Kevin: Today on "This Old House"... Tom: These brand-new clapboards have to match this century-old siding.
Richard: Today we solve the riddle of how to fit a 21st-century duct system into an 18th-century house.
Mark: We're gonna take this 20th-century block and make it look like an 18th-century stone foundation.
♪♪ Man: Got it?
♪♪ Man #2: Ah, that's it.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: Hey, there.
I'm Kevin O'Connor.
And welcome back to "This Old House" and to our 1720s project here in Ipswich, Massachusetts, right along the beautiful Ipswich River.
Now, we are doing everything we can to save and to restore this original gambrel out front.
But at over 300 years old, that poses some challenges.
Fortunately, everything out back is brand-new.
There's a new ell plus living quarters above a garage.
Charlie's team has been busy installing new windows back here.
Kevin: A waterproof membrane went down to protect the roof before shingles are installed.
Inside, Heath's crew has been pulling wires and setting boxes for new electrical service.
And in the garage, Mauro's crew was painting clapboards, which we hope to install today.
Hey, Tommy, Charlie.
Charlie: Hey, Kevin.
Kevin: Clapboards today?
Tom: Clapboards today.
And who knows what else?
Well, look at this.
How old do you think those are?
Tom: Well, some of them are pretty old.
I don't know about original, but pretty old siding, and it all can tell by these joints right here.
You can see how they're scarfed -- basically steep mitered.
Kevin: Oh, yeah.
Tom: Let me show you.
So if you take the siding today, most guys take the siding and they just do two square cuts just like that.
They put it on the wall, they put it together.
And when you put it together, it goes like that.
Tom: But there's no protection or waterproofing behind it.
Kevin: And sometimes you guys put a bead of caulk or a little spline behind that.
So, before the end of this piece gets nailed, you just simply take a piece of felt paper, put it behind it like that, put a little bead of caulking on top of that, and then that joint is now watertight.
So when the house moves, this joint opens and closes, the water won't go in it.
But it's important that that piece of felt paper that came on the wall rest on top of this siding and you just cut off the piece that's hanging down.
Kevin: So, that's today.
This represents back then?
Tom: Well, no, if you wanted to, you could also scarf the joint.
So the two miters go together and you have a scarf joint.
Tom: Not as steep as they would have done it years ago.
They did that by hand.
But you'll still get a joint that basically is tighter.
You'd do the same thing -- before nails, you put a spline behind it, let it run down on top of the clapboard below, you'd caulk the joint and put it together.
So now what happens, as the building moves with temperatures and conditions, the joint opens up, but you can't see through it.
It's still nice and tight.
Still some overlap.
And so, you know all of this because you were installing this stuff back then in 1700, right?
Tom: Well, not the 1700s, but almost.
Kevin: Alright, so -- Tom: The other thing you want to notice... Kevin: Oh, hey.
Now, just hold on, gabby.
Kevin: [ Laughs ] Tom: Alright.
The reveal up here is 4 inches, 4 inches, 4 inches, which is pretty common.
Tom: But as you come down, you see how they start getting narrower?
Kevin: So the reveal gets smaller.
Tom: But then you can see that they're wider right here.
That tells me that these have been replaced.
Tom: But you only do this on the side where there's an eave or a gutter side.
Tom: Water coming off the roof when it's raining comes down and splashes up.
And when it splashes up, it gets up under and in behind the siding.
Once it gets behind the siding, it's gonna rot.
Kevin: So you're saying if you've got a regular reveal, you've got all of this part of the clapboard exposed.
Tom: Yeah, look at how little overlap you have.
Kevin: But then when you close down that exposure to something like 2 inches, you got a lot more meat, doubled up.
Tom: You got a lot more meat and you got a lot more coverage right here.
So if any water gets in a joint, it's gonna run out on top of this one and out.
Kevin: So it sounds like they did it right back in the day.
But back in the day was a long time ago.
I mean, this house is buried in the dirt and we got water coming down.
Are we hopeful that this has done what it's supposed to do, or...?
Charlie: Well, you know, Bill and Helen want to save as much of the original wood as we can.
Boards, beams, everything.
But on this corner board over here that we had to replace, what did we discover behind it?
