July 20, 2011

Restoring old doors and windows

We’ve tried as much as possible to use recycled doors and windows in the build, but it’s a good thing we don’t have to pay for our labour! Reusing old joinery is certainly labour intensive.

In our new cabin we wanted five pairs of casement windows in the dining area which looks out to the forest. At a new cost of over $250 a pair, that looked to be rather expensive. Sourcing five identical sets from secondhand yards also proved difficult.

My friend Chris was renovating and had five matching sets which she sold us for $300. They were in fairly good condition, but like a lot of windows from old Queensland houses of that era, they were glazed in green and brown glass, which would have blocked out the entire rainforest view.

I set about reglazing the windows. Each individual window had five panes of glass, so that was 50 panes in total. In addition, I wanted to save as much of the coloured glass as possible, to use in future leadlight projects, so I couldn’t just smash out the old glass. I had to painstakingly chip out all the old putty from each pane and carefully remove the glass. Each window took hours!

Instead of using putty (which I find both messy and difficult to do neatly) I used clear silicon and an 8mm triangular quad to hold the panes. After a while I became quite proficient at cutting the mitred corners of the quad.

The windows required a fair amount of sanding before finishing with three coats of paint. It was also a bit of extra work for the builder to trim and fit the old windows (and I'm sure he wondered why we bothered), but we’re glad we managed to reuse them, and the multiple panes provide an interesting framework for the forest view.

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