Friday, 28 August 2015

Cupboard repair...

We have a fair bit of furniture in our house from the 1950's and some built during the second world war, it's good stuff, although these days people don't seem to go for brown furniture that much, they much prefer to murder it with paint shabby chic it, but we like it.

The problem is that it's not always in perfect condition, and some times small repairs are needed, which was the case with this small cupboard we got free.

Looks pretty good now it's done (well we think it does) -

This is where it lives now.
It had some damage to the side, and it was quite obvious and not easily hidden.

The damage - 

Not great.

So how to fix it? well it just so happens my lovely wife bought me a book on furniture restoration a while ago, so I thought I'd put some of what I've learnt into practice.

Basically I had to repair the plywood that had broken off, obviously if I was going to paint this I could have just filled it with a bit of car body filler, but as we wanted to keep it as original as possible that wasn't an option.

The first thing to do was find a bit of plywood that had a similar grain to the original, once I found that I then had to make it thinner, I could have gone online and found a veneer perhaps, but this fix cost about 50 pence (the cost of the plywood)

I clamped a small piece of the plywood in my vice and cut it down the middle with a had saw, I made sure I cut enough to allow for mistakes.

Clamped and cutting started - 

I used some off cuts to stop the vice marking the wood.

Once I'd cut the wood I then had to sand it down on the opposite side to make it thin enough to match the thickness of the original plywood.

Cut and ready for sanding - 

This is the side that will be stuck to the cupboard.

Sanded to more or less what I needed thickness wise - 

The curve won't matter once glued down.

Next I had to prepare the cupboard, this was just a matter of marking around the damaged part and then tidying it up.

The wood inside the pencil marks is to be removed - 

Next a bit of careful surgery.

Using a square and a sharp knife I cut along the pencil lines, making sure not to push too hard as I didn't want to cut the wood any more than I needed, this wasn't too hard, and once I'd cut along the lines I used the blade to carefully lift the wood away from the cupboard, and I was left with a nice neat rectangle.

Most of the wood removed, it came up easily - 

Much easier to fix when you have tidy edges.

When I'd removed all the unwanted bits I then had to cut my patch, I did this using the sharp knife and a square to get the edges nice and clean, then it was just a matter of gluing the patch onto the cupboard, I left some over hang on the front and top edges so that I could take a little off at a time, it's easier to take a little off than it is to add a bit, it was a little proud of the original wood, but a light sand fixed that.

Patch stuck down, just needs trimming - 

A good fit, the grain isn't quite the same, but it'll do.

And now the tricky bit, colouring the new bit of wood to match the old, this is difficult because a lot of what gives a piece of furniture like this it's colour (patina) is age, years of being polished and if we're being honest the build up of dirt over the years as well.

Wood stain added - 

Needs some tweaking.

The colour isn't too bad, and it has to be better than having a big chunk missing, I'm still tweaking the colour to see if I can get it a little closer to the old wood, in some lights it's hardly noticeable, but all in all I'm much happier with it now it's been repaired, and apart from the colour matching issues it was an easy fix, so now I won't be quite so quick to write of a piece of furniture because it has a bit of damage, we can rebuild it.

Seems less obvious now it's in it's place in the front room - 

Just don't look too closely ;-)
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Garden chair fix...

Sometimes it's worth looking in what I call the 'sin bins' in your local diy shops, most places have them, and most of the time it'll just be random off cuts from where they've cut large sheets of material for people, but every now and then you might find some thing a little more interesting.

Like this -

It's a garden chair.
Yes we found a garden chair like the ones that come in sets with a table and umbrella, in this picture it doesn't look too bad, but it was damaged in a couple of places, and to be honest I wouldn't have taken it if it weren't for the table base that was with it.

This table base - 

Perfect for patching up the chair.
Two of the chair legs were broken, one not as bad as the other, but because we also had the table base, which was also broken we had the perfect material for repairing the chair.

The damage - 

Easy enough to fix.
More damage - 

This is a little more problematic to repair.
I decided that although the legs from the table were longer, they were also the best bet for fixing each leg, so I took the table base apart.

The table legs had a fixing point at the top that matched the chair, it was just a matter of adding the right holes in the right places.

I fixed the old chair leg to the table leg, so that I could get things lined up.

Like so - 

The long groove holds a pin that allows the chair to fold up.
Then using a drill bit with a depth guide on it I drilled out the groove, I didn't bother with the mortises, just the groove for the pin that allows the chair to fold up.

Drilling out the groove - 

I could have used the depth guide on the post drill.

Groove drilled out - 

Ready for the router.

