Monday, May 16, 2011

Island Engineering

Hi There, it has been awhile since I have been online and posting, due to a mysterious leg ailment after return of my last work trip overseas.  It is improving slowly but surely, not that we understand its cause yet (though we can count a few things out:  DVT, sciatica, etc).  But case notes have duly been prepared and more when the next trip out happens, as I will be paying good attention to note things now forward !

Meanwhile, Ian has been busy for a month or a bit longer...and nearly three weeks full-time plus on this project.  The Kitchen Island.

Ian working on island in his workshop
This needs a bit of explanation.  I wanted an industrial style island for our kitchen, something with chunky industrial wheels and rivets on steel.  Actually I did not mean Ian had to make this.  But he talked me into it, saying, "don't you want me to make the island ?"  He is a skilled metal craftsman, and I knew anything he made would be amazing in its engineering and very good quality.   How could I turn down such an offer ?  But I knew he was busy and would be for some time.  I asked if he was sure he wanted to do this, I got convinced and we agreed.  Ian would make our  kitchen island.

To determine the ideal size, to be big and useful, but still allow for the flow and spaciousness we wanted in the kitchen we marked out the dimensions on the floor using white electrical tape. The tape moved a bit in this direction and that over the course of a few days while we worked out and agreed the size.  110 x 120 cm...not quite square (making it 120 square would have taken more space we wanted to retain. and why make it smaller than what you have to, just to be square ?!)
One of the big front wheels, looking very rusty

Island outside, waiting for its move in

We did a lot of looking on line and even bought some awesome chunky castor wheels from the USA, that are either new old stock (or very well preserved) or made from old molds dated 1939.  We got one pair for the back wheels.  Online in Australia, Ian found a set of large wheels and two of them are on the front.  They look like bigger versions of the wheels in the castors.  Ian bought a lot of steel rod and heaps of bolts, which he machined to make into rivets for the design I liked.  He even found perforated steel mesh for the doors to the cupboard under the top, here it is called meatsafe mesh...but to my delight it has small holes punched in it to make the mesh, exactly what I wanted !
It's In !  And Winston and Pookie found it.

The island had to be touched up and finished inside.  because, to get it in, doors had to be removed from the house, and parts had to be taken off the island.  All good fun. I did not think it would get in, and had to go away and let Ian work that.  When I returned it was in.

The island lower shelves need a paint job.
Cupboard doors not on yet, but Pook loves it !
lower shelves now painted, and old big wheels are too

The cupboard and bottom shelves needed painting, getting primer and coat of dark almost black paint.  Some areas on the steel frame needed touching up too.  They are painted a hammerfinish paint, in a gunmetal colour (dark charcoal).  The meatsafe mesh is painted black.  The big wheels were really needing a coat of paint and got done in a dull grey colour that seemed similar to the front castor wheels (which needed no extra paint, they looked great).  I brought back old bronze finish hinges and old fashioned cabinet catches from US store Restoration Hardware., and they look nearly black.

Ian and I went to the lumber yard and picked out oak planks for the top work surface., these were cut and dressed to the right size and Ian has secured them to the island with hundreds of bolts.  Doing such a neat job it looks like a seamless timber top surface, (rather than 8 separate planks).
Inside cupboard door, very spacious

The cupboard doors are a real piece of engineering.  Each one has been hand cut and welded together, you see three 90 degree corners and one with two angles of less than.  Apparently welding these to be straight and correct was not easy.  Each cupboard door frame took nearly a day to make !  (Ian was very glad to have this job done).

Close up view of doors on and wheels all painted

Today it is ALMOST finished.  ONly job to do now is the apply a finish to the timber work surface. We will order that tomorrow, looks like a special oilwax finish is a good choice.  Until then we will be very careful with what goes on top !!  Still, it is lovely having the extra space !  (even if Pookie does think it is for him, he has become quite the kitchen cat).

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