Nook seat A useful nook - The owners of this house asked me to help them find a place for their kid's jackets, shoes and caps when they come in from outdoors. My first thought was to turn this little nook into a closet, but a wall would have made the usable space even shallower. We decided on an openable bench with space for shoes, a shelf with coat hooks, and a small cabinet at the top.… Continue reading A useful nook
Fireplace mantel Fir fireplace mantel - This fireplace wall was built with three sets of bricks sticking out to support a beam. I purchased a 7 1/2” x 5 1/2” fir for the 104″ beam, which the intention to cover the double upper and single lower bricks. The beam weighed over 100 lbs., and I decided to trim it down to… Continue reading Fir fireplace mantel
First Period interior railings - The owner of the First Period Jonathan Lummus house in Ipswich aske me to make railings similar to the Parson Barnard house in Andover. … Continue reading First Period interior railings
Custom cabinet - This project was delayed because of COVID-related materials availability and prices, but I was happy with how it came out. The lower unit is 16" depth; the upper units are 14" depth. The shelves are 5/4 primed pine, and the counter is 1 1/2" maple with a combination of slate gray and red oak Minwax oil stains, finished with polyurethane. … Continue reading Custom cabinet
Weatherables railings and fence gate - The owners of this house asked me to design something that would make the small back porch more attractive and help hide the propane tank on the left. I installed a combination of matching composite vinyl railings and and picket fence gates from Weatherables. The railings, stair kits and gates come in components with several height and width options, and can be cut to fit the application before assembly.… Continue reading Weatherables railings and fence gate
Exterior stairs - The posts and frame for the landing and stairs are pressure treated and just needed joist hangers under the deck. I replaced the risers with PVC trimboard and the treads with Centurion Paramount PVC decking. In order to get the correct rail heights, I screwed 4" x 4" pressure treated blocks to the tops of the posts and covered the joints with trim.… Continue reading Exterior stairs
Simpson Bungalow doors - These Simpson performance doors are constructed of fir, and the exterior has a thin Medium Density Overlay Water Barrier that provides excellent durability and resists moisture absorption. UltraBlock and Weather Seal technology adds a water-resistant composite block in the bottom of the door stiles… Continue reading Simpson Bungalow doors
custom bookshelves Bookshelves - This bookcase consist of three units, shelves and trim that I made in my shop and assembled on site. The kickboard, casings and crown mold are installed after the units are mounted.… Continue reading Bookshelves
Album display shelves Self-supporting album display shelves - This client requested self-supporting shelves for his collection of unopened vintage record albums.… Continue reading Self-supporting album display shelves
English garden picket fence - The owner of a 17th Century house in Topsfield designed a picket fence and had it constructed several years ago. I made this exact replacement.… Continue reading English garden picket fence
Renovated front porch, Byfield MA Front steps before and after repairs - To restore this front porch I replaced the deteriorated finger-jointed risers, post sleeves and skirts with PVC trim boards; replaced the rotting mahoganey decking with Fiberon Paramont decking; scraped, sanded, primed and painted all surfaces, replaced the post caps and extended the steps.… Continue reading Front steps before and after repairs
John and Alan Perley house, Linebrook Road, Ipswich MA Renovating an old Linebrook house - The Allen Perley house was constructed in 1784. In early 2018 the new owners began an ambitious plan to renovate the interior and I was hired as the carpenter.… Continue reading Renovating an old Linebrook house
Pressure-treated landscape stairs - I built this set of landscape stairs to provide access from the driveway to a finished basement, replacing a rocky temporary path that the owners had been using.… Continue reading Pressure-treated landscape stairs
Custom office - For this custom office I constructed the shelves and desktop to match file cabinets that I purchased. The shelves and frames are pine, and the desktop is birch plywood. … Continue reading Custom office
Table skirts - My client had a tabletop, provided a set of turned legs, and I made the skirt. I set a stop on my radial arm saw and raised the blade to cut a kerf 1/4" deep for the apron brackets.… Continue reading Table skirts
New deck with Fiberon Paramount PVC decking - I build to the DCA-6 Prescriptive Residential Deck Construction Guidelines. This deck has Fiberon Paramount PVC decking, Tiger Claw TC-G Hidden deck fasteners, Royal S4S PVC trimboards and treated railings with black aluminum balusters.… Continue reading New deck with Fiberon Paramount PVC decking
Closet and cabinets for an historic house - I constructed bookshelves, cabinets and a new closet for the1720 Foster Grant house in Ipswich. I salvaged the 4-panel inch-thick doors and refinished them.… Continue reading Closet and cabinets for an historic house
A new side entrance - The owners asked me to design and build a new doorway, deck and stairs that would give them access to the rear yard.… Continue reading A new side entrance
Stairs for a deck - For this 18th Century house in Ipswich I built a set of stairs from the deck to the rear patio. Design and construction meet or exceed the International Building Code and the DCA-6 Prescriptive Deck Construction Guidelines.… Continue reading Stairs for a deck
Garden trellis - I laid out the frames on my bench and installed the lattice and trim with trim-head stainless screws. All surfaces received a coat of oil base exterior primer and two coats of white exterior acrylic paint.The units are mounted to 1 1/4" heavy duty angle iron, painted with white Rustoleum, and driven 3' into the ground.… Continue reading Garden trellis
A more beautiful fireplace - This mid-century home has a small modernist" fireplace with a brick surround, floor to ceiling, and the client contacted me about adding a traditional fireplace surround and mantle.… Continue reading A more beautiful fireplace
Pressure treated deck A deck lost, and rebuilt! - I replaced a 20-year-old deck that had collapsed under the weight of snow due to faulty construction. The frame had been nailed over the siding without flashing, causing damage to the house as well.… Continue reading A deck lost, and rebuilt!
