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Thread: Make Wood Windows for old house - good idea?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
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    Fort Worth
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    25

    Make Wood Windows for old house - good idea?

    Hey all,
    I have an old house in a historic district, so windows have to be 100% wood. The existing windows are single pane, not square, don't seal and many are painted and caulked completely shut. We got one guy who we thought could do it, but he turned out to be a flake and never got hard numbers. We just got another quote that was 20k for 14 windows for double pane and dividers/muntins on the tops of most of them. Seemed pretty high to me. The econmy down here for remodel and construction is pretty frisky, so it's hard to get good work out of contractors because there is a ton of demand.
    Up to this point, I've wanted to pay someone to do this work, but for 20k, I'm rethinking. We actually just want to redo a room or two, which was mentioned but not quoted (entire house only)
    I've got construction experience (mostly framing) and some wood working experience, mostly on a CNC router. How hard of a project do you think this would be to take on? My tools are CNC router, bandsaw, miter saw. I would pick up a table saw.

    Thanks in advance for the advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Crystal Lake, IL
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    492
    Quality sash work isn't easy to do, but it isn't hard, either. The devil is in the details to get a window and trim that doesn't look bad, especially on a home in a historic district.

    Only YOU can determine what your skill level is, and what you are capable of taking on. $20K is a number, shot from the hip, from someone who really doesn't want the work. I know a guy who would do a fantastic job of building them for you, but he's in Oregon. Not much help to Texas.

    My suggestion to you is to make one, and see how it goes. You have to find out what wood you're using, and what profiles you want for the muntins, and decide on true divided light vs. applied overlay. You'll learn very quickly what you can and cannot do. If you take your time, and do your research, and apply your skills, you'll be fine.

    What one man do, another can do. Effort separates the wheat from the chaff.
    Jeff

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Fort Worth
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    I was thinking to use the dividers in between panes. I'm thinking the can be made that way from the glass supplier, but not sure. Yes the plan would be to do a couple and see how it goes. Thanks for the advice

  4. #4
    Shoot me a message, I know a great guy outside of huston.

    20k for 14 windows with insulated double panes is not really out of line. Takes a lot of equipment, floor space and quality lumber.

    With the tools you have, you won't get the quality sash a professional can offer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Whidbey Island , Wa.
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    896
    Pony up and pay the price for the windows. The learning curve is to steep, the window building process is tedious , to a framer it will be even more so tedious.

    Just sourcing high quality wood for windows will be a task in and of it self.

    The morticing , the sticking, all require special tooling , or making jigs.

    Your sentence “ Dividers between panes”, tells me you know little about windows except they have glass in them and you’d like to use insulated glass.

    There are companies out there with windows that are designed for historically areas. You’ll pay more for those, BUT you may be stuck with that IF the district you are in is really into preserving the look.

    That in fact may be a place to start, ask the district for a list of people who recently remodeled their homes , OR IF YOU already know of a similar home go knock on their door, explain your dilemma , and most likely those people will talk you ear off about who they used , for good or bad, and you can find the right company or brand window to loom into.


    Building windows as Jeff Heath said isn’t hard , but it IS a steep learning curve.

    G/L what ever you decide. We’re here to help, but I fear you are headed into a huge process with many hurtles.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Fort Worth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Girouard View Post

    There are companies out there with windows that are designed for historically areas. You’ll pay more for those, BUT you may be stuck with that IF the district you are in is really into preserving the look.

    That in fact may be a place to start, ask the district for a list of people who recently remodeled their homes ,
    I haven't found a company that makes 100% wood windows. At our last place we had a couple replaced and they were Milgard. Milgard has discontinued them and they along with many(all as far as I can tell) now offer only partial wood, which I assume is composite with iron on veneer. The windows are on the side of our house. We could probably get away with composite windows, but we would prefer wood windows anyway.

    We have asked around. Both leads came from there. First dude was saying around 500 per which seems cheap. He is a flake. Second dude seems legit but is so busy I think he gave us the "I'm so busy" price. In Texas, people don't seem to open their windows even though there is plenty of good times for it. It will be 72 degrees out and all windows shut and A/Cs running. Hence, they get painted shut. A popular option for our problem is to put a permanent storm window over the in or outside. Better for the energy bill, but not conducive to a functioning window.

