Friday 29 April 2011

Texturing and a Herb Planter

First lesson of a new term at wood turning last night. I had mentioned to Chris (my tutor) that I wanted to do a textured finish on a little bowl I had made, so he brought in the tools to allow me to do this. After a quick demo I decided I was best to try it out on a scrap piece of wood first(some horrible Sapele).

The texturing was quite light and you couldn't really see it, that was until we got the blow torch out! Burning the area I had run the tool over really changed it, with a quick tidy up around the chard zone it really stood out. I'll have to try this on a proper project sometime soon I've seen some peoples work done like this and I always think its stunning.

Today I decided that as the rest of the country were having the day off I would as to (well I spent it working in the workshop!). One project I've been putting off is a herb planter I promised to make my sisters boyfriend who made some excellent logos for me last year. I'd put it off because I wasn't sure how to joint it for the hexagonal planter he wanted, but last weekend I brought the solution at a car boot sale - a biscuit jointer (another tool to the collection)!

I used an Iroko decking board, cutting all the side peices to 30 degrees before plunging the biscuit jointer in and then clamping it up with a couple of ratchet straps. The base was made from marine ply with holes drilled for drainage.

Planted up with Oregano, Sage and Mint it looks quite nice (I hope he likes it as I'd like a logo for my carpentry business!).

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Why vent a suspended timber floor?

I just thought I'd share this with you,

Whilst on the Summer Field park job the other day, part of the program of work is to rip out an old suspended floor which seemed a little springy under the vinyl floor.

When we started I couldn't believe we'd been walking on it for so long, it was completely rotten. Every step we took we put our foot through, and you could squeeze the water out of the flooring. But it hadn't even rained in over a month so what caused it?

Well many years ago they had tarmaced round the outside of the property, covering the air bricks. At around the same time they concreted some (not all) of the floors inside. What this did was to completely cut off the air flow that is essential for a suspended timber ground floor to breath. This caused wet rot to set in as the moisture from the ground is trapped in there - there were no damp membranes in those days - The sweating timber soon reaches and maintains the plus 20 - 25% moisture content needed for a good attack of wet rot

To fix the problem I was told to install 4 air bricks and reinstall the timber floor. But I have refused as the room is a corner of the house, so complete through flow of air would no longer be possible. I've put my foot down (through the floor) so now its going to be concrete.

This is the second floor in this house like this, I think we're lucky to only be dealing with wet rot!

Saturday 23 April 2011

Cupboard doors and wardrobes

Trying to juggle my own work whist being foreman on the Summerfield Park job can be tricky. The bank holiday has let me fit in a job that came up a couple of weeks ago whilst not missing any time on my other job.

The first part was to ease all the doors in the house as they'd just had carpets fitted, I did this in a morning (before going to a wedding much to my wife's annoyance) and then came back yesterday and today to do a couple more jobs.

The first was to alter the cupboard under the stairs. The door the house builder had put on was tiny making the space unusable so the plan was to cut a bigger opening and fit a new door. This was a much more awkward job than you'd give credit to! Still it looked good when it was done and it's the first time in years I've had to bisect angles (glad I still remember how!).

The next job was to make use of a small alcove in the second bedroom and turn it into a wardrobe full of shelves for storage.



The trouble with a new house is there is never anything to fix to, this makes putting shelves up difficult, not only that but you have to be extra carefully removing skirting - my new Multimaster earned its keep over the last few days! All they need to do is give it all a good coat of paint (I've filled all the nail holes and caulked up the edges for them) with no damage done to anywhere else.

The customers seem happy, they've already asked me to come back for more work and they gave me a bottle of wine as a tip!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Tool Addiction

They say the first part of getting over a problem is admitting you have a problem.

I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I don't drink much, but I do have a problem - I'm addicted to buying tools and whats worse is I love it.

I've got a job this weekend of putting in some wardrobes and altering doorways on a brand new house, I didn't want to damage any walls whilst doing the work so I decided that the best course of action would be to buy a tool I've been hankering after for quite a while - a Fein Multimaster. I used one on a job before Christmas to cut through some oak paneling which otherwise would have been impossible to keep in one piece and it was an excellent tool for this specialist work. So for cutting through skirting and architrave without wrecking the wall behind it should be perfect and the job should pay for it (well that's what I'm telling the wife!).

Joking aside this tool should soon pay for itself on any repair work I have to do when I give a price and it doubles as a great little detail sander.

