Sunday, 21 February 2016

When one door closes ....

The glued panel looked quite good: it is possible to see the joint, as the glue shows up a little against the varnish:

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I left it for 24 hours to give the glue plenty of time to dry (in view of the low temperatures). Then I knocked the style gently back onto the rest of the door:

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And when it was nice and tight, I put the pegs back in. I only had to remake one of them.

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The panel looks (I think) much as it did before it was broken:

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And with the door back where it came from you can hardly see the damage. I cleaned up the lock mechanism, and replaced the old nail with a short length of thick copper wire. This isn't ideal, as it will gradually cut through, but all my steel pins were over at the Fort. It'll last a few years though I expect. And the lock works nice and easily now: it had some very sticky old oil inside it previously.

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Friday, 19 February 2016

Repairing the door

A careless gust of wind slammed our neighbours' - Tony and Anne's - living room door, and one of the panels broke out when the door hit the frame. The panels are rebated into the framework of the door - Wikipedia gives a useful guide to how a paneled door is put together - and although the panel can be taken out when it's broken, after it has been repaired the door has to be dismantled to put it back in

The door has vertical styles, and horizontal rails. Wikipedia reveals the interesting fact that a rail placed in the middle of a door - and Tony's door has two of these - is correctly called a muntin. So we have here a double-muntin door. Or perhaps a thirteen-piece door.

To put the panel back in, one of the styles - the one at the edge without the hinges - has to be taken off, so the panel can be slid back in between the top rail and the upper muntin (I'm getting the hang of this technical stuff). Here's how it was done.

The broken panel is just a little worm-eaten:

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But in the hope that the wood-worm have now finished their meal, I've glued the broken edge back on:

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I've clamped the parts using the bench vice to pull the edge tight. Although I've been able to clean the surplus glue off the upper side, I can't get at the lower side to clean that. We'll just have to hope that not too much glue has squeezed out.

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The lock mechanism has to come off, and maybe when it goes back I can find something better than a long nail to hold the nice china doorhandle on.

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Some of the screws were a little difficult to remove. I can't at all work out why the countersunk ones got to be so rusty, but not the other longer ones.

The door is held together with wooden pegs, and I hoped that it wasn't also glued. This picture of the bottom edge of the door shows that it must have been a stock size door cut down to fit the rather low opening, rather than a door made to measure:

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The wooden pegs are the dark wood squares (probably oak, which colours more with varnish - the rest of the door is pine). The one on the left has been cut in half, after being fitted, when the door was sawn down to fit the opening. I think it's remarkable that the half-peg is still in place: I was able to take it out with my fingernails. There was very little keeping it in.

That picture also shows that the paint was taken off the door with a disk sander, and the edge of the disk has cut into the wood at a couple of places in the corners of the panels.

I started to knock the pegs out from the other side (they are tapered), with a hammer and a metal drift - of course, a wooden one might have been better. And here the pegs have just started to come clear of the surface:

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Every one came out cleanly and without deforming. If possible, I'll re-use them when the door goes back together:

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After that, and keeping my fingers crossed for a non-glued construction, I tapped the style off the four rails. It moved relatively easily, but I took it just a bit at a time:

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Finally it came off entirely, and quite cleanly:

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You can see that at the end nearest the camera, the tenon has broken off the end of the lower rail. It looks as if the original joiner was a bit careless cutting the shoulders of the tenon, and had sawed just a millimeter or so too far into the tenon. You could see it at the other end, too, though that tenon survived being knocked apart. In any event, I glued the tenon back into the end of the bottom rail. It won't be really as strong as the others, but I'll glue these joints when I re-assemble the door, and perhaps that will help. Here's the tenon being glued:

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This joint must always have been a little weak, as one edge of the mortice had been removed when the door was cut to size (making it technically a corner bridle joint I think).

When the glue is dry tomorrow I'll have a go at putting it all back together. It's a cold day today so I have left the fan-heater going in the workshop: glue likes a temperature above 5deg or so to set properly.


