Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Shelves complete!

So here it is. A softwood fitted book shelf, making the most of a sloped ceiling.
The shelves are on fully adjustable book case strips for ease of adjustment. The back is filled in with tongue and groove boarding, which I think makes a piece of furniture  look finished. It also adds to the rigidity and strength of the piece.
The finish is a hand applied wax which is tough and durable and looks good on Pine.
Here the unit looks quite small, but in reality it is 2.5 m wide and 2.4 meters tall. Quite a monster!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Sloping ceilings

Last week I was in the work shop making a shelving unit for a bedroom office.
Sloping ceilings in cottages and chalet bungalows can make shelving a real headache. So this is where a bespoke service is useful.
A joiner can make a unit to fit so you do not lose storage space for all those books and office equipment.
Starting low and fitting the space.

The unit is in sections so it can be carried up the stairs. The gap underneath will be covered by a skirting. The unit is fitted with the angle of the roof perfectly. See the finished result tomorrow.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The finished dresser

From old unit to new dresser.
So here it is. Ready for its final coat of paint. From battered old unit to new dresser, with a bit of imagination you can do a lot to up cycle what you have.
The dresser top and skirt were painted soft wood with an oak top for a bit of contrast.
The shaker style panels of the old unit doors are reflected in the new end panels of the base and top. The wood handles complimented by the work top.
I used Farrow and ball eggshell finish paint.
I think it gives the kitchen a lovely new style.

Kitchen face lift

Add a new top.
 The kitchen unit I am working on is old and battered. However it is quality unit and can take some changes.
I am making it into a dresser. With a painted top and oak work surface. 
See how it looks tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Time for a face lift

This unit is in for a shock!
 I have been asked a few times if an old kitchen can have a face lift. Quite often they can, but only if they are quality units. Sadly people are often sold kitchens as "solid wood veneer" and think that they are getting solid timber. But a veneer is a very thin layer of wood on top of chip board, and when this is shabby, it is time for the landfill site.
Sometimes the doors are solid timber and the cabinets and end panels are made from chipboard.
You can quite often do something with these. Cloaking the end panels with solid timber and sanding and re finishing the doors, quite often with paint. 
You can replace doors with a new style. But this depends on the quality and repair of the cabinets. If there is nowhere solid to put a hinge it can be a problem.
My kitchens are solid timber cabinets. They are lacquered inside to make a wipe clean surface. The doors can be painted waxed or finished with a lacquer. And they can be a variety of colors. 
When they are old and past their best, they can easily be sanded and refinished, to look like new again.
Watch over the next few days and see what happens to this sad old unit!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Staying put

I have had a couple of weeks out of the workshop, doing some refurbishment jobs. It seems strange loading up the van and remembering a lunch box again, but it is nice to go into an average house and leave it looking a million dollars.
The financial crisis has left many people unable to move, but it is amazing what can be done to face lift a property and make it look like new.
In the last couple of weeks I have replaced skirting and architraves, swung some doors and cloaked a very ordinary stair case with oak.
Changing  the style of skirting board or architrave, perhaps changing the finish from paint to oak, and swinging some new doors can have a huge impact on a property. Replacing traditional features that have been lost, or bringing a tired property up to date does not have to cost the earth.
However, it is worth getting someone who knows what they are doing.
New oak style doors are heavy, so do you have a door frame that will take the weight? Or the right number of hinges? Does it need to be a fire door? All these questions can be answered by an experienced carpenter joiner.
Does your skirting board fit exactly to the contours of the wall? Are the joints in your door frame snug with no gaps. All these little things make a huge difference to the quality of the job and the overall picture. And that is where a joiners skill can shine.
Another thing that people get hung up about is the finish. I was asked this week if it was "ok " to have oak doors with painted architraves? And the answer? Why ever not?
You can have exactly what you want. It is quite common these days to have a mixture of finishes in a kitchen. Painted units with oak work tops are very homes and gardens at the moment, so why not your doors and skirting boards?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bespoke...what does it actually mean?

Back in the work shop.

