Saturday, 21 January 2017

When is a stool not a stool?

When is a stool not a stool?.....when it's a picture frame.

For a while now I've had an old stool in my shed, it's in bits as I figured it would come in useful and recently I decided to see what I might make out of the seat part, which was the largest part, the rest being made up of various turned parts, which I'll find a use for eventually.

I give you exhibit 'A' -

But what to do with it?
Not much to look at really, it's in a sorry state, so what to make from it? well I decided on a picture frame, I had thought about making one but in the end I made eight small picture frames and not square ones either, I made round ones, well I have a lathe so might as well go round.

So the first thing to do is cut it up, I flipped it over and marked out the largest piece I could get out of it, it was then I realised that I could probably make more than one if I made them smaller.

Wood marked up - 

Worked out at around 6 and a half inches (17cm)
Next I cut out the square on my band saw - 

Plenty of wood left over.
Onto to turning, using a forstner bit I made a hole so that I could mount the square onto my lathe using an expanding chuck, then I gave it a quick turn to mark out a circle so that I could cut off the excess, it saves time basically.

Circle marked - 

Chop off the unwanted bits.
The fist thing I did was turn the back of the frame in order to make a rebate for the hardboard backing to sit in, then I realised I didn't have a chuck large enough to hold the frame so I could shape the front, to solve that small problem I made a chuck out of some old chipboard (parts of an old wardrobe) fixed to a face plate.

Chipboard chuck - 

Simple, but effective.

Frame mounted onto chuck, held in place by friction - 

It's a tight fit, so no danger of things flying off.
Once I got down to the smaller sized pictured frames it was easier and I didn't need to make chucks as I have various different sized jaws for my expanding chuck.

And when I'd finished making the frames I used a bit of dark oak wax (Liberon black bison, good stuff) it was on to figuring out how to make them hold a picture.

For the back of the picture frames I used some old hardboard that came as packing material in something we ordered, I cut circles out that fitted inside of the rebates on each frame, and fixed the hardboard into place with some small screws.

Backing cut out and small screws - 

Simple solution.
Backing fitted into one of the frames - 

One screw would do just as well.
And that's more or less it, apart from the glass for the front of the frame to protect the pictures.

Obviously you could make some of these and get small glass circles cut, not sure how much that would cost, some other options are thin perspex, one of our local diy type stores sells a large sheet of perspex for £16 and it would make a load of picture frame fronts.

For the time being however I've used a very basic solution, and that is a plastic laminator sheet, the sort of thing you would normally use to protect documents and such like, it turns out that if you run a sheet through a laminator a couple of times it makes a thin clear sheet of plastic, which is easy to cut into circles and works quite well in picture frames, you could also use the clear plastic that usually comes in the packaging for kids toys (I've used this to make stencils before - opens in new window)

Laminator sheet ready for cutting - 

Works surprisingly well.
I will probably, depending on how well this laminator sheet plastic lasts upgrade to clear perspex at some point, but for now my main problem is what to put in the picture frames, I'm thinking I might make some cyanotypes for them using the light reactive paper I have.

I ended up with eight in all, some are small enough that with a magnet glued onto the back they would stick well to metal notice boards, or even fridges, do people still have fridge magnets? and I need to come up with a way to hang the frames from walls and such like.

The finished frames - 

Not bad for an old stool.
So when is a stool not a stool? when it's eight turned picture frames, and making this has given me another idea, kind of a variation on this so look out for that at some point.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

First allotment update of 2017...

I had intended to do some more work on our new plot this weekend, but the weather had other ideas, so here's an update on where we're at with it all.

This is what the our new plot currently looks like -

Much improved.
Since the third of December I have mainly been sorting out fences and gates and a few other things, I'm almost ready to begin the task of digging it all over with the view to planting things in spring.

3rd of December trip.

New gate (which I made at home) fitted -

Not very pretty, but better than what was there.
I made a new gate, and I can now lock the plot up with a length of chain I found and a padlock I bought, given the choice I would have left the old gate where it was, but as I had to cut my way into the plot a new gate was a good idea.

Whilst sorting through the undergrowth I found some (very heavy) concrete slabs, there are just about enough to make a base for the shed that currently lives on our other plot, so I roughly laid out the slabs, although I'm still debating the best place for the shed, so this may change.

Slabs roughly laid out -

Subject to change.
Fixed up the back fence where an old gate used to be, I used what I had and what I found on the plot rather than buying new stuff, so it's not very nice looking, but it serves a purpose.

Old gate patched up -

I did say it wasn't pretty.

I've decided to grow blackberries up the back fence, along with some dog roses for two reasons, firstly there will be blackberries for jam and such like and the dog roses will produce rose hips which can then be turned into rose hip syrup which is very rich in vitamin c, we use it to help prevent colds, it was something people living in the country used to do in ww2 as a way of getting extra vitamins and dog roses also have nice flowers that bees and other bugs love.

The second reason is that brambles and dog roses tend to be a bit prickly and as they grow into the fence they will hopefully provide a bit of a deterrent to anyone who tries to climb over it and so to that end I've been relocating all the dog roses I've found to the back fence, along with any brambles.

Onto the next trip (10th of December)

This was just a short trip to add a bit of height to the back fence, I had a roll of old chain link fencing that I decided to use, so all I did was fix it to the fence posts at the bottom of the plot, this has raised the height of the fence to about nine or ten feet and once the dog roses and brambles get established should provide a nice sturdy growing frame.

Bit hard to see in this picture, but you can just make out the chain link - 

It was a very gloomy day.
I did a bit of clearing around the apple trees as well - 

Starting to look better.
And that was that, a week later (17th of December) I was back sorting out the compost area.

I ripped out the old pallets that were a bit worse for wear and using the parts from the other plot I set about making a new compost area, and once that was done I did a bit more clearing.

New compost area and some more clearing - 

Much better.
That was the last trip in December as it was nearly Christmas and as is usually the case we were very busy trying to get presents and such like sorted out, and we all came down with the flu so we had that to deal with as well.

So onto the first (frosty) trip of 2017, just about recovered from the flu (or what ever it was) on the 6th of Jan I decided to move one of the grape vines, it wasn't really in a practical place so I made a new frame for it to grow along, now runs parallel with the larger one that's growing along the front of the plot.

I used the two posts from it's old frame and added another post and fixed a few rows of garden wire between the posts the frame itself is bigger than a usual grape vine frame, but I want to encourage it to trail along the entire frame.

Moving the vine itself wasn't as hard as I thought, after some reading I had figured I was going to have to do a lot of digging in order to get the entire root ball out, but in the end the root ball was smaller than I thought it was going to be given the size of the plant.

Frame done and vine replanted - 

You can't see the wire, but it's there.
I also added a couple of rows of wire along the very bottom of the frame so that I can grow french beans along it as well, these won't interfere with the grape vine, if for some reason the vine doesn't survive it's relocation then I've got a nice big frame for growing runner beans up.

Extra wire for beans - 

Seemed like a waste of growing potential.
And that's it so far, I will keep an eye on the weather for next weekend and hopefully I will be able to carry on and get it in better shape for spring, but it's come a fair way since we took it on in November last year.

November last year - 

Slightly over grown.
January this year - 

Getting there.
Thanks for reading.