A life in B&Q
My life is spent in B&Q buying bits for a secure door I’m building for the oil tank room.
Having suffered from pesky thieves I sought a solution and had a new bunded (there’s a new word for some people, it’s a tank with two skins, you’re legally obliged in the UK to only get a bunded tank nowadays as it serves as double protection from getting oil into the water table) metal tank custom built and installed into one of my outbuildings. This serves the purpose of hiding the tank, making it legal and securing it in a brick building – my other tank was unbunded by such concerns. Trouble is that the door is far from secure and so I planned a new door that I’d build for tuppence and install in a jiffy. Well it didn’t turn out so simple. The door needed to be lined with fireproof material as was the roof of the store, the engineer who fitted it put up fireproof plasterboard and did a sterling job of fitting it. I planned to get around this by killing two birds with one stone, I planned a metal liner that not only would line the contents in a fireproof manner but would also create another layer of security for a plank based door design.
So straight out it was £29 for a large sheet of 0.9 mm galvanised steel and a rather nervous drive home with it in the back of my car. The reason for the nerves were twofold, the steel was too large for the car so it was rolled up and secured with a paper ribbon and secondly the rather hilly ride back from Barnard Castle. Every hill and the steel would utter a very loud WHOOOOOM and I’d hold my breath to see what would happen. Another hill very gingerly tackled and a louder WHOOOOOOOOOOOOM and this went on for some miles until I was crawling along and then suddenly WHOOOOOM-POING it sprung open in the back of the car. I’d joked with the salesman that this rolling and securing could produce a “Final Destination” moment, but luckily my head remained secured to my neck as it unleashed its fury on my door handles and roof. Not pretty but I preferred it that way as I remained unscarred.
The last weekend, which was a three day weekend being a bank-holiday was largely occupied fabricating the door. I’d spent many trips to B&Q planning this and I had most of the bits that I needed, I dread calculating what it all costs but I reckon it’s on its way to £150, I dread to think that it could be more. The parts included paint, wood preserver (as the Cuprinol paint I’d purchased – that I don’t like – doesn’t contain wood preserver despite being a Cuprinol product, how was I to know they just did paint) long cup and square bolts, longer cup and square bolts, big screws, little screws, hinges (a variety of hinges were purchased), Hammerite paint, nails that I didn’t use, washers that I had to drill out the centre to make bigger holes, a mortise lock, timber for the door (I had to buy more when I discovered a contractor had been using some of it to make a shelf) and more timber to replace the rotten doorframe. Despite thinking that the project would be over now I still found myself in B&Q today to purchase a handle, a Benton bolt, a countersink and even some more but longer cup and square bolts. I still have to decide on paint.
The assembly took ages, first I discovered the lack of wood preserving quality of the paint and had to purchase wood preserver. I then had to retro-paint the wood with the preserver, luckily I had only painted the inner side of the door, this was going to be lined with the tin so it wasn’t too much of a problem. Despite this I still gave the inner door a lick of preserver and hoped it would seep through the non-protective surface of the rubbish paint. The wood preserver said it took five days to dry, well stuff that, once tacky it got another coat and it seemed to be dry in the morning, so that was close enough for rock and roll. It may sound that the door turned out a shoddy affair but really I’m a bit anal when it comes down to these things and the door was very over-engineered. The fitting of the metal involved my first experience with an angle-grinder and this though scary was done quite accurately. The actual build of the door involved lots of bolts – so as the pesky robbers couldn’t dismantle the door – and this in turn involved lots of assembling, dis-assembling and re-assembling, it took ages to get it right. Each process was met with a lick of wood preserver and a cup of tea to let it dry for five minutes, five days, pah. I did two eight hours shifts and finished up hanging the door in the dark at ten in the evening. The door had already had a practice hang when it was less weighty and unburdened with the steel liner, I was confident it would work but the practicalities of now having the door frame attached to the door by hinges, the extra weight of the steel and the fact it was dark – still it worked first time and it looks and fits great.
