Jamie, my partner, is a self-reliant country boy. Hiring contractors was never the done thing out in the bush; you either did repairs yourself, or you called in a few favours. To be fair, Jamie’s dad is a trained machinist with a workshop full of heavy-duty machinery, so he’s a bit handier than most, but I still feel proud that they can fix and build and cut and weld anything. It’s the best place to be when I’m working on refinishing projects, especially since everyone is so generous with their advice.
There is one major trade-off: time. Home-related tasks, including those related to cars and horses, get done on weekends and evenings. Delays are no big deal, in order to make sure they have the right parts on hand and are doing everything correctly. Each job will take as long as it takes. It is what it is.
Anyway. Our baseboards were one such job that took a few months to get around to doing, and still took 2-3 Saturdays on top of that to finish off.
When we repaired the walls in the spare room, we removed the baseboards because they were badly mismatched around the room. Jamie and his brother decided that milling new ones would be a snap, and of course, the process took a lot longer than I’d imagined. We painted in there, a pretty dark blue-grey, and still no skirting boards.
Well, we ordered the hardwood boards from a sawmill and brought them down to the country property. A lot of Jamie’s dad’s machinery was lost in the 2013 bushfire, but he’s slowly yet surely re-collecting the essentials, including a bunch of woodworking gear. (He’s also rebuilding his work shed, which is why these photos take place in a half-built shed.)
Jamie and his dad like old things — old cars, old furniture, old machines. They believe there’s a level of quality and longevity there that you don’t get out of most modern goods. He has a number of 40+ year old machines that are still in use.
We used this portable woodworking machine to mill the boards, which is a planer and table saw in one. The Junior Joiner! Cute.
They used a piece from one of our old boards to create a template for the new ones. It took a little while to cut all our boards. There was lots of sawdust.
The chamfered profile on these boards matches the architraves and all of the other skirting boards in the house. It’s an angular, unfussy profile, which I like.
I sanded the boards to smooth them out, as the planer blade was a bit blunt and it left an imperfect finish. After that, I stained them in Cabots maple, since I wanted them to match the window architraves in that room. It went on carrot-orange right out of the can, which alarmed me, but as they dried they became a warm light brown.
After the stain dried, the boards got a coat of oil-based satin varnish. I find combined stain/varnish difficult to apply evenly, so I prefer separate applications.
The boards were brought back to ours, where Jamie got to work attaching the new ones to the wall. We deliberately made sure the new ones were a little bit taller than the old ones, so that they’d cover up all the rough, broken edges.
Since the boards didn’t have anything to attach to along the bottom, Jamie nailed in some small (12x12mm) pieces of dressed-all-round that were flush with the wall. Otherwise the boards could tip back into the wall cavity and turn out wonky while the glue set.
(Speaking of wall cavities, here’s something cool that we found in ours: an Australian half-penny, dated 1943.)
Jamie cut the boards to size using a borrowed mitre saw. We have a little hand-powered mitre saw, but we needed something larger for these boards.
Boards installed! They were glued on with Liquid Nails. Jamie tapped in a few actual nails in places where there were gaps between the boards and the walls, and those were removed once the glue dried.
Once everything was dry and settled, I ran a bead of paintable caulk along the top and bottom seams to smooth things out and really leave it looking polished. The caulk matched the stain well! I touched up the spots on the walls where extra caulk had smeared.
(You may notice that I do more of the finishing/finessing jobs. That’s okay with me; I’m neater than Jamie and my hands are less shaky. I do like power tools, but he likes them even more.)
I don’t have any fantastic “AFTER!” photos of the whole room, since this room is still a foosball parlour, but you can still see the new edging peeking through. Hooray, the floor isn’t scary anymore. I’m so grateful that I have people around who know how to do this stuff and are willing to teach me what they know.