I have described myself as a joiner making bespoke furniture for years. But recently a chance comment got me thinking. "Bespoke means expensive doesn't it"?
If you come to me for a kitchen, I will ask you, do you have any ideas? Do you want  oak,softwood, lots of cupboards, or more drawers, painted, waxed, lacquered....etc etc. Through the design process we will end up with something made for you. With your input and ideas, and my experience.
I am back in the work shop this week, making window frames. These are all different sizes, not one is the same. This means a lot of concentration when working out my cutting list as I have to make sure all the components are correct before I fit them together.
So what I am doing is making "bespoke " windows.
So what does "Bespoke"  Mean? It means made for you.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Take a seat, and remember....

I thought that I would take a look back this week, and visited a bench I made two years ago.
This was a commission for King Johns House in Romsey. This oak bench was made to compliment other benches in the garden and can still be seen there today.
 I made the components then took the relevant bits to a wood carver based in the old brewery site in Romsey to do the memorial carving. Then I assembled and finished it.
The oak, in this case, came from England and was not kiln dried as the bench was to live outside.
Two years on the bench has weathered down to a beautiful silver colour. It does not have any preservative on it, but the oak should last many years.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Nomansland Show

Last week I was at the Nomansland Country Fair. This happens every  August Bank holiday monday, and is always a fun packed afternoon.
It was great to catch up with friends and customers, old and new, its nice when people take the trouble to come over to the me and say hello.
I try and do this event every year, to remind people what I look like and to show new work and design. It also supports the Nomansland Sports Association, and the local Scouts.
There seems to be a bit more buoyancy in the atmosphere, so lets hope this horrendous recession is behind us.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Panels and Face Frames

Pine Wardrobes with panelled doors.
So how do you make a wardrobe? The answer is "in an infinite number of ways"....if you make it bespoke.
This is a 3 door version with one double width space and one single.
But it could be twice the size,  go up to the ceiling, have shoe storage shelves, have drawers inside etc etc.
The depth can be a big factor, and can make a difference to how big the room feels after the wardrobe has been fitted.
The style is important too. this wardrobe is in a cottage, but might look totally wrong in a modern apartment.
The end is panelled, to match the doors. But it could be plain. The knobs are woodern and finished the same way as the carcase. But they could be painted to add contrast, or be one of a million styles of handle available today.
It could be on legs, or with drawers along the bottom. Free standing or fitted.
The choice, at the end of the day is yours.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Wardrobes this week

This week I am working on some fitted  wardrobes.
The brief is to make a 3 door pine wardrobe with   Shaker style, panelled doors.
The customer wanted some long and some short hanging space. It was to be fitted to a corner of a room.
One of the things about fitted furniture is that it can be fitted in sections. This is particularly important in an old cottage as often the stairs are narrow and cramped. I sometimes make up a dummy frame and check that it will go up the stairs before arriving with the finished article and discovering it doesn't!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Wood for the trees....

Timber is a volatile market. Just like gold or stocks and shares, it varies in price. Sometimes demand or a natural disaster in one part of the world might affect value. Sometimes the cost of moving it from place to place can affect the price.

For the last few years we have seen an increase in the price of timber. This is due to increased demand from countries such as India and China. Another problem has been the current financial crisis, where some timber suppliers have sadly gone under.

I would love to use English oak for my furniture. But sadly it is hard to find stable boards here. We do not produce enough of it. I use European steady oak for some building works, but for furniture I have had to look elsewhere.

I have used European oak for furniture and other projects. But for the last decade I have been using American white oak. This is kiln dried to such a degree that I can rely on it to be stable and I know that once I have made something it is not going to move.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The finished Book Case

This bookcase is made in two parts then put together
using the cornice to make it look like one.
It's finished and installed. The book case is in an bedroom. This meant carrying the whole lot upstairs. It is made in two parts which were carried up separately, then put together with the cornice as a lid that fits snugly to keep it all together tightly.

The book case is backed with tongue and groove boarding. I feel this really finishes it off well, and makes it a piece of  furniture rather than just shelves.

The shelves are on fully adjustable book case strips. So they could match on both sides, or as in the photo, be at different heights to accommodate many sizes of books.

My book cases are built to last, so hopefully the child that has it now, will grow up to adulthood with this book case along side.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Book case with a painted finish

Book case with a painted finish.
The book case I am working on is near completion now. The solid softwood carcase and shelves are painted to compliment other furniture in the room.
I use a spraying system to give the best finishes to my furniture.  Sealers, primer and undercoats are sprayed. In this case I applied the top coats of eggshell finish paint, by hand with a brush.

