Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Building in memories

From the very start we have wanted to build people and memories into what will one day become our home.  The front veranda, for example, will always remind me of Dad and I mixing concrete by hand for the footings.  The upstairs light switches were painted by Mum, with Mathew 5:16 written on them and ...well you get the idea.

This weekend I started a new project, a large linen press for the landing.  The first step is stripping years of paint from four cedar french doors I found on the rubbish tip at Grenfell, our home town.  Between my hot air gun and Junior's sander the paint didn't stand a chance - though it's only after four or so hours that the first door is starting to emerge.  I'm looking forward to being able to put things in the finished cupboard and think of how we worked on it together.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Staple diet

To secret nail a floor you need a nail gun specifically designed for that type of work.  In fact, it’s not a nail gun at all, but an air powered stapler (that must be why they call it a nail gun?) that fires a 45mm staple into hardwood at a 45 degree angle.  You hook the device up to a compressor and whack a white button on the top of the tool with a rubber mallet – pulling the boards together and firing off the staple at 100psi.  In fact, these tools are so good there's little need to clamp the boards, the sheer impact of the staple closes most gaps.

Floor nailer in action

So, the big question – whether to buy, hire or borrow a nail gun that does one thing and one thing only.  In case you’re wondering, no, they will not fire any other type of nail at any other angle – they just “do” staples at 45 degrees.
It would seem that the tool of choice is a Paslode – at around $600 – a big hit for one floor.  Option two was to hire, at around $290 for a week – but what if I didn’t get it done in one week?  Further, I’d have to hire it in Canberra as the local hire shop doesn’t have any on their books.

The third option was to buy a cheap one, which appear on EBay and the like for under $200.  I emailed a couple of EBay vendors asking about warranty and the like but had no reply.  So that cruelled that option for me.

Then I came across a forth alternative – buy a fully reconditioned unit from MS Tools for under $300.  With a 12 month, trade use warranty, Sydney support and friendly, responsive service I figured I had little to loose and went ahead.

So, how did it perform….well I’m glad you asked.  I fired around 2,000 45mm staples into hardwood flooring over 6 days.  During that time there were two hiccoughs.  The first was when I missed the tool with the mallet and hit my shin, dropped the hammer and nearly fell through the floor (2 weeks later I still have the bruise).  The second was when the nailer fired two staples instead of one.  This was easily rectified by tightening a couple of bolts around the frog – no drama, just routine maintenance.

So, with 20 square metres to go I’m glad I purchased the MS Tools nail gun.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with it when I’m finished – perhaps sell it and recoup some of the money (let me know if you’re interested J)


Since joining our family Tom the cockatoo picked up a bunch of phrases, including "what ya doing", "get back to work" and "stop that"  - often said with comic timing.  Never happier than in the workshop with me - the more noise and dust the better - she did have an annoying habit of picking up my chisels and dropping them off the bench when I wasn't watching.  She would often come with me onsite when Nette couldn't - loving the chance to sit in the passenger seat as I drove.

Tom's background is a mystery as we got her from a couple who had rescued her from the RSPCA.  Thinking she was a boy they called her Tom.  She could dance, shake hands and even sit on my arm - preferring to fall off rather than use her claws for grip.  She loved being scratched, inclining her head whenever she saw Nette because she obviously was the best scratcher in the flock. Her favourite food was ANZAC biscuits, though at a pinch Scotch Fingers were OK.  When given an icing biscuit she would carefully pick out the icing first, before eating the rest.

Tom could even say my name, Simon, which she did every now and then when she could hear me but not see me.

Sadly, Tom died on Saturday - we'll miss her.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


A week on site meant progress - and more than double the progress with both Nette and I doing 8 to 5 every day.  The goal for the week was to lay 80 square metres of floor boards upstairs.  We didn't quite make the target, but we did get 60 metres laid in addition to planting and fencing 50 walnut trees that Nette had grown from seed.

Nette measuring up
The tongue and groove flooring from North Eden Timber was excellent.  The boards, random length mixed blondes, were outstanding quality with only 3 or 4 needing a couple of inches removed due to minor flaws, like a split tongue.

The nail gun - which is actually an air powered stapler - performed without a hitch.  I'll write a report on it later. 

During the week Nette must have done a million miles, measuring what was needed, then sifting through the pile downstairs to find the closest board, then carrying it outside to the drop saw, cutting it to length before bringing it back up stairs for me to glue and staple down.   I got off easy really - but what a team.

We'll head back in a couple of weeks to finish the job and plant some more trees.