Thursday, 11 June 2015

Pocket hole jigs and combi tools.

I feel as though I'm really letting this, my first blog site, down due to the lack of posts however I have many projects ongoing but nothing finished yet to actually post, it's slow progress at the moment.

Among my current projects are a coffee table completely from pallet/scrap wood so it's going to take a hell of alot of sanding but needs to be ready asap due to the new sofa arriving, a mahoosive clock for the wall - I think it's about 3ft round - which has been sanded and needs the numbers adding but I've just realised I should have checked that I can obtain the correct size clock arms first and also a round pergola for the garden. When I say round it's actually several pieces set in the ground to give the illusion of being round.

To complete the coffee table project I treated myself to a pocket hole jig. I've wanted one of these forever but absolutely refused to pay Kreg prices for what is essentially plastic, no matter how many DIYers rave about them. It was kind of cutting off my nose to spite my face though because my projects just never had that finished look that they could have had. In the end I decided to have a go at making one having watched a 'youtube' video on how to do it but the end result was me almost losing my hand to the miter saw and that's when I decided the expense of a jig was nothing compared to the loss of a finger or limb!
I did a bit of research and found another pocket hole jig that does exactly the same as the Kreg jig but is half the price AND it's of a metal construction plus the reviews on it were awesome, so I'm now waiting for it to arrive and hoping it will do so before I go on holiday next week.
The jig I chose was this Draper model
Once I have used it for the coffee table project I will post a review on it as I think it's important that we have info on all the tools available and not just the most popular ones - which for some reason are more costly also.

Another new piece of equipment I have that I will shortly write a review on is this Makita combination table / miter saw

Ordinarily I wouldn't have entertained this tool because I prefer individual tools as opposed to combi's but Mr CH bought this for me because he could see it would be useful to me as a space saver.
One of the few power tools I have never really used to any great extent is the table saw - hubby has 2 of them with long tables but they scare the bejesus out of me. I mean, they literally terrify me though I have no idea why. I have an irrational fear of me falling on one face down while it's in use but where that fear has come from I really don't know.
I'm currently making an extension table with stop block for the miter part of the tool but will then be making a few table saw sleds to be able to use the top saw, so far I've used the miter part alot but haven't even had the guts to switch the table saw on yet - I'll be making plenty of push sticks and push blocks for using this!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Easy DIY Pallet wood Adirondack chairs

Personally I don't think a garden can ever have too much seating, whether it be stone seats hidden away, huge swing chairs in the middle of a lawn or plenty of comfy Adirondack chairs round a firepit.
A couple of years ago I made 2 Adirondack chairs from plans I found on the 'Ana White' website which proved to be very popular at home and fought over the handful of times we decided to sit out in the garden. So popular that I decided I needed to make a couple more this year just so that I don't have to race the kids to them during the next BBQ.
The ones I made 2 years ago are quite angular, I chose the plan because it was exceedingly simple to follow and I had all the encessary sized wood from pallets that I had taken apart.
Before I remind you of those first chairs let me take a second to remind you of the best pallet breaker to ever be designed - I chose the 4 way bar.




This 4 way pallet bar turned this heap of pallets

into this

and the best bit is that I could do it all by myself. Each pallet took literally seconds to break apart and meant that not only did I get all the long lengths of wood but the spacers also - which is where the chunkier wood came from.
This was my first attempt at the Adirondack chair and literally every piece of wood came from a pallet.


Deciding I wanted to add some colour to the garden I chose to paint them in Cuprinols 'Summer Damson' garden shades.


I've now completed 2 more Adirondack chairs with matching footstools but I didn't use the original plans because I wanted a more rounded chair for the second half of the garden. Again it's all pallet wood except for the main bottom rail which is scrap 6x2.






The chairs has since been painted in Cuprinols 'Fresh Rosemary' garden shades but I've yet to take a photo of them finished.
The plans for these second ones are in my head. I didn't want to make it up as I went along but I really couldn't find exactly what I was loking for on the internet so I conjured these up using 3 different online designs with my own bits added. It wasn't until I'd finished them that I realised the footstool doesn't match 100% - the main leg is angular on the end not rounded to match the chair - oops!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Recycled garden pot holder

I have decided to recycle this post from a couple of years back for 2 reasons - 1) Lack of actual gardening at the moment and 2) It's that time of year when we're sowing seeds like mad so a space saver comes in real handy.
Recycling old posts is not something I tend to do as the garden is forever changing but I felt there are certain projects that never age and hopefully this may solve the issue of space for a few people. The original photo of this project (included below) has done it's rounds on Pinterest but credit rarely goes back to the original source but I have no problems with people pinning and sharing this - enjoy!

