Mats Bengtsson Home Improvement and Do It Yourself

The do it yourself tasks performed the first winter

Mats Bengtsson mib over the years

The next set of jobs were done during winter, after having moved in

At this time we were working again, and also all furnitures were in the house. Thus all jobs now had to go together with both work hours and with normal living tasks, so they took considerably longer than the first month of jobs.

Setting up a folding door to the cellar

This was also a quite easy job, and fairly normal. We bought a folding door at Bauhaus, a very cheap model. The entrance to the cellar was smaller than the folding door, so the folding door had to be shortened. Also, there was no place where the top of the folding door could be fastened, since the entrance was at the end of a stairway, where the upper part of the entrance is defined by the bottom of another stairway. This was the first (albeit small) modification we did to the house. With the piece of wood, we created the top part of a square entrance to the cellar, in which we could fasten the folding door.

The walls at which the door frame was fastened where ending about where the door was placed. This made it a little harder to drill, since it was more parget than it was bricks to drill through, and the parget was prone to come lose when drilling. This was in fact the opposite to the roof where the wood were to be fastened. the roof was at the same time the floor to the next floor, and was made in very hard concrete. Drilling the holes took forever with the then used drill (an ordinary drill hammer from Bosch).

This was done by:

  • Buying a prefabricated folding door
  • Buying a length of wood
  • Drilling holes into the cellar roof to fasten the piece of wood
  • Cutting the piece of wood to make it fit the entrance
  • Bevelling the piece of wood to make it look less "rough" and out of place
  • Drilling for plugs in the entrance walls
  • Inserting plugs into walls and roof
  • Removing a number of sections of the folding door to make it the needed width
  • Cutting the top sliding rail of the folding door to the needed length
  • Screwing the door into the wall
  • Screwing the door frame for closing the door into the opposite wall
  • Screwing the top door frame into the inserted wood piece

Basic learning:

  • There is a difference between cheap folding doors and not so cheap folding doors (stability and locking into position)
  • Living in a stone house, an ordinary drill hammer can be a frustrating experience
  • In parget corners, it can be a good idea to have a metallic L-bar to protect the corners
  • It was a quick and rough job, into something which at that time was a rough cellar. Still, when looking back, I would have done it differently today, because I now know a lot more on wood working then I did then (countersinked screws, cutting the wood in same angle as upper stair).


Creating our own curtain rods

By some strange reason, some things are costly, while others are cheap, although there is very little difference in manufacturing and looks. For example, we have three windows in the living room and dining room together. We wanted double curtains at all these windows. That means 12 curtain rods, and 24 curtain rod endings. The price for these, bought as curtain rods, was about 200 Eur. Both the metallic curtain rods, as well as the rod endings where extremely high priced.

On the other hand, kitchen knobs that looks like the curtain rod endings, cost about 2 Eur. And wood rods cost almost nothing. So we ended up buying two long wood curtain rods, and 24 kitchen knobs to use as curtain rod endings and a can with silver pain spray.

This was done by:

  • Buying a can of pain spray
  • Buying two long rods of wood (to use to create own curtain rods)
  • Buying 24 kichen knobs (to use to create own curtain rod endings)
  • Cutting the wood rods to suitable length
  • Gluing kitchen knobs onto the rods
  • Spray painting the rods with endings in metallic silver

Basic learning:

  • You do not pay for what you get, you pay for what it is intended to be used for

Curtains at side of windowCurtain rods for window


Gluing loose pieces of fishbone parquetry flooring back onto the floor

Parquet Flooring After GluingWhen we moved in, we had a very beatiful large oak fish bone parquet in the living room and the dining room and the entrance hallway. But in some places there were a number of pieces of the fishbone parquetry floor where the tiles had loosened from the floor. We fixed this by gluing the oak fish bone tiles back in places under pressure. At a later time, we learned that it can be fixed in a proffessional way by an expert.

Building a wardrobe for the entrance

This was a project that was a number of levels more difficult than the previous ones. First of all, finding the solution to the wishes was not that easy. We wanted a wardrobe in the hallway inside the entrance, and our house has a fairly high ceiling (2.8 meters from the floor to the ceiling). We wanted sliding doors for the wardrobe,and we wanted them in oak and glass.

There was vendors (as always) that did have different suitable products, but none that fit the whole bill. We did find a number of doors we liked really much. They could be ordered in different widths as well as different heights. But they could not be ordered in heights that would be high enough for us to create a wardrobe that went from the floor to the roof. So what was needed was something between the wardrobe door and the roof. The vendor of the doors did not have anything suitable. After looking around, we found that a vendor of kitchen cabinets had a design that we liked. And we also found that their kitchen cabinets made to be placed on the floor was deep enough for being suitable for our wardrobe.

So by that, the final design parts were decided, sliding doors from one vendor, and floor placed kitchen cabinets from another vendor. By that, we could not buy all of it from one place, so it was either hiring a carpenter to do the job, or to do it ourselves. We opted for the do it yourself solution.

Left was only to find a way to fasten the kitchen cabinets close to the roof, order the wardrobe doors in a height and width that would fit below the kitchen cabinets, and order something to cover the side of the wardrobe (this could be provided by the vendor of the wardrobe doors).

