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This Old Crack House


This Old Crack House

Votes: 13
Site: This Old Crack House
Project: Complete renovation of former drug haven
Medium: Blog
About: We all have skeletons in our closets and crap to deal with, but Gary has the real thing! Little mouse skeletons from days of old and pounds of raccoon and pigeon poop covering the insulation in the attic – these are just a couple of the many obstacles he must overcome as he endeavors to turn a crack house into a family home.

With a terrific sense of humor and unwavering enthusiasm for the work that must be done, Gary, or should we call him Black Jack Shellac, is taking a grand old house from disastrous to desirable. At 6900 square feet of living space (if you include the third floor and the basement) it’s a massive project! With his 1909 edition of ‘Household Hints and Discoveries’ at his side, Gary is stripping, refinishing, tiling, plumbing, patching, caulking, plastering, painting and shellacking his way through one square foot at a time.

Shellac Is Your Friend

Extolling the virtues of Shellac seems to be one of his favorite things to do. Through trial and error and lots of testing, Gary has discovered that in order to give woodwork a finish with depth, and in the case of new wood, the appearance of age, shellac is the best route to take. The proof is in the results. Just one look at the floors, doors and window frames he’s completed, and you know he speaks the truth. In places where he’s had no choice but to use new wood, he’s done an amazing job of making that new wood look like it’s original to the house. Judging by some of the comments he’s received, it looks like he’s managed to convert a significant amount of his blog’s readers over to this method of finishing as well.

Can You Say Big And Beautiful?

An amazingly huge and beautiful bathroom is emerging from humble beginnings. A lot of time and effort has gone into its creation. The plumbing alone (Gary’s nemesis) would have been enough to send some people running, but then there’s the tile work! (see post from July 14, 2005) Gary made a concrete counter top for the bathroom vanity as well as a hearth for the fireplace. (see post from August 28, 2005) (Yes, one of the many fireplaces in this house is in the second floor bathroom.) He made small concrete prototypes (see posts from August 18 & 22, 2005) to test the colors and textures before committing to the full-size final products. (see posts from August 25 & 28, 2005 and September 4, 6 & 8, 2005) For those adventurous people who would like to try this on their own, Gary has been kind enough to provide the names of two books that he used to perfect his technique.

Necessity Is The Mother of Invention

He may not have invented bondo, but he sure came up with an inventive way to use it! To avoid the expense of replacement windows it was necessary to make repairs on the existing ones. Where others would have taken one look at what he had to work with and given in to the window salesmen, Gary used his head, some scrap wood, a screw and some bondo to repair an old window sash. The results are incredible!

(see the following posts from January 2006)

Window Repair 101 Part One January 12, 2006
Window Repair 101 Part Two January 12, 2006
Window Repair 101 Part Three January 31, 2006

For the DIY enthusiast this blog is an excellent source of information and inspiration. And for those who enjoy a good comedy, this is a must read. We truly appreciate the combination – if you can’t laugh while your remodeling, renovating and restoring then what’s the point!


keep it up! the blog is
keep it up! the blog is clever, on point, and very funny!
Awesome House Blog
Youve got my vote! Good Luck!
Good luck with your
Good luck with your renovation

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