Dining Room Piano Window Restoration
Originally written Dec 26, 2017
My house in Minneapolis had piano windows (which were apparently a sign of bourgeois striving ) in the dining room which looked out over the back yard. The house had been built in 1929, and had good bones but it wasn't in the best shape when I bought it. When I had the stucco replaced on the house in the summer of 2017, I had the exterior windows on the piano windows replaced as well, and figured I should replace the interior windows. With winter arriving, it was time to get them done. I started by pulling all the hardware from the windows and stripping the many layers of old paint from them.
They were in pretty rough shape, but I didn't think I had the skills to recreate them from scratch yet. So out came the glass, and I stripped them a few more times to get as much of the paint, plus various patches done by previous owners of the house off.
The windows were rotted in spots, and some of the muntins broke when I pulled the glass, so I glued them back in and cleaned things up with scrapers and knives to get the windows as bare as possible.
Then it was time to stabilize the rotting wood. My hardware store guy recommended Minwax Wood Hardener. Since he had been glazing and repairing windows for nearly fifty years, I figured I'd listen to him. It took a few applications, but basically you slop on the wood hardener, letting it soak into the rotted wood, and then let it dry. Sand off any excess or rough spots. Repeat until you've got solid wood and hardener composite. I think it took three applications to get them solid enough that I felt comfortable calling it good.
A coat of primer and two coats of paint later, and it was time to take the windows to the hardware store for glazing. Then I needed to strip the dozen or so coats of paint from the hinges and latches. The hinges were cheap plated steel under all the paint and thin brass plating, so I ended up buying new hinges, but the latches were more sturdy construction. I may brown them with Birchwood Casey Plum Brown come warm weather, but for now everything is back together and the windows are keeping the cold at bay.
Not so much a wood-working project as a restoration, but it was a good learning experience. I had dozens of hours spent with these windows through the year, and there are two more similar windows (but in even rougher shape) left in my house. I might rebuild those from scratch, as I think I'm close to knowing enough to build and assemble all the pieces from scratch now.