Woodminstrel Woodparts

                    Woodminstrel Woodparts     
                    103 E. Commercial St.    
                    P.O. Box 128                                           Voicemail  (319)-253-4800                   email    daniel@woodparts.com
                    Hillsboro, Iowa   52630  

 A comfortable porch.
A comfortable porch. 

Measuring a sample baluster using a dial caliper.
Measuring a sample porch spindle using a dial caliper.

Exact duplicate porch posts.
A delivery of exact duplicate porch posts. 

        Drawing of a typical sawn baluster.
A sketch of a typical sawn baluster.
Large turned balusters.
A stately row of large turned balusters.

Beauty meets function in these corbels and brackets.
Beauty meets function in these porch brackets. 

Parquet border in a hardwood floor.
Parquet border in a  hardwood floor.

Daniel Prendergast turning a porch post.
Daniel Prendergast, turning a porch post.


Welcome to Woodminstrel Woodparts.
     This is where we make "new parts for old houses". A word of encouragement:
     You may be up to your elbows in effort, but you are doing far more than fixing up an old house. Please consider, an old house serves as a touchstone to an earlier time. It carries a message to today's generation about the hopes and aspirations of those who came before us. It speaks of the industry and it speaks of the inventiveness of the past. In thoughtfully conserving our legacy of domestic architecture, our actions directly pay respect to the values of bygone generations. Through these practical activities, we preserve and carry forward these time-honored values to our children and grandchildren. If you own an old house or if you work on old houses, we are here to support your efforts.
                                                                                    Sincerely, Daniel Prendergast

We Make Exact Duplicate Woodwork
     Working from samples, drawings or photographs, we hand craft exact duplicate wood parts for old houses. We also make unusual wooden parts for new buildings. Let us know what you can't fix or find and we will make it for you. We will work in nearly any wood you specify in order to precisely correspond to the original woodwork.
     Now, you may have been searching high and low for woodwork which matches the woodwork on your own home. Seize the day. That missing part for your house may be a phone call or email away. Please take the initiative and open up a dialog. Even if you don't plan to do the work right away, it's never to soon to start gathering information. Show us what you need and we will give you a price.
     Concerning price, every job being different, we must take each project on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, please don't be afraid to inquire. We wish to provide good value for your money. You may be surprised; the best bargain is a job done well.

We Make Exact Duplicate Porch Posts for Old Houses.
     There are many reasons why a porch post may need to be replaced rather than repaired. A porch post is a load-bearing structure. If it is broken by a fallen tree limb, rotted away or eaten by termites, repair is not an option. In these situations, we can make an accurate replacement porch post within very close tolerances. Now, some modern porch posts are barely strong enough to hold up a birdhouse, let alone a porch roof. You may want to upgrade to solid porch posts. If you are in need of a single post, we are here to serve you. Similarly, you may realize your dream of a gazebo or an additional porch with posts identical to the ones on your house.           
      Sometimes, in the midst of renovating a porch, you may find that the building code inspector will insist upon a higher railing height in order to conform to modern safety standards. Meeting the challenge of conflicting design requirements will often involve compromise. Adept adaptation will call for sensitive respect for the original design. This is what we do.
      Many old porches have been removed entirely, sometimes for decades. If a porch is gone but old photographs are available, we can produce a close approximation of any or all of the porch parts, true to the original design. This is especially gratifying.

We Make Sawn Balusters, Identical to the Original Designs
     When I think of sawn balusters, I think of steamboats on the Mississippi. You might also think of a Swiss chalet or of a gingerbread house. Sawn balusters are also known as cut balusters or flat sawn balusters. These elements are cut out of flat boards and they range from primitive to simple designs to very ornate designs.         
     We craft sawn balusters by hand, using a pencil as the main design tool. We cut them on a band saw for the outside cuts, a scroll saw on the inside cuts. We sand them ready for paint. This is appropriate technology, very competitive for small runs of custom made parts. In spite of our old-fashioned methods, our sawn balusters are reasonably priced, very much in line with the cost of stock balusters.

