Tag Archives: wood joint

Friday 8th January 2010 – today was the day …

heavy snow les guis virlet puy de dome france…when my morale, which has been slowly ebbing away for this last couple of weeks, finally disappeared.

I didn’t wake up until the alarm went off (just for a change) and there was no way I was going to get out of bed early. And, as usual, despite the clear starry skies last night, today was clouded over – a heavy hanging cloud was clinging to the side of the mountain.

We’d had snow too, so that involved a shin up onto the roof and a clearing of the solar panels – not that I needed to bother because I’ve had the impressive total of 1.1 amp-hours today!

But none of that is what has done in my morale though. And I can cope with frozen tea towels and frozen ordinary towels and frozen washing-up water and frozen water butts and even frozen lettuce – what did it for me firstly was going into the fridge (that has been switched off for over a month) and finding that my lunchtine tomato was frozen solid. That was bad enough but then while making the coffee there must have been some ice under the seal in the coffee percolator because halfway through the coffee routine the steam pressure blew the coffee all over the verandah. With the ice melted I could tighten up the seal but of course with it being warm it went up too tight and as I tried to undo it later I broke the handle on the machine. One of the reasons that Napoleon’s onslaught on Russia failed was that the severe winter caused all of the items made of tin to become brittle – and I can see what they mean now.

But I also spilt some coffee while I was doing all of this and when I turned my attention back to the spill, it had frozen solid. Today is the first day since I have been keeping records that the temperature in the verandah has not risen above zero all day.

This morning I carried on doing a few odd jobs and then started to measure up another vertical for the first floor and cut the let in the floor beam. I dunno where the morning went but that was all I did. This afternoon with my heart no longer in anything I started to put some insulation under the floor of the attic to help keep in the warmth. But it was flaming freezing and everywhere had gone dark and there was stuff all over the floor and I didn’t feel like tidying up so at 16:30 I packed up and came in – and crashed out again for an hour.

 heavy snowfall les guis virlet auvergne puy de dome franceI rang the baker too – she comes to deliver to me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but she also has a round on Saturday so I wanted to order some bread as I’ve no intention of going anywhere anytime soon. “It depends if I can make it with this weather” she said – which totally puzzled me as the postie had been this morning. But when I went downstairs to make tea later (some tinned stuff – I wasn’t going to hang around down there in THAT weather) I saw what she meant. In the few hours that I had been upstairs it had snowed like hell and was still chucking it down. There’s about a foot of snow now, so I suppose I won’t get my bread tomorrow either.

Tuesday 5th January 2010 – All this fuss and hype …

… about minus 11 – when I went downstairs at 21:30 to cook tea it was only minus 5. Mind you it was minus 3 in the verandah and freezing point in the lean-to where I eat, so I didn’t hang about long. A handful or two of pasta and a tin of beans and that was tea. And then back up here in the relative warmth.

Mind you, I say relative warmth because when I came up here after work it was a balmy 3.4 degrees in here. Having a foot of snow on the windows hasn’t helped. That of course meant that I’ve been up on the roof a few times today clearing snow off the panels – but still it keeps me fit.

I started off the morning working on my plans for the kitchen and how I’m going to fit the stairs in properly overhead – and I have a few ideas on this. But I couldn’t get into the swing of it what with the cold and so I ended up cutting pillars for upstairs and trying to finish off the studding for the bedroom wall. I’ve one more vertical fitted and another one almost cut and ready but the battery went flat in the drill that I use for marking the lets in the beams, there wasn’t another battery charged, it was getting dark and I was cold and so at 17:10 I called it a day.

One thing about all of this snow is that I get to wash in warm water after work. I just love the fresh snow and so I collect a saucepan full and warm it up so that it melts and I wash in that. It’s the freshest water you can have. So after a warm wash I came up here and … er… crashed out.

