Carpet blocks

Hello again folks!

This time I thought I would show you what our youngest apprentice James has been getting up to. He has been progressing very well and has integrated into the team seamlessly.

He is just about a quarter of his way through his NVQ level 2 and is well on his way to completing it. At this stage I am trying to get him to master the use of hand tools and cement his ability to work off plans.

James, although only just 17 years old, has previous experience in the joinery field as his Father is a joiner and has always involved James in his work, helping out during holidays and instilling in him from a young age the desire to follow in his Fathers footsteps.

This task was to help James development in the use of portable power tools, in this case the jig saw.

What are these carpet blocks you might well ask? Well these little items fall into the package and protection side of things, not the restoration work that you have seen in previous blogs.

Mount Stewart has its fair share of carpets, all of which need to be stored at some stage during the restoration project. Some of these carpets are very much worn and fragile requiring much restoration by the conservation team. Some of the carpets are very precious having been brought back from family holidays many years ago.

We have been working closely with our conservator Fiona to establish what she required from us to properly move and store the carpets. The picture below shows how the carpet blocks are used and how the carpets are stored to preserve them while they are in waiting for conservation work to be carried out.

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The carpets are rolled with the pattern facing inwards to the pipe. The pipe which Fiona normally uses is 6” plastic drain pipe and is just brilliant for this job.

The pipe is cut 500mm longer than the carpet so that when the carpet is rolled the pipe sticks out 250mm past each end to allow the pipe to rest on the carpet blocks which are designed so they can be stacked on top of each other to minimise the amount of floor space used.

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Now it was these handy wee things that James was tasked with. Trevor kindly showed him the ropes and left him to it. I have as usual included a few photos of James merrily working away. He did a good job and has proved he can work on his own with minimal supervision.

004 James cutting out the area for the end of the pipe to rest in. He is showing great attention to the line!


James cutting out the area for the end of the pipe to rest in. He is showing great attention to the line!

005 James has used the jig saw well and followed the line. Using a jig saw is not just as easy as you would think


James has used the jig saw well and followed the line. Using a jig saw is not just as easy as you would think.

006 Counter sinking the screw holes , very good James!


Counter sinking the screw holes , very good James!

007 With all the sections needed sitting in from of him James is starting to fix the posts to the sides. I do wish though he would have used a panasonic drill instead of that  makita!


With all the sections needed sitting in from of him James is starting to fix the posts to the sides. I do wish though he would have used a Panasonic drill instead of that Makita!

008 The holes have been drilled and ready for screws


The holes have been drilled and ready for screws.

009 James is now starting to assemble the various pieces and LOOK, a powerful and most wonderful Panasonic drill!


James is now starting to assemble the various pieces and LOOK, a powerful and most wonderful Panasonic drill!

010 Good action James, shame about the drill


Good action James, shame about the drill!

011 look at the concentration even with me pointing a camera at him! I would also just like to point out that it takes two Makita drills to try and beat a panasonic! OK OK its my drill!


Look at the concentration even with me pointing a camera at him! I would also just like to point out that it takes two Makita drills to try and beat a Panasonic! OK OK, it’s my drill!

012 Jenny our wonderful project admin pops in on her way home to keep us right!


Jenny our wonderful Project Administrator pops in on her way home to keep us right!

013 The finished article! well done young James!


The finished article! Well done young James!

014 They are stacked up here showing what they do


They are stacked up here showing what they do.

The Project Conservator has asked us to make some boxes to transport some metal ornaments over to specialist Conservators in England to have some restoration work carried out on them which I think would be another excellent job for James and of course I will keep you posted.

Bye for now!

David

Pantry drawers finished, Saloon windows begin…

Hello again!

Well we have been busy beavering away in the depths of Mount Stewart. Fixing, repairing and discovering yet more problems, problems which are not insurmountable but problems which are part of the job we are here to do.

So the final pantry drawer has been finished and is just off to the painters. As usual, Callum did his lathe work in producing another handle from the beech mentioned in one of the last blogs.

Trevor also worked his magic showing James our apprentice how to splice/scarf new sections of timber into old ones.

This as a skill is by no means a simple one and should not be despised. To match in timber, one has to pick suitable wood with matching grain and then secure it to the old timber by leaving little or no visible signs that it has been carried out.

In the pantry we have painted a drawer front which hides the grain, so the focus was on leaving no signs that a repair was made, making the job simpler.

This drawer was unusual and different to its mates in that the drawer had no dovetail joints. It was simply and crudely nailed together! Trevor removed the nails and reused them as you will see in one of the photos.

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The finished product!

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Trevor hits the nail on the head!

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The original cast iron cut nails

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James, wise in joinery skills you will be!

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The pressures on!

Now, Callum has produced the goods once again. I gave Callum a small task but a complicated one.

The task was to make two work stools, not ordinary stools but proper strong sturdy stools to help us as we fix the window shutters in the Saloon.

The picture below is what was given to him (kindly lent by Trevor) to build the stools from, he did so using the scrap timber we had left over from previous jobs.

Callum and I had a brief discussion over what was required and just left him with the drawing to sort it out.

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This picture shows various items for a work shop but it’s the stool on the top right corner which Callum made

The following pictures are of Callum cutting the legs and also the joints where the legs attach to the top. It is the joint where the leg meets the top is the most complicated.

