Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back to Base-ics, Part 2

I warned you there were issues with the old-house walls while the baseboard project unfolded...since this blog serves as a sort of diary for me to remember the ups and downs of life in my historic home, settle in for some photos and probably a little bit of whining.  This is all very funny when you discuss it with a sense of humor.  I'm still trying to decide it I have a sense of humor about it yet.

Cutting the boards was easy, putting nails in them was easy...and absolutely everything else has been hard.  Almost every piece required some kind of customized "tweaking" (insert funny You've Got Mail quote here).  First came the normal step of learning to cope...a technical term that involves an awesome hand saw that creates a snug puzzle-like fit for boards in a corner, but one that provided endless opportunities for me to make funny (to me) jokes all day long.  I learned to cope.

Then came the corner with the wall of cabinets and a fancy curved board at the bottom.  It required coping, a stencil and a customized cutout to create this magic:

I used the hand saw on each of the lovely curved corner pieces, too. Not a single one fit without significant measurements and cutting.  I got quite good at shaving 1/8" off one side of the little piece of wood without severing my fingers in the process...that fraction of an inch was often what it took to make it lean against the wall properly.

And then there were the corners in the hallway where the corner piece, and the baseboard itself, were too wide to allow the door to open.  (At this point I began to realize that the person who constructed my home must have been completely high...or at least blind.  Maybe they didn't own a measuring tape?)  That dilemma required a half-hour game delay in which I photographed the problem, created an entire Shutterfly album, and sent it to dad as a cry for help.

He immediately called with a response: just sand down the outside of the corner piece.  Ummm yeah.  Guess I should have thought of that before I pondered whether it would be really bad to remove the door and give my guests a view of the water heater every time they walked into the house.  A little sanding and sawdust later, and the door opens perfectly.  (Thanks dad!)

Though the corners were a challenge, it was the walls that made me crazy.  The areas that looked perectly straight and ready for baseboards were actually suffering from Waveitis, TotalCrookeditis and JustPlainImpossibleitis.  One of the examples was my fault...when I did such a great job repairing that hole in the dining room wall, I apparently followed the line of the rest of the wall instead of a ruler.  Look at that angle!

Symptoms of that Crooked Wall Syndrome continued throughout the house.  The symptoms of Waveitis, however, did not become clear until I started using the caulk gun (the only kind of gun I think should be in public buildings, by the way...) to seal the boards to the wall - the gaps between the boards and the wall sometimes continued for a full foot down the length of the wall!

Perhaps the most interesting challenge, however, was the part of the hallway wall where the plaster came out about 1/2" farther at the bottom than the rest of the wall.  Chipping the extended plaster away was both dangerous and questionable - I'm not really a fan of inadvertently weakening walls.  Jason came up with this creative solution to neatly carve out a portion of the baseboard so it fit against the wall perfectly.  (I must confess that I was the heckler in the crowd who repeatedly issued doomsday "you're just going to waste time and baseboard" criticism until the project was completed and it worked perfectly.  Oops.)

I had hoped to wrap up this post with glamorous shots and victory songs about finalized baseboards, but unfortunately for you (and even more so for me!), that hasn't happened yet.  I continue to spend hours before and after work crawling around on the floor sealing the boards and applying blue tape for when I am finally, finally ready to finish this project.  I'm growing rather attached to the blue running stripes...perhaps I should change my accent colors to work this into the decor?

My sore back muscles are making me feel like an old woman, I'm tired and I'm trying to convince myself that the dried caulk looks like a French manicure (it doesn't).  But I still wouldn't trade this project for any number of contractors.  Partly because I love the connection to my house that comes from this kind of work...but mostly because this is bringing out too much evidence of my freakishly perfectionist character flaws, and I'm sure professionals would somehow mess up a wall that would drive me crazy forever.

More details and evidence of my character issues will come soon...until now, I'll continue to live in rooms that look like this:


  1. Wow I'm super impressed, I'm sure I would have given up. It's also nice to know you also lose patience and shout out doomsday scenarios in frustration while tackling home projects. Abe gets very upset with me when I do this, so kudos to Jason for handling it. Although I'm pretty sure your doomsday shouts are nothing like my temper-tantrums ;-)

  2. I love reading your posts, but this one is my favorite! The caulking gun bit deserves a blog award :) keep up the good work- on the house and the blog!