Deck improvements

17 01 2015

We’ve been living at this house for just over a year. Something I needed to do soon after we move in was to stain the deck which was completely untreated. However there are two problems with the deck that will require it to be re-laid.

Picture of deck before work

The deck before remedial work begins.

  • The warm sunlight (the deck faces NW) of New Zealand has caused all the boards to shrink and there is now a 7-8mm gap between each board.
  • A heavy concrete garden table sits  at this end of the deck (where the camera is), and its weight has caused the deck to dip slightly which you can see by the lopsided puddling on the table top when it rains.

The strategy is to, from the side of the house outwards, creating a gap of about 4 boards to give room to manoeuvre, and then re-fix one row of board, this time with screws instead of nails.

Four boards out to create room to manoeuvre.

Four boards out to create room to manoeuvre.

The approach is partly defeated by two issues:

  1. The butt joints of boards in a single row are an angled overlap with the boards at the house end being the upper boards. Access to lift the first boards against the house is poor.
  2. The supporting framework at the end furthest from the house has to be re-levelled before boards can be re-laid. In fact at the end closest to the camera the entire width of boards will have to removed.

A numbering system is required to facilitate fitting the boards back together again. I named rows ‘A’ to ‘R’ as I lifted them right to left, and within a row boards were numbered ‘1’ to ‘6’ as they got closer to the house.

Board showing its unique number.

A numbering system is required.

Each board was marked on the underside in chalk, and I tried to stack them in such a way that I could re-lay those that I had least recently lifted.
I show some of the tools used in the picture to the right. As time went on I found I could use the claw-hammer as a sort of wrecking bar and managed to lift entire lengths of board using just the hammer.
Demonstrating improved nail extraction

Adding padding under the claw-hammer to improve leverage on long nails.

As an aside. When a nail is already pulled most of the way out of a board it can be almost impossible to use the lever of the claw-hammer to finish the job. Any hard padding (like a block of wood) can act as a base of the hammer reducing the relative length of the nail and improving leverage.
Rain stopped play.

Rain stopped play.

Needless to say it started to rain about 2 hours after I started.
(To be continued.)

Leftover nails from previous deck

A lazy deck constructor?

Getting there

Getting there

Looking back on a day's work

Looking back on a day’s work

The problem with the supporting piles

The problem with the supporting piles


Cheap fix for a broken tumble dryer door

25 11 2012

With both the catch broken, and the tumble dryer door warped, this was going to be an expensive repair. I had in mind some sort of bonnet catch that I remembered seeing many years ago, and ebay turned up a suitable item for £2.80 + P&P. Four pop rivets and some careful positioning and I now have a door that doesn’t leak condensation and actually completes the drying-cycle.

Mini bonnet catch

How to fix a broken tumble-dryer door

Last chance for Fine Photographs

20 08 2011

Today, Saturday, 20th August is the last chance to find me at my photographic stall in Timor Court, Stony Stratford (near Cock Hotel). Yet more new material available. Very good prices for fine photographs.

a picture of my stall

Stall in Timor Court

Second week of Photograph Stall

12 08 2011

I’m buzzing with the anticipation of pitching my fine contemporary photograph stall in Timor Court, Stony Stratford this Saturday, 13th August. Last week proved to be a steep learning curve and there are many refinements that I still need to apply. However, given that I’m only doing it for 3 consecutive weeks, there’s a limit as to what makes sense to address.

What are the key features of the stall;

  • all images are my own original work
  • most have been printed by me on archival quality paper
  • the matts (mounts) have been cut by me
  • they are all hand-finished and ready for framing
Picture 1 of stall in Timor Court

My stall in Timor Court

Since last week I have got my own website up ( but it is still not populated with any of my photographs, and I’m not entirely clear what strategy I’m going to adopt for populating it. At the very least it will have all the stock currently on offer on the stall.

The next essential is to create a business card. I want to use one of my ‘iconic’ photos, but it’s interesting that some of the prints I really like haven’t sold (yet). I think I will just follow the courage of my convictions.