Kevin: Yeah, this is ominous here, right?
Charlie: Nothing to nail into.
There's a lot of problems here, but guess where it started.
See where the claps are?
Corner board would have been here.
There's no spline or anything.
So water failure getting in between all this over the many, many, many years started the rot.
Plus, when we got here, the dirt was really up to here from over the years, all the buildup from the street and everything.
So we pulled all the dirt away to get access to the sill.
Now, the building code today says that we need to be 8 inches from the dirt below any wood contact.
So that would lessen the chance.
But with the dirt right here, it's gonna rot it.
It doesn't feel good.
[ Tapping ] It sounds punky.
Tom: But hopefully, the sill is okay.
But we won't find out until we remove some of the siding.
Kevin: Starts with a little bit of demo.
Tom: Right, but like Charlie said, we want -- the homeowner would like to save as much of this as possible.
Let's get to work.
I'll throw in.
Tom: Look at that.
See, that's an old cut nail.
♪♪ ♪♪ So, now look here.
We've got the butt joint, so this has been a replacement.
As I come down right here, you can see that scarf joint.
If I pull that out, look at how steep the angle of that is.
And you can see that there's moisture in the clapboard right here, but it stops.
So it didn't travel all the way into that joint, keeping it watertight.
Kevin: And so, how do you think he made that cut back in the day, Tommy?
Tom: That's a good 60-degree cut and that's nice and smooth.
So he probably did this with a hand plane.
♪♪ Tom: Alright, so, look at this joint right here.
This is definitely the original sheathing to the house.
And they hand-cut opposing rabbeted joints.
This one went in and up, and this one comes down and in and then up.
So, the old Yankees tried to air seal and water flash all with one cut.
Charlie: You know what?
It's not as bad as I thought.
Tom: No, it isn't as bad as you thought.
I mean, 1720.
[ Chuckles ] Kevin: So, what do you think we got to do to fix it?
Tom: Well, what I want to do is I want to cut out a section of this sill.
I don't want to replace the whole thing, because it's really solid in here.
But I want to replace a little bit of it so we have more meat right here and a filler.
Also, if I look, I want to replace maybe the bottom or Matt patch in a piece right here.
These -- These are basically studs in the wall.
Look at it -- not touching anything.
So structurally, these are not carrying any load, but they have to be connected.
Then we're gonna see what we can do, what we need to do with this corner.
I may remove this board, this patch that's already done, and see if we need to redo it.
Kevin: And then once we've got that structure and sill replaced, we can start sheathing it again?
I also want to -- Kevin: Start weaving in...?
Tom: Yeah, but I also want to fill back under here with some mortar, patch that back in, keep the dirt away.
And then we'll patch it back in with some of the old board if we can, but some pressure-treated lumber and then siding.
Well, we got a little bit of work ahead of us.
Charlie: And these boards are rotted here, so we're gonna actually weave these clapboards back and just replace what we need to.
Tom: Save what we can save.
Kevin: Back to it.
♪♪ ♪♪ Richard: This house was already 202 years old when the very first air conditioning system was installed in a theater in Los Angeles.
Now, the homeowners would like to have air conditioning, good air conditioning, and better heating than just fireplaces.
And in a First Period house like this, adding the mechanicals is really a conundrum wrapped in a puzzle.
Now, the old part of the building is really hard to run the ductwork.
Here in the new part, it's not much easier.
We're sitting in the kitchen.
Now, we're right above the basement that is finished, and it has pretty low headroom as it is.
And there's a fair amount of structure, so we can't come over this way.
Look up above us.
This wants to be left wide open, not an attic.
So there's no room to hide the ductwork here.
We've got glass on this side, glass on this side, and no real way to run the ductwork coming up and down.
But there is one place.
Look at this.
We're gonna find a place to hide our trunk right in here.
So here it comes, right here.
This is an oval duct.
It'll be our full supply for this zone of our mini-duct system.
So, in the original pantry right here, we needed to get our ductwork to upstairs into this building.
So Charlie dug out all the rubble underneath these old joists, original joists.
Here you can see that oval duct again right here, coming along.
