More on the project

It was Thursday morning and my day to do the weekly shopping but first I had to cast my vote in the local elections. As usual I was up early to do the shopping and as the polling station opened at 7 o’clock I decided to go there first. I was there at seven and they were still setting up! I was the first one there. Soon I was on my way to the supermarket and was back home before eight-thirty. After putting everything away I had a drink then was off out again to purchase the wood preserver I had forgotten to purchase the previous day and whilst at the builders merchant I purchased some plasterboard sheets for the ceiling together with the special screws and the joint tape which has to be applied before the ceiling is skimmed with plaster. I had received a late-night call from my eldest son who informed me that he couldn’t come along as planned to help lift the lintel in place because his wife had made other plans for the day. It didn’t matter though I did feel a little let down but that’s children isn’t it? Children? He’s actually 36 years old! Anyway I thought it best to get on with other things, hence the material purchases. On my return home I began by removing all the temporary coverings that were on the ceiling and then removed countless nails from the joists. I then systematically brushed the wood preserver over all the ceiling timbers. Evidence of historical woodworm infestation showed up in a couple of places on the joists but fortunately they were small patches and hadn’t spread. That would have been a nightmare to repair had there been serious damage to the timbers for they support the kitchen above. Anyway a good soaking of preservative will ensure no further problems, especially once the plasterboard is installed to seal it all off. Much of the timber had previously been treated with ‘Creosote’ which is no longer in use these days. Once that had been done and after lunch I decided to install two of the plasterboard panels but to do the others I would need to instal the electrical wiring for the recessed downlights and also slide the insulation over those I have fitted. I also have to drill the holes in the boards in which the lights will fit.

There had been a hole in the wall behind the left-hand panel in the picture at the back of which was a ventilation brick on the outer wall of the cavity. I had to block it off in case insects, especially wasps and bees get in and make a nest behind the plasterboard. The two identical panels were installed in different aspects to save wastage. They are both 3 ft x 4 ft (you do the conversion to metric). The one on the right looks larger but it isn’t. That was pretty much all I did that day.

Shirley Anne



Anyone undertaking DIY has to be flexible, be able to turn their hands to any task, study problems, come up with solutions and most of all give things a try! That ideology has been part of my approach throughout my working life and remains so now I am retired. After a nice early morning walk and breakfast I was ready to do more work in the garage. Following yesterday’s post my first job was to come up with a solution that would replace the plastic discs in which the door knobs sat. It was either that or buy new ones which meant buying the knobs too. In my electrical work I sometimes used plastic conduit and accessory ‘boxes’ which had plastic lids. The boxes were circular which meant the lids were also. I have quite a number of those lids still in my possession (remember I don’t like throwing stuff away) and they were just the right size. The old plastic discs were in fact recessed to allow the knob to sit in it and not move side to side when turned. Using three plastic lids I drilled holes in their centre, the first was just big enough to allow the knob spindle or bar to pass through but for the next two I drilled larger holes to allow the base of the knob to sit in them. As the lids also had pre-drilled holes all I had to do was align them before screwing them to the door. See picture below.

There are three discs there I assure you but you can see the knob is sitting inside them, the two outer ones that is. When the picture was taken I hadn’t yet purchased the keyhole plates so they will be fitted when I do. One of my next jobs was to fit a sill along the bottom edge of the door but of course it couldn’t fit the whole width else the door wouldn’t close in this case. You can just see the end of it (white in colour) in the next picture that also shows the concrete screed I laid which would fit beneath the sill when the door is closed.

The plywood board was there to keep rain off whilst the concrete was setting though the wind had changed direction and rain wouldn’t be a problem. In fact the door only ever gets wet when the wind is from the north and that is quite rare. I might decide to fit a canopy if I’ve a mind to. I have also decided to paint the door at least on the outside. The whole door and frame has had a couple of coats of preserver. Here are two more pictures one from the inside and one from the outside. Those of you who are awake will notice that the outside of the door is shown before it was painted (see yesterday’s picture)

You can also see that the old door frame has been removed. I did that immediately I had finished working on the knobs. The frame had to be cut before I could lever it off using the large crowbar (jemmy) I have. A very useful tool but I also had to use a lump hammer and piles of elbow grease! My word that frame was hard to remove. I will have to fill in holes in the brickwork and beneath the concrete beam above the doorway and also fit more timber along the top edge on the underside of the opening. All small stuff which shouldn’t take long.

