Monday, 26 January 2015

How to tongue and groove...

Before I start, let me remind you that I'm not a master carpenter. I know my stuff when it comes to paint but with carpentry I just fly by the seat of my pants.
Having said that, I've successfully completed four tongue and groove projects now and I've learnt many a thing along the way which I'd like to share.

Tongue and groove is cheap and adds period charm. It's very simple to do but there are a few rules you need to be aware of.

Here are my DO's and DON'TS...

DO acclimatise your wood by unwrapping it and leaving it FLAT in the room you're going to use it in.  The temperature and humidity of the wood must match that of the room it'll be used in to avoid shrinking, expansion and twisting. Leave it for a few weeks.

If nailing, say to clad a door like I did, DO transfer the line of the batten you're nailing into to the topside  of your T&G so you know where to nail. You can erase pencil lines later.

If you're cladding a wall, you DON'T need to attach battens to the wall first. Modern adhesives that are suitable to stick skirting boards up will be fine. However DO seal the wall first if it's bare plaster. Those glues don't work well on unsealed plaster as it affects the adhesion. (You can seal a wall with diluted PVA glue.)

You might consider using a batten though if you're cladding the inside of an exterior wall as the gap you create between wall and timber can be filled with insulation.

DON'T be tempted to whack it in with a hammer if it doesn't go in easily. You'll damage the edge so that the next piece won't fit either. Instead use a block of wood as a buffer between your hammer and the fragile groove and tap gently if you have to. 

DO work your way out of a corner making sure that the groove faces the right way so you'll be able to get that last piece in. A bit of forward planning will prevent much gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair later.

DO work out where the joins in your work will be my measuring and marking your way out from the centre or one side. You don't want to be left with a 1cm bit of T&G on an edge. Figure it out before you begin.

DO dry fit your pieces to make sure it all fits as you expected it to.

DO use a spirit level!

 DO run a bead of glue down each groove before you slide the tongue into it. Wipe off any excess immediately with a damp cloth.

The piece of T&G in the picture below was not wood glued or held in place with adhesive on the wall.  It was so fiddly to get in that I just left it, held in place by the surrounding pieces...

 You can see how the wood has shifted and the caulk and paint have cracked. I'm going to have to fix this. It's not so bad if it's just one piece. If it was the whole wall I'd weep. DON'T let this happen to you. Use adhesive on the wall and wood glue down the joints.

To caulk or not to caulk?

If you want to paint your tongue and groove you DO need to caulk in every joint so that the paint doesn't crack. Caulking won't ruin the look. You're not obliterating the groove, just filling the very bottom of the crack. Caulk is a flexible filler so there's a degree of movement which prevents cracking.

If you're painting, DO treat your knots with a knot blocking primer suitable for the type of paint you'll be applying over the top. You can fill knot holes if you want. I don't usually bother as there's something honest about them. If you want knot free perfection perhaps MDF panelling might be more suitable. 

Caulk a thin line right the way down every join. Smooth it into the crack with your finger and wipe away the excess with a wet cloth.

If you're not painting, perhaps just varnishing or white washing, finish the face of your boards BEFORE you fix them. 

For BATHROOMS or high moisture areas you'd also need to prime/paint varnish the BACK of the timber. This will help seal the wood, protecting it from expansion and contraction with the increased humidity.   DO finish the front of the boards BEFORE you fix them, not forgetting wood glue down every groove as this will also prevent movement. I wouldn't caulk or paint over the joins. If any movement does occur your joints won't be cracking your paint finish.

I hope that helps if you're thinking of planning a tongue and groove project. It really is an enjoyable thing to do with a little forward planning.

As for last weeks post, well aren't you all a bunch of smarty pants? My unsavoury sounding fleamarket curiosity...

was of course an ink pad....

...albeit very much dried up and completely useless now. I can't believe how many of you got that right. I was clueless despite my O level French.

It's nice to know that my blog has such an educated and intelligent readership.

The winner is Teri. Please send me a message Teri with your address and I shall pop a surprise in the post to you.

I'm still grappling with the bloody corner cabinet and wishing I'd left it in the skip. Meh. Back soon...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Trundling on...

Oopsie. Didn't mean to take a blogging mini break there. I guess there were animals that needing saving and ghosts that needed freeing after all. A womans work is never done. Obviously I've still found time to paint the kitchen ceiling, paint the corner cabinet and start the designs for the next splashback. Simultaneously.

I'm not showing you the finished corner cabinet. Truth be told I've created a monster. More of that another time...

This is the primer stage. This is how we live. House Beautiful it's not. 

