Sunday, 27 November 2011

Getting organised ... Sort of ... ...

In a bid to be more productive I have come to the conclusion that I need to be more organised, so I've been trying to get my workshop (okay it's a shed) into some kind of order, especially now as I have a shiny new post drill to find a space for, well I have a space for it, it's just occupied by a load of crap.

One of the things I've found is that rolls of sand paper can get unruly at times, I have quite a bit of sandpaper, of different grades for wood turning and other stuff, so I normally get it on a roll rather than in sheet form, the problem with that is it gets all over the place, so the other day I figured I'd do something about the sandpaper.

And this is the solution, which would work for other things as well -

Scrap wood always comes in handy for this kind of thing.

Yes it's a big roll holder, and I made it from odd bits of plywood I had lying about, as I mentioned this would work for other things as well, rolls of material for example, although you might need to make it wider, rolls of paper and just about anything else you can get on a roll.

All you need is 3 bits of wood, and a length of dowel or an old broom handle or such like, I fixed this together with nails and wood glue, but you could use screws, which might be better for heavier materials.

I cut a strip for the back of the holder, this allows you to fix it to a wall easily, you just need to drill holes through the back.

The sides I cut at a slight sloping angle, but you could just leave them straight, I then cut slots into each side for the dowel, and I also made a small notch in each side so that when you pull on a roll the it doesn't all fly out of the holder.

The sides -

You can see the notch to stop the pole coming out.

I used my multi tool to make the notch.

And that's about it, you could probably pick up the wood to make this in the off cut bin in your local diy type shop, so it needn't be expensive, I used the same peg technique I used for the trug handle to make sure the pole doesn't come out of the holder.

The peg technique - 

Not very neat, but it's for my workshop.

And here's the finished article, it will hold a few rolls of sandpaper, and if I need a bigger one I can just root about in my scrap wood collection for the bits, the holder has now been installed in the workshop and it performs well.

Ta Da !

I have made a few other items for helping me to become more productive, and less chaotic, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Homemade trug ... ...

I decided to use up some of the bits of plywood I have lying about, and so I made a trug, it's actually a prototype for a potential future shop item, I do tend to build these things at least once before I decide to sell them, just like to get the method down so I can make them quickly.

Anyway it's pretty easy to make your own trug, although it's not the traditional type made of thin wooden strips, but even so they can look quite nice.

To make a trug you basically need 5 bits of plywood (that's if you got for sheet material) you need 2 ends and 2 sides and a base, you'll also need something to make a handle out of, a piece thick dowel is ideal for this.

I haven't included any plans, mainly because it's a preferential thing, I made mine to suit us, but you can make yours to how you want, I'll give you some pointers though.

Here's what mine ended up looking like -

Perhaps a little larger than it needed to be ?

You can get an idea of how it's built, it's basically a fancy box. I cut the 2 ends to a nice shape, but you can just make the ends square, you will need a way to cut the shape out though if you choose to go down that road, a jigsaw will do well enough, or if you have a scroll saw it will do just as well.

Some other things you will need are some glue, nails and sand paper, as well as something to make the handle from. This is unfinished, it's got to have a paint job, but you could just varnish the wood, it's up to you.

 If you use angled sides, like I have you might want to sand the bottom of it flat, it makes it easier to fix the base.

Another picture -

It looks a little thin, but it's quite sturdy.
I fixed it all together with small brass pins and a good quality wood glue, making sure the base is well fixed, you don't want the contents falling out all over the place.
The handle is just a bit of plain dowel that I've fixed in place using 2 pegs, one on either end.

Brass pins and pegs to hold on the handle -

I shaved a piece of dowel down for the peg.

Brass pins.

 And that's about it really, not the most complicated of projects, but the result is quite pleasing, and it's also functional, but you could make one just for decoration, the method is the same, obviously thicker wood will mean the trug is heavier, and when you have it loaded up with goodies it'll be heavier still, I used 6mm plywood, which I feel is plenty strong enough, so why not make yourself one out of some bits of scrap wood, might come in handy for blackberry picking or for freshly dug up spuds.

