Saturday, 22 July 2017

Library Trims

 I used to add the three pieces of trim you get with a door in situ, but I now find if I join them first and add them as a unit it is easier and I get a better balanced result.

trio for a doorway

Sometimes you can get a badly fitting corner with a gap like this.

nasty join

I keep a small jar of sawdust collected from any sawing I do

need to cut some wood stock is getting low

 I dip a brush in paint and then in sawdust and push it into the gap

shove it in

Let it dry and rub it over with the usual fine buffer, clean it up well and give it another coat of paint. I do this with any bad corner joins in coving and skirting too.

still needs a bit more cleaning up before painting again
When painting trims like skirtings and coving try to do it with the thinnest of coats - two or three thin coats are so much better than one gloppy one.  The first coat really is a primer and the wood needs denibbing when its dry before adding the proper coat.  Be sure to be scrupulous about removing any dust from the sanding process.  Wipe with cloth and use a dry brush to clean any grooves.  Usually, if your paint is good, a second coat will see the job done.

First/primer coat

So, when all prepped and painted, trims go in place.

tidied up door trim now looks fine
The small cupboard trims were nice and easy to saw through.  In the photo below the joins need going over with paint to finish them properly.

I thought that the white skirting and coving that I added to finish the room looked very 'contrasty' and not at all what I wanted so I just painted over it - very, very carefully - in the same colour as the shelves and everything went much calmer, including me.

I could not figure out any way to make the convex coving around the top of the shelves meet the concave ceiling coving in a neat join - two completely different profiles.  In retrospect extending the shelf coving might have been a better idea. 

I thought I might need about a hundred more books but decided I should check properly so that I didn't end up buying too many.  Huge joke - it seems about five books occupy one inch of shelf and by the time I had multiplied out my inches I actually need about 500 books.  (My first calculation came out at 2,000! and caused a bit of a panic)  This is the moment where I really, really regretted the idea of a small library.  Hey ho!


It has only taken me five years to realise that a small box on your desk pretending to be a rubbish bin is really, really useful!

desk bin


Saturday, 15 July 2017

Finishing the bookshelves

 I left you with the bookshelves ready for painting.  needless to say that took a while to even start..... what colour????  Again!!!  Why does it always come as a surprise to me that every time I have to 'choose' everything stops.

Greens too dark, woodstain not great on bass wood

Luckily before I had to actually paint them, they needed the prep done.  I can't emphasise enough how this is the step you can not afford to skip.  before painting or staining any wood give them a good look and FEEL.  Feeling is even more important, if there is anything not as smooth as smooth, make it so.

Top is before, bottom is after
 Think carefully about which areas you actually need to paint.  Try to leave any wood that is to be glued to anything else unpainted as wood to wood will certainly glue better than paint to paint.

one coat
 Rub down after one coat and do a second or even third.  I only needed two coats this time. Then choose what finish you would like to add.  I had used a Craig and Rose chalk paint (eu de nil) and I wanted a (1/12th) gloss paint appearance.  I tested three areas I painted on the back of a piece with wax polish, and a gloss and a satin varnish.  Satin as usual won out.  Wax seems to do nothing unless you work away at it for ages, gloss is too shiny at 1/12th scale and satin (for me) is just right. (said Goldilocks)

R to L - wax, gloss, satin
I made little cardboard templates as usual to mark up the spaces between the shelf positions, marked them with a pencil, then glued the shelves in.

template and pencil line showing where shelf needs to go

 Another teeny cardboard template came in handy to mark the position of the door knobs so they were all in exactly the same place without having to measure and mark them.  'T' for top....

I drilled a small hole and found the knobs just pushed in so perfectly that I didn't need to glue them.  I always love the detail in this game and find these tiny knobs so pleasing.  They are incredibly tiny, wonderfully detailed and made in a lovely wood.  You can get them from Elf Miniatures without them having to be part of a kit.  (£2.35 for ten)

I am not even varnishing or painting them

I needed to add a couple of strips of wallpaper to the bits of the room that wouldn't be covered in bookshelves...

......... and locate the shelf over the door.....

Then it was just a simple case of gluing in the shelves themselves.

just waiting to be trimmed


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Fireplace goes in

This should be a pretty straightforward visual of the fireplace and chimney breast going in place.

I used double side sticky tape on the bottom of the chimney breast.  The thinking being that glue would make a mess if it dragged on the floor. Ideally it wouldn't touch the floor as there was enough wriggle room to get it in without doing that.

My usual De Luxe model glue on the back of the chimney breast and fire box.  I find it sticks to paint better than wood glue does and the wall it was going to was painted.

