SASH WINDOW STYLES

Mobile:  079 39 49 75 38

Office:   014 76 86 08 40 

Mobile: 079 39 49 75 38

Happy to give GUIDE PRICE over the phone

Call  Graham Denney      8am - 9pm  Monday - Sunday

Sash Window Styles Ltd.       Joinery Workshop 2. The Grove. Three Gates Road. Fawkham. Kent DA3 8NZ

Office:   014 76 86 08 40

Happy to give GUIDE PRICE over the phone

Call  Graham Denney      8am - 9pm  Monday - Sunday

Happy to give GUIDE PRICE over the phone

Call  Graham Denney      8am - 9pm  Monday - Sunday

Devil's Detail

Arris : a sharp edge formed by the meeting of two flat or curved surfaces.  

x

Have you ever looked at newly installed windows, doors, staircases, skirting boards, architraves, any new timber frame or mouldings, etc., and thought, "Yes . . . I can see it's new and in perfect condition – a copy of the original – but something doesn't quite look right, it just doesn't seem to embody the attractive appeal of the old Victorian moulded features!"  

x

  Why is that?

x

  It is a very subtle yet eminently noticeable difference defined by what I refer to as either the "can" or, evidently in most cases, "can't be bothered" approach. This fundamental difference takes us back to the very first day of my initiation into the realm of master carpenters. After being somewhat ceremoniously introduced to the virtues of a dustpan and brush, the first principle of good practice I was taught is that, whenever I select a piece of wood . . . before I measure and cut it . . . I should first remove all the sharp edges – the arris – on every visible edge. If it were a large lump of 4 x 2, for example, I would run my block plane along all four edges to remove the sharp arris. If it were a smaller bead or moulded timber such as a baluster or ovolo door stop, I would remove all arrises by hand sanding with what is more correctly called glass paper.

x

  This is what sorts out the cheerful ‘chippy’ from the quietly superior craftsman.  Check out the impressive tool box of the modern day chippy who works in any field of carpentry.  His gung-ho holster will be armed with state-of-the-art cordless screwdrivers, lithium powered drills and laser guided plumb levels as if heroically equipped to do a refit for the Selective Breeding Quarters on Starship Enterprise.  All good 'kin' stuff. Nevertheless, ask the intrepid ‘chippy’ if he’s got a bit of glass paper to hand sand the arrises off his handiwork, and his eyes will glaze over as if you’ve asked him to elucidate upon the fundamentals of Aristotle’s Golden Mean. Mention the word “arris” and you risk being mistaken for making sexually inappropriate references in the workplace.  Been there, done that, more fool me!

x

  It might appear blindingly obvious, yet in over thirty-years of visiting hundreds and hundreds clients’ properties, without exception, I have never ever seen any relatively modern day carpentry work – windows, doors, skirting, etc. – where the ‘carpenter’ has had the nous to hand sand the arris off his handiwork.  Never. Pardon me, allow me to clarify that . . . NEVER.  Either they don’t have a clue, or they simply can’t be bothered.  Thus the stark hard lines of the new timberwork look unappealingly harsh and sharply incongruous compared with the original timber features of a period property that have a softer natural appeal with classically aged smooth edges that seduce the eyes like the curvy lineaments of a leggy muse in a pair of complementary stilettos. Such are the lineaments of desire when my customers gaze upon our finished windows and gasp “Wow . . . look at the arris on that!”

x

  Er, well, no, admittedly that little squib doesn’t quite come off, as, in fact, there is no ‘arris’ so to speak because all the sharp edges on every timber profile – including all the hand-milled glazing beads and glazing bar mouldings, sash style profiles, decorative horns, architraves and so on – have been painstakingly hand-sanded off during the pre-installation prep’ work.  No other timber window company in the country can be bothered to do this.  If they did, you can be sure they would shout about it.  But they don’t, they all prefer instead to cloak themselves in the associated credibility of FENSA, and harp on about unextraordinary U-values, thermal efficiency and the tech-spec-speak of sustainable clap trap that hoodwinks the wide-eyed consumer into trusting the new age spin doctors of the double-glazing industry.

x

  The question is, then, notwithstanding the leaps and bounds we have made in the White Heat of Technology, what’s the good of a B&Q laser guided level in the hands of a Neanderthal 'windah fittah'?

