see the 'splash' if you look - especially on the box we keep the litter box in.

Do you see the stains in the corner areas on the wall? There are also some on the wall down by the lower edge of the box. Luckily we still have paint and I can touch it up.

If you look hard you can see the shadow caused by the stain on the wooden areas.

The main spill area was on the bottom landing, but you can see splash marks on the stairs as well.

It took a roll and a half of paper towels to clean and I had little time to do it in - you know - before the stain really sets in.

Unfortunately it is noticeable enough that I will need to do something. Fortunately, the stain color looks good and I can do the whole thing.

It could have been worse. As you can see to the extreme left we have Berber carpet. Not a drop landed on it - even while i was cleaning up the mess.

Okay, now for more of the story...

Remember the cat that help do this? Well, don't ask me how, but she got the stain all over her! I thought she had jetted either up the stairs or back out the window. Unfortunately, several hours later, SWMBO found Shalimar and saw she was covered!!

Needless to say, I had to give her a bath - TWICE!! Do you have any idea how hard it is to bath a freaked out cat?! I have a few more scratches on me from this task as payment.

Luckily Shalimar is fine - but there is a slight smell of stain about her. We are playing it safe by pushing fluids and keeping an eye on her.

The pathetic thing is that Shalimar is now VERY clingy towards me. In fact, she is trying to be so close (so she can sleep) she is trying to bed down on the laptop keyboard while I type!

Today went better.....

One last little bit. In case you noticed, the stairwell, leading down to the basement, isn't completely finished. I have as yet to put the trim up. I'll need to do some work on the stairs and see no sense in ripping out what I have put up.

BTW - did you like the post title? Read it again but think about the tune 'Cat in the Cradle'.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Missouri Gothic

Hello again everyone!

Well as you all know from the previous post we have been busy helping out friends, Bill and Karen, pack up their house to move. Now for the rest of the story...

I was told early on to NEVER post on a blog when you are going to be out of town so I didn't.

As you might have guessed we made a whirlwind, and completely unexpected, trip to Missouri last week-end. Bill and Karen really wanted us to come see their new place and we couldn't say no. Besides, the last road trip we took was over two years ago.

So we packed up and headed east to lend them a hand.

And here is the happy couple in front of their new home.

We tried to get the 'American Gothic' thing going - can you tell?

The bought a house I would seriously consider leaving the Folly for. It is a Colonial style, but no set style such as Cape Cod or Salt Box. It has the traditional dormers and such and reminds me of 'Leave it to Beaver'.

You should see this place - the living has the beams going across the top of the ceiling and the big fireplace.

It looks like it would be right at home in Colonial Williamsburg.

The bad part is that a similar home is about to become available next door to them!! Oh...did I mention that each lot is between 3/4 & 1.5 acres? There is a stream and everything.

Man...I really - really love Colonial houses. I even thought about recreating the inside of the Folly in a Colonial way that's how much I like it.

Anyway, it was good to get away and visit a part of Missouri I got to visit every year as a kid and absolutely love. They have asked us to come back as much as possible and are even building guest quarters for extended stays. Guess we will be visiting a few times. I hear the trout are astounding there and they are only a few minutes away from a premier trout stream.

Did I also mention the antique stores? Their part of Missouri is become famous for the antiques I hear.

Here is a parting shot of the happy couple and their 'baby' Sasha.

We will miss them around here!

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Friday, December 5, 2008

Treasures From a Friend

Hello Everyone!

Sorry for the lack of posts of late, however, I've been very busy.

A couple of very close family friends are moving and we've been busy all week helping them out. There is still more that needs to be done!

It's also, a little embarrassing at the assorted treasures that have been given to us because of the move.

This couple is old enough to be our parents with children not much younger than us. Bill (yes - the one who was getting me into woodworking as a sideline business) we have both known since the mid 70s. In fact, Annette grew up next door to him. Her parents moved into their house in '74 and Bill and his family moved in six weeks later. In 2003 Bill married Karen. Karen and Annette are VERY much alike. They are so much alike it gives me an idea of what she will be like at that age. Unfortunately - none of their kids are interested in antiques or family heirlooms. So, Annette and I got those type of items the kids could care less about.

