Sunday, 24 February 2013

Kitchen chairs - new life

We're not sure quite how the upholstered seats on our kitchen chairs had become so disgusting.  It's not as if we make a practice of sitting in muddy pools outside in preparation for using them, but Liz pointed out yesterday that it did look as if we had.  So off she went to Abakhan at Greenfield and back she came with some lovely large check material.

This afternoon the job snuck in front of the hundreds actually on the list and we shared the removing of hundreds of staples, the cutting of the material and the re-stapling.  There are eight chairs, so it did take a while. It also uses a lot of staples, but fortunately I received some recently (along with many upholstery tools - thanks, Graham) as part of father-in-law's stock clearance. Maybe we should now use the kind of covers the garage puts on the car seats at service time?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Bath installation

Well, this was the easiest bit of 'plumbing' I've ever done.  Ever since I brought my crop of willow from Devon, I've been wondering whether I could use our fish pond to soak it.  This seemed a bit harsh on our fish, so I advertised on Flintshire Freegle for a bath.  The system is great, and the following day I was able to help a chap in Abergele get rid of part of his rubbish after a bathroom refit.

This afternoon, in an icy wind, I popped the bath onto a couple of building blocks alongside the barn and out of sight behind an IBC, handily placed to fill it.  So in went the stored rainwater, and the willow, and in a few days time I'll be hoping to start my next basket.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Ramp - part 2

Before we get going, here's the Welsh Water update (we had a visit from a great WW engineer): we don't have enough pressure to bring mains water all the way up to the house, so the pumphouse improvements must go on.  For the time being (fingers crossed) all is well.

Back to the ramp.  This is where we started on my last Devon visit:

The front step was a significant hazard for father-in-law, and a block to brother-in-law's wheelchair.  I took some fairly rudimentary measurements and a plan formed.

After I came home large amounts of timber (for everything except the actual decking surface) were collected from the builders' merchant's in Mold, and construction started (see last post).  Much measuring, cutting (measure twice, cut once) and a particularly large amount of hand mortice and tenon cutting (20 newel posts, almost every one jointed on two sides) took place, followed last Friday by half a day of packing the car and trailer with tools and worked materials:

So, on Friday evening, I drove down the M6, M5 and A30, with the car struggling a bit on the hills.  We made it.  I knew I was going to be pressed for construction time if I was to be home on Monday night, so on Saturday morning I unloaded in the dark and arrived before opening time at the local woodyard to collect the decking boards.  So far, so good.

Construction on Saturday progressed, as a forecast of wet weather for Sunday became firmer hour by hour. By dusk I had the main structure in place.

Sunday dawned pretty wet, and got wetter, so much so that by 3 o'clock I was like a drowned rat and using power tools had become dangerous, as moisture caused the volts to track across the switches.  I was quite a lot further on, with the decking boards in place.

So Monday would just be side rails (base and middle), a step, and a mini ramp for inside the front door.
And again things went well, though I was tiring and got the odd cut wrong.  Fortunately I had a little spare timber.  By lunchtime we were here:

So, a solid job, stainless steel fixings, and it doesn't even touch the house.  It can at some future point be dismantled and recycled, and with a quick rake of the gravel, will leave no trace. In the meantime my in-laws have amused us by deciding it is substantial enough to merit its own name ('The Approach') if not its own address and postcode.  I have had a great time planning and building it, and have learned a lot, including that I can do (relatively simple) things in 3D.  

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ramping it up

There's old stock, and there's new stock.  My latest project is to build an access ramp, decking-style, at the front of my in-laws' bungalow.  This is designed to make life easier for my father-in-law, who is beginning to struggle with steps, and for my brother-in-law who, since his stroke, needs a ramped access on his visits to Devon.

It has to be quite a sturdy piece of joinery, meeting regulations on the gradient (no more than 1 in 12) and width (minimum 900mm), so a visit to Travis Perkins was needed to bring the materials in.  This was 10 days ago, and snow was still lying in the woodyard, so it wasn't the most straightforward of tasks.

I've again been using the lower barn to do the construction work, with sections screwed together and newel posts bolted on with stainless steel bolts. I've been pushing my power tools close to their limits, not least because they don't like sawing and drilling damp timber. I've also been testing my not-too-good-in-the-third-dimension design capability.  The idea is to check that everything goes together, then dismantle it, take it Devon on Friday evening on the trailer, and build it again in situ over the weekend.  I have left the buying of the decking boards for a Saturday morning visit to TP in Okehampton as I've got more than enough weight to trundle down the M6 and M5.

There are one or two tricky bits (a gate and steps for those who don't want to use the full ramp, for instance) so I'm hoping the measurements I took on my last visit aren't too far out.

Here's what it looks like at present - I'll blog again with pictures next week.