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Cabin bed build ~ part 2

Category: Barn Conversion Journal January 11th, 2012 by mbc

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.

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Cabin bed build ~ part 1

Category: Barn Conversion Journal December 22nd, 2011 by mbc

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…

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Cabin bed – plans

Category: Barn Conversion Journal November 30th, 2011 by mbc

So with the ability to build shelves firmly under my wing (or rather under my stairs) I started on my second carpentry challenge, to – Box in the thermal store and build a cabin bed in the second bedroom. Basically, to enclose everything on the other side of the internal door shown on this photograph…

From Barn Conversion 2011

This is a much more involved job than my simple shelves. As I’ve previously described itThe cabin bed will run along the length of wall … with wardrobe doors on the left to allow access to the tank then the entrance to the bed to the right of that … the header tank that sits above the door and the poor positioning of the roof-light in relation to the main tank are going to make boxing in tidily very challenging“. In effect I’m boxing in the whole of one wall – full height cupboards on the left and a raised cabin bed with shelves underneath to the right.

I thought plans were in order but nothing too complex as I was bearing in mind this quotation…

“It took more brain to put it together than to invent it, I allow.”

Robert, page 106, The Worm Forgives The Plough, John Stewart Collis.

…I knew I didn’t want to over-plan or over-design. The devil was always going to be in detail with this build. So I measured extensively and drew up my plans, always bearing in mind that the hard work was yet to come.

The main plans, on the right page of the first photograph below are the most important as they layout the full face of the cupboards and bed. The rest are my various scribblings, workings and notes.

From Barn Conversion 2011
From Barn Conversion 2011

The main structure will be built with 4×2 timber sourced from a local building supplier – better quality and cheaper than the usual DIY stores. There is some variance in the size of the wood, it’s somewhere around 44mm by 96mm give or take a milimetre or two. But there’s a good mix and it’s pretty easy to marry up similarly sized pieces – I’ll double-up the timbers in the main structure for added strength.

I also ordered shaker style doors, (a full height pair to enclose the thermal store and a smaller pair for under the cabin bed) from this company – Doors Sincerely. They are due to be delivered today so more on them shortly.

The cabin bed will be built as one piece. A solid rectangular box with a sloping top to allow for the sloping roof. Cupboard doors on a basic frame will hide away the thermal store. I then need to think of a clever way to bring the two together semi-permanently – to make it look like a single unit across the whole of one side of the room, whilst retaining the ability to move the bed out of the way to allow full access to the thermal store and associated equipment. That’s where I get into “It took more brain to put it together than to invent it” thinking.

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Building shelves to fit under the stairs

Category: Barn Conversion Journal November 24th, 2011 by mbc

My first proper foray into DIY carpentry at the barn has been constructing a shelving unit to sit under the stairs. The shelves are required to provide storage, box in the under-stairs area and muffle the sound from the under-floor heating pumps.

The timber I chose was basic off-the-shelf stuff from B&Q – planed smoothed softwood boards. My original intention was to paint or stain the wood so the appearance of the untreated wood wasn’t of great importance. However, once finished I’m relatively happy with the finish of the wood and the gentle contrast between the whitened oak of the stairs and the clean pine boards of the shelves so untreated they will remain.

I toyed with the idea of attempting fancy joints, inspired by sites such as The Joiners Apprentice beautiful hand-cut dovetails tempted me. But fear of my abilities held me back and instead I decided upon using simple dowelled butt joints for the corners and dado dowel joints for the shelves. I’ll save fancy joints for a future project. I’ve put together this Sketchup model to demonstrate my shelf joints.

You can download this model from my Sketchup library – Dado dowel joint model.

The space the shelving unit needed to fit is pretty standard and similar spaces are found in most homes with traditional staircases. The forty five degree slope of the stairs almost forms a triangle, the exception being the vertical edge of the bottom step. Geometrically in 2D the shelf unit, viewed from the front or back is a quadrilateral trapezium.

The under-the-stairs area had become a pretty handy dumping group for tools, left over materials and my sons toys so a general clearout was in order prior to commencing work.

