Sunday, April 22, 2018

Old is new again

I had another wood-working project in the pipeline, but it's more a restoration project, than one, built from scratch. It's a piece of furniture, which has become a family heirloom. First purchased for my sister and I to share - when she moved out, it temporarily became mine. That is, until my younger brother was born. And so it has been juggled around the siblings, to cater for the different clothes, we constantly grew out of.

My mother kept it, after all her kids moved out. Generously, it came into my possession again, when our daughter was born. You can do that with old furniture though. It takes a lot of beating! Nevertheless, my cabinet was destined to meet it's match, with a pair of cockatiel parrots. Their cage took up residence, on top of the cabinet, because it still resided in my daughter's room.

I swear...I didn't do it

Being the generous owner she is, they were allowed outside their cage, after school. Parrot beaks are designed to gnaw on wood and seeds with hard shells. Given the cage took up all the space on the cabinet, we figured they wouldn't be able to get at it. Not so! Clever, nimble, birds, found a way.

Not entirely me

They also managed to peel off a chink of wood, caused from normal, wear and tear. Not satisfied, they proceeded to enlarge it! On many an afternoon stroll, on the carpet, they gradually chipped away at the wooden scar. Of course, I was oblivious - I'm sure my daughter had an idea though *wink*.

Definitely NOT me!

Then there were...the droppings! When let out, the birds would perch on top of their cage. Naturally, the cabinet caught the brunt of it. Enough was enough. Time to rescue our family heirloom. So we organised an early birthday present for our daughter, and purchased a large cage on wheels. We moved the cabinet of drawers, out, and the birdcage, could take it's place in her room.

Okay...that was me

Our poor, abused, family heirloom, had no permanent home. So it resided in the middle of a small hallway, between some bedrooms, and a bathroom. Thankfully, I had a plan though! It's prospects would turn around, soon.

Guilty too

See all this stuff, hidden behind the cabinet? They were leftovers, from another house re-shuffle. My fabric stash for sewing, and some of my husband's hat collection, were evicted from various places, because I needed the furniture for other tasks. You know how it goes!

So the fabric stash was destined to love the new cabinet, and the new cabinet was destined for that naked wall. It just needed a bit of fixing, is all.


I'm sure this is jut normal wear and tear, but it's possible the cockatiels helped it along. If I was going to repaint the cabinet, I would have to patch-up, a lot of holes.

Who's responsible?

Oh, this was definitely us kids!! Someone threw a hissy-fit. I can't remember who it was, or what it was over - but the poor cabinet wore the brunt of it. The sides were made of ply, (or thin, silky oak, my mum believes) which gave way. All these years (at least 15, it's been in my possession) I've been meaning to fix it.

So eventually, the day came, I would...


Wood filler. Fantastic stuff! Cheap (in the powdered form) and great at hiding a multiple sins. You'd never know by the outside of the cabinet, what took place. The inside, however, kept the truth immortalised...

The wolverine was here

It never did affect the drawers opening and closing, so there it can stay. I like a bit of history, in wooden furniture. There were many things I chose to keep, simply because I didn't want a new piece of furniture. I wanted the story to be immortalised, forever.

On the other hand, there were just some things, which had to go!

A relief to remove

Green florals from the 80's, I don't mind. It's the fact it was contact, and would catch dust in the corners, it didn't quite reach. I wanted a less permanent option. Something I could remove for cleaning, and allow the wood to breath.

 Keeping the green theme

Unfortunately, I couldn't find paper drawer liners - my first option. I did come across some tablecloth vinyl instead. Removable and wipeable. I quite liked the pattern, too. It would suit the final finish, I was hoping to achieve.

Almost naked, drawers

The main body of the cabinet would be painted, because it needed a lot of wood filler. But the drawers, would be roughly stripped, and not painted. Since my mum told me the drawers were made of silky-oak, many years ago, I've always wondered what silky-oak, looked like.