Next I used my router with a straight bit that matched the hole size I'd drilled to tidy the groove up, I could have skipped the drilling and just used the router, but I wanted to make sure the groove was in the right place.

Groove done - 

Spot the problem.

As you can see there was a small problem, that being one of the fixing points on the table leg, and as there's a pin that slides up and down the groove I had to plug the hole to stop the pin from catching, this isn't a difficult thing to do, all you need is a plug cutter, a bit of wood that matches and some glue.

Unfortunately my plug cutters are a bit old, and probably in need of a sharpen, so they tend to burn the wood, it wasn't until after I'd finished the whole chair it struck me that I could have just used my lathe to make some plugs.

Cutting plugs ( it got a bit smoky) - 

Time for a new set of cutters perhaps ?

Once I'd cut a plug or two (I cut them from the old chair legs) I then used them to fill the gaps.

Plug in place - 

Just needs sanding.

Plug sanded - 

The down side of old plug cutters.

Because the wood got burned when I cut the plugs I was left with a dark ring around each plug, but because you won't see where the plugs are I wasn't too worried.

There were a couple of other holes to fill, but in the end once I'd cut the extra off the new legs I had two pretty good replacements.

New legs - 

They do the job nicely.

The last job was to fix the bar back onto the legs to stop them coming apart which would have meant the pins sliding out of the grooves every time the chair was folded.

For this I just cut the broken tenon of the bar, and used a couple of wood screws on each side to hold it in place, and again I plugged the holes.

New bar screwed in place - 

Now to fill the holes.

More plugs cut and fitted into place - 

They don't stand out too badly.

And that was it, a garden chair that probably would have ended up as fire wood given a new lease on life, looks even better now it's had a sand and a generous coat of tung oil.

Good as new - 

And comfy too.

So it's worth looking in the 'sin bin' once in a while, even if you don't find a chair sometimes there's useful bits of wood, I recently found a small piece of plywood that's going to be ideal for a cupboard repair I have to do.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Allotment update (belated)

A some what belated update on the comings and goings of our allotment plot, time flies when you're having fun.

It's been a productive year so far, the plot has been doing okay, we've had some very dry weather here and as such we've had to water a lot more than usual, but all in all things are doing okay, if not a little behind compared to last year.

So to May, our forced Rhubarb experiment worked okay, the large black bins we used, whilst not ideal seemed to do the job, and there is a difference in the Rhubarb, it's more tender and slightly sweeter.

Rhubarb -

Might have left it a bit too long.

We now have an Asparagus bed, the plants are small, and won't be ready for harvesting for a while, we've grown all the plants from seed, hence the extra time before we can harvest it.

Asparagus - 

Seems to be doing well.

The Strawberries have settled into their new location, they've already had fruit on (the picture is from a while ago) and as usual the kids have eaten most of them, same goes for the ones in the back garden.

Strawberries - 

Fresh picked Strawberries are great.

And that was May, not a lot went on to be honest, the plants we started off in the green house seemed to take an age to do anything, and as a result not much went into the ground before the beginning of June once the weather had perked up a bit, the broad beans and the spuds we put in early were doing okay, as where some of the other things, like the beetroot’s.

The plot as of May - 

Bit of weeding still to be done.

June was a bit busier, the spuds and beans were all doing well, and that little bit of weeding we left in May turned into a lot for June.

The plot at the start of June - 

Lots of weeds for the compost heap.

It didn't take long to get things a bit tidier, and on the same day we put in our sweetcorn and the first lot of squash plants, along with a few celeriac plants, and some peas.

We decided to put a second broad bean crop in, in May and the plants were starting to get bigger.

Squashes in - 

More plants in the ground.

We paid two visits to the plot in June, on the second visit we finished the rest of the weeding and also put in a load of cheap seed spuds, they cost 75p and I got two bags, so with the early spuds we put and the ones that went in a bit later we should get three lots of spuds, hopefully the last lot to go in will do for later on in the year.

And that was June, bit of planting and a load of weeding, but at least the plot was looking a bit tidier.

The plot as of June - 

Coming along nicely.

This time of year is always very hectic for us, we have fathers day, a wedding anniversary, and four birthdays in the space of about six weeks, but because of the work we put in at the start of June the plot wasn't in bad shape come the middle of July.

The corn is doing well - 

We're growing more this year than we did last year.

Some of the first lot of squashes have fruits on them - 

Small at the moment, but they grow up quickly.