In other news, one of the things that I go on about on a regular basis is “Dig For Victory”. During World War II when the UK was threatened with starvation during the U-boat menace all kinds of open areas were turned over to vegetable plots in the “Dig For Victory” campaign so that more food should be grown to ease the risk of starvation. My contention has been that seeing as the west is now fighting an oil war, then everyone should be “Digging For Victory” by growing oil crops to ease the dependency on fossil-fuel oils. Anyway the UK Government hasn’t quite caught up with me yet but it has launched its own “Dig For Victory” campaign. It’s even proposing cookery lessons, so all we need now is for Vera Lynn to sing “Whale Meat Again” and it’ll be just like old times.

Friday 18th December 2009 – I wondered why it was dark this morning …

snow december 2009 les guis virlet puy de dome france… when the alarm woke me up. The skylights in the roof had about 3cms of snow all over them.

And so after breakfast I went for a wander around and a bit of a photography session. You can see how much snow fell during the night, and it was still chucking it down as I was a-wandering.

After my little perambulation I rang up Liz and spoke to her about the proposed group meal. We had a good chat for half an hour or so. They had had the snowplough down their lane at 10:00 and by 11:00 it had all snowed over again.

heavy snow 2009 les guis virlet puy de domeI was having charging issues in this weather so I shinned out of the side window with the yard brush up onto the roof and brushed the snow off the solar panels where I could reach. That generated something and I had to do it a couple of times during the day. I’m going to have to work out a remote way of doing that in due course. Heated trace wire seems to be one possibility.

I went to brush the snow off the panels that are on the roof of the Luton Transit and which power the barn but I couldn’t find the ladder – half of the old wooden green one. it was there last winter and I do remember lying it down but it seems to have disappeared. I wonder if I lent it to someone. I had to improvise a ladder to get up there and brush things down.

caliburn heavy snow 2009 les guis virlet puy de dome franceI started to fit the turn-round step in the Stairway to Heaven but I’ve hit upon a major design fault. Not that this is any surprise – I was wondering how it was that I have managed to avoid that fate so far. I haven’t allowed for the height of the extra beam that I fitted. It’s not a major issue and I can work round it by having several angled turn-round steps in the corner that will drop me nicely underneath it. It just means that I could have better-managed my staircase. Ahh well.

And at 14:00 precisely that strange golden thing appeared again – and loitered around for about 10 minutes before it started snowing again.

This afternoon Bill rang me up and invited me to his house for Boxing Day. He’ll be having some friends round. That was nice of him. He was telling me about the over-60s dinner that his village organised and to which he was invited. He said that never mind the hairdos, most of the women had had a good shave. It wasn’t the “blue-rinse brigade” that I used to deal with when I worked at Shearings but the “blue chin brigade”. I blame it on all of the hormones that they pump into the cattle round here.

Claude came round for a chat too and he was here a while. We heard the snow-plough arrive and dashed out just in time to see it disappearing back up the lane. It had managed to get within 50 yards of me before it pliddled off, leaving me still snowed-in. But then again it’s much closer than he got last year when I was left snowed-in for four days.

But all of that explains why I haven’t done too much today. I cut another vertical and cut a couple of lets into the beams to take it. And much to my surprise it fitted absolutely perfectly and went into tension without even being screwed in. Now I call that an achievement! If it goes light tomorrow I’ll screw it in. It will be nice to see what I am doing.

Meanwhile, it’s now 28 days since we had a day without any kind of precipitation at all. Today was enough snow for the equivalent of 5cms of rain. And apart from that one morning last week it’s now been 22 days since I’ve had a decent amount of solar energy and 6 days since we had any temperature above freezing point. It’s starting to get on my nerves.

Tuesday 15th December 2009 – Today was one of those days …

… where nothing seemed to go right. it was freezing cold this morning and I was absolutely right about the weather – totally grey and overcast and only 4.5 amp-hours in total.

