Tuesday, 25 September 2018

How would a tradesmen 

with a bad back and little cash.

Make and install a DIY Alcove Unit 

in ten easy steps?

I was always told "if you want to know the easiest way to do something, just ask the laziest person you know to plan it for you!"

Well I think there is something in that statement.

  1. Yes you guessed it PLANNING. But where to start. So looking at this as a carpenter and joiner I will write this as though I was talking to another tradesmen. So forgive me if I use some terms you are unfamiliar with. But please just msg me and I'll clarify anything you want.
  • First I have to decide if I'm going to be living in the property.
  • Next is my plan to increase the sale price of the property.
  • Do I need to make the alcove unit in keeping with its surroundings.
  • Is it going to be a painted finish or a wooden finish.
  • Do I want it to look DIY or professional. (what's the difference?)
  • Do I want to feel good about this, something to show off.
  • Is there any practical needs for this unit? (hide wires, sockets, vents, pipes skirting).
  • Will I need to make matching units?
  • What materials do I have available near me? (drift wood, B&Q, saw mill, glazers).
  • What facilities do I have, I'll probably plan to use the front room for this project like most of us. Which means I need to consider noise, dust, paint fumes, mess and inconvenience.
     2. The drawing and measurements: The drawing of the area needs all the measurements. Here is the drawing of the area in question, and my sketch of how the unit and shelves will look:

      3. How are you going to put all this together? Good question. This is probably why we visit these sites. We want to know how. Almost like an assembly instruction book! Well in broad strokes we are:
  • going to make the front piece and put a return on it.
  • we are going to make the doors out of the front piece.
  • we are going to make the carcass that holds and internal shelf. 
  • we are then making the floating shelves and unit top.
  • we are cutting the holes for the hinges.
  • we are fitting the supports for the doors/hinges.
  • we are fitting the facade/front piece with its doors and return already fitted to the front of the carcass.

     4. Next is the cutting list: So all this considered I've decided to use MDF and paint it. I have also decided to get B&Q to deliver all the pieces of MDF cut to my specifications. e.g. If you have an alcove 997mm across with a fire breast 300mm deep with the unit to come out into the room 125mm past the face of the fire breast and I've chosen a height of 800mm to the top of the unit. Then my first piece of MDF is 18mm thick and 1002mm across and 750mm high. This is my front. When this arrives I will cut out the doors, being careful to keep the pieces I cut out, because in fact these are going to be my doors.

Like so:

Now of course no one would just order one piece of MDF at a time. So here is the rest of the cutting list as a joiner who is being lazy would do it..I will explain how these all fit together later. All 18mm thick MDF unless specified otherwise.
  • front panel return. (based on the left alcove being fitted out). 750mm *150mm
  • floor and top to the base unit. 902mm*325mm so two of these.
  • both sides of the base unit. 700mm*325mm so two of these.
  • the back to the base unit. 736mm*902mm *6mm
  • the shelf inside. 842mm*250mm (this can be a piece of real wood avoids sagging)
  • the internal supports for the doors. 700mm*50mm*18mm two of these.
And now the discussion will focus on the shelving on top of the unit and the floating shelves above the unit. You'll notice above that I decided to have a 50mm thick top to the unit. I think I'll have that same thickness for the floating shelves above too. Here's the cutting list for 3 floating shelves :
  • the floating shelf top and bottom 1020mm*275mm*12mm six of these.
  • the unit top 1040mm*475mm*12mm two of these.
  • the strips that hold the tops and bottoms together 50mm*18mm*8m these strips also give the shelves and unit top its smooth paintable finish.
     5. The beginning of putting everything together: So cut the doors out of the facade/front piece using a circular saw. This has to be the battery saw, because the battery circular saw does not have a riving knife at the back of the blade. This enables you to plunge the blade straight into the wood from above, but this needs to be right the first time. ( to save you from having to buy more MDF).

I think I will put a short video of this in the link below for everyone to see how this done. There are other methods one can use. I will get to these soon especially if there is interest in me showing how to complete this project from anyone.

