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Friday, 12 January 2018

Library Commission - Reading Pods & Tree Wall Art

So a few months ago I got an email asking about a reading chair in the forest school area. I volunteered my services to build it, I thought that'll be fun! Somewhere along the line the new school library became my baby instead! 
The village has had it's school in temporary accommodation for the last three years, and although it's been fine it's not the best for the children and tricky for them at times (too hot in summer for one). 
So over the last year there has been a new school being built with much excitement from everyone who has children there. 
The Head Mistress was keen for the new school to have an amazing library but with usual budget restrictions (tight) that a school normally has. We decided to go with some Ikea shelving (low cost and look nice) and then build a few items to make it truly unique to the school. Some reading pods were decided upon, a corner bench and a feature tree on the back wall with leaves to hold the names of people that have donated toward the school. 
I was given a fair bit of creative freedom with how all this was to be made! I'm not doing this for free but at a very reduced rate. 
My eldest helping unload all the wood from the truck. 

MDF was used, cheap - ish and takes a good finish. 

Pentagon shape for the reading pod

Checking the size was right

Working out the depth of the pods - they match the Ikea shelves. 


Dry fit to check it all fits. 

Starting drawing the tree. this took me ages to draw! I'm no artist! I used 12mm ply. 

The bottom of the tree - branches to come from the top.
I decided two trees would be better in the corner and fill the room better

The top branches of the trees. I ended up cutting these with a jigsaw instead of a router and it took quite a while! 

First pod assembled and trimmed out ready for painting. 

Ikea shelves together, testing the pods out for fit! 

Starting to paint the two pods and the corner bench. Two coats of undercoat and three coats of top coat! Took a fair time to do but got a good finish! 

Top branches added to the trees. 

Final coat of paint on the units. The purple colour matches the feature walls in the school. 

Everything in place - ready for books now! 

I decide to add in the books as a surprise for the head mistress - makes the library look finished! 

Leaves added to the trees. I cut 92 from a sheet of 6mm ply! 

Library all finished - just waiting for children

Great space for the kids. 
I'm really pleased with how it all looks at the end. I was so worried about the trees - not something I normally make!

I'm also pleased that my daughters and son will get to see it everyday when they're at school and know their dad made it. It was lovely yesterday morning when I saw the head mistress and she just said "I know this is unprofessional but..." and then gave me a huge hug! So I guess she was pleased!

It's incredible that our children get to benefit from a new school and I love that I was allowed to be a small part of it, I feel it's such a privilege! I have utter respect for the head Mistress who has poured her heart and soul into making sure this is a success.

My daughter came home from her first day there and was buzzing with excitement, when I asked her how everything was she'd just answer "Amazing" each time!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A New Back Door

Simple job from a regular customer of mine. 
Chang this tired old back door and frame:-
 For this oak one -
The porch is getting rendered as well so it should all look great when it's done!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Reading Pods

I've had great fun over the last few days on my Facebook Page trying to get people to guess what I was making by showing them the following picture. 
I had about thirty people guessing until one lady came up with the right answer - a reading nook.
This is a commission I'm building for my daughters new school which they go into in the new year (it's really exciting for them and me!).
The idea was to have some standard book shelves then some little reading pods for them to curl up into. There's also going to be a tree but I've no idea how I'm going to build that yet! 
I'm building it out of MDF as it keep cost down (I'm on a very tight budget) but also takes a finish really well if there's no edges.
 It's not something I've ever built before so it took a bit of thinking about and a few trials using my eldest daughter to test for size!

 The pictures below show a "dry" assembly, with no glue. It'll be too heavy for me to move if I assemble it here unfortunately so it'll have to be put together at the school after Christmas.
  I'm really pleased with how it turned out and looks. There will be trim on all the corners and a fascia around the pentagon to hide cut edges of the MDF
Hopefully this will be the perfect size as well and nice and cosy when there's a few cushions in there! I've built two of these units and I'm really looking forward to getting them in, they're currently on flat packed on the floor of the extension. Some nice colours will really make them stand out as well.

I'm hopeful the kids will like them as well!

This certainly isn't a job I'm going to make much (or any really) money on but I love the idea of building something for the local school and my children will see them everyday and think "My dad built them!"

I've got some benches to build and a big tree yet so it could be interesting trying to come up with interesting ideas for those as well!

