I recently helped a friend tear out and replace a ten-by-sixteen-foot section of concrete porch on his hundred-plus-year-old house. The very first thing we had to do was jack up three of the six round wooden columns that support the porch roof and set temporary braces to bear the weight while we did the tear out and then finish the new pour.
Each post rested on a two-inch thick by thirteen-inch square base connected to the column by a turned three-and-a-quarter-inch thick transition piece. These lathe-turned transitions consisted of three individual pieces sandwiched together before the turning. Each finished unit had a rounded-over edge on the top and bottom, connected with a Roman ogee design.
As we began lifting each post, we realized that two of the base and transition pieces were so badly rotted and/or termite damaged that they would have to be replaced. I took the one salvageable unit home to my workshop to use as a pattern. Not having a lathe, I had to improvise a more contrived method of duplication.
Making the square bases was fairly simple; I just had to glue up pieces of two-by-eights and then cut to final size. The round parts were more challenging. After planing each of the three sandwich segments to the desired thickness, I glued and clamped them. Next, I traced out a circle on each piece and cut them on the bandsaw. Then, I sanded the edges using a combination belt/disc sander. After that, I routered the rounded edges on the top and bottom pieces and the ogee profile (as close as I could) on the middle piece.
Once that was done, I glued and clamped the three pieces together. After curing, I glued those onto the square bases and reinforced the assembly with long screws from top and bottom. A generous bead of caulk, shaped by hand, helped form a smooth transition between pieces and create a better illusion of lathe work.
The finished pieces were not exact duplicates of the original pattern but will probably pass casual inspection. My friend B.J. was clearly pleased with my efforts: “Man, I can’t believe you were able to make those!”
In my efforts to pattern my life after the Christ, it’s a given that I’m never going to live up to his example. But I hope to get close enough from time to time that people can at least guess what pattern I’m trying to copy.