 Remembe the previously drilled holes and the cocktail stick marker, that was I was working with to get the 'unit' in exactly the right place.  It was  all a bit fiddly locating the hole in the fire back without shoving glue hither and yon.  Success though and the chimney breast shoved nicely on to the back walls, no gaps, no funny angles.  I do like this MDF kit.

The marble hearth in front of the fire measured six inches the chimney breast measured five so I used an easy guide of a six inch ruler to glue the hearth down at the half inch mark.

Everything nicely centered and the grate and coals could go in.  This isn't glued in.... just in case?

The mantel went in in place just by eye as there was very little room for error

I now have a room just waiting for all its wood trims.  Not especially looking forward to a couple of days painting trims but needs must .......

Major learn from this .....  no need to get fancy schmantzy and drill the hole for the fire wire at an early stage and then spend ages fiddling a 'unit' into place.  Skip that move and just measure and mark where your chimney breast will go (on the wall or floor using masking tape)  and glue it in and, then drill the hole for the fire wire through the fire-back and back wall.  Obvious really.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The floor

 Here comes a detailed step by step description of the music room floor going down - feel free to skip it.

My favoured flooring is a real wood walnut flooring made by Houseworks.  It can be bought in the UK and the USA.  It is a great quality product, nice colour and accurate size floor boards for Georgian houses. Wider floorboards are late Victorian onwards.  It measures 11 x 17 inches so is a good size and generally covers most floors in one sheet.  Costs £9.95 from Jennifers of Walsall.

First step is to cut out whatever is needed to cover your floor.  You can now use the board as it is is or wax or varnish it.  I use a satin finish B & Q water based varnish, easy to apply, easy to clean up with soap and water and you can get a small tin which has lasted me over four years!  Handy tip - decant to a jar as the tin not only gets 'gummed' up, it also tends to rust and drop bits in the varnish - same with paints - all mine go in jars.  After the first coat is dry (overnight) if you rub your hand over the surface it will feel really rough this is the action of liquid on wood.  To denib it I use one of those nail buffers I mentioned in the painting post a couple of posts ago. One quick buff over is enough, don't over-do it or you will just remove  the coat of varnish and then be starting again.

They then get a second coat.  This will have made the sheets curl up a little.

When absolutely bone dry I layer the sheets between baking parchment (any silicone based thing will do) to be sure they won't stick to anything and weigh them down overnight.

In the morning I have nice flat sheets of finished flooring to put in the house.  I keep the parchment for same again or painting or gluing on, useful non stick stuff.

The most important edge in the room is the one running across any doorway, others will be covered with skirting board so they don't need fussing with.  The floor running along the door edge needs to but up to it without the tiniest gap.

My door in this room happens be at the back but I can't start with a piece of flooring back there.  It is important to lay the floor from the front edge so that it runs perfectly in line with the front edge of the house.

First mark up where any seams will go, you will need these places covered in sticky tape or glue if you use that.  Not keen on the idea of glue all over, makes removing the floor nigh on impossible.  Haven forbid you will ever have to.... but if you do.....

My sticky weapon of choice is very thin double sided sticky tape - not the foam kind which would make the floor stand proud of the surface but any which is as thin as sellotape - indeed it is actually thinner than that when the wax paper is peeled off.

Tape all the across points - here I have taped the front edge - right to the very edge, then I taped where the seam will be, about two thirds down the room, and then the back edge, finally I ran another line  and another line between the seam and front edge.  I now needed to lay a vertical piece down for the seam which runs front to back, so the protective paper has to be peeled back to allow that to go in place.

The front right piece of floor goes in first to ensure a good edge at the front of the room

Then the back right piece.  The challenge here is to make sure it joins well with the front piece and buts up against the door sill perfectly.

............the front left goes in next, again checking that front edge really carefully.

.......... then the back left section and it is done.

You could now give it another coating of varnish in hopes of pulling the seams together a bit more, or a couple of coats of wax polish or, as I do, nothing!

Major learn from this ...  I don't remember having had a a room so wide that I had to join the flooring with a seam running from the front to the back of the room before.  The seams do show.  How much this will annoy me when the rugs are down and furniture is in I don't know but I so wish I had turned the flooring the other way round.  If the boards had run front to back the joins would not show at all!!!  I considered it briefly but always prefer the boards to run across the rooms (we read left to right so it is less jarring on the eye?) and I wasn't sure it would make a huge difference and I didn't want one 'odd' room.  I now regret that choice.  I am not ripping it out and redoing it at this stage as the fireplace has also been put in place and it would mean all kinds of messes to deal with.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Beware a pretty face

Finished at last!
This pair of flipping (unplanned) lights have been a nightmare from beginning to end.  I saw them at a show and, bedazzled, I bought them, then I tried to figure out what to do with them.  Off to the music room....  but I already wanted a mirror over the fireplace to reflect light from the windows (as in real life!) so they couldn't go on the back wall.  Three mirrors in a row would be distinctly odd.

