Friday, 13 July 2018

Pre-fab pop-up shed

Question: What if you know you'll need a shed to store stuff in, but you don't have access to the place where you'll need you use it?

Answer: Build it in advance as a pre-fabricated building... (duh, of course!)

Here's a shed built from 8 pine interior doors, built in less than 2 hours...
(It also used a tarpaulin as cover, but this is not shown here)

Doors can be obtained from your locally available selection of skips, dumpsters, freeads and other such reputable outlets. These babies were from someone doing their house up and wanting rid of some "old-fashioned" doors.

Works for me. That's what roof-racks are for. Strap 'em on...

You get free hinges too...

Here they are in the garden

Doors are instant panelled walls  - handy!

There's probably an app called Shedify. I hope so. It will be shit. To actually shedify stuff, you need tools, preferably power tools...

So you rout rebates

Which. luckily do NOT need to be neat and tidy

For this shed, The doors are paired together using their old hinges...

You can make walls like this in minutes with just 6 hinges...

 A few more doors, a shed-end...

The corners were secured with some 4" screws.
Pine splits easily, so pilot holes are advised.

Then whack in the screws

You can use position two hinged doors easily by putting them at 90 degrees. This allows you to position them without holding the weight.

This is the back wall. It is hinged at the front and has this radiator wall mount as a brace on the back.

The rest of the pop-up shed  was built from old floor joists scrounged from a skip

These were way too big for what I needed, so I ripped them down into smaller-profile pieces


Until I had a load of 2" x 1" section lengths

These were going to be used to knock up some simple pin-jointed frames and these would form the joist and rafters of each.

Here are some bolts recycled from a deconstructed sofa for the connecting pins.

Three baulks hinged into a roof triangle...

Nearly there...

ta-da! This method took less than two hours to create a collapsible, portable storage unit.
It takes about 10 minutes to take down or put back up. There are just 2 screws holding each roof frame on. The walls are kept as hinged pairs of doors, and jointed togerth with extra hinges. It is that simple

And finally, here it is in its new location...

Ready to roll in no time...

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Dining table and benches are now finished and looking lush

I have finished the matching benches for the dining table that I recently finished.
Here's the completed dining set.

The colours are looking well good in the low evening light. This table will seat six in comfort on the two benches and eight if needed by rocking up extra chairs at the end.

All the wood in here is satisfyingly either reclaimed from scrap or from raw logs, which I have ripped down myself into planks, seasoned and planed. That's a good feeling. Just about two months to complete too, so not too long in the making really.

There are various types of wood in use here. Specifically reclaimed from:
  • One english oak mantle piece beam of about 6' 6"
    used for the table legs and the lightest of the table top mitred trim
  • Two mahogany (or mahogany-like wood like sapele) mantle piece beams that were even bigger
    used in the outer planks of the table, for the bench seats and the main central core of the bench legs
  • Spalted beech (beech with nice fungal discolouration), which I found as logs and ripped into planks with a chainsaw and seasoned for 8 months
    this is the tigery stuff, used for the central decorative panel on the table top, the end-cladding on the bench legs, the drawer fronts and as an inlay in the table base cross-rails.
  • A door from an old broken specimen cupboard door, which may be something called Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata), which is a hardwood similar to mahogany with an incredible play-doh like smell. This apparently repels insects
    used for the inner broad dark framing  round the central decorative panel on the table-top and for the drawer frames and the upper cross-rails of the bench leg-pillars
  • An unknown light tropical hardwood from the wooden frame of an old sofa
    used for the central rails of the lower I-brace of the table frame that gives the legs stability and for the lower cross-rails of the bench leg-pillars
  • Some dense dark hardwood planks from a broken garden bench, possibly teak
    Used for the cross-rails of the  I-brace and for the drawer front frames which the drawers fit into  
  • Some common beech from the same sofa frame
    used for the lengthwise cantilever braces that stabilise the joint between the bench seat-planks and the bench leg-pillars
  • Some oak-faced plywood from the back-panel of an old bookcase
    used for the drawer bottom panels
  • Some blockboard panels from old library shelves
    used for the main supporting bed of the central table-top panel (this is the only wood not visible)
  • There are also some reclaimed beech dowels from old IKEA furniture
    used for  strengthening the butt joints between blockboard panels in the table bed and to anchor the bench leg-pillars into the seating plank