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Callum has figured out the angle of the cut needed

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As you can see the cut is beveled two ways! Awkward or what!

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Callum has it well in hand and fine tuning the shoulders which attaché to the top

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The first leg has been produced; Callum is displaying the angle of the leg

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Will it or wont it fit? And yes it does!

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The finished article!

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Callum proving the stools stability and strength, looking rather pleased with himself and so he should be!

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The lad is just delighted!

This exercise has given Callum yet more skills, he also has the enjoyment of using something he built, believe me that is a nice feeling.

I will take a few snaps with us using the stools and show them to you later on.

Keep watching this space, this is where it’s all happening!

David

Wood Worm attack!

On Saturday morning while working along side the contractor I discovered a small section of a floor in the flower room had or still is being eaten alive by wood worm!

So, the thought popped into my mind that a blog post would be in order.

What is wood worm?

Wood worm is a generic term used for any beetle larva which bores into wood.

These are the following;image002

  • Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum)
  • Deathwatch Beetle (Xestobium rufuvillosum)
  • House Longhorn Beetle (Hylotrupes bajulus)
  • Powderpost Beetle or wood boring weevil (Lyctus brunneus)

Life cycle

The beetle lays its eggs into an existing cracks or holes in the timber. The eggs then pupate into larva and the larva then burrows downwards into the wood, only surfacing to hatch into a beetle to breed.

It is only when this last stage happens that you can see an infestation, as the hole you see is an exit hole.

As you can imagine the house staff here and in any older property watch out for the signs of an attack, so to be able to nip it in the bud. There are many different treatments for wood worm and all successful. Some are simple in that you spray or brush on a suitable liquid or some are very technical which apply to a piece of furniture which needs special care.

I have included as usual a few snaps of the damage the offending beetle has caused.

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David

Callum our apprentice making the drawer handles

Hello folks,

Once again I present to you another blog post.

This time it is as the title suggests, Callum our wonderful apprentice has excelled himself and produced two excellent replacement handles/knobs for the damaged drawer fronts you read about in the previous blog.

The story this time has an interesting background to it as the timber used was beech, but its source is quite unique.

The original handles after we removed the paint told us that they were made from beech.

This is not at all unusual as handles of that era were often made from beech as its tight grain makes it a dream to use on a lathe.

The beech we used for the handles came from a source of beech which I had. The story behind this particular piece of timber involves a bit of history involving my family.

My father now retired was also a joiner, who worked around the linen houses in Banbridge, my home town, as you can sense I’m proud of it too!

Banbridge as many know had in the past and was famous for it a series of linen factories producing linen.

One particular linen mill was called the Fergusson Factory simply named after its founding family. To the best of my knowledge the firm still operates but from a different location, moving from its magnificent but now demolished Lurgan Road complex to the Scarva Road as part of an industrial estate.

Now the interesting bit.

My father for many years provided his services for a local man who owned various properties in the town. This man who is now sadly deceased, I remember him with fondness due to his generosity to my father, brother and myself before and after his death.

I am very proud to say that due to his generosity in leaving me the entire contents of his workshop, many of the tools he left me are being used in the project here at Mount Stewart.

The next time you are here, look into the workshop. You will see one of his machines alongside many of his hand tools which are crucial to the operations here.

He not only gave me tools but also a varied selection of now rare species of timber. The section of beech we are using being just one piece of the collection, I know he would have been very happy and proud to have known his tools and timber are still being put to good use and are vital to the success of this project.

Now as you would all know well before the introduction of mechanical looms all the linen was produced on wooden looms.

I’m sure we can all picture the shuttle passing back and forth at a tremendous rate, bringing with it the linen thread which weaved with extreme fineness some wonderfully amazing patterns.

Traditionally the looms where made from beech, as beech has very tight grain and brilliant shock value, it was the timber of choice.

The picture below shows the section of the loom which we used to turn the handles. This can be clearly seen from its shape and the V groove was something to do with the part the shuttle moved on.

The end showing the profile of the beech section we used


The end showing the profile of the beech section we used

Cross section of the piece of beech


Cross section of the piece of beech

The section of beech has been squared up and Callum is now taking the edges off using a smoothing plane. This means that when it’s placed in the lathe it is easier to introduce the tool to commence shaping.

Callum rounding  the edges of the beech section  which makes it easier to start turning in the lathe


Callum rounding the edges of the beech section which makes it easier to start turning in the lathe

This picture shows the damaged handle’s which need to be copied.

The damaged handles


The damaged handles

Callum’s test run! The timber used here is southern yellow pine. As you can see it has a crack in it unfortunately rendering it useless.

The first attempt


The first attempt

Hard at it! Just look at the concentration and the sheer determination!

The concentration!


The concentration!

The first one done! And it’s as usual spot on!

Top class work!

Success!


Success!

Briliant!


Brilliant!

What can I say! Good work Callum


What can I say! Good work Callum

The two knobs with the section of beech which they came from


The two knobs with the section of beech which they came from

Lathe work is a very satisfying and too many a relaxing hobby. In this case the lathe makes our workshop ever more versatile, with Callum ready and willing to turn anything that we need.

Well, just to keep you reading a wee bird has told me that we have to turn a test spindle for the new look Gallery.

So don’t worry folks I will keep you posted!

Bye for now!

David