Gardening here in the Scottish Highlands is unlike any kind of gardening I experienced at home in  England and I initially made so many mistakes and lost so many plants due to my stubborness and naive determination to continue growing the plants I loved rather than discovering what would actually work here.
It was during those years of frustration that I sulked a tad where the gardening was concerned and turned my attention to building containers, obelisks and arbours from scrapwood - it kind of made me feel like I was achieving something despite having obliterated all my lovely plants. Plus containers meant I could move plants around according to the weather conditions.
That's the time I came up with this space saver idea. I needed something that would make use of height in my greenhouse and free up some space and at the same time it needed to be light enough to carry in and out as I needed.


This is the space saver:


garden space saver, recycled wood, recycled milk carton


It was really easy to make too with limited skills and tools  and used only scrap wood and plastic milk cartons I saved. I made this one in half a day but it could take even less time if you organise your tools and materials beforehand which I don't tend to do!
So tools and materials needed:
  • Scrap wood. Any scrap wood can be used and adapted but I used batten, 3"x2" and plyboard.
  • Wood to use as the milk container supports - I used 1.5"x 1/4" beading.
  • Screws and/or nails.
  • Hand saw or electric cutter.
  • Tape measure (always handy but I hardly ever use them)
  • Stain for protecting. I used Cuprinol garden shades  Natural Stone.
  • Plastic milk cartons. I used 30 on mine but you can make the frame and add the cartons as you collect them.

The first stage is to make a rectangle frame using battens (or your chosen wood) and then add corner supports to the top of the frame only. (I didn't have any particular size of frame in mind I simply made it up as I went along - that's how I roll).

 scrap wood frame, garden space saver, recycled wood frame

Once we have the frame done we need to attach some feet to support it. I used batten and 3"x2" for mine.
Once the batten is cut screw or nail it to the bottom of the frame like this:

 recycled wood space saver, recycled milk carton, garden space saver

Once those are attached to each side of the base end stand the frame up and cut 2 more pieces slightly larger from 3x2, or whatever wood you have. These are then screwed or nailed to the existing feet from the top down like this:

 recycled milk carton, scrap wood frame, greenhouse space saver


You can also see from the above photo that I then screwed the rectangle frame down into the first foot that was attached, this is just for extra stability.

Next we need to make some supports for the lengths of wood that will hold the milk containers.
I used plyboard for this as it was all I had suitable that was lying around. I basically cut 6 rectangles (3 for each side) and each rectangle had 2 grooves cut out of it from the top of the longer side to roughly half way through. These cuts need to be a suitable depth to hold whatever wood you are using for the container supports  like this:

garden space saver, scrap wood, recycled milk carton


Once all the rectangles are cut and grooved they simply need attaching to the sides of the frame - I just spaced mine at equalish distances.



Once this is a completed it's just a simple case of cutting 6 lengths of wood for the container supports (I used thin beading) making sure the lengths are cut long enough to extend further than the supports at each end.

 greenhouse pot holder, recycled wood, recycled milk carton

Finally give it all a coat of protective paint and start filling it with your pots by simply sliding the container supports through the handles of your milk containers.
This space saver is ideal for veggie seedlings being hardened off because you simply lift it and place it outside in the morning and then bring it back in at night, there's no bending and schlepping around with plastic pot holders that always tend to split and crumble right when you don't need them to.
It's also fabulous for rooted flower cuttings that need similar hardening off treatment and if you use the containers for herbs it can be easily placed against a warm wall right near the house.
OR if you're a crafter like myself it would be fabulous for holding crafting goodies such as pens, paints, ribbons, stamps etc etc.
Pretty versatile huh!

 crafting space saver, craft holder, craft space saver


Now lets talk about those milk containers and how you can use pretty much all of the container as useful garden helpers.

