Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Auction lots

We live in the Scottish Highlands. We chose to live here to get away from the hussle and bustle of the credit card lifestyle we had in England. We wanted a life of clean air, no mortgage and freedom for our children in relative safety as they grew up and we got that, all of it.
We love living here, despite the naff weather we literally love living here. The only slight niggle we have ever had is the lack of shops, the nearest town is 15 miles away but has no bargain stores or shops where I would have a choice of brushes, paints etc. Homebase is the only DIY store and while it's certainly handy to have in a town with not much else, the choice is limited.
We can drive 2 hours south to Inverness City and we used to do this on a regular basis but now it just seems like a chore that neither of us wants to do so I mostly have to buy online.
You can imagine the joy then when a town store decided to open a weekly auction - hey, it's somewhere to go in a county that has nothing!
Mr CH and I went to the auction a few weeks ago and I bought a wooden trunk to renovate and a side cabinet with strange carvings on it to renovate as a fish tank stand. But this week we went with the intentions of bidding solely on a freezer Mr CH needs to keep the food for the birds of prey in.
Mr CH won the freezer but no one was bidding on the furniture that was that - I mean literally no one!
Well what's a girl to do when furniture such as a Stag cabinet was in danger of ungoing unsold at £2 - buy it of course!
This set the tone though and I ended up buying 5 other pieces for £2 each and I'm not even sure what I can do with them.

This is the Stag sideboard is the only piece that I have a mission for so far.

 I guess I'm going to be scouring Pinterest for ideas for all these items for quite some time.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Draper pocket hole jig - review so far!

I have wanted a pocket hole jig for quite some time now but I kept putting it off because I basically thought the one I wanted (the Kreg K4MS) was too expensive. Then I decided to do some research and find a good but cheaper alternative - after all a pocket hole jig is a pocket hole jig right? Well not so much, as it turns out!

After much research I decided on the Draper jig and at a cost of £50 it was considerably less than the Kreg K4MS at £96.
Mr CH never understood the theory behind this, as far as he is concerned you buy the product that you want because an alternative is never going to quite live up to your expectations - wise words!

My jig arrived and I was so excited to get going with it on some coffee tables and a sideboard I was making a new top for but when I opened it up it was obvious that the company had sent me a used product - all the parts were loose in the box, some of the pocket hole screws were missing and the part you drill though actually had some damage to it.
It took a few weeks for Draper to send me a replacement because I went away on holiday but I was still excited to get going with the new product when it arrived.

In the box
  • Clamp assembly and base
  • 75mm square recess drilling bit
  • 150mm square recess drilling bit
  • Drilling depth stop collar
  • Drill bit
  • Drilling depth stop collar
  • 2.5mm hex key
  • 5mm hex key
  • Replacement drill bit collars
  • Drill guides
  • Pocket hole screws
  • Instructions

At this point I have to say that the instructions are naff, really seriously naff! If you're an expert with pocket hole jigs then you'll obviously know what you're doing so it won't matter (though I seriously doubt an "expert" would be using this jig) but if you're a complete newbie to them you're gonna have to find your info elsewhere. The problem with that is I scoured the net looking for a tutorial using the Draper Jig and couldn't find anything - the Kreg jig had loads but it isn't relevant to using this Draper jig.
Eventually I figured things out by wasting time and wood and seeing what does and doesn't work and when I eventually got the hang of it I was looking forward to producing professional looking pocket holes!!

I'm not sure what these pocket holes are supposed to look like but to me they looked very rough though it's not a problem because you don't actually see them and yes, the join is exceptionally strong.
Along with naff instructions this jig came with no info on how to figure out where to set the drill stop and it makes no mention of screw sizes and how to work out what to use and what size wood to use for each screw size.
The problem I had that really reaaaaaaally annoyed me is that the clamp kept leaving dents on the good side of the wood. Even when I had the clamp open as much as possible and used only 3/4" wood there were still dents on the good side which are going to take time to get out.
The dents haven't shown up too well in the picture but honestly they are really evident and spoil the finish. The wood I use for my projects is pallet wood so it's never perfect anyway but these dents are really annoying.

The other problem I encountered is that the drill guides kept loosening on the jig plate and it made it harder to drill and the finished drill hole wasn't accurate. It was a simple solution to keep retightening the drill guides but very annoying.
I haven't yet completed a project using this jig because each piece now needs alot of time sanding it to get those darned dents out.
Basically I wish I had followed my husbands advice and just bought the Kreg jig, I really do not like this jig for many reason however I should point out it's good points as well as its bad


  • Metal construction
  • Cheaper than Kreg
Seriously that is it!

  • Poor instructions
  • Poor clamp design
  • No versatility
  • Dents on work!
  • Wobbly unstable parts. 

I may learn to like this jig the more I use it but I seriously doubt it and I can actually see me purchasing the Kreg jig I originally wanted and selling this one.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Auction furniture revival

A new auction place has opened up in town and last week Mr CH and I went along to see what was up for grabs. It was an antiques and jewellery auction and I had my eye on a few pieces of furniture but I'm quite tight fisted and won't go over what I want to pay for an item. Mr CH on the other hand knows what we should pay for something but gets caught in the excitement of a bidding war and doesn't like to back down, a few times I had to tell him no more!

I particularly liked a very large, carved chest of drawers, I had so many ideas running round my head for what I could do to it but when it came to bidding it hit my limit very quickly and while Mr CH would happily have bid until he won, it would have taken some of the pleasure out of the project for me if I knew I'd paid more than I wanted for it.

We did win this lovely wooden trunk though

If I only came away with one thing from the auction this trunk would be the one thing I would want.
It even still has the original top box inside

Thankfully all the metal work is still in situ with just one nail missing from the front lock.
I'm looking forward to transforming this trunk and can't wait to start taking all that dirty ugly canvas off to the lovely wood below.

We also had the winning bid on this lovely solid wood sideboard

Not sure what the carvings are all about but they certainly add some interest.
Initially we didn't realise the unit had drawers as they're very concealed when they're closed. It wasn't until we got it home that I discovered them.

It's not without its damage though - the previous owners obviously removed the original backing and replaced it with some nasty fibre board. They've also mullered the base panels for some reason and haven't done a very good job of making good.

A piece of carving from the bottom back has also been removed, probably to make the side board fit somewhere and it also looks like it used to have a top half attached to it as you can see where something has been removed just at the back of the top.

Two projects I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into. The trunk will be a blanket box for the front room and the sideboard (after much work) will be the new fish tank stand, at 4ft the tank fits on it perfectly.

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

Sharing at: