During the restoration of the Judge Fenton House porch, our carpenter James Sarsgard kept a project journal detailing the process. What follows is part two of our three part blog series, Judge Fenton House: A Look Back.
REPLACING THE DECK AND THE COLUMNS
Once the roof was sheeted, we could move back downstairs to begin installing the new deck flooring. We removed the old planks, ¾ tongue and groove CVG fir, and replaced them with a 21st century version of the same (not old growth, of course, but sadly the old ones were far too rotten to salvage). Most importantly, all new material was finish painted off site before installation.
In this stage we had to move from the southeast corner onward, pulling each jack and re-installing the newly stripped and sanded columns once we got the deck flooring to each column location. To reduce the chance of rot on the columns, we made fir stand off blocks with kerfs let-in to allow drainage, so that the end grain of the columns would not wick moisture.
With the columns in, it was starting to look like a porch again!
THE RAILINGS AND THE ARCADE
After about three weeks of stripping paint, vigorous sanding, and a lot of head scratching over how to re-frame the porch, we arrived at the trickiest part of the job: re-assembling the intricate fretwork that makes up the lower railings and the upper arcade. The railings consisted of a sub rail made from 2” lumber inset with a series of small scroll work panels, held in with ½” quarter round. While most of the panels were damaged beyond repair, we saved as many as possible. The rest we decided to have milled from solid PVC, adding a definite modern touch to the porch but assuring the longevity of the railing for years to come.
As with the railings, the arcade pieces were pretty much unsalvageable, so we had them made at the same shop-although these pieces were up to 6’ in length. We managed to save most of the curved frames for the radius sections, with the exception of one of the lower rails, which were remade by our millworker in addition to much of the curved trim pieces. Anything that was not supplied by him or was not salvaged we made on site by kerfing straight pieces on the mitre saw:
In the end, between delays with the various material shops we were working with and the incredible amount of labor involved with all the kerfing and fitting, this phase ate up most of the job…and the budget! But you can certainly see a lot of progress at this point:
The above photo shows the front rail almost done, with new lattice visible underneath. The bullnose that caps the decking was also made of laminated fir pieces that were then formed to the curve and run through the shaper at a millwork shop, but even with the curve made up, it was difficult to negotiate the radius and required a generous amount of fasteners and glue to hold in place.