Sunday, 17 April 2011

I think I'm becoming a Womble ... ...

Yes I really do think I'm becoming a Womble, what's a Womble ? well for those who don't know these are Wombles (opens in new window) basically they made use of stuff people had thrown out, a blast from the past ? I used to watch the tv program when I was a kid, maybe this is responsible for my recent evolution into Wombledom ?

It's interesting, least I think it is, that back then there were tv programs about what is essentially re-cycling, and up-cycling, seems these days it's all about reduce, re-use and re-cycle, which to be honest I see nothing wrong with, maybe the Wombles knew something we didn't ?

I'm not going to get all environmental, but I think it's a good idea to reduce waste, and re-cycle what we can, for a start it's cheaper to re-use stuff than buy new, saving money is always good in my book. I also think a little less rubbish about won't be a bad thing either, and not because it'll save the planet, would you want to live next to a land fill site ? I know I wouldn't.

Anyway it seems that just lately I have been viewing things with a slightly different way of thinking, on my travels I often see things that people have thrown out and think what could I use that for ?

Seems a lot think that if you dump a load of stuff on the side of the road the council will eventually pick it up, truth is they don't (least not round our way) they'll leave it. If you have rubbish that needs moving then the council will charge for it, there are however people who go about in vans picking this stuff up to either sell on, or make use of in some way, modern day rag n bone men, and a lot will have adverts in the local paper, or come round door to do and take your unwanted stuff away for nothing, all it costs is a phone call.

On my weekly shopping run I go past a number of houses that seem to just dump stuff on the side of the road, one house in particular stands out, and a few weeks ago I noticed they had an old glass door outside, at the time I looked but thought as it was in good shape it wouldn't be there for long (I had an idea of what I could use it for)
I was wrong, the door sat in the same place for about three weeks, so the other day I thought right, I'm having it, I did knock on the door of the house to see if it was okay, they said yes, so I stuck it in my cycle trailer (which had the weekly shop in it already) and off I went.

This is what I made out of it - 

Yes another cold frame, made from old door and pallets.
I had already decided the door would make a great lid for a cold frame, and seeing as I had some wood left from my recent pallet experiments I figured it was a good idea :-)

It's easy to make something like this, and if you use the materials I have then it'll cost hardly anything, just a little time and effort. A wooden cold frame the same size as this (about a 100cm x 75cm) could be as much as twenty or thirty quid, mine cost about 2 hours in all :-)

To make something like this, is pretty easy, even for the less experienced diy types, it's basically a box with a lid, this one took a little more work as it's made from planks rather than sheets of wood, I used the same method for building this as I did for the re-cycled planter I made not so long ago.

The wood for the box - 

As you can see it's in strips, roughly 3 inches wide
The main disadvantage of doing things this way is that you have to stick each strip together to build up the box sides, it takes a little longer than just using a sheet of ply.

To connect the strips I just used another piece of pallet on each end, this also served as a fixing for the other sides.

This piece keeps the strips together.
You can use nails to fix it all together, but I tend to use screws for this type of thing, just to make sure it doesn't fall apart. For fixing the screws (I used 1inch screws for this) I have a handy little gadget, it's called a flip driver and if you use a cordless drill for wood working I'd suggest getting one, they are very handy and save time and the battery of your cordless drill.

My flip driver -

Saves time, and battery power.
The pictures aren't the best, but you can see that it has two parts, the holder that locks into the drills chuck and the bit holder and drill part, this is the part you flip round, depending on what you're doing.

The bit holder and drill -

One end for drilling and the other for driving.

What's really good about this little tool is that you can adjust how long to have the drill bit, depending on the depth you want for your pilot hole, and it also has a built in counter sink, so you can drill and counter sink at the same time, then all you do is flip it round and drive your screw in, no removing drill bits from chucks to put the driver in, you can pick them up pretty cheaply and you usually get three bit / drill bit holders, each take a different size drill bit, and each will have a slightly different sized counter sink.