x

  The manufacture and installation of aluminium and UPVC windows and doors is a relatively easy affair that demands no special care when it comes to the finishing details. Unlike timber windows, UPVC and 'ali' glazing beads are clipped into slotted extrusions, the featureless flat plastic ‘architrave’ and cover strips are glued, and there are no staff and parting beads or moulded architraves and bullnose cills that need cutting, predrilling, screwing, nailing, punching and filling, as aluminium and plastic windows don’t have any of those features unique to timber sash windows. Thus, when window fitters and dabbling builders migrate from a plastic and ‘ali’ trade background, the refined skillset – not to mention mentality – pertinent to the installation of timber windows and doors is simply lacking on every level imaginable and, for the unsuspecting customer, such specialized refinement is disastrously overlooked as the conscientious shopper satisfies their ‘informed research’ with the self-flattering tech-spec-speak of U-values, and anaesthetize their better judgement with the heady endorphins of an apparently cheaper price.

x

  Think about it . . .

x

  There are many ways to get away with a cheaper price for double-glazed timber sash windows. One of the universally practiced cost-saving customs is by spending no hands-on time removing the arris from any timber profiles prior to installation. The cheapjack norm of this second-rate convention is then typically followed by an appalling lack of refined fixing and finishing for every aspect during the installation. Why?

x

  Time is money.  A competitor who relies on cheaper prices to win work cannot afford to pay the expensive daily rate of highly skilled craftsmen the extra days needed to attend to all the time-consuming details that amount to a stunning finish.  And, as most subcontractors are percentage-based fitters, that too equates to "time is money" which inevitably invites the customer to be short-changed of the additional days a craftsman needs to spend on the more refined finishing work that amounts to the difference between a barely passable job and an outstanding work of art.

x

  Good lord! Did I say "punched and filled"?  I’m afraid to report that our conversation pointing out the habitually overlooked hand-sanding of the arris is barely touching the surface of 'time is money' short cuts, for not only would you be hard pressed to find a bit of glass paper in the modern day window fitter’s high-tech toolbox, neither are you likely to discover a selection of nail punches!

x

  “Nail punches!  Whadda I need a nail punch for?”

x

  “My dear sir . . . to punch all your nails and pins so you can then neatly fill and paint over them to create beautiful invisible fixings on all your timber staff beads, parting beads, glazing beads and architraves.”

x

  “Hehehe . . . tha-tha-tha-that’s the decorator’s job, init!” (Can you imagine the gormless grin that accompanies this typically self-assured banality?)

x

  What, you think I’m kidding?  Sadly, that’s no joke for what passes as British workmanship nowadays, and I’m sorry to say it is a mentality that's endemic of not all but far too many working class tradesmen.  Oh yes, brother . . . ha! I dare say I’ve earned the Politically Correct right to make that judgement because, being born of that breed and lived among them all my working life, I can say with equal liberty and fraternity, I know their conniving shameless cocksure kind like the back of my hand.  So where does it all end?

x

  Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t end with the simple yet hugely significant pre-installation preparation of hand-sanding the arris off all the sharp edges on the many timber moulded profiles (adding hours to the preparation of just 1 box sash window), nor the neat and tidy punching of all the nails, pins – and then repainting – during the on-the-job finishing (adding days to an installation of 3 or 4 windows). For I am obliged to report that the habitually disgraceful examples of shoddy workmanship are as much ‘in yer face’ as are hidden. For you might be forgiven to expect that a six-foot length of staff bead that needs carefully positioned fixing for the sashes to run smoothly and close nicely snug without getting stuck, ought to be pinned at regular intervals with five or six inch-and-a-half stainless steel panel pins, right?

x

  Not so for yer intrepid “alright luv” sash window technician.  Three nice thick two-inch floorboard Lost Heads will do, init? One at each end (right near the mitre joins where they’re not required because the mitre should hold the corners firm anyway), and one in the middle. That’s three nails for a six-foot length of staff bead more or less three-feet apart with effectively nothing in between but the empty space between the idiot’s ears!  I’ve seen this example of blatant shoddiness so many times over the years, yet I still can’t make my mind up if the origin of its cause is born of incompetent idiocy or deliberate contempt for the customer and a shameless disregard for reputation.

x

  Then there’s the delicate fixing of the parting beads that run up the box between the two sashes to form two channels or ‘runners’ to part the upper and lower sashes. Actually, the parting beads are fitted prior to the staff beads, but let’s take a closer look.  A parting bead is quite a fragile length of timber that is only 9mm thick – that’s barely three-eighths in English.  So, obviously, in order to not split the slim parting beads, we will need to employ our state-of-the-art lithium powered drill and a fine drill bit to predrill a pilot hole prior to fixing with fine panel pins, right?

