/ Recreational Construction

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The New NickB 10 May 2019

I’m currently sat pickling in the hot tub that I built last spring, in the hut that I have built this spring (95% complete) to house it, the idea being we have an insulated and heated room in the garden to enjoy the hottub year round. It’s a great thing to have, but I have really loved designing and contructing both projects with the odd bit of frustration, usually involving working out how water is getting in or out of a structure you thought you have thoroughly waterproofed.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves this sort of thing. What projects have you done?

girlymonkey 10 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Not quite along the same lines, but more and more now I sew things rather than buy them. I have just this evening finished my first pair of walking trousers and look forward to trying them out soon. I had to modify the pattern both for fit purposes but also to include a diamond crotch for easy of movement. 

Post edited at 21:20
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Dax H 10 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Like girlymonkey mine isn't a construction project. I'm learning to blacksmith. I set up an anvil and forge at work and have started pounding hot steel. I'm not much good at it but the steel is starting to move where I want it to sometimes. Very therapeutic after a hard day's work. 

Stichtplate 11 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

You been watching 'Forged In Fire' by any chance? Horribly American but weirdly mesmerising.

Dax H 11 May 2019
In reply to Stichtplate:

Yes but that only spurred me on to get sorted. It started when the Mrs got me a blacksmithing experience day for my birthday a few years ago. Top Day with Adrian Wood in Darlington. I have been there 4 times now to learn some basics and last year finally got the opportunity to build my own forge. I'm not interesting in knife making though, knives are a bit of forging and a lot of grinding. I prefer the forging. 

So far I have made fire tools, tongs, flowers, hooks, keyrings and last night I tied a knot in some 6mm round bar. 

La benya 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Have you still got your design for the hot tub? We discussed building one of those this year. 

Just finished phase 1 of the garden being remedial work, ripping everything out, new retaining wall, level, new fencing, sleeper beds, decking and did the turfing yesterday!  So satisfying and has made a massive difference to the house. 

toad 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Ive been helping with an experimental archaeology project. Building from green timber and wattle and daub. I know sod all about arch. But the build has been a lot of fun. Its by the nottm watersports centre if you fancy a look

MonkeyPuzzle 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I'm so not practical it's scary, and so I'm inordinately proud of the planter I made from decking boards.

I'm more into food projects, having just cured and air-dried some guanciale and some coppa.

wercat 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I've just built a HF clansman radio from scrap parts, with the wiring harness all numbered as per the original.   Replaced the synthesiser with a modern Si5351 programmable clock generator controlled by an Arduino Nano with OLED display to provide main tuning VFO and carrier insertion for upper and lower sideband and had several contacts with friends of several hundred miles yesterday.  Not bad for scrap parts and so far as I can see on tinternet no-one else in the world has managed this before (I was searching for help on the subject and could find only one person who had thought about it and given it up as impossible) so I feel warmly chuffed.

~As the radio is a late 1960s design and the assemblies produced between the mid 70s and mid 80s I feel I have done something to prolong the use of existing technology at little expense to the environment except for the Arduino display and clock generator. 

Post edited at 13:40
wintertree 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

A small bin store with a sloping roof covered in a few slate-effect solar PV panels.  Keeps the bush dry, unfrozen and stops them being blown over in storms.  Also gave me great data on the solar potential of our site, and let me see how the slate effect panels fare over time - 3 years later I’m very glad I didn’t do the main roof in them!  Edit:  Timber framed and ship lap sides with a ply roof.  

Post edited at 14:23
mbh 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Well, I actually managed to wire up and programme an Arduino with accelerometers and gyroscopes attached, strap it to my leg then get some machine learning code I wrote to figure out whether I was walking or running with 99%-ish accuracy. Next stop, get it to recognise more states of motion, add a GPS sensor, then put it on a horse. 

As someone whose Art (pottery) report c 1977 was 'One small flowerpot is not much for a term's work', I am inordinately chipper anytime I make anything that works.

