Reglazing Our Historic Windows

This spring and summer, it’s been all about windows around here. Mike spent several weeks dedicated to reglazing our woodshop sashes so that we can (finally) get those installed. We’ve already replaced the clear plastic over the openings on the south side once – don’t want to do that again! This month I dove headfirst into reglazing a pile of sashes for the cottage my wife and I are working to complete.

The restoration process is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot to do. First, we gently chip out loose glazing with a putty knife, and use an infrared heat gun (a Speedheater Cobra) to soften stubborn bits. Once the glazing is removed, we pry out the glazing points (typically 6 per pane) so that we can lift the glass out of the rabbet. The glass is cleaned with vinegar and a razor blade and set aside. The rabbet for the glass is then scraped clean, and all the paint is removed with the infrared gun and scrapers – both flat and profiled (for molding). Any wood repairs are then done before reglazing.

We do our glazing at a simple easel made of 2x4s so that we can stand while we work. The rabbit is bedded with putty (Sarco Type-M Multiglaze) before the glass is pressed into place. We install glazing points with an old Fletcher driver.

A bead of putty is laid around the perimeter on the glass, and is shaped smooth with a putty knife. The Sarco putty is formulated to dry inside in a matter of days instead of weeks.

So that’s what we’ve been doing over, and over, and over again.

But it’s not bad. It’s quite enjoyable, actually. It’s pretty amazing to me to be able to pick up a pile of 150-year-old wooden sashes for $10 a piece, and invest some time and sweat into them to keep them running for another century. It’s amazing what careful design and execution can do with a few sticks of wood, panes of glass, and putty – it keeps even the severest of Nor’easters from pouring in your house. Pretty impressive craftsmanship.

That’s something worth preserving. 

– Joshua


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