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Worktable repair phase 1


It’s high time that I got round to this: the table as it was was mostly held up with string tied to the fence!

It started life as a tall “Billy” bookcase from Ikea, though it was used for kitchen storage. I had it cut in two (I can’t say “in half”!) when I rearranged the kitchen; two smaller bits had more placement options than one big ‘un.

two pieces …

Because of this height inequality, I couldn’t just put a bit of wood across the top of them – I moved a shelf on the taller side until it matched the top of the smaller side, then had to cut bits off one end of the “tabletop” so it’d go inside the taller one. It did, just, but I can’t saw in straight lines, so it was a bit of a shoehorn …

the pencil line shows where the cut should have been!

When I put the table in place, I turned the smaller unit to face the front, to make getting at the shelves easier. I couldn’t do the same with the taller unit – it had to be side-on to take the end of the top. This meant that the board back of the taller unit was fully exposed to the weather, while the shorter part was not only back-to-the-fence, it was also tucked in from the end to give all of it some protection.

Not surprisingly, the board back on the taller unit didn’t last long; I put some string round the top and tied it to the fence to hold it more or less upright – without the board, it had no bracing.

I moved them again over Christmas in expectation of the stainless steel catering table that I’d been promised. When that fell through, I had to rethink my options: I could buy one (at £100+ and about the same again for delivery) or I could revamp the one I had. No prizes for guessing which option I went for. (A third option would have been to make one from scratch, as shown in Stevie the terrible’s brilliant blogs – but given that I can’t saw a ten-inch cut in a straight line …

The board back of the smaller unit had been exposed for a month or so, and it had started to buckle and come out of the slots. First thing I needed to do was to brace the frame, to hold it together so that the board couldn’t slip out, no matter how wet it might get.

The bracing slats are from a wooden window blind; when the cord broke, it was going to be thrown, but I rescued it “they’ll come in handy for something”. Did, eventually. I used panel pins to secure them, and added diagonals just to make extra sure.

That board backing ain’t going nowhere …

Then I cut a strong black plastic sack into two pieces and secured it to the back, to protect the wood – panel pins were no good, the plastic just pulled off, so I had to go round my local shops to get some drawing pins (5th shop had some)

Elegant it ain’t! but if it works, what matter that? I could have put another piece of plastic at the bottom, to cover all the back, and might yet, but as usual, didn’t think of it in time. Or if it’d thought of covering the taller unit while it still had its board in place …

Still, that’s the easy bit done …

:-} Considering that my “tool kit” consists of a small tenon saw, a hammer, a pack of panel pins and another of drawing pins, and considering that my visual range is about four inches, and that most of this was done in a deep crouch, and considering hat this is the first DIY I’ve done for 18 months (and that was only sawing a very wonky line – and that was my first DIY for years!), I’m not going to beat myself up to much. (Actually, I’m just getting my defence in first!!!)

Plenty of time for that when I start on the other unit …

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well done you for taking on such a big job, I admire you for all your effort.and hard work,

25 Jan, 2012


grins, I did it yesterday and am paying fo r it today! mostly because of having to hunker right down to see what I was doing - did my back no good at all.

I'd like to work up to making one fron scratch, but let's see how I get on with the hrader tall unit, which I need to cut down - ha, that'll be fun!

But at last, and at least, I've got off me "brain" and started to do something, rather than think about it.

In a way, it's just as well that I didn't get the metal table - buying something in is never as satisfying as making it for yourself.

damn, as soon as I'd posted this I thought of something else I could have said, and went into "comments" to add it - which I would if I could still remember what it was!. sigh, it's sad when you get this old .... :-/

25 Jan, 2012


Thats the spirit fran, well done : )

25 Jan, 2012


OMG Fran... you've worked very hard !!!

25 Jan, 2012


thanks Stevie and TT - lol, the hardest part was actually getting up and doing it! but I need to check the roots of my hebe and conifers, and I need a worktable to do that on.

Oh! just remembered what I meant to add to my post to Yorhskire: this blog might be a case of "too much information" but I wasn't trying to big it up - it was for me, to remember later what I did and how and why.

