Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oh, oh...

So I was trying to set the columns into the wall along with installing the "cast iron" balcony railing.  It all has to be done at the same time so everything is set sturdy.  My plan was this:  "dry set" the columns with wood screws drilled through the floor of the balcony at the bottom and through the balcony ceiling at the top. Then I'd measure where the balustrade splats line up (every 1/2 inch) and drill those holes into the balcony floor. 

As you can see by the photo, the balustrades have a rectangular pin at their bottom, so I would need to make a rectangular hole in the floor to accommodate them.  I thought I could accomplish this task by drilling two holes side-by-side and then using a wood gouge to create the rectangular shape.  I then need to mark the point on the columns where the railing hits and drill holes to inset the railing.  I think it is important to do inset the railings into the pillars because I see them snapping out if I just butt-jointed  them against the columns.  Right?

Here's where it gets tricky:  After drilling corresponding holes in the underside of the railing (where the tops of the balustrades fit), I was planning to unscrew the columns, and then glue each column one at a time, reset each screw, glue the balustrades in their pre-made holes, sliding the railings into the column holes as I went along. Repeat with each column.

Sounds like a plan.

Only, I didn't even get past dry setting the columns.  

I bought new 3/4" wood screws for the job, and a new drill bit for pilot holes.  I had a hard time drilling the pilot holes --the pillars are made of some kind of resin and the heat from the friction melts the resin and gums up the bit.  I found that by making short passes with the drill, waiting a few seconds between passes, kept the bit from getting stuck.  I took me about forty-five minutes to un-stick my drill bit and get one hole --one hole!-- drilled!

That Labor of Hercules accomplished, I then tried screwing the first column to the floor and ceiling.  You would think that this wouldn't be too difficult, wouldn't you?  Oh, how wrong you are!  Even with the pilot holes, the column still snapped off at the top!  I was, as they say, "a clean break" and I was able to glue the pieces together with little effort. Catastrophe diverted!

But how do I continue?  I strongly feel that merely gluing the columns in place will not be sufficiently strong enough --but perhaps I am mistaken?  Is there some kind of glue strong enough to hold them in pace without the added back-up of a screw?  I just think that when the center component is lifted out it is only going to be natural to grab onto the columns and start yanking.  And you just know that someone is going to end up with a broken-off column in their hand.

 Speaking of  "clean breaks":  

To make matters worse, my beloved Glen just slipped on the icy sidewalk, broke his ankle (in two places) and will be laid up for several weeks.  Bye-bye, trip to Captiva, next week! 

Did I mention I hate Winter?


Karin Corbin said...[Reply]

No glue, no screws, just loose dowel pins. The columns can't go up and down. If they can't move side to side because of the pin you don't need any glue on the columns or the house.

Very slow speed for drilling plastic is the trick.

John said...[Reply]

I thought about using some type of pin, but how do you keep the columns from spinning if they are not glued in place?

Karin Corbin said...[Reply]

square dowel?

Iris March said...[Reply]

Porticos and colummns always seem to be problematic! I had a similar situation with my Georgian. Fortunately, my columns were wood so I could use screws.

The columns turn into "handles"; I try to use them delicately, but they are just to convenient not to use them. I did anchor them top and bottom.

I like what you are doing and I am learning a lot from you in case I do another Georgian.

John said...[Reply]

Iris, the fact that the columns become "handles" is exactly why I want to reinforce them somehow.

I think I figured out what to do. Now that I have become a "full-time nurse," in addition to my real job, it's all about finding a spare moment to work on the house!

BTW I looked over your website and I have to say I was both delighted and impressed by the sheer scope of your work. I need to get on the ball or I'll never get my first house finished!