We also ran our drain lines for the bathroom.
And you can see right here, we were able to hide them both inside this padded wall.
Not much space.
So, up here in the original bedroom, you can see that our trunks have run up here to this future bathroom.
James: Hey, Richard.
Richard: James is handling all of our HVAC this time.
James: So, the last part of the piece of the puzzle is these sound attenuators.
Each one is gonna have its own branch, and it has this cloth core right here that actually allows the aspiration and keeps the system nice and quiet.
Richard: That's right.
James: So we'll only have a couple of these per each room and one central return for the entire system.
Richard: So you don't need individual returns.
Now, we've used these before, but this house is really a perfect candidate.
So, you got your trunks in, and now we just got to get the last mile.
James: So, we already cut in all the takeoffs to the main trunks here.
So now all we have to do is take our sound attenuator tubing and then it interlocks here together.
So once this clicks in, we're good to go with that, and then seal it up with tape so you don't get any air loss.
Richard: Now, the science of this system couldn't be more straightforward.
You just need the right number of attenuators, outlets to match the load of the building.
Now, typically, that's what?
One for every 10x12 area, about?
James: Exactly, Richard.
And then depends what you want to see in the room.
You can get pretty much any species of wood and then you can stain them to match.
They can be painted, whatever you want.
Richard: And really disappear.
Richard: Now, we were talking earlier about doing one more cool thing that we've done before.
We've taken some of the old boards and trimmed them in, and we could actually take the attenuator, paint it black, and then mount it behind and then drill at an angle to make it look like an old knot and just use a wrap so that it would be quiet comfort you just don't see.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: Hey, Mark.
Mark: Hey, Kevin.
Kevin: What do you got going on over here?
Mark: Alright, so what we have is an old door opening, and we want to make it go away.
Kevin: So, a bulkhead door.
At some point, they put it in.
They closed it up for obvious reasons.
And the homeowners are like, "We don't want to see this."
We want to dress this up, make it look like rubble-stone foundation all the way around.
But luckily for us, we have enough stone on this site here to mimic what we want to do.
We're not gonna build it exactly the same way, but we do have a solution, which is stone veneer.
Mark: I'm first gonna take a stone just like this.
What I'm gonna do is cut that in half.
I have a modified mortar that I'm gonna use that's gonna help me stick that stone to this wall.
And the most important thing I'm gonna do, Kevin, is mimic the work behind me.
Kevin: So, it starts with a cut.
Mark: That's right.
All I'm gonna do is turn it on, pull the saw down, push the table forward, and just walk my stone back and forth.
This blade will heat up pretty quickly, and then it starts to cut a little erratically.
So to avoid that, again, you'll see me kind of pull down, push, pull down, push, and just get through the stone as fast as I can.
Mark: Look at that.
That is awe-- That's smooth as glass, right there.
You throw the mortar on that, throw it up against the block wall, wait a couple of minutes, it'll stick, next stone.
Kevin: So this is more of a base that you're starting with, Mark, 'cause that's not a veneer.
Mark: That's right.
So, what I'm doing down here is I'm mimicking the bottom stones that I have on the wall.
Kevin: Which are kicked out a little bit.
Mark: That's right, and you can start to see where the small stones start to come up as you climb the wall.
Mark: So this particular stone might go somewhere in here.
Then taper it back up.
Mark: We'll taper it back up.
But again, we're just trying to mimic these base stones.
Kevin: You see something you like around here, I'll go get it for you.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: What size you looking for now, Mark?
Mark: Basically, these softballs and soccer balls.
Kevin: So, that's one of our first veneers.
Mark: This is one of the first veneer stones.
I'm gonna go right there with it, wiggle it in place.
Kevin: I got another veneer guy here.
Mark: Oh, I like that better, actually.
Kevin: Look at that.
You didn't cut that or anything.
And we're gonna scrape all these joints down with a stick.
That'll give it a certain texture.
Mother Nature will take over in a few years.
This will look exactly like everything to my left.
Kevin: Very cool.
I'm seeing a lot of artists on the jobsite today.
Thank you, Mark.
Mark: Alright, Kevin.
Mark: You got it.