Kind regards Mark

Sunday, 6 May 2018

The typical customer for under stairs storage:
Whom is the most likely candidate for commissioning under stairs storage? And what is likely to satisfy such a customer? In my experience of 13 years supplying fitted joinery furniture and receiving many enquiries with detailed requirements. I would say the addition of little ones into a new family home is number 1. Typical uses of the under stairs storage phenomena include an adults area, such as ironing board; vacuum cleaner; clothes rail, and over flow from the kitchen, and also an area for shoes of all house occupiers and an area for toys/back packs. However the balance was always tipped by one or more new additions, thus prompting the phone call. Typical examples that accommodate such a variety of uses are as follows:

Is having floating shelves a plus when renting?

What you need to know about floating shelves if you are thinking of trying to improve your rented property. Are they strong enough for any type of tenant? Do having floating shelves make your property more attractive or desirable for tenants? Good questions. Floating shelves can be made real tough and real strong. What is the worst thing that could be happen to your shelves once they have been installed? We all know the answer this one. They could sag right? No not these shelves, these shelves are almost unsagable if that is a word. The reason for this is the installation process. We use re bar or threaded rod to ensure they will not bend, and the fixings are made into the wall, whether the wall is made from brick/plaster board/breeze block or concrete. So once we know they are strong and will not sag, next is will they look great! The answer to this is all about design, decor, and use. I would say if you need storage then floating shelves give a beautiful finish whilst at the same time offering provision for lights and future change of colour.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

What everyone should know about under stairs storage.
1st That there are many designs options.
2nd Some design options require intensive installation skills. Not recommended for someone just starting out or DIY.
3rd It's very difficult to make cheap.
4th Prices do vary not only according to design but also because of the level pre-preparation. Some under stairs areas need plastering new floors and decorating etc.

This project below had 3 of the areas that make things more expensive.

It had relatively expensive materials made with matching grain, a bunch of draws behind doors, and pull out units. The money saving thing on this project was a clean and decorated and carpeted and finished area to work on.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Were you thinking of having the wine rack built in like some of these.
Here are some previous projects and their associated prices.

This wine rack below cost just £790.00

The picture below of the alcove unit on the right with a built in wine rack cost £1290.00 and for comparison
the one on the left cost £990.00

This picture below shows a wall unit with a built in wine rack cost £1790.00

Next I have some bookcases to show.

Kind regards Mark

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

This project below was the latest, only being fitted last month. It required some new flooring. The taking
out of the old, and behind the large door, some cladding and the installation of the light that comes on when
you open the end door. 

Being that it is just 3 doors, it could of cost only £990.00 but because there was
two pull out units and behind the largest door it needed that cladding, along with the repair to the floor and 
extending the floor into the space under the stairs, it ended up costing an extra day for taking out all the
existing and putting in the new floor, and another day for the cladding and in this particular case the stairs 
themselves needed some work doing to them. So it ended up costing £1990.00

This one below has 3 doors and 3 pull out units behind. This one included taking out
and disposing of what was already there. But it all went really well. This one only cost

This one below has 4 doors and 3 pull out units. This one cost 

This one below might of only cost £990.00 but cost more because of the
cladding behind the smaller door and because the other end where the big unit is
needed to have and end panel fixed and a top fitted in, and also this project
had an extra big unit and runner, so in the end it cost £1990.00 plus the cost
of the extra big runner, which turned out to be a little pricey. 

Design wise 

The first set of pictures show the units and door closing onto the
face of the stair string. Over lapping the string a bit. And in this case the
understairs area faced onto the living area.

The second set of images are showing the shortest of all the units. Fitted into
a victorian terrace house, with the units facing into the hallway.

The second from last set of images were the most doors all made to sit under
the string of the stairs. This was a semi detached house with the units opening
into the hallway.

The last set of images immediately above have some moulding on the edge of
the string, which the units and door sat just underneath. And the units were facing 
into the room.

All the depths range from 700mm deep upto 1100mm depth, but the 1100mm depth is
a little expensive. Over £400.00 just for the runners.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

What ever next? This week I made and fitted some floating bracketless pine shelves. How does one make floating pine shelves I hear you ask? Well it is a little more difficult then ordinary floating shelves. However not too difficult if you have the tools. In the videos below I show the shelves in the work shop and after fitting them at Aaron's flat in Norwood. All 11 shelves were made danished oiled and fully fitted for less then £690.00

Here are some photos.