Onto second hand scores.
I found this footed ironstone bowl at the flea market.

Still can't get that horizon straight in my photos. I really have a wonky eye.

It has all the wedding anniversaries on it. It's funny, I got this a few days after our anniversary which we both forgot!

Fortunately we're neither of us sentimental types so we don't mind.

The chazzing has been quite thin on the ground really. The boot sale still hasn't recovered from the Christmas break and the cold weather puts people off. Can't blame them. I wouldn't want to stand around in the cold for six hours on a Sunday when I could be nibbling on a croissant in my cosy home.

But I did spot the most curious thing at the flea market. Those of a nervous disposition, read no more. If you're eating, look away now. You have been WARNED.

The man selling this said it had been on his stall for SIX years and no one wanted it. So he GAVE it to me.

Leaves a nasty taste in the mouth doesn't it?

By way of an apology I'll offer a little competition...

Do you think you know what it is? Leave a comment below and correct answers will be drawn from a hat. I promise the object above is NOT the prize. I shall find something more suitably suitable. Overseas folk can guess too please. And make sure you're not a 'non-reply blogger' so I can contact you.

That's all for now folks, I'll bid you adieu. I'll try harder next time. And I have a lot of blogs to catch up with.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Looking forward...

As my daughter has been off on school holidays, I decided to be on school holidays too. Why should kids have all the fun?
It seems that it's only in the Christmas holidays with dark, cold weather and all day films on telly that you can really slob out and get away with spending most of the day in pyjamas. And slob out I did! My husband bought me a newfangled electronic device known in the modern world as a tablet.
Against my will.
I became totally addicted to Candy Crush, Candy Crush Soda and Bubble Witch Saga. I spent many hours saving the animals, clearing the top row and clearing the jelly. I even discovered I'm a natural born zombie killer! My husband complained at my inability to put the tablet down but it was he himself who had forced the damn thing on me so really, he should have been pleased that I liked his gift.

Today is the first day of school, so we've been up at brutal o'clock and I'm filled with determination to get my arse back in gear.

Sooo, what to tackle first? Obviously finishing the kitchen makeover is a high priority. But other things have crept into the house and are cramping our style somewhat.

A quality corner cupboard, partially savaged by a Rottweiler and found in a skip. Nothing that a bit of TLC can't fix.

The lower door is off as I've started to rectify the Rottweiler damage.

We also have a wardrobe in the kitchen (this is becoming an annual event) that's needing to move on. {Sigh...}

The door is off. I can't remember why. It's been there for some time now... I need to beautify this before it leaves us.

Also of a pressing nature, I WANT A NEW SOFA! Badly. After far too many hours of exhaustive research, I have made a decision on the company I want to go with. I had decided on the model too, a sofa that ticked all the boxes. Stunning, the correct size and practical as it was a sofa bed.

We went to meet it in the London showroom and it was actually just not comfortable.
It was so beautiful, I actually tried to justify getting it anyway. I mean, we don't actually ever sit on the sofa. Except during the Christmas hols. I sit at my desk so I can fiddle with the computer and my husband lives in the office.
So it's really only going to be used by the cats.

I went back to the showroom yesterday, just to make sure it was still uncomfortable, saw sense and I'm now considering a few more comfortable models. Unfortunately they had one sofa absent from their collection so I'll have to go back AGAIN in a few weeks before I can decide. It's a lot of money to spend for somebody who NEVER buys new, but if I get it right it can be a forever sofa so I must be patient.

In the running at the moment are this one...

this one...

and this one which is a more comfortable version of the first one with a higher back or a lower seat or something...

I'm smitten by leather Chesterfields as they just look so English, timeless and elegant. They're also incredibly durable if you get a quality model.
 My husband was resistant to the idea. He wants a big squashy one. I have now worn him down, as is my way and he's become so sick of me banging on about Chesterfields and forcing him to look at pictures that I now have free rein if it makes me happy.
Sometimes I really love that man.

Righty ho, I'd better crack on and put Christmas back in the loft as it's the 6th Jan. I was surprised to see when I lived in America, that people kept their Christmas trees up until the end of January or even February without fear of bringing bad luck. It's only us in the UK putting pressure on ourselves with our superstitions.

Let me wish you all a very happy and healthy new year. I hope to be back soon with progress of sorts. Unless there are animals that need saving and jellies to be cleared...

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Finishing off jobs and Merry Christmas...

Better late than never, here I am with jobs aplenty to share...


I turned an ordinary bread bin like this...

  into this...

for a special lady from Cleveland Ohio with a little help from ESP, The Graphics Fairy and a fine Sharpie pen.