I did a fairly detailed drawing of how all pieces were to be mounted. After measuring the walls, the floor, and the roof, it was clear that there was no square angle in any direction between any of these. So the best design would be to build a frame at the right side and the top, designed to even out the angles so that all pieces within the frame could fit to each other using square angles. Such a design did not meet favourably with my wife, who wanted a thin construction and nothing else. So we decided to do it without a frame, and instead using the angles that existed in the house, following the walls and the floor, but compensating a little towards the roof.

Our main phone line enters the house inside the wardrobe, thus the wardrobe was fitted with built in cable ducts at the top.

Drilling the holes through the roof for fastening the kitchen cabinet was a tough job. After a couple of hours, my by then 30 year old drill hammer gave up from overheating. This got me to buy my first quality tool: A DeWalt SDS rotary hammer. This has meant a huge difference when working in stone, which I have done a lot since then. Where a drill hammer takes 10 minutes to make a single hole (8 mm going 10 centimeters deep), the rotary hammer makes the job within 10 seconds.

This was done by:

  • Buying a set of doors, prefabricated to desired size
  • Buying a set of cut woods for the sides, precut to desired size
  • Buying a kitchen cabinet
  • Buying a number fo wooden rails to fasten the kitchen kabinet
  • Buying a number of metallic angle brackets for fastening the sides to the floor and to the kitchen cabinet
  • Buying a flexible cable duct
  • Cutting out a number of frames from the left over of the side woods to use at the roof and between doors and kitchen kabinet
  • Drilling into the walls where to fasten sides as well as kitchen cabinets
  • Placing the rightmost side wall onto the right wall, compensating slightly for the angles using wooden distances
  • Placing the kitchen cabinet supporting rail onto the wall
  • Placing the kitchen cabinet onto the supporting rail
  • Fastening the kitchen cabinet onto the roof using wooden distance rails as well as metallic angle brackets
  • Fastening the cable duct on top of the kitchen cabinet and going down through the kitchen cabinet in innermost corner
  • Fastening the sliding doors below the kitchen cabinet
  • Fastening the outer side wall onto kitchen kabinet and floor

Basic learning:

  • If there are angles in the house that are not square, find a way to compensate for them before starting to build. If not, it will never come out good looking
  • The difference between a hammer drill and a rotary hammer is huge
  • The time spent on compensating for angles and adjusting wood through an orbital sander is huge
  • When you are working inside the house in the entrance, your wife will start climbing the walls after only a few days, make the work fast
  • When buying wood, the difference in coloring and look from two pieces of wood will be huge and visible, decide where to place the cutting line based on esthetics

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Hall Wardrobe From SideHall Wardrobe From Front

Drawing a dining room table

The hunt for a dining room table went on for a while. Our desire was to have something that was big enough for 12 guests, and made of wood. The dining room, lying a couple of stairs above the living room, was already equipped with a nice oak floor, just as the living room. We believed that an oak table on top of that would not work well, it would create a too hard impression, specially with a table big enough for 12 people.

As usual, there was a lot of vendors selling a lot of different tables, but they were either too thin, too thick, or too small. So in the end, we decided to combine the best impressions we had gotten when looking around, and to make our own dining room table. Or rather to design our own dining room table, we did not feel we had enough knowledge to build it.

So I did a very detailed drawing, and then we went to a carpenter with the drawings. The focus was being able to house three chairs, with ample space for sitting and eating, fitting well between the table legs, and an additional 4 chairs fitting well enough outside the table legs, and wide enough to be able to place additional guests at the short sides of the table when needed.

This was done by:

  • Making a drawing
  • Selecting a wood
  • Buying a custom made table built according to the drawing

Basic learning:

  • None? It was a success

Wooden dining Table

Replacing three radiators and the heat control system

This is a different part of home improvement compared to many others. This is not much about woodworking, this is about VVS and about electronics, and already described in the part dealing with reduced heating costs. I mention them here anyway, since they were significant projects and important steps on our road to do it yourself. They did anyway give some experience that we have benefitted from also in other more normal home improvement projects.

One was that the old radiators were fastened to the walls with very large screws (not bolts, screws) and it took considerable force to unscrew those screws. My not too old cordless screwdriver (only 10 year old at the time) did not have the force to handle so long screws. My impact driver did, but it would take forever. So at this point we bought our second quality tool: A Bosch proffesional cordless drill, the GSR 14.4 VE-2 Professional. This like the DeWalt rotary hammer has since turned out to be an oft used work horse, being of more use than original thought when we bought it. We did try another cordless in between (AEG). It was very powerful, but did not have the smooth starting and quick stop that Bosch has. With the power used for those screws, that is an essential difference. when a screw stucks, you risk injuring yourself if the tool does not stop quickly, and if the torque can not be applied successively, then the sudden start jerk will risk causing damage as well.

Another thing we struggled with was getting the new screws to fasten in the leightweight concrete. We used plastic plugs for the screws (which were like the original 12 cm by 7 mm). But sometimes the palstic plug would start turning inside the whole, and sometimes the screw would twist the plus into pieces. To remedy that, we used anchorfix on the plug itself. In the end, we moved towards using studs instead, fastening them in the wall with anchorfix.

Basic learning:

  • Even when looking at very good tools, there can still be a huge difference in what the tools offer compared to what you need. If you can afford it and are likely to use it again, consider the expensive option.
  • When fastening into lightweight concrete, anchorfix is a need and a salvation
  • When needing high strength in leight weight concrete, machine screws(a long bolt with thread but without head) is better than very long screws with plugs



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