All of the wood in this house has been original and untouched, so all of the finishes are shellac/varnish rather than modern-day polyurethane. That means that we have been able to strip the old finish off with denatured alcohol and steel wool, rather than having to use paint remover. The nice thing about that is that the “character” and natural aging stain of the wood is preserved, so a really lovely color remains on the wood surface.
We couldn’t help ourselves….
When Paul started to refinish the old mantle, he noticed that it was kind of wobbly, so we decided to (carefully) take it apart and try to clean each piece individually:
And then the engineer / picture straightener in both of us made us think, “While we have this disassembled, we can fix this so that it isn’t cattywampus any more!”
Yes – the old “Mushroom Factor” reared its head yet again on a Koch family project 😛
But really, it would have driven the two of us crazy if we had an opportunity to fix it and didn’t, so we decided to make things right.
Since we were going to have to change some of the configuration to make everything even, it meant that we had to make at least one new upright column; since we wanted them both to look the same, Paul decided to take some other (unfinished) old wood from the house and use it to build them.
He planed the wood down to the correct thickness, then used his biscuit joiner to make new pieces which matched the shape and look of the old ones, then he mitered the front panels of both column pieces to fit snugly against the wall:
Next, he chiseled out the channel on the right-hand side of the lower part of the mantle about an inch closer to the front edge of the piece so that it matched up with the channel on the left-hand side:
Since the back edge of the upper mantle piece was not parallel with the front edge, Paul cut a strip off of the back of the piece to make it parallel:
Then he took another piece of old wood salvaged from another part of the house, planed it down to the correct thickness, and biscuit-joined the two pieces together to make the top piece longer:
Well, that’s what we got done this weekend – tune in next weekend to see what we were able to accomplish next!