Making Stuff Part 4

892F166C-124D-400A-A31D-E694964C3A27_1_105_cJust before Xmas I’d been given some oak worktop from a colleague at work who had some left over from his new kitchen. These tops were perfect for making cutting boards so soon got to work planing a couple down and presenting them to him as a thank you for donating them to me. I had rounded the edges over and gave them a coat of cutting wax and was pleased with the outcome. Apparently his wife was really pleased too. I’m planning to make more of these in the coming months and will also try to do some fancier designs too.


During the Xmas break I decided to put my new plunge saw to good use by building a shoe rack for our under stairs cupboard out of a couple of sheets of MDF. Whilst my table saw is great for cutting down timber, it’s not so great for large sheets so the mini project would be an ideal test for the new Erbauer saw.

Firstly I created a design using AutoDesk free 3D modelling app Fusion 360. The software can be a bit daunting at first but having watched a few YouTube videos and completed some training I soon got to grips with it and managed to create a scaled drawing of the planned shelving unit.

I E3FC27D9-A677-407A-9BDA-95DF246672A7_1_105_cordered two sheets 18mm MDF and a similar sized sheet of 12mm MDF and once delivered starting cutting them down to manageable panels. I decided not to do any fancy joinery and ended up building the unit with screws and glue.

I found some white paint and the shelving unit soon started to look the part. I gave the walls under the stairs a quick paint and then installed the new unit along with some coat hooks, made from re-purposed wood I had left over from another project.


As seen in previous posts I’d started to make signs for my family and whilst they had turned out OK, I was never really happy with the accuracy of the hand routing so started to investigate other ways of creating similar effects. I had always been interested in CNC machines and so started to do some digging to understand what options were available. And of course how much worbeeone would cost me.

In the end ordered a WorkBee from Ooznest, based in Essex. I did look at cheaper units from Amazon but having read the reviews, I noted how limited they were and felt if I was really going to make things to a good standard I needed to spend a decent amount of money.

My next post will detail the fun I’ve had building the unit and some of the projects I intend to create.

Making Stuff Part 3

Having got to grips with making wooden things again, I started to look around for some gifts I could make for my family and friends using some of the small off cuts of timber I had accumulated over the months.

IMG_1809Following on from the success of the key holder that I engraved I decided to have a go at making some wooden signs, which I could personalise depending on the recipient. The idea actually came from my sister-in-law who had seen a wooden sign of our favourite holiday place, Kalkan and suggested I could make her one too.

I had already bought a hand-router, and worked out that if I printed out the words I needed and stuck them to a wooden blank I could then trace through, leaving a neat finish. Painting the letters black made the them stand out and I was pleased with the final once I’d finished the sign with a coat of wax. IMG_1793

I refined the process and was soon coming up with ideas for other members of my family and even made a couple for secret Santa gifts for people at work. To finished them off I drilled some holes and threaded a piece of hemp rope which could be used to hang them from a wall.


I even knocked one up for Matt & Chloe’s tortoise.







Whilst making signs was fun, it was quite fine woodworking and so I got to think about a bigger project to challenge me. 20 years ago, one of the projects I enjoyed making was a pine coffee table, a simple design but very sturdy and still in use today in Tina’s sewing room. As I had some larger planks and long lengths of oak I decided I would attempt to make another table; this time a little more refined and fancier features. I researched online and got some ideas that I could adapt.

IMG_1776Firstly I cut down two wide planks, planed and then glued them up, using biscuit joints and clamps to keep them level. I then got to work on the legs and skirts. I had liked the look of tapered legs so wanted to incorporate these in my design but wasn’t quite sure how to achieve it. After watching a few YouTube videos, I stumbled on a technique using a table saw and soon had four legs shaped in exactly the style I wanted. IMG_1778

Once the top was dry and cut to the final size, I then used a 45 degree router bit to edge it. After lots and lots of sanding and a coat of wax finish the table was complete and too be honest I was rather chuffed with the outcome, especially as it was something I’d designed from scratch.

With Christmas now looming fast and colder temperatures in the workshop, any thoughts of new projects were few and far between but knowing I had some time off over the festive period I was determined to utilise one of my new tools, namely an Erbauer plunge saw that I’d purchased from Screwfix. Cutting large sheets was always a challenge on my table saw and having some ideas on projects using MDF and plywood, I decided a dedicated circular saw would be a good tool to have.

My next blog will cover how I turned some large sheets of MDF into a shoe rack for our under-stairs cupboard.