Shirley Anne

Best part

Well the best part of any project is the end of it I guess but I like the fact all the hardest part is over and only the small things are left. I like doing everything in a project but get more satisfaction doing the little things at the end. That is probably because I am getting tired of it! Not really, it all keeps me active one way or another. It is Saturday 6 th April and finally we have warmer weather, weak winds and no rain but of course that can all change so easily. The sun is out, well dodging the few clouds that dot the sky and the birds are chirping away. Must be Spring. This morning immediately after breakfast I drove to the retail park to purchase a small can of grey undercoat paint and a couple of escutcheons for the keyholes. Yes I discovered, well I actually knew but had forgotten they were called by that name. The store that sells the paint sells all sorts of materials for DIY enthusiasts, even locks and other door furniture. However they seemed not to have any escutcheons on the shelves. On the way back home I stopped off at a locksmith’s store and it was there I was reminded of the name ‘escutcheon’. The guy gave me two free of charge! He explained that he had loads of them. I thanked him and left the shop for home. On my arrival back home I put on my overalls and gave the outside of the new door a coat of the undercoat paint. It would take four hours at the most to dry. I didn’t fit the escutcheons but left them for another day.

Following the painting I fitted a piece of timber to the top of the frame to block off the gap there and to finish off the appearance. I couldn’t paint it because I had just coated it with wood preserver. Once that was done I mixed some mortar with which to fill in the holes in the brickwork and the gap in the centre of the overhead concrete beam.

I may paint that beam if I’ve a mind to. Now for the top coat of gloss paint I have two choices, white or mahogany but I think I will choose the mahogany. I am not electing to paint the inside pointing face of the door as it isn’t necessary but the door has had a couple of coats of preserver and may get another. The preserver is oak-coloured so looks good by itself. I will continue the work on Monday hopefully.

Shirley Anne

The door

That is the new garage door I have been working on, well manufacturing to be precise, is coming along quite nicely. It is April 2 nd as I write and I have not long returned into the house after spending an hour or so in the garage this afternoon. Actually it was more like two hours after my lunch. I had been working on the project during the morning too as I was determined to finally get the door hung on the frame. First though I had to fit the hinges and whilst it was standing fixed in the workbench I gave it a coat of wood preserver. I allowed it to dry whilst I had my lunch.

After lunch I began to fit it in place on its hinges. It is at moments like this that you discover the floor isn’t quite as level as it ought to be. I hasten to add I didn’t lay the concrete floor though I was present when it was being laid. It took a couple of attempts before I was satisfied it was right. When I do this I only fix a door with two screws in the hinges to the frame until I get it where I want it to be. There has to be a decent clearance at the bottom edge and it didn’t matter in this case if it was larger than required for I plan to have the concrete on the outside raised to meet the bottom edge when the door is closed. To do that I will lay a narrow width of concrete across the doorway. This will do two things, keep out any water and also keep out any mice! Pictures will be posted at the time. I had to take a trip out immediately after lunch in order to purchase a new lock for the old one wouldn’t be suitable and also a tube of silicon rubber sealant with which to set in the window pane. So I fitted the window on my return and inserted an internal frame to prevent it being pushed in from the outside.

You can see the inserted frame which is blue in colour. In case you are thinking the original door has been removed I tell you it hasn’t just yet, in fact you can see it through the new window otherwise light would be shining through it! The next day I hope to fit the new lock and if I have a couple of suitable handles I will fit them. I know I have spare handles in storage but I haven’t checked thus far. In the last picture you can see the other door which can still be used as long as the new one is left fully open.

And that’s it for today’s post.

Shirley Anne

Saturday again

The day after we were supposed to leave the EU but our wonderful politicians have made such a mess of things it is going to be delayed. So much for promises and democracy! I will leave that aside as I don’t want to end up venting my anger on here. Although I did some work on the garage door yesterday I posted nothing about it. I didn’t mention either that I had my second drive around the garden……..on the new lawnmower! The grass needed cutting again but I also wanted to see how much the ramp alteration made a difference to getting it out of the garage and on to the path. I actually drove it out despite the narrowness of the doorway. That as you know is in the process of redesign. So yesterday (29 Mar) I got this far with the door..