Lowers stairs now .... finished?

Most of the pictures of the stairs are on the Facebook public site for Leynhac le Fort, but I have now got to the point where the stairs can actually be used, even if they aren't the way they will be when the Fort is inhabited:

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The handrail for the upper part can't go in until I fit the newel post for the upper floors, and the underside of those stairs will eventually be covered with a suitable timber cladding. I can't do it just yet as I hope to let the stairs settle and "work" first, and then drive the wedges in finally to take care of any shrinking.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Building a bullnose

The first flight of stairs is now beginning to go up. The bottom step has a bullnose: the idea of this is to set back one of the newel posts to make the entry to the stairs a little wider. It's traditional to make the end of the stair that sticks out a rounded shape, because using a rectangular end looks a little crude (I drew it out that way first and it didn't look quite right).

It can be seen here in the middle of the bottom of the picture:

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This type of step presents a number of challenges, mostly of the "you'd better measure it all very carefully before cutting" kind. It's rebated differently at either end, and it can only be put in place with difficulty once the newel post on the right is fixed in place. But it has to be done in that order (newel post first, then step) as the newel post needs a bit of manipulation to get it in place once the stringer is attached to it. I have cut a semicircular "cheese" of wood to go under the rounded end to provide it with some extra support - a corbel attached to the riser below the stair.

Here is the right hand end of the step.

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The joint fits very nicely, but I didn't quite get the cuts in the newel post right first time - but luckily they were too short rather than too long. The idea is to make it look as if the whole of the back edge of the step passes straight through the post: in fact there's only a centimetre groove cut out of the post: the remainder is cut from the step.

Underneath this part of the step is some hidden superstructure that will eventually give support to the newel post. The post will be braced by the step itself, by the riser above the step which will be mortised lengthwise vertically into the post, and by the (heavy) stringer which will be mortised into the back of the post. All of these mortises are yet to be done.  

Here's the other end of the step. Again it's a nice tight joint.

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One problem I get is that the parts have to be disassembled more than once, and doing this tends to splinter the top of the rebate when the step is pulled out. I don't have a solution for this.

Finally, the current work in progress.

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I am cutting the top of the next post back into the beam above it. It's very old wood but once through the surface worm-eaten half-centimetre, it is good to work, though hard. I have something of a problem in prospect of fitting the post in place once it has the stringer attached, but I think the way to do it is to usnscrew the plinth it sits on and slide the plinth into place once the post is seated on it. I'm shaping the cut in the beam on top with a slant so it can go in at an angle but appear to be squarely cut once in place. We'll see if this works.


Saturday, 9 January 2016

First steps in 2016

The first flight for the Fort - technically, I suppose, it's the second one, but the first flight isn't yet assembled - is now in place and screwed up. And screwed down. And wedged. And pinned .....

Everything is level and the mortices are nice and tight. They are draw-bored, so that hammering the pins in pulls them a little bit closer together. The hole in the tenon is set slightly closer to the newel post than the holes in the morticed newel post. The pins have to be hit very hard to get them to go in the way they should, and I broke a couple before perfecting the technique. A lttle bit of glue helps to act as a lubricant.

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The wooden pins in the mortices have been cut off flush. It was a revelation to find that there's a special flexible saw for doing this, with teeth that are set only to one side so it doesn't scratch the surface of the wood.

The underside will eventually be planked over, so almost nothing here will show:

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The last picture shows how the wedges go - and they go in after being walloped very hard indeed: it's all oak so nothing splits ....

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I think the vertical wedges for the risers need to be pinned in place, or else they could work loose. The horizontal ones are partly held there by the risers, but I'll pin those too. I plan to leave the stairs open like this until the end of the summer, when I'll give the wedges another good whack with the club hammer. There will probably be a bit of shrinkage and that should take it up. Anything after that will just have to be a normal consequence of timber construction.