Saturday, September 3, 2011

New carpet, and earthquake-proof furniture.

This is my workshop:

I have enough tools to do most of the things I want to do myself - I fix a few things around the house, and I've made some equipment for cheese-making that I couldn't buy.

In my living room I have two bookcases that sit back to back, there not being enough wall space for them all to have their backs to the wall. These two bookcases also sit about a foot away from each other, as my vitrine has its back the their sides, and it is wider than the two of them are deep and is not as tall as they are. This will make sense eventually, I promise.

Anyway the bookcases have a tendency to lean backwards, which is a jolly good thing when they're against a wall, but is not so good when they're leaning on nothing but a foot of empty space. Up until now I've just screwed a plank of wood across their tops to hold them apart, but if you push them they sway. Something better needed to be done.

This is the top portion of my new structure, upside down:

Those smaller bits of MDF are the size of the gap I want between the tops of the bookcases, and the larger bit is as long as the cases are wide. It is wide enough to cover the backs of the cases, so I can screw it down. I glued the smaller bits to the larger bit with wood glue, clamped them down, and left it to set overnight.

Next morning I got this piece of pine and drilled three holes in it. The plan is to fix this bit of pine to the front of the structure at right angles to the rest, so it hangs down at the front.

Next job was to drill matching holes in the end of the top bit:

Then I glued wooden pegs into the holes in the pine …

… applied glue to the surface of the pine that will abut the top thing …

… and fit the pegs into the matching holes:

I astounded myself. They fitted perfectly.

I banged the joint tight with my mallet, then propped the structure up to dry overnight:

Here we have the finished structure, upside down again:

I drilled some slantwise holes in what would become the bottom part so I could screw it onto the backs of the bookcases, giving some rigidity to the structure.

Here is a view from underneath, with the backs of the two bookcases to either side:

You can see how the smaller bits of mdf hold them apart.

And this is what it looks like all screwed in, with my Monstera sitting on top:

The screw holes are pretty ugly, but they get covered up. The wood doesn't match either, I might get around to slapping some stain on one day, but you can't actually see it so there's no great rush.

The gap between the cases is well and truly covered up anyway, so no cats can jump down between them, and the bookcases don't sway when you push them. Solid as a rock.

Next job, the vitrine. You will realise I'm not shifting all this furniture around by myself - I was fitting my contraption while the carpet layers were doing the hall.

I got the carpet guys to bring in the vitrine and put it in its possie by the bookcases, then I screwed the top back of the vitrine onto my contraption …

… and put my old old books back on top to hide everything:

Now all that was left tto do was the other bookcases. The easy bit, I thought. They just needed screwing onto the wall.

I'd borrowed my friend Craig's stud finder. Studs are the long vertical bits of wood framing that go to make up a wall, and between the studs there are short horizontal bits called dwangs. Carpenters have weird imaginations. Anyway, when you screw something heavy onto a wall you need to screw it into a stud or a dwang, and this little gizmo bleeps and flashes when you go past one. I marked out the positions of all the studs behind the bookcases. There were two behind each one.

Then I had to drill holes for the screws to go in. And broke a drill bit off in the first hole.

I couldn't pull it out with pliers, and I needed another drill bit, so I had to hop in the car and drive into town to buy some drill bits and vice-grips. At least, generic things that are NOT Vice-Grips, but work exactly the same way and cost about quarter as much.

These things:

They got the drill bit out of the bookcase in no time flat, and I proceeded to screw the tops of my bookcases to the wall.

So this is what it looks like now:

The china is attached to the bookshelves with blu-tack, as are the adjustable shelves to their supports. I couldn't do a lot about the stuff in the vitrine - with glass shelves blu-tack would be just ugly. I'll have to hope that the doors are enough to keep things in place.

I think I'll have more to worry about than a few bits of furniture if we have an earthquake that is strong enough to dislodge that lot anyway. Like my house sliding down the hill into the harbour.

And my new doors?

They're wonderful:


  1. No wonder you've been away for a whole month! You've been busy. Your house is absolutely heavenly. The view is incredible!!
    Stephanie from California

  2. Knock2 its me! please update your blog with more feminine stuff.. cannot bear with all these heavy duty pictures!

    hope all's well and good with you!