Surrey Carpentry

Professional Carpentry & Joinery Service

Multi-level decking
Multi-level decking

Multi-level decking – Pirbright, Surrey

This job was quite satisfying.

Decking is a fantastic solution to making a pleasant space out of a part of your garden that is lumpy and uneven, and that was exactly the case here.

It was built from right outside the back door of this house in Pirbright all the way to the shed, angled at 45° to the house onto the grass, and stepped up around the corner of the house.

In this case, plywood with a softwood grain was used for the finished surface rather than the normal decking timber, and in doing this, we saved about three quarters of the price!

This will look just fine when it has been stained and preserved, and besides, it would be very easy to take the ply up and lay decking timber, should it be required sometime in the future, perhaps when the economy picks up!

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Initial stages of the framework

Above are some shots of the initial stages of the decking, which is to fix the outer joists of the frame to whatever you have available that is secure, ensuring that they are level as you fix them.

Once they are fixed, the common joists can then be fixed between them, and in theory, should be level providing you were accurate in fitting your initial joists.

Common joists fitted in first section

Common joists fitted in first section

Common joists fitted in first section

Common joists fitted in first section

First section now supported on bricks and noggins fitted

First section now supported on bricks and noggins fitted

Sometimes though, the timber can be a little bent which can lead to the decking being out of level. To counter this, i fitted the joists with the bend hanging down, then later they could be wedged into level from the ground when the framework is supported on bricks. The noggins also add strength and rigidity.

Beginning the framework for the lower section

Beginning the framework for the lower section

Building the second section around a tree stump

Building the second section around a tree stump

Second section completed, leveled, supported and noggined

Second section completed, leveled, supported and noggined

Quite a bit of digging was involved before i could begin the second section, which was a triangle and around 150mm lower than the first. This was to ensure that the framework, once level, wasn’t touching the ground and rot would be prevented.

Luckily for me (not!), the 8 or 9 wheelbarrows of earth which had to be removed was around an old tree stump, and I lost count of the amount of roots I came across that need to be sawn off! There were a few swear-words, but i think all the neighbours were out. If they weren’t, their windows were closed!

The framework had to be built around the tree stump, which was cut off at the same level as the top of the framework, so that the ply could be kept level.

The third section went more smoothly

The third section went more smoothly

All sections completed, level and secure

All sections completed, level and secure

The next step is laying the plywood boards

The next step is laying the plywood boards

Thankfully the third section, which was the same level and adjacent to the second section was a lot more simple to do because it was basically another square. There was a bit of trimming around the drain to do near the back door but other than that, it was quite straight-forward. Once it was all leveled and supported, it was time to start laying the boards.

The tree stump was ground down

The tree stump was ground down

A plastic membrane covers the stump

A plastic membrane covers the stump

The boarding continues with the stump leveled off and fixed to

The boarding continues with the stump leveled off and fixed to

That tree stump hadn’t finished with me yet.

It was poking up higher than top of the framework, so it would’ve interfered with the ply boarding. I took an angle-grinder to it and ground it down to the same level as the framework. It seemed like quite a good idea to use something that hindered my structure as part of my structure! Before I layed any ply on it, I covered the stump with a piece of plastic membrane to prevent the stump from drawing moisture from the ground and depositing it on the underneath of the ply, possibly causing it to rot.

I then carried on laying the boards, using the stump to fix to.

Decking complete!

Decking complete!

Decking complete, a great improvement!

Decking complete, a great improvement!

The good thing about a job like this is that the easy bit laying the boards, was the last bit!

Tree stump aside, this job went really well, and will look really great when stained up.

All we need to do now is wait for summer, and then its time for barbecues! :)

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December 13th, 2009 by admin
Newly fitted bannisters

Newly fitted banisters

Newly fitted banisters in St Johns, Woking

As a carpenter and joiner, it’s always a pleasure to bring wooden furniture and household features up to date.

What you see to the left is the newly fitted banisters that replaced some that were fairly out of date.

In this case, the square newel posts were kept as they were, and we installed new handrail, base-rail, spindles and newel caps, which were sourced by the customer from Wickes in St Johns, Woking.

Once i have met with the customer and advised them on what their options are, with replacement handrail jobs,  I usually suggest that the customer gets hold of the materials themselves, because that way, they get what they want and they know that they are paying the right price.

Currently, i am hearing from a lot people who would like to have their staircase modernized. When house were being built in the 70s and 80s, it was then fashionable to have the horizontal boarding fitted between the newel posts, but nowadays it isn’t so desirable. Another concern, particularly for this customer, is that their young toddlers could be very tempted to use the horizontal banisters as a climbing frame, which could very easily end in tears!

The Process

70s/80s horizontal bannisters to be removed

70s/80s horizontal banisters to be removed

Old bannisters being removed

Old banisters being removed

Old bannisters now removed and old holes filled

Old banisters now removed and old holes filled

The first thing to do was to put down all the dust sheets to protect the carpet from the majority of the dust.

Next was to remove the existing newel caps and cut out the handrail and balustrading using a handsaw. Once this was done, the tops of the newels needed to be prepared to fit the recess of the new newel caps.

I used angle brackets to fix the new handrail to the existing newels, which had to be rebated into both the newels and the new handrail, so that they wouldn’t be seen once the rebates were filled.

As always with old staircases, over time, the newels had shrunken out of square, so careful measurements and recording of angles had to be made in order to cut the ends of the handrails and base-rails so that they joined nicely to the newel posts.

Once the new handrails and base-rails were fitted, i used two part filler to make good the small holes and cracks around where i had filled the old holes with timber, and sanded everything flat to give a good surface to be decorated.

Spindles now installed

Spindles now installed

Next was fitting the spindles, which required calculating the equal spaces between each, and then cutting the spacers to the right size.

This is one of my favourite parts of this kind of job, because once you have the spacers and the spindles all cut to the right length and angle, fitting them is a very quick job, providing you have a nail gun (which i do!). If you only have a hammer and nails, than it will take about 6 or 7 times as long, but in comparison to the rest of the job, which can be quite strenuous and laborious, it is a real breeze, which is all the nicer when it is the last part of the job!

This job took a bit longer than a normal working day, but I stayed a bit longer in this case to get it finished, as leaving it unfinished wouldn’t be safe for the customers young children.

The customers very kindly let me work on their banisters while they were out, so as to let me get on with it as efficiently as possible. The job was finished within the timescale quoted, and all in all, everyone was happy!

A nice job :)

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Bespoke pine HiFi Unit

Finished Bespoke pine Hi Fi Unit

This bespoke pine Hi Fi A/V cabinet was for a friend of mine, James.

It started when he and his wife came over for dinner one evening, and they commented on a piece of furniture we have at home that is quite distressed and has a very rustic finish.

He also showed me some photos from a magazine of coffee table that had some unusual joinery characteristics, which he said he’d like matched on the Hi Fi cabinet he wanted me to make, these were where on the corners of the unit, you could see the mortice and tenon joints that connect the components of the cabinet together. These being on show, proves that the unit is of good quality, and made of solid wood, rather than veneered chipboard or mdf.

Mortice & Tenon close-up

Mortice & Tenon close-up

The timber was supplied by a local merchant to the sizes I required, and i was then able to begin gluing all the panels together for the sides and top, as well as the doors, and while they were drying, all the mortices, tenons, grooves and rebates could be applied to the various other components like the ring beam, bottom rails and legs.

Seeing as James was quite clear about what he wanted, I advised that when it came to all the ironmongery, the best thing would be to source it himself, as that way he’d be able to get exactly what he wanted for the price he wanted. I think he used the supplier Ironmongery Direct. They were able to deliver the hinges and handles etc to me directly, and once they arrived, i was able to fit them to the cabinet.

Assembling the cabinet components

Assembling the cabinet components

Testing stains and waxes

Testing stains and waxes

Assembled HiFi Cabinet before stain or wax

Assembled Hi Fi Cabinet before stain or wax

Before assembling the cabinet, i spent around 2 hours wire brushing the pine components to achieve the same rustic aesthetic as the piece of furniture James first saw at my house. This basically removes the softer part of the wood grain and creates a more coarse feel to the timber and once the finish has been applied, a more rustic effect is achieved. After this, I spent more time testing a lot of different stains and waxes to achieve the right colour.

Below are a few pictures which are a kind of  “The Making Of…”

Glued Panels Drying

Glued Panels Drying

Grooved, morticed & rebated legs

Grooved, morticed & rebated legs

Full length rear bottom rail

Full length rear bottom rail will eventually support the backing

Rebating the panels

Rebating the panels

Funky random ventilation holes

Funky random ventilation holes

Finished and delivered

Finished and delivered

The final touch to this cabinet was the 10mm thick toughened glass shelves for the Hi Fi separates to sit on. On the inside of the left and right pedestals, we used the Tonk adjustable shelving system, which allows you to adjust the height of your shelves in increments of about 20mm.

I only installed the toughened glass when i actually delivered the cabinet to James, and it was a fantastic finale to this piece. The chunky glass complimented the style and proportions of the rest of the cabinet really well.

I’m also very glad the glass fitted, which it did perfectly, phew!

I really enjoyed doing this cabinet, and would love to do something similar again. If you are interested in having your very own Hi Fi cabinet, or any other cabinet for that matter, made to your unique design in a style and size that matches your home’s interior perfectly, drop me a line!

Please feel free to leave a comment as well!

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June 20th, 2009 by admin

On and off over the past month or so, i’ve been working at a large house that is being entirely renovated. It began while i was still working at Mayford Joinery, and while i was there, i made the staircase and some of the new replacement windows for the house. The oak staircase has a double bullnose and winds to the left halfway up, and at the top you can turn either left or right depending on which part of the house you want to go to. I fitted the staircase with Keith Holdaway, another very good local carpenter, a few months ago, before i started this blog. I will take some pictures to add to this post next time i’m there. Pictures i did manage to get are of the bay window at the front of the house. All windows and doors at the house are being replaced apart from this one. But seeing as it was single glazed, some work needed to be done on it to make it double glazed. I took the casements out of the frame and removed the old glass before using a router to deepen the rebates of each casement to be able to take 14mm double glazing.

This is the front bay window, the frame will not be replaced but the casements are being removed, having the rebates deepened to take thicker 14mm glass, and put back into the frame.

This is the front bay window, the frame will not be replaced but the casements are being removed, having the rebates deepened to take thicker 14mm glass, and put back into the frame.

Once the casement have had the rebates deepened they are put back into the frame and boarded up while the new glass is made.

Once the casement have had the rebates deepened they are put back into the frame and boarded up while the new glass is made.

The new glass has been fitted, now it just needs to be painted

The new glass has been fitted, now it just needs to be painted

More recently, i have been replacing the the downstairs windows and french doors with new, double glazed ones.

Here are two newly fitted windows in the Study

Here are two newly fitted windows in the Study

Here is a large newly fitted window and french doors in the Dining room, there is also a large bay window in this room that will be replaced in the future.

Here is a large newly fitted window and french doors in the Dining room, there is also a large bay window in this room that will be replaced in the future.

Here, the library windows have been removed, and the brickwork cills have been dropped by about 12

Here, the library windows have been removed, and the brickwork cills have been dropped by about 12

Once the new larger windows are in, the next job will be to fit two large bay windows. I’ll be writing more posts about this job as time goes on.

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