Repairing an unusual porch post

This house on Douglas Street in Elgin has four columns with unusual large beading on the top 18 inches. 


The two in the rear got a lot of water from the roof and were rotten.  I was hoping that some epoxy could give them several more years.  When they were taken down the top on one crumbled in my hands so epoxy was not an option.

The column was coopered (made like a barrel with sections glued together) as was the fluted portion.

The owner of the home came to the Design Review Committee asking to replace all four columns with new fiberglass columns.  The Committee urged him to try to replicate the two good columns as the flutes were a unique feature.  A compromise was struck in that the owner bought two new fiberglass columns and I replicated the fluted portion to be placed on top of the fiberglass column.  The new fiberglass columns were very close in diameter to the originals. 

I made the fluted portion the same way they were originally made.  I made a custom molding knife to cut each section of three flutes.  Each of those was cut at the precise angle necessary for it to glue up to be a circle. Just as was originally done, a spline was cut to keep them together. Below is a cut off section of the fluted portion of the column showing the splines.

Band clamps were used to glue the sections together.




The transition plate was turned to duplicate the original.  A piece of wood was attached to the flutes to slip into the fiberglass column to allow the two to be attached to one another. The capitol on the column shown (on the bottom of this picture) is new and fiberglass. It was very close to the originals and simply slides over the column.

Below is the new column installed. The new wooden flutes were made from old growth cypress which has excellent rot resistance.  They were also treated with a sealer/preservative and the end grain was painted. The installation contractor added some flashing to the roof so they should not get water and rot. The new and the old columns cannot be distinguished.  The owner and I were very happy with the results.