We have completed sanding the floor and woodwork in the room, but if we thought that was the end of it, Nic has had a bright idea and the original banister rails are being replaced by scaffold board bookcases. Inspired by Elephant Buffet’s blog post ‘How to keep from falling down a staircase’, we’re starting off in a similar manner but with some differences in the construction to keep it simple, rustic and thoroughly modern with straight lines and clean corners.

The staircase opening to our modern rustic (to be) bedroom with the original banister rails

Our starting point is unique to this room, but for anyone wanting to create something similar, the existing bannister rails need to be removed. The bannister posts here run down into the floor and are incorporated into the structure of the downstairs walls. Rather than remove them completely, we have decided to allow the posts to contribute to the base of the bookcase. Having placed the lengths of wood that will be used to make the base of the bookcase on either side of a bannister post, they act temporarily as a cutting guide. The bannister post is then saw off, running the flat of the saw across the tops of the guides.

Dismantled banister rail with a small piece of the original post

The remainder of the bannister rails are removed. In our case, a small piece of the old bannister is left in place but it could have been completely saw down to the level of the floor.

Destined to have been made into bath trays, we’ve taken our scaffold boards and cut them to size for bookcases instead

The bookcase is mostly constructed from reclaimed scaffold planks. Having decided how big we wanted the bookcase to be, the scaffold planks are cut to size, one length for the bottom shelf and two pieces to make the sides. Just to check everything is correct, we balanced everything in place and cast a critical eye over the dimensions, condition and warping of the planks. Not bad.

The bookcase is to have 2 shelves, one at bottom and one halfway up. As scaffold boards are about 35mm thick, a grove of this width is chiselled into both planks that make the sides. As this bookcase butts up against the wall, it is sanded smooth and bolted into place, making it very sturdy, steady and safe for its dual role as bookcase and bannister.  Our second bookcase/bannister will be free standing and we’ll post on this blog the way we make it. At the moment, we plan to make it much like this one.

Put the base of the bookcase in place and screw to the floorboards

We’re using lengths of wood cut to a square profile. The one at the front that can be seen has been darkened using our aging solution. The other at the back of the bookcase has been left its natural colour as this will be hidden in the construction. Both pieces are screwed to the floorboards.

Our reclaimed scaffold boards are slightly warped. Clamping before screwing gets them nice and flat.

Sand the scaffold board that makes the bottom shelf. Screw the shelf into place along one edge – in this case the back and then if you have something to clamp to, apply pressure to flatten it out and then screw. We we’re cautious in applying the pressure as it is possible to split the planks in two if done too much. However in this case it did flatten out nicely so all is well.

Any clamps can be removed and the bookcase is ready for the other side to be fastened to the base and middle shelf slotted in. We did think about using dowels, glue and screws to hold the shelf in place but simply slotting the shelf in is enough.

Finally, the two planks for the top can be screwed down into the side planks. Originally, the top was a light blond colour when removed from the pallet but will be aged using the solution we’ve made. This needs to be done to both planks and the back of the bookcase needs making. We’ll show how this was done and the second free-standing bookcase made in ‘How We make A Bookcase – Part 2’.

Marathon runners describe the feeling that comes, usually after 20-or-so miles of running, when they feel beaten, spent and unable to take another step as ‘The Wall’. In some ways, our attempts so far to prepare the wall in our Modern Rustic room have felt much the same, with progress grinding to a halt having completed most of the work.

However, the summer holidays and we’ve found some time to get back and face another round of scaping, hammering and generally clawing at the paint and discoloured coverings. Initially, we did think that if we could get back to clean brick, then that would look great and job done. However, the joy in the style of house building in the area means that as well as mixing brick, stone and seemingly anything to hand in the construction process, the mortar is a crumbly and filthy black substance. Therefore, to avoid a constant drizzle of grit, we’re giving the wall a coat of lime to give the surface some strength and tidy the whole lot up without loosing all the rustic loveliness of the thrown together materials.

Having pushed through the pain-barrier our ‘hitting-the-wall’ stage is finished – literally. There is nothing remaining now to hammer free just many, many square meters of sanding. The floor has a very yellow varnish but a good sanding takes this off.

Sanding through the yellow coloured varnish to get back to the bare wood

As with the reclaimed furniture we’ve made, there will be a few solutions applied to the sanded wood to give it an aged effect. Playtime awaits!

We’re getting started on the room and the first task is to make some space. The idea was to have a good tidy before we last moved but many of the magazines, books and knick-knacks came with us and have sat patiently on shelves and bookcases ever since.

So nothing intricate, involved or complicated at this stage. Just bagging, recycling, selling and giving away. The plan is to keep as much we can out of the waste-stream and re-use it in Estuary Home products. We’ve sorted some paper and card to be used for packing our online orders but the old ‘Zest’ magazines are for recycling.

There is the furniture from Ikea. It has been with us for 10-or-so years and while it is still solid and very practical, it is made from chipboard sections covered in a plastic venire. Not sure that we’ll keep this as it’s hard to see it fitting in with our Modern Rustic style but the plastic covering is a concern.

The room itself has great potential and we can’t wait to clear it. Back to sorting out years of life’s accumulations.

Here are some great vintage planes we’ve found. Not sure how old they are but it’s entirely possible they are as old as me… and some. Probably not suitable for woodworking but very aesthetic and well used.

If these don’t shout industrial at you then I don’t know what does.

Might be good as bookends or just placed for full aesthetic effect. Not sure yet but surely something good will come of these…

Recycled Hessian Placemats

At Estuary Home we certainly do and it is great to know that a lot of people in the locality do too. This is because it gives us a chance to recycle those empty coffee bean sacks from the Welsh Coffee Co. and Coaltown Roasters into some really great stuff.

Over the last few days it has been all about hessian. Making use of the bold printed graphics coffee growers and distributors stamp onto their coffee sacks, we have produced so great looking hessian placemats.

The past couple of days have seen some careful measuring and cutting to ensure that we salvage as much hessian as possible while producing matching sets of 4. This is not as simple as it may seem. The sacks are printed for functionality, not look and so nothing is ever in quite the same place from sack-to-sack.

However, much of the off-cuts are used for our jar table centrepieces and with a view that nothing goes to waste we better get our thinking cap on.

Our new hessian makes will be for sale on Etsy shortly just as soon as the ‘fray stop’ dries and we can get some good photos.

 

If you live in Swansea (SA4) and have these any of the following items that you may be planning to recycle or throw away, then Estuary Home would love to hear from you:

  • wine bottles
  • beer bottles with printed logos
  • glass jars
  • damaged roof slates
  • pallets
  • wooden picture rail
  • scaffolding hand rail or treads.

Drop us an email or complete our contact form telling us what you want to get rid of. If you are happy for us to do so, we can collect these unwanted bits and pieces and make them into the things that we think will be practical and beautiful additions to peoples’ homes.

Our details are on our Contact Us page.