A room with a view - I created this opening to bring light into the living room from the south side. Second-floor weight is supported by the beam and studs, transferred to the center beam in the basement.… Continue reading A room with a view
mudroom A lovely little mudroom - I enlarged a tiny closet into a mudroom by extending it into the porch. A window to the porch provides natural lighting. I built custom cubbies, shelves, and a bench.… Continue reading A lovely little mudroom
Finishing a basement - I converted the unfinished basement doubling the living area of the home. How this is done is crucial in order to prevent mold and water damage. … Continue reading Finishing a basement
Exterior pvc stair trim Replacing rotted woodwork with PVC trim and deckboards - The photos below are a job we did in Beverly in May 2014. The fir porch flooring and pine trim were quite rotted and would not hold paint. We replaced the tongue and groove floor with 5/4 PVC decking, and the pine trim was replaced by pvc trimboards. The new scotia moldng is also PVC. Hidden clips hold the slotted deck boards in place, and color-coded deck screws are used for the leading edges and "picture frame" edging.… Continue reading Replacing rotted woodwork with PVC trim and deckboards
A few decks - A large deck, 3 season porch, and new portico addition on this house in Topsfield; a deck in Richmond, MA shaped like a grand piano; a white cedar deck in Vermont's Northwest Kingdom; a raised deck and walkway around an above-ground swimming pool in Williamstown.… Continue reading A few decks
Renovating an old house - This old house began as a one-room blacksmith's shop. The post and beam construction and low ceilings indicate that it may date to the 18th Century.… Continue reading Renovating an old house
The best storm door - The 4000 series storm doors have mechanical locking tabs hidden in the door frame that are operated by the handle. Simply push the safety button up, allowing the handle to be raised to a vertical position. This disengages the tabs, and the glass or screen panel comes out by simply leaning it toward you. Put the other panel in place, and turn the handle back down to its normal position. You're done-- it takes less than a minute.… Continue reading The best storm door
"Help, my new house is rotting away!" - I receive this cry for help quite often. The old growth pine on the historic houses for which Ipswich is famous is very durable, but much of the finger-jointed farm-grown pine on new houses begins to rot almost as soon as it goes up.… Continue reading "Help, my new house is rotting away!"
The Oscillating Tool: How did I manage without this ? - When they first appeared on the market, I purchased an oscillating blade tool to undercut baseboard toslide new flooring boards underneath rather than pull the baseboards and reinstall. It goes through blades quickly but inexpensive multiple blade packs are available online.… Continue reading The Oscillating Tool: How did I manage without this ?
