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Building a raised bed from railway sleepers
A quick overview of a job I completed at home recently, that I thought I’d share. I’ve been keen to utilise an area of the garden that was just laid to lawn, and have toyed with the idea of building a raised bed / raised planter for some time.
 
I used wooden railway sleepers as they make for a quick, simple build. Almost like large lego blocks! I chose to use new sleepers for their cleaner, sharper finish and for the fact they actually work out cheaper than used sleepers. The latter tend to be larger and offer a more rustic finish; however watch out for creosote treated sleepers which ooze sticky tar in summer. I’d recommend avoiding these.

So, the first step in building the planter or raised bed is to determine the size and order the relevant quantity of sleepers. I used www.oldyorkshirerailwaysleepers.co.uk who offered an impressively prompt service, delivering the sleepers direct to my door in just a few days.
 
With the sleepers on site, I cut them to size using my circular saw, to make a 2.5m x 1m bed. I then dug out the footings for the timber sleepers by simply taking up the grass around what would become the perimeter of the bed. I took a little time to ensure its level, and then simply sat the sleepers on the earth.
I joined the sleepers with 150mm screws, pre drilled. However, I was quite grateful for my trusty old Festool  C 12 drill which was the only drill I had that had enough power to join the sleepers using such long screws.
 
I then repeated for the second level, making it 400mm high and filled with a top soil and compost mix making it ready to planting. And there we have it. Job Done!
 
Would you like a new planter or raised bed building? Give me a call today!

Area for a raised bed
Wooden Sleeper Planter
Footings for raised bed
Solid Oak Flooring
Installing new hardwood flooring is an increasingly popular home improvement these days. Not only because of the attractive, premium finish, but the natural colouration adds real warmth to the home.
 
On this job, I fitted real oak flooring to a kitchen and utility room. As with many jobs, preparation is the key to a great finish. I first, covered the floor in 6mm ply. I like to do this, to ensure a good level base to work from. In this case, it was particularly necessary as the kitchen was extended by knocking down an internal wall, combining the dining room into the new larger kitchen so it was necessary to ensure an even surface across the whole area.
Next, onto the ply I laid a 5mm underlay, especially designed for hardwood flooring, that not only provides thermal insulation, it also improves sound insulation dramatically too.
 
Then, the final layer is the oak flooring itself. I installed this as a floating floor, rather than attaching it physically to the sub-base. The boards are tongue & groove, which are each glued together with special wood glue, so the floor becomes one large ‘piece’ if you will. Around the edge, I applied a thin cork barrier to but up to the skirting boards to allow for any expansion.

This process can be reasonably quick, however the central, free standing island in this kitchen requires more attention. You’ll see from some of the pictures the flooring finishes just underneath the kitchen units. This was intentional to save cost on the oak floor boards themselves, which when covered by the kicker boards provide a seamless finish.
 
Add oak edging trim to the perimeters of the room and to the steps and its job done!
 
Do you dream of a new wooden floor in your home? Give me a call today!


old block paving
moss block paving path
dirty block paved path
cleaned block paving drive
Clean block paved path
 
Now you can buy long handled, metal brushes to manually clean out the joints, however its back breaking work. Instead, I pressure washed the paving to clean out the joints quickly and efficiently.
Applying sand to block paving joints
Sanded joints in block paving
sand in joins of block paving
Revitalised block paving
A book shelf with a difference…
We all have huge amounts of books that we’ve accumulated over the years, right? That’s definitely the case in the Long household, we’ve run out of storage! We also have a rather annoying area in the spare bedroom that sits above the stairs.
 
The picture below shows what I mean. It’s basically a box that sits directly above the stairs and as they rise upwards, the headspace of the stairs eats into the room above it, and so when the house was built, it was boxed off to tidy up this dead space.
Problem dead space above stairs
And that’s exactly what it has been until now, a dead space that wastes a large corner of the room. It’s annoyed me ever since we moved in. So I’ve finally gotten round to making it a useful space to store all the books that we’ll probably never read again!
 