Anyway, I thought I would share this embarrassment of riches with you all.

This is a dresser, with mirror (it;s behind it), that Bill restored.

It was going to be converted into a bathroom vanity, but we will use it for it's intended use.

Sorry it's so dirty, but this is a brass, and gold gilt, glass lamp that was owned by Bill's grandmother.

He thought it was from the 20s but isn't sure.

There are six panels. One is cracked and one is missing. It'll be interesting getting the glass matched. Also, the filigree band that is under the glass panels (?), it has red glass behind it!! So it should have a nice jeweled tone when cleaned up. I plan on playing with this thing next week.

If any of you have info as to possible age, or style, of this lamp - PLEASE let me know.

This is a really cool folding tale they got at an auction. No one seems to know how old it is or it's provenance.

It looks like an old painting that has been shellacked into the table top.

The picture doesn't do the folding mechanism justice, but it's pretty cool.

Okay, now you KNOW your into restoring old houses when you think a piece of wood. is far better than the other goodies!!

But LOOK at you know what that is?!

This is real, 100+ year old bead-board wainscoting (or waisncoating)!!!

We have wanted to have this stuff in the kitchen for the back splash of the counters as well as the built-in and for that little half wall. We have been looking at the new stuff. It is either too bulky or WAY too expensive.

Just look at those lines!

The board is made of ceder and is 3.5" wide, 35.5' tall and a bit more than 1/4" thick.

It is also tongue-n-groove.

The best part....I have over 60 of the bad boys!!!

Again...just look at those lines...

You can't beat the real deal and this will look great in the kitchen.

If I work carefully I 'might' have enough to make some of the door inserts for the new cabinets.

I will leave you with this final picture.

It is perhaps the strangest thing they have us.

Do you know what it is?

Give up??

It's genuine, cast iron, Victorian roof cresting!!

They are roughly 13" long and 5.25" tall. There are 41 in the bunch (a 42nd one got packed by mistake). There are also three additional ones that are the same size, but each end as a "C" shape on each end (one is backwards) and looks like it is made to fir on a pipe. Not sure why these were made like that.

Since I think they would look funny on our house I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them.

Any ideas?

Well, till next time...


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!!

May all the blessings of the day be with you and yours!

We do have a lot to be thankful for.

Hopefully you have all been good and the Great Turkey paid a visit to you last night and left droppings of gifts for you!

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

The die has been cast...

Guess what?!

The die has been cast...

The decision has been made...

We have a winner!!!

We have a stain!!

Here is your first look.

Can you guess which one we are going to go with?

If you chose the second color from the left you would be correct.

Here's the kicker - the two colors on the left side of the board are the same stain!

Now for the rest of the story.

As you all know I have been banging my head on a rock working with different stains trying to come up with something that would work. Remember the tests I did and how bad some of them were?

Well, about a week ago I ran across the My Old House Journal site. While reading through the web site I ran across a guy named Ken who has a web page called the Old House. Now, if you got to the Wood Restoration page you will find a great write up on how he does his woodwork and his woodwork looks like ours!!

Once you read through that (which I recommend) then go to this page to see the finished woodwork. As you can see, Ken is one talented guy.

Thanks to him we have our stain. I thought "what the hey" so I decided to give his recipe a shot. In case you don't go to his site here is the recipe: "The final combination was a mixture of three Minwax stains (2 parts red mahogany, 2pts colonial maple, 3pts natural) to give it an aged wood tone it would have had from aging orange shellac".

I did a step he doesn't do and altered another step(I'll discuss these later), but used the recipe as written.

This picture just shows the sample up against the plumbing chase.

