Not the most glamorous of projects but an essential one particularly when the pipes run down the corner of a living room. Rather than butt two pieces of MDF together which look amateurish and unsightly I carry a stock of edging pieces that I machined out.
It also means that when the customer paints the box there is no rough edge.
The edge of MDF acts like a sponge so you never quite get that perfect paint finish.The edging piece covers that.I was undecided about wrapping the coving around the box so instead left the box as is.Once it is painted it will blend in.
Oak comes in an infinite range of shades and grain structures. I explained this to the customer who replied ‘The more contrast in the wood the better’. This set of storage/display drawers are made with solid Oak drawers, top and legs.And a combination of solid and OAK veneered MDF used for the main carcass.A particularly delicate piece comprising 9 drawers 380mm x 220 with an internal depth of 26mm for the shallow drawers and 70mm for the larger ones. The intention is to keep a large collection of crystals and rocks in the drawers with several books on the subject on the bottom shelf. Personally I think a lovely pot plant would be nice to sit on the top.I finished the piece with a finishing oil and the customer has employed a french polisher who will do their magic to bring out the grains and colours.
The industry standard is to use cams and locking pins to assemble furniture boards together. We have all seen them and probably used them when we buy flat pack furniture to assemble at home. They work and have the added convenience that with care you can dismantle and reassemble the furniture if you move house for example.However cams are not great if you wish to achieve a piece which has the characteristics of a traditional ‘solid’ piece of furniture.
With this in mind I use a method of construction that entails a trench to be machined into the meeting panels and introduce an Oak batten, I choose Oak because of its sheer strength thus avoiding splitting should the piece come under stress. The trench is normally 6.3mm wide and 15mm deep on each panel enabling a 6.3mm x 30mm batten to be glued into place. The images below show the construction of two cupboards that are to be used in an office come handicraft workshop environment. They do not have to be white I can source over 1000 colours with various finishes that can have AirTec Edging.
AirTec Edging enables a seamless hardwearing edge to panels and the appearance of a quality piece of furniture. Something that cannot be achieved with the iron on alternatives often employed.The great thing about these furniture boards is that matching existing colour schemes can be achieved which means adding an extra cupboard or an infill does not become an obstacle to enlarging or redesigning an existing installation.
This electricity meter situated in the hallway needed to be housed in something. I had fitted Oak veneered doors throughout the property so an Oak cupboard was decided as being most suitable.American white Oak and Oak veneered MDF for the door panels was used.I was keen to copy the curve of the plaster work to the top of the cupboard which gives a certain flow to the finished piece.
American White Oak is not the easiest of timbers to work with. I have to be really careful in selecting stock from suppliers as it is prone to warp, splitting and cupping.It has to be clamped from the moment I purchase it to the moment it is machined and assembled.Because of this characteristic I allow for 30% wastage. By that I mean that a 2 meter length will have a workable length of approximately 1.5Mts. The .5 offcut is used for smaller projects e.g. picture frames and such like.
This narrow basement being approximately 2 meters wide by 8 meters long had fitted this MDF storage unit. I split the unit into 5 sections, manufactured it off site and flat packed it for transport. It was then reassembled in the basement and fitted against the wall.
All facing edges are finished with a glued 18mm x 21mm softwood batten. This prevents sagging which is a problem over time with MDF shelves and also enables a better finish when it is painted. I find that the edge of MDF tends to be a bit like a sponge and the paint tends to sit with a rough finish without edging.
This storage unit is 3.7 meters in length and 2.1 meters in height with a depth of 700mm it has 25 individual shelves which sit onto adjustable shelf strips.
The potential storage capacity is enormous, a massive 5.1 cubic meters, that’s a lot of books 18mts or 59ft.
