For Underhill House, all the trim is coming from trees that were thinned from our woods last winter and milled on site last spring. Since then, the boards have been dried in a solar kiln at Dean Swenson’s farm and mill about 15 miles away. They were then planed at Foggy Bottom Woodworks, who are also making our kitchen cabinets.
When a slab of wood is sliced from a tree trunk, it is live edge, which means it still has all the natural, undulating edge from the surface of the tree. In most cases, that irregular edge is sawed off and considered scrap, but using the live edge pieces is a way to both make the most of the tree and incorporate some natural beauty into your space.
To most efficiently use our trees, we elected to use straight-edge trim on the vertical sections of the trim, and top them with live edge pieces.
Because we are painting our unmilled timbers, we also painted our trim.
The time for that painting came at Thanksgiving, which was great for our family. We are camping out in a snug apartment above a business in downtown Mineral Point. With both girls home, we didn’t have the space for our usual Thanksgiving weekend family fun, so we spent Saturday and Sunday in the house prepping and painting trim.
Both days were brilliantly sunny, and it was wonderful to be together in the new space listening to music and chatting as Della, KJ and I sanded and painted piece after piece of freshly planed wood. Doug was working outside taking the bark off some 2” slabs that will be used for window sills and counter tops and book shelves. (I’ll write about that later. Those slabs of cherry and elm–from dying trees on our land–are breath-taking and will not be painted.)
We had a productive weekend, but at the end, we realized we would have to ask Jacob from Alchemy Painting to come back and help us again. My appreciation of how professional painters work increased as the project kicked up to high gear.
Della and Jacob painted trim together for several days while I painted walls, then Jacob continued working on not only the loose trim boards, but also the trim around the window frames.
The first thing Jacob did was to streamline the process. Instead of taking each board and painting all three sides with a brush, he would put about 4 boards on end and roll the edges, then set them flat and roll the main surface. It went so much faster and actually looked better.
Another much-appreciated innovation from Alchemy Painting was the use of their racks made of simple boards with long nails. These allowed us to stack up dozens and dozens of trim pieces to dry while using only a small portion of our very limited floor space.
The challenge was to paint and dry the trim while other workmen swirled around us working on stairs and porch and built-in storage we are tucking into every available nook — all of which will eventually be trimmed with these painted boards.
Now the paint has dried, it is being methodically fitted into place as doors and windows become ready.
The idea of live edge wood painted white is coming into being, and looking very nice. At Oscar Meyer, they used to say that they used every big of the pig but the squeal. At Underhill House, we are using every bit of the wood but the bark.