Using Jointer Pal for jointer knife alignment - I ordered Jointer Pal and a new set of knives, installed them and now I have perfectly smooth boards. Jointer Pal is a simple tool that uses strong magnets to hold the knives in the right position while you tighten the screws.… Continue reading Using Jointer Pal for jointer knife alignment
A few cabinets and shelves - I constructed these cabinets for the owners of an historic house to fit hand-made doors from old cabinets that were removed when the house was being renovated. … Continue reading A few cabinets and shelves
Dust collection in a home shop - Dust collection is important for shop cleanliness as well as protecting our health. While no system is 100% perfect, the assortment of methods shown below that I use in my shop does capture 99% of the dust. A Delta two bag dust collector handles the larger ports, while I use shop vacs for tools with smaller orifices.… Continue reading Dust collection in a home shop
The best paint brushes can last forever - This is a Purdy paint brush I've been using for ten years. The 2 1/2" angled design is perfect for painting straight sharp lines as well as for general usage on medium size surfaces. Purdy is the choice of all professional painters for the quality of their paint brushes -- the bristles do not fray, bend, or fall out and the brush keeps its shape. I prefer their nylon bristle brushes which can be used with any paints.… Continue reading The best paint brushes can last forever
EPA lead paint law - Effective April 22, 2010, remodeling contractors working on residential homes, home day care centers or any other “child-occupied facility” built before 1978 must be certified to perform any work affecting more than 6 square feet of interior or 20 square feet of exterior surface. Failure to comply can generate very serious penalties for contractors and painters.… Continue reading EPA lead paint law
Determining the "hand" of a door - The easiest way to determine the swing of a door is the hinge method. Open the door and stand with your back against the open hinges (not the butt of the hinges). If the door is to your left, it is a left-hand door. If it’s to your right, it’s a right-hand door.… Continue reading Determining the "hand" of a door
Shelves with no visible support - Carefully drill holes for very long 1/2" hex-head bolts, then screw the bolts into the wall. Cut the heads of the bolt off and make sure that they are level and square to the wall. Then drill holes in the back of the shelf board and push it on to the bolts.… Continue reading Shelves with no visible support
Removing walls - Until the late 20th Century homes were usually built with small rooms connected by hallways. People now want more open space, and the entire first floors of homes are often built without doorways between downstairs areas.… Continue reading Removing walls
Andersen Woodwright Architectural windows - This week I’m installing Andersen architectural windows in a house from the 1800’s (as many homes are here on the Massachusetts North Shore. Years ago the owner replaced a few of the windows with Andersen 200 series (available from Home Depot) and installed vinyl window inserts in the others. These three photos show the difference… Continue reading Andersen Woodwright Architectural windows
Remodeling with Andersen exterior trim kits - Andersen offers exterior trim kits for their 400 series Woodwright and Architectural series windows. The pieces are constructed of fibrex in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are designed to snap into the special nailing flanges that are used to secure windows in place. … Continue reading Remodeling with Andersen exterior trim kits
Interior carpentry - Hand-built spiral staircase and rustic rough cut railing in a West Stockbridge guest house. The stairwell was first framed in a circle on top of nailer plates cut from plywood. 1/4″ AC plywood was used to line the inside of the stairwell. A 4×4 Douglas fir post secures the steps at the center.… Continue reading Interior carpentry
Installing Ipe decks - I used Tiger Claw Hidden Deck Fasteners TC-4 Exotic Hardwoods. With the supplied application tool, you pound the sharp teeth of the fasteners into the side of the deck board, then screws the fastener into the joist.… Continue reading Installing Ipe decks
Massachusetts "Stretch" energy code - The stretch code appendix offers a streamlined and cost effective route to achieving approximately 20% to 35% better energy efficiency in new residential buildings, and 20% in new commercial buildings, than is required by the existing base energy code.… Continue reading Massachusetts "Stretch" energy code
Preventing ice dams - In New England when the attic temperature rises above 32 degrees the snow in contact with the shingles begins to melt and trickle down the roof, only to freeze when they reach the colder eaves, and the ice buildup can become thick within a day. … Continue reading Preventing ice dams
Floating locust patio - I picked up some freshly cut locust boards and ran them through my planer, still green and wet, and screwed them to the treated frame, using bar clamps to take out curves. When dry, locust is so hard that it is difficult to work with; my hope was that the boards would stay straight if secured to the frame, and it was an experiment that proved successful.… Continue reading Floating locust patio
New Deck Railings - I built new top and bottom railings in my shop and then installed ¾" x 30" round black balusters attached to internal hidden baluster connectors in the railings, spaced 4 ¾" on center. After all the units were complete, I installed them at the client's location. … Continue reading New Deck Railings
Stairway office - The owner asked me to design and build a desk and shelving that would maximize space and create a comfortable environment.… Continue reading Stairway office
Installing insulated chimneys - Installing an insulated metal chimney in a flat or cathedral ceiling Note: Wood stove must be installed no closer to the wall than specified on the name plate, and in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to do so can cause a fire. A permit and inspection from your town is  required for installation of wood… Continue reading Installing insulated chimneys

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