I don’t know why anyone pays any attention to the weather forecast around here – it’s so easy. All you need to do is to look out of the window. If you can’t see across the valley then it’s raining. If you can see across the valley then it’s going to rain.

So Terry came and the sink wasn’t any use for him but he did help me to move the plasterboard and I forgot the gas bottle. After that I finished cutting the lets in the verticals, in the pitch dark because it’s impossible to see anything in the gloom. After lunch I fitted one of the verticals and it took me hours. It’s not very-well done but I was freezing cold and fed up. I drilled right through the join and into the wall so I could fit an anchor bolt that would tighten everything together and hold it to the wall but the bolt stuck and wouldn’t go right in – and then I couldn’t get it out either. Trying to lever it out with a crowbar and I dropped the nut and I can’t find that now.

Then I fitted the battens and the insulation but by now (like 15:10) it was far too dark to properly fit the counter-battens. Dark at 15:10 – it’s depressing – so I did a bit of tidying up and then smashed my way through the ice in the water butt to get some water.

It was 6 degrees in my attic – which might not sound a lot but it was minus 5 outside and getting colder by the minute. And it’s still grey and miserable outside. We are stuck in this deep westerly depression which is a very rare phenomenon. It’s almost as deep as the depression I am stuck in. At least if it was an easterly depression we were stuck in there would be some sunlight.

Monday 14th December – It’s gone flaming cold now

Yes, outside it is minus 4 and I shudder to think what it might have been if we didn’t have this thick cloud cover. Yes, another thick cloudy day which means that I’ve had no solar charge yet again. I wonder when the sun is going to come out. According to the weather forecast banner on my website we are promised a clear sunny day tomorrow but knowing the weather and the weather forecasting around here I’ll believe that when I see it. It also promises me minus 9 as well tomorrow and I’ll believe that – one day last January we had minus 15.

This morning I wasn’t in a hurry to wake up but once I was up and about I discovered that all of my water has frozen up. That’s the trouble with storing the rainwater above ground. It was a bit icy yesterday and I was going to defrost it after the football and fill all of the kettles but with the match being delayed it was too late when I got home. Luckily I have a couple of litres that I’ve filtered and that will keep me going.

And so I started cutting the lets on two more pillars but Claude came round for a natter instead. And then it was round to Liz and Terry’s to give them a hand followed by the Anglo French group in St Gervais. When I got back home, it was just 4.5 degrees up here in my room. But it’s amazing just how quickly the place warms up with a bit of heat.

And I’ll be going to bed soon. Terry is on his travels tomorrow morning and I have an old stone sink to give him. While he’s here he’s going to help me lift some plasterboard upstairs to the first floor and carry my gas bottle round to the side of the house. He reckons it’s going to be an early start. I don’t much like the sound of that.

Friday 11th December 2009 – I now have three stairs …

stairway to heaven stairs les guis virlet puy de dome france…into my attic – It’s becoming a veritable Stairway to Heaven, isn’t it?

You can see the additional step and its cantilever outriggers. And seeing as there was 1m92 headroom over the head of the stairs to the ground floor once I had fitted the step, I decided to extend it so that it now makes a handy shelf for storage.

The step itself is at a nice height to step off the step ladder There’s none of the mauling and messing around like I had to do on the ladder. So I’m totally puzzled as to how I managed to spill a load of coffee on the step when I have been safely manoeuvring a full mug of coffee up a ladder for the last month or so.

So having done that, I set out to measure up for the rest of the stairs. Now I don’t know if you can recall any ancient legal documents – before the days of computers – where amendments had to be made manually. And different coloured inks were used to amend the amendments and so on. Well on the pillar where I was making the measurements I have red blue and black ink and pencil markings. But now I’ve decided on where I want everything and if my visitors don’t mind steps of 29cms then it takes just 10 steps to get into my room with a footprint (minus the angle of the turn) of just 54.5 cms, which is pretty impressive!

