Rent Party at Charming House

charming gateWhen a realtor describes a house as charming, we have four words of advice: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! Our house is charming. It is possibly the oldest house in town. The new part was built in 1845 to be the hotel for the railroad when it came through. The last owner was an Irish woodworker. He did some lovely work on the trim. He made a nice back door and beautiful window over the kitchen sink. Why he used single pane glass is beyond me. He restored the hardware to period. He did level the floor in one of the rooms. He made it into one house out of three tiny apartments. (sort of) It still had three electric meters with two wire, knob and tube and old romex to much of the house.

The oil burner was on its last. The old iron pipes to the upstairs bathroom were mostly occluded. The drains weren’t much better, but the switch plates had fairies and waterlilies on them. The wood trim in the kitchen has charming little crosses drilled in it. I have basically replaced the heat system, the plumbing and the electrical service. I am working on rewiring, bit by bit, sorting out the mess. I won’t even start on the shape of the barn. But they say the value of real estate is mainly location. It is a great location.

We were rebuilding the barn to make the ministry and the business more efficient. Then I got sick. That messed everything up. There have been a series of setbacks. Bishop Thomas really wants to see a team of college kids come here to help finish the barn. I don’t know how that is going to happen. Bethann lost her job last summer. We have to pay for Cobra health insurance out of pocket. That takes more than her Unemployment Compensation. We had the court case against the city to keep the ministry going. that put the business on hold and hurt the business. We were both sick around Christmas, so that hurt the business. I was very sick last month, so that hurt the business again. We are on the verge of being able to make some major progress in helping the homeless in Philadelphia, if we had a basic facility there and could be full time working at that, instead of being distracted by the icon business. At the same time, we are on the verge of possibly losing our house, losing our current base of operations, and joining the ranks of the homeless ourselves.

So we are making an appeal.

We are having a rent party this Saturday evening, March 16, starting at 6:30. Since it is Cheesefare Sunday next week, we will be serving vegetarian chili, “Tender Hearted Shepherd’s Pie” (vegan), some cheese and veggies, chips and dip, dessert, etc. The $10 cover charge includes the food and soft drinks. Beer and wine will be available for additional donations. If you want to play an instrument to add to the festivities, please make it unplugged. Kevin Paige is bringing his guitar and his keyboard and his great talents to make music. We are hoping that the Ackers will favor us with some music as well. We are clearing out the furniture, so if you want to dance, you may.

We live at:
27 North Front St.  (in the middle of beautiful downtown)
Souderton, PA 18964

Call or email to let us know if you plan to attend, so we know how much food and drink to prepare.
phone: 267:497-0267  (If you can’t attend, but want to help, you can Paypal gifts to this email. If it is designated as a gift from one Paypal account to another, neither one is charged fees. Thanks! God bless you!)

Here is the link to RSVP on Facebook.

It’s a cheap date for a good cause. We are going to try to have green beer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Hey, I was tickled that the first one to RSVP to say that he was coming was Philly rock legend Kenn Kweder! Please come join the fun.

New Front Door

Well, just three and a half years after I started it, the new front door has been installed. Hopefully, it won’t take me that long to finish the outdoor trim. There were some design changes made prior to, and during, manufacture, from the original design. We decided to abandon the idea of an operable window. There are enough windows that open, already. I also went with matching trim around the window, sanded flush. The three ash panels ended up being three different widths. I should claim some grand asthetic reason for this. The truth is that I goofed when I cut the first panel, so I had to figure out how to salvage the situation, using the remaining materials. I do like the new look, better, though.

Catch Plate
Catch Plate

We also decided to go with reproduction, hammered, black hardware. Bethann and I shopped at Knobs and Knockers at Peddler’s Village on one of my few good days the summer before last and each, independently, selected this lockset. It is a simple two handle, thumb lever latch with a separate deadbolt. They matched the lock to our current key. We ordered 3 heavy duty, 4-1/2″, black, ball-bearing hinges. (Even the store owner’s son was admiring them, when I picked them up.) We remembered to buy a matching black, hammered wreath hook.

Door handle
Door handle

During the course of building this door, I learned how to use many new tools. I have never had access to such an array of tools, or to such a patient teacher.  John Haggerty rescued me more times than I can count on this project. I not only learned how to properly put a door together, but why they are done this way. Don’t ask me to name most of these tools. I only know most of their names “in Elvish” as John says. He interprets pretty well, though.

For this door, I joined and planed the wood myself. John has a widebelt sander where you can feed boards through it to get them to get to a uniform thickness. That was exciting and dusty and loud. After I assembled the door, I routered the inset for the lite. I used a cool corner chisel to clip the corners. I needed to clean up a little smoother and deeper than the router bit would go into the corner, so I used a two handed knobber-do to get out the remaining scraps of wood. I think it’s a rabbet router plane. John will correct me. I will post a photo. I siliconed the insulated glass, laid it in the opening. I fastened purpleheart sticks to hold it in place. Then I sanded the whole door on a big table with a 15′ long sandpaper belt over it, known as a stroke sander. I then trimmed the stiles; those are the uprights on the door. Then I sanded it with ever finer grits with a palm sander.

Wreath Hook
Wreath Hook

I started to varnish the exterior side with water-based Varathane spar varnish and a terrible thing happened. It reacted with the purpleheart. It got gummy and bled gray onto the ash panels. I grabbed a paper towel and tried to get as much of it up as I could. Then I grabbed rags. John grabbed shellac and cut it by 50% with alcohol. I primed the exterior of the door with that. Then I varnished the purpleheart with four coats of Varathane. Then we scraped the ash panels with a rectangular piece of steel with sharpened edges, and varnished the ash panels. I flipped the door over and varnished the interior side with three coats of an interior, water based varnish.

The door is all beautiful. Now comes the scary part: surgery. I learned how to use the knobber-do, otherwise known as a line scribe. For that matter, I learned how to use a mallet and a chisel. At least, I learned how to use it a little bit better. I did end up splitting the front of my door at my lockset recess. You really need to have your wits about you when you are cutting your door for your hardware and understand how things go together. I walked back and forth several times between the shop and our house, measuring doorhandle heights and hinge placement.

New Door ExteriorBefore making any cuts on the opening side of the door, it needed to be beveled. If there is no bevel, it can’t open, or you would have to leave a huge gap. To make the bevel, I got to use the “Awsesome Tool 2″ otherwise known as the electric bevel plane. Set the tool for two degrees. Zip. Zip. And the bevel is done! Kwikset makes a tool for drilling holes for locksets. It is good for just about everyone they make and most of the ones any one else makes. You choose what your backset is for you door handle and your deadbolt are. Set the tool accordingly. tighten it to the door. It is self-centering. You use your 2-1/8″ hole saw from each side of the door and then your 15/16” hole saw through the edge of the door, before removing the jig. Easy as pie!

A door this beautiful needed a mailbox to go with it. From the scraps, I made a mailbox. It is not quite as finely crafted. I had to tell John to not watch at times. I just wanted to get it done. It does the job. I think it is quite beautiful.