In designing this shelving unit, I wanted to create a seamless finish without showing any joins in the wood, and so this was a great opportunity to use a clever piece of kit called a Kreg Pocket Hole jig.
 
This system allows me to drill angled holes into the wood (in this case MDF), creating a ‘pocket hole’ that I can then screw into an adjoining section. Not only does this create a smooth join, it’s super strong too.  
Drilling a pocket hole
Kreg pocket hole
So as you can see from the finished unit, there are no visible joins anywhere on view. Job Done! A really excellent product and one which can be used on all sorts of woodwork where you need to hide the joints, such as a picture frame, or a coffee table. But the strength of the join means it’s great to use on staircases, or decking too.
 
Do you too need some extra storage, but have a difficult space to work with? Give me a call today!
bespoke shelving unit
book shelf
Kreg Pocket hole join
Too many books!
Garden Decking
I’ve built quite a number of garden decks over the years, so I thought I’d show you a recent example in a small yard.
As you can see the yard was paved in old grey concrete slabs and the home owner wanted to improve the look of the space with new decking.
back yard slabs
Step 1 was to construct a frame on which to lay the decking. This frame is important as it raises the decking off the ground.
However, the frame sat on small legs so that the frame itself is also off the ground, and these legs also allowed me to add a very slight angle to the finished deck, rather than it being perfect flat. This slight run off allow rain water to trickle off rather than stand on the deck and form pools of water.
frame for decking
feet on decking frame
I was able to source 3.6m lengths of decking timber that run the full length of the yard. Not having a join half way along the yard certainly adds to the aesthetics appeal of the finish.
I always use pressure treated, tantalised timber for any outdoor project like this, as it just lasts so much longer. In fact the manufacturer guarantees the decking for 10 years which really does represent excellent quality.
new wooden decking
Garden decking
Finally, having laid the decking and screwing to the frame, I treated the deck with Decking Preserver oil. This particular product has a clear finish, rather than adding a colour to the wood, which I think does a really nice job of bringing up the natural colours of the pine decking.
And there we have it. Job Done!
 
Fancy a new deck in your garden? Or does your decking need pressure washing and treating with oil? Give me a call today!
Painting Kitchen Tiles
I thought I’d share a quick kitchen renovation tip with you this time. A tiling shortcut if you will.
 
Is your kitchen is a little bit tired, dated and in need of freshening up? But you don’t want to rip it out and refit the whole kitchen? And you don’t even want to re tile the kitchen as that alone can be quite a sizeable and costly job?
old kitchen tiles
painted kitchen tiles
Well, painting those kitchen tiles can have quite an impact, and take a fraction of the time and cost. Simply apply two coats of specialist tile paint, available from all hardware stores to dramatically change the appearance of the whole kitchen.
 
The cost of a tin of paint and a couple of hours work can be quite a game changer in most kitchens, brightening up the space. Perfect for those on a budget, or landlords looking to spruce up a rental property in quick time. Job Done!
 
In need or a kitchen refresh? Give me a call today.
Major garden clearance
A client had recently moved into a new house with a garden that had been left to grow wild and free for what must have been a number of years. Below are before and after images that show the garden I discovered after a day’s worth of strimming, cutting and clearing!
garden clearance before
untidy garden
As part of this job, I had to cut through some extremely heavy undergrowth and very thick roots, branches and brambles that had thrived and sprawled across the entire garden. Fortunately I wasn’t alone in my task, and had a new piece of kit that made life much easier. My new Bosch 70mm blade heavy duty hedge trimmer made light work of everything in its way, for which I was very thankful, knowing too well how painstaking these sort of jobs are!
As you can see, the transformation is quite remarkable, revealing what looks like a professionally designed and built garden with feature circular lawn. Job Done!
 