Mounting the pictures has been a challenge. The ones on vertical display I don’t want to wrap in cellophane because it destroys their impact. I am thinking of velcro dots and just need a scheme that enables me to remove them without spoiling the product. Last week I used pins, but as the day wore on some prints fell (damaging one corner) and after selling a print I need to be able to quickly put up a replacement. I’m also going to try to create some mounts that enable the prints on the table to be angled for better viewing.

There will be a folder of work for people to browse and possibly order from. Every print for sale has a unique identifier, the other variable is the colour of the matt. I will probably add some information notices to the stall so that people understand what I am achieving using HDRI techniques.

This is an ongoing project that doesn’t have an end in sight. Maybe I need to define when the project will have ended and when selling photographs just becomes something I do.

Going public with fine art photography stall – 6th August 2011

5 08 2011

This Saturday I am going public with a market stall in the historic town of Stony Stratford (NW Milton Keynes) at Timor Court, which is just north of the Cock Hotel. I have been slowly building up a portfolio of prints which are largely based around Milton Keynes and celebrate some aspects of the variety of MK life. Most prints are inkjet printed on Somerset Enhanced Fine Art Archival paper and mounted on acid-free board. They are ready for framing and mainly 10″ x 14″. Prices start at around £15. Don’t imagine the price reflects the quality. I’m just trying to test the market.

Picture of stall

Pictures for sale at a recent fair

I will also have a selection of individual Christmas cards based on photos of sculptures in Campbell Park during last December’s snow. Do come and have a browse, express an opinion and maybe even buy something to grace your home.

Picture 1 of stall in Timor Court
a picture of my stall

Stall in Timor Court

My stall in Timor Court

Microsoft Publisher 2003 got locked into CMYK printing option

7 06 2011

I have designed and print my own personal organiser inserts from Microsoft Publisher. It includes information like Week Number, Day Number, Days to year end, etc etc and is set up as a mail-merge driven with an Excel spreadsheet in which I change 1 cell each year to update it.

A week into June I went to print the next two months, but after setting up the page-ranges in the Print Merge… menu, Publisher reported as shown below. It says, “Publisher cannot print CMYK composite… ”

Publisher error message

Now when you try to follow the suggested fixes, looking for Advanced Print Options, there seems to be no place to go to either turn off any CMYK options or to adjust the Postscript options, which are the other suggestion.

The secret is that the option you need to turn off is only available through the Print dialog when you are not printing the output of a mail merge. So to fix the problem;

  • quit the current document
  • restart Publisher and get a single blank page
  • Select menu File>Print and in the bottom left hand corner of this dialog is an Advanced Print Settings button
  • Click this and on the Separations tab clear the “Print Composite CMYK by default” check box
  • I also chose the sRGB option in the drop-down box
  • Click Cancel to close the Print Dialog

You can now re-open your original mail-merge document and you’ll find that you can do the Print Merge without any problems.

Incidentally, the way this option got turned on was when I had prepared a print-ready Acrobat file for a local print shop.

Nikon Coolpix S210 – “Lens Error”

12 10 2010

A friend who has a Nikon Coolpix S210 asked me to try to fix the Lens Error problem for her. This is where the lens makes a whirring sound when turned on, but doesn’t emerge. The LCD shows an error message. I read several forums including without success. The lens would only emerge a couple of mm and there was no way I could get a grip on the barrel, or prise it out with a blade. I first made sure I had fully-charged batteries inserted as weak batteries can have this effect (thanks for the reminder cns949). I tried applying suction with a Dyson, but this didn’t work either. Tapping it on my palm had no effect. Then I decided to slip a scalpel under the lens cover and firmly pull on the lens mechanism as I turned it on. To my surprise the lens rotated slightly and came fully out. I have taken several pictures and turned it on and off and it is still working a few hours later.

Picture showing scalpel under the lens cover

Nikon Coolpix with blade inserted

It would appear that this is a very common problem with the Nikon Coolpix range and from reading various forums, many people have been very disappointed, with a Lens Error fault within hours of taking it out of the box. Some people with less patience than me have thrown their Coolpix on the floor in exasperation. This does not usually fix the problem.

This is about as physical as I would get with such a small, delicate piece of equipment. Repairing with an authorised agent will cost about the same as the price of a new replacement. I would say, if you’re nervous, don’t buy one.