Glumly, typing this,  I now think I should have settled for a painting over the fireplace and each of these lights either side of the chimney breast - they would have lined up nicely with the windows. Especially as the original mirror which was bought for the music room  is now in the dining room!  Hey ho.  Any way ....

Off to the side walls....... you have suffered along with me already as I went though these trials and tribulations so, finally, you'll be glad to hear this is the day they can actually go in place, but they still had two nasty surprises in store for me.

When I drilled the holes for the wires I obeyed my real life rule of all paintings and mirrors should have their centre about five feet (plus a bit if you like) above the floor so that the viewer is looking pretty much into the centre of piece and so has the best viewpoint.  I drilled the holes accordingly.

When I came to thread up the first lights/mirror it was miles too high on the wall.  Only then did I realise that the wiring in the mirror was 3/4 inch below the centre so they had shot up nine inches in real world terms. Why did I ever assume the wires would be in the middle - truth is I didn't,I didn't even consider where the wires were - ten points for stupid.

wires at the bottom not the centre

First task then was to drill another hole in each wall three quarters of an inch below the current one.  This time I did have enough sense to check that the mirror would hide the original hole when it went up.

As always, I tested that the lights were working by touching each wire to each terminal of a nine volt battery.  Test at every single stage of the following process then, if something goes wrong, you only have to back up one step. 

test, test, test

 The wires were threaded though the upper hole and the fixture glued in place; the wires were then taped in the groove on the back of the wall and threaded back through the second hole near the floor, ready to go down the groove in the music room and exit the back wall.  That was the plan.

now have three holes where there should be two

No points for spotting what I didn't think about in advance again!!!  The wire isn't long enough to reach the back wall.


So here comes a lesson in how to extend round wiring.... preferably before you super glue a light to a wall.

Favourite tool is this....

adjustable wire stripper and cutter

It is a lovely little clean nipper of wires and even better the adjustable v-notch strips the plastic off the wires in one clean swoop every time.  No nails, no teeth involved.

Firstly cut the new extension piece of wire off the roll, carefully checking it is the required length.

Split the ends of the wires into the two channels.  You can just about see the separation.  Use a sharp knife or razor blade, scissors won't usually do it.  Make sure each set of wires is still plastic covered.  Usually just need to cut a little to get it started and you can then gently pull the wires apart.

cut carefully to split wires into two

These two wires will now be cut into two different lengths.  You will need one long side with wire exposed and one short side with wire exposed.  Do the same on the piece of extension wire.  You will be joining a long side of one wire to the short side of the other piece each time.  This ensures that when the wires are joined up they will lie alongside the plastic sheath of its neighbour and no exposed wire will touch another wire and short out your light.

long side and short side on each wire

Join the short side of one wire to the long side of the other wire and twist the wires together really well.  This is probably the most important step, you don't want the wires to separate further down the process.  Ideally at this stage you should solder them.  I have never, ever soldered a wire in my life and, as far as I know I have three working houses out there somewhere - they were when they left me.  I have also heard about coating the wires with nail polish.... again I can't vouch for it as I have never done that either.

twist carefully

Fold the twisted wire back on itself against the plastic covered flex

fold back on itself

Do that in the other direction with the other wire.  In the picture below I hope you can see that the bare wires can not touch each other.  The red wire is the wire from the light and the white wire is the extension piece.

no wires touching

Generally at this point I just lay my wires into their grooves and tape them down.  I work on the notion that no one will be fiddling around with them as they will be going under a wood flooring eventually.  This time I decided to do the 'right' thing and cover the join with shrink tubing so I could show you how it is done.  This is just a clear (ish) plastic tube like a flexible straw.

can be bought in one length or cut in pieces
Measure the length you will need to cover the join and cut off a piece.  Thread the wire through carefully.  this is a test of your good twisting and folding back, everything should stay as it was as it slides into the tube.

cover the join

You then heat the tube with a hairdryer - be brave and use it pretty close up to the wires and, with luck, the tubing does what its name implies and it shrinks over the join making everything secure.

melt to fit

The end result is only marginally thicker than the original wiring and should still fit in your grooves unless you were very skimpy with them.

Ta dah, finally, one light in the right (!!) place at last.  Repeat on the other wall and we are good to go.  

sigh of relief