The Plane Truth

As many of you have probably noticed, wood has done what alchemists have been trying to do to lead for centuries, turn into gold. The lumber that I was using for door casings and base boards is now almost $60 for an 8′ board which just makes me dizzy! Well, I do have an untapped resource in the form of all that manky lumber that I saved in the basement. It’s covered in old paint, cat pee and schmutz whose origin I don’t really wish to know.

These two boards are a good example with plenty of paint and nail holes to make life interesting. To fix this, we have the beast.

This thickness planer showed up as a surprise anniversary gift from Katie. It’s kinda loud and scary but works great at smoothing down the old 1″ thick boards. I’ve set it up on my miter saw stand so that I can use the supports of the stand to keep the boards running through the machine without binding. The stand was also paid for long ago so it suits my budget just fine. Once set up, the planer cleaned up the first batch of boards with ease.

The old nail holes will have to be filled but that’s not a bad tradeoff considering that the lumber was free. Besides, it’s kinda cool to keep the old lumber in the hotel.

Speaking of nails, the planer hates them. Any bit of metal in the wood, no matter how tiny, will nick the planer blades. Once this happens, the blades will leave raised lines in the boards which will need to be sanded out later. To prevent this, I have a metal detecting wand that I run over the board before planing. Then, I either dig out the nails or cut around them before planing.

The other challenge is the wood shavings. Without a dust collecting system, the planer shoots the shavings over 10′ out the back which is not optimal. Of course, almost everything can be resolved with a bit of Googling. In this case, it led me to the device below which catches the shavings and drops them in a bucket.

I think it catches about 95% but one board will fill that bucket so perhaps I should install it on a 50 gallon trash can instead.

Meanwhile, other elements of the hotel are progressing. For a long time, the top kitchen cabinets have not had glass in the doors that were made to be glazed. The cabinet manufacturer had quoted $1000 to install glass in the factory which caused my middle finger to twitch most dramatically. I know, in fact, that glass is not difficult to work with so we went with the DIY route. The glass we used was salvaged from a bunch of framed pictures from an architectural office and the clips holding it in place were about $10 on Amazon.

Now, with the glass in, we were able to start the fun part.

The bottles were from my collection that had been in boxes for many years and we had lots of fun rediscovering all the pretties. I installed LED light ribbons between the front and back rows of bottles and used museum wax to secure the bottles in place. Some of the bottles in the back row were too short so we used museum wax to secure them on top of inverted whiskey glasses to make them taller.

Keeping up with our love of glass, Katie is also working on the stained glass for the transoms.

Since we have a lot of transoms to complete, we’ve dedicated the hobby room to the project. We found a second hand drafting table to work on and dug out all the old glass tools from the past. Katie and I both dabbled in stained glass when we were in school so we were able to avoid a lot of start up cost by using the tools that we had been storing for years. I also repurposed an old armoire into a glass storage cabinet.

The last project that we are working on is the lighting in the saloon. Currently, the 6 ceiling lamps are modern sugar bowl shaped things that I installed as a place holder until I could build some antique fixtures. In the basement, I have a set of 18″ diameter milk glass shades which I had intended to use but after a few trips to Virginia City, our desires changed. Most of the saloons are decorated with kerosene lamps so that’s the way we will go.

We have five of the type on the right with the hanging crystals to go with them. Some of them are wired for electricity and some I will need to wire myself. Now that many of you are gasping in horror, I must reassure you that I do not drill holes in these things. I just get really creative with hiding wires and light sockets. Of course, the wiring is the easy part. Getting them up on the 12′ ceiling will be a trick but that’s another post.

Author: Glenn

I'm a 5' 8" tall ape descendant with an interior design degree and a love for antiques and vintage architecture. I recently escaped from the IT world to follow my dreams and a beautiful damsel who shares my love of old buildings no matter how much dust is involved.