Enon Hall

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May 10, 2008

Would you believe that we still have framing showing in the addition after all this time?

I have delayed finishing this area under that center hall staircase for a number of reasons:

    1) I have never liked it, but our framer felt that the additional bracing was needed to stiffen up the stairs. In a true Colonial Virginia staircase, there would either be no bracing, or the entire area under the stairs would have been closed in.

    2) I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to finish it...vertical beaded boards...raised panels...?

    3) If I put an access door(s), we could use this area for storage...but for what?

So the 2X4s have remained while I thought it out. Until I stopped thinking about it. Until I no longer even noticed that the studs were there. Until the other day when they screamed out at me. Good grief...I really need to finish that.

I decided to use vertical beaded boards like under the other two staircases in the house and create one door for access. Easy enough. I went to work on it yesterday and it's mostly done, except for a final coat of paint and the hanging of the door. (Need to pick up some appropriate hinges and a clasp.) I'll post an "after" photo once it's all finished.

I was wrapping up my work yesterday and needed to make one last cut in the shop. All I needed to do was cut the corner off a piece of scrap wood that I was going to use as a nailer inside the "cabinet." It always seems to be the very last task of a job that gets me injured. Remember the last nail of the day that I shot into my finger? So I headed up to the shop, picked up a piece of scrap poplar and did something that you're never supposed to do.

Instead of taking five seconds to change the angle of the miter saw (because the cut didn't need to be exact), I simply slapped the piece of poplar onto the cutting surface and held it at an angle to the blade with my hand. I've done this before and gotten away with it. This time I wasn't so lucky. I turned on the saw and brought the blade down to the wood. What came next was so fast that I'm still not sure exactly what happened. There was a loud noise like a gunshot and sudden, excruiating pain in the fingertips of my left hand. All I could think was that I had finally done it. After years of working on the house, I had finally cut my fingers off. And Gay has always said she would divorce me if I ever lost a finger. When I stopped swearing long enough to survey the damage, I found that my fingers were still there...but not pretty. The sawblade had kicked back on the wood, smashing my fingertips between the poplar and cutting surface with more force than any hammer blow.

Gay and William arrived home five minutes later to find me sitting on the kitchen floor with my fingers in ice and my face ashen. The pain was incredible, but eventually passed. My left middle and ring fingers bore the brunt of the damage. Both are grotesquely swollen and deep purple. The flesh on my middle fingertip is split open. I will most likely lose both fingernails.

When you use powertools all the time, it's easy to get over-confident and start doing things that you know you shouldn't. If that scrap of wood had been pine, I probably would have gotten away with making that cut. But the harder poplar kicked away from the blade rather than cutting.

We'll chalk this up to a scary reminder from the power tool gods.

In other news...the perrenial flower bed that Gay planted last year is really gorgeous this spring! -- Bill

May 19, 2008

I finally received the hinges and latch for the door under the staircase. So here's the "after" picture.

I'm not in love with the proportions of it, but it's a lot better than looking at framing. -- Bill

May 23, 2008

A long-lost Hathaway cousin kindly emailed me these two great Enon Hall photos taken during a visit here in 1960. One shot shows the front of the house and the other shows the graveyard.

The photo of the fence is timely since we've been talking about building just such a three-board farm fence.

The cedar on the right of the graveyard gate is the one that fell a couple years ago and took part of the wall with it. Interestingly, it looks like our magnolia hadn't been planted yet in 1960. -- Bill

May 31, 2008

Nine years ago, one of our first, exciting Enon Hall projects was uncovering the long-grown-over front brick walkway leading to the Dutch Colonial.

Well, guess what we're doing again...

Once excavated, maintaining the walk fell in our list of priorities and before we knew it, it had totally disappeared once again.

For the last couple weeks, Gay and I have been spending an hour or so here and there digging it back out. It certainly looks better.

Meanwhile, what the heck is making all of these holes near our screen porch door?

There must be fifty of these one-inch holes in an area that's maybe 10 X 20 feet. Voles? We certainly have voles here, but I've never seen this concentration of holes before. -- Bill

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© 1999- William H. Chapman