First off take one of the plastic milk caontainers you've collected - all sizes are good but I personally would find the 2 pinters too small for this project but the bigger the container the bigger size pot it will hold. I used 4 pinters and 6 pinters.
OK so we need to pierce the side of the container with scissors (leave the lid on to keep the air in otherwise the container will simply collapse) and then cut right round the container so you get this:

plastic plant labels, recycled plant labels

The top part with the lid is all finished and ready for your newly built space saver.
Personally I try to leave the lids on the containers that will go on the top 2 layers of the space saver to stop any water draining into the layer below. The bottom layer of the space saver doesn't matter so much.

Now we're left with the bottom half of the container we cut so take your scissors and cut down the length of the container stopping where you see the next rigid line that goes all the way round the container. Turn at this point and cut round the circumference once again until it seperates from the bottom of the container, then take this middle section and cut straight down the middle of it to produce this:

 diy plant labels, recycled garden labels, milk carton plant labels

Now all you need to do is use the middle section to cut strips off at whatever width you would like your plant labels to be. Once you've done this you then cut points onto one end of the cut strips and use the container base to store them.
See, the whole container has a use - yay!

 plastic garden label, milk carton pot labels

Here you can see the strips before having the points cut and then the pot contains some where the points have been cut.


I hope this tutorial made sense to you all and that you can replicate it in some way for your home and garden, I would love to hear from anyone that has made it for themselves.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

DIY Easy pallet wood planter

It's the time of year when I'm looking for new planters for the garden but being the tight fisted so and so that I am I simply refuse to buy them so out came the pallet wood and a bit of ingenuity. I need several planters for Roses that will eventually be going out into the garden ground but for this year they need a home while the garden is finished. The planters had to be exceptionally easy to make (because I get bored easily), use as little wood as possible but still look like more than just a square box.
The first one I made looked ok but I'd cut corners such as not pre drilling so the finished effect wasn't as good as it could have been - I decided that one would be the prototype and set about making another one but took my time to do it properly. The finished planter still only took one day to make so I'll definitely be making several more.

This is the finished look - no painting just a light sand and a coat of outdoor varnish for protection.




There are probably many tutorials online much better than anything I can give but I'll show step by step how I made this and maybe it will encourage someone to give it a go.

Assemble all your wood pieces once you have decided the size you want. This may sound obvious but on the prototype I made each panel up before cutting and making the next one and I ran out of wood the right size half way through. I managed to source some eventually but I would have saved myself so much aggravation just doing it properly from the start.
I decided to make my planter 20" high by whatever width the pallet wood ended up being. As it turned out I used wood that was a little over 3.5".
I cut 16 pieces @ 20" and 4 pieces the width of the boards joined together (I actually need 8 width pieces but we'll come to that later).

First I lay 4 of the pieces down and used the cool set square I attached to my workbench as something to straighten them against, this saved me so much time and effort in trying to hold all the pieces level and together.

Loving my set square as it helps keep it all together.

Next I attached a scrap piece of wood across the middle to hold it all together while I mark out for the arch in the bottom - I forgot to take a photo though.

For the arches at the top and bottom I made a mark 2" in from either end at the bottom and used a plate to mark out a circle from those marks. I repeated this at the top and bottom of all 4 sides.


Marks for arches.

Next I used the Jigsaw to cut out those marks.
TIP: Once you have cut those arches out do not remove the scrap wood from the middle until you have secured one of the fixing battens. I made this mistake and it took me ages to get that arch to look right again because the wood dropped.

See the scrap wood - don't remove it yet.
Next secure the fixing batten top and bottom - I fixed them 3" up from the bottom and 3" down from the top. Once they are secure it's safe to move the scrap wood from the middle. Then turn the pieces over and screw into the fixing battens to make it super secure - don't forget to pre drill.

Top & bottom arches cut

You need to make 2 exactly like that and then make 2 more but the fixing battens will need to be a different width allowing for the sides you just made to sit snug against the new sides.
I held the two finished sides up to the one I was now making and marked out where the battens sat so I could use that width for the fixing battens for the next 2 sides - does that make sense?
In this photo you can see what I mean. The 2 sides are held against the one I'm making - the pencil shows you the width I'm measuring.

