Mending a Wood Sash

This story shows you how to mend a wood sash.

Repairing Sash Windows

A double-hung wood window typically has two sashes that move up and down. Many people nail and paint shut the upper sash. This makes it easier to seal but will make cleaning the window difficult if you cannot get at it from the outside.

If a sash will not stay up, the chain or cord connecting to the weight is probably broken. Replacing a chain or cord can be accomplished in an hour or so.

To make an older unit work more smoothly, a bit of detailed work is often required. If the window has been painted many times, you may need to scrape or even remove paint from sashes or stops in order to free the action. A balky pulley may also need to have its paint removed. Often a spray lubricant will help as well.

A drafty window can be sealed by adding weatherstripping. A storm window will help greatly as well.

Newer windows have a variety of mechanisms to keep sashes up when raised.

Prestart Checklist

Time
1 or 2 hours for most repairs

Tools
Screwdriver, hammer, utility knife, zipper tool, flat pry bar, tin snips, pliers, paint scraper, putty knife, taping blades, sanding block, chisel

Skills
No special skills

Prep
Place a drop cloth on the floor by the window.

Materials
Caulk, sash chain or cord, wire, spray lubricant, paraffin block or candle, finishing nails, perhaps repair parts for newer windows

Mending a wood sash: Step 1

To strengthen a wood sash that is coming apart, remove the sash and place it on a flat table. Tighten a bar or pipe clamp and check that the sash is square. Using a long 3/8-inch drill bit, bore two holes so they pierce the tenon.

Mending a wood sash: Step 2

Loosen the clamp, pull the pieces slightly apart, and squirt wood glue into the gap. Tighten the clamp, squirt polyurethane glue or exterior wood glue into the holes, and tap in 3/8-inch dowels. Trim the dowels with a handsaw and sand smooth.

What If... The sill is rotted?, Step 1

If rot does not extend all the way through a board, you can repair the spot. Chisel away all loose, rotted wood. Drill a series of 1/4-inch holes in the wood.

What If... The sill is rotted?, Step 2

Use exterior-grade filler or mix a batch of two-part epoxy filler and press it into the holes. Use a putty knife or a plastic scraper to roughly form the area.

What If... The sill is rotted?, Step 3

Before the filler has fully hardened, use a shaping tool or paint scraper to make the surface nearly smooth. After the filler has dried, finish smoothing with a sanding block.


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