Not very clear, but you can make out where it's counter sunk.
Another money saving tip, if you are going to use screws for your next wood working project, my advice is look to see where your nearest builders yard is, the reason being is that a box of 200 (1inch) screws cost me about two quid at my local builders yard, that includes VAT, the same box of screws at a diy store (you know the places I mean, B&Q, Homebase) will cost about five quid, sometimes more, so save some money, look for your local builders yard (Build center is a good place) and what's more if you need loads of screws you can usually get a discount as well ( is another good place for fixings)

Not much to say, it's a box of screws - 

Cheaper than diy stores, just as good.
If you do use pallets to make this sort of thing, you can use this method to make planters as well, then I'd recommend a clamp or two for the simple reason that pallet wood isn't always the straightest stuff, so using a clamp is a good way to make sure it's all nice and snugly together before fixing, as the next picture shows.

Using a clamp to hold things in place - 

Obviously the clamp size depends on the size of the project.

Once you have the two main sections built (the main section being the longest sides) you can then start to add the end, this is just a case of fixing each end to the ones you've already made.

The two longest sides completed -

Next step is to fix the shorter sides in place.
The cold frame I've made is a rectangle because I've made the sides to fit the door I found, but you can make it any size you want, especially if you intend to make your own lid. Once the sides are all fixed you should have a box shape.

Fixing the shorter sides - 

Just add each strip as you go.
After you have added all the side strips (if you used pallets) you should have something like the picture below, which is basically a box.

The finished frame - 

It's vaguely box shape :-)

And there you have it, if you use this method you should end up with a nice rustic looking planter, you can leave the wood as it is, or give it a sand and paint it with a colour of your choosing, you may also want to include a few strips across the bottom so that your plants don't fall out of the planter is moved. 

If you have kids like mine the prospect of a box may be too much for them to resist :-)  

What is it with kids and boxes ?

Now as I was making a cold frame I still had a little to do, mainly fit the door to the box. I could have just stuck the lid on and fixed it in place, but I decided to ad a little slope so that the lid sits at an angle to get a little more light into the box.
As it turns out the lid on this new cold frame is sitting at the same angle as the other one I built a while ago.

I guess there are a few ways you could add an angle to a box, but I just cut some more wood at the angle I wanted.

The angle marked out on wood - 

I made two like this.
You could also use a plane to shave the wood down to the angle you want, after I'd cut the wood all I did was fix it to the edge of the box using some longer screws, I could have added an extra piece of wood to fix to, but decided against it. Instead I drilled a pilot hole with a counter sink in the edge of the wood, I just about got away with it, had the wood been any thinner and I would have, had to use an extra piece of wood to fix to.

The wood used to create the angle, and fixing - 

Just enough room :-)
 And that's about it really, it's just a box with a lid and as I mentioned you can use the same method for building a wooden planter, or even raised planting beds.

For your viewing pleasure - 

So remember you're a Womble (and if you're not, maybe you should have a go)

Thanks for reading.


  1. Fab. Though you lost me for a while around the flip driver section.

  2. Thanks for reading, I do have a tendency to ramble on about things at times.

  3. Great post! Nozy (Sunnyboy's dad) was making cold frames last week with wood from an old futon base and perspex. Going to bookmark this post to show him your version as I'm sure he'll be very interested.

    A fellow womble ;)

  4. Thanks, good choice of materials, perspex may be a better option with kids about and if I ever get offered a futon I know what to do with it :-)

  5. Yay...Another Womble! We are Wombles at our house too and make use of everything rather than throw it out, even if its just for firewood during the winter.
    Love your cold frame....Fab tutorial.

  6. Thanks for reading.
    Making use of stuff that might otherwise get thrown out seems like a good idea these days, save money (always good) and it just requires a little thought and effort.

  7. People regularly turn their noses up at me because I hate to throw things away, and I'm not frightened of asking for something I think I can use if someone else is going to just bin it!

    I think this is a fab idea, very productive recycling :)