Still a couple of problems though, there’s no lock on it yet – defeats the object somewhat – and it still needs a lick of paint on the outside, though I am enjoying the rather nice plain wood finish it currently sports. I’d keep it that way if there wasn’t already some paint that had seeped around the corners from when I was painting the back side. Still a couple of firsts here, my first successful door hang that worked, my first use of an angle grinder and my first use of a circular saw that I used to split the timber I’d bought for the door frame. I knew it was too wide but it was the only wood that my daughter and I could find on the B&Q shelves that was deep enough. It was also my daughters first use of a tape rule, she spent ages in B&Q measuring lots of things “in units” we even found out how many units wide the wood preserver can was. What a weekend and still lots to do on the door to finish it off, I just hope that the oil-rustlers don’t get wind of my secure door lacking security devices. The rest of the weekend was spent doing plumbing, again involving multiple trips to B&Q.
I discovered that the ¾ inch tap extenders I’d bought had to be replaced for ½ inch ones and the 40mm waste pipe kits and pipe had to be exchanged for 32mm ones. Not good. The Saturday morning involved me working on getting the old sink temporarily re-plumbed in, which provoked a trip to Barnard Castle to get new olives when my first attempt didn’t work out too well. This trip provoked other spending I could ill afford too, I do need more self-discipline. It also involved making a T drain to plumb in my new dishwasher as the drain currently provided was already occupied by my washer waste pipe. This went really well, well it went really well after I replaced the 40mm parts with 32mm ones, but touching wood I would say I made a much better job than the single one that was already in place. I did have a bit of time to try to work out what I’d been spending over the past month or so but I had to put down the receipts and get on with some (wo)man work when I realised I was spending too much valuable time faffing around with the computer. I did have a bit of a day off looking after my lovely daughter at my folks but this even involved a visit to B&Q and four hours work when I got back to lacquer up the door some more. A valuable bunch of lessons this weekend though:
- Power tools are good, just learn how to use them and be very wary or they might just bite you. The circular saw really is a dangerous beastie and make sure to wear goggles while using the angle grinder as it does love to make fireworks
- Never underestimate the cost of a job and when you’ve estimated how much it’ll cost double that too
- Get someone in who knows what they’re doing, it might just work out cheaper
- Measure pipes before purchasing bits and also find someone who sells callipers so you can accurately measure them
- Never underestimate the cost of a job… again
- Read the coverage details on the paint can, does it contain preservative for example
- Read the directions on the paint can – try not to ignore them, well not too much
- Don’t drive fast with rolled up steel in the back of a car (hang on I got the steel weeks ago)
- Don’t try to watch a movie with a bottle of wine after doing a straight dozen hours of work and expect to see the end of the movie and don’t expect to wake up early feeling great for another day of work if you try post-midnight wine guzzling and movie watching
- Buy paint samples, it might look good in the brochure, it might look good painting it indoors, but in situ it might not look so great.
- Don’t advertise online that you don’t have a lock… yet, on your oil store
- Keep a set of useful spares e.g. olives… plumbers’ olives that is.
- Put bigger tarps on the floor to protect your lovely floorboards from dripping wood preserver and paint
- Black and Decker Workbenches rule, I have two and I don’t know what I would have done without them
- Measure and measure again and you too – my son – will have a door that hangs first time
- Angle grinders are easier to direct when following a line made by electricians’ tape, the pen line I initially used was impossible to follow once the sparks started flying.
- Angle grinder discs get smaller when you’re using them, they end up titchy, I was quite surprised when I’d finished cutting a couple of metres of galvanised steel to find my disc had shrunk to a quarter of its initial size. Well fancy that.
- A nice shabby radio that you don’t mind knocking around or covering with paint helps the hours go by
- Wear overalls when painting or be prepared to throw clothes away
- Put things down where you’ll find them, a job will literally double with the time it takes to find pens and pencils
- B&Q is great for getting things at short notice, it has a great selection too that you can view first-hand. However with a bit more planning and things can be sourced more cheaply on the internet, however this doesn’t involve a fun morning measuring things with your daughter
- Still undecided as to whether a pencil or pen is best for marking