Saturday, 20 June 2020

Arboreal Smorgasbord

still room in progress

It is useful to show work in progress as the pain and effort to get to the finished product can be appreciated much better.

Currently, we are trying to finish off the still room in the basement. The major job has been to construct a unit round a reclaimed pair of butler's sinks which we have placed in the window alcove directly above the existing drain.

To the right of the unit is a set of drawers whose construction was described in an earlier blog entry. The depth of the drawers sets a minimum value for the depth of the worktop above, but to get close to the sinks in the middle we have had to stagger the worktop using two 45 degree angles.

We worked out that we could get 4 cabinet doors in the unit. Two below the sink and two on the 45 degree angles. It was all going to work out rather nicely, However, I am not quite sure what happened but Gregor started running out of room by the time he had accounted for spaces for the hinges. To ameliorate the situation we moved hinges around, so we were using ones where the ends has snapped off. :-) Even then there was not enough room and Gregor said he would have to cut the 45 degree doors down. My heart sank, but the cabinet design had been committed to, so there was no other option. I hate chopping up historic woodwork, and now the doors would not be the same size. :-( However, because the doors have small central Gothic arches, which are still intact, the design in my view hasn't in the end really been compromised and I am pleased with the result. :-)

I should add that the design of the unit was never put on paper, which would have avoided these build time compromises. The unit was just built in an organic manner on site step-by-step. We simply held the next element in place to see how it would look, and there is a joy in this bespoke improvisation.

The work top on the left is iroko from an old school science lab. Gregor filled in the hole for the laboratory sink with a square of mahogany. The unit's work top is mahogany and the window cill is recycled from a large piece of pine which was painted as a sign. Gregor burned off the paint and then sanded the pine - you would never know - it is a fantastic piece of wood.  The iroko, mahogany and pine all came from an antiques restorer in Manchester who was retiring.

Other wood used in the unit are modern plywood and modern pine and of course the pitch-pine of the Gothic doors, which are the former box pew doors of a church near Bath. In total, there are 6 different types of wood in this arboreal smorgasbord.

I will be trying to stain all the different woods so that they somehow blend together. I don't even know if this is possible, but the castle restoration is a voyage of discovery if nothing else.

I was asked by Greg why a Belfast sink is so-called. It turns out that a Belfast sink is a type of butler's sink that was designed in Belfast. In the Victorian era, water was in short supply, so a butler's sink was wide and shallow with no overflow. However, there was no shortage of water in Belfast, so these sinks were deeper and possessed an overflow.

Interestingly, the two reclaimed sinks are different - one has an overflow and one doesn't. So, with my new found knowledge, I am tempted to call one a butler and one a Belfast. However, life is messy, as the sinks are more or less the same size and are the same depth, so perhaps I will avoid the sink categorisation so I can sleep at night.

At this time of the year, the light is streaming into the still room and for some reason all the flies from the mainly un-restored basement are attracted to this window. To spare the delicate sensibilities of my readers, I hoovered up around 200 flies, before taking the above photo.

1 comment:

  1. Impressive use of precut wood pieces to fit the space. Bravo!