Building reclaimed wood shelving

The recently painted utility room has always been bereft of shelves. All the paint tins, barrels of tile cleaner and bottles of white spirit had no proper home and so gathered in those little used corners of the barn instead. Something had to change. Propelled by the freshly painted utility room and the poor weather I started on some new utility room shelving.

When we bought it, the end of the barn that now houses the kitchen housed chickens. The chickens resided in some rather nicely built animal stalls, that had been constructed from hard wood that I suspect had a previously life in more impressive surroundings – a school room or chapel would be my guess. I saved most of the wood from the stalls, some has been used on the front of my big metal shed and I saved one of the long beams, to use for shelving…

I took the opportunity of shelving the utility room to provide a proof-of-concept for my kitchen plans…

The shelves are simply constructed from white painted horizontal timbers screwed to the side walls. On these I sit plank shelves and then using dowels sunk into the side timbers fix on a decorative front. The front is a piece that I’ve cut out from my old beam, planned and sanded.

I’m really pleased with the eventual finish – cheap and effective, the old wood is lovely, with great colour, real ‘depth’ and it’s own story to tell. I really get a kick from using reclaimed materials such as these. Did I ever tell you about my flag stones…?

From Barn Conversion 2012
From Barn Conversion 2012
From Barn Conversion 2012

Cabin bed build ~ part 3, finishing touches

Continued from Part 1 & Part 2

With the main structure safe and solid it was time to add some finishing touches.

I’d wanted the bed to have it’s own lighting so went for LED strip lights from the ‘large blue Swedish chain store’. Two packs of four lights for a total of eight provided ample to surround the bed on three sides. The LED’s were hidden behind boards attached horizontally around the bed a metre or so up from the mattress level. Some extra smaller diameter bars of wood were attached to tidy things up, along the top of the short sides and along the bottom of the back. All of these parts were screwed and / or glued into place.

Some finishing around the opening into the bed was necessary, so I used my favoured coach bolts to attach a horizontal board along the front of the bed above the cupboards to fill the gap between the front top-edge of the bed and the mattress. This will be the ‘landing-area’ when climbing up onto the bed and so needs to be sturdy and hard wearing. I also fixed an additional upright to each side of the opening mainly to hide the end of the boards that cover the lighting.

From Barn Conversion 2012

There is a hole in the plasterboard of the wall along the long side of the bed, where I’d cut through to give me access to the masonry of the real wall in order to drill through to get the TV aerial into the barn. I filled the hole and then used some oak boards that were left over from the floor to cover both ends of the wall along the long side of the bed. As this was to be a pirate cabin bed, I used this boarding to accommodate a couple of eBay purchases – a small ships wheel and a port hole (where did we buy such things before eBay came along?!). A couple of skull-and-cross-bone flags and the pirate pact was made…

From Barn Conversion 2012

I boarded-in the end between the bed and the thermal store with some ply. A high shelf to the top right and a lower shelf in the middle of the end board to the left, then door knobs drilled and screwed on the cupboards doors and the job was pretty well done.

From Barn Conversion 2012

I’m currently working on Sketchup plans of the bed and will publish those shortly.

Cabin bed build ~ part 2

Continued from Part 1

I was lucky when it came to fitting the cupboard doors under the bed as I’d sized the frame and the doors to fit and for once the plans and reality closely resembled one-another. With hinges fixed to the doors, they quickly and relatively easily screwed onto the frame. I then used twin roller catches at the top of the doors to hold them in place.

From Barn Conversion 2011

With the under-bed cupboard doors in place the next step was to add the second end to the bed, the one that would lie in the middle of the whole construction between the bed and the thermal store.

From Barn Conversion 2011

I’d already built the end frame and I simply attached it to the wall by a single hollow wall anchor cavity fitting and screwed it in one place to the bed frame. I wanted to ensure that the bed remained easily removable in case full access to the thermal store and associated equipment was required at a later date. (As a slight rather dull aside, I used piranha branded anchors which are excellent but I can no longer find – if anyone knows where to get some then please let me know.)

From Barn Conversion 2011

Next I worked across the front of the thermal store, preparing the frame for the large wardrobe doors that would close off the area. On the left I placed a vertical upright screwed to the stud work of the internal wall running up the full height of the door to the bottom of the boxed-in header tank. Then with a horizontal bar I married the wall attached vertical to the middle frame / end-frame of the bed and screwed and bolted it all together. Wherever possible I used coach bolts to fix the frame together, I bought some long, thin ones that allowed easy fixing through double layers of the 4×2’s. I prefer the finish that the rounded stainless steel coach bolt heads give over what are comparatively rather ugly screws.