The second crop of broad beans although small have some good pods on them, we've already harvested the first crop of broad beans and after shelling we had about 3.5kg of beans, some of which have been blanched and frozen for winter, the rest we're eating as we go, luckily our beans were not affected by blackfly as badly as some people, who lost entire crops.

Broad bean plants - 

Small but with a good amount of pods.

The cheap seed spuds are showing signs of life - 

We shall see how many spuds we end up with.

Second lot of squash plants in - 

We may only get small squashes from these.

And that's about it, as I sit and type this the sun is just trying to come out, it's been raining for 24 hours non stop, so at least everything has had a good water, once it dries out a bit I shall go and dig up our first lot of spuds.

The plot as of July - 

The front section has loads of spuds in it ready for digging up.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Six years...

It has been six years since my wife and I got married, and whilst last years anniversary make was quite easy being wood and something I'm pretty good with, this years has been a little harder.

This was last years gift, I found a piece of cherry root that had a natural heart shape in it, then all I did was build a small display case for it, again out of wood.

It was a lucky find.

The traditional sixth year anniversary gift is iron, as in the stuff that gets mined, and seeing as I didn't have access to to a mine, I used a bit of out of the box thinking (or as my son put it 'you cheated!') I used old cut clasp nails, like the sort you'd find holding old wooden floor boards down, we do have some, but I figured my wife might start asking why I was pulling nails out of the floor.

Technically the nails are made from steel, but steel is basically an alloy of iron and carbon, so I was still using iron, all be it in a round about way.

After a root about in my vast collection of random nails and bolts and such like I found some nails that would do the job, I had all ready settled on making a wind chime, and figured I'd try and make the nails a little more interesting, so using a vice to grip the nails and a blow torch to heat them up I was able to shape them.

I've hung twelve nails in all, six I put a bit of a twist into, and the other six I bent into, well little sixes.

The bent nails -

The colouring is from heating them up.

The nails were the hard part, the rest took a few minutes on my lathe, I made two wooden rings, one slightly larger than the other, the larger ring has the nails suspended from it, the smaller ring is for hanging the chime up, the nails are held onto the ring with fine fishing line, which I threaded through holes I drilled into it, on reflection however had I threaded the fishing line differently you wouldn't see so much of it, I may yet change it.

The wooden rings -

The wooden rings and rigging.

 The finished wind chime -

Simple, but it works.

And that is about it, I did discover that the nails actually make quite a nice noise when they bang together, this is in part down to the heating of the metal, I've put a video at the end of this post so you can listen to the sound of twelve nails smacking into each other, it's actually quite subtle.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

I built a shed...

Things have been quite busy around here of late, what with building a new shed, trying to sort the garden out, and all the plants we've been propagating and of course the allotment (amongst other things) time has been a bit thin on the ground.

I finished the shed/workshop a few weeks ago, and I've already put it to use, and I've a post or two lined up about some of the things I've done.

Here's the shed before I started -

Few screws and a bit of paint and it'll be great.

As sheds go it's pretty basic, a simple wooden frame skinned in plywood with a pent roof, it was the cheapest way to do it, and even though I bought the wood it still worked out cheaper than buying a similar sized flat pack shed, I used cls stud work timber for the frame and roof beams, 12mm shuttering plywood for the skin and 3 sheets of 11mm osb for the roof, and a good quality roofing felt for the roof.

Here's a set of basic drawings which show the frame work for the shed - 

Click for a bigger picture.

It's basically a 7 and a half foot by 10 foot box, with a sloped roof, which is roughly twice the size of the previous shed I had (part of which now resides on our allotment plot) it is quite a taller than the last shed as well to allow for storage in the roof space, it's about 7 feet 8 inches at it's highest point sloping down to about 7 feet at it's lowest.

The extra space has allowed me to have half of the shed for storage of crap essential equipment and the other half serves as a work space for my lathe and other tools whilst allowing me room to move, which is something the last shed was lacking, it also means that all the wood I had stacked in the garden under tarpaulins is now out of site in the shed, so the garden looks much neater.

Here's the shed almost done, it rained just after I'd got the roofing felt on - 

Could do with a door.

And here's the finished shed - 

Function over form.

All the wood, has been given two coats of wood preserver, and none of the wood is actually touching the slabs it sits on, I used some of the off cuts of roof felt as a sort of damp proof membrane, the lighter coloured battens were used to cover where the plywood joins.

I also converted an old hard wood French door into a window, it's nice having a window in the shed, the last one only had electric light, which was a bit depressing to be honest, it's nice when the sun shines through it, the intention is to clad the entire thing at a later date (when I have the wood) to make it more appealing to the eye, but for now it's water proof and usable.