Pencil showing width to measure.

With that done you fix the shorter battens to the next 2 sides and you should have 2 of each of these

Finished pieces ready for joining

Next I simply built the box and screwed the sides in together - pre drilling the holes first and using a screw head sinker like this, the effect is so much more pleasing and prevents splitting of wood.

Drill bit and screw head sinker.

Looking inside this is what the planter looks like screwed together. It's perfectly solid by this point.

Add caption

Next I cut 3 pieces of scrap wood to fix to the bottom making sure the slats had enough gap to allow for water drainage.

Slats fixed to the bottom inside.

Then I needed to lay a liner in it, usually I use some of hubbys thick DPM but I was feeling especially lazy and know the DPM can be a hassle to fix so I literally used a super thick bin liner which fit perfectly and fixed it to the top batten supports with my nail gun.
To hide the plastic and make it look a bit nicer I cut some odds and ends of really thin finishing wood I found and attached it to the top of the plastic using the nail gun again into the batten.


Finishing wood over plastic on left.

Finally, a quick sand down with 60 grit and a quick sand with 240 grit -I usually go all the way from 60, 80, 120 etc but I wanted to keep the rustic look.
One coat of external varnish and it's good to go.

Finished look

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

We all love a freebie

My workshop has been a huge source of excitement for me because it means that I can now build all those wonderful projects on the  'Ana White' website that I've drooled over for months but lacked the real space to be able to get started. Space is no problem now though and with everything pretty much sorted and put away I'm ready to start hammering and drilling.

But first........

One of my daughters works at a local department store and I've been the lucky recipient of plants and hardware that was destined for the tip - all free of charge. The latest exciting load included plastic crates full of tester pots of paint, mainly Crown but also Laura Asley and Farrow and Ball. Luckily my daughter was also renewing her bedroom furniture at the time so I inherited an old (well not that old really) chest of drawers that was the perfect size for all these pots of paint. The drawers are a cheap Argos make so I had to reinforce the bottoms etc first but lookit


 3drawers full of Crown tester pots.



1 drawer full of Dulux tester pots



Loads more tester pots waiting to be sorted and hung.


I am going to have a field day making colourful bird houses this year. While emulsion paint cannot survive outside alone, coat it in outdoor varnish and it's good to go.

While we're talking freebies, look what else my daughter got, though she did have to pay £1 for each case this time - a saving of around £98 so well worth it. She got 2 for me and 2 for my husband and these could not have come at a better time because I was close to buying a set of 'Drillall' drillbits from a shopping channel despite dubious reviews online. 


I must also show you the handle to the door of my workshop. I couldn't find a proper pull down handle in any of my tool boxes nor Mr CH's toolkits but I'm way too tight to consider buying one at ridiculous prices or waiting 3 weeks for delivery from online shopping - I want what I want when I want it! Nosing around Mr CH's now 1/4 smaller workshop (due to my moving in ;) ) I found an old bricklaying trowel - least I hope it's old and figured it would make a cute door handle


Saturday, 17 January 2015

New workshop part 1

My workshop is really starting to take shape now and I'm so excited that I will soon be able to start all my home and garden projects in a space that is of a decent size to move around in - no more shuffling around in a 7x12 shed with small worktops that meant I couldn't build anything bigger than a bird house and had to wait until summer so I could build outside - a complete waste of winter months when I would actually have the time to build and create things.

The new workshop is actually a quarter of my husbands existing workshop (it took me months to convince him to section me the end off) and measures just over 20ftx20ft, a huge improvement not only in actual space but worktops also. Not only has MrCH made me a worktop covering 2 lengths of the walls but I also have a concrete slab area for tall work (the rest of the floor is gravel unfortunately but I'm not complaining - yet) and he even made me a work station that I could access from all sides by boarding out the top of his pool table.
It's not finished yet, I'm moved in and all my tools etc are in there but it's a mess as I try to organise stuff and work out where stuff is going. I'm not one to buy in loads of new wood in order to make lovely fancy racking and matching tool racks so everything I make is made from either old wood or pallet wood, it doesn't look posh or fancy but it does the job.

This is what I started with, 20x20 of hubbys shed. It needed insulating, boarding out and something fixing to the ceiling because the steel sheets tend to condensate in the winter and who needs to be dripped on all day!




