joinery on old windows


Hello. I have a question about joinery. I'm not a woodworker by any means, but I'm working on a project to repair all the windows in my house. They're over 100 years old. I have yet to finish my first window since I'm taking it slow and trying to get it right.
Anyway, the sash frames have mortise and tenon joints. These are in really bad shape in some places. Some of the mortises are rotten, and one of the tenons is open in the bottom. I'm not skilled enough to repair them properly (a book on repairing old windows suggests using a special wood epoxy to build up the bad spots). I've tried just putting them all back together, but the whole thing is out of square.

and use epoxy to fill in the tenons and build up the frame. Then, join them with few dowels and a little glue.
What do you think? Will this work? I'm mostly concerned about functionality, but I also have a soft spot for historical accuracy. However, it seems like the easiest method for someone as unskilled as myself.
I would really appreciate any opinions on this.
Thanks, Joseph
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I wouldn't put much faith in that sort of repair. If you really want to repair the damaged sashes, sacrifice several sashes and use pieces and parts of the salvaged sashes to repair others. Order replacement sashes for the ones you salvaged. Replacement sashes can be custom made to match the ones you have.
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I wouldn't take the "hack it apart" route. Windows get a lot of stress and starin - especially if they are dropped and slam closed (or open), or if they are sticky and get forced open/closed.
There are a coupleof good solutions: 1) make new (copies) of the damaged parts, and replace them. this requires some decent woodworking skills, and some tools, but keeps as much of the original parts as possible (if that matters to you)
2) scavenge parts from some windows to preserve others. This might not work, dpending on if the original windows were manufactured or not. If they were hand mad at sight (a lot of the really old windows were) the parts probably won't be interchangable. If they were mass produced, they should be swappable (within same type and size windows). This option will leave you short some number of windows, which will need to be replaced.
3) simply replace the windows that are too damaged to be re-assembled (or replace them all). This might end up being the most cost effective (if youinclude labor) solution. There are many commercial windows available that will look very much like the originals, but will be much more energy efficient.....
4) if you have the skills, simply make new windows. If you don't care about double pane or stuff like that, the old stnadard double-hung sash weighted windows are really pretty simple to make.....
good luck -_JD

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I like a lot of this...
jd wrote:

Unlike some other posters, I think that epoxies are great for window applications. I would not advise using it as a replacement for large sections of wood (which I think was their point), but it's a great glue for frames that take lots of abuse from the sun, rain and people. It's got great filling properties and is very easy to work with, in my opinion.

Look for the Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store in your area. They usually have hundreds and sometimes thousands of these old sash windows for just a few dollars.

I would look seriously at this one. Unless you have a skilled sash builder handy, the self-learning curve is a little steep, and I speak from experience. I've built six in the last year for historical reconstructions. I feel like I can do them OK now, but it is a hassle, and this is one area where newer materials and methods are so far superior that only for historical preservation reasons ought you to consider wooden sash windows. That's my opinion at least.

I didn't think they were that easy to master, but JD's probably a lot more experienced at general WWing than I. I found some good information on making sash windows in older books, one in particular (sorry, I don't have it at hand and can't remember the title), so you might start there. It was satisfying to finish them, but I would never want them in my own house for economic and practical reasons. I like them well enough aesthetically.
Good luck, H

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Thanks to everyone for the replies. I figured that bringing up epoxies here might be risky, but your responses helped me realize that I might be heading down the wrong path.
I will probably use a wood epoxy to repair shallow rotted-out areas, but I probably will not try to recreate a large piece, now that I understand what's involved.
Also, I should have mentioned that my house is in an historical district, so if I replace the windows with new ones, they need to match the old ones. I understand that such custom work can get expensive. I would do it myself, except as I mentioned before, I'm not a woodworker. Sounds like I might need to become one, though!
Thanks again.
Joseph
hylourgos wrote:

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Joseph O'Brien wrote:

Epoxy is kinda like a moped.........Something that you use, you just don't let your friends know about it. ;-)
I've tinkered with some of the windows in my house, and I wanted to point out that some of the sashes that aren't quite square may need to be replaced with sashes that aren't quite square... Otherwise you may not get a good fit when you put them back in.
If it works with the shape (out of square) that it's in you'd be best to replicate that not quite perfect shape.
Just my humble 2 pennies.......Good Luck!!!
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The epoxy might work in some situations, but my experience with it is that it is veery expensive for the volume that you end up with, That it takes a long time to harden, that it is tricky to find the right consistency, and impossible to shape without later machining. To repair the true cross it might make sense, but unless the wood you save has value beyond holding a window together it is more trouble than it's worth.
Replace the broken parts with ones that you build to the same dimensions, just do it. You will learn some stuff and get it right. Forget that epoxy shit.
Good luck
On 3 May 2006 19:39:34 -0700, "Joseph O'Brien"

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That's what I did in my old home. If it has to be ripped apart to fix, then rip it apart and fix it. Take measurements first and along the way. If the only tools available are a pocket knife and an axe, then either get the tools for the job [and a few others later on] or get someone who has the tools and the knowhow.
Epoxy? Sure this isn't a troll?
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