25 Jan, 2012


Not too much information !
Useful to have a record of your progress.

25 Jan, 2012


grins, the times I'd wished I'd made notes in doing things before! or at least that I could find the notes that I'm sure I did make ...

25 Jan, 2012


Lol. Numerous useful notes we can't find... ;o)))

25 Jan, 2012


Well done Fran!

25 Jan, 2012


Your skills at using a saw match mine! In fact, oh, what shame, I'd say they're even better than mine! I can't saw for more than an inch without going off line! Somehow my cuts always end up slanted! I put it down to the bendy saws!

Fortunately foe me I shan't have to put my sawing talents to the test on my allotment - at least not for the stakes as Gerry is going to cut them for me. I don't have a power saw but he does & he offered to do them for me. Whew! (wipes sweat off brow!) But I'll still have to cut the boards to make them fit around my raised beds. Fortunately it won't matter if my cuts are not perfectly straight for once!

I can imagine myself in your place very easily! Making that table was a good piece of work! Well done! :-))

25 Jan, 2012


good for you Fran.

one of these days i shall have a go myself, wish i knew how.

25 Jan, 2012


Lot of hard work gone into that Fran, well done you, I can`t stay on the line when sawing either...

25 Jan, 2012


I have a small pruning saw, it was £6. Best thing I ever bought.
It seems to stay in a straight line by itself. Cuts through thin branches easily.

26 Jan, 2012


I'd heard that, in sawing, one's shoulder should be squarely in line with the desired cutting line, so that one worked directly to and fro: the action comes from the shoulder, and not being perfectly aligned makes the saw bend a bit between shoulder and work, and the line wobbles. I have to keep stopping to rest my arm and my back, so I can never take up exactly the same position twice.

Maybe a pruning saw is shorter in the blade, or stonger to go through branches, and don't bend so much? or maybe you're just better than us at using one, Diane!

I did have a circular saw, though never used it myself! I'd bought some kitchen units and the worktops had to be cut: I suggested to my friend, who did the work, that we could hire a circular saw rather than her cut three worktops with a hand-saw. Turned out cheaper to buy one from Argos than to rent one for a weekend: I held the wood at the other end, keeping well away from the saw! while she did the cutting. After that it stayed at the back of a cupbard, well wrapped and out of the way.

I eventually gave it, my electric hammer drill and a fold-out chest of drill bits, and most of my other tools, to the Age Concern handyman, working on the principle that I'd still have the use of them when he came to do stuff, and that other people would have the use of them in between times. I had a *load* of stuff: I enjoyed DIY, and even made a mid-height bed platfrom for my very first flat, not very elegant but oh! so strong - I don't believe in taking chances (and I only had a hand-drill then).

I was acrually in the process of making another one in my previous flat (2x2s everywhere, half the pieces assembled in the bedroom, whwch made going to bed so much fun!) when I found that Ikea had one, so I gladly bought theirs instead. Apart from the bed being higher, meanng htat I do'nt have to bend to get in or out, there's a load of storage space underneath that I don't know what I'd do without. *s* my next job will be to try to make it a working four-poster: I always sleep with curtains and windows open, and in the summer I sleep "al fresco" and the insects love it! I did fake one before, but this time would like to make it part of the bed.

I have a long list of jobs that need doing in this flat, but it's frustrating that I have to get someone in to do stuff that I used to be able to do myself - no matter how inelegantly. Age Concern are very good, but one has to wait till they have time; the handyman service I found online are also very good, guarantee their work, and will be there when you want, for as long as you want - but at £60 per hour (plus VAT) - more than half the cost of getting this flat sorted has been paying them to do the work.

And I'm a bit discouraged from doing even what I can do indoors - it'd take me over an hour to do soemthing that they, with the proper tools and full strength (and knowledsge and experience!), could do in ten minutes.

