Bay window trim (almost) done.

Sheesh. Another “almost” cop out.

The issue here isn’t woodworking but thermodynamics. The steam radiator that Richie from Sessa Plumbing installed is something called an “element”. An element works on the convection principle: as hot air rises off the element, it expands and exits through a grill at the top. This creates a low pressure area underneath which pulls in cold air from the floor through a grill at the bottom. An element radiator usually comes in a butt-ugly metal cabinet. It’s what that missing panel under the middle window needs to replicate.

I’m gonna give you a private snapshot into how my disturbed mind works, or at least as private as a few hundred hits/day can be. Then maybe you’ll understand why this bedroom renovation is taking me forever.

Because I don’t have that cabinet enclosure, I don’t have a clue if this vent “engineering” involves some rocket science.

For instance, how large should these vents be? Is a smaller vent more efficient than a larger one because it means greater air velocity, throwing heat further out into the room? Or is a larger vent better because there would be less resistance? Should the intake vent be larger than the exhaust vent because lighter, warm air is going to exit faster that heavier, cold air will enter? Or should the exhaust vent be larger because the warmed air will expand and have more volume? Should I reduce the internal volume of this cabinet with styro-board so the intake air can only pass over the element? And does any of this really matter?

Yeah, I obsess over stupid things (if it’s zero degrees today and the weatherman says that tomorrow is going to be twice as cold, what does that mean?) But this radiator is the only source of heat in the master bedroom so I want to get it right. These possibly academic questions have gotten me stalled trying to finish off this window. Maybe I’ll obsess on the wainscott shelf for a while.

Anyway, the outside panels are already done and installed. They’ll get a bolection moulding treatment later when I learn what router bit set I need to cut these things. I’m just surprised that none of the router bit manufacturers sell such a kit, as they do for raised panels and other trim elements. I mean, Rockler has a four-bit set for making frikkin miniature train tracks! But not for bolection moulding, which is a mainstay in old house trimwork??

Anyway, I hope I get some answers at the Somerset Woodworking Show this weekend. Otherwise I’m gonna have to wing it somehow because I’m stuck on having those bolection mouldings frame the panels. As is, I think the wainscot, window and door panels look too stark and unfinished.


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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.