Well, now I have revealed the wonderful wood, and even kept some of the blue paint, and white undercoat too. I couldn't do away with all those memories. Especially since my mum's original paint job, has withstood 3 of her children, 1 grandchild (to date) and 2 parrots!

Looks weird in this position

This is the cabinet, with most of it's blue paint removed. Upside down, too, because it was going to be easier to paint that way. Before I covered it over, I wanted a picture of all that lovely, silky-oak, wood.

Before (matt) and after (shiny)

I am coming to the end of this story soon, but first, the area I was going to leave exposed, included the cabinet top. I could have sanded it smooth, but why? 

At some point I'll get some furniture wax, but chose to treat it with a mixture of ingredients I had at home. Apple cider vinegar, mixed with raw linseed oil, lemon and eucalyptus oil. It smelled divine, and the wood felt so silky to touch, afterwards - even without sanding.

 A sneak-peek

Afterwards, I was reminded of the smell of wooden furniture in my Nan's house. It was like having a felled tree in your home. I never knew what I was smelling, back then. Now I do, because we work with a lot of trees in our backyard. Felled wood is raw, refreshing and I'm surprised after all these years, it still retains some of that original scent of silky-oak.

Loving it's new home

My finished set of drawers are not perfect, but they were never intended to be. I wanted to fix some damage, put hard-wearing paint on the main body, and let a bit of history show through. I even kept the back, original (see pic with junk behind cabinet). No stripping, sanding or painting the entire back section. Just to maintain that original, blue and white prosperity - telling of childrens' clothes, unfortunate hissy-fits and (in the scheme of things) sharing based on need.

A set of blue drawers, gets a new lease on life. But I know...I still haven't found a new home for all those hats! Another time.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Lego play

It's nearly the end of Easter holidays, but there's still time for some last minute, imaginative play. Peter loves lego, and received several play-sets from relatives, last Christmas. The plain, 600 piece, block-set has been the one he plays with the most. Because he can make all sorts of things out of them!

Right now he's going through a gaming phase....

Pac-man hunts down ~
3 ghosts, a strawberry and 2 cherries

He doesn't really play games on a console, but he loves to watch them on Youtube. First, it was Mario. Now, Pac-Man. He tried to recreate them with his lego blocks, recently. Proving to be rather challenging, he decided to ask for help. So a collaboration was formed, between him and his two folks.

Because Pac-Man was our introduction to console games. Arcade games were the only option our generation had, back then. Heck, the personal computer wasn't even rolled out, until we were in high school!

Enough nostalgia though. Except maybe for Lego blocks. Fun to play with, but never walk barefoot around them. Or you'll be cursing up a storm! Man, do those things hurt. But kept contained, they're great play on the holidays.  

What the...?

And that was supposed to be the end of it! I was ready to hit "publish", when Peter mumbled something about ghosts, behind me. When I turned around, I saw this imaginative stack. That boy, sure loves his lego!

It's the one plastic toy, I don't mind having in the house. He has a box full of toys, but lego would have to be, what he plays with the most. He still plays with the mega-blocks (larger version of lego) we gave him as a toddler. I wonder what Peter will think of making next?

Is there a favourite toy you enjoyed as a child - or perhaps your children, or grandchildren, love? My favourite imaginative play, as a child, was building cubby houses!

Sunday, April 8, 2018


I didn't mean to wait so long, before writing this post. It's the finished project I spoke about painting, recently. With Easter holidays, traveling for relatives' birthday's, starting a week long art challenge via Instagram, and work in general, this is the soonest, I could commit to blogging.

So, what did I end up making....

Click to enlarge

It's a bench seat, with built-in shoe storage. I told you it was going to be simple. It's a necessary piece of furniture nonetheless, as I was having a shoe storage problem (read: explosion!) near the front door.

Real life

Even with a shoe cull, last year, the shoes were beginning to pile up everywhere. Especially since our youngest, needed more shoes to wear, as well. There's actually more shoe mess, not shown in the above picture, but I'm dealing with the shoe storage problem, one area at a time.