    I framed houses for a couple summers, but I've also done a fair amount of remodel work. Most of my career has been machine & product design and most recently I'm running a machine shop. This would be a new area as I've just worked with pre hung windows before. I appreciate the advice. I'm going to try for a couple more quotes in the area and pick up a book (found this recc on the forum: link)

    How many special machines do you need? I figure I can get the edge molding done on the router. I can stand parts up lengthwise to do mortising. Thanks

  7. #7
    I pretty much agree with all. But there is a compromise ,you could have all the parts run on a moulder and make them
    yourself. That's not difficult if the sticking and rabbeting are not "off set". They can be glued then doweled, real easy.
    Use North Eastern white pine and insist all stiles and rails be run "bark side" to exterior. Yeah ,mortise and tenon is
    "better" but most sash are not glued and just pinned with fat nails called pins. So you would be making something better
    than standard. The argument for not not glueing sash is "they are easier to repair" . My argument for gluing is they won't
    need repair. I neglected to say run as "lineal footage"
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 12-02-2018 at 1:54 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKinney, TX
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    1,576
    You might check with Lynn Floyd Architectural Millwork in Frisco. Sorry I don’t have the number handy. He does excellent work and is used to historical construction.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    2,054
    Since you work in a machine shop the joints might seem easy to you. You can do the mortises on a the Bridgeport. Do you have a shaper yet?
    I do not understand why my windows were pine or fir but the brickmold and sill was redwood.
    Bill D.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Whidbey Island , Wa.
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    896
    With todays wood, I would NOT recommend a all wood window. I’d go metal clad on the exterior , or fiberglass clad.

    IF I did build a wood window , which I have done a few replacement window sash , I’d make it out of VG Fir , I’d then coat it with CEPS , and then apply a high quality exterior oil based paint to the exterior side. On the interior it could be stained or painted again with a oil based paint.

    Today’s wood , even VG Fir is NOT the same quality as say 1960 and before.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Fort Worth
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    25
    I can't run wood in my VMC. No dust system. CNC router gets the wood parts. I wouldn't use pine... Just to do a couple, I don't think the wood cost will be much so I'd get hard wood. Local flake dude wanted to use poplar.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Girouard View Post
    With todays wood, I would NOT recommend a all wood window. I’d go metal clad on the exterior , or fiberglass clad.

    IF I did build a wood window , which I have done a few replacement window sash , I’d make it out of VG Fir , I’d then coat it with CEPS , and then apply a high quality exterior oil based paint to the exterior side. On the interior it could be stained or painted again with a oil based paint.

    Today’s wood , even VG Fir is NOT the same quality as say 1960 and before.
    Sugar pine, Sapele, WO, are a few good choices.

    Anderson makes an all wood window, Kolbe may, many companies do.

    Like I said, I know a great guy 70 miles outside of huston.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Girouard View Post
    With todays wood, I would NOT recommend a all wood window. I’d go metal clad on the exterior , or fiberglass clad.
    He can't, it's a historical district where he has to follow strict rules about what can and cannot be used.

  14. #14
    Vertical grain fir is a fine material ,but not for sash. I have made sash of fir and the management made sure to really
    up the price. You lose a lot of it in the "sticking " machining as it splits off. Real NE white pine (Pinus strobus) has proved its worth for sash in North and South since early 19th century. It's modern durability rating is "moderate" ,I've never liked the dipping treatments that are commonly used but solvent based copper naphthalate is good. But I've seen little rot on old NE pine.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Fort Worth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Warner View Post
    Sugar pine, Sapele, WO, are a few good choices.

    Anderson makes an all wood window, Kolbe may, many companies do.

    Like I said, I know a great guy 70 miles outside of huston.

    Anderson:
    "Wood protected by Fibrex® composite exterior"

    Or is it a fiberglass window with wood flair inserts?


    Might be able to get away with it.

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