New Front Stoop Railings - Part 2: Preparation

September 24, 2017

In Part I of this series, I related a little about the history of the front stoop here at 173.  While searching through the blog, I noticed that there has been a few posts about the stoop over the years, including the door being painted, the new house numbers, and adding "a little pop", all back in '13.  There was also a post as part of the punch list from the front porch outside remodel, one about painting the steps in July, 2016.  All of which just goes to show there really is no master plan happening here at 173!  This is where we left off last week:
Well, considerable progress has been made this week, but I'm not quite ready for the reveal of the new railings.  But I did want to share some pictures about the prep work that went into this project.  It all started with buying the lumber, and prepping it.  The first stage of the prep was to let all the wood sit in the basement for weeks so the dehumidifier could help remove some of the moisture from the pressure-treated wood.  I chiseled out the bigger knots in the wood and used Dap Plastic Wood
to fill them: 
From there, I used my table saw to rip 1x4s to the width I needed, and also chamfered the other rails (which will make sense in the reveal). 
 I know the old table saw of death couldn't have done this:
Then the re-sawn 1x4s were run through the 'ol router (cheap but effective router table below):
...giving what would become the top of the top rail a bit of a profile:
And, while we're talking about routers - here's a shot of the router bit box I built of scrap wood 16 or 17 years ago:
 After that, the workshop and basement became a painting assembly-line:
I decided to cut the pieces of railing to size and pre-prime and pre-paint, and while I can see the merits of such an approach - it was a long, slow, tedious process!  Here are a couple more shots of the assembly line:

Okay, and one final shot for today.  Way back when the front stoop was first built, I didn't really realize sheetrock screws couldn't be used in pressure-treated lumber.  Also, I wanted to make sure the post that had to be flush-mounted was fastened well and very stable.  So what does one do?  Use lots of screws!!  Here's how they looked when I took apart the old railings/posts:
So, that's where we are.  With any luck, when next we meet....

New Front Stoop Railings - Part 1

September 17, 2017

If nothing else, 173 is an evolutionary beast.  Occasionally there are big alterations, but most of the time it's a matter of small, slow, subtle changes.  The front stoop is just such a case.  This picture shows how the front of 173 looked in the '70s :
(These are the original owners of 173 - so happy to have this kind of provenance!)
I think 173 must have looked so airy and crisp back in the day!  A far cry from the direction she was headed beginning in 1997.  Back then, the front stoop was the same as in the picture above, and wasn't really a stoop at all; instead -  just a few steep, narrow steps as you can see in this old grainy photo:
Then in '99 or so, I took down the old steps, and built a stoop which ended up looking like this:
Not too bad for a beginner.  The stoop was a couple years old by the time that picture was taken, but you get a sense of what is had become.  Then this happened:
I went and painted the railings white.  Not a big deal you say?  Well, that was the beginning of the significant exterior alterations that led to this:
It looked so fresh and crisp, I loved it!  But there's a dirty little secret...white hides a lotta sins - from a distance.  The fact is, the railings were getting old.  They had been stained with deck stain at least five or six times over the years, and the paint just wasn't holding anymore.  Besides that, I had made a construction error when building the railings originally in that I hadn't chamferred the top edges, so rain and snow simply sat there.  Once again, I didn't take a "before" photo up close, but this picture shows how the posts were beginning to get those splits that you just can't hide:
(Awkward shot taken from inside the porch, blown up and cropped.)
So, it was time to re-do the railings.  As is the case in almost every project at 173, I thought it over (overthought really) for weeks.  It isn't quite finished yet, but last weekend the stoop looked like this:
I decided to do one side of the stoop at a time...hate the thought of the mailman walking right off the edge!  The project is further along than that picture, but I'm reserving the rest for the final reveal, and with any luck, and the weather holds, we'll have railings in a few days!

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