x

  I’m afraid not.  What you will see over and again is that the conscientious “all right, luv” fitter will use the same two-inch fat Lost Heads and simply bash them into the parting beads with such brutal, if not, contemptuous force, unfailingly splitting them to bloody buggery.  Of course, he can’t now punch the Lost Heads below the surface and fill them to create an invisible fixing, because the more he might punch his whacking great nail into the tightly grained virgin bead, the more the asinine half-wit splits apart the highly visible edge of this vital membrane creating a bulged deformity that impacts on the now not so snug fitting sashes and leaves an irrepairable gaping scar enough to wound the sensibility of the least aesthtically cognitive monkey.  So he simply leaves his brilliant bit of handiwork for your uncritical admiration of the budget-priced "deal" you happily signed with the FENSA endorsed salesman.  Nice job, mate!

x

  Did I not claim that the habitually disgraceful examples shoddy workmanship are as much ‘in yer face’ as are hidden? To this point, I’ve barely touched upon the surface of some of the more obvious yet all too common examples of shamelessly incompetent timber window work. I have not, in this commentary, drawn attention to the fundamental aspects of the hand-milled sash window components designed to accommodate a double-glazed sealed unit: the pioneering feature of my integral bevelled sash stile profile – a crucially significant innovation that sets my window design apart from the flawed products proudly promoted in local magazines and glossy trade catalogues. Such crucially significant features are hidden from the unsuspecting nontheless believing to be informed Google-eyed window shopper, and deserves another vital commentary elsewhere in SUPERIOR SASH STILE (Main Menu).

x

  Snake charming sales jargon-inspired questions such as “what is the size of cavity in your sealed units” or “what kind of glass do you use” reflects only how the canny window shopper is bewitched by the tech-spec-speak of the double-glazing industry - being led up the garden path, then finding themselves confidently barking up the wrong tree and thereby unwittingly not seeing the wood for the trees.  More fool them?  Well, hardly surprising when the conscientious consumer is repetitively exposed en masse to a culture of smoke and mirrors passed off as ‘sustainable’ high-tech low carbon footprint “god knows I’m good” self-healing snake oil that is FENSA endorsed and blessed by Lord Google Know-It-All.

x

   Oh dear . . . does that mean you get what you pay for?

x

  Well, no, in fact you don’t!  Paying through the nose for your double-glazed timber windows and French doors doesn’t at all guarantee you’ll get a technically superior sash window and a stunning job.  What you can be sure to get is the double-glazed bullshit you buy into, for there are plenty of high priced companies (particularly those recommended by snooty kickback architects) whose technically inferior sash windows are flawed imitations, as is apparent with several visually significant aspects particularly the crucial design error of nailed on external glazing beads as opposed to my internally glazed solid timber bevelled profile (See SUPERIOR SASH STILE Main Menu), and, despite the exorbitant price, the standard of installation is not uncommonly “bloody awful!”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

x

  Such a costly paradox really does put a new spin on the trusty sales motto ‘The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.’   What a rudely awakening kick up the backside that turns out to be when you’ve paid good money for a crap job.  You might imagine then, how it demands quite considerable professional discipline on my part to sustain composure and refrain from laughing in a potential customer’s face when they question . . . in all good faith . . . “are you FENSA registered?”

x

  The best answer I can give for this frequently well-intentioned question can be found in my commentary SEEING IS BELIEVING (Main Menu).

x

 Suffice it to say that my double-glazed timber windows and French doors are awarded the higher rated specifications of a CE mark, though I would stress that, while this may satisfy over and above the thermally efficient values of Building Control Regulations, it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the qualitative outcome of the installed product. No FENSA certificate or CE Mark can guarantee the highly skilled application of craftsmanship and an uncompromising mentality dedicated to an attention to every detail indispensable to the achievement of an exceptionally superior job.

x

Yes, quite.  Seeing is believing . . . Quality speaks for itself.

Happy to give GUIDE PRICE over the phone

Call  Graham Denney    8am - 9pm  Monday - Sunday 

Mobile: 079 39 49 75 38

Office:   014 76 86 08 40

Sash Window Styles Ltd. The Grove Window Workshop. Three Gates Road. Brands Hatch. Kent DA3 8NZ