I like to use good quality paints as I have found over the years, that the improved coverage, helps me to get the best finish. I use a zinser primer, and though this is getting on £100 a tin, it gives me a reliable base from  which  to work. This also has a quick drying time which I find very useful.

For top coats I use a good quality trade paint, or in many circumstances, Farrow and Ball. They have a lovely depth of colour and I know where I stand with them. Cheaper paints do not seem to be able to match their finish.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Book case

Back in the workshop.
This week I am working on a book case.

The brief is a large book case for a child's bedroom. It is to have a painted finish and to be made from softwood.

When making a book case I like to have the shelves easily adjustable, so I use book case strips with slots about 18mm apart. I use these in my kitchen cabinets too so you can add more or less shelves depending on the storage size you need.

Books are incredibly heavy for their size, and we have all had saggy bookshelves in our time. So, as this bookshelf is quite large, I am making it in two sections. This will also help when carrying it up the stairs for installation. I will join the two sections with a cornice, so that it looks like one unit.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Playhouse to Teenage Den

The finished chalet. The fascias match the house.

It's finished! I have used toughened glass in the windows and doors. At almost £100 this might be considered an extravagance but I feel essential as the first tenants are small children. 
I put on a facia, shaped to compliment the house. The doors are painted blue to add a bit of fun. This building should be around to be a play room, then a teen den and if the children ever leave home, a sewing room for mum. So are the clients happy.......well they wanted their tea in it and wondered when they can sleep in it. Enough said I think.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The roof is on!

It's starting to come together now. The roof I chose for this project is corrugated iron. This might seem strange as many people would use felt, but the brief was to have the building as maintenance free as possible. Corrugated iron has a long maintenance free life. I chose the green to blend it in to the background and gave it a good overhang so that guttering etc was not needed.
Corrugated iron is also Considered a traditional roofing in this area, where It has been used extensively since the industrial revolution. I think it also gives a "shepherd hut" feel to this building.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Chalet or Playhouse

It might seem strange, but it has taken  a lot more time to put this on my blog, than it did to put it together. I had two helpers to lift the sections into position but apart from that, this chalet was up, with its metal roof on within 5 hours. The joy of sectional building.
The feather edge boarding is a lovely honey colour at the moment, but this will fade to a silver. It could be painted or wood stained, but part of the brief was to make it as easy to maintain as possible. So using the natural properties of Douglas fir seemed a sensible option, as it preserves itself. Also, there is a reduced carbon footprint as the timber is grown and processed in this country.
The base also has a "skirt". This is a membrane to help protect the base from damp. It is placed on levelled metal beams ( I have had in the shed for years...I knew they would come in useful one day).

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Chalet construction

It doesn't look much in the flat, but this is a strong design that should last for years.

Garden Chalet

I am working on a playhouse come chalet at the moment. Made from home grown Douglas fir, this should not need any treatment as the natural properties of the wood are excellent at preserving the timber.
The brief was a playhouse that could last long enough and be big enough for a teenagers den.
So I have made a chalet 2.9x2.4 m and high enough for adults to stand in. It will have a "upstairs "bed but this can be removed later when more space is needed.
I made the building in sections for easy installation, and pre painted the inside with white wood stain before the building was put together. The light colour should reflect the light and make the building more inviting. More to follow with pictures soon.

Monday, 29 July 2013

So what's a joiner ?

This question comes up again and again.
Basically a carpenter puts together timber using fixings such as nails and screws, where a joiner uses joints.
This higher level of skill requires exact measurement and cutting, only gained through practice and experience.
Taking this skill up a further level makes you a cabinet maker. I do make cabinets but don't call myself a cabinet maker as I feel that some people might be put off by this. Also I don't do the kind of intricate inlaying of different coloured timbers that this title suggests.
I use several types of jointing in my furniture. Some very traditional such as mortise and tenon, and some modern such as using a very strong biscuit joint. This uses a standardised "biscuit" of timber inserted in a standardised slot made by a biscuit jointer tool.
All my drawers are made with dovetail joints.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Working from home is easy with this office. This is solid oak with the internal structures of solid pine.  4 filing drawers and a slide out laptop desk. The cupboard above gives plenty of room for storage of box files etc. Then at the end of the day you can shut it all away. Perfect for the spare bedroom.