A blackbutt floor

Our floor guy spent four days doing the lounge room floor. Day 1 was a lot of laying out of lines and the addition of some shims to even up the wonky subfloor. About 1 metre of it was done by the end of the day.

Each board is screwed into the joist with long screws that have a small square-drive head. No glue or nails and, should someone wish it in the future, it will come back up again without too much fuss. One of the things we learned when we pulled up the last set of boards was that the below-surface nails are terribly hard to get out, and the boards can be ruined while trying to retrieve them. That doesn’t help anyone.

Day 2 and day 3 were spent filling in the rest of the boards. Day 4 was dedicated to sanding.

One of the guys we had in to quote assured us he could do it in a day, and gave a pretty cheap price. He would really have to have slapped those boards down to get it done in that time. We’re glad we went with someone a little more measured.

Lovely! Just what we were after.

A bit of taping

We had a couple of days before the floor guy came, so we did our best to tape and stop up some of the gaps in the lounge room ceiling. We won’t get it all done, and it will have to wait a while for the floor to be ready to receive ladders and dust again.

Had to finish up just doing first tape and bog on the north-south joins between boards.

Moving old lounge room floorboards

The floor guy is coming soon to do the lounge room floor properly. We needed to get the old boards out of there. S had already ripped up the carpet in the bedroom, so it was just a matter of pulling them up, giving them a little trim and putting them down again in the room next door.

“Just” meaning it took pretty much a whole day.

We were expecting to have quite a few boards left over, but as it turned out there was just enough to make some skirting boards for the lounge room, with a couple of scrap bits surplus.

Go for plasterboard

Furring channel: check. Light sockets: check. Flue shroud: check. Insulation: check. Now we can finally get onto lifting the plasterboard!

We did a “pre-back blocking” where we glued one half of the back blocks onto each piece while they were on the floor. I think this made it a lot easier to put up piece after piece, knowing that the back blocks weren’t going to move behind the board where you can’t see them.

The first board to be lifted the next day was the trickiest. It wasn’t clear that the lifter was able to tilt to the angle of the roof in the direction we needed it to, and attempts were made to prop it up at one end. The board was bending, too, and popping its screws. What a mission!

For the next one we just kept on turning the wheel, even when it became quite hard, and the lifter did indeed just make the angle. So the next lot went on a lot easier. Bottom row first and then we cracked out the extended boom to reach the top row.

The top ones where tricky. While the board is relatively horizontal it’s longer than the distance between the beam and the lower row of boards, so it had to be finangled around the beam then pushed or pulled “uphill” to get it to slot in, all while turning the wheel to increase the angle. As it happened, the angle of the roof is just the angle where the board wants to start slipping down hill. A couple of the board were very frustrating indeed.

The last board went in and we were straight back to Richard’s to give him his lifter back. We had to wait for the next day to get the last slim bits stuck on at the end.


Work continues apace on the lounge room ceiling; we had some sockets installed for the two lights, so that we could come by later and just plug and unplug the light itself as needed. With that done we could go ahead and put in the rest of the insulation.

We’ve also go the two bits of plasterboard around the flue shroud screwed on. Pretty happy with how that turned out.

Flue shroud

Putting a ceiling on the lounge room presents an interesting problem. The flue currently disappears into a ragged hole in the roof, and there is a metal collar thingy in the shed that looks like it’s supposed to cover the hole, but the slope turns the circular flue into an elliptical problem.

We’re not quite sure where the plasterboard is going to go in this picture. It might be above the shroud bit, below it, or it might cut through half way.

So after the furring channel went on we made a bit of a guide with some string.

The bottom of the plasterboard will be a good 25mm below the string, so it will cross the flue shroud to the right somewhere. No symmetry at all!

It looks like a half way through kind of thing. At any rate, we need some kind of transition between the plasterboard, which will go at an angle, and the flue, which is straight up and down.

We decided after some discussion that the best idea would be an additional shroud that extends below the one that is there, and below the level of the plasterboard. We won’t try to make it flush with the plasterboard in any place, as it’s going to look like a bit of a hatchet job that way. Instead we’ll have a white tube extending out of the ceiling, and have it black inside so that the flue disappears into a ‘hole’. It should be dark enough inside so that the flue looks like it’s unsupported by anything, though the tube will sit snugly around the outside of the existing shroud.

We can go ahead and do the plasterboard as well. It needs an ellipse cut into it at the same angle as the roof.

With a bit of calculating (the roof is 24.5┬║ from horizontal) and looking up how to use a compass and a piece of string to find the foci of an ellipse and draw it onto the board, we were able to get a mock-up going.

The ellipse is about 3cm longer on one axis

The idea was to put the plasterboard onto a little ramp thingy to get the angle right, then bandsaw the hole out. So a bit more trigonometry yielded some measurements, and we cut a piece of offcut hardwood to length and then across the diagonal.

It’s pretty good: we couldn’t really get the protractor to confirm the angle to within half a degree, but it’s surely close enough.

It quickly became apparent that the bandsaw was way too small to cut the whole thing at once, so we sliced the hole down the middle and did half at a time.

Sitting on its little ramp. We screwed it down on the lines.

The first side went OK, but then doing the other side the hole was on the high end of the ramp and it wouldn’t go into┬áthe bandsaw. We had to flip it over and do it from the back. But then it turned out the hole wasn’t central on the piece of plasterboard, so it was offset by about 1cm when it was turned over again! Doh. We sliced a centimetre off one side of each piece to tidy it up, making sure it would still line up with the wall.

It’s also apparent that there’s no way we’re going to cut a hole out of a piece of plasterboard that’s any bigger than the one we were working with, so the mock-up became the actual piece we’ll use.

After that it was time to sort out the flue’s new shroud. We measured around the flue (83.9cm circumference) and bought a piece of galvanised sheet steel that was big enough. It was painted with pot belly black paint (mainly for the matte finish as opposed to its heat resistance, since the present flue shroud only gets warm with the fire going full pelt) then cut to size. We bent it around into a tube, clamped it and drilled and riveted along the length of the join. All that wrangling scratched up the paint so we gave the inside another coat.

We had to wait a few days for dry weather, since we have to take the flue cap off the outside in order to lift the flue out of the fireplace. During that process we discovered that the existing flue cap was totally rusted out – it fell to pieces in my hands as I took it off.

No guesses why there was water dripping down onto the fireplace during hairy weather then.

Setting that aside as a problem for later, we went back in and lifted the flue out of the fireplace, slipped the new shroud under it and let it all fall back into place. Up on the ladder we tested the new shroud around the old … and perfect fit! That never happens. Bonus.

Sitting happily over the original shroud by friction alone

Now we just need to fit the plasterboard pieces around it, select a height for the bottom of the tube to sit at, and lock it all in with a couple of screws.

Back outside, we can’t leave the top of the flue without a cap, so we rushed down to the pot belly shop for a new one. Easy as pie and watertight again.