Category: carpentry

My shop is a war zone!

I’ve completed boxing in the bay windows. I had to deal with these windows downstairs during the living room renovation so I knew this wasn’t going to be a cake walk. The original builders pretty much winged the framing so the angles aren’t consistent. The trim was essentially supported by a trash can full of shims… some of them three inches thick. So here’s where I’m at now. As here, I usually use hardwood plywood for box framing like this unless it’s going to support the weight of a door. Cost isn’t the only consideration, although using red oak plywood

Read More »

Happy Halloween

The neighborhood was a mob scene of power rangers and fairy princesses tonight. Our state senator had the brilliant idea of turning the park down the block into “Haunted Halloween” with a disco, a haunted walk, hay rides, a food court and kiddy amusements as a safer alternative to trick-or-treating. As a result, half the kids in Brooklyn were there. Then they assaulted my neighborhood for their sugar rush. Next year I want a government subsidy on my candy supply. Halloween is a kids’ thing and since I don’t have kids it’s not exactly my thing. But I endure it

Read More »

Forging ahead…

At last, some visible progress on the master bedroom renovation. For most of last week and the weekend I repaired plaster, which isn’t very exciting photography. If you can see something it means you didn’t do a very good job of it. Four years ago, I replaced a termite-ridden center support beam in the basement with a steel I-beam. As careful as we were, there was enough settling that the upstairs plaster took a minor beating. Because these were stress fractures that went all the way through the brown coat, I had to dig out each crack with an old

Read More »

A hundred pounds of plaster later…

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

Read More »

You don’t know until you try

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

Read More »

Into the closet

I’ve been fighting a sore throat and sniffles all day, but I’m tired of my belly aching. That’s why I’m so behind bloody schedule here. Yesterday, I got the rough framing done for the new closet in the master bedroom. Well, almost done. I thought I had the 4″ lags and shields I needed for the upper cabinet’s deck support. Because these houses don’t have attics, I need to build one for dead storage. There will be two levels in this closet, with cabinet doors on top. I want a profiled corner on the closet, not a square edge. This

Read More »

The Plan

So I psyched myself up and put down the plastic for the next and final major renovation project here: the master bedroom and hallway. The way I figured it, if I had a pile of lumber in the shop I’d want to do something with it. I didn’t spare much expense in this project although I’m not completely irresponsible with my money. For instance, I’ll be using red oak plywood in much of the window and doorway trim rather than solid oak. That alone will save me several hundred bucks. And while an engineered floor is actually more expensive to

Read More »

“I’ve always wanted to own an old house!”

The popularity of home improvement shows demonstrates that people are fascinated by the idea of taking something old and beat up and making it new again. But as anyone who has undertaken a large scale home renovation knows, the reality of doing it yourself lives on another planet from the romantic, everything-works-the-first-time impression that these shows portray. For one, you won’t have a professional contractor standing out of the shot, ready to yell “Stop! Stop!!” before you slice through a BX cable with your demolition saw. Nor will you have a bunch of off-camera laborers to unload the truck, clean

Read More »
  • categories

  • favorite links

  • posts

    October 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Scroll to Top

    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 BrooklynRowHouse.com, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.