Saturday 25 August 2012

Lead Work

Parts of certain trades fall out of favour or get past on to others.
This is what has started to happen with lead work, as plumbers become more and more expensive it falls to carpenters and roofers to do the lead work required on old buildings. It's something I've been doing since I was trained up as we used to do a lot of roofs.

Roll mops and lead on a roof in 2005
 Cutting and folding the lead, beating it into shape and knowing how it moves with different temperatures is key to making sure that the lead makes the roof watertight and it will last for many years.
Andy, Del and me working on a flat roof 7 years ago
 Sometimes you come up against a problem where cutting or folding won't be good enough - here you have to weld it. It was on the roof on a steel frame that the box gutter against the existing wall would require some lead welding. Luckily the guy I'm working for got an old school plumber in, he was trained in the traditional way to do lead work. The guy was 67, so we carried up the lead for him and I ground out all the masonry so it could be fitted (dusty job), but he knew his stuff.
My first attempt at lead welding (It was raining during this photo!)
I showed a real interest in what he was doing (and fixed his mallet for him), in return he showed me a little bit of lead welding, how to set up the blow torch to get the flame right and how to join two pieces together. I practised on some offcuts and then let him carry on with the real job of fitting the lead to the gutters we made.
welding on the roof - a water proof joint
I hope I get the opportunity to work with him again so I can learn more about lead work and how to weld it together. It seems fewer and fewer people can do this, instead turning to fibreglass, so it would be good to be able to do it myself when I need to. Bit more practise needed yet though!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

The Darkside Of Stairs

A fairly unrewarding job today. Not that's its not been challenging it's just that no one will really know what I've done when it's covered over.
I've been battening out the underside of a flight of stairs (and now I've got to plasterboard it). If I do it right the plasterer will be able to skim a beautiful twisting curve all the way up underside of these stairs.
Looking up at the underside of the stairs
As you can see from the photo I've had to add a fair few battens to get the curve right . I've also been using the electric plane to take the edges off of these battens on the correct side so it all flows from one side to the other as it twists. This is a job that would be eaiser with the traditonal lath and plaster but I can't see the plasterer mixing anything up with horse hair in!
Quite a frustrating job really - but it will look good and should add some character to the house when it's done!

Saturday 18 August 2012

Letter holder

I saw the oak letter holder I made whilst doing the utility room revamp again today and I was really pleased when I saw a friend had taken the time to paint the words "letters" one it. They'd stencilled on the outline in pencil then painted it freehand up to the lines.

Completed letter holder
 A really professional job and its really made the piece stand out.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Fitting Stairs

It's been a long while since I've fitted any stairs. This can be the trouble with the huge range of jobs a carpenter is expected to do, it can be a long time between doing certain jobs - good job I've got a good memory for things like this!
Fitted flight of stairs
There's two flights to fit, we finished the first today and made a good start on the second. As there is winders (the angles steps that make the flight go round the corner) some of the assembly has to be done on site using lots of glue and wedges.
Underside of stairs
The first flight went in well, we've temporary propped it up until we've built the stud wall to carry the back corner of the stairs (although they do hold their own weight now). I've still got to infill the sides and add handrail at a later date to these. 
Checking the treads are level
The second flight are directly below the first and are the same size with three extra treads on the bottom to give it the extra height.
Dry fitting the second flight of stairs to mark positions
We dry fitted these in this afternoon as they're in a tighter space than the first ones. It's going to be much more difficult to get to the underside to fix the treads and wedges so we need to make sure everything is cut ready. It's at time like this I could do with a small apprentice to get into the tight spaces (I remember being sent on my belly to fix the last few glue blocks!).

Friday 3 August 2012

Fitting A Large Light Well - Part 2

Somehow I always end up being the guy holding the instructions. This roof light was no exception, its been like a big jigsaw puzzle packed in 12 different boxes. I didn't take any pictures of us putting it together (mainly because it kept raining) , but here it is almost finished.
Large light well
It's aluminium frame with a UPVC top and bottom, coated in fake oak. Although fake oak wouldn't be my first choice, I can see why they went for it. It looks quite good from a distance and needs no maintenance (which is always an advantage when it's way up on a roof).
The fake wood looks OK from a distance
It took some brain power to put together (more than I'd care to admit), as the instructions weren't the best and they were to tell you how to put a conservatory up! We were also three bolts short but we managed to find replacements after we'd searched the whole roof and surrounding area. We got there in the end though.
Looks quite posh!
This is the first aluminium/plastic window thing that I've put together from scratch, If I had to do another it would take half the time (but that's normally the case).
The opening light came the wrong colour so we couldn't finish it!

There's still a bit to finish as the opening light (window) came just painted brown so needs the fake grain adding, this means we couldn't get it sealed and water tight tonight. We've also got to bring the fibre glass up the sides of the wooden frame and repair all the slate work, but that can wait for another time.
Anyone else been fitting windows like this lately?
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