From Barn Conversion 2011
From Barn Conversion 2011

I started by cutting the four ‘sides’ for the ‘outer’ structure and then the three shelves. The side pieces were cut to exact measurements and the shelves cut longer than necessary to allow for trimming to the correct length later. The two vertical ‘side walls’ have bevelled tops, cut at 45 degrees on which the sloping top sits. Similarly, the shelves have one perpendicular end and one bevelled end, the bevelled end meeting the sloping top of the shelving unit. I did all this cutting with a combination of my circular saw and a borrowed table saw that is stuck at 45 degrees!

I then used my router to cut the three dado joints into tallest side wall. I had a cutter that was almost wide enough to allow me to cut the full width of each dado in a single pass. I clamped wooden guides in place, cut the dado then widened slightly with a hand-saw, then used a small chisel and sand paper to tidy up. One of the dados ended up deeper than intended as the guide for the router depth had worked lose so a little remedial filling with a sliver of wood was necessary.

I then drilled and glued the dowels in place – two per joint. The trickiest joints were those holding the sloping top in place. I eventually settled on drilling straight through both pieces of wood from the top straight down into the upright rather than drilling one side of the joint then marrying it up with the other side and drilling the ‘recieving’ hole.

From Barn Conversion 2011

The final job was to fix the back panels for which I used some external plywood I had left over from boxing in the eaves. The ply had a surprisingly pleasing finish to it so it has remained untreated like the rest of the wood-work. I had already spaced the shelves in such a way that they would cover the joints between the panels, so I simply tacked the back panels into place.

I also built a small rectangular insulation lined box to cover the heating manifold and pumps which I slipped into place before positioning the shelves. The main job of this was to muffle the sound made by the under-floor heating paraphernalia when it was in operation, a job in which it has pretty much failed and that I’ll need to address again at a later date.

From Barn Conversion 2011

From there it all came together – some liberal filling and sanding helped me to paper over the cracks of my inexperienced cutting.

Despite having planned to make the shelves a centimetre or so narrower and shorter than the gap they were to fit in, my measuring went awry somewhere along the line and they turned out to be a very snug fit. Some gentle bashing and a couple of wedges was all that as needed to fix the shelves into place.

Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results.

From Barn Conversion 2011

I’ve prepared Sketchup model of the shelves that you might like to take a look at….

You can download this model from my Sketchup library – Under stairs shelving unit model.

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Carpentry

Category: Barn Conversion Journal November 4th, 2011 by mbc

Over the last couple of years I’ve kept on returning to the question of carpentry. Not in a general sense, but specifically in relation to my ability to turn my hand to the following projects:

  1. Build shelves under the stairs,
  2. Box in the thermal store and build a cabin bed in the second bedroom,
  3. Build a high level, long, wide shelf in the kitchen,
  4. Put up shelving in the utility room.

…OR the alternative of hiring a professional. A steady accumulation of tools over the period (chisel, hand saws, a circular saw, jigsaw and sander then most recently a router and whole array of cutters) has pushed me to test my skills or risk losing face and admitting to recklessly buying ‘boys toys’.

Just to set the record straight (and start work on any future defence of my position) I’ve not been recklessly or pointlessly buy these tools. I have been putting them to use – boxing-in pipe work in the bathrooms (and there has been a lot of boxing-in to do as the fittings were moved around from their planned locations due to my wayward planning and purchasing), fitting skirting boards, oak floors and trim between the stairs and floor. But there is still plenty more work for them to do.

As a proof of the concept that I’m up to doing all this woodwork, I’ve made a start on the shelves under the stairs.

Step 1 – THE SHELVES UNDER THE STAIRS

(Quite an ominous title that one).

From Barn Conversion 2011

The purpose of the shelves is two-fold, to provide storage but perhaps more importantly, to box-in and tidy up the under-stairs area including hiding the unsightly under-floor heating manifold.

Having drawn up the plans (incorrectly as it transpired) and bought the wood I started work

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Progress

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