Now, back to the two colors from the same stain - I know you want to know why this happened - don't you. The reason is simple. Remember this post? The washcoat I talked about here caused the difference in color. In fact, the lighter color, the one on the left, is the one that has the washcoat under it. The darker of the two is the special recipe on bare wood without a wascoat. The washcoat was the step I added that wasn't on Ken's page.

Also, I applied two coats of the stain.

This last picture is just an eye-candy shot.

It's at an angle to avoid flash from the camera.

I thought it would be nice to show you all what it looks like with some color behind it. The wall color is about the same we plan to use in the kitchen, but the flash has washed it out.

Oh...that step of Ken's I altered (?) has to do with the topcoat. Ken applied 4 coats of oil based Benjamin Moore Sanding Sealer, I applied four coats of 50/50 amber shellac & denatured alcohol. This is just personal taste though. Once the staining process gets underway in earnest I might do another test board and use the topcoat he did - just to see what it will look like. I used the amber shellac this time because I've used it in the past and like the glow it gives.

Also, I have not buffed the topcoat to knock the shine down. I'm not sure if I will do this or not. we'll see how we like it once it's all stained before we do this.

One last thing.... The lighter of the two colors (the one on the extreme left) we like also so we are thinking of using it for the floors and the counter tops.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Downright Dirty Shame

Hey everyone -

Just another quick post that is not related to OUR house but does involve another old house.

An on-line friend in Illinois and I were talking about Victorian cottages. I told here about one in our area that is on blocks ready to move. Unfortunately it has been sitting like this for almost two years.

I told her I would get some pictures of it for her; might as well share them with all of you as well.

Some of you might remember that we had chain of tornadic storms pass by last June. The one I got pictures of went right over this cottage. It's a miracle it wasn't blown off the blocks.

Cute little thing.

It's sitting about 20 feet from where it had been built.

Also, the porch posts and railings use to be attached.

Here's what's left of the posts and rails.

You have no idea how hard it was not to toss them in the back of the car!

I really like these little windows.

There are four of them on the front approach and 2 - IIRC - on the back.

I was hoping this picture would have turned out better.

This side poarch post is hanging by one strand of bailing wire.

Unfortunately the front door is open (no, I didn't go in).

From the looks of it the wind blew it open.

It's a real shame...the picture doesn't do it justice. This house was move-in ready when it was first put on blocks.

Everything is in excellent shape - well, at least everything I could see.

If you look real close you can see a crack to the right of the window. Right under this spot is one of the iron I-beams. I imagine that the crack has been caused by either settling (the house is noticeably drooping) or winds causing it to bounce.

Do you see that door?!?! It absolutely glows!! It still has a sheen on it and is in perfect condition.

I wanted to move the boards that were in the way, but like I said, I didn't go inside.

Doesn't this just tear at you?

It's a downright dirty shame that this beautiful woodwork will probably be allowed to sit there and rot or get destroyed.

HOWEVER...I have a plan.

I have no idea who owns the property, or the house, but the name and number of the moving company is on one of the I-beams. I'm going to contact them and see what I can find out. Who knows...maybe I could purchase salvage rights!

Well, till next time....

Larry ~

2:40 in the Freakin' Morning

Okay - last night I didn't get much sleep. We had an unexpected visitor show up at 2:40 in the Freakin' Morning!!

This is who showed up.

A Great Horned Owl, the Bubo virginianus

Length:  20 - 24 inches
Wingspread:  53 - 56 inches
Weight:  3.1 - 3.6 pounds

Can you believe how big these suckers get?!

It all started with a loud, screeching "HOOT" that sounded like it came from inside the bedroom. We both shot up from the noise. I hate being started from sleep.

It was pandemonium in the bedroom. All the cats got as close as they could to the north facing window in the room. Even the dog was perched on the corner of the bed so she could look out.

Each time the Owl hooted it sounded like it was in the room. We knew it was outside the window but couldn't see it. That's when we figured out it was perched right above the window on the eve.

On top of this it was having a lively conversation with two other owls. From the sound of it the closer of the two was either in our yard at the back, or in the trees just south of use. The second was further away to the north west.

