The thing I am most pleased with from last week’s crafting and DIY efforts is a simple piece of woodwork that has finished off our new oak floor. With help from my dear husband, I have made half a dozen oak collars to cover the gaps around the radiator pipes.
When laying a wooden floor, the hole for each pipe needs to be generously sized to allow for any movement, and a wedge shape has to be cut in the board from its edge to the hole. The result can look a bit messy and the usual solution is to fit a so-called pipe collar. This is one of the plastic horrors that our floor fitter left us with. (To be fair, we did agree with him that we would source some oak collars at a later date, the plastic ones were only intended as a temporary solution.)
Once we started looking for replacements we discovered that for some reason the hardwood ones tend to be quite chunky and obtrusive, like this one I snapped at a friend’s house. They are made from two pieces of wood and the join is usually quite obvious because the grain doesn’t match. Also, the flooring manufacturers do not, in general, make matching radiator collars, just a generic oak in a light or dark finish. I wanted something better. We have lots of short lengths of the engineered boards used for the new floor, each with a 6mm (¼”) oak veneer, and we starting thinking that maybe we could make our own slim collars that would then be a good match for the colour and grain of the floor.
The obvious way to make something circular like this is to use a lathe, but (more’s the pity) we don’t have one. After a little experimentation we came up with a method that works and requires only a drill with a spade bit (to cut the central hole for the pipe in the face of an offcut of board, to just below the veneer layer) and a hole-cutter (to cut out a plug, centring the drill bit in the plywood layer), plus a router (to remove the plywood from the back of the board, leaving just the oak). After a little tidying up by hand with a chisel and sanding with progressively finer paper, this is the result.
How, you may be wondering, do you get such a collar around a radiator pipe, without removing the valve? This is the clever bit. A 6mm thick disk will snap easily along the grain if you place it over something like the shaft of a screwdriver and press down hard on each side.
The break will be fairly straight, but not a perfect line. So when you stick it back together around the pipe, it will hardly be noticeable. And a 6mm joint is thick enough to hold when it’s glued, especially in a situation like this where there’s no pressure at all on the joint.
After applying the same oiled finish as on the floor itself, these pipe collars blend in really well. They certainly look a lot better than plastic ones that aren’t even the right colour.