Garden Woodworking

Shed Fettling

Most of the woodworking that goes on in the garden involves fettling and fixing things that have deteriorated.

I do have a nice big garden creation to write about, and will do that next post. Before I get there though, I will tell this story as a preamble.

In 2006, I tried to move an old shed from outside the kitchen to a new place at the bottom of the garden. I had dug out a sloping area to make a flat surface in amongst some trees, laid a concrete and paving slab foundation and built a wall across the back to hold the remaining slope in place.

Unfortunately, the shed itself never made it. There were too many rotten bits for it to hold together and survive being dismantled and remade, and at that time I didn’t have the skills to repair it. So, I bought a new shed and assembled it in place. I did however have the foresight to hang on to the best bits of the old shed. I might be able to make something out of it later…

Anyway, that was 14 years ago. Now that new shed needs a bit of TLC. In particular, it needs a new roof. The felt has very much gone.

You can see daylight through a hole caused by a loose board that has got damp and expanded.

And the decorative strips that hold the felt in place at the ends of the shed have split and started to disintegrate.

It looks as if I have insects in there too. Will probably need to do something about that.

So, a few days before lockdown begins, I find myself in a queue outside the local DIY Superstore to buy a roll of felt and some bitumen.

I shall start by stripping off the old felt, levering out all the old tacks (most of which I reckon I can re-use) and checking, cleaning, and treating the wood underneath. A little bit of fettling will resolve the board that has lifted, and soon I’m ready to start putting the felt down.

Each side of the shed roof is slightly wider than the width of the felt. So it’ll take three runs of felt to cover properly. The roll is 10 metres long and the roof about 3 metres long, so that will fit fine. I put the lower pieces on first so that the top piece will overlap to best keep the rain out. I also left a little overhang around the sides and the ends. These will be covered by the edge strips and will help to channel rainwater away to the water butt.

With the first pieces in place, I can measure up for the middle piece. For this I want the bitumen to cover the overlap fully, so I begin by making a template from a thin strip of felt that will let me mark up where to paint.

I also had to think a little about the gap between the two halves of the roof. The roof construction was such that there was about 1cm between the two sides, This gap was covered by the felt but it meant that there was no direct support under the line along which the felt had to be creased. This seemed like a weakness to me. So this time around I found some sections of bamboo cane to lay in the gap to provide a more gentle and supported curve for the felt.

Back to the bitumen, it’s really sticky stuff! It’s also more or less solid at room temperature, so if you want to paint it on, you have to heat it up first. So there I was at the end of the garden, with a tin of the stuff floating in a bucket that I steadily filled with boiling water from the kettle. It took a while, but eventually I got the stuff moving.

I had to call upon some help to lift the top piece of felt in place. It would stick fast as soon as it was put down, so we only had one shot to line it all up. MakeWalkRead was kindly volunteered to come and help me struggle with this piece. We managed it just about, and it went down perfectly.

Now to deal with those rotten end pieces. I found two old bits of pallet wood that would be just the right size I thought, and marked them up ready for sawing up.

It was a close-run thing. The damaged edges of the pallet wood could just about be avoided, and a dose of wood preserve and wood stain would get them to match and be ready for a few more years outside.

Out with the jigsaw, and I soon had the pieces ready.

I even had some spare to replace the decorative pieces at the tops of the gables.

So, after some nailing and screwing, and trimming off the excess felt, I got the shed roof looking fit for another few years.

Next post, I can talk about what I did with the old shed. Watch this space!

By nickcnickcnickc

I spend my working life staring at computer screens, so in my spare time I look for things to do with my hands, preferably involving wood. It's a little ironic then that I've now starting writing a blog about my woodworking, and thus introducing computer screens to my main hobby..!

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