So this afternoon I’ve been cutting pillars and beams and on Monday I’ll be installing the first two. Well, I won’t – Terry needs a hand and I owe him plenty of favours so on Monday afternoon I’ll be tootling off there. I’ve heard a rumour that Liz might be baking.

Im other news, I had a couple of shocks this morning. Firstly I do vaguely recall hearing the alarm go off at some point but it usually does this at 5-minute intervals throughout an hour starting at 08:00 with another alarm clock joining in at certain moments. It’s not at the first crack that I haul myself out of bed – I usually have to wait for a while to wake up so I didn’t pay much attention to the alarm at first. The next thing that I remember was that it was 9:24. Did I really sleep right through 2 alarms for a whole hour?

And there was this strange golden thing in the sky and the sky around it was all blue instead of the traditional grey. That was surprising. I was disappointed that my prediction last night was all wrong. But as the morning developed I realised that it was all a question of a sense of timing and by lunchtime we were all properly overcast.

Tomorrow is St Eloy shopping. I wonder if I’ll find anything exciting there. I forgot to check the special offers at LIDL

Thursday 10th December 2009 – Now if I could cut joints as well …

mortice joint wood stair…as this every time, I wouldn’t have to do it any more as I would have made so much money that I would be paying people to do them for me.

It’s a three-way joint as you can see and it’s come out perfectly. Even more impressive is the fact that I cut it by hand with not a power tool in sight. In fact I’m working entirely by hand and battery power at the moment. It’s not that I’m running out of battery charge on the solar panels but today was another miserable day for electricity generation with a low cloud hovering over here all day and there’s no point in wasting the current on electric saws when a hand saw, a mallet and chisel and a battery-powered drill can do everything that I need.

In fact I’ve not had a decent amount of solar energy since 26th November. What wouldn’t I give now for some of that current that I couldn’t accept in the summer? It’s clear skies and thousands of stars outside right now but of course it’s night-time. As soon as the sun rises, you just watch the clouds gather.

But back to the plot. About 5 minutes after I had fitted that joint, I took it out and replaced it with something else due to a slight change of plan. And that joint wasn’t anything like as good. Much more to my usual standard.

And I now have two stairs fitted anyway, thanks to a discovery of a large offcut from when I did the flooring in the barn. I’ve taken down the ladder and I’m now using a stepladder and the two stairs to get into here. It’s a climb though – about 3 feet off the top of the ladder and we were discussing this on Facebook, a few of us and I reckoned that I could put an intermediary step by way of a couple of cantilever outriggers.

And then it hit me! “Good!” – ed. As soon as I said “cantilever”, I worked out exactly how I am going to build my stairs and it’s so simple that I’m surprised that I haven’t thought of it before. And I can use up tons of the scrap wood that’s lying around here too. Getting my stairs in for Christmas might not be as far out as you might think. Yes, if the French can build a cantilever viaduct not 30kms from here and I’m already planning on building a flying staircase for the ground floor on the “suspension” principle, then there’s no reason why I can’t build a staircase on the cantilever principle up here.

I made a major discovery too. A few weeks ago I bought a job lot of screws from LIDL. They are good value and the boxes are very handy. And it just so happened that I needed to use some of them today. And blow me up if they aren’t torx drive – and the box came with a couple of torx bits inside too. And I tell you what – I’m well-impressed with how easily they screw in and out with not a hint of a slipping driver. I could be sold on this idea.

So tomorrow I’m going to fit the third step here and then start on the uprights that I need to fit so that I can crack on with the stairs. Things are looking up LOL.

In other news, this is the page that has been attracting hits to my site. The other day the hits went up from the 180s or so to 302 and judging by the page counters, it was this page that they were visiting. There’s no evidence that they came from a search engine or a link – it seemed to be all “direct hits” so someone has circulated the page around. I’m intrigued as to who it is and what it is that has caught their eye and whether there will be a follow-up.

We shall see.