Glowing nicely

The lovely tiger-striped wood is spalted beech. This discolouration caused by fungal colonisation after felling gives random curving swirls of light and dark. The curves soften up the more rigid patterns of the mitred rectangles and T-shaped joints.

This is most obvious on the table-top in the central decorative panel. It is also used on the ends of the bench legs to clad the darker central upright, as the decorative face on the draw fronts and as an inlay in the cross-rails in the lower I-frame bracing that stabilises the table legs

The basic design is contrasting light and dark woods brought together with the light-and-dark beech

All the woods are pulled together by the amber colouration from using naturally pigmented shellac in the French polish that the set is finished with. This makes any wood look lush. It is a transparent shell that lets light through to bounce back mellowed with a lovely warm glow.

This low view is one side of the table at drawer-level showing the beautiful range of light to dark ambers this gives.

The same view on the otehr side of the table, with its equivalent matching bench.

The drawer frames inside are also polished so when pulled out, they too blend into the colour scheme. They are made from the same mahogany-like tropical wood in the wide bands of the table top.

There is one drawer per seating. This is in case the drawers are used for hiding gifts for diners. Most of the time though, they will be full of handy things like scissors and stuff I suspect. They are deep enough to house about 4 bottles of wine per drawer!

The hand-painted ceramic handles are the only manufactured parts of the build . I thought about making wooden ones, but these look great. There are also some screws and nails used in the drawers and to hold the table top onto the base, which can be dismantled for moving.

The table top, table base and benches are all held together simply by the strengths of the wood-working  joints

From the side view, you get a slightly different pattern mix of straight and curving lines of light and dark amber.

Another view of the drawer fronts and bench

Ditto on the other side. I like the flow of lines across all three drawers, like something on Jupiter's atmosphere.

The top is hard to photograph as it has a high gloss from the French polishing.

I took this standing on one of the benches. The bench planks are strong. These I think may be mahogany (although whether they are true Honduran mahogany, I'm not sure)

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Reclaiming wood from discarded furniture

Hardwood is really a lovely material to make things from. Warm to touch, tough, fragrant when cutting. Lovely. Here's some. mmm...

Of course, it is not cheap though.

If you want to make stuff from lovely hardwood, the expensive option would be to buy baulks of it.

However, even now, it is possible to find furniture that has surprisingly large amounts of hardwood in it. All the above was reclaimed from stuff found in the street

Typically it tends to be in any furniture where the wood is the feature (yes, Sherlock, really). You certainly won't find decent wood in any upholstered modern furniture like sofas. Most of them luxury sofas you see on telly are actually chipboard under the leather/cloth.

So while walking Betty pug recently I came across a knackered section of what I think used to be an outdoor garden bench. It looks fucked, but actually it is made of really sound and very good dense hardwood. Something like teak (possibly even real teak, but it's hard to say)

I deconstructed it...


This was easy as largely it was held together with screws...
These were reclaimed too. This looks like some giant hand from above

Anyway, it yielded all this wood..

Here is another abandoned piece of old furniture I spotted while tootling down to Tescos for some exercise. 

To be honest, it is not an especially nice design, but it did have some 1.8m lengths of hardwood in it...

I really only wanted the long bits, but there was a load of other pieces...

After putting these through the planer, they magically transform into beautiful timber
Here is before and after (actually after and before if you are looking left to right) of the bench planks

 The long ones in the middle are the long pieces from the sofa frame

Close up. The wood looked dark because it was stained. It is actually quite light once planed