Comments Off on Quickie

So, another day in the life post of renovation. When we started this project we had an unrealistic timescale, more because of initial difficulties getting a builder than any specific schedule issues; then expenses went a bit, well, I probably shouldn’t have built the garage… Which meant that we had to prep and paint the walls, which rather dramatically added to the time it’s taken to do the house; but honestly? I suspect our standards for the wall are somewhat higher than any builders would have been. The hours spent filling and sanding have really been worth it.

Annnyhow. Between the MSc (although I’m really rather worried about passing this blog section – the time allotted for each section’s been so short and i’ve really no clue how to write at MSc level in a blog…) and working on the house it’s been slow but steady progress here.

Kathryn’s still beavering away on the upstairs bedroom. We finally managed to find something of what we were after for he bookshelves / bedframe. This has been somewhat of a challenge. The original plan was to make shelves that’d disassemble into a bedframe; this plan was flawed in the amount of time it’d take and the amount of time it took me to source our workshop tools (more on that in a bit). In the end we settled on old orange boxes. My dad once used these to build a bookcase (still have it & use it, actually); so when Kathryn’s concerted online lookage located some we gave in and bought them. Hopefully they’ll do the job!

Having spent most of the week plumbing or cutting the plinth boxes, we spent 7 (sodding) hours making the cabinets on one side of the room level. The floor, it turns out is dramatically off level; and the cabinets which are at either end of the room have a single span of worktop to go on them. Thus they need to be both horizontal and close enough to the same height as to work when the worktop is applied. Also, my tile laying is attractive and neat but still not level. The cabinets, it turns out, bespoke they may be, but the same size they are not. And the cabinets need small amounts of shimming to sit perfectly on the bases, otherwise they twist subtly and the doors become unlevel. So it was less simple than you might imagine. It involved an awful lot of offing and onning of the cabinets, which was easier on this side than it is on the side with the sink and macerator in. But that unit is level, just needs shimming, and everything else will have to damn well work around it, because I’ve plumbed in the macerator/pump. Also, obviously we don’t want to throw into stark contrast just how unlevel the floor actually is – so spent time discussing just how much of a massive gap there should be under the unit at the lowest point of the floor compared to the unit at the highest point (which is actually sat on its base, not its feet at the back of the unit to get it as low as possible).


In the end we settled on not quite perfect, but within a 5mm of where it should be – that drop is spread across about 80cm of dishwasher (which is also not level, but much lower than the worktop) in which area there is no unit. The idea being that that’s the only place we can hide the unlevel. The sink, obviously, is pretty much bang on level (after much effort) and so we couldn’t hide it behind that :-/

It makes sense to us, but we’ll have to see what our illustrious cabinet maker says when he comes to measure up and fit the worksurface. It is, it must be said however, the pretty.

I’m also very fond of our salvaged art-classroom sink:


It may be battered, and the inside’s a bit scraped up (and still needs a lot more scrubbing) but it’s such a nice shape. Unfortunately, the waste on it (a) doesn’t have an overflow hole and (b) leaks, which isn’t surprising but I will have to cut it off with the dremel to replace it, which is a bit tedious. I had hoped (at least in the short-to-medium-term to get away without replacing it). I can also say that it was with deep joy that the dishwasher was plumbed in* and has now produced plates that are free of grit. Not that the plates we washed weren’t free of grit, it’s just neither of us could really face the uphill struggle of washing all the plates we own – at least, not until we had a functioning sink. And whilst they might get dusty again, you can cram most of the plates into one dishwasher load so having them all clean again now is quite a pleasure.

That, however, is pretty much all I’ve done. I’ve tiled the floor, which now needs washing & sealing today and then grouting tomorrow (lucky me!). I need to do that because the edges of the tiles have started to crumble a bit again. We bought a lampshade for the dining space, which I put up yesterday. It’s a 1930’s industrial enamel shade; and whilst the colour doesn’t exactly match the room, the shape is perfect, and I love it all the same :)

We still, however, haven’t found an answer for the kitchen lighting.

We’re considering kilner (aka mason) jars with energy savers in on a bit of painted wood. Yes, I know. It’s been done. We’re stealing ideas. Yes, yes, shush. It’s cheap and we’ve not yet found a solution we like, so it might be worth trying.

In other news, I spent yesterday unbending our battered tablesaw which arrived after a fight with the courier. Having heaved the (heavy) object down to the garage with Kathryn I spent about an hour getting the point where the legs attach to the frame bent back enough that it’d fit together and fitting it together. I also attempted to glue the little height adjusty handle back together, but I fear that really needs replacing**.


Hopefully we’ll be getting a refund of shipping and some money off the saw. It’s nice though, and it does work. I’ve not quite got the guard adjusted right, and I’m way out of practice with table saws… and let’s be honest, the last time I used one was 20 years ago (scary thought) in woodwork in secondary school. And that wasn’t a toy dinky tablesaw like this one, that was a massive piece of woodcutting machinery.

I also spent some time toying with the drill press. I had hoped to use it to make the shelves for the lounge, but neglected to take account of the length of the drillbit (duh) when calculating the minimum height required. As with the tablesaw it’s had a pretty hard life, and the Jacob’s chuck is very sticky (I think I might need to whip it off, clean it and lubricate bits of it). It’s also missing the switchplate, so you have to switch it on and off at the plug, or as I ended up doing by pulling the plug out (because I have it on an extension lead. That’s less than ideal, so I shall have to find a little piece of metal and make up a new switchplate for it, and find a new switch, at some point. But at any rate, it’ll hopefully do for building the shelves, if not then we can flog it again :)

It’s rather nice having the stuff down there, but I need to spend some time (probably with Kathryn or the help of a friend) sorting it all out once the house stuff’s out of there, because at the moment it’s quite irritatingly disorganised.

And finally yesterday, I took Miss M Lane (which I think might be the bike’s name) out for a little spin. No, not the motorbike (no, I know, I’m bad for still not having sorted her), but the pushbike:


It wasn’t much of a spin, really. About half a mile, really, in total. Not because I wanted to only go half a mile, but let’s just remind you about my lovely BSA:


It is still running on ‘War Grade’ tyres, and possibly ‘War Grade’ innertubes & It needs new brake shoes. So the intention wasn’t to go far anyway… unfortunately, having made it across the vicious stones at the back of our house, and both up and down the street, I made it to a little distance along the river before hearing ‘quite a loud’ bang followed by sudden deflation of the rear tyre.

The main purpose of the ride was to discover what needs doing, and what needs doing is:

The 3 speed changer needs looking at. It has more than one speed, but seems to change between them fairly much at it’s own discretion, and I’m not sure if it was jumping teeth.
The brakes quite definitely need doing (the front brake is laughable, even with adjusting it).
It does, indeed, need new tyres (sadly) and new innertubes (especially because one now has a massive hole in it).

On the plus side, she’s really a rather lovely bike:


** And it’s at this moment that we realise that John having a bandsaw on which he can cut a nice circle is a very, very handy thing indeed :)


Kate's allegedly a human (although increasingly right-wing bigots would say otherwise). She's definitely not a vampire, despite what some other people claim. She's also mostly built out of spite and overcoming oppositional-sexism, racism, and other random bullshit. So she's either a human or a lizard in disguise sent to destroy all of humanity. Either way, she's here to reassure that it's all fine.