Tag Archives: ecohouse

Hallway Storage

Over the last couple of months, Jeremy Balint, one of our talented local woodworkers, has been building the storage in the entrance hallway. It’s been an empty space since the house was completed, so it’s great to finally get this done.

The storage, for coats, hats, shoes and other outdoor gear, is constructed in a similar way to which Jeremy made our bookshelves – basically, a series of birch-ply boxes and shelving units which he made in his workshop and then connected together and fastened to the walls onsite. The whole thing was then faced in fir and we put on a fir sliding door in a modern barn style. It’s designed so that one half of the main hanging space is always open, and there’s an inside light so you can see what you’re doing. It also incorporates a relatively enclosed space for the cat’s litter tray roughly where it’s always been so the cat doesn’t get too confused!

After the whole structure was put together, I finished all the fir with Tried and True Varnish Oil, which is a mixture of linseed oil and a pine resin-based varnish. It has to be rubbed in carefully but it produces a really satisfyingly deep and rich sheen. At the same time, I lightly sanded and finished the cherry top on our bookshelves and the fir handrail on the stairs, both of which had been left unfinished until now.




Carpenter Bees

A Carpenter Bee Burrowing

One thing I really hadn’t anticipated would be a problem for us was Carpenter Bees. These large bumblebee-like creatures have a liking for old softwood trees or untreated softwood lumber, in which they burrow, making 1/2cm diameter holes often more than 1m long. They then lay their eggs in them, leaving enough pollen to feed the larvae that will eventually emerge. Our entire place is built out of softwood, however most of it is either CLT, which they don’t go for, or safely treated or under layers of other stuff. However, for some reason, Carpenter bees don’t seem to care about the Sansin natural finish we’ve used everywhere on the external timbers, and in particular, the long non-CLT beam that holds up our porch has attracted their attention. There are all kinds of folk remedies out there, including citrus oils, but none of these seem to bother them that much. They are pretty easy to kill individually but I don’t like to do this as, like all bees, they are getting less common and we need them for pollination. So it seems like the only solution is to have the exposed woodwork sprayed with an insecticide, as recommended here.



Finishing the bookshelves

We’ve been away visiting family in Japan. Before we left, there was one final thing to do to finish the bookshelves, which was to find and install a nice cherry top for the cabinets. Jeremy Balint, one of great local carpenters, just completed the job. The cherry is still quite pale, but we’re going to use an oil and resin finish and it will darken and deepen significantly over time…

If anyone’s interested in the furniture that’s partly visible in the final two pictures, you’re in luck because we’ll be putting up a post about furniture very soon!