I’ve been talking about a Pottery Store cupboard I made over the summer.
This store is to house the tools of the trade of resident artist, MakeWalkRead. In Part 1 I covered the basic design and measurements. In Part 2 I constructed the frame and shelves and then clad the sides and roof with featherboard. Now I need to cover the front and back.
The back of the cupboard was to be a hardboard panel. That’s a large area to cover, and given lockdown I found it a struggle to get hold of hardboard panels of any great size. So, my first step became to fit a strip of wood into the frame that ran up the middle of the back. I could then fit the panel as two smaller pieces of hardboard that joined up along this strip. Lots of sawing and hammering later, and the back was in place ready for waterproofing.
I measured the back pieces so that they extended slightly beyond the width of the frame. This was to cover up most of the ends of the featherboards I had used on the sides. The featherboard left an uneven edge and series of gaps (as in the picture below), which I thought should be covered up a little to better weatherproof the unit. It didn’t look right to have the back boards covering the whole of the featherboard edge, so I opted for a partial solution, covering up the thin ends of the featherboard and the gaps between the boards and the frame, letting the thicker edges stick out a little.
At this point, we had a little rain. This was a nuisance, but it revealed something in the design that I would have to rectify if the cupboard is to stay outside for some time. I found that rain could get in between the boards of the roof. I had checked carefully to make sure the boards all sloped downwards and away from the middle, and I thought I had overlapped them to give a continuous cover. Still, some water could find its way in between the boards and drip down into the cupboard.
My fix was to remember that earlier in the summer I had repaired the Shed Roof with new roofing felt, and of course, had some felt left over. I removed the roof boards, cut a strip to fit, then replaced the boards over the top of the felt, sandwiching it between the boards and the frame. Now, any water that made its way under the roof boards would be stopped by the felt and would drain down to the outsides of the cupboard.
Now for the doors.
I had decided these would be made as wooden frames covered with hardboard panels. I had two long pieces of the blue wood (5x2cm) remaining. These would be good for the outside edges of the doors, and would be robust to accommodate the hinges. I then found several long strips of wood with 2cm square sections. These would complete the rest of the frames to the same thickness as the blue pieces, but would be lighter and so keep the overall door weight down. I quickly had the basic frames worked out.
I made sure the doors would fit the opening correctly. I allowed small gaps down each edge to let the doors fit snuggly but with room for the hinges, and allowed a similar gap between the doors so that they could open and close easily. I was working at the height of summer, and realised that the doors would be likely to expand in colder, wetter weather. The cupboard as a whole would expand too, of course, but I had learned from my shed (which I had got as a kit) that well-fitted wooden doors can still jam together when turns damp.
At this point I added reinforcements at key points to hold bolts and padlocks for security. For strength and rigidity I also decided to add wood strips across the diagonals of the doors. These would transfer the door’s weight down to the hinges and prevent the door from sagging or twisting (The panels I would add to the doors could also help prevent sagging, but these would only be secured in place with galvanised panel pins. I didn’t want to rely on the pins to be the only things carrying the weight of a door.)
I used a couple of hardboard panels to cover the fronts of the doors, and as luck would have it (I would like to say it was careful measurement but really it was luck) the offcuts from the door panels and back panels were just big enough to cover the insides of the doors too.
Anyway, the doors were basically finished, and after a few coats of waterproofing, they could be hung in the cupboard.
Before hanging the doors, I added one further cupboard detail. When working on the back, I had cut the panels to overlap the featherboard sides. I wanted to do something similar to cover the featherboard edges at the front too. I found some wood strips 3cm wide and about half cm thick which did the trick, hiding the frame and smartening up the look of the cupboard.
Now for those hinges. I’ve not had great success with hinges (see the Cold Frame for example) but I persist. After marking up locations on the doors and frames, I chiselled out recesses for the hinges to sit in. These needed to be as deep as the thickness of the hinge metal, and they need to line up… For the first door, this was all quite straight forward,
and that first door fitted quite nicely.
However, things were not quite so simple on the second door. After screwing in the hinge loosely and checking its alignment, I began to tighten it all up. But then there was a loud crack, and the screwdriver started to turn far too easily. I had managed to sheer off the head of a screw. What a pain!
Half the screw was stuck in the door frame. I could no longer fit the hinge properly. What to do?
Extracting the broken screw thread wasn’t going to be straight forward. I couldn’t unscrew it as it had no head. I initially attempted to cut a groove in its top that I could then use with a screwdriver. However, I couldn’t find anything that could dig into the metal of the screw without damaging the wood as well. I had to devise a more complex solution.
It was time to get the drill out. I chose a small drill bit, and carefully drilled a ring of holes around the broken screw. I could then chisel out some of the wood around the screw thread to gain access.
With a pair of needle-nosed pliers I was able to extract the broken head.
I now had a rough hole in the wood that needed filling. I found a piece of dowel that could fill the hole, and used a large drill-bit to clear out the hole to the dowel’s diameter.
I then glued the dowel into the hole…
… cut off the excess wood, and chiselled and sanded the stub to be flat with the rest of the frame.
Now I could get back to fitting the hinges.
And on to the next problem.
This time the screws went in ok, and the door worked just fine… Except, when closed, it was about 5mm higher than the other door. I checked the cupboard to ensure it had not twisted but it was still good and square. My alignment attempts had just not been good enough. So, off it came. I plugged the misaligned screw holes with matches, re-chiselled the recess and refitted the to let the door sit 5mm lower…
and now that door was about 5mm below the other! Off it came again, cupboard was checked for squareness again, screw holes patched up again, new holes marked, and third time lucky the doors lined up. I like to think the additional hinge recess work doesn’t show that much…
Now I’m on the home straight. I was at last able to fit all the shelves. I’d kept them out until this point to give me space to fit the hinges.
I took another strip of the 3×0.5 cm wood and attached to the edge of one door so that it covered the gap between the two. This helped seal up the cupboard from the rain and gave a nice tidy finish.
Then came a latch for a padlock. This screwed into the reinforcements I had put into the doors’ frames during their construction.
Lastly came a toggle at the top to hold the doors closed. I had originally planned a sliding bolt here, but this toggle seemed simpler and neater. I attached it to a strip of wood I’d fixed across the top of the doors that also served to close up a final gap and keep the rain out.
And with that, I had made an outdoor cupboard!
It did not take long to fill – there’s no room for the cat.
And so far this winter it has kept everything inside nice and dry.