Friday, 22 December 2017

A Little Kitchenette

A phone call a few weeks ago from one of my regular customers "I've got a hour or so work for you if you're in town in the next week or so... Just cut a hole in a worktop".
Not quite! It was to fit a whole kitchenette. It doesn't look much but there's a lot of work involved. Fixing the units, scribing the side panels, cutting the plinth, cutting the worktop, door handles, etc! I really wish I'd brought my lunch to this job! 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Making 4 Panel 1950's Doors

I'm managing to find a bit of time to work on the extension at the moment, One thing I wanted to do was to make some doors for the up stairs. 

Now it would be far easier to buy off the shelf ones but I decided that I'd like to have some 1950's door to match the age of the house. I'm not a purest when it comes to these sort of things but I've always liked these utilitarian style of door. Making them myself means they won't cost much money but take a bit of time! 
 I ordered the joinery time on the phone, a little pile like this is enough to make six doors and a few other bits and bobs.
 All planned up, creates a lot of shavings!
 I made the first door on it's own, which gave me chance to make a rod to make marking up the the rest of them quick and easy.
 There is also a cupboard door that is an odd size, built int eh same style it looks quite cool I think!
I used Festool domino joinery to make these doors, which is loose tennons you glue into both sides of the wood.
 This meant I could batch cut all the mortises in one go.
Having a few routers helps on a job like this! It means I don't have to change bit and reset it every five minutes! 
 I assembled the doors in the extension, I have a bit of space in there to work!

 The door assembled and sanded down - the ply panels are from two sheets! Can you tell?
Six doors made in total, including the cupboard door.

First coat of paint on the door - Two undercoats then a satin wood to finish. I'm really excited to get these hung this weekend! I think they're going to look pretty smart!

What do you think?

Do you like this style door?

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Turned Decorations

A little late on posting this one but I thought I'd share with you some gifts I made as Christmas presents this year.
These are some little wooden Christmas tree decorations I turned on the lathe out of some beautiful pear wood from a friends stack of wood (it had been drying at his for years). 
I haven't been on the lathe much since moving here except for occasional repair jobs on chairs and the like, I just haven't had the time to turn much for pleasure lately. It used to be something that I really enjoyed doing, I had two years worth of regular lessons (where I was the youngest by about 30 years) and a great teacher, I was really pleased that I hadn't forgotten it all! 

I gave out the decorations in sets of two or three and made six sets - you'd be surprised at how long these little blighters took to turn! 

Finished with some boiled linseed oil for a simple finish. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Concrete Steps

This has been a labour of love over the last three weeks! Blood, sweat and the whole of my little finger nail (which got ripped off on a piece of reinforcing bar) have gone into these steps! 

With the patio being so large I decided that having a nice, wide flight of stairs would really set it off. There was a few ways I could have made them; timber was out of the question as I wanted something maintenance free and to last a long time (it's very wet here and they'd rot in ten years or so). 
That left me with either using blocks or concrete, the blocks would be more expensive and I'm not great at laying them (so I'd get my brick layer to do it. The concrete on the other is something I could do myself but it does involve a lot of work (and I mean a lot!).
First step form work
Not one to be deterred by a bit of work I went for the concrete option. I have built full flights of stairs like this where you pour all the concrete for the steps in one go (have a look here) but I decided that as I was mixing the concrete in a small mixer by hand I'd do one step at a time, doing it this way means I can use the same timber to form each step as well so it save money. 
I join each step by leaving some reinforcing wire between each step to tie into the one above. Each step is also vibrated to remove the air from the concrete using an industrial vibrator (no rude jokes please!) 

These pictures show the process, there was a bout 6 to 8 mixes full of concrete in each step! I tended to move and set up the shuttering/form work one night, then mix and pour the concrete the next and strip it the night after that. 

Pouring the concrete in for the first step

Removing the shuttering/form work 

Second step form work in. Stone fills in behind and is compacted down. 


third step - note the bars in the back to tie in the next step

Another step - I did this one when we poured the footings for the extension as I ordered enough concrete to do it - seemed daft to mix it if we were having some delivered.  

Nearly there! 

Steps finished!
I was surprised how much work were in these stairs, even though I knew there would be. I guess mixing concrete after eight at night after doing a ten hour day on a building site is going to make me a bit more tired as well! 
Still it feels great to have them done. They'll get clad in the same stone that the patio will be with a handrail down the sides. 

What do you think? 

Ever made steps like this?
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