Inspire Me Beautiful

Monday, 7 November 2011

Experiments with dead wood ... ...

I'm sure people are beginning to wonder about me, seems every time I hear a chain saw I'm off looking to see what's being cut down, although it is paying off, just the other day I acquired 2 large sections of Silver Birch, which was going for fire wood, it'll be a while before I can use it, but even so.

I will also (fingers crossed) be getting some Holly and Apple in a few days time, which will further expand my collection of logs.

A few weeks ago I did a shrub removal job for a friend and I decided I'd have a go a turning some of it, I asked if I could take some, which receive a slight raising of the eye brow, and a look of "what on earth do you want that for ? " but I took some of the more usable pieces home.

It turns out it's some kind of Cypress tree, but because it had been pruned on a regular basis it wasn't very big and as a result of the pruning some of it had died, and it's the dead bit's I took most of, mainly because I figured I could turn it straight away, if it's dead it won't warp or crack as there's no life left in the wood.

Even wood that's been cut down still has life in it, it will shrink and grow with the temperature and humidity of the air, but dead wood won't, at least not so much.

So this is what I made from one bit of the dead wood - 

It's an interesting colour.

It turned pretty well, and I managed to get a great finish on it, and even though it didn't appear to be very hard wood, it is, even though it's a small pot it feels sturdy, and the point on the lid is quite sharp.

Another picture -

With the lid off.

You can't really see it in the pictures, but in some places it has a kind of pale pinky colour to it, which is quite nice. I burned the dark band in while it was on the lathe, this is an easy way to add a little detail to an item, you basically hold a piece of wood to the piece whilst it's revolving and friction does the rest, although if you hold the wood to the piece for too long you'll get fire !

I've found this technique is a good way to add a little extra interest to an item, but it works better on some woods than others, I've also found that it's best to use a piece of the same wood, rather than a random bit you might have lying about, you can also use a welding rod or even one of those ceramic tile saw blades, the ones that you hand cut tiles with.

The Apple tree I have my eye on is also dead, so I hope to start turning that more or less straight away, so I'm quite looking forward to turning a load of new stuff.

Thanks for reading.

Allotement update ... ...

I thought I'd do a quick update on our allotment, to be honest not much has been going on, just keeping it clear and getting it ready for next year.

We didn't get as much as we had hoped for, but in all fairness it did take some time to actually get it into a usable state, so fingers crossed for next year.

The pumpkins we grew did okay, not massive but usable for both eating and carving.

Pumpkins -

And some lettuce, in October ?

My wife part cooked the flesh for use in soups and anything else we can think of cooking with it, by the way roast pumpkin with your Sunday dinner is very good, just cut it up and chuck it in with the roast spuds.

I have a variety of projects on the go at the moment, the most important is the dolls house I'm building for my daughter, fingers crossed I'll get it done before Christmas, but I have plans for sorting out the allotment plot and making it look a little tidier, for a start I need to build a proper compost bin system, I have the wood, just need an extra hour in the day.

However I did manage to get the strawberry plants we got from freecycle planted in their own raised bed.

New strawberry bed made from floorboards - 

It's bigger than it looks.

I had planned to use the runners from the plants we have in the back garden to start a strawberry bed going at the allotment, but our strawberries didn't do so well this year, not sure why, but as luck would have it someone on freecycle offered a load of plants, free to a good home, so I jumped at the chance, and as it turns out I got 80 odd plants for the price of a push bike ride, and a bit of digging, 80 plants is a lot, but it didn't even make a dent in the strawberry bed they came from, and I was 1 of 8 that was lucky enough to get some plants.

So I trundled down to the plot the next morning and set about clearing a space for them, and building a bed.

The bed close up -

They look a little sad, but they'll soon perk up.

So I have a fair chunk of the plot cleared, just needs some feeding, I have a load of homemade compost to go into the ground, which now feels much better than it did when we took the plot on, although a bit of rain has helped that.

And that's about it really, it seems as though the weeks spent weeding are starting to pay off, and with some careful planning next year we will get the most out of the plot, more of everything, least that's the plan.

Thanks for reading.