Wednesday 21 September 2011

How to Fit Skirting

Well the last two days have been spent on my knees.

I've not found a new religion- I've been fitting skirting board at Summerfield Park.

On an old property like this it can be a nightmare to fit. All the walls are out, nothing is square and the floor is as level as the Peak District! All this makes for some slow going if its to be done right, luckily I'm not on my own and another carpenter, "Rocket" is helping me and we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The skirting is fixed to the wall using a grab adhesive (like gripfill) and then screwed and plugged to the wall. All mitres are glued and pinned.

It's funny but its always easy to see when an amateur has fitted skirting (normally you notice this when your sat on someones toilet) and your see that an internal joint has been mitred instead of scribed. The scribe joint means that if the wood shrinks when it drys out the gap wont open whereas an internal mitre would open up leaving an unsightly gap (although I'm sure the spiders would love it).

To cut a scribe (in a modern "on site" sort of way) you first cut a 45 degree mitre on the skirting, sloping so that the end grain you see is where you want your waste to be. You then cut along the line left by the saw (see the picture above) with a jack saw (you can colour this line in with a pencil to make it easier to see). Undercutting this slightly makes it easier to fit the pieces of skirting together.

Next you take your copping saw and undercut round the detail at the top of the skirting (see above picture again).

This should leave you something like this.

Which will slot into another piece of skirting like this - Giving you the perfect scribe joint.

I can't tell you how many of these there are in this house - it seems to be the longest bit of skirting in some rooms it's 2' before you come to another corner! (although I'm probably exaggerating)

Saturday 17 September 2011

Iron Oxide Finish

I've been experimenting again with different finishes and I read in a book that you can make your own finish for oak by mixing vinegar with iron of some sort (I used iron wool and a jam jar full of malt vinegar).

I put this mixture together three weeks ago and I decided it was time to test it out. On a piece of oak I arboteched out I could see the oak change colour slowly in front of my eyes, it ends up almost being a petroleum blue - a really amazing colour.

I then experimented further by turning a strip of oak and leaving the middle its natural colour (finished with shellac) and texturing the rest, then adding the stain and rubbing on a light covering of liming wax, this gave it a nice contrast. In the end I textured it again after I added the liming wax and applied more of the stain as it only reacts with the bare oak and could fill in the gaps.

Does anyone else have recipes for stains and finishes I can try? I've really enjoyed this experiment and I can see me using it in my future work.

Monday 12 September 2011

Woodturning Tote

Anyone who reads this blog knows how fussy I am about my tools and this extends to all my tools.
For my woodturning lessons it's advised that we bring our own tools in to use (so we can do the same thing when we get home), last term I used an old tool bag I had to take them in each week. Nothing makes me cringe more than to see my tools in this bag with the sharpened ends touching or coming near to touching - to me that's like dragging your fingernails down a chalk board.
So with some scraps of MDF and a length of oak I set about making myself a tote to carry my woodturning tools in before this term begins. I decided roughly on the shape and cut out the sides. I then laid out some of the tools I wanted to take to make sure they'd fit, with space to add more in the future. I turned a chunky handle out of oak and assembled with glue and screws (well it is only MDF!). I also made a tray in the bottom to carry my sandpaper, oils and other bits.
The only MDF I had big enough was 18mm so this does make it quite heavy but this will stop it tipping over in the van when I take it anywhere. I did cut a hole on each side to lighten it a bit.
When I was happy with it I sealed it with PVA and water and filled the screw holes. I then painted it black to try and hide the fact its MDF.

It should be a better way to take my chisels to lessons and make them easier to use and find when I'm there.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Laying a Chipboard Floor

A bit of a different direction from the last post! Can't say I'm not varied even if it is all wood!

We finally managed to get the flooring down in the toilet area of Summerfield Park today. Feels like a complete relief, what with the copper being stolen in the past and having to raise the floor in the first place to avoid the cellar.

Anyhow we got it insulated (insulation held up with battens) and worked our way across the floor laying the boards as we went (I think it's the most pipes I've ever cut round on one floor - got through a whole pack of jigsaw blades).

All the pipe work was on the undersides of the joists so it makes you feel a little better when your nailing it down (we still play the game where you hiss like a leaking pipe when you put the first nail in! - Not good for those with a nervous disposition).

Even managed to get the layout for the studding marked out with the sole plates fixed to the new floor, which means I've got a nice Friday studding - seems like a good way to end the week.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Carved Box Top

Looking at blogs the other day I was inspired when I came across the carved top to an oil stone box on

Kari had made such a beautiful reproduction of the one she saw I decided that I would have my first attempt at carving by trying to make one to my own design (about time I used the 50 or so carving chisels I've collected over the years).

To start with I decided to relief carve a jack saw just to make sure it was within my abilities. This didn't come out too bad (maybe a little like a child had done it) so I decided to draw up a design that could be transferred to wood. I thought that if I used my name on the wood it would make it personal to me, I also chose four tools I use a lot - a mallet, jack saw, level & bevel (in case you couldn't tell!).

Using some spray adhesive I fixed it to the piece of beech I'd decided to use. I know beech isn't the ideal wood for carving (believe me I know now!) but it this has got to survive in the back of my van so needs to be hardwaring and pretty tough.

Happy with the layout I set about chopping round the design then removing the background. It's pretty difficult to get the background smooth (I'd imagine it would be easier with lime or a softer wood) and I got to a stage where I was going to do more harm than good if I carried on.

I then tried to make the tools look 3d and give them detail before giving it a coat of linseed oil.

I'm now going to buy a piece of walnut to make a box for a new(ish) oil stone I brought at a car boot and mount this in the top so it should contrast nicely.

It's never going to win any awards, with so many imperfections everywhere I look, but I'm quite pleased that I managed to have the patience to carve it (and I really enjoyed doing it)

Saturday 3 September 2011

Woodturners Bash

I had an email from my friend and tutor Chris Eagles about the Woodturners Bash the other day asking if I wanted to come along. As It was for UK workshop Forum members I was a bit worried as I hadn't joined, so the night before I quickly joined up and asked if it was OK if I came, I had plenty of replies and decided that it sounded like fun.

It was hosted at Peter Seftons Furniture School in what can only be described as an amazing workshop. Split into different sections (machine room, wood store, hand bench room, etc) I think that this is pretty much the ultimate workshop (Its going to make mine feel pretty small when I get back in there) and in a lovely setting - anyone thinking of doing a furniture course should check out his website

Everyone was dead friendly, sharing workshop stories and ideas. Really nice to be in an environment where you can talk about woodwork all day and have no one groan!

Chris did some great demos, I never seem to get bored of watching him work and I always end up learning something new. His skew chisel demo is always good and its made me want to go make a jig so I can sharpen mine properly tomorrow. He also showed a new method of work holding to finish the underside of box lids as well as how to turn whilst pulling the work under tension - really interesting.

I think everyone was completly stuffed at the BBQ as well as being a group of men we'd all brought meat and bread- not a green leaf in site - and there was far too much! I dont think I was the only one to loosen my belt during the afternoon!

A great day in all (I'm afraid the pictures are a bit poor as I forgot to take any and when I did Chris had to pose- should do a caption competition for the first pic).

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