Problem solved

Specifically, there was a lack of space for boots! They were stored under a hallway table, adjacent to this area. With boots being so tall too, I could never find a shoe rack I could purchase, that would allow me to store shoes above them. Hence, why I decided to make my own bench seat, shoe rack.

Practical and functional

This furniture, solved several more problems, than shoe storage though. My husband was using a nearby coffee table, to pull his work shoes on. A table, our son always had covered with lego! So it was a matter of moving lego, to find a suitable place to sit down. Not any more though.

It also dealt with the school bag problem, emerging after our son started school this year. Our eldest, packs her own bag, so it lives in her room. We still had to pack his bag though, so it tended to live on the couch, nearest the kitchen. This bench seat, however, is in a better position, and it frees up the couch again!

There are several more, woodworking projects I have to design, that deal specifically with niche, storage areas. They're such simple projects too, but high in real estate value. Meaning, I get more storage per the same locale. All in good time though.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Long weekend fun

Happy Easter, to all who celebrate it - and to those who don't, I hope you're having a lovely weekend too. The extra public holidays, ensure ample time for whatever takes your fancy! For me, it's traditionally DIY time.

Pine wood grain

I've embarked on a little work-working project. It's very simple by design. I like simple when it comes to wood-work, because maths is not my forte. Numbers are what determine the cuts. I muddle along regardless, measuring and measuring again.

I'm finishing the last coat of paint today, so decided to squeeze in a blog post. Not about the project itself (I'll reveal that another day) rather, the tools it takes to put something together. Do you go the manual or electric route? There are so many decisions to make!

A saw point

Normally, I go the manual tools route. It's always cheaper to buy, and cheaper to maintain. Because electric tools have more power, so the bits that cut or sand, need replacing more often. My former, cheap hand-saws (above) had done their dash. It's not the rust so much, as the metal's ability to keep a sharp edge. Cheap metal, means you lose the blade edge, quickly.

So I went looking for an electric, table saw, and found one, for about $180. Pretty reasonable for what it could do! I'd use it for this project, and another, bigger one - turning, Middle Ridge chicken coop, into a tool shed.

 January 2009
~ soon to be, tool shed ~

That table saw was looking more, and more attractive, for the bigger projects. When I went to look at it however, I noticed how large it was. That's a lot of space, I didn't have. Short-term, it would have to live on the verandah. But even longer term, it would take up a lot of space, in my small (future) tool shed.

So I considered how I was able to build that chicken coop, with nothing but a hand-saw, in the first place. I also considered how easy it was to store, said tool on a hook, on a wall. Yes, that table-saw was a mighty fine tool, but it wasn't the tool for me, it seems.

 Super saw

A handsaw, is person powered - making any accidents, minor. Being light weight, it's easy to get out of storage too. So I inspected the handsaw section, and decided to buy, a top of the range one, made in Sweden.

It's advertised as the ProCut, and it's spot on! I couldn't tell the difference between my cut edge, and the machine edge from the store. Actually, I think mine, looked even better.

 Fine edge

Not only did I look for a quality saw, but I also looked for a "fine" graded cut. Meaning, I won't lose a lot of wood as I cut through. It's light-weight and half the size of the bigger handsaws, so minimal muscle fatigue. Which becomes an issue when you're cutting through harder woods. Wow, I really think about tools a lot, don't I?

I guess I do...but in the scheme of things, quality tools aren't cheap, so you want to ensure you're buying something you can actually use. This BAHCO handsaw, set me back $50. If it's anything like my Stanley handsaw, however, it will last many, many years.

Tried and true

I already had a Stanley mitre saw, which I still use. It's about the same age, as my other (cheap) handsaws. I tried using it for this project, and it still cuts beautifully!! See how quality steel, makes all the difference? Unfortunately, the wood I was cutting, was too wide for it. Mitre saws, can only cut, to the top of the metal bar (on top).