More views of where we started. The pool table barely got used but is amazingly heavy so hubby agreed to let me make use of it as a walk around work table. We moved it slightly to the far end so that I could also make use of the concrete slab it sits on.



Insulation is in and we've begun boarding the walls out. The windows look squiffy in these pictures but they're really not, a spirit level was used throughout and the sloping roof give it an optical illusion. In fact I'm quite proud of those windows because I put them in and fixed them myself!
The door is an old one we've had sitting here for years and is now in the opening you see to the right.


These are the views I'm going to have to put up with while I'm working away in there, it's hard but someone has to do it.



Next time I'll post its current progress and the weird and wonderful projects I've made for door handles and shelving etc.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

DIY Christmas baubles / decorations

Every year at the run up to christmas I promise myself that this will be the year when I make at least some of the umpteen ornaments and decorations that I have piling up on my 'Pinterest' list and every year I seem to end up saying "I'll start earlier next year". Of course I never do 'start earlier' because making christmas decorations doesn't seem a priority in the months when the weather is fine and I can be gardening or in the workshop making garden structures.
This year was no exception, not so much due to productivity on the garden front but more to do with illness and/or loss of mojo. So now, feeling rested and relaxed after a much needed vacation to Mexico I'm finding myself frantically trying to make new ornaments and baubles with just 2 days left to the big day itself knowing that once christmas day has passed I'll once again return to thinking "I'll start earlier next year".
The problem with this frantic need to create a masterpiece is that I'm cutting corners and trying to get a professional look in a quarter of the time using materials that really aren't going to cut the mustard so I've decided enough is enough - I really will simply have to 'start earlier next year'.

Before I went away I did manage to complete a set of 6 personalised baubles for the tree using my new favourite crafty product - vinyl.
I cannot believe I wasn't aware of vinyl and its crafty gorgeousness before now but I really didn't, not until I came across it on 'Pinterest' and once I saw what it could do I knew I had to try a small project using vinyl and my Cricut. It's safe to say I am now so in love with vinyl projects that I'm saving up for a Silhouette Cameo to unleash a whole new load of ideas and projects.

The baubles turned out pretty good for my very first vinyl attempt and they look great on the tree. There are various tutorials all over the internet and 'Youtube' so I won't bore anyone with the precise steps that I followed to create these


For the most part they were relatively easy and I was only restricted by the few fonts I had on Cricut cartridges (another reason to get a Silhouette cameo).
The hardest letters no matter which font I used were the 'O' and the 'W', it doesn't matter what method I used to put those letters on they all resulted in at least one crease and in the end I had to accept that no one was going to scrutinise them closely enough to notice.
The ribbon was fiddly more than difficult but I suspect it was more the hack handed way I was going about doing it than it being a difficult job. I have a tendency to choose the quick route over the correct route too many times even though I know it's going to end in frustration and a less than perfect finished look - this is something I seriously need to work on.

Another  project completed and showing the 'quick route' result is these xmas baubles


Don't laugh! I told you the result from the 'quick route' is always less than perfect.
What you see here is my attempt at a bauble xmas tree only I couldn't be bothered with sorting the baubles first, working out a configuration that worked or even to fix the trigger on my glue gun first!
With a broken glue gun trigger I literally had to somehow hold the gun in a position that meant I could hold it and push the glue stick through in one hand while holding the baubles together in the other hand - I do not recommend this method! This resulted in burnt fingers and glue going everywhere because I could not control the gun holding it in that manner, hence why you see alot of solid glue in the finished project. This angle is the better angle, the other side is atrocious.
I would happily have thrown the whole thing away but for some bizarre reason my husband likes it - hmmmmm maybe it's a sympathy thing, maybe he felt bad for me.
Needless to say I am replacing the glue gun!

Another project that should have been easy but tested my patience was the very simple baubles in a giant teacup


These things just never turn out the way I imagined even when I don't take the quick route.  I'm not entirely sure what I expected or why I don't particularly like it (maybe it needs to be a xmas teacup) but it's staying for now and then I'll rethink it next year.

This could be my last post before Christmas day so in the words of Clement Moore "Happy christmas to all, and to all a good night"

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