DIY Stained Glass

Posted by Steve on Sat, 10/07/2006 - 2:10pm


I've only got ho-hum jobs on my plate this weekend: insulation, plaster fixes, running BX... nothing worth blogging about. But I was thinking forward to what I'm going to need to finish off this bedroom renovation (in about three months).

Since the renovation involved merging two bedrooms, I now have two entrances into it. The problem is that the doorway I want to get rid of gives the upstairs hallway much of its summer light and is also needed for cross ventilation. After mulling it over, I decided to replace it with a knee wall topped by a pair of stained glass windows.

Four years ago, when I was deep into my living room reno, I had to replace a pair of cheapo french doors to the deck over the garage. I built the red oak doors in my shop and started pricing store-bought stained glass panels. Of course, nothing came in the sizes I needed and to commission those four panels was going to cost me well over a thousand bucks. So I sez to myself (I sez), "how hard can it be?" Stained glass fabrication looked like simple woodworking joinery to me.

A hundred pounds of plaster later...

Posted by Steve on Fri, 10/06/2006 - 12:33pm


It worked! It took four days, three fifty pound bags of plaster, a makeshift profiling knife and a couple of finish coats but the radiused closet corner is done.

There was only one mishap. Jack the Dog, my Newfoundland, was standing at the base of the ladder looking up at me when about 8 ounces of wet plaster fell off my palette and landed squarely on his head and muzzle. Against his black fur it looked like he'd been smacked in the face with a custard pie. So there was a quick diversion to the back yard for a bath before the plaster dried. He took both ordeals in good spirit but when I got back my batch of plaster was hard as a rock. So I had to run out for another bag.

If you're new to our three-part closet drama, Episode One was the framing. It was followed by the exciting tragedy in Part Two: the skinning, or the Drywall Strikes Back.

Anyway, I cut my homemade knife to the profile I needed from a scrap of masonite. I gave it a couple of coats of urethane to seal the open edge and to keep the wet plaster from sticking to it. I drew a vertical pencil line on the wall as a guide for the outside edge of the knife. Then I painted two coats of Quikrete bonding adhesive on the wall.

Plaster should be applied over a tacky bonding agent so before the second coat dried I mixed up a bag and a half of plaster and water spiked with a half cup of white vinegar to retard the plaster from setting too quickly. I made the mix a little wetter than normal so the knife wouldn't gouge the plaster.

You don't know until you try

Posted by Steve on Sun, 10/01/2006 - 10:09am


The guys at Kamco were right. Quarter-inch drywall can curve to a minimum five-foot radius, dry. Wetting/scoring it can reduce that to as little as three feet "if you're really good!" The problem is, the radius of this corner is about ten inches. That's even too shallow for High Flex, which I could only get by special order and only in palette quantities anyway.

The story of this closet starts here. I could have saved myself a lot of problems if I'd just built a square corner on that closet. But I really wanted a radius here to match two other curved walls in the room as well as one in the hallway leading into the bedroom. I haven't even started thinking about how I'm gonna do the 9" red oak baseboard moulding around that curve. I imagine there will be a few blog entries about that ordeal too.

The Borg

Posted by Steve on Sat, 09/30/2006 - 10:46am
Shortly after I moved to Brooklyn, one of the largest local independent home improvement centers closed, Mars Lumber. It's now an Outback Steak House. The attitude at Mars was gruff and impatient but there were always professional trades people hanging around to give good advice. Mars fell victim to NYC's first Home Depot store on Hamilton Avenue. Home Depot was bright, clean, well stocked and the people were friendly. Good riddance to Mars.

But then a funny thing happened. The Hamilton Avenue Home Depot took an abrupt nose dive. The quality of the help was the first casualty. The bright, smiling Home Depot associates suddenly disappeared and were replaced by surly illiterates who looked and behaved more like they were doing community service. The aisles and the parking lot were filthy. The shelves looked like a pre-glastnost Soviet supermarket. The lines at the registers were typically fifteen minutes long.

One Friday night, a friend and I went to Hamilton Ave to pick up some copper pipe when a pair of skanky women slithered up and asked, "Want a date?"


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