So that's why I invested in another handsaw. The quality steel, has proven it's worth over the years. Still dependable, when I need it. By investing in a quality handsaw, that WILL cut straight through, regardless how wide the wood is - should serve many more projects. Even building a tool shed, for my tools.

I was FAR happier with this purchase, than I would have been, with the bulky, table saw, cluttering up the verandah. Plus, I saved about $130!

Brand: CraftRight

With the extra money I was saving, I decided, to purchase a few more, manual, hand tools. Not for the sake of spending money, but because I've contemplated these particular tools, for a while now. I've worked on projects in the past, and wished I had these tools, to help with the final finish.

I purchased a hand planer (above) which came in handy, with this particular project. One of the pine boards were bowed, which showed, when attached to another board. My hand planer, shaved off the overlap, to give a crisp, straight edge.

 Right tools for the right job

My existing, electric sander, made short work, of sanding the entire project, after it was completed. But that bowed board, was proving to be more of an obstacle. I went through two pieces of sand paper, and barley made a dent in that bow. The hand-planer, however, had it done much quicker. Plus, I enjoyed the tactile connection and sound, way more than the electric sander!I

So I do use electric tools. It just makes sense to use the right tool, for the right job. And not ALL jobs, have an electric solution, as the best one.

 Discrete joinery

There's another tool I invested in, which I LOVE! I've wanted this, for such a long time. It's a drill jig, which drills into a board, on an angle. I can join boards, which may not allow normal screw access, from the top. It also makes it easier to hide screw heads.

I didn't actually have the right screws (above) but if I did, I could have filled the hole with wood filler, afterwards, and it becomes invisible.

Simple, but effective

The drill jig, is the simple orange piece, which holds the drill at a consistent angle. The kit, includes the uniquely shaped, drill bit. I've seen much fancier kits for sale, online, but I REALLY like the simplicity of this one. Especially, when I'd never used one before.

I already had the electric drill, but I did have to purchase a suitable clamp. It's important the jig (and wood) doesn't move, as you're drilling. So a sturdy clamp, keeping it together, is imperative.

Not all clamps, are made equal

I eventually settled on this quick-release, clamp, above. Notice how the part which touches the jig, is straight. It doesn't move, when you're pushing with the drill, in other words. The first clamp, I purchased however, was not so good at this job!

 This one, failed

I actually purchased this clamp, based on the picture on the back of the jig package. It said, any clamps like this one, was suitable. What I found however, was the tips, that were designed to move, would shift, as I put pressure on the drill.

I could have returned the above clamp, but decided, I'm always running out of clamps, when building with wood. It's suitable for working with a set of clamps, together, for holding projects together.

My lucky charm

So I'm on the last leg of my present project - being the painting part. I couldn't wrap this post up, without mentioning this wonderful tool, above.

What? A stick!

Yeah, I know. Ordinary. But there's a bit of history behind that stick. The first project I built as an adult, after flying the coop, was a bird aviary. Sorry for the pun. But that stick, was an off-cut, from my first project.

Don't ask me how, but that stick has survived five moves, since. If you're ever going to adopt DIY, my advice is to adopt a painting stick. Use the same one, all the time. Why? Because it's a lot easier to move through the paint, when there's already a layer of paint on it. Raw wood, tends to absorb the paint and act like brakes. I've just realised, I've been stirring paint for nearly two decades!

Circa 1999

I found my original photo (you know, back when film was developed) of my first carpentry project. The paint stick, originated from here. I was 20-something, then, and I'm 40-something, now.

Golly. Gee! I don't feel old, I just feel lucky to have lived this long, to develop something I feel so passionate about. I didn't realise I would. I guess that's what time teaches you, though. So if you're in it for the long haul, make all those tool choices, count. Let them last you a good while, and be easy to store.

Is there a tool you've been wanting for a while - either for the shed, office, garden or kitchen?