We Make Perfectly Matching Replacement Spindles or Turned Balusters
     If you have one or more broken spindles in your stairway or porch, we can duplicate the original spindles to match the originals. Individually, these spindles will cost more than stock spindles which you will find at the lumber yard. The cost savings will come in replacing only the broken or missing parts, saving the entirety of the original staircase as opposed to replacing the whole thing. It is better to repair than to replace.
    The price for reproduction balusters will range quite a bit, depending on a number of factors. For example, interior spindles which will be varnished require extra care and extra time in sanding. On the other hand, thicker, more substantial turnings may be less expensive than long, slender ones because they run more steady in the lathe.
     However, cost should not be the sole consideration. Sometimes we need to strike a balance between historic preservation and other compelling issues such as safety or equal access. For example, you may have a business situated in an old house. If you are adding an access ramp to an old porch, the new construction will merge much better with the existing structure if the new balusters are identical, or relatively true, to the original design. This may cost a little more than off-the-shelf parts but ultimately it's a better value.

We Make Identical Moldings, Precicely Matching any Old Time Profile
     Molding styles change from generation to generation. Even in houses built after 1960, it is sometimes difficult to find the exact same molding profile to fit the existing woodwork. Older style moldings usually are more robust than modern designs. Even with access to architectural salvage resources, matching up an antique molding profile is very much a matter of luck.
     Perhaps you are adding a room to an old house, or upgrading a bedroom by adding a closet. You may need baseboards and casing, plinth blocks and corner blocks identical to the original moldings in the house. We can help you with this. Perhaps you have exterior moldings, rotted in places or damaged by wind. If you are trying to repair sections missing in this way, you may pay more per foot than you will in replacing all of the woodwork with stock moldings. But you will need fewer linear feet and thereby save money. This is both economical and environmental. Ecovironmental? Green.

Curved Moldings, Radius Stair Nosing 
     Look at any musical instrument and what do you see? You see curves. Go to any music hall older than 50 years of age and what do you see? You see curves. There's a connection. Hard, flat surfaces are hard on the ears. Did you ever take notice of the many curves in the human ear? So when you want a special place for the grand piano, or you want to step down into an acoustically wonderful room, think about curved surfaces and curved steps. The music is bound to sound better in a room with curves and your ears will thank you for it.

Corbels and Eaves Brackets
         You see these stripped down versions of Italianate houses in every town. One fine sunny Saturday morning, a hardworking, upbeat vinyl siding salesman sold a former owner of your house a priceless vision of modernity. "The first thing we'll do is we'll knock down those brackets." So the 19th century adornments gave way to the maintenance-free mores of the 20th century. The house very nearly gave up its soul in the process.
     One thing that may be admitted in favor of vinyl siding is that it protects the outer skin of the house from the elements. So when you carefully remove it, the past is revealed. Oftentimes, you may count the number of brackets and dental moldings, everything that used to create a defining pattern to the exterior of the building. It is possible to gather accurate measurements of the missing design elements. With a photograph of the residence in its original splendor, perfect replacement parts may be accurately made to fit for a perfect restoration. But what if you don't have an old photograph? Then, you must strike a balance.
     You may restore the style of the house even if the individual architectural details stray somewhat from the original. The message here is that the best design tool is a sampling of the original details but it is not the only option. Without patterns to go by, there is a fair trade-off. In a sense, you are working with a blank canvas. This is freeing. There are many possibilities and you may choose the elements which resonate with you. Given patterns you like, we will faithfully retrofit historically correct corbels or eaves brackets with which to restore your home.

Odd Wood Flooring
     Some things never seem to change. The beauty of a sunset, the sound of children playing in the park, the taste of lemonade on a hot summer afternoon. But some things do change. For example, every other generation or so, we change the way we heat our homes or perhaps the way we decorate our floors. So as you are sipping your iced lemonade on a warm summer evening while the kids are out to play, and you have just finished tearing up all that pre-berber, sculpted nylon carpet-that-never-dies which camouflaged the return duct of yesteryear- that hole that was covered over with bits of crating material- tomorrow’s challenge will be to locate a source of oak or maple flooring parts that precisely match the original. We can help.

Fretwork Spandrels, Gable Ends
     In the days before form followed function (and we were glad of it), people liked to add whimsical touches to their homes. Life was a whole lot more grim in those days with a higher infant mortality and epidemics that swept through otherwise healthy populations and created nothing but grief. So people had a real incentive to decorate their homes in wild and unusual ways. The radical woodwork of the nineteenth century is an expression of hopeful aspirations- aspirations of happiness and of good health and of good cheer.
     Back in those nearly-forgotten days, a happy marriage was a thing people actually expected, not some sort of one-in-a million long shot. The woodwork of even the smallest cottage reflected this lovely vision. It said “ This is a happy home.”.  Fretwork spandrels serve no useful purpose beyond being an absolute delight to the eye.

     Thank you for coming to this page.










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