I've been trying to find a small cordless drill (so I can use it outdoors) but there's so many types. It has to be a small one because Im such a wimp these days (I got a hand-mixer for making my own bread, as I don't have the strenggh to knead continuously for ten minutes these days - that's got a 250w motor and I needed both hands to hold it even fairly still - and then the bowl skittered all over the place. Anyone want a hand mixer with dough hooks, used once?? serious offer: if anyone wants it, it's here for the taking - not as if it's any damn use to me!).

If anyone has a cordless drill, can they reommend any make/model that might be useful? *s* I'm thinking cheap, or fairly so (my electric drill was £10 from Woollies). It's not going to get that much use, except for small jobs; the walls here are *solid* - the handyman went through three drill bits putting up my kitchen shelves.

lol Sticki, sometimes lack of cash can be a positive thing. If I could have afforded a "proper" work table I'd never have taken the time and effort to convert the bookcase. I certainly abandoned my second home-made bed platform as soon as I found a buyable and affordable alternative.

Being someone who hates throwoing anything that might be even remotely useful also helps, of course: I've got stacks of stuff for future projects, when I get round to them, and some for general "it might come in handy".

The second part of this project is going to be the fun one, as I want to cut the taller unit down to the same size as the first one, so I can have them both inset under the top; it'll protect them both, make both sets of shelves accessible, and help support the top which had started to develop a definite bend in the middle.

*s* this post gets longer and longer as I check back and think of something else to add, so ...

26 Jan, 2012


I do as much DIY as I can but I'm not the world's best DIYer! I've always had to do DIY because generally I've never had the money to employ a professional to do it. Fortunately I learnt a lot from my dad but then he was much, much better at it than I am. None of my 3 kids seem to have learnt much from me though! Perhaps in part as I did very little in Spain & we lived there most of their lives so I suppose it's understandable.

29 Jan, 2012


lol nothing like "needs must" to make one good at DIY and at the same time resent it! doing something for fun is a lot different from having to do it.

My stuff was always more functional than decorative - my motto was, if in doubt, use 3-inch nails! When I made my bed platform, I tried to do proper joints, but I only had a tenon saw and the thicker back meant I had to saw at a very shallow angle, and the saw kept slipping, so the corner pieces didn't exactly dovetail together. I had 3" screws, wood glue, and then I bought metal corner brackets just to make sure. It lasted nearly a year, so not so bad.

*s* and I didn't have a spirit level: I'd put a coin on its edge on new shelves and watch how much it rolled, and how quickly - of course, the shelves were up by then, so it would have been a bit hard to make them lvel. And trying to drill - the bit kept slipping, I'd have to make three holes before I finally got one in the right place.

I've looked at DIY magazines and websites, but most of them are on the level of "make your own built-in wardrobe" or loft conversions; they don't do anything basic enough for me.

Anyone else remember Barry Bucknell?

29 Jan, 2012


WOW! That is dredging the barrel of remembrance! I remember his programmes on TV! Dad always used to watch them! They don't make programmes like that any more! The more modern programmes are make-overs but they don't show you any longer HOW to do things. Perhaps in these times of austerity there will be greater demand for this type of programme & DIY programmes will start to make a come back.

29 Jan, 2012


they should! and for more than fancy stuff; plain, simple basics needed to begin with - the DIY equivalent of "how to cook" - people aren't going to be able to afford handymen or whatever so much, so it's either do it yourself or it don't get done.

29 Jan, 2012


I agree completely with you there! Perhaps we should start to petition the BBC to get them to make a "How to do ..." series!

30 Jan, 2012


That wouldn't be a bad idea! Of courese, that's assuming that everyone has a TV, but that's sort of a given these days - or a section on their massive website - of course, there might be one such already, but it's such a huge site that one would probably only find it by accident.

I still have my mum's old "Patsy" book - the Daily Mirror had a cartoon strip with Patsy, mostly doing wartime recipes and little how-tos - now I need to find somewhere that sells powdered egg!

It's wire-bound, and some of the pages were coming loosse, so I took 'em all out and laminated them to protect them, then linked them together again. Didn't occur to me until later that it might have been worth something if I'd left it as it was, but it was rather tattered from use. Ah well.

30 Jan, 2012

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