Some further vertical boards were added to either side of the low cupboard doors to fill narrow gaps that had been left (not shown on the photograph below).

From Barn Conversion 2011

A final vertical upright was screwed into place to sit behind and between the two cupboard doors. I screwed the cupboard doors onto the frame, one fitted perfectly, the other not quite so well and will need some remedial work to conform to my exacting standards (hehe!). I then placed a further horizontal board to fill the gap between the frame and the wardrobe doors (not shown on the photograph below).

That completed the main structural work, leaving mainly cosmetic additions – I’ll cover those in part three.

Building Progress ~ December 2011

Update on building progress during July 2011…

Due in-part to the warm, but wet weather and in-part by the desire to complete the work by the Christmas deadline I set myself, December has been dominated by work to box-in the thermal store and build a cabin bed in the second bedroom.

These subjects have already been pretty well covered elsewhere – I’ve drawn up plans and posted about the initial construction of the cabin bed. I’ll be writing in detail about finishing the cabin bed soon – there are just a few finishing touches to complete. I also hope to put together a set of generic Sketchup plans for building something similar. All-in-all it’s been a really enjoyable process, I’ve found working with timber to build a large, solid fixture to be really satisfying. As I could have predicted ahead of time, the least enjoyable aspect of the build (as anyone who follows me on Twitter where I’ve moaned plenty will already know) has been getting the two sets of wardrobe doors to hang straight and true (and they still don’t – that’s one of the main outstanding tasks).

But doors aside, I (& most importantly my son) are pretty happy with the results – the pirate ship / cabin bed is almost ready to sail. I’ll leave you with an image of the almost completed build…

From Barn Conversion 2011

Beside that I put up some kitchen blinds and salvaged a piece of wood that I’ll use as the basis for a high-level shelf in the kitchen. Pretty poor show really, but Christmas tends to slow down progress…

Happy New Year!

Cabin bed build ~ part 1

With plans in place, some success under my belt and a enthusiasm for cutting wood(!) I recently started work on a cabin bed for the second bedroom in the barn. The cabin bed build was a part of a larger project that included boxing-in the large thermal water store and all the associated pipe work, pumps and control boxes. For clarity, I’ll focus on the cabin bed in these posts and cover the boxing-in elsewhere.

I based my plans on some that I found on the web that I’ve since lost and in reality pretty much disregarded, but they gave me a start in terms of basic structure and materials. If I find the source of those plans I post a link later on. The basic structure is constructed from 4×2’s (or 95x44mm’s as they’ve become under the pressure of ‘de-imperialisation’), with the timbers mainly doubled up for strength. The bed frame itself is a 3’8″ by 6’6″ rectangular box – sized as such to easily accommodate a standard 3’x6’3″ mattress (mattresses still coming from a world in which the sun still never sets on the British empire). The bed sits between two full height frames.

I started construction with the two end frames. Both have similar dimensions, one being slightly shorter than the other to cope with the slightly differing ceiling heights on each side of the original roof beam. The two frames are shaped to fit into the sloped roofed.

The first end frame ~ From Barn Conversion 2011
From Barn Conversion 2011

I made three equally sized rectangles, screwed together two of them to form the top of the bed and then raised the top on legs again made from doubled up 4×2’s. All the doubled-up sections were screwed together. Most of the joins are screwed – either straight through from the face or using angled pocket hole joints. I also used metal brackets as the basis (to hold the timbers in place before face or angled screwing) and to strengthen some of the hidden joins.

From Barn Conversion 2011

I could have used far stronger and fancier joints than I did in assembling the bed. Dovetail or dado joints, would have given a more satisfying, ‘correct’ solution, but I was keen to get this build on track and complete it quickly and efficiently. Given more time I’d definitely go the more ‘correct’ route.

I then fixed the slats across the top of the bed frame on which the mattress will sit. These were simply cut to size and screwed in place with a appropriate gap between each.

From there, I fitted the cupboard doors to the front-face of the bed base. The doors are Shaker style doors bought online from Doors-Sincerely and although pricey I’m really pleased with them. The predrilled hinge holes have made them easy to fit. There is a little damage to one of the larger doors, but that is the risk of buying online and getting things delivered and it’s easily remedied.

From Barn Conversion 2011

In part 2 I go on to assemble these parts into something resembling a bed…