It certainly wasn't the most important repair of the year, but saving a single small attic window came to be a milestone in the Comstock House restoration project.

It was clear once we looked closely at the quarter-round southeast window that something had to be done without delay. Almost no putty held in the century old glass, and wood on all sides of the spoke was no stronger than wet cardboard. The bottom of the window clung to the sides only by skeins of rot. A child's push could have easily sent any or all of the panes shattering to the ground, or crumbled the window itself. We carefully removed the fragile thing in the autumn of 2006 and placed the fragments on the basement workbench, where they would remain for over a year.

Much of the wood around the joints was so "punky" that we feared steel bracing would be needed to give the window structural integrity. Instead we used a technique appropriate to the period -- drilling in from the sides so wooden dowels could hold the shape together. Now that it was fairly rigid again, consolidants were used to harden the rotted wood. Layers of epoxy, then finally wood putty, slowly built the window back to both original shape and strength. All in all, there were at least 30 work sessions over about fifteen months.

While the results aren't perfect, restoring this worst-case situation has given us valuable experience -- and a measure of confidence for tackling the larger jobs ahead.


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