Do you have a garden that’s been left alone for a little bit too long? Or even a few years too long!? I’d love to help, give me a call today.
Building a built in wardrobe
A slightly different job here. I was asked to turn a bedroom alcove into a usable storage space, and so I constructed a built- in wardrobe. It was actually quite a straight forward task as three of the ‘sides’ of the wardrobe were already in place via the walls of the room/alcove, and so I was required to add sliding mirrored doors to the front.
bedroom alcove
wardrobe base
building a built in wardrobe
For this I secured door runners to the base and the top, based on the door height. I then framed the wardrobe sides in wood to create the door edge, as the doors were slightly smaller than the overall width. At the same time, I created a fascia to run flush with the coving, that you can see on the 4th image before painting, and the final image once painted. I then added in a simple handing rail and fitted the doors into place. Job Done!
 
Do you need some extra storage space building into a bedroom? Or perhaps just need a hand building flat pack furniture? Give me a call today.
mirror door built in wardrobe
completed built in wardrobe
Painting, Wallpapering and Decorating – Lounge Wallpaper
lounge wallpaper before
The difference in their product, initially is in the way the wallpaper is applied to the wall. Rather than pasting the paper, with AS Creations paper you paste the wall and apply the paper to it.
 
In addition, the paper is 750mm wide, rather than the usual 500mm wide – meaning less joins and better coverage.
 
Like those German cars, their wallpaper comes at the premium end of the price bracket, but I certainly agree you get what you pay for here!
 
Do you need some wallpapering or decorating help? Give me a call.
I’ve papered many a wall in my time, but felt compelled to share my thoughts on this lounge wallpapering job.
 
The Germans are known for their efficiency and their solidly built, premium cars. And now, in my eyes at least, much the same applies to German made wallpaper!
 
My client provided the wallpaper for the job, made by German manufacturer AS Creations. You can find more out about them here.
lounge wallpaper after
wallpaper after
wallpaper before
Garden and Path Clearance
What a difference a day makes! I like jobs like this. Granted, it’s a lot of hard graft, but just look at the results! A disused, over grown garden at the front of the property, transformed into a useable, presentable and practical space. A few hours of strimming & weed-killing and the garden can be reclaimed.
An un-used path at the side of the house, unearthed and brought back to use. Job Done!
 
Do you have a property in the Wakefield area with a job you just don’t fancy? Hedge trimming, grass cutting, over grown conifers, weeds?? No worries, if you're in need of a handyman, give me a call.
 
over grown garden
over grown garden after tidy
over grown garden path
over grown path after tidy
Changing Internal Doors – Part 2
In part 1 I showed you the impact and improvement new internal doors can make. Now, I’ll show you how to hang a new internal door.
 
Before you buy anything, measure the size of the door and the hinges. Ensure you then buy the right sized door (usually need to plane the height & or width down though – an electric planer is pretty vital here) and also ensure you buy the same size hinges as the old ones – this makes life MUCH easier, as you only need to adapt the door, not the frame too!
 
Remove the old door and offer up the new door and mark the positions of the hinges. (Before doing this you may need to plane the height or width of the door down to size).
 
With the hinges marked, I like to draw round the hinge onto the door edge, and use that as a guide to hand chisel out the depth of the hinge, recessing it to be flush with the door edge. It can be a little tricky, its one of the jobs you getting better at with practice! Having chiselled out the notch, cleaned it out to leave a flat area, place the hinge in the recess and drill pilot holes for the screws and attach your hinge. Repeat for the other hinges on the door edge.
The next job is to fit the handles, and latch. In the same way as the hinges, I mark the position of the previous latch, and mark up on the edge of the door. Then drill out the barrel shaped hole to accommodate the latch. Get your chisel out and in the same manner as the hinges, create a recess so the latch fits flush (I haven’t showed this image, just the result).
 