Making Stuff Part 1

IMG_0502One of the first projects I undertook in my new workshop was to make use of the pine table that my son had donated to me (this new table had been damaged in transit so the company sent him a replacement and told him to keep the faulty one).

I immediately got to work ripping the wood down using my new table saw, creating a few planks for the task I had planned for it…to build a run for Matt and Chloe’s new tortoise Zoom. 4C31038E-C195-4E76-AD3E-BD4B1A6A6D69I bought some wire mesh and a found some roofing felt and soon knocked up a run fit for their special one. I even managed to add his name to the side using my router.

Pleasingly Matt & Chloe loved the run and throughout the summer Zoom spent many a happy day sunbathing in his new surroundings.

IMG_1204For my next project I got inspiration from a YouTube video, making a pine version of the Adirondack chair. This was more practice piece rather than a useful addition to the garden furniture, and although it is still on the lawn, it’s looking a bit weathered and will need a cleanup if it’s going to be used again this coming summer. I did add the extension later on in the year which makes it a bit more comfortable to sit in, but the seat is very low and Tina does struggle to get out of it. The mark 2 version will be made out of wood that is better suited for outdoors use and easier to get on and off it.

IMG_0436My first commission was something Tina asked me to build for her…a cotton bobbin holder for her sewing room. Again I investigated online to find a suitable version and eventually found some that I could enhance to meet the exacting requirements of the wife 🙂 For this project I also managed to make it out of recycled wood; this time I broke down a wooden bathroom shelf unit we no longer required. The holder came out pretty well and helped me get to grips with accurate drilling.

Having seen how simple it is to re-purpose and recycle wood, I realised that with the right tools and a bit of thought you can recreate lots of things easily.

Next I wanted to have a go at creating something from hardwood so ordered some planks of oak online and also managed to pick up a job lot of timber from eBay for a very good price. The latter was such a bargain, it’s actually kept me going in my return to woodworking. I’ve made quite a few tea-light holders, cutting boards and coasters from reclaimed beech, sapele, oak and maple.

IMG_1737 IMG_1727









My next post will cover some of the finer pieces I’ve built in oak I purchased; this is part of woodworking I’ve really enjoyed, especially as the furniture was designed from scratch.

Nearly there…

I thought I’d better update my blog as to the progress of the bathroom I started a couple of months ago as I am close to completion, with only a bit of painting and some fittings to put up. You may recall that the DIY hasn’t been straight forward; with a number of incidents setting me back, including putting my foot through the ceiling below and cutting through an electrical ring main, but since then things have been going fairly smoothly.

IMG_1585Well, when I say fairly smoothly, I must mention the ‘cowboy’ company who let us down with the tiling by failing to turn up twice despite promising to have someone on site to start the work. Flytte appeared to be extremely professional leading up to the agreed start day sending two separate people around to quote and technical assess the job. But when it came down to it they let us down, with no apology or contact afterwards. Very shoddy.

So it was left to me to take on the tiling; I didn’t particularly want to but with the refit dragging on we really wanted to get the bathroom back in service. I took my time and finally completed it during the week, reasonably pleased with the finish.

And so to this weekend and I finally got around to fitting the glass shower screen, the new toilet and sink, as well as the laminate flooring. I did have a bit of a panic this morning when I unwrapped the glass panels to find a support bar missing, doh! A few frantic phone calls to the Bath Store and they confirmed that the part should have been included and will send it to me next week. Fortunately I was still able to fit the panel and do the silicone sealing around the tray so the day wasn’t completely wasted.

I must admit I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the bathroom; it’s given me the appetite for DIY again and Tina subsequently has drafted a list of jobs that need tackling over the coming months. I have also benefited from a few new ‘tools’ which has helped me carry out the bathroom fitting and made the job so much easier. They include…

  • a circular saw
  • a reciprocating saw
  • a jig saw
  • a manual tile cutter
  • a water-cooled tile cutter
  • a set of diamond drills
  • a cordless drill

Whilst the bathroom has been a petty expensive project, I think by doing it myself I must have saved a couple of thousand quid even if I include the additional tools I ordered.

Back to the tiling and there was a personal benefit of the company letting us down; they were going to charge £600 for the work which now has enabled me to order a certain watch which is about to be launched next week 🙂


Ooh Betty

Drip, drip, drip then drip, drip,drip, drip even more were the sounds I heard whilst sitting at my desk in the study. I looked up and watched a steady ‘stream’ of water pouring through the ceiling and thought “that’s shouldn’t happen!”.