Kevin: Our 1720s timber frame home has got several telltale signs about its age, like this summer beam right here.
This is all rough, so that probably would have been hidden.
And then you've got the gunstock post here in the corner.
Smooth face, decorative bead, so that was probably exposed.
Well, we've got another one of these that will be exposed, but it's damaged.
So we've called in a specialist to give us a hand.
Nice to see you again.
Matt: Hey, Kevin.
How are you?
Kevin: I'm doing alright.
So, you've helped us out in the past -- that beautiful newel post you turned for us and some other things.
Matt: Thank you.
Kevin: And as a preservation carpenter in Ipswich, you are the man.
You see a lot of this stuff.
Matt: We do.
I've worked on several houses in the area, and you see a lot of the old details, which is very exciting and it's fun to look at.
Kevin: Well, we're glad you're gonna help us with these details.
And can you explain this idea, the name and the reason behind the gunstock post?
So, the gun stock post, in its basic form, it's a timber frame post, narrow at the bottom, flared at the top, similar to the shape of a gunstock of a rifle.
Kevin: So the butt of the gun back here has got that flare.
And the reason for that has to do with the joint up here.
This is called an English tying joint, and it connects the post, the top plate and the tie beam.
Kevin: So, if I understand this correctly, we've got a top plate right here going this way.
And then this is the tie beam going this way, which sits on top of it.
Kevin: And that means that we need to have a tenon coming out on this side up to the top plate and then a second tenon to grab the tie beam.
So it's actually got a lot of function to it.
Matt: It does.
It's a fairly complex joint.
Well, you're here to help us with a little bit of a fix.
What was the problem?
Matt: Yeah, this -- this quirk bead was split out.
Some kind of damage.
Maybe something hit it.
Big chunk taken out of it.
What I did -- cut out the damaged area.
Glued in a new piece of Eastern white pine -- same species.
I let the glue dry, and we're ready to start shaping it.
So, the first thing, we'll just kind of clean off the glue a little bit.
Now that we got the glue cleaned up, we're gonna take the smoothing plane.
We're gonna plane this flush with the side of the post.
Kevin: She removes quite a bit of material.
Matt: It does.
If you set it pretty aggressive, it'll cut it pretty quick.
Now, as I get close to the finish, I'll pull the blade back, a little more refined, and really dial it in so it's nice and flush.
Kevin: And that's the same way they would have been doing it 300 years ago.
They'd do this before they put the building up.
They'd take the hand plane and smooth these timbers out, put the detail on, and then put the whole frame up.
Kevin: And it looks like the old-timer actually left you his old plane, too.
[ Both laugh ] Matt: He did.
Sometimes, the old tools are just as good or better than the new ones.
So, I'll give that to you.
And now I'm just gonna refine it and get it nice and flush with a more refined hand plane.
Matt: It's a little more thin shavings.
Kevin: Let's see one of those.
It's actually translucent.
Matt: I think we're ready for a -- ready for the bead.
Do me a favor?
Mind grabbing that beading plane right there?
Kevin: So, this is the one you're gonna use for that.
So, profiles right there that we're looking at, and there's your blade right there.
That's gonna make the cut.
Matt: So, it's called a wooden molding plane.
This one is a bead, comes in a variety of sizes.
And that's how they made moldings before machinery.
This plane fits pretty nicely to the bead on our post.
So we'll use that to shape our new piece of wood.
Kevin: I definitely want to see that happen.
Matt: Alright, here we go.
So, we usually start at the top.
I'm gonna kind of work my way down the piece.
Kevin: Matt, I would have started at the bottom and worked my way up.
Why did you work at the top down?
Matt: Yeah, so, the reason for that, we'd like to establish that quirk.
It gives the plane a little, little track to ride in.
Kevin: And then once you've got the track, now you can go up and down.
Matt: Then off you go.
Kevin: Like that?
Matt: Yeah, right now it's pretty good to go.
Probably a little bit of sandpaper.
We could take some of that fuzz off.
But at this point, it's shaped.
Matt: It's matching the -- matching the post.
Kevin: Shape and match for sure.
I mean, look at that.
That is just sort of uniform.
