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Nearly 110, This Old Gal Still Has Secrets

Posted by Administrator on Tue, Feb 21 2017 19:38:00

If you want a lovely old Victorian home to look good, it is important to do a little primping.  So today (and tomorrow too) is ‘clean up the ancient trim in the office’ day.

This morning I pried off what was left of the old 9 ½ tall oak trim at the base of the wall.  I was cleaning out the gaps between the oak flooring and the wall and came across the two old cut nails.  I imagine by 1907 when the house was constructed, some machinery was involved in making them, but human labor was still part of the process, as Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line until 1913.

two cut nails

While holding them, a question came to mind.  Who were the workman who drove these nails into the lumber?  What was their story?  Although laborers now, did they have a learned vocation before they crossed the Atlantic to come here?  Did they descend from early settlers in America?

This kind of idle speculation leads to more questions.  Where did the oak come from?  This is white oak, so it possibly came from back east.  New York?  Massachusetts?  Michigan?

Now if you’ve ever worked with 100 year old oak, you know it is brittle and seems as hard as steel.  Use a sharp saw blade. Pre-drill your holes.  Watch for splinters.  It takes stain differently than newer wood, so testing a small sample is a good idea.  While the smell of freshly cut new wood is almost like perfume, old wood smells are more subtle, particularly because you have to distinguish them as different from the smell of the wood being cut (and singed) by a less than perfect saw blade.  “There’s a lot of smoke in the garage honey, what’s going on?”.

Bev and I have come to love this house.  We’ve put lots of work into it, shared it with thousands of people, and know many of it’s secrets.

But the old gal still has a few more….