IMG_1322I waited for Matt to finish his shower in the bathroom above and then did an inspection under the bath to find it was absolutely soaking wet, with the bath sealant the expected cause. On closer inspection though I discovered the water had actually penetrated the wall tiles, effectively allowing the full power of the shower to soak the wall behind, and subsequently my study.

I put an immediate ban on using the shower and after discussing with Tina, we agreed that a new dedicated shower was required, courtesy of my bonus.

The following weekend I ripped out the old bathroom units; the toilet and sink were built into a unit so were easy to remove although the bath was more awkward due to the size. But it didn’t take long and soon I had an empty room to contemplate the task ahead.

Plumbing and small building tasks don’t phase me; in fact I quite like getting stuck in but I did agree that the tiling should be done by a professional; for some reason I just can’t seem to put tiles up and make them look good.

The new bathroom (or shower room) would require the flooring to be replaced; the water damage had ‘blown’ the original chipboard and a false wall to be built to hide the on-suite pipework which was now visible now that the bath had been removed.

We agreed that we wanted a walk in shower; including a low profile tray and glass screen and the room fully tiled. Of course a new toilet and sink would also be required.

I firstly started on the false wall and soon had the new boarding hiding the pipework. Next was to lift the flooring. As I said earlier, some of the flooring was easy to lift as it was damaged and soon I had half the floor up exposing the beams and study ceiling.

And then came my first ‘Frank Spencer‘ moment!

IMG_1292As I was trying to lift part of the flooring my foot slipped and next thing I was sitting astride a beam with my feet in the study, with large chunks of plasterboard ceiling on the study floor. Oh how I laughed and oh how the dog barked 🙂 I put a brave face on the situation and deemed it was not all bad as the ceiling was shot anyhow due to the water damage. Still I knew I wouldn’t live it down when the family arrived home from work and they certainly took the piss as expected.

I ploughed on with the task in hand and decided that in order to help get the remaining flooring up I would need some power tools. I did some online research and eventually decided that I needed a reciprocating saw, which I duly bought the following day from my what was becoming my favourite DIY store, Screwfix Direct.

When I got my new ‘toy’ to work I was impressed and wondered how I’d even managed to do DIY without one; It cut through the flooring like butter. But it also cut through one of the ring mains circuits under the flooring as well plundering the house in darkness, after firstly creating a large electrical flash 🙂 A quick repair got the power back on; not before the family started to wonder if I really knew what I was doing. Of course I was not deterred and put it down to ‘slight mishaps’ and part of the DIY experience.

Since those two incidents things have gone pretty straightforward and in fact, considering what could go wrong, I’ve been pretty lucky. The toilet and new basin went in without a hitch and the shower install is progressing well.

I’ll post some pictures of the new bathroom once it’s completed…assuming I don’t manage to flood the place!

Slow news day

slownewsdayToday, I have really struggled to think of anything to write about to keep the blog-a-day-in-February going. I was asked last month whether I was going join the annual blogathon and at the time said I wouldn’t but as the first of February got closer I decided to go for it and too be honest it’s not been too bad so far…until today!

In previous years I have managed to plan ahead, having many of the days pre-written or at least an idea of a subject to discuss but this year I’ve taken each day as they’ve come. Fortunately I’ve managed to find something to cover and also managed to avoid repeating myself too much apart from revisiting the old favourites such as Being Graham Wright and a Coeliacs update.

And so today I thought I’d see what occurs and hopefully they’ll be a story somewhere.

Firstly I got up to take Rio for his early morning walk. Surely something interesting must happen that I could write about whilst I stroll around my usual route? Nope, nothing of note there. Damn!

Back home and after breakfast it was time to finish off the spare room by installing the TV bracket and shelf for the sky box but I couldn’t start straight away as one of Matt’s mates was asleep in the bed; apparently he was locked out of his own house. Again not really a newsworthy story there! Soon Ben left so I managed to complete the room, again with no major disaster such as drilling into a water pipe or similar. Oh well.

“I know, I’ll take the rubbish to the tip after lunch” I thought “there’s bound to be some controversy if I don’t sort out the recycling from the landfill waste.” But no-one was distinctly interested in my poor recycling actions and I left with an empty car and empty story. Aw shucks.

Off to see the parents for a cuppa next but I wasn’t holding out much hope for a newsworthy topic. The only unusual thing that did happen was my mum giving me tea with two sweeteners (something my dad would normally do). Mum was adamant she didn’t put them in the cup so we suspect they were already in the mug from another time. Again not really an event to fill a blog page.

