Carpentry services

I am a carpenter with 40 years of experience, accepting small carpentry jobs and repairs in the immediate Ipswich, MA area.

  • Fully licensed and insured.
  • Rates: $60/hr. “Not to exceed” estimates are available for contracts
  • Contact gordonharris2@gmail.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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

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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stairway office - The owner asked me to design and build a desk and shelving that would maximize space and create a comfortable environment.
Installing insulated chimneys - Installing an insulated metal chimney in a flat or cathedral ceiling Note: Wood stove must be installed no closer to

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