Life in a Dol house
2018 - Week 03

It fits where it touches

I just managed to get my newly varnished hardwood flooring inside before the rain arrived on Sunday morning.

 Much of this week has been spent in preparing to fit it (and fitting it) to the newly levelled guest room floor. 

That is, once I had finished painting the door and had re-hung it.

Every window and door, everywhere, when I bought my Dol house had lift off Finial Hinges.

Unlike the standard Butt hinges

used almost universally for doors of all shapes and sizes, these Finial Hinges have been installed in such a way that they are impossible to remove without destroying the woodwork, as there are no visible screws.

​Instead the hinges been very neatly inserted into narrow Mortise slits cut into the doors/windows and their frames, and then nails have been driven through each hinge to hold it in place. These have then been punched below the wood surface, filled and painted making them almost impossible to locate.

​Lift-off hinges makes it very easy to remove doors and windows, but I suspect this was not why this type of hinge has been universally used. 

The actual reason I have been unable to determine. 

When I have removed and replaced windows, I am keeping the hinges in case I want to use them again on a window, to keep the "period" look.

But for decorating purposes, it is simple to bring a couple of trestles in, remove the door (or window) place it horizontally, and then go through the process of sanding, filling holes and repairing damage, undercoating and then giving the item its final gloss coat of paint.

​There are no drips and no annoying runs. But painting this way (in winter) does take up space. 

Working in summer when you can work outside, without fear of inclement weather is much easier and the paint dries in no time.

Because I lifted the floor to level it, I also had to cut a small amount off the bottom of the door so it will pass over the new flooring without catching.

With the door re-hung, I turned my attention to the flooring. 

I cut and installed the sub floor beams earlier in the month and having brought in the first flooring piece, I cut the ends to match the wall profile and then offered it up to the long side of the room.

​The walls are not square. Nothing in the old building is square. Walls tend to be concave or convex, and in some instances they are both concave and convex at different points of their length.

The walls are stone and the builders when they covered the stonework with lime plaster just roughly covered the bulges and hollows. 

This was before levels were available and even straight edges seem not to have been used. These straight edges, technically called "Screed Rules" are now generally made of box section aluminium and can be up to three meters long. 

They ensure that current new build walls, floors, ceilings, in fact anything, is flat throughout it's length.

I have a two meter Screed Rule, which I used in combination with a two meter long level to identify the point in the wall where there was the greatest outwards curve. Then I made sure that the straight edges were at 90 degrees to the floor beams and placed one length of hardwood flooring onto these marks.

With my home made profile gauge I ran along the wall, marking where on the board it had to be cut, to fit the profile of the wall. The board was then placed on top of the two trestles and the marking inked in with a permanent marker.

​The last task was to use a scrolling Jigsaw cutter to follow the line and cut the profile in the floor board.

​Being hardwood, it took quite some time to cut the four meter long board from end to end. However, once the board was placed in position, the gap between the wall and the board is in places non existent, and in just a few places, no more than 2mm wide.

​I intend to run a bead of silicone round the edge to seal the floor against draughts, so a two millimetre gap is nothing to worry about. 

It would be fair to say that the first board fits where it touches the wall - which is along most of its length.

Before starting to nail the flooring down, I had to cut two 50cm lateral spacers, to fit between each sub floor beam, to keep them stable when the floor has weight on it. 

The cutting was easy using my bed saw, but marking them for the cut was the most time consuming part of the job. 

Being short lengths I could do the cutting in the workshop, which was just as well because the weather has not been too good this week.

We have had rain most days, sometimes all day long. which is not a problem because the rainfall is needed to replenish the underground water cisterns, but with limited working space it means planning for jobs takes on added importance.

With the rain clearing away, I managed to extract a further nine lengths of flooring - the amount I calculate I need to complete the floor - from my big store. 

This was then covered in plastic to await a fine day to varnish it. That happened on Thursday, knowing that the weather would be dry until Friday night. 

So everything was brought back inside late on Friday afternoon, once the varnish had set.

The final task before the floor boards were laid was the installation of insulation between the sub-floor beams. 

Because the gap between the old floor surface and the new hardwood floor varies - the whole reason I have made the sub floor is to level the floor - the thickness of the insulation varies from 10mm at the thinnest to 80mm at the thickest.

With a fine day on Thursday, I was able to get the insulation cut outside and by late afternoon I had all the first row in place. The last job of the day was to glue and blind nail the first piece of flooring in place against the north wall. 

At the start of the week, I had thought I would be lucky to get some of the flooring down by the weekend, so with another couple of working days to go, I was extremely happy to be ahead of my plan.

I started laying the flooring in earnest on Friday, but with obtuse angles at both ends and accurate cutting required, plus the lack of manoeuvring space for four metre boards, it took me 45 minutes to lay each board, so I only managed six before I needed to cut more insulation, but at least it was a start and it helped to get into a system of laying the 30 or so lengths in the room.

​By the end of the week and after reducing the time needed to cut and lay the boards, I had two thirds of the floor finished and just 9 boards left to lay. 

There is another couple of days work, as the very last board will have to be cut to slot into place, a bit like the last piece in a jigsaw, and it is probably going to be the most difficult, but at least I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I chanced across a time lapse video this week of a man working with wood, in a forest, in northern Ontario.  It's amazing what one person can achieve, on their own given enough time and the right tools and materials for the job.

​The inclement weather has prevented me from doing anything in the gardens and orchards this week.

 I was able to bring up some paving slabs from my architectural salvage area, ready to lay as an all weather path in the citrus orchard.

The ground has been too wet to walk on without compacting it further.
​I have a large amount of these slabs, which over time will be used to create "all weather" paths in all the orchard areas. 

They are quite heavy and should stand the test of time.

​I still haven't managed to get Snagglepuss to the vets yet.

​I did manage a look in his mouth and he has lost three Canine teeth. However he does not seem to be in any pain, eats enough for a whole family of cats and does not display any of the signs that cats exhibit when they are suffering. 

Getting him into the transport box was going to be hard anyway.

One of his eyes is a little milky, almost as though he has a cataract and I suspect he may not see clearly through it. That could account for his completely submissive posture when other cats challenge him. 

He just rolls onto his back and puts his feet in the air!

But then he does that with me when he wants a tummy rub too! That's not a characteristic you see very often in cats...

As the days start to lengthen noticeably and are becoming warmer too, spring is definitely in the air.