If she hates it she can always use it the other way round...

The stocking that was brutally savaged by Gardania the hamster...

is now finished...

and is hanging by the fire in anticipation of the big day...

only a small hole from the tattered quilt remains...

It makes it all the more authentic.

Speaking of things being authentic, remember the crappy louvre doors?

that became these?

Well, they are finished too and are looking like this...

Hopefully a bit more like authentic 100 year old shutters from a French farmhouse...

Worth hundreds no doubt.

I'll just show you my Christmas crib...

with my 'new' camel that arrived today from ebay...

I'm thrilled with him and relieved I got the scale right! There are so many different sizes out there.

So all that remains is for me to wish you, in the words of our eloquent window cleaner, ''Merry Christmas and all that...''

Have a good one dear readers. I must away as I have some, (ahem) authentic 100 year old French farmhouse shutters to flog on the internet...

Elizabeth and Co.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Frantic Festivities...

This year I'm trying so hard to concentrate on making Christmas a pleasurable and stress free time after last year was  NOT. I let Connie decorate the tree with decorations I wouldn't personally use. I let her forbid me from using some of my favourites. I didn't terrify her by pointing out the age and value of certain ornaments. We had carols playing and she really enjoyed it.

We built and decorated a gingerbread house together. (Not baked. Building and decorating ONLY round here.) I didn't point out when she used two or three of the same colour sweets in a row. I shut up. In fact she told me! ''Don't use all the same colour!'' She enjoyed it and is very proud of our little house.

Kit $4.49 from Home Bargains. £4.99 from Morrisons.

So I'm learning to relax about how I want things to look. It doesn't come naturally as I'm a control freak but I have to do it. I know how lucky I am to have Connie. It's far more important to have fun with her than a tree I'm proud of. (At least I've got Curtises baubles eh?)

Last Christmas I was totally stressed over a breast lump which was removed the day after Boxing Day. Thank God, it was all fine but the waiting period to find out was the worst.

This year we have no guests, no pressure and no stresses. Aaah...

Anyway, the louvre doors have gone from this...

to this...

Er, no, not finished yet. But I don't let that stop me starting other things.

I'm a hive of Christmas activity. While the rest of the country are at the post office sending their gifts, I have decided, only now, that I will make some of mine. Using nothing but scavenged items from charity shops, car boot sales and the flea market. (Oh my lucky family!) The time frame is okay as I've been hatching the plans for how to do each project for years.

So here's what I came up with last night.

FAMILY MEMBERS LOOK AWAY NOW! ( I don't think anyone in the family really reads this so it's safe to show you... shh, don't tell.)

For my lovely Uncle (retired maths teacher) a vintage ruler picture frame!

My husband seemed concerned at the pile of vintage rulers I'd collected and the fact that I was sawing them up. I'd like to tell you I won him over with the finished product but that would be a lie. He didn't get it.

I would like one of these and I am crap at maths. And measuring. Hopefully my Uncle will like it. He always has kind things to say about my carpentry.

I started out with a plain wooden frame with a wide border. I washed all the rulers so years of dirty childrens finger grease wouldn't affect their gluability. I sawed the mitred corners with my hand mitre saw. This is the first tool I ever bought.

A squeeze of the handle lets you change the angle from this...

to this...

and you can set it at any angle in between, say if you want a straight cut.

I glued the pieces with wood glue and clamped them with my fantastic Poundland clamps...

The smaller rulers in the centre were folding rulers and they slightly overlap the edges of the original frame on the inside.

I love that one has a childs name written on it.

I need to apply a little antique pine wax on the raw cuts of the corners today so they don't look so new.
I've also seen coasters made from vintage rulers which is another fun thing to do.

Plenty more ideas on Pinterest.

I also started a little sewing project. I picked up a few vintage quilts at the flea market a few weeks ago. The dealer actually gave me a few more that were really wrecked.

Very Cabbages and Roses I thought...

I managed to salvage a small amount of one quilt to try and make a Christmas stocking. I carefully soaked, washed and dried it, cut out my stocking shapes, tacked them and left them on the back of the sofa.
As you do.

Someone, who shall remain nameless, sat on the sofa, nudging the stocking backwards towards the hamster cage with his head and Gardania dragged it into her cage and ate the heel.

I was heartbroken. I was furious. I nearly cried because I didn't have enough quilt to start again.
So I've modified the shape and am hoping to clear some space on the dining table to finish it soon. 

A much daintier stocking. I hope to show you the finished article next time! Gardania is none the worse for her vintage textile snack.