Arch Removal


The house was built in 1992. There were three arches; one in the hallway into the lounge, one between the dining room and lounge, and one in the passage from the rumpus room. The arch between the dining room and lounge had to be removed due to the placement of the wood fire. What was the point of the arch? It certainly took a lot of effort to build.

We bought some renovation manuals and construction manuals for working with timber internal walls (and plasterboard). Previous work was in brick, however, plasterboard was a lot easier to remove!

The slate tiling was a base for the wood fire, and more details can be found at Woodfire tiling.

The black cylinder on the ceiling is part of the chimney for the woodfire.

Arch to be removed

View from the lounge to dining room, also chaos with the renovation about to start. The dining room was moved to the rumpus room.

First plasterboard opening

The view from the dining room to the lounge, with some plasterboard removed. The vertical wooden support was moved adjacent to the one on the left, and attached with long screws. No nail gun here, and no need to make any cracks in the wall.

Plasterboard removed

Plasterboard removed

The two inner supports remaining from the arch once the plasterboard was removed (as well as the horizontal studs).

Arch removed

View from the dining room to lounge, with the plasterboard removed from the arch adjacent to the kitchen wall (kitchen to the left).

First plasterboard opening

After removing the arch and two internal vertical supports, a wooden beam was attached to the existing horizontal beam. The new side supports were also attached to the additional horizontal beam. As this was a pine beam, plasterboard was cut and attached to the supports and beams. Edging was placed on all the corners, then plastered with premixed Gyprock® plaster.

Horizontal beam

Plastering the cornice. Some edging details shown.

The cornice was “merged” with the new beam and edging. It was slightly lower with the new beam and plasterboard covering. You would not normally notice the increased height, but we wanted to provide some compensation for the bracing that was removed.

Plastering the cornice

Waiting for the plaster to set before sanding. The sanded finish is excellent.

Completed plastering

Finished vertical wall

The completed vertical wall. The pastel picture was a present to Shirley from Helen Smith.

Fireplace completed

This was a photo of the wood fire, not the arch, but is does show the completed cornice and tiled dining room. The next project was to hang the painting in the right hand side of the photo.

The photo was probably taken in the evening during winter, as the fire is burning. Later, a box for firewood was stored between the couch and the woodfire. People had to walk past the woodfire through the larger gap on the left. In all the years of plenty of fire (and a little wine), none of us or guests every received third degree burns. Not even the cat or dog.

Lessons learned?

Yes, there were some. Not really about the arch, but about the woodfire. The cost of removing the arch was not a lot, neither was it a difficult job.

The price of the chimney and installation were as much as the woodfire itself. We had looked for a Morsø but at the time they were rather expensive plus not for view in Adelaide. The positioning of this is not ideal, plus it would have been nice to have a hot plate for soup or bread. We since moved to Brisbane, so there is very little chance of another woodfire. I had considered making one using SolidWorks and the sheet metal component. A bit of laser cutting and TIG welding? No, not at the speed men operate at, as when the wife wants a woodfire, it has to be in the same winter and more or less immediately.

With the many furniture experiments, Australian hardwoods (Australian Oak which is actually a eucalypt) burns well, but the best was red gum. The decking left-overs also joined the pepper tree in passing through the glass door up the chimney. I guess the savings in not having to take the pepper tree to the dump almost paid for the woodfire, as we were being charged $75 a load by the local Southern Resources recycling centre, or $245 for a 3m3 bin that was delivered and removed.

Is it better than the gas heater that was removed from the rumpus room? I think so. Not much to beat an open fire, but it does take a little more effort to get going, and also takes a while to heat up a room, but once the wood has formed coals, you need to open the room doors, it gets that hot. A nice feature was the door that closes completely, so it is possible to walk out of the room without a coal jumping out of the fire and burning the place down.

You could also leave it to burn itself out when going to bed. By closing an air vent, the fire burned much slower, and some mornings there were still glowing coals. In mid-winter, just throw another log onto the fire and it keeps going until needed in the evening.

Cleaning — not at all difficult. The wood burned with very little ash left over. The inside was only emptied twice in winter, and then thrown onto the compost heap.