Mats Bengtsson Home Improvement and Do It Yourself

Jobs during first spring after moving in

Mats Bengtsson mib over the years


The next set of jobs were done during first spring after having moved in

With the spring came the possibility to do work outside. This meant work on a lot of different things outside the house, plus in the garden.

Converting frontside of the garden from a root system to a garden

The trees we took down, had been huge. They had been standing there a long time, so they has spent a long time building a huge root system. There was no way of making things grow well in the front side of the garden without removing that root system. Also, partly due to the root system, the garden was more leaning towards the house than leaning towards the pavement, so att he same time, we reduced the height of the front garden with about 10 centimeters (which amounts to a lot of cubic meters soil). We also created a separate frame for the flowerbeds close to the house, separated from the house wall with a string of stones.

We decided to keep both tree stumps left in the ground, using them in the garden as decoration basis.

This was done by:

  • Buying an axe (for the huge roots)
  • Buying a spade with really stable shaft (we broke the old one)
  • Buying a couple of cubic meters sand
  • Buying some good soil
  • Buying a lot of path way stones
  • Digging up lots of soil
  • Chopping to pieces a lot of roots
  • Transporting a lot of soil and roots to the city dump
  • Renting a lorry to remove the last cubic meters of soil
  • Levelling the garden to give it a suitable fall towards the pavement
  • Placing the sand where the path ways where to be built
  • Laying the path way stones

Basic learning:

  • Trees with wide roots do not belong close to houses
  • The underground root system of a fir consists of a lot of roots that are as thick as are normal trees
  • There is no good cheap to buy electrical tools that works well on roots in the ground, although maybe a chain saw could be used.

Front Garden Removal Of Roots

Restoration of the porch door

This is also mentioned as part of the isolation work we did on the house. With this project we took the level of what we were doing up one more notch. The door was in a really bad shape. It was not square, it did not close as it should, all the boards that made up the door could be seen since they were starting to come apart from each other, ...

For this project we decided to buy two very long bar clamps that were long enough to be able to grip the whole with of the door, and constructed so that it was easier to see if the objects they pressed together were square or not.

We were lucky with the wood, although the door was in a bad shape, the tree was still good in all places after sanding it, so we did not need to replace any wood, only to improve the strength.

This was done by:

  • Buying two long bar clamps to fix the door with
  • Removing the door from its hinges
  • Sawing a clipboard into a size about the door framework plus 20 centimeters in all directions
  • Fastening handles for ratchet straps using carriage bolts
  • Placing a chipboard in place where the door had been and fastening it with a rail and some ratchet straps (to prevent burglars from entering during the time there is no door)
  • Unscrewing all metal handles, hinges and other parts from the door
  • Taking all door parts apart
  • Sanding all wood until pure tree
  • Impregnate all wood parts
  • Prime all wood parts
  • Fill all holes and cracks with a wood filler
  • Sand all parts until a good surface
  • Put all parts of the door together
  • Place the door in fixture
  • Drill holes in the door where the old wood bindings between parts were not good enough
  • Insert tree plugs in all drilled holes and glue all parts together while fixtured
  • Paint the door
  • Sand the door
  • Paint the door
  • Replace the chipboard with the finished door

Basic learning

  • It is easy to replace a window or door temporarily with a wooden board, a rail and some ratchet straps
  • If the wood is good, the damage might be a lot less than it looks like before you get down to clean wood
  • What really takes a long time is waiting for the paint to dry before it can be sanded
  • It is hard to get a really good finish on a large old painted surface (still trying)

Adding a hatch to the attic

There was already a very small and narrow hatch to the attic when we moved in. It was narrow, not more than shoulder width, and to access it you had to bring forth a ladder to climb up. This made usage of the attic quite hard, getting there was hard, getting something up ord down from the attic was even harder, unless it was a very small box.

I had once before opened a way to a roof (in a previous house). In that one, I had to guess where the beams where and then start sawing based on my guess. In this case, using the narrow hatch, I could get up and measure where the roof beams where, so already when starting sawing, I had a fair chance not to cut a supporting beam in two. This made the job quite easy.

To get through the ceiling, we decided to buy a Jigsaw. First we tried a really cheap one (20 Euro), but that was too bad. so we bought one fairly good one from Bosch (Bosch PST 850 PE in the green series, not the blue series). It did its job, but looking back, I still try to avoid the Jigsaw since it is very inprecise, the blad tends to bend, and it is hard to get the saw to follow a line (even if the saw is following a straight line itself, it does not saw in a straight line). This is the tool I have bought where the need to use it is fairly frequent, but where I have bought a tool that has too low precision compared to the normal need.

