Delmar Caboose Restoration #1 - How-to and How-Not-to build a window.

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Project by Karson posted 09-18-2007 03:49 AM 4313 views 4 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Mason-Dixon Woodworkers Club was asked by the restoration committee in charge of restoring the Caboose built in 1929 on the old railroad property, to assist them in doing some of the restoration.

They didn’t have any funds so they were not only asking for assistance but for us paying for our own materials.

They asked if we could remake two windows and one door that have been vandalized and have just rotten away. And to also replace some of the siding boards that have rotted. David standing in front of the caboose.

The door needing replacing.

So we took one of the old windows out as a sample and also as the measurement. What is interesting is that the original window was made too small and so they nailed a strip on one side to make it wider.

The window measures 21 7/8 X 23 1/2. The only wood that we had that was 1 1/4” thick was only 23 1/2” long. So immediately, no room for errors.

I’m making two windows. I HOPE THEY ARE THE SAME SIZE!
I cut 6 pieces for the sides. (I needed 4) 2 1/2” wide one had a split so I knew it was a practice piece.
I cut the two pieces for the window top (no spares) 1 5/8” wide. I cut the two pieces for the window bottom (no spares) 1 7/8” wide
I cut 8 pieces for window mullions, (i only need 4, more practice pieces) 3/4” wide. All pieces were jointed and planed to 1 1/8” thick.

So the first thing I did was try to figure out the window router bits. The set I had was one that you take apart and reassemble for each of the cuts. The sides and the board ends.

After much trial and error I got the bit assembled for the side molding and the channel for the window glazing.

I did a practise cut on the split board. LOOKS OK.

I then reassemble the router bit to make the end cuts.

One the side cut you run the wood through the router table face down. When you run the router cut on the end it is face up. (REMEMBER THAT).

So I’m now sitting with the end cut router bit in the router table. So I say, the cross pieces are a little long so I won’t use the practise piece. I’ll use the real wood.

I proceed to cut 4 ends of the 4 pieces that go sideways. I then come to the realization that I had used 4 of my side pieces instead of the 4 cross pieces. These pieces of course were originally the exact length so they was no way to cut the wrong cut off and reuse the board. (Problem #1)

So I now get the correct pieces and cut one end. I measure how much of the wood would overlap (1/4”) and I measured the side pieces 21 7/8” rounded up to 22 to rip after all assembled subtract 2 3/8” for the real side width X 2 and I got 16 1/4”. I now trimmed my cross pieces to length and cut the ends on those pieces. I laid them up with the sides pieces (that were destroyed earlier) to check my measurements.

Oops too short, it should have been 17 1/4. I measured twice and it was still too short. (Problem #2)

So now I’m sitting with 1 side piece (An extra I made) and the 8 mullions because I’ve not tried them yet.

Back to the wood to make some new sides and new ends. Of course the sides that I had run a practise cut on had also been cut to the 16 1/4” length so I could not reuse them for the shorter end pieces. (Problem #3)

Total wood count 10 sides (needed 4) 8 ends, needed 4. 8 mullions need 4 not practiced on them yet. The new pieces.

I cut the correct cuts on the new sides and on the new and correctly sized end pieces. I hold them together so I can get the correct measurements for the mullions.

Now cutting mullions, is an experience in fear with your hands close to a spinning router bit. So I hold the first piece up to the router table and I place one of my now extra side pieces beside it to hold it into the router bit, and I use a push stick to feet the mullion into the spinning router bit.

OK one side cut.

Now the second one to go. There is a trick to cutting the second side. You take a piece of wood. (My split piece) and you run an end cut (that you would normally put on the end of the ends) and you run it full length on a piece of wood. You then put the mullion that has one side cut into that cut. It fits tight, if it doesn’t you can use double face tape.

Those of you who are sharp may notice problem #4 as it happens.

You now run it against the router bit and you end up with appropriate mullion.

I cut my 4 mullions to the required length and start getting them ready to dry fit.