The plywood partly covers the square hole at the top so that when the glass is inserted it acts as a stop. In the next pictures you can see what I did today (Saturday).

The frame on the outside of the hole, that is on the outward face of the door adds to that stop. When the glass is fitted later there will be a frame of wood fixed on the inside edge so that the glass cannot be pushed in from the outside. The plywood has been both screwed and nailed in place. The next stage will involve applying a wood preserver followed perhaps with and undercoat and top coat of paint, though I haven’t as yet decided on the paint or even its colour. I spent about three hours each of the two days before stopping work. At least the heavy work is now completed,

Shirley Anne

Not a lot…

….but just enough was the theme of the day or rather the morning on Thursday. On Wednesday I hadn’t been feeling too good with what I thought might have been a head cold. After a little medication all seemed better. I got up early, not for a walk but I would be doing the weekly shopping and do it early in the morning. The actual shopping takes place between a quarter to and a quarter past eight o’clock and I am usually back home before eight-thirty. I wanted to do a little more work on constructing the new garage door but only a little. In fact I spent two hours at most putting in more strengthening timbers which included a frame for the glass panel. The next phase would be to cut and fit the plywood panels each side but I didn’t want to spend more time getting that done on the day. As it was the work took me up to eleven-fifteen and I stopped for a snack having had my breakfast more than five hours earlier.

It was a lovely day on Thursday (we are talking about the 28 th March), sunny all day long with a slight cooling breeze. I spent a couple of hours on the patio once the sun came round to that side of the house. At this time of year the patio gets the early morning sun as if faces almost due east but in the afternoon it gets the sun from around twelve-thirty until three-thirty. As we approach the height of summer it gets the sun for around five hours in the afternoon. I was sitting there and I heard the clanging of a ladder being raised to a wall. It was our next-door neighbour. I stood on the wall of one of the flowerbeds and saw that it was he and asked if he needed help, that is someone to stand beneath the ladder whilst he climbed it. He wanted to remove some grass that was growing in the rain guttering. He told me that the gardener would be helping him as soon as he was done with whatever he was doing. Craig, that is my neighbour, asked about drilling a brick wall and what to use. He is totally unfamiliar with anything that requires DIY skills for he was never encouraged to help his dad when he was alive. I told him to come around to the garage in which I have been working and I gave him the wall plugs and screws he needed. We chatted about my projects. Twenty minutes after leaving he returned with a battery drill and a box of drill bits and paraphernalia and was asking which bits were for masonry and which were for drilling metal. Both E and I ran him through which was which and even how to fix them in the chuck! He just doesn’t have a clue but at least he is giving it a go for as he said himself it would cost him a fortune if he had to employ someone to do everything. I will always lend a hand if requested but I want to let him put in some practice for his own benefit. He isn’t stupid, only inexperienced but that will change given time.

Shirley Anne

Coming along…….

…..though slowly. I resumed the construction of the frame for the door today (26 Mar) but it took quite some time. I don’t rush things these days, let’s face it I am no spring chicken! I spent two hours sawing timber before lunch and then another hour and a half after lunch doing the same thing but also assembling the sections.

You can see the short timber has been cut at each end to form a cross-halving joint. All the sections were cut this way to give the frame strength. In the second picture you can see the frame at that time fully assembled but as yet unfinished.

All the sections were screwed together. There will be more pieces added as I go along. In the top space I have to insert the glass panel I purchased for the door. More strengthening sections will also be added. Once I am satisfied with the frame I will then fit the plywood panelling either side to complete the construction. So it is coming along slowly but surely.

Shirley Anne.