For the handles, using the latch as a guide, you need to drill a hole through the door which will accommodate the bar that goes through the centre of the handle – and connects the handles to the latch. Then it’s a matter of screwing the handles, ensuring they are straight, and the latch into place.
marking up door edge
Chiselling door hinge
Fitting new door hinge
Door hinge notch
You can now hang the door. It’s helpful if you have a second pair of hands to help hold the door up off the floor and keep in place, as you screw the hinges. If not, use a couple of wedges to prop the door up.
 
And there we have it. How to fit new internal doors. Job Done! If you fancy having a go, new doors will really make an immediate impact. If you need some help, feel free to give me a call.
New door handle and latch
Fitting a door handle
Changing an old internal door
Old internal door
Hanging Internal Doors – Part 1
A job DIYers can find particularly tricky is hanging doors. It indeed can be a difficult and time consuming task, but the difference new doors make to a landing or hallway can be quite startling! I’ve changed many a door in my time and always recommend it as one of the most cost effective things to do, to transform a space, adding light and freshness.
 
Here in part one I’ll show you just how dramatic the difference can be. Then in part two, I’ll explain the detail of how to hang a door.
On a recent job, I changed several internal doors, from a dark wood design, the original doors from when the house was built many years ago, to white, panelled doors. In particular, in spaces where there are several doors near each other, you can really see how much brighter white doors make it. Job Done!
 
If you’re looking to sell your house, changing or painting your internal doors could be a good idea.
And, if you need a hand doing it, feel free to give me a call.
Newly fitted door
New internal doors
Kitchen Work Surface Refurb
With sanding done, I applied 4 coats of Rustins Worktop Oil . It's quick drying and not only provides a water-resistant, high gloss finish, I like the fact it prevents chipping or scratching, so will last and last. Job Done!
 
Do you have a work surface in need of attention?
 
Give me a call.
  
Kitchen Work Surface Varnish
Solid Oak Kitchen Work Surface Refurb
I’ve recently refurbished a kitchen counter top made from oak. It was quite worn and slightly marked from use over time. No matter, as the beauty of solid wood is restoration is a quick and simple job with impressive results.
 
I put my Festool electric sander to work, using 3 grades of sandpaper to gradually improve the surface. Initially with 180 and 240 then finishing with 320 grit. Each grade de-nibs the surface, then refines it to give a super smooth finish. This takes some time, as oak is seriously hard, but is worth it for the end result.
Garden Gates
In the past week I’ve enjoyed making a pair of gates for a client’s driveway.
The old gates were a little wobbly and low level and so the homeowner wanted more privacy to the garden.
 
Garden Gates Old

I designed a pair of large, 1.8m high wooden gates as a replacement. I chose to use pressure treated, tanalised timber along with galvanised gate furniture (hinges & latches).
New Wooden Garden Gates
New Garden Gates
 
I then finished the job by painting the fence and gates with two coats of Ronseal 5 Year Weather Defense.
So all in all we have a strong pair of gates that will stay that way for many a year to come! Job Done!
 
Do you need some fencing repairing or building? Or perhaps new garden gates? Or even just a garden spring clean with your fence painting?
 
Give me a call today.
Garden Gates Hinges
Marking up a door latch
Drill out door latch
However, as the pressure washer completely cleans the joint, it's important to add jointing compound back into the joints. Here I simply brushed fine grade 'No Weed ' paving  sand into each of the joints. This clever product is a kiln dried sand with weed inhibiting materials contained within it, so they won't grow back. This finishes the task, leaving it good as new.
 
And there we have it. Job Done!
 
Do you need your block paving reviving? Or a tarmac drive need pressure washing? No problem. Give me a call today.
Block paving on a driveway is a popular feature for many homes, giving a fantastic finish to the front of a home, really adding kerb appeal. That is at least when it's first installed, for the first few years. After time, especially in areas of limited sunlight, block paving can moss up and require some maintenance.
 
As you can see from the images, the style of blocks used at the end of this driveway and path has large gaps in between each block that act as a breeding ground for moss, dirt and debris.
Cleaning block paving on a driveway
Screw timber sleepers together