In the world of hammers and nails, I am really pleased with the compost bin I recently built at the allotment, and with the bird box I made out of the spare wood.

wercat 11 May 2019
In reply to mbh:

few things as good for the soul as making something out of wood

mbh 11 May 2019
In reply to wercat:

Agree. If only a bird would come and live in my birdbox. My life would be complete.

88Dan 11 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

You relax after a hard days work by doing more hard work?

wintertree 11 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> Keeps the bush dry

Keeps the bins dry...

arch 11 May 2019
In reply to toad:

> Ive been helping with an experimental archaeology project. Building from green timber and wattle and daub. I know sod all about arch. But the build has been a lot of fun. Its by the nottm watersports centre if you fancy a look

That's' good, I like to keep myself to myself..........

summo 11 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> > Keeps the bush dry

> Keeps the bins dry...

Keep your powder dry.

Back on topic, I'm an occasional mtb trail fairy. Where whilst looking like just thug work, similar path building there is a surprising amount of thought behind it where you can spend all day on a section that could be over in a second riding. 

Post edited at 16:46
jimtitt 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Go to Supertopo and see what real climbers knock up in their spare time http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1197468/Show-Me-What-Youre-Building

mbh 11 May 2019
In reply to girlymonkey:

Great to hear what you do. Can you recommend/give advice on a sewing machine? In particular, Aldi/Lidl (I can't remember) had a Singer one for about £80 - could that be good enough? Are there particular stitches/abilities to look out for? 

My wife went on a patchwork quilt day at Cowslip near Launceston. It was great, but the machines they had on their website at the time started at £1800 (!).

jimtitt 11 May 2019
In reply to 88Dan:

> You relax after a hard days work by doing more hard work?


Well yeah, I wondered about that myself!

captain paranoia 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I'm an electronic engineer who has been more of a systems engineer in the last few years, so I don't really get to build much stuff. But I have managed to get a reputation for getting mechanical stuff designed to support our electronic research projects. So I get to tinker with SketchUp modelling, building stuff with Rexroth parts and 3d printing, and doing basic woodwork, as a sideline to my normal work. Which is nice...

Dax H 11 May 2019
In reply to 88Dan:

> You relax after a hard days work by doing more hard work?

It's different work. Just like going climbing (indoors) is physically harder work than my day job buy also a good way to relax. 

Lusk 11 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> A small bin store with a sloping roof covered in a few slate-effect solar PV panels.  Keeps the bush dry, unfrozen and stops them being blown over in storms.  Also gave me great data on the solar potential of our site, and let me see how the slate effect panels fare over time - 3 years later I’m very glad I didn’t do the main roof in them!  Edit:  Timber framed and ship lap sides with a ply roof.  


I love all your greenness, and am quite envious.

But, how much does it all cost?

I could install everything you have (what you've revealed on here) myself, but we haven't got the cash. It's slightly infuriating! To put it mildly

Fruitbat 11 May 2019
In reply to mbh:

>  Can you recommend/give advice on a sewing machine? 

Not a sewing machine expert at all but the the old manual ones are worth a look. Ours (a Jones, I think Singer are more common) must be 1950s or 60s and still works perfectly and feels as if it will last forever. It has interchangeable feet for different stitches, the whole thing is quite an engineering marvel, I don't know how someone came up with the idea and design.

You can pick them up for next to nowt, I saw a Singer that looked unused for £25 in a charity shop last week.

mbh 11 May 2019
In reply to Fruitbat:

Thank you

Timmd 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I built a log store in my cellar, it's not the top of the list place with them needing airflow to dry out more quickly, but the best place when I have a small terraced house back garden. Other than the 2 horizontal longest bits of wood at the front which came from my childhood home when it was sold, all the wood was found down an alley nearby, with it being thrown over the fence at the end of somebody's garden following the end of some building work. 

I wedged two length of wood under the joists of the floor above, hammering flat pieces of wood under the ends which came just short of the floor to make them sold, and used bits of metal and screws to secure each end, and then built outwards making a frame work of six horizontal pieces and a vertical upright in each corner, then filled in the sides using the slats from wood pallets which the local paint shop said I could help myself to, only spending money on the nuts and bar stock needed to hold it together. 

