As part of a recent restoration project, my partner and I were hired to restore an elaborate triangular window in the gable end of 150-year-old Howden Hall in Bristol, Vt. The problem was, there was no actual window left to restore; all we had for reference was an old sepia postcard. But after we removed the aluminum vent that stood in its place — plus nearly 57,000 pounds of pigeon waste, contaminated cellulose, and sawdust insulation that had accumulated in the attic — we discovered buried treasure: a big pile of broken glass underneath the window opening and a single intact triangular pane.

With the postcard and paper copies of the glass pane for reference, I drew a full-scale model of the 10-foot-wide window’s outside dimensions on a sheet of plywood, then milled the parts from clear pine stock with cope-and-stick shaper cutters.

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