A Meter Cupboard

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.   

Basement storage

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.    


Glass Fronted Bookcase

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.

Glass Fronted Bookcase
Detail of the Bookcase

Free standing Utility cupboard storage

What seems like a straight forward job of fitting shelves into a utility cupboard turned out to be an awkward proposition.

Utility cupboard storage installed by Southampton Carpentry
Utility cupboard storage

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.

A porch that was condemned (how to save £1000s)

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.

A porch renovated by Southampton Carpentry
Renovated Porch in Southampton

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.

Raised bed in Southampton

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.


Wardrobe and Drawers

Made from a combination of MDF and joinery grade softwood the customer also required a chest of drawers to be housed inside the wardrobe. The drawers could only be 550mm from the front to the back. However each drawer is 250mm deep so you can get lots of clothes into them. The customer complained that the chest of drawers you see in furniture outlets do not have deep enough drawers. I agree. The drawers stop short on the right hand side to allow longer garments to be hung whilst every day garments hang above the drawers. A useful separate cupboard above makes this an efficient use of space with plenty of storage potential.

Empty space befor the installation
Space before the wardrobe is fitted

inside drawers
inside drawer

wardrobe in southampton
wardrobe bespoke made

Fire Wood storage

Constructed from Tanalised softwood for extra durability with Cedar wood tingles for the roof it should last a few years to say the least, I also used stainless steel fastenings to give the whole piece a’ belt and braces’ specification. I think that the Cedar wood tingles although initially not cheap really finish off the piece nicely. Much better than an ash felt roof and longer lasting as well, Cedar wood tingles should last around 25years. Ash felt between 5 and 10 years depending on the grade used.
So in the long run Cedar wood tingles actually work out cheaper.
Tanalised timber is a pressure treatment that preserves wood from fungal attack and wood boring insects. When first treated it adds a green tinge to the surface of the wood, the treatment uses copper and other chemicals to a depth of about 3mm. After a period of time and exposed to weather the green tinge gives way to a honey brown and finally a silver grey appearance.
Cedar wood is usually left as is, as it is a highly durable timber with natural resistance to insect attack and superb weathering characteristics.

Fire wood storage in Southampton

Cedar wood tingles for the roof it should last a few years to say the least,
Cedar wood tingles

Mopstick Handrail

This Softwood Mopstick handrail with black brackets fitted to an elderly gentleman’s staircase in Southampton. As I have said in past posts none of us are getting younger. The customer gratefully informed me that having this handrail will enable him to remain in his home of 55years. He was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the stairs. The handrail will be finished off in white by his wife – a mere 91 years old!

Wood stair handrail view from the bottom of the stairs
Wood stair handrail view from the top of the stairs
Detail of the wood handrail installed in Southampton

Shoe Rack with Drawers

Made from American Oak this handy piece of furniture answers the question of where to put those shoes that otherwise clutter the hallway.
The two drawers above the rack serve to store scarfs, gloves and other miscellaneous items. The overall depth is 250mm so it does not intrude into the passage.
Finishing oil was used to finish off the piece bringing out the ‘flavour’ of the wood and giving hard wearing protection.