Not long ago, I got a phone call from the company my mother works for. Apparently, a plow truck hit one of the brackets on a covered entry on the side of their building during a snowstorm. The maintenance crew looked at it and realized it was not the type of project they were willing to take on. The owner of the company, whom I have done work for in the past, said, “Call Ray. He’ll fix it.”
I stopped by to take a look and met up with the plant manager in his office. On his desk, he had a couple of broken pieces left from the original bracket. He brought me outside to check out the damage to the covered entry (see photo, right). With a few measurements, and a brief moment of head scratching, I said I could fix it.
No Fancy Tools
I was given permission to use the facilities onsite since I don’t have a shop. In the end, the entire project was performed right in front of the covered entry, next to a snow pile, and with water constantly dripping from the roof (and occasionally on us!). No fancy tools, no router pattern bits, and no band saw. We had a circular saw, a jig saw, a grinder with a sanding disc, a random orbit sander, a miter saw, a table saw, and a couple of metal saw horses.
As if that wasn’t enough, when we pulled into the alley, I got out of my truck to decide where to set up shop and within five minutes we heard a large “CRASH!” A chunk of ice fell four stories from the roof above onto the cap of my truck. Luckily, there was no major damage (other than a nice dent in the cap).
I decided to move the truck near the street, almost onto the sidewalk, to keep it away from the edge of the roof.
A Cardboard Pattern
I wanted to find a way to use the original (now broken) pieces. I figured we could create a pattern and glue them together to make up the 5 1/2 in. of width of the original bracket.
|We got a large piece of cardboard from one of the guys in shipping. My cousin held up the cardboard to the outside of the existing bracket while I used a sharpie marker to trace out the basic shape of the large curve.|
|After I carefully cut out the cardboard with a sharp utility knife…|
|…we began tracing the shape onto our first 2 x 12.|
This became the new pattern for the rest of the pieces.
|The initial shape was cut using a circular saw, and then a jigsaw.|
|From there, I smoothed out the curve using a grinder with a 50-grit sanding disc.|
|Since the curve was larger than the 2 x 12, we had to make each layer in two pieces,…|
|…and then use pocket screws and glue to join them.|
Next, we drilled the hole in the bottom of the bracket to accept the larger 1/2 in. diameter threaded rod that would be anchored in the wall later. First, we used a 1 1/2 in. spade bit to give space for the washer. We used a 1/2 in. bit and the nut went all the way through the bracket.
After both holes were drilled, we did another test-fit to see if the hole would align with the rod in the wall. Unfortunately, we were slightly off. Since re-drilling was out, we used a Dremel with a sanding drum to enlarge the outer hole just enough to better receive the washer. The hole would later be filled with foam backer rod and caulking, and the caulking would be smoothed out over the hole using a wide putty knife.
A final sanding of all the pieces was done before the install to help smooth out the transition of each layer to one another, and to make it look like it was a solid piece rather than a multi-layered piece.
The original was multi-layered, but after years of wear and multiple coats of paint, I couldn’t see the difference.
All edges got a quick coat of oil-based spray primer before we put the bracket up. While waiting for the paint to dry, we installed a threaded rod into the brick wall with anchoring epoxy. This took the place of the old lag screw that came out when the truck hit the bracket.
After the epoxy set and the primer was dry, we installed the bracket in its spot. We used some ledger lock screws and trim nails to attach the new bracket to the framing of the covered entry. The WindsorONE-primed side trim pieces were installed last to cover up the holes from the nails and ledger lock screws.
The final step was to trim out the top of the bracket with some cove molding and small wood strips to create a molding profile that would mimic the original. The small half-ball at the top of the curve was the only original piece that was salvaged, and we decided to attach it to the new bracket.
What might sound like a quick and easy task was not—water was dripping from the side of the covered roof that we were working on. The ladder had to be placed in front of the bracket and I had to reach around to the outside when it came time to install the outer trim. Each time I poked my head out I got wet, and so did the nail gun. My cousin placed the leftover cardboard on the portico roof to create a splash shield for me. It worked just long enough to keep both me and my nail gun from getting too wet.
We finished up just after dark that day while filling the nail holes with caulking. The customer was very happy in the end. It was a challenge, and a pleasure, to make something of this nature onsite.
The plant manager later sent my mother an email thanking me for doing such a great job of replicating the original bracket.
Raymond’s career as a carpenter began over a decade ago after being in the world of advertising photography for almost ten years. He started off by doing small handyman jobs, which soon led to more complex remodeling jobs. It became apparent that Ray’s creative side set him apart from other contractors as clients asked for more complex projects, built-ins, or fireplace mantles. He soon learned that his attention to detail and creative eye for the architectural esthetics of clients’ homes helped bring a unique perspective to his projects.
Ray’s passion for his craft is evident in all that he does. From small projects, to fine finish carpentry and remodeling projects, he has amassed a number of loyal clients over the years.
Raymond founded Valois Home Improvements in 2000. He currently lives in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts with his wife and two kids. When he’s not making area homes more beautiful, you will probably find him golfing, riding his motorcycle, or having fun with family and friends.
You can see more of Raymond’s work at Valois Home Improvements.