This double bookcase I made using off cuts from various jobs that I have done. The carcass and shelves are Oak Veneered 18mm MDF whilst the doors are solid American White Oak. The shelves are sat on adjustable shelf brackets so that i can maximise the storage potential. Finished with Liberion finishing oil x 3 coats.It houses my stamp collection. I have been a keen stamp collector since being at school. There are over 250000 stamps to my collection. In the past I have come to ‘arrangements’ with customers who have been left collections or who no longer collect themselves as part payment for work.If you happen to have an unwanted collection let me know.The benefit of having glass fronted doors on bookcases is obviously about the dust that accumulates but also insects that can become trapped between books. High value books either monetary or otherwise deserve the protection offered.
What seems like a straight forward job of fitting shelves into a utility cupboard turned out to be an awkward proposition.
It wasn’t until I ran a cable detector down each wall that it was realised that both walls were stuffed with cables and pipes. The property was a new build, the utility cupboard itself in a bathroom and all the services ran through this area. The answer was to manufacture a two piece free standing frame which I then introduced shelves onto, the shelves keep the frame against the wall so if in the future the customer decides to open up the cupboard again it will be a simple task of removing the shelves and the frames will follow. No screws or glue were used so no footprint will be evident. The MDF shelves are lipped with softwood this stiffens the MDF and prevents the MDF shelves from sagging overtime with the weight of items on the shelves. This simple but effective stiffening I do on all shelves that I fit when using MDF.
I was initially approached by this customer to give a quote for replacing their porch. They explained over the phone that they had been told that it was beyond saving, by a builder as well as another carpenter, and that the porch was about to fall down. I initially asked for an image of the porch to see if it was something I wanted to get involved in. A visit was arranged. As soon as I arrived I could see that it was not about to fall down – although it was in a sorry state and had sunk along the front by about 2″. This was evident by the mortar that was cracked where the roof meets the house wall. Not the end of the world.
I asked about the comments made by the builder and the carpenter who both said it could not be saved and that led on to the question of costs. The builder had quoted £9,000+VAT. The carpenter had quoted £10,500 + VAT. I do not as a rule give quotes as it is difficult to be precise on restoration work, but I estimated a cost of rebuilding the bottom half of the porch plus the replacement of posts to be around £2,500 with no additional VAT to add. The customer you can guess said yes, yes, yes!
There are I am sure many reasons why so many builders and carpenters say to customers it’s ‘beyond repair ‘. Perhaps it’s to do with just wanting to extract as much as possible financially, with the minimum effort, from projects that come their way, or maybe it’s a deficit of skills or not having the specialist tools required to undertake restoration. Very few consider the environmental costs involved in replacing such a structure: not only is there the waste material that has to be considered, there is also the materials used in the new build; timber, glass, tiles, mortar , concrete, all with a high carbon footprint, and involving the extraction of resources from a finite world. Take a look at the Earth Overshoot link.
So how to renovate a 1970s porch? The first task had to be to remove the glass, which I managed to do without breaking any. This enabled me to acro-prop the two front corners, thus stabilising the whole structure. I could then start to remove components, carefully noting how the porch was made in the first place and taking measurements so that I can copy these onto the new parts. I also decided that I could do a better job than the original: the original build had the posts sat directly onto the concrete base. I decided a better way would be to have the floor plates mitered on the corners and the posts fitted on top with a stub mortice joint. Posts sat directly onto a concrete base will invariably rot due to rising damp. Another change I made was to increase the width of the cill so there was more of a overhang and to introduce drip bars 75mm up from the base. These drip bars are really important in throwing rain water away from the timber floor plates, keeping them dry and sound.
The rest is relatively straight forward in so much as its a reversal of the dismantling process. Once all the new parts were in place I could then remove the props, but before doing so I measured the height at two given points and then remeasured once the props are removed; I can then gauge any movement. Between 1 and 5 mm would be acceptable. Re-fitting the glass and adding a window cill internally finished the job nicely. Cost! as per my estimate £2,500 with no VAT to add.
A 2.4mt x 1.7mt raised bed that fills an otherwise unused patch in the garden. The customer hopes to grow squash and courgettes around the edges so that they can overhang and leaks and onions in the middle. Should work out well as it is in a sunny position. The decking around the top enables you to sit whilst you work and place tools and pots on.