There has been a lot of that going on in Speckled Wood lately, and thats not to mention all the painting and cleaning.
Finishing touches for the inside have been the order of the day and there has been an awful lot to do. Sometimes it feels like there are acres of wood in there (forgive the slight exageration!) and an awful lot of it needs sanding and finishing off.
We had a plastic covering over the floor while the plastering was going on, but even then it took a bit of a hammering and needed plenty of sanding to get it back to looking at its best. We had hoped to get away with using small sanders, but in the end there was so much to do we had to hire in special floor sanders simply to cover the area.
While we were doing this we found a couple of holes that needed fixing as they were right in the middle of the floor. One was caused by a damaged board and another was drilled through by our electricians when one of the wiring routes had to be adjusted. The following is Mike and Dave’s guide to repairing a hole in the floor.
The floor is tongue and grooved and secret pinned, so you can’t easily pop up a floorboard and replace it, and this hole was a bit obvious.
So we decided to patch in a new piece of oak. First thing to do was to use the router to cut out a square rebate in the board. To do this we had to fix a wooden guide to the floor to guide the router.
When the rebate had been routed out its edges were tidied up with a chisel.
We then cut a spare piece of floor board to exactly the same shape and glued it into place.
A bit of effort with a plane and sander was then exerted, and voila, an (almost!) invisible mend. You certainly wouldn’t notice it as you walked through, and because the wood is firmly glued in with an epoxy based glue its as strong as the original floorboard.
All that sanding and filling was followed up with an awful lot of cleaning and then the building was really starting to look like we were getting somewhere. Second fix electrics are also finished now so we have light fittings too.
The floor was finished with two coats of danish oil, this really made the oak shine again when it was applied, but will end up being a matt finish. Sometimes when the light shines in through the windows and reflects off the woodwork it looks really stunning, and makes us all feel pretty proud.
The kitchen, windowseat and bathroom woodwork has all been finished with three coats of homemade beeswax polish. Each of these pieces of wood has a special story behind them. I can remember where each one came from and who was involved in felling the tree, converting it into planks and then fitting it. I was saying to someone the other day how one of my favourite things about the place is how on reflection it shows not only the landscape where it came from, but also the skill, craft and sheer graft of so many people.
The window seat above was made out of elm, since dutch elm disease there aren’t many pieces of elm this size left in the world, so this one had to go somewhere special. It has pride of place as the biggest window seat in the main part of the building. With its beeswax polish it shines and glows in the light, and is the place I most like to sit and reflect.
In case you want to have a go yourself the following is the recipe I use for beeswax polish:
210 g beeswax (contact your local beekeeper)
25 g carnuba wax (it makes the polish hard enough)
300 ml pure turpentine
Melt the beeswax and carnuba wax very carefully in a pan (best to sit this pan in a second pan of water bain marie style to prevent overheating the wax, don’t forget it is flamable so take extreme care as otherwise you could set it on fire quite easily). Then remove well away from any source of heat and slowly stir in the turpentine. Leave to set in polish tins. Sand and carefuly clean the wood before applying, rub on with a cloth and buff to a high shine, three coats makes wood look pretty darned good.
The house smells fantastic with all that polish and we are really proud of how its looking. Still a couple of weeks more work to do, but we are really getting there now.