We thought about running outside to see it, or perhaps from the attic window, but decided to just leave him alone. Like I said, I hate being started out of sleep because I have the hardest time getting back to sleep. So, I spent the next couple of hours listening to those three owls talk.

If you interested, here is some more info on this bird.

The great horned owl, commonly called the “hoot owl,” is the most aggressive and powerful owl in North America. It is named for the obvious feather tufts on top of its head. These feather “horns” are not ears. The ears are hidden below, and slightly behind the eyes. Vision is superb both day and night. Excellent vision, along with an acute auditory sense, makes locating prey a simple process. Like other owls, the eyes cannot move; they are fixed in the sockets. Fourteen neck bones allow the head to pivot 270 degrees or ¾ of a circle. It is the first of all birds to nest and lay eggs in Kansas. They are commonly sitting on eggs in February, occasionally in January.

Probably no other raptor in North America has a diet as varied as the great horned owl. It will kill whatever is available, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. With its poor sense of smell it is also willing to catch skunks.

This is one of the reasons we make sure the cats are in at night.

Well, till next time.....


Friday, November 21, 2008

Bubble Bubble Toil & Trouble

Okay - admit it...there's a mad scientist in all of us. Some of us just embrace that side more often than most.

This week has been one of those times when I have embraced the cackling maniac inside.

While doing the finish sanding on the kitchen woodwork I've been doing a lot of thinking about washcoats and stains. So, I decided to go to the pros I talk to on the internet as well as cracking open a few books.

So, between all the sanding I've been doing a lot of research as well.

I know it would more than likely benefit us in the long run to precondition the woodwork, but I wasn't happy with the test results when I tried it with the pre-made conditioners. Well, after several e-mails to knowledgeable people it was suggested I make my own wood conditioner.

The recipe I decided on (the one that was recommended the most) is a simple one. You take some Zinsser SealCoat and thin it with denatured alcohol.

Here is a the reduction guide:

Desired cut Mix in a separate container
3-lb. to 2-lb. 2 parts alcohol + 5 parts shellac
3-lb. to 1-lb. 3 parts alcohol + 2 parts shellac
2-lb. to 1-lb. 1 part alcohol + 1 part shellac

I went with the 50/50 mix.

Here are the ingredients.

The Masson jar holds the results.

Kind of looks like yak pee don't it?

On Wednesday I removed a piece of the mop board from inside the pantry closet. After sanding it, and prepping it, I applied the washcoat to two different spots.

Now before you sit there and question my madness let me explain.

I have been given a 'secret' recipe for stain that will theoretically make the woodwork look as though it has aged gracefully with a coat of orange shellac. I have seen photos of this recipe being used on woodwork like ours and it turned out great! We'll see what happens - that's what the test board/control sample is for.

Anyway, back to the control sample.

I have only placed the wash on two areas of the board. The reason I did this is so that I can test my two stain samples (there are two variations to the secret recipe) with and without a wash coat.

This will also help determine how many coats of stain I'll need. However, per the gent who gave me the recipe, he only applied one coat of stain (without a washcoat) and then applied four very thin layers of top coat.

Take a look at this.

You are seeing a closeup of the washcoat by itself.

Too bad we aren't wanting this color - it looks great!

I also noticed that this homemade washcoat has a different hue, and feel, compared to the commercial washcoats available. It'll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow when I mix the recipes and test them.

On another related area....

I got a couple new toys to help in this endeavor.

The first is a set of scraper blades that interchange with each other.

Kind of reminds me of a pimped out shaving razor!

This little thing has done wonders when scraping little spots and weird shapes.

This last one is so simple, so basic, it's one of those tools that make you say 'cool'.

All it is is a razor scraper for windows. It's a very sleek, almost retro, design that fits comfortably in the hand.

Yeah, I know I could have just used a plain ol' razor blade but I like my gadgets and toys!

Well, till next time...