jigsawing doors & windows

Once the long walls of the coop were complete, they needed to be sheathed with 3/8″ plywood that I hand-sawed down to size, which was surprisingly quick and accurate. Then I clamped, predrilled and screwed the wood into place along each stud with deck screws, using my father’s trusty 1960’s drill.

sheathing-walls

Time for doors and windows!

jigsawing-windows

An equally old, equally trusty jigsaw did the trick for cutting out the windows and doors. First, measuring and marking, then drilling pilot holes for the blade to fit through. Working with 3/8″ plywood is terribly difficult, a thicker material is far easier to cut accurately. I prefer hand-tools for their gentle sounds across the lake, and the slow, simple, human speed, but I’m grateful for that jigsaw!

window-cutout

Little chicken coop windows! Tra-la!

drawing-arches

I’m sure there’s a proper way to mark an arch, but as I only know how to draw on paper with architectural tools, that’s what I did. Solving problems is good enough, sometimes. I’m not gifted with numbers, but triple-checking my measurements, and working visually to make sure that I got each nestbox pop-hole and little window to fall between the studs, and evenly, wasn’t so difficult. Don’t let them stop you, those numbers.

A project like this alters as needed, so the drawing evolves into the real object. So far, adjusting the number of windows to pallet sizes and that sort of thing is no problem.

nestbox-cutout

I can just picture little hens popping through these arches into their comfortable, straw-filled nestboxes, to lay.

the coop platform

With the platform sited in a protected corner of the garden, I set about getting it level and standing up on legs. I designed the coop on four legs to provide an undercover area for chickens to hang out on rain days, and to keep rodents from easily gnawing through the floor.

Working one footing at a time, I dug out a square of turf, then a bit of earth, replaced it with gravel, and tamped it down well. I slid the concrete footing back, and worked with a level on my platform til the whole thing was level in every direction. This was unexpectedly easy. Quite unusual.

On the other hand, three pallets, bolted and framed, are quite heavy! I used whatever I could find around to raise the sides bit by bit, doing very little lifting. I tried supporting just the left and the right, and watched the whole thing fall over as I was clamping one leg. Oh dear. Best to support all four sides, not unlike the fellows who raised my parents home off the ground thirty-odd years ago, using stacked railway ties.

platform-raised

In preparation, I cut my reclaimed posts to size and set them soaking overnight in a bucket of preservative (an ecologically sound, locally made product that the good folks up at Eco-Sense recommended). I picked up metal pieces built to hold the base of each leg and has a bit of rebar that pokes through the hole in the footing and pins into the earth. The name escapes me. Each leg needed clamping into place against the platform, checking for level again, along each side, and across each corner. Such a relief to have that in place! Then I drilled holes through with a very large bit and knocked through and tightened two carriage bolts on each leg.

platform-covered

Everything must surely be easier after completing a step like this. I cut 5/8″ plywood and predrilled, then screwed it into place on top. A raised platform! A chicken coop floor!

I knew how to do little of this and needed to ask questions of mentors all the way through, I assure you. Let me show you how I cut out the doors and windows, next.

built-in cabinet

Perhaps you’ve been following my adventures in refitting a battered old buffet & hutch as a built-in cabinet. It is best to push off visions of failed DIY at these moments. People have, for the most part, always done it themselves, with as much skill as they could conjure. So, with the support of elders on the telephone, neighbours with tool-sheds, and the wisdom of the internet, I set off.

cabinet

Having altered the top edge of the hutch, and the table-top of the buffet to fit the nook, I was quite baffled by glued-on, nailed down molding.

woodwork

A friend helped lower the buffet onto its back. It rested there while I worked out where the nails were, and researched til I found a gem of information. A gem! Store this in your vault of useful facts:

Vinegar dissolves wood glue.

Much vinegary spraying, gentle if somewhat hopeless prying, spraying, prying and waiting ensued. No movement.

woodwork

In the morning I took a saw to the front edge of the molding, cutting up close to the nails I’d mapped out. I had visions of hacksaws (to cut through nails) but I took one more crack at prying with a crow bar. Pretty please, oh wood glue vinaigrette.

woodwork-sawed-s.jpg

Ta-ra! Success! The ever-so-pleasing shriek of nails extricated from wood.

clipping nails

These nails pulled out easily with pliers, but clipping them off is fine too. Oh, jump around for joy! Then, with friendly assistance, lift that very custom-fit hutch onto its modified buffet companion, and all slide into place;

fitted cabinet

A built in shopkeeper’s cabinet.

Pride. Joy. And there are further adventures in milk paint to come…

shop cabinet woodwork

Right alongside my new studio in the lake cottage, there’s a little nook. It’s the sort of space that begs for a bit of custom shelving to fill it and I knew at once it would be my little studio shop, if only I could fit it out nicely. When I spotted a beat up old buffet & hutch going for a song, I bought it.

damaged cabinet

While I may claim some talents, measuring accurately the first time is not one of them. Oh, dear. To fit this particular cabinet, a bit of woodwork was required!

cabinet cornice

I already knew that the top edge of the cabinet was badly damaged – but it wouldn’t be seen once in the nook. I’m not fond of such a generous curve in the top molding, and needed to remove it to fit, so I marked a line and sawed it off.

cabinet sawing

And cleaned up the edge on both sides so the piece would slide in nicely. Sawing with a really good, sharp saw is so pleasing! I studied up in advance, as I’ve not handled a saw in some time.

cabinet marked

I had known when I bought it that the edge of the buffet needed to lose half an inch, though I’d had some crazy idea about planing the thing off. Once I measured (hmm, properly) I could see I needed to cut it.

cabinet - sawn

I was rather impressed with myself for sawing it freehand. Don’t be afraid of this kind of work! It is just as satisfying as splitting wood with an axe.

However. I hadn’t expected to face solidly glued, nailed molding at the base, sticking out far too widely on each side to ever get the cabinet into the nook.

cabinet- corner molding

Don’t despair, as I did. Come back and see how I solved it!

woodworks

Catching a break in the storms, my sweetheart took us for a little road trip, just half a step into America to see some dear old friends.

chuckanut

We drove along the beautiful Chuckanut;

34th street craftsman

To Martin & Jo’s house on 34th street, a 112 year old craftsman’s daydream.

the birdwatchers

We spent a gentle pair of days together. We watched the 34th street birds;

34th street grey cat

Visited with their two exceedingly charming 34th street cats;

yellow house

Then wandered with all our children around their old Bellingham neighbourhood, admiring chickens and sheep;

american post boxes

And good looking postboxes. I always wish I could live next door to my sweet friends. And fill a village with them!

the 34th street woodworks, bellingham, usa

Martin gave me a tour round his handsome workshop, the 34th Street Woodworks. What a wonderful place, full of good old machines and lots of space for his furniture-making, for custom cabinetry, for designing and handcrafting all kinds of gorgeous wooden things. It reminded me very much of my Finnish grandfather’s shop, where he too did very meticulous, beautiful woodwork, restoring and building instruments. I must show you the guitar he made me, sometime. I’m so happy there are craftspeople like Martin in the world, continuing the old traditions. Martin’s work made me long to work with wood again. Winter seems like a great time for it. Thank you, Martin & Jo! We loved our visit.