Next please

It was Monday 25 March and it promised to be a fine and sunny day. I was up early to take my first walk of the week. It was eight-ten when I left the house taking only a banana and water for I didn’t want to eat breakfast beforehand. Already the sun was up and shining though a westerly wind was blowing to cool things down. Nevertheless I was wearing lighter clothing beneath the jacket and chose to wear my trainers rather than my boots too for the first time this year. A lovely Spring day and it lived up to expectations throughout the day. Returning home I ate a small breakfast for I wanted to get into the garage and begin the next project. The ramp alterations were now complete but I would be doing more cement rendering in the same area later at some point, probably when I am at a loose end. I took the workbench and tools I would need and cleared a space in which to work. I drove the van onto the driveway to make that space. The main task was to cut the timber and erect a new door frame inside the garage. Here is the result…

Looking at the picture you can see the existing door and the white frame set between the brick each side in the normal way. I needed to widen the opening without cutting the brickwork. The extra width would make it easier to move the new ride-on mower through it. The new frame is sitting against the wall on the inside with a small amount of the bricks showing on the left and a larger amount on the right. The door will be hinged on the right just as the old one is but the extra width of brick on that side will allow the door to swing completely away from the opening. Full use of the opening between the brickwork will then be possible. The bricks on the left will act as the door stop when it is closed though the door itself won’t be in direct contact with them. The extra width gained will be around 10 cm and plenty for the mower to pass through. Incidentally it does pass through the existing doorway opening but with the bare minimum of clearance. That was all I did that day. Hopefully I would begin constructing the door on Tuesday.

Shirley Anne

Keeping my hand in

Where? Well nowhere would be the answer but I am talking about keeping any acquired skills active to some extent so they are not lost. The old saying ‘use it or lose it’ springs to mind. As a retired electrician it is wise to keep my hand in so to speak but it applies to anything we have learned over the years. I can only speak for myself of course when I say there have been many things which I lent my hand to do over the years. I can also say with modesty that I became quite proficient in those things I made the effort to tackle. Now that I have been retired for two years I find there is less of the electrical work to be done for obvious reasons but there has been plenty of other learned skills I can continue to use. You are probably aware of that if you’ve read my posts. My next door neighbours are both men, one is a practicing solicitor (or lawyer) and the other is a police inspector but neither of them seem skilled with their hands and DIY is something other people do. The solicitor I have never seen doing anything around the house and the policeman by his own admission tells me he isn’t skilled in anything of a practical nature. His father used to do everything around the house but never encouraged his son to take an interest. Both his parents have now passed on so he is finding now that he has to make some sort of effort to get involved in any domestic problems or tasks which need doing. The week after his mom died which was only recently he was telling E that one of the bedroom ceiling lights was broken and I told him I would call to fix it after her funeral had taken place. That was earlier this week as I write and so I called there today (20 Mar) and replaced the ceiling rose and pendant for him.

Because the installation dates from the early sixties there is no earthing conductor in the lighting circuits. He was asking if that was safe and I told him it was as long as he didn’t have metal-clad fittings but that a rewire would be advisable. He is now considering that possibility. He wanted to pay me for my services but I wouldn’t have any of it, I was glad to have been able to help and it did keep my hand in so to speak!

Shirley Anne

Always hope

The day before yesterday (as the posts go), I wrote about the possibility that there may be no more painting of the utility room floor, at least I hoped there wouldn’t be. Alas by that evening I noticed that the centre of the floor really looked as if it had only the one coat of paint. Indeed it had because two of the freezers had been standing there whilst I painted around them. So on Thursday (15 th) after I had returned from doing the shopping I spent ten minutes giving the area a second coat of paint. After I had done that I cut the plywood timber with which to make the hatch above the worktop near the window. I had deliberately left that part of the project whilst the more important work was being carried out. It would be during the afternoon that any further work might be done, if I felt the urge! The kick boards wouldn’t present much of a problem but the room door needed some straightening and that could pose some difficulty. I would just have to wait and see when the time came. I suddenly felt a little strange too on Thursday knowing that the project was nearing completion and I’d have nothing much to do but that soon wore off when I thought about the garden tasks that lay ahead. I hope my readers have been enjoying my progress reports regarding this and other projects I have undertaken. All I can say is hey, if I can do these things there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to either. Yes I know I have been involved in this sort of work throughout my life but one has to start somewhere. I wasn’t born with DIY skills! Hopefully, if you are undertaking DIY projects you will find you have the skills too and be proud of what you have achieved. 

Shirley Anne