Welcome to my blog, where a 30-something couple from the UK renovate and extend an old cottage, build some outbuildings, raise some hens and grow firewood trees and vegetables on our Acre in Hampshire. It's a bit like a smallholding but without too many animals, so we call it a homestead - living within our means, relying on ourselves and having a wonderful life!


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

January Catch-up

No blogging recently, as you may have noticed. Lots of work though - both around the property and to earn money to spend on the property!

I'll keep it short - a picture tells a thousand words...

I plucked up the courage to drag the chain mortiser out of the workshop, and tackle the log store for the Barn. This was my trial-run - I ordered the oak early so I had something to play with practise on. As it turns out, this is pretty straightforward - as long as the mortises are made a little bigger than they need to be, which saves loads of assembly-and-disassembly to fine tune the components.

Buoyed by the success of the first corner, I moved from 'beginner' to 'intermediate' oak framing, and had a bash at the centre of the log store. This is quite complex, with five components to line up and pin.

This stuff is SO HEAVY - I learned a great lesson putting this little part of the frame together, which is to lift the oak by hand as little as possible. To this end, I built a little trolley with swivel wheels to move the beams, spin them on their axis and run them around lengthways - which I couldn't do with the sack truck. I could also do with a facility to lift the beams to saw horse height, but haven't found a good solution to this yet - short of buying a pallet pump truck which would be used for a few weeks and then be redundant.

I enlisted Graham from next door to help stand the log store up - it is a massive psychological boost to see something up and in place! We even stood the frame on the granite staddle stones.

Driving the oak pegs into place is the most wonderful job - the joints pull together so tightly if they have been cut properly. I know these pegs look loose - this is the back side, so the taper of the pegs is apparent. The other side is the 'weather' side which are really nice and tight in their holes to keep the water out. The pegs are lubricated with linseed oil before they are driven so that they can draw the components together effectively.

When I wasn't framing, I had to pop a quick paving slab base down just outside the larder window...

...onto which some lovely chaps then popped our new boiler!

Having an external boiler makes a lot of sense for us - we gain a lot of space in the kitchen, it is much more efficient than our old boiler and there is pretty much zero chance of a faulty boiler causing carbon monoxide poisoning. It also saves us a real headache when routing the flue through the roof of the planned new extension - so an external machine was a no brainer. It is a Worcester Bosch system boiler, which means almost all the workings are in the boiler housing, so we gain airing cupboard space as well.

Finally, I bought a length of oak worktop from eBay, with the intention of building a little study in the nook in the spare bedroom. Half has been used for the desk top, and the rest will make some little floating shelves for books and baskets. The worktop I bought was exactly half the price of a new piece - driving ten miles in the Defender and spending half an hour with the belt sander saved £60.

The next significant date is coming this Monday - the remainder of the oak for the Barn is being delivered. I am envisioning a HUGE pile of timber - no doubt the reality will be even bigger. They are delivering all the rest of the structural timber (including five wall ties at 6.5 metres long) and the oak cladding. Next week is going to be BUSY!

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