Front Porch (Phase 3)

We're in this for the long haul, guys! This porch project will consume about 100 hours of labor. No seriously, that's an actual estimation. So far, we are about half the way there.

But, this past weekend we made some serious progress, specifically in the form of balustrades.

A what? People, this is a learning environment. Balustrades are the entire handrail unit. (I just learned that, like 10 minutes before posting this). 

We took a minor step back to assess some of the historical photographs we received from Content's previous owners (Side note: Stay tuned for a FUN collaboration which will be part of a 3-post series on the historical information we now have!)

In the old pictures, you can distinctly see a large, center staircase on the porch. As we had planned, before seeing old photos, to bring this feature back, we were pleased to be on an accurate architectural path. 

The current set of stairs, which sits to the west side of the porch, are brick and will be permanent removed. This brick will be used to disguise the blah concrete footings, which are ugly, at best.

Aside from the steps, we also plan to keep the current, decorative "X" design, which flanks the handrail runs, and will space the balusters wider apart in hopes of opening up the sunset view over the river, just across the street.

Original "X" detail that will remain as part of renovated porch design. 

We contemplated reverting the balastrade design back to the original 1890 grid pattern (kinda hard to see in the photo above) but the intricate design would have been WAY more time consuming for John and would have exceeded our entire porch budget on the handrails alone.

So, we opted for the 1960s design that was introduced when the house was moved away from the rivers edge, to the other side of the street, now its current location.

As we continue to do the work ourselves, John recruited my help for the balastrade preparation. And let me tell you... WOW! There we soooo many steps...

Handrails being cut to length.

Each top and bottom handrail was:

  • cut to length.
  • passed through the planer, twice, to remove any saw marks.
  • placed on the router table where the decorative profile was introduced.

Each side required two passes for the routed center beading, and a final pass to achieve a chamfer.

What the heck is a chamfer? I'm learning too. A chamfer is an angled cut that aesthetically eases the transition between two pieces of wood.

Chamfer: The tiny angle at the top of the board.

Ultimately, all of these steps resulted in a beautifully, crafted handrail!

After 4 hours in the workshop, John and I churned out all of the top and bottom rails, plus one, five foot section including the vertical balusters...

It was exhausting, but we worked as a team and it was a reaffirmation of the craftsmanship that John is bringing back to Content.

One railing section complete!

And like all of our projects, it's trial and error. After we completed that first rail section, we realized the baluster spacing, though to proper building code, seemed too wide for our design taste.

Realization, the baluster spacing was wrong.

After a test fit, the above section was disassembled, and reset a half inch shorter. "A HALF INCH!? Was that necessary...?" you ask.

For us, it was absolutely necessary. Content deserved the best, and luckily, John and I are dedicated to deliver!

But, the goal is to finish this project and we have a lot more to do! So, we'll be working hard this week, and I hope, hope, hope to be painting by the weekend!

In the meantime, take a look at the installed balustrades. Don't they look awesome?