A Day of (Not All Good) Discoveries

1Garage-overallFollowing a couple recent hard freezes, I figured most of the wasps and spiders would be dead (I was right about the wasps), so it was time to face the wee beasties in the top of my garage and clean out the many bits of wood, old galvanized pipe, rusted metal mesh and sundry other bits. I had some vestigial hope that the handrail was lurking somewhere under the crap.

It was not.

But I found some other nifty stuff. (And some less-than-nifty stuff.)

December 27, 1952.

December 27, 1952.

The newspaper above (which pretty much crumbled under a light touch) was wrapped around some mysterious lengths of wood with slots and measurements on them, likely to protect hands from the many thin nails poking through.

Most of the marked sticks are joined at one end with a hinge, and two have shorter pieces hinged to them about 12″ up from the bottom…or down from the top. Below is a picture of them, as well as a close-up. Anyone know what these are?

Hinged sticks, with slots, measurements and nails.

Hinged sticks, with slots, measurements and nails.



Also kind of cool is what I’m guessing is a 1940s-era X-frame; I’ll bet there were two at some point. What I like is the bridle joint and clinched nails. I have no use for this thing…but I’ll keep it.

X-frame for...?

X-frame for…?

I also uncovered lots of what appears to be original trim work from the house, including fluted door and window casing, and door and window caps almost entirely intact and in good shape. Unfortunately, much of it is painted, but I’ll be able to strip it, refinish, then replace the not-original trim from where it’s missing.

Door and window caps, along with a lot of base moulding pieces.

Door and window trim, along with a lot of base moulding pieces.

But perhaps most delightful to discover is what appears to be the entire casing for the pocket doors that once led from the front hall into the adjacent living room. While I can’t put doors back (there are now HVAC ducts in those walls), I might be able to re-frame the opening, and I won’t even have to refinish the trim – though I’ll clean off the dirt.

Likely the casings for pocket doors.

Likely the casings for pocket doors. (Also, an old enameled bowl, peeking out from behind.)

But then…

After climbing around in the space for about two hours and sorting the “keep” pile from the (much larger) “toss” pile, I got down to the bottom layer.


Lift with caution.

“Oh – cool door!” I thought. “I wonder if that might be from the original kitch….AAAIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!”

Unexpected guests.

Unexpected tenants.

I’m told those are carpenter ants. I can tell you that whatever they are, they make a loud and harrowing clicky-clacky sound when disturbed, and that it’s a very bad idea to be atop a ladder when one finds them.

After recovering from my shock and revulsion, I flipped over every remaining piece of wood in the space (using a 10′ or better pole), then set off a couple foggers.

I have hopes that, because there are no walls in the space to block its spread, the killing fog will do the trick. And when, like my handrail hopes, those are dashed, I’ll call the exterminator.


About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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23 Responses to A Day of (Not All Good) Discoveries

  1. Steve Southwood says:

    I think the frame you found is an old quilting frame. I have seen some around here in Southern Indiana like those

    • fitz says:

      The curious marked and spiky sticks appear to be a “Maid of Honor Lace Curtain Stretcher.” You pointed me in the right direction — thanks!

  2. PYDOG says:

    No doubt. That is an adjustable lace curtain stretcher. The curtain is first washed, then soaked in a starch solution and then stretched on the pins to dry–a long and tortuous process that my Mother repeated each Spring.

  3. To me the frame looks like a quilting frame also (at least it looks like one I won in an auction that was described as a “quilting frame”). Megan, you really ought to keep an in depth chronicle of your remodeling adventures (and mis-adventures) with thoughts of publishing in book form!

  4. sswantee says:

    I fend off an invasion of carpenter ants almost every summer from my shop and house…there are a zillion chemicals available to kill them but the best I have found is a couple of plastic bottles of diatomacious earth powder. A sprinkle around the outside of the shop and around the house foundation will kill and fend off the little bastards. I find once they are established it will take a week or so for it to take effect, but it will get rid of them. I usually reapply after a month or so just to remind them.

  5. Paul says:

    My Grandmothers quilt frame in my garage attic looks like the picture. Her and the ladies of the WSCS tied a ton of quilts for missions. I enjoyed reading of your “wood hunt”
    I ll keep riding along and reading.
    Paul Smith
    Humboldt KS.

  6. Paul Sidener says:

    At least you found the funny page. Carpenter ants aren’t hard to get rid of. They like wet rotten wood. Cleaning out the wood pile will make it easier to get rid of them, you are half way to eliminating the problem. I like the moulding.

  7. John Wolf says:

    After tearing up the carpet and pad in my dining room, then the tar paper, craft paper, and Masonite, I got to read about most of the election in which Herbert Hoover became president in the half inch layer of the Flint Journal that had been used as insulation. There was also a sign way up in the top of the barn patching a hole that read “Anyone but Hoover”. Amazing what one finds.

  8. Beautiful casings? Care to guess what work like that would co$t today?

    • fitz says:

      I don’t know…but I’m guessing it’s enough to justify buying a half-set of hollows and rounds, and a fluting plane. And if it’s not, I don’t want to know.

  9. You are indeed lucky. Nowadays most folks would toss old molding. Of course, most of the new stuff is only worth that.

  10. cstandley2014 says:

    I don’t know what an X-frame is, but that looks like a cavaletti. Did someone have horses on the property?

    • fitz says:

      Probably not – or if they did, they’d have been kept at a livery. All the houses around me were also built at the turn of the 20th century, and there is little land. (It would have to be an awfully skinny horse – you can’t tell from my picture, but that thing is only about 30″ wide.)

  11. nateharold says:

    Great find on all the wood trim!

    I did a similar garage cleanout but it was only cardboard boxes… and a rat who jumped out of a box directly at me. My wife thought a little girl had been injured, but it was her husband who’d screamed.

  12. ctregan says:

    your keeping the paint scheme right?

  13. Ewww. Bugs are the worst. The trim and other finds will make it worth it once heebie jeebies wear off.

    Also, that X frame might make a great base for an outdoor picnic table. Maybe. I can’t really get a full feel for it from the picture.

    It’s looking good though.

  14. Norb Kelly says:

    Carpenter Ants, Got to find the queen or they will just find another haunt. My shop wasn’t 8 months old and they were in the walls. I had a quart of the old Diazinon and that did them in. Stuff is banned now.
    Lucky find on the trim!

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