Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Keep on keeping on

I haven't stopped work on Bentley's, though I confess to having spent some time answering the call of the sunshine and the garden, so I haven't given the shop as much time as usual; also it wasn't worth blogging as there aren't a lot of changes taking place.  I am just doing more and more of the same.  Painting all the trims (two coats plus sanding between the coats)  takes a heck of a long time and it certainly isn't worth recording in any way.

I have different mixes of skirting, coving, picture rail and dado rail for each room.  I am getting much better at cutting mitres on funny shaped pieces of wood, although picture rails seem to be beating me.  Believe me you will need a small mitre box and good sharp, fine-toothed saw.  Neither are very expensive and the difference between what you can manage with them and doing it without a box and using a junior hacksaw is beyond belief.  Pleased with how they were turning out I decided to sidestep my order of build schedule as I couldn't wait to see some of them in place.  Catastrophe!  

I completely forgot that the roof wasn't glued down and blithely added the coving in the top floor stair-well, thereby anchoring the centre of the roof to middle walls.  After a bit of a struggle I finally managed to lift the side edges of the roof a little and squeeze in some glue.  Here's hoping that when the mansard roof is hinged on and it gets opened and closed to look at the top floor it doesn't flex the (very minimal) roof joints too much!

In the same vein, I finished two coats of satin and two sandings on a piece of flooring and  was so pleased with the result I stuck it in place and stepped back to admire it.  Clunk, I then remembered I meant to cut a groove in the floor first for the wire for the (future) fireplace.

After this I decided the best way every time I though of something 'not-to-do-because' was to write a note on masking tape and stick it in the appropriate place  and stop relying on my terrible memory.

So, I am still unable to complete a whole task.  With the exception of the kitchen, the trims in the rooms are only partly done because they all depend on something else before they can be completed, such as fires, cupboards, shelves etc.


Frustrated by all this, today I decided I'd go off at a tangent and tackle the dormer windows.  This picture shows them all ready for the bricks.  Decorating them turned out to be incredibly fiddly.  

The flat roofs are just grey paint as I can't afford the lead to cover them just yet.  The ceilings needed three coats of paint before they stopped looking patchy.  The outside walls were painted with the mortar coloured paint and some scruffy splodges added to show between the bricks so it wouldn't be all one clean colour.  The inner walls needed to match where they will be going - one is papered and two are painted.  Then the inner window frame needed painting (two coats) in the silk creamy white to match the other woodwork.

I am using Richard Stacey versi-bricks which I have seen on a couple of houses at shows and they look wonderful.  They don't look quite as wonderful done by me.  

The dormers were probably the wrong things to choose for starting my bricklaying career.  They turned out to be incredibly complex.

I'm afraid I don't have any great tips to help anyone who is considering using these versi-bricks other than, if you can, choose the easiest, flattest, most hidden area for your first go at them.

You are working with a 1/16th inch (or 1mm) tolerance on all your cuts.  Quite a few of the bricks were trimmed as often as four times to get the fit precisely right.  I needed to turn them round the window frame very accurately; if they were too long they would stop the window frame going in properly.   If they were cut too short all the gaps would be on show.They proved impossible to trim once they were in place so I just had to cut precisely.   

All the cuts and the scoring needed for folding have to be a perfect ninety degrees to the perpendicular or the brick ends up on a slope making the next and subsequent bricks equally lopsided.

Spacing is incredibly difficult.  I used the ruler edge as a way of checking the gaps between each brick.  I do recommend you find something to check each gap as doing it by eye is not as easy as you think. I also needed to get from the top to the bottom of the wall starting and finishing with a whole brick and the bricks need to be on a line with the bottom and top of the window opening.  As you can see from the photograph I tried measuring and ruling lines for each brick but, for some reason, that didn't work; they were never on the marks.

I pretty soon realised I didn't like the brightness of the grout colour I had chosen.  I had spent ages comparing paint charts to the grout in our house walls and ended up spending four pounds for a sample pot of Farrow and Ball paint as it was the only make I could find with exactly the right colour.

Probably the problem  is that our house is only about five years old and what looks right on a house now doesn't look right for the brickwork on a Victorian Shop .  

Here are the before and after fronts of the shop.  One is in the nice clean cream mortar colour and the other looks pretty dirty.  I made up a grey/green wash and almost dry brushed it onto the creamy paint.  That was OK but then having to fill in the 1 mm gaps between the bricks which were already in place was not so much fun.

Something like 150 bricks later and this was the end result.  I am hoping that I was just too close up and personal and that it will look fine when it is in place on the building.  We'll see.

It seems virtually impossible but this actually took the best part of a day!  I started around 11 am and finished around 6.30 pm.  It didn't have all my attention as laundry and cooking and eating lunch and other minor chores had to be done too, but it certainly took all my free time today. Only about 1,300 more to do and then..... the roof slates!


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