Kevin: So, when you're working with the homeowners, how do you typically dress it up in terms of the look?
Because this is obviously such an apparent patch.
Matt: Right, right.
So, there's two options you could do.
You could just leave it and show off the repair.
You know, say it's part of the history, which is one great option.
Matt: Another one is to try and stain it the match.
We'll do that a lot on doors that we patch, things like that.
So, I believe -- I believe in this case we're gonna stain it to match.
So, sand around, stain, bring it all one.
Matt: So that might get a little darker than the side.
Well, great lessons, Matt.
Always good to have you back.
Thank you for the help.
Matt: Thank you.
I appreciate it.
Kevin: And some real artistry there.
Matt: Of course.
♪♪ Kevin: Alright.
A couple claps here.
The sun's down.
The work lights are on.
You guys haven't gotten this wall done yet?
Charlie: Somebody was gonna help us a little while ago and left.
Kevin: I was working with the artists, the stonemasons, the carpenters... Tom: Working?
Kevin: [ Clears throat ] Alright, so... Looks like you guys have patched the wall, the corners, the sill.
You got the paper up.
Tom: 15-pound felt paper.
Kevin: Oh, you got the lines, too.
Look at that -- they go from short reveals to wider.
How did you get that?
Tom: I basically took the reveal that we have on the wall right here up top, the one that's common all the way up, And I marked it on a story pole, right here.
Kevin: So those are all equal.
Tom: Those are all equal.
But I want it graduated.
So what I did is I picked a point up here and I put an "X" on this.
I take a piece of siding, a scrap piece -- Kevin: Here, I got one here.
Tom: Alright, good.
Put it on this piece right here, right on top.
Kevin: Up there?
So, it's flush right there.
Tom: The reason I have an "X" is because that line represents the "X" on the other end at the same row.
No, on my story pole, I have an "X."
The top line right there goes to that piece.
Kevin: Right there.
Tom: Okay, so now all I do is I take this piece that's bendable and I put it on the top of this piece.
And now, because it's bending and it comes up the wall, all of my marks will graduate in the radius of the circle.
And then I do the same thing on the other end, and I snap my lines, and that's our coursing for this row.
Kevin: So, lines are snapped, we just hit the top of each one of those, and we're off to the races?
Well, the moon's rising.
We got to get to work.
So we already have our felt paper bent around, and it's flashed on top of one another as it goes up.
So this corner will be watertight.
Now, I want to watertight the seam, or the joint between the siding and the transition in the inside corner here.
So I'm gonna back-caulk it by just putting a bead of caulking right down there, and I'm gonna seal this corner.
So now we take our siding, we pick it up, we put the top of the clapboard on our line.
And we're going to place our nails about 2 inches up from the bottom of the clapboard.
Alright, here's another one.
I'll cut a few more.
♪♪ Kevin: Well, you can really see that graduation, Tommy, from the narrow to the slowly wider.
So, it's thicker down here.
It's really protecting this lower part of the house, and the sill will never rot when you do that.
Kevin: And it looks like the homeowners have settled on a color, right?
Charlie: What do you think?
Kevin: You know, I'm kind of partial to orange.
Or strawberry blond, whichever.
[ Laughter ] Kevin: Alright, so, what do we got coming up next time?
Charlie: We're gonna be putting up a boathouse where the old barn was.
Kevin: Ooh, a boathouse on the river.
Tom: Oh, I like that.
Kevin: Alright, well, until then, I'm Kevin O'Connor.
Tom: I'm Tom Silva.
Charlie: And I'm Charlie Silva.
Kevin: ...for "This Old House" here in Ipswich.
Tom: Alright, let's go.
A few more before the sun comes up.
Charlie: Watch this.
Tom: Get this done.
♪♪ Kevin: Next time on "This Old House"...
These beautiful lanterns are made right here in this New England shop, the old-fashioned way -- by hand.
Jenn: With water restrictions here in Ipswich, we've got to figure out a way to collect rainwater.
Tom: This house -- 10 months to renovate.
The boathouse -- one day, and it's up.
Kevin: Will you guys have the roof up for us today, too?
Man: Yeah, today we'll have the roof up.
Everything will be all sheathed in and dry.