DIY, Home Cinema

Sometimes you need to go back a bit…

Although I was pleased with my first attempt at veneering, the final finish was too dark.

I’d put an oak tint onto the veneer, which was fine. But then I used another product by the same manufacturer which was an ‘oak-coloured’ wax. But it left the finish far too dark.

So I sanded it down with some steel wool (coarse at first, then 0000), and removed it.

Then I added a few coats of clear wax, buffing in-between, and using 0000 steel wool before the final (for now) buff. I’ll probably coat it again in a few days or a week or so.

I’m much happier with it now.

And yesterday, I bought my first router (woodworking router, not wifi!) and various ‘bits’ and bobs. I’m going to enjoy this new hobby – I’ve got quite a few projects in mind.

Here’s a few photos of the old (darker) finish and the new finish. I’ve also updated the gallery on my last post to show it too.

DIY, Home Cinema

An adventure into veneering (and why I ‘hate’ sub-woofers)

I’ll just come out and say it. I hate sub-woofers.

Well, ok maybe that’s a bit strong. I hate global poverty, inequality and corruption.

But let’s put it this way, I’ve never been ‘in’ to them. They make loud bass. And?

My home cinema system is 5.1 (I did have 7.1 in a previous house with a bigger living room but to be honest I don’t miss the rear pair at all). I love films, but really I’m more into hi-fi than home cinema.

So, I do have a sub-woofer, I just don’t care much for it or them in general.

Maybe it’s a catch-22 situation. Because I don’t care for them, I’ve never bought a good one. So because I’ve only had cheap ones, I don’t ‘get them’? Maybe it’s because I have decent front speakers?

I’ve had my sub for years. It’s a Gale Storm 10 – ie, a cheap ugly big black box.

The ONLY reason I’d buy a better sub is for aesthetics (total opposite of hi-fi where I’d put up with ugly speakers if they sounded better).

Some subs are lovely – well, as lovely as a big box can be. But they tend to cost a fair bit and I just can’t bring myself to spend that sort of money on a bass speaker.

I’ve got lots of goodies in transit from the UK at the moment, due next week, including my Thorens TD-150 MKII turntable (and the rest of my hi-fi equipment and best speakers, so I can finally stop the torture of having to use my home cinema system for music… #firstworldproblem).

It’s a beautiful turntable but I really want to make a new plinth (case) for it. I’ve been wanting to do it for a couple of years. For stability it would be veneered plywood.

My woodworking skills are basic but I’m trying to learn. There is a carpenter literally up the road, so I might just get him to do it for me from my plans, but maybe I’ll try first.

Anyway, yesterday I had an idea. Why not veneer my sub? It would be good practice for the turntable project and (hopefully) I end up with a better looking sub.

So I bought a roll of oak veneer (30 euro), some oak tint and some wax. The veneer is glue-backed and ‘just’ needs to be ironed on.

Last night I stripped the black coating off the sub (using an iron to soften it, a blade to get started and then basically pulled it off in strips).

And today I’ve spent the day in the garage learning lots of things I didn’t know this morning.

The results? Not perfect but I’m pretty pleased. If you look closely there are some small problems with it. And I ended up using the worst piece of veneer on the front (doh). But I think it looks 10 times better than the black sub I had yesterday and it’s taught me some lessons that can help me decide whether to try the turntable plinth myself or not – and give me a better chance of doing a decent job with it if I do.

What do you think of the transformation?

Oh, and now I just need to find the power supply for it… (Seriously).

UPDATE 19th April 2015: I’ve stripped the dark colour back and refinished it, it looks much better now I think.



How I helped save the environment – sort of.

At heart I’m an environmentalist. Well, in theory at least.

My car for the last few years has an appallingly low MPG – especially when I follow the ‘drive it like you stole it’ method, which is often – but I’ll be replacing it soon. I’ll do my best to get something less damaging next time. To be honest, it’d be hard to get anything worse…

And I fly back and forth between the UK and Spain a lot.

Which is why I said I’m an environmentalist in theory at least. I know we all need to do what we can to help the planet and I could do better.

When I moved house recently my ex-wife and I agreed she could have our leather sofas. She has a rental villa and has been using the landlord’s sofas since she moved in. She has our dogs and she’d prefer them to ruin our sofas rather than someone else’s so I was happy to let her take them.

In fact, I was looking forward to getting a new comfy fabric sofa – something I’ve not had for years because of the dogs.

But then I was browsing the local buy/sell/swap forums on Facebook and noticed a pair of leather sofas that looked very similar to ours. And then I noticed it was a friend who was selling them!

I asked her to let me have first refusal, which she did. They weren’t in great condition (as she readily admitted) but they were solid and comfortable. Clearly very well made sofas.

I’m in a DIY mood at the moment so I decided to take them with the aim to restore them.

She was advertising them for only 80 euros but she refused to take any money, saying she was going to give them to any friend who wanted them anyway.

As it turned out I knew she wanted a pair of bedside cabinets to do up, and I saw some in a shop so I sent her a picture to see if she liked them. She did, so I got bought them and gave them to her. They were less than the cost of the sofas but I took her for a pizza too so all-in-all it was a good swap and I felt better than taking them for free.

So I repaired a couple of tears (the worst is in the photos – that was after I opened it up to repair it, it wasn’t that bad when she had it), sanded down some pet scratches on the arms, removed the old protection/dye with alcohol, re-dyed them and then protected the leather.

Getting hold of the dye around here was pretty hard, but eventually I tracked some down (and don’t ask about the environmental impact of the dye please – it stank, so it can’t be good, but I’m trying to justify something here and facts might get in the way…)

And of course I made a total mess of my hands. I spent hours scrubbing the dye off using everything I could think of (including swarfega, pure alcohol, and nail varnish remover). I had to go to a funeral this week with some of the dye still on my hands…

It took a few days (not whole days, just a few hours here and there) to do them, and they’re still not perfect but they look a lot better and as I said, they’re decent and comfortable sofas.

They’re a bit darker than I’d prefer, but it was hard enough getting dye here in the first place and the choice was this or black.

So, yes, I could have bought a new sofa (with the benefits to the economy and employment that would bring) but instead I restored a decent sofa and hopefully helped the environment a little. And I bought enough dye, leather cream, alcohol, and a spray-gun (which I’ll use again for other jobs) so it’s not as if the economy has been totally short-changed.

I’ve also recently repaired my outdoor sofa (the winter rain over the last few years had caused the base to rot so I had to replace a fair bit) and I’m near the end of a make-over of a cheap second-hand pine bedroom cabinet I bought for 50 euros, using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint which is low VOC and ‘environmentally friendly’. I’ll post pics of that when it’s finished.


Does all this mean I can I carry on driving my 4.5L V8?…

Oh ok… it was worth a try.