I made this serving hatch for a client in 2008, they were very much into Charles Rennie Mackintosh and wanted a carving of his famous rose. I sourced a fantastic plank of quarter sawn oak and produced these doors. The photo is recent March 2019.
The clients provided a kitchen door knob with the Mackintosh rose on, which I suspended in silicone rubber and then cast these insets for the corners and middle of the architrave.
Recently I was asked to make a cabinet to compliment the hatch on the kitchen side, the budget was not enough to cover any carving so I made a simpler styles that still has a similar theme, again they were very lucky as I came across some beautiful figured quarter sawn oak again.
There’s nothing more intriguing than a bookcase with a secret door, through out history England had and still has many grand houses with secret compartments, priest holes and hidden panels concealing escape routes, tunnels and hideaways.
These secret doors still have a place today, they can make an excellent place to hide valuables, after all if a would be burglar broke in looking for a safe he’s never going to look over at the bookcase, they can even be used to access panic rooms if you live in such places that you feel you need one, don’t believe we need them in somerset but I could be wrong (I hope not!).
Having said that I find it odd that the Americans seem to dominate the secret bookcase door world, after listening to clients it strikes me that I am the UK’s leading secret bookcase door guy, if you google it there all in the USA, I have now done nine doors all different which is good, I don’t like repetitive work. A few have been used as access into new extensions.
Some of the link’s take you to a couple of my other sites in a new tab, sorry for the confusion.
Steelworks and RSJ’s are an essential part of modern building practices these day but they look so awful in older cottages I came up with a way to clad the steel beam using real oak planks, glued together in such a way as to create the appearance of a solid oak beam.
Sometimes I will make metal straps and apply polyurethane and earth pigments to imitate old rusty straps, these straps are a great way to hide joins especially when the beam is long as shown in the photo’s.
In certain situations I will make fake joints to imitate a second beam at 90 degrees to another as in the photo above, this also provides interest in long expanses of wood.
Tired of looking at our metal old cage I decided it was time for an upgrade, part of the reason also was the size of cage we needed was in-between the shop one’s.
I had some beautiful figured oak which I used for the corners and bought some hexagonal brass rod for the bars.
I made the cage table height so that our big Labrador cross Boxer dog could use it if his old leg problems came back and we’red have to turf the Jack-a-poo’s out. A bonus was I can use it for a desk instead of having the laptop on my lap
Whilst in the mood I also made a solid oak dog bowl stand for our old Lurcher cross.
I’m not a great reader of fiction apart from the odd books you take on holiday, but I do love reading books on the Technique of the past about furniture and many of the crafts associated with the wood trade, I think it is a slowly dying art as many new techniques come along and take over from the old methods, and is it possible that screens will take over from books, I hope not.
These are the oldest books I have which I find fascinating and my favorite Building Construction by Prof Henry Adams 1905, apart from the beautiful diagrams and drawings the book goes into every explicit detail on how things were done back then.
Newer books 1950’s – 80’s
These are the reasons I have so many different crafts on my website, one thing I have always acknowledged is how ever old you are how ever skilled you are you never stop learning, we’ve all met them, some one who thinks they know everything yet blind to acknowledge that someone else may just have a slightly better way of doing things, my Grandad on my mothers side was a draughtsman and when he retired at 65 went back to Reading college to try a new skill and got a job afterwards and worked for several more years.
My first school book
If you were at school in the early 70’s then you will remember this book unless you did needlework then you won’t. This book is 42 years old, but because of good old sticky back plastic it’s still in A1 condition, except for the 14 year old me plastering my name in letraset on the front cover (why did I do that!!).
This is a great book with excellent illustrations, and had the potential to make very good woodworkers at the end of it. Back in the seventies we had woodwork lessons all afternoon twice a week… brilliant.
If you want to see a close up of my other books please click here
This listed house in Frome was a completely different kettle of fish, the window completely through me when I started work on it, the house I was told was some 500 years old but this window had a secret to it that I only discovered when I removed the the center cover strip.
The windows had wooden pulleys but what was unusual was the width of the center mullion but after pulling off the cover strip it turned out that they were two windows mashed together which meant that they never opened on sash cords in this house
House in York Street
Typical rot job where the bottom rail and part of the sash stiles had gone, the best way to do these windows is board up the openings and take the sashes back to the workshop.
I’m bias but wooden joinery may be a pain to maintain but looks 100% better than this, certainly on a cottage anyway
New doors and windows fitted made from idigbo which is very good against rot but you do need to give it two coats of aluminium primer or something like Zinsser cover stain to prevent bleeding coming through, I thin the primer down by 10% to make it flow better but I then give it a second coat, thats not what it says do on the tin but after ringing the technical dept and explaining about the thickness and how horrible it was to use he said it was a good idea with two coats, it also sinks into the timber more rather than sit on top.
These doors look pretty terrible and some might think there only good for fire wood, even the client set fire to the right side all though it was by accident whilst having a go at burning off the paint and got distracted by a visitor, he then decided to let me do it.
All though the door had been stripped at one time they never bothered with the moulding and over it’s 178 years the mouldings disappeared in layers of paint and filler but before I could do this properly I had to take the door apart.
Taking the door apart
I dug out my trusty steamer for the operation and drilled holes into the wedges on the tenons and steamed away it was quite satisfying seeing steam coming out of every nook and cranny. It was then left to brute force with my lump hammer to give quick sudden jolts to break the joint and away the stiles came.
Once one stile was off it was left for the other side whilst bashing (delicately prising) but needed a different approach, I managed to get to battens between the partially opened gap which allowed me to make a slightly less than half inch thick hardwood basher and tapped the tenons out. worked a treat.
There are many companies on the internet that claim to restore windows back to there original state but I’ve yet to find any that seem to do this in the traditional way, either they patch bits of wood in and fill around all the massive gaps or they don’t use wood at all and use the miracles of products like Filltite wood fillers and the like, I’m not knocking them in any way and they may work wonderfully but when dealing with listed buildings I believe there should be more wood than filler put back and that’s not to say I don’t use filler but I keep it to the barest minimum.
The chapel windows were in a pretty bad shape but once you dig beneath the possible 178 year old paint there was good wood. Some parts were missing and the usual areas had rot mainly the water sucking end grain but all this could be over come.The glass is one of the most important part to safe guard with the fantastic ripples and faults that refract the light and mostly this is being accomplished all be it a few panes missing and the odd casualty.
For a complete photo step by step Listed window restoration please click here