While doing something or other with my joists, screwing hooks into them to hang things from I think, I was pleased to find it's solid enough to stand on the top rail and move about on.  

The tool board in my porch is very satisfying too, I got up late to see amazing cloud inversion pictures from the Peak, and out of disgust at my own rubbishness at not being lively enough to be out there, stopped up till 2am putting the battens and hard board in place for it to get something productive out of my day, once I'd started it was hard to go to bed till I'd finished. It's now great that whenever I need any of the tools on it I know exactly where to find them, and there'll hopefully be other great cloud inversion days which I'll actually experience. 

Post edited at 21:15
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Deadeye 11 May 2019
In reply to girlymonkey:

>  a diamond crotch 

Sounds hard.

I'm a joyful bodger of many things, mostly wooden. New floor in garage and my own dust extraction cyclone for the workshop. One day I'll be proficient enough to make stuff for inside the house!

Deadeye 11 May 2019
In reply to mbh:

A secondhand Bernina would be my mum's recco. She did a great deal of seeing and that was the Jedi brand that was built to last

Moley 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Nothing over exciting, I'm no woodworker and any tool more subtle than a chainsaw is pushing my limits. But I'm good with the chainsaw .

A couple of large log sheds in the garden and the piece de resistance - the Molehole. It houses our quail in winter and us on summer evenings.

Cheese Monkey 11 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Absolutely loads.

Biggest was probably converting a XLWB van into a proper 4 berth camper. Or totally renovating our house

Currently renovating the garden.

Its very rare that I get trades in to do stuff because I like learning and I am tight

The New NickB 12 May 2019
In reply to La benya:

> Have you still got your design for the hot tub? We discussed building one of those this year. 

Mostly in my head I’m afraid. I probably over complicated it, for a example it’s hexagonal, if I made another it would almost certainly be square.

Mark Edwards 12 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

As I have recently taken early retirement I now have the time, money and health to refurbish my home (1890’s cottage). There have been many times I have had some of the above but without them all it was difficult to get anything serious done.

I have just finished the first stage of installing a set of mahogany and steel steps from the top of my coal bunker/wood store into the yard and gutting the bathroom ready for a modern suite. Once the bathroom is done it will be time to rip out the remaining lath and plaster walls and ceilings and fit plasterboard and insulation to rearranged rooms.

I have just had a gas supply and boiler fitted but will be keeping the wood burner but with a new storage tank capable of interfacing to a solar thermal system. I intend to build a porch onto which the solar panels will be fitted and am seriously considering excavating the floor and putting a concrete thermal store into it. It could be used for any additional solar heat or for a dump for the wood burner during the night.

The only thing that I’m not intending to upgrade is the electrics. I rewired the house about 30 years ago and have added iLight power controls to many circuits to automate much of my house. The next owners will have to do the electrics as they wouldn’t have a chance of figuring out how it works or the software to maintain it and I like it as it is too much to go back to dumb light switches and manual controls.

I am studying Japanese woodworking techniques and contemplating about 2 years of work to improve my house ready for my old age and improve its value when the time comes that they carry me out.

Oceanrower 12 May 2019
In reply to Mark Edwards:

> I am studying Japanese woodworking techniques and contemplating about 2 years of work to improve my house ready for my old age and improve its value when the time comes that they carry me out.

As someone who works with wood on an (almost) daily basis, I have to say the Japanese woodworking techniques are absolutely amazing. How much time for a joint? 

Craftsmanship at it's best!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dibIlrai8fU

La benya 12 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Ah fair enough. We sat in a round wooden one in wales which was great. 

girlymonkey 12 May 2019
In reply to mbh:

I used to have an £80ish one which I got from Argos. It was fine, but sometimes on thicker fabrics, or sometimes just randomly, the thread would all snarl up at the back etc. I could never really work it out. It generally did the job though. I have recently upgraded to a £200ish one which I love. It copes much better with the range of fabrics I use, but my favourite thing is the speed limiter. I find with a standard pedal operated machine, it's really easy for the machine to run away with you, particularly when doing fiddly parts (zips etc). This machine doesn't need a pedal (but can use one if you want) and the main speed control is with a sliding hand control. I find I am much more accurate with it and it's a joy to work with. The other function I like, which is again in no way compulsory, is that it has an overstitching foot and stitch. This allows you to neatly sew the edge of the fabric so that it doesn't fray and gives a really neat finish. You can do this with careful zigzagging on any machine, but the overstitching just looks neat and isn't a bulky stitch.

