Tom Silva Didn’t Mention That

If you have read my prior posts, you will know that I have been grappling with trimming out my not-so-recently installed living room windows. Having posted my shame, I have been determined to finish the project and post the stunning results.

It began well: The Guy offered to help, and I had watched a This Old House video that filled me with confidence. I have a fondness for Tom Silva that borders on worship, and he had shown me the light. With a scribe, my compound miter saw, and a little “elbow grease” I could totally do this.

When I set about measuring my own actual windows, my confidence evaporated. My windows looked nothing like the tidy mock-up in the picture. I was looking at three generations of window frames: the original, the frame for the hideous aluminum insets in the 70’s, then the new wood inset I had installed.

The new window was not flush with either the wall nor the old frame. The old frame was not square. Or plumb.  All versions I created with my cheap pine mock-up boards left a 1/2 inch gap created by the difference in inset between old and new frame. Furthermore, my sill would not be fit  into a recess- which meant it had very little support underneath.

This is what I was up against:

After (I am ashamed to admit) a complete wallowing breakdown where I cast myself as old and helpless and forever living in a partial remodel, I rallied. With the help and moral support of The Guy,  I studied the pictures in a Trim book, measured, and made a plan that included buying a couple random trim pieces to test a solutions to The Gap.

The Guy showed Mother Theresa level patience and kindness at the big box store as I re-figured and second-guessed myself and waffled on options; I did eventually actually buy some hemlock trim. Once home,  we cut sample pieces of the possible gap-fillers. One didn’t end up looking like filler, but like a nice detail around the window. Things were looking up.

I re-watched Tom and figured out how to scribe the sill. Using my jigsaw, I cut the penciled lines and was thrilled like a kid at Christmas when it fit neatly to the wall and window.  The additional piece I bought for under the sill as support also worked and looked like it belonged.

Just when it looked like this task was a one after-nooner, I got to the top of the first window and found that I had another unseemly gap: when you look up, you see an uncovered space behind the trim. The new window is plumb, but the 100+ year old wall is not, so the top of the window is recessed deeper than the bottom.

After much head scratching and a trip to Mr. Plywood, I have a solution. Now I need a new dose of motivation and a free weekend day. Oh – and a rasp. Tom Silva definitely didn’t mention that.