Back home and it was ironing time; surely I could burn a hole in one of Tina’s jumpers or Matt’s work shirts but no, I managed to do the ironing chore without any disasters. Oh well.

Even the dog, who is always a favourite for a good story, has been well behaved and has slept for most of the day. Rio, you’ve let me down!

And so with no inspiration forthcoming I decided to write about nothing and managed to fill the page. Somehow I don’t think my usual readers will be returning if I don’t pull my socks up for the remainder of the month!

Kitchen update – phase 3 – day 3

Paul arrived on time and got to work cementing the remainder of the tiles down. I was pleased with the way he had laid the tiles yesterday, and the the pattern he’d set out ensured the tiles looked good from any part of the kitchen. With a couple of spare tiles he then added a shelf to the window sill, which originally we were going to leave just painted but decided that it would probably get knocked so decided to add the tiles instead.

After a lunch break Paul then began the arduous task of grouting the floor, something I was glad not to be doing. I suppose doing a large area is not a problem for a professional but I would have got bored after half an hour and rushed to the finish.

Paul filled the gaps between the units and threshold with mastic rather than cement to allow for movement, which really finished off the tiles.

And so he was done…

And the kitchen was done (apart from the splash back and plinths)…

And it looks stunning…

At the weekend Tina and I will complete the job by painting the walls and skirting boards.

We are all extremely pleased with the kitchen; we have suffered a fair bit of disruption, with many takeaways getting us through. The dog has also endured lots of confusion too; his water bowl has been moved so many times I’m surprised he’s not paranoid. But generally he has been very good; making the decision to take time off to keep him out of the way of the workmen was the right thing to do even though towards the end of the ten days I was starting to go stir crazy. I never thought I’d say I was happy to go back to work bu

I hope the blog has been a good read, it certainly helped me get through the period by writing down the experience.

Kitchen update – phase 3 – day 2

Paul turned up as planned yesterday morning to prepare the floor ready for the new tiles. He levelled out the bumps (creating lots of dust in the process) and then sealed the concrete floor ready for laying. As soon as he turned up he asked how we wanted the tiles to be laid. I hadn’t really considered which way they should go but luckily Tina hadn’t left for work and she was able to say what she wanted, which was a brickwork effect longways down the length of the kitchen. Paul suggested that laying then in that way would make the kitchen look even narrower that it was and suggested laying the tiles crossways instead and proceeded in setting out a few for us to see. We agreed that crossways would be better and so left him to get started.

Paul then spent the next two hours marking out the floor ready to lay the tiles, not before stating he thought Pete may not have ordered enough and may be two or three short. I was surprised in how long he spent marking out but then the key in getting floors to look good is in the preparation. I would have found the centre and started laying them straight away, worrying about the edges when I got to them. That’s why I’m not a professional tiler I suppose, it’s all about the detail.

Paul spent the next couple of hours laying out the tiles and cutting the ones that will edge the units and the wall. As the pattern required half tiles there was a lot of cutting and this part took longer than I’d expected. Mid-afternoon and all the tiles were cut and Paul then started setting them in adhesive but by 5pm time had caught up and he finished for the day, suggesting that he may be on site tomorrow and possibly Wednesday to finish off.

Kitchen update – phase 3 – day 1

Gary the plaster arrived on time and got straight to work on plastering the tile backs and damaged walls. Although there was the issue of the leaking water pipe, I was happy to say that phase 2 was pretty much complete, with the kitchen fully installed and only the plinths to be fitted once the new floor tiles have been laid.

Another job Pete did before leaving yesterday was to remove all the electrical socket covers and terminate all the wires so that the plasterer had a clear run when skimming the walls. This seems a good practice and ensured that we got a good finish, especially as we did not intend to retile the areas, just paint.

Gary finished off at lunchtime, doing a pretty good job considering the difficulty of plastering with cupboards in the way. He said he would have preferred the walls to be clear to get a good run at them but managed to get a decent finish on the end. Shortly after he left Pete turned up and rewired the sockets that were removed yesterday, not before turning the water off to stop any further leaks under the sink.

When Pete tried to switch the ring main back on it kept tripping suggesting a wire had become trapped behind one of the socket faceplates. After removing all of the covers again it was found that the first socket he wired was the culprit. Annoyed at himself for trapping the wire he left it and attended to the plumbing issue instead. Fortunately the leak was easier to resolve and soon had the water reconnected.

