Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stairs with flair

Lately, when I haven’t been able to work on site, I’ve been building the first flight of stairs in my garage. You may notice that it bears an uncanny resemblance to a chest of drawers.

The carcase is 30mm medium density fibreboard (MDF), glued and screwed, with the stairs and treads clad with 100 year old tallow wood floor boards. The 12 drawers are solid tallow wood with through dovetails at each corner. I opted for through rather than the more traditional half blind dovetails on the drawer fronts because I quite like the somewhat industrial look it gives.

But why drawers?”, I hear you ask.  Well, you can never have enough storage and it just seemed a good use of space.

At this stage the ancient lino glue and paint splatters are still apparent. I’ll attack the finish when all the cabinet work is done so I can get a consistent feel across the whole piece. As for drawer knobs - I’m not sure yet. If you have any ideas leave a suggestion.

By the way, if you’re wondering how I’m going to move it - I’ve constructed the cabinet in two pieces. The top section of six drawers lifts off the bottom two rows, or at least I didn’t mean to put any glue there.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Winders & Reminders

I learnt a few things this weekend.

The winders
Firstly, that there is a lot of fiddling involved in making winders. For the “stair unaware”, winders are steps that make a staircase turn a corner. My staircase has two flights, the first is six steps, followed by 3 winders, a landing, then a second flight of six steps. The overall effect is to lift the climber a couple of metres and to reorient them 180 degrees.

Secondly, using recycled timber takes longer than using new material. Okay, I already knew that one, but the work on the staircase confirmed it – yet again. Not that I mind. The 100 year old tallow wood flooring that came out of a house in Goulburn is beautiful. Though, it does take some effort to work around the odd lengths and inevitable structural defects that occur when old boards are lifted. But, what I like about the old flooring is how each board tells a story with its paint splatters, grime, dents, cracks and splits. I love it.

Thirdly, if you leave a “Warmray” unattended outside with its door open it can set fire to your caravan. Perhaps, point three needs a little background. My Dad gave me his old “Warmray”, which for the less informed, is a cast iron slow combustion fire. I’ve been using it as an outside barbie, usually a few yards from the caravan door.

Well, yesterday I kicked off the “Warmray” at half five and went back into the house to finish up for the day. I got a bit engrossed with the idea of being able to see the floor for the first time in 12 months and lost track of time. It was probably 45 minutes later that I ventured back to the van – which was now surrounded in flames! The “Warmray” had set fire to the surrounding grass, which in turn had ignited the pallet that served as the van’s front veranda. I should point out that the “Warmray" is innocent of any wrong doing as I had left its door open so it would draw better.

I reckon another three and a half minutes and the van (circa 1970 with green laminex benches), the old shed (circa 1960 with recycled corrugated iron) that it’s parked in and my tractor (a 1948 grey fergie) in the next bay would have all been toast – burnt toast at that.

But, because of what I believe was a prompting of the Holy Spirit, I ventured out in the nick of time and was level headed enough to bucket water onto the blaze with the only casualty being the veranda pallet and some 50 gallons of water.

Praise God.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The decisive trip

16 April 2005 was the decisive trip - we walked around the 60 acres, prayed about it and put in an offer.  A few months and a lot of paperwork later it was ours.  From here it was two years of drafting plans, seeking council approval and arranging to start.

Pemberley from the air

And so it starts

Ahh, the first post. The quintessential paragraph that sets the tone for all subsequent posts. The post that, for some, will be their first encounter with this blog. No pressure here, but it must be brilliant, articulate and witty. Arresting the attention of the reader from the first syllable and drawing them into a world to which they will want to return.

Alternatively, it just needs to be short with no typos - I think I can live with that…..

For some, “Pemberley” is a fictitious place dreamt up by Jane Austen. For my family however, it is a real place near the south coast of NSW. Formerly part of a dairy the 2 kilometre driveway leads to a house that, whilst not quite as ostentatious as Mr Darcy’s, will one day also be a family home. That is if I ever finish building it. Purchased in April 2005 with only an old corrugated shed to shelter in we started building in April 2007.

This blog is all about the build, the materials we’ve used, the challenges we’ve met and what we’ve learnt along the way.