Since the picture above was taken I've added a shelf to the front of the shed and I may also add extra shelving down one side of it for the storage of plants, we have loads of things in various states of growth all in pots dotted around the garden.

Shelf fitted - 

You can just make out the shelf behind the bush.

I also recycled some of the old sheds guttering for water collection, despite being under a large Sycamore tree the roof collects plenty of water (it'll collect more in winter) which should fill the two water butts easily, and with the water butt on the greenhouse we should be able to use that water rather than tap water for watering all the plants in pots, and the stuff in the greenhouse, helps to keep the water bill down.

Here's the workspace section of the shed, more or less organised - 

I seem to have a lot of tools.

As you can see I have much more room now, although I'm sure I'll soon fill the extra space with crap essential equipment and supplies.

I've already used my lathe since I fitted it to it's new work bench, well I had to test it out, good thing really as it needs new bearings which I've yet to fit.

I made a few pendants, two of which you can open to put small things inside, these are just testers, I'm still fine tuning them, so with any luck I should be posting a bit more often than of late now I have a shed again and I can do a bit of wood work.

The pendants - 

It's the end two (on the right) that open.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Allotment update...

So time for another allotment related post, time seems to be flying along this year despite that we've managed to get the plot sorted and pretty much ready for veg and such like, we're just waiting for it to grow and in the mean time I've taken down the shed I was using as a work shop and put it up at the allotment, well more or less any way.

This was the plot at the beginning of March -

Not much going on to be honest.

Apart from the two rows of spuds and the broad beans not much else was going on, so all we did was dig over the ground and weed, I did deploy a minion to help spread a bit of fish blood and bone about, she's very good with the rake.

Minion deployed - 

Doing a grand job.

That was about it for March, like I said not much going on, and so onto April, which has proved quite busy, the broad beans are showing signs of life (bit further along now from when the picture was taken) and they've all been nibbled by broad bean weevils, but this shouldn't affect them in the long run.

Broad beans at the start of April -

I plan on planting two lots this year.

The metal shed I had at home was a little past it's best (I'm going to build a new slightly larger wooden one this year) so I decided I'd take it down and use what I could at the allotment, in the end I got a shed the same width, but half the depth out of it, which is just enough to store some tools and materials, I do plan on using part of the roof as a small garden for growing salad stuff, and I've sectioned off part of the inside of the shed so that I can use it as a raised bed for growing tomato plants in, of course I will need to make a window to let light in.

New (to the plot any way) shed - 

Not the prettiest of sheds.

I've also added a water butt (an old plastic bin) to one side of the shed, as per the councils rules that all sheds should have water collection of some kind, the other half of the roof will be a small roof garden, we figured that with using part of the roof and part of the inside of the shed to grow things we haven't really lost any space in having the shed on the plot.

Water butt in place - 

Does the job.

Because it didn't take as long as we thought to put up the shed we also managed to get some more spuds planted, we've now got six rows on the go, some will be ready earlier than the others, we're also growing three different varieties this year, Swift, Pentland Javelin and Maris Piper, the Swifts and the Pentlands are showing signs of growth now, which is good as I had though we'd planted them too early.

We also put in some more garlic, the stuff we planted last year in the autumn is coming along nicely, and along with the spuds and garlic and shallots we put in some french beans,carrots, pak choi, parsnips, beetroot and we've started of this years squash selection in the greenhouse at home, and lastly we put in a couple of rows of mystery brassica's, it was from and offer my wife put in for so we've those to look forward to as well.

French bean rows - 

Six rows in all.

Squashes sown - 

Not quite as many as last year, we're still eating last years.

Maris pipers in the ground and earthed up - 

Can't beat spuds you've grown yourself.

You may have spotted the bins in the last picture, this year we've decided to try forcing some of our rhubarb plants (we have three now) and so far it seems to be going quite well, it's not something we've tried before so we'll have to see how it turns out, forced rhubarb is meant to be sweeter and more tender, and as we have three plants, but we're only forcing two of them we'll be able to compare, which should be fun though it has to be said the bins probably aren't the best thing to use for forcing.

One of our forced rhubarbs - 

It's much bigger since this was taken.

And here's what the plot looks like now, a few weeds, but an hour or so with a hoe will sort that out, since taking on the plot four years ago the amount of weeding we have to do has gone down, I guess persistence pays off in the end.

The plot - 

Soon be full.

Something else that we've started doing is propagating some of our plants, we actually started last year, but we've had some good results which I plan to write about soon, I personally have found taking cuttings and getting them to grow to be quite rewarding.

Thanks for reading.