With all the west-facing columns now returned to the front porch for the first time in many decades, the next Great Porch Adventure can begin!
To my utter astonishment, and considerable delight, the moldering railings proved to be almost all there, and all were restorable. Dr. Doug is almost done with this task, and soon the 120-year-old railings will return from the hospital. Only one set of rails had to be created anew; all the rest have been restored. Truly, a miracle, as such railings simply do not normally last for 120-years.
Between the upper/lower rails are spindles. I found these in the basement.
So, while I knew I likely had most of the missing spindles, until today I did not realize that I may not be able to actually use 99% of them.
1) Have the rotted bottoms/tops cut off, and new wood put in place? This seems reasonable, but spindles are best when turned from one solid piece of wood. Having a bunch of small pieces of wood cobbled together is a recipe for disaster, as the restored spindles will fall apart within ten years. Still, I cringe at the idea of abandoning the original spindles.
2) Have all new spindles made. This way, the spindles would be turned from a single piece of wood (likely red cedar) as they were originally. Still, no new wood will be as good as the original old-growth wood.
Well, I invite your thoughts! I will also be researching the issues over the next few weeks, and look forward to having conversations with companies which can recreate my spindles.