I'm sure everyone has particular things they like on different machines!

mbh 12 May 2019
In reply to girlymonkey:

Thank you very much for that - very informative. 

And thanks too Deadeye - but those Berninas are very expensive!

hokkyokusei 12 May 2019
In reply to 88Dan:

> You relax after a hard days work by doing more hard work?

There are different kinds of hard work.

colinakmc 12 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

40 years ago I did a crazy paving front path in my then house. It’s still there and still in good nick....

Oceanrower 12 May 2019
In reply to colinakmc:

Except, 40 years ago it was proper paving...

Dax H 12 May 2019
In reply to girlymonkey:

I'm intregued, how do you start and stop the machine without a pedal? 

88Dan 12 May 2019
In reply to hokkyokusei:

True. I guess it's like a stripper getting home from work and getting undressed, which is yet more work for her.

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girlymonkey 12 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

There's a button for that. So I usually set the slider to the speed I want first, put the needle in and then press the start button. Once it's going, you can slide the slider as required to change speed and the same button stops it.

Mike505 12 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

Maybe a little cliché but I converted a camper over 4 months. From plumbers van to oak cabin (6mm oak veneer to keep weight down). We now have an fully off-grid 2 berth lwb Vito, insulated well enough for winter use without a heater with enough room for at least 10 days of fresh food and cold beer.

I loved the process! A little intimidating as I'd never done anything like it, or on that scale, but seeing it come together was amazing and a massive learning curve!  

French Erick 13 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

My home wall with bespoke shed for it in a very limited space. Heated and insulated with lots of storage. Even the wife is happy as few outdoor things make it in the house now. 2 years plus on it Still makes me happy 

Tom V 13 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I started to learn drystone walling while I was a teacher, mainly because my dad was getting on a bit and I wanted to help out on his Pennine smallholding. It soon became a very satisfying form of recreation, immensely rewarding and very interesting because no two walls are the same. 

The usual comment that "It's a dying art" is very far from the truth with a thriving body of wallers in the UK, both amateur and professional. 

When I had finally had enough of the classroom I took early retirement and started walling as a full time job. It doesn't pay that well but enough to supplement my pension. The real bonus is that you get to work in the best places imaginable creating something that is unique and, to most eyes, visually attractive.

Even though I've had to finish now after ten years I can still drive over the Strines road and see some of my work or take a walk round Chatsworth and see how it's weathering. Happily I haven't seen any of it down yet.

Post edited at 09:43
kathrync 13 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I am a bit limited for time at the moment, but my Dad built his own extension over a couple of years around his job in a pharma company.  It is a steel-framed wood-clad building.  He designed it with the help of an architect friend, laid the foundation, paid someone to put the steel frame up and then did the rest himself.  It drove Mum crazy for two years, but she loves it now it is finished.  I used to go and help when I visited home - if it leaks where it joins the main house or around the chimney breast, it's my fault!

Dax H 13 May 2019
In reply to girlymonkey:

Hmm,  my sewing machine experience is limited to home ec at school 35 years ago but I always needed both hands on the material. I'm sure it works just fine for anyone with some skill but I would rather have a foot switch. 

Even better I leave the sewing to the Mrs. 

girlymonkey 13 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

Once you have pressed the start button, it just chugs away at the speed you have set until you tell it otherwise, so you can still use both hands. At slow speeds, it's so easy to control the fabric that you often don't really need both hands. There is still the pedal option though too, and speed limiter still works with the pedal

Deadeye 13 May 2019
In reply to mbh:

> Thank you very much for that - very informative. 

> And thanks too Deadeye - but those Berninas are very expensive!

Hold their value - yes. But you don't need a super flashy model. Look at gumtree and eBay and something will turn up in a few weeks. They're quite often in House clearance auctions too.

