Bird Houses

The Terrace Houses

I’ve never been to London and, much to the chagrin of my wife, probably never will. That being said I love English literature (and Russian literature – but that’s another story) and I particularly like Charles Dickens. So I have these mind images of how London should look that are, no doubt, completely wrong; but I don’t like letting facts get in the way of a good story. I’ve seen photos of those quaint rows of terrace houses, match that with my visual impressions of Dickensian grime and soot and smog and out pops my bird house take on London’s terrace houses.

London Terrace HousesThe roof angle is exaggerated; mine are 60 degrees whereas I would say the bulk of the actual gabled terrace houses would have a pitch more like 45 degrees, but they are two storey so there is a similarity there. They are made from pallet pine with pallet hardwood base (for weight) and have a hinged door at the rear that caused me no end of trouble. The idea was sound; put a door at the back to allow cleaning but because of the tall narrow shape of the house I couldn’t use a flap hinged at the bottom (which was the original idea), so I decided to use side hinges. It sort of worked out OK in the end but it took a lot longer than planned – so much so that I’ll look to re-design the door and maybe replace it with a sliding panel.

Aside from that the build process was pretty straightforward; the horizontal inset piece that separates the two compartments is rebated in to the sides and that worked well. I could also assemble the ends and sides before attaching the roof which made the glue-up process heaps quicker and more accurate.

To emphasise that gritty London look I was going to use the ancient Japanese wood treatment called shou sugi-ban to scorch the timber and give it a darker distressed look – almost gothic – which I quite like. Once I started planing the timber I changed my mind as some of the pieces looked really good just as they are; I did do one (TH002) and was pleased with the way it came out. I’ll do a blog post in the near future on shou sugi-ban but, in brief, I set fire to the house using a blow torch. That sounds a bit extreme but is jolly good fun. Some of the grain in the timber burns more than others so it really makes grain patterns stand out; once you finish the blow torching it only needs a light sand and is ready to finish with linseed oil and beeswax.

There are a few photos below; I’ll try to remember to take more pictures as I do the builds in future.

Steve Brookes

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