Back to the wiring problem and Pete joined a new bit of wire to the damaged one, stating that he would have to get the electrician back to crimp the connection to make it permanent. All the faceplates were then refitted and the power was restored without further issue.

After making a template up for the glass splashback Pete then left for the day leaving us with electrics and a newly plastered kitchen. I made up the shelf under the sink and which enabled us to put the remaining items away. Tina meanwhile cooked our first dinner using the new induction hob. It took a while for he to suss out the correct setting to get the pan simmering but soon served up a lovely chilli con carne.

Matt and I struggled to get the american style fridge out of the kitchen and into the conservatory to clear the floor ready for the tiler. Perhaps I should have emptied before we moved it as it was very heavy and not easy to manoeuvre over the back door threshold.

Tomorrow the tiler will be arriving early to prep the floor ready for tile laying on Monday. Pete had delivered the tiles earlier in the week and now seeing them in the kitchen has confirmed we made the right choice; they will contrast well with the units and the grey/black worktop. We might even ask the tiler to put them on the windows ledge if there are any spare.

Kitchen update – phase 2 – day 5

“So what does this button do?” Tina asked touching the newly installed dishwasher. Then she jerked back saying she’d got an electric shock off the metal part of the appliance.

“Oh no” I said but before I could check things out Rio had touched the machine and yelped when he got a similar belt.

“That’s not good” I exclaimed and immediately switched off the mains at the wall.

Out came my trusty voltmeter which confirmed that Tina and Rio’s electric shocks were genuine; a 90v ac potential between the machine chassis and earth.

I straight away isolated the mains again and called the fitter who apologised and said he would check it out he he came over later in the day. I suspected that the wiring for the new socket feeding the washing machine and dishwasher was faulty, probably a missing earth as I’d seen a similar issue with Nick’s dishwasher last year.

Today I had to wait in for the replacement cupboard and larder door and so I thought I’d wire up the ceiling lighting, something I was confident I could do without causing anyone to get electrocuted! Rio on the other hand was very restless, not helping Abby who was trying to sleep after working last night at the hospital.

Mid-morning saw the delivery of the missing bits so I rang Pete and he confirmed he would be there at lunchtime, at which point he would fit the cupboards and check the electrics feeding the appliances.

Pete and Adam duly arrived around 1pm and got to work straight away. Pete checked out the wiring and discovered, as I suspected, that the earth feeding the appliance socket had come loose, a basic faulty that shouldn’t really have happened if the electrician had checked the wires before putting the socket back. The blame seemed to be aimed at the apprentice electrician, although I believe it was actually Pete (the electrician) who did that socket. Anyhow, the mystery of the live dishwasher was solved.

Once Adam had fitted the cupboard he then started finishing off the larder door buy fitting the handles, which I thought was odd as he hadn’t changed the faulty door. I mentioned this fact and he then swapped it over.

Hmm things hadn’t been so smooth over the last day or so and things were about to get worse!

I popped out to get some masking tape. leaving Rio with just the hall way as a run as I was only going to be gone ten minutes. When I returned I discovered he’s pulled a shelf down, ripping out the brackets and leaving large holes in the plaster.

Could the day get any worse I thought?

Oh yes it could!

After the fitters had left for the day I started filling the remaining cupboards and larder before taking Rio to the vets after we’d noticed he had a mucky ear, suspecting an ear infection. When I returned £51 lighter and some ear drops to apply, I went into the kitchen and noticed a pool of water under the sink. I checked the new pipework and saw the there was a constant dripping coming from one of the fittings. Bugger. I rang Pete and explained what I’d discovered and then turned the water off, which stemmed the leak. I mopped  up the water and soon could see that the water was actually dripping from one of the solders fittings Pete had done on Wednesday.

I rang Pete back and agreed that the problem could wait until tomorrow and in the meantime I would only put the water on when required (filling toilet cisterns and showering/washing).

Tina came home from work and I suggested we go out for dinner once we’d been to see Tina’s dad who was in Kettering General Hospital. We ended up at the local curry house for a well-deserved meal after a very long week.

When we got back I finished off sheeting up the kitchen units ready for the plasterer who is turning up early to finish off the walls that were damaged by the removal of the old tiles last month. I also added some polyfiller to the two holes from the shelf in the hallway.

So all in all, not a great day in the kitchen when all should be nearly finished. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, assuming Pete can sort out the pipework easily.

If someone has said it was Friday the 13th today I could have quite easily believed them!