Hatch To Attic

This was done by:

  • Measuring where the supporting roof beams where
  • Deciding a suitable place to place the hatch
  • Buying a hatch with built in ladder of chosen size
  • Buying a number of thick support beams for the hatch
  • Buying wood to create a batten around the door fram
  • Buying a number of angle brackets for fastening the support beams to the roof beams, and for fastening the hatch to the support beams
  • Sawing through the ceiling where the hatch was desired
  • Installing a number of support beams on the attic for fastening the new hatch
  • Building a home made support beam for holdign the bought hatch in place while fastening it to its place in the roof
  • Lifting up the bought hatch into the made hole and placing the home built support beams under it to keep it in place
  • Securing the hatch to the roof beams and the premanent support beams
  • Cutting the pieces needed to nail a batten around the hatch in the ceiling
  • Making a 45 degree in the backside batten to allow for the opening of the hatch
  • Making space in the backside betten to allow for the hinges
  • Nailing the batten in place in the ceiling

Basic learning:

  • Jigsaws are inprecise, but valuable, invest in a really really good Jigsaw to try to get it as reliable as possible (I did not but it feels like something high up on the wish list)
  • Do not forget the possible benefit from building holders or templates besides the object you are really building.
  • Old wooden ceilings are not dense enough to keep battens in place using only nails


Taring down the inner parts of the sauna

The house was equipped with a sauna, which according to rumors had only been used now and then. We had no real wish to use a sauna frequently, so the decision was to tare it down. Taring down something, in an area where you do not have to be too careful, is a very uplifting experience. I started on the job when my wife had a womens only party, and almost had the time to finish it the same day.

Most of the work was done with a crow bar, and the rest of the work was done more with a hammer than with a saw (violence in controlled portions helps a lot more than structural analysis when taring something down). Seeing the inside of the sauna, after having removed the panels, was a sickening sight. There was a lot of mould (the result of not having used the sauna more than now and then). There was also a vesp nest.

This project only had one drawback as I can remember it: there was no need to buy any new tool... But ok, we bought a couple of dust masks...

This was done by:

  • Taring apart all panels with a crow bar
  • Pulling out all isolation by hand
  • Removing all nails with crow bar or hammer
  • Breaking all panels to make them fit in the grabage sacks
  • Driving to the garbage dump with all the garbage

Basic learning:

  • An infrequently used sauna is a home for mould and germs
  • Taring down things creates more dust than easily understandable, not only protection gear is needed, but good clothing as well.

Repainting an old mirror

We had an old mirror from IKEA which we believed was made out of glazed pine wood. So the plan was simple, we should just grind it, and then paint it so lightly that the wood grains would still show.

After grinding it, we had to change plans, because the pine wood was only a very thin venere on top of particlewood. So it was not possible to grind it enough to make the old scratches disappear without grinding down into the particleboard. Wer thus had to change the plan and make it painted with thicker paint.

Mirror frame painted after grinding

This was done by:

  • Grinding the mirror frame on all sides
  • Painting the mirror frame on all sides

Basic learning:

  • Even though pine wood is a cheap material, there exist solutions where particleboard is used for the main part of the wood frame in order to save usage of pine wood
  • It is very hard to grind a thin wood venere without passing into the bottom layer.

Planting a Herb Garden

It is nice to use real fresh herbs in the cooking. A herb garden is a good complement for doing this, since many herbs can be easily grown in the garden. Thus we created a herb garden in a corner of the back garden.

This was done by:

Herb Garden built with concrete blocks
  • Digging deep down in the soil in order to get space enough for good soil
  • Buying good soil for the plants
  • Placing concete blocks otherwise normally used for paving to form the outer edge of the herb garden.
  • Placing concrete blocks inside the garden in a pattern mixing open soil for plants and concrete blocks to stand on
  • Filling good soil in the hole
  • Planting the herbs

Basic learnings:

  • A Herb garden is easy to build, and herbs are many times easy to grow



Never trade stocks without having tested your system. In fact, most trading systems are not profitable if tested over many stocks. Full story...

Do not invest in heating equipment without having compared the alternatives, not only to current situation, but also to each other. Full story...

About me Mats Bengtsson | Mats Bengtsson Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact me | | | ©2003 Mats Bengtsson