October 28, 2012
Waste Diversion

For the last year, Greening Homes has been working on gutting, rebuilding, and restoring a century old home in Toronto”s Rosedale neighbourhood. One of the many challenges of the home was addressing the failing and rotting–yet potentially beautiful–century old corbels. Corbels, when looking their best, give a home”s facade a distinct and ornate look. Unfortunately, the corbels on this home were on their last legs and conveying quite the opposite. The homeowners and our senior crew member, Shane MacInnes, came up with a few options to restore the home”s facade to its former glory.

1. Refinish the existing corbels

The original corbels were individual chunks of solid douglas fir, they were very strong and made to last. Unfortunately, they were simply too far gone to be salvaged.

2. Buy prefabricated (i.e.: plastic and vinyl) replications of the corbels

These synthetic materials were in opposition to Greening Homes” mandate to renovate responsibly and minimize our environmental impact.

3. Replace with new custom-made solid wood corbels

This was the most time and labour intensive solution, but the one casino we all wanted.

Below are the steps that Shane took to recreate the corbels:

Step 1:

Retrace the pattern and redesign the end of the corbel (that was cut off) onto a new piece of wood that will become the template.

Step 2:

Cut out the pattern.

Step 3:

Make multiple versions with the template.

Step 4:

Glue the individual pieces together to create the desired dimensions and prepare them for sanding.

Step 5:

Sand and prepare for paint.

Step 6:

On the back of the corbels, Shane mortised a hole for a tenon. This helped to secure the corbel to the post.

Step 7:

Once the corbels were installed they were ready to be painted. Shane also laminated a piece of sheet metal to the top of the corbels to help prevent penetrating elements and rot.

Step 8:


Working on such prominent parts of a home”s facade brings a heavy responsibility, but also the exciting opportunity to work with traditional woodworking tools. We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with clients that value quality and we hope they enjoy the finished product as much as we do!