Small Projects

Local DIY Shop Discovery, Wood Purchase & First Dochens 15/11/2016


Today we discovered the wonder that is Bishopston Hardware on Gloucester Road, Bristol. This is a fantastic traditional DIY & hardware shop… a veritable treasure trove! It is akin to a sweet shop for adults, with all sorts of handy things to fix stuff with. Everything is well laid out, staff are knowledgeable in addition to being helpful, there is plenty of choice and the prices are competitive. It is one of those places that I might never have ventured in, thinking it may not be able to compete with larger stores due to it’s diminutive floor space – but I am so glad I did. Such places are often much better stocked and managed in my experience and this is no exception. I was sad after leaving Bath to have left behind the wonderful Francis DIY on Moorland Road (they saved me numerous times with multiple options for items Homebase didn’t stock!) … luckily I think I have found an even better local shop in Bishopston Hardware.

We purchased a couple of lengths of 6×2″ with the plan of ripping them down to 3×2″ to create the window surrounds and some 1/2″(?) quadrants for the external corners of the bay window.


Sadly the 14mm bit I purchased from here turned out to be too large and caught on the bricks when turning; dislodging some of the loose ones & causing excessive strain on the wrist… so we reverted to using an existing, more flimsy 10mm & 12mm masonry drill bit.


We drilled holes for the wooden dochens every three courses in a diamond pattern. Consideration of the arrangement of bricks, mortar joint size/location of corners informed positioning; marking with chalk enabled prior visualisation to pre-empt potential issues. The dochens will provide support for the plywood shuttering during casting & subsequently provide some load bearing capacity for the hempcrete bio-aggregate itself.

I then passed on what I had learned to Ian regarding how to make dochens (twisted wooden pegs) with an axe & chisel.


By explaining to Ian what I had learned through Neighbourhood Construction; I was able to reinforce my own learning & play around with the method somewhat to ascertain the limitations and refine my own skills.


We then hammered a few in to the wall with lump hammers – the sound changes as they hit home and fix tightly in between the bricks. Experiments with the type of wood – comparing old pine floorboards with modern, fast-grown pine – confirmed what we had been told: that old reclaimed pine tends to be much denser grained and is far superior.


We also found that if we mis-read the ‘twist’ in the wood (sometimes it can be hard to tell) then the dochens were much more likely to have issues with splitting when hammering or just not fixing into the wall securely.


Ian decided to pencil a message on a couple of dochens for someone to discover in years to come. Hopefully what we are doing here will improve the wellbeing of the house and its occupants for another 100 years or more!


Summary :

2 people

Purchased wood, drilled dochen holes, made some dochens & hammered into wall.



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