Our kitchen had one patch of bare wall but nowhere to put cookbooks other than in a pile on a worktop. A perfect opportunity for some bookshelves! I planned a custom construction made from pine, comprising two uprights resting on the floor with four cross pieces (for three shelves and a top) with the whole thing screwed to the wall for rock solidness.


I originally expected to use 18mm thick sawn pine timber, but in B&Q it was clear that these were actually quite warped end to end – the top of a 2.4m plank was about 30 degrees twisted compared to the bottom so that it would have messed up the result something chronic. Instead I bought pine "furniture board" which is engineered from multiple pieces of pine glued together (edge to edge, not ply) which gives a much less lively result with hardly any warp whilst looking quite attractive. It's quite a lot more expensive mind you, and having waited 30 minutes for the timber cutting service to re-open after lunch I was told my 20cm wide boards were not suitable for the machine. At 2.4m long they weren't going to fit in the car so a hasty re-planning was required, resulting in the purchase of a number of smaller 25cm wide pre-cut pieces. I'm glad I went for that width actually as many of the books are 22cm and there's room to accommodate that depth from the wall even though I was worried there wouldn't be.

I had been keen to get all the lengths cut in store for a perfectly square, straight cut with identical lengths for all the shelves. I don't have a table saw so I was going to struggle to do this easily myself, but I was forced to saw the boards down to the right length with a hand saw. It was tough to get a good result here and to get them all the exact same length, but the flex in the uprights accommodated the differences. I simply put two number 8 screws into the end of each shelf to hold it in place, with carefully drilled countersunk screw holes, and that seems to have done the job. The countersink bit I bought recently is a godsend – it really makes the results look so much more professional.

A couple of simple metal angle brackets off the peg from B&Q allowed me to screw the whole ensemble firmly to the wall and it really is very rigid. Also note in the picture (click for bigger version) the 45 degree cut off on the tops of the side pieces and the cut-outs at the bottom to allow it to sit flush against the wall above the skirting.

Overall I'm extremely pleased with the result apart from one thing. I slightly lost track of of the height of my biggest books between start and end of the project, the result being that they don't quite fit on the shelves by a few millimetres. I'm kicking myself about this, but I'm a novice and I'll learn from these mistakes.

We had a particular space to fill next to the sofa in our new house, and wanted a low sideboard to house our extensive and exotic booze collection, which up until now has been gathering dust on the floor in a corner. However the space is only 82cm wide and most pieces of suitable furniture we’ve seen are at least a metre wide, and often too tall compared to the 69cm high sofa.

We set off on Saturday with a medium length list of places to try in our grim search for just the right solution, but we struck lucky at our first stop: Emmaus in St Albans. This place is basically a second hand furniture shop with fairly rapid turnover, but it’s more than just that, being run as a community to get homeless people back on their feet. We’ve been a couple of times before and not found anything for us, but this time round for just £10 we came away with an 84 cm wide cupboard that sits just perfectly in our previously empty space.


Isn’t that 2cm too wide you may ask? Yes, so I had to remove the beading at the edge of the laminate floor to make enough room for a very snug fit.

Our collection of exotic and nauseous booze will now reside within, perhaps lying undisturbed for decades until young teenagers nick it late at night. And so the cycle repeats.

I went exploring on Hampstead Heath over lunchtime the other day, looking for wild things to photograph (see UKNatureBlog for the results). From the top of Parliament Hill I took this photograph looking back towards Canary Wharf and my work office in the nearer foreground. Click for bigger version.


I'm afraid that the nature posts are going to dry up here, but never fear for they're all now going to be on UKNatureBlog.com – a new blog specifically for the flora and fauna of the UK and all related things, setup by myself and Mrs C.

Go and have a look, bookmark it, and do please contribute. The cheeky chap below will be over there from now on.


28. July 2009 · Write a comment · Categories: Me
A few days ago we moved across St Albans to a much bigger place where hopefully we will stay for many years. Expect a number of DIY posts over the coming months! My fingers are already shredded from all the manual labour.

We've moved!
No, apparently not.


If you can't beat 'em...

[Posted from my iPhone with the free TypePad app, picture taken by the iPhone itself.]
I’m now on twitter. Shame on me.