If you don't go for the computer stuff, you can get a 600/700/900 series for £100.

Post edited at 14:07
Timmd 13 May 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

> I'm so not practical it's scary, and so I'm inordinately proud of the planter I made from decking boards.

> I'm more into food projects, having just cured and air-dried some guanciale and some coppa.

My very musical brother isn't so practical, but he's very musical and his wife is the practical person in the couple. The gender expectations are illusory.  

Toerag 13 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

>  Also gave me great data on the solar potential of our site, and let me see how the slate effect panels fare over time - 3 years later I’m very glad I didn’t do the main roof in them!

Please expand on this - I'm looking to do solar PV, but I live in a listed house that catches a lot of wind, so solar slates may be a good option.

To the OP - a fair bit of house reonvation - Fitted two kitchens and a bathroom incl. tiling walls and floors, replaced two suspended timber floor structures, and most theraputically, re-pointed two chimneys. I was pleased with the 12ft long woodstore until the 'marine ply' I used to make the louvered walls delaminated

wintertree 13 May 2019
In reply to Toerag:

> Please expand on this - I'm looking to do solar PV, but I live in a listed house that catches a lot of wind, so solar slates may be a good option.

They’re standard solar cells under rough (ground or acid etched?) glass covers.  Each module is 40 W worth and has smooth glass strips that look dark and look on passing glance like the gaps between slates.  They have metal backing that you affix to battens and that has holes for slate hooks.  They mix with real slate.

I think the surface finish looks great in itself and is passable as slate, although it index matches with water and goes transparent when wet and suddenly it looks like solar cells.  There’s a lot of silica sealant in them and it’s gone in a few places, and there’s obvious discolouration in some of the tiles where water has got in.  That’s after 2.5 years.  They may be marginally better protected when professionally laid in a complete roof but I’m not impressed with the effect of time on them.

I’ll not name the company here as my install isn’t great and they may have changed methods - but the moral is to ask to see a > 2 year old install.

It also involves a hell of a lot of connectors which makes me wonder about longevity - much higher cumulative failure probabilities than a normal panel install, and unless you segment the array with micro inverters, one failure will take the whole shebang out, and will be a right nightmare to replace, best bet is to use micro inverters and spec headroom to bypass the odd failed panel.

They also don’t age like real slate, and as you have to mix and match them with real slate to make a complete roof, I do wonder how they’ll age.  

I’m strongly of the view that conservation areas and grade 2 listed roofs should take second place to double glazing and solar power.   In-roof mounted conventional panels of the “all black” style look pretty unobtrusive.

Post edited at 22:40
Toerag 15 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Thanks for that, most appreciated. I'd be very disappointed with the construction quality too, 2.5 years is nothing. Surely, however, if a module dies it can be replaced easy enough in the same way slates are? Do they connect onto a 'bus' wire(s), if so I guess the bus is the weak point.

wintertree 15 May 2019
In reply to Toerag:

> Surely, however, if a module dies it can be replaced easy enough in the same way slates are?

There is sufficient overlap of hidden metal trays that I think you would have to dismantle back to the ridge to replace a unit.  I could be mistaken.

> Do they connect onto a 'bus' wire(s), if so I guess the bus is the weak point.

Typically 10 modules will be connected in series to make a 400 V ‘string’. Many strings will then be connected in parallel to a single bulk inverter.  If any one string is shortened by bypassing a module it will either soak up current from other strings or - if configured with appropriate diodes - just no longer contribute power.  You would have to shorten all paralleled strings accordingly.  Which is a lot of work even if the wires are accessible.

I haven’t seen any documentation on such an install but I would use AC bus connected micro inverters with ~10 spares per panel and no parallel operation.  This makes faults easier to isolate and bypass, and gives better handling of partial shading.  But....  the maximum string voltage for the spares is 2.5x lower than most panels so you can have less power’s worth of slates than you can panels per micro inverter without going parallel.

I decided to wait for someone to make a high quality, “bathroom” sealant free set of slates with integrated micro inverters trailered to them.  I had high hopes of Tesla doing this but I have more than a few doubts now.


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