unknown. I couldn’t give an accurate
bid until I inspected the integrity of
original millwork and determine how
much time would be involved, so I suggested an exploratory phase contract.
Essentially, the first part was to
figure out how much the job would
cost. As woodworkers, we have knowledge that architects or engineers don’t
have. For this project, they needed my
expertise to help spec out my portion
of the job. Tip: Make sure you know
what you’re getting into: specs, timeline,
budget, and finances (if/when you get
a draw, when you get paid, who controls
the money). Don’t assume anything,
always consider the worst case scenario,
and keep your client informed.
After the scaffold
My portion of the project was three
sections: column and frieze millwork;
stripping and refinishing the assumed
wooden carved capitals and ceiling
finials; and gold leafing most elements.
Once the entire hall was scaffolded,
I had access to the higher elements
and we soon realized that a number
of the finials, Corinthian column
capitals, and curved millwork had previously been replaced in plaster after
the fire. They could not be removed
without damage, nor could they be
stripped for refinishing.
The project quickly became more
complicated, and there was no room to
change the timeline. They had scheduled an important wedding in seven
months—what were they thinking?!
I also found that none of the elements were straight, parallel, square,
nor even symmetrical (the left arch
This column capital shows some of the work required to restore physical integrity before
cosmetic finishing could even begin.
A major challenge was the condition of parts that had to be restored. Some disintegrated
during disassembly. Some parts were plaster and some carved from log ends that checked
dramatically over time.