My other purchase today was a Record No 8 jointing plane without a cap iron or blade. It's in lovely condition and for £20 I couldn't say no. It's not a plane I'll use very often in my line of work but for workshop projects, shooting boards it should be great. I'll wait a while to get the bits that are missing and see if I can pick them up second hand, it'll go nicely with my grandfathers old No 7 try plane (anyone ever use a No 6?).

Sunday 17 April 2011

Alder Burr

We've had a busy weekend with far too many hours spent in a car drving "Up North" and back, so it was nice tonight to spend a couple of hours in the workshop.

I decided to finish the shallow bowl I'd started last week. This was a blank of wood from an Alder tree from my fathers farm, spotting the burr as my brother was chopping it up I asked him to put a few bits to one side for me. I dried them in my old workshop and once turned with a coat of walnut oil they seem to have come up quite nice. Worth the wait to dry the timber (not the best photos in the world sorry)!

Wednesday 13 April 2011

An Oak Bathroom

A job from last year

This is going to be a picture heavy Post!

Last year I was just going self employed again and I didn't have much work, so my mother decided it was time to have her dream bathroom. My sister and I have both left home and my brother works away a lot so Mum decided to loose a bedroom to give the large farm house the decent sized bathroom it needed.

The room before I attacked it!

The trouble was the room chosen had only small oak joist going into a chamber beam and to make matters worse the floor was 5 and a half inches out of level from one side to the other. Add to this that mum wanted an Olympic sized bath and an oak floor, the only option was to raise the floor level with a suspended floor.

No easy task, but one I enjoyed. The step in the entrance was an extra problem but it just took a bit of extra trimming round. We then got the bath and shower in it and the plumber in to do his pipe work, It was then time to lay the oak floor boards. It had been a while since I had done an oak floor but it didn't take long to get into the swing of it, I was proud of the results, all secrete nailed and tight joints.

I also created a stand for the basin out of 3x3 oak using foxed mortise and tenon construction, my little mortisier got quite hot but managed with only a bit of tidying up with a chisel. The bath boxing on the other hand was not as fun, it was huge as mum wanted a shelf created all the way round to be tiled. I spent a couple of hot afternoons on my hands and knees wedged under the bath, cursing!

Mortises for the basin stand

[Basin stand being clamped up]

A friend then tiled the walls, he took his time but made a really good job of it.

To finish I stained the floor a medium oak colour to go with the feel of the rest of the house and then gave it two coats of oil to seal it, the basin stand was given a different shade of stain to make it stand out.

Picture showing the step and basin stand (the mitre was cut by hand)Bath with tiled boxing around

Shower area

The best compliment so far was someone couldn't believe it wasn't the original floor! Mum was really pleased and its always nice to be able to go back and enjoy your work (spa bath please!).

Sunday 10 April 2011

A Trip To Yandles

My little brother and I went down to Devon yesterday to visit the woodworking show at Yandles. We both had a really good day, although the tools were more aimed at the type of woodwork I do rather than the green woodwork my brother is into.

That said brother brought a gorgeous hand made travisher (I've no doubt it will be on his blog soon - David Alviti Rustic Creations), where as I brought some High Speed Steel to make some turning tools, ferrules for making new handles, a pair of folding trestles to go in the van, a small microplane so I can try barley twists at some point and a selection of turning blanks so I can practice making some more bowls.

There was a lot of people demonstrating, and it was interesting talking to different people, one that really interested me was a man hewing oak in the traditional way with an axe. I was impressed by how flat, straight and square he managed to get it, although it didn't look like easy work in yesterdays heat!
Back in my workshop I've just started to make a platter/shallow bowl out of a piece of alder burr I've had kicking round for years and considering how many knots are in it it seems to be turning quite easy at the moment. Now the evenings are getting lighter I need to spend more time down the shed, but sometimes its the last thing you want to do when you've been on site all day!

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Adventures of a Bacon Curer

This is not a woodworking post but I read these books and fell in love with them. I read them both too fast (my wife is always moaning about my consumption of books!) and although technically not brilliantly written (more how you'd say it rather than write it) they are just lovely to read.

These books are about Maynard Davis, a man love who loves his trade and the right way of doing things. They are basically memoirs of his career and follow him from starting as an apprentice all the way to retirement. He is known as the last apprenticed bacon curer and he doesn't want his trade to die with him.

The book is made up of lots of little snippets of his life, all the stories are interesting, some funny others moving. I really felt an affinity with Maynard and I'm sure anyone who has studied (and loved) a trade will as well, although it does make me long to be a part of the past I know I never can be!
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