Oops (Problem #4). Remember the clue earlier. Cut end cuts face up and side cuts face down.
One of my mullions had gone in face down.

So reset up the router bits to cut another mullion.

Dry assembly.

I cut the cross mullions into two pieces and glued them up separate at 90 degrees.

And then final gluing.

All glued up. One window the second is in the clamps.

First window, lots of raised panels but first window. Someone else is having the glass put in and getting the caboose repainted.

Now a door to go and siding.

Additional projects Doors.
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-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

17 comments so far

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4379 days

#1 posted 09-18-2007 04:24 AM

Karson -

Great blog entry – lots of deatil! This is a really specil project for your club to offer assistance.. looking forward to the glazining, paint & installation.


View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4641 days

#2 posted 09-18-2007 04:26 AM

As you posted your comment I updated the project. Someone else is getting them glazed and the whole caboose being repainted. With original colors. The original color was almost maroon.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4555 days

#3 posted 09-18-2007 05:28 AM

Love to see history saved. We lose touch with our past too quick these days. My motto is becoming “cut it short the first time and get it over with!”

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4174 days

#4 posted 09-18-2007 11:06 AM

Thanks for posting this Karson. I am eventually going to need to remake some of the windows in my old barn; this blog will come in handy in thinking through the process.

-- Robb

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4262 days

#5 posted 09-18-2007 01:59 PM

Great job Karson and nice Save!

It will be very gratifying to look back at that restoration when it’s all finished and be able to say “I did that”.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4203 days

#6 posted 09-18-2007 02:53 PM

Great post, Karson. Murphy was an optimist!!! I had a flight instructor one time who thought I needed to line up a 150 horse airplane for a 5 mile final. I had to explain to him that what really mattered was where you were when the wheels touched down. When your wheels touched down you were in the right place. The end result is real well done and we all learned a lot by watching. Thanks for sharing.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4459 days

#7 posted 09-18-2007 03:24 PM

Good job, Karson. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one whose projects go that way. Why do you think I’m always posting projects made from scraps? I make a LOT of scraps. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4641 days

#8 posted 09-18-2007 04:19 PM

Yes I was thinking of posting the scrap pile for these windows.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4231 days

#9 posted 09-18-2007 09:32 PM

I like to save those old aged windowframes to be modified into mirrors. Some of these old windows have a lot of character ya know.

And it’s really nice of you to devote your talent, tools and skills into this project. Have fun with the doors!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4220 days

#10 posted 09-19-2007 12:49 AM

Hi Karson;

Nice job! Some of my favorite construction projects have been the restoration of historic buildings.

Very challenging, very rewarding.

Great post;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4641 days

#11 posted 09-19-2007 04:30 AM

Thanks Lee. I’ve finished the second window and tried the router bits for the door.

It looks like it will need a shim or two. The insert piece (male) does not slide all the way into the female cut.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View lance's profile


170 posts in 4228 days

#12 posted 09-19-2007 02:38 PM

Hi Karson,

It is obvious that you were on the right track. Thanks for the education and another job well done.

-- Bob Lance, DE

View mot's profile


4922 posts in 4277 days

#13 posted 09-20-2007 03:07 AM

LOL! I’ve been in that same boat. Whoopsy! Great description!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4641 days

#14 posted 09-20-2007 04:53 AM

Thanks Guys.

I got the key today from City Hall and I got inside the caboose to measure the door. What sparce living.

The sink

The four compartments behind the sink and on the other side would hold picks, shovles lantern parts etc.
Two cots on one end.

The stove, coal box and table and bench for 2 people.

Another table for work reports and another cot. So sleeps three and table space for 3.

Between the 4 compartments was a ladder that allowed you to get up and sit on top of the 4 compartmetns and look out the upper windows.

I don’t know how long you lived in here or until the crew was replaced.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4401 days

#15 posted 09-20-2007 01:12 PM

wow…. the ladder is an interesting element!

thanks for sharing.
It’s fascinating

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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