Archive for the 'Woodworking' Category


dscn0565Been awhile since my last post, to say my personal life has been very up and down over the past 2 years would be an understatement. However I’ve learnt a lot about myself  over the time as well as facing and overcome many challenges. I hope to be posting more projects back to my blog over the coming months. First up an IVAR shelf I assembled and customized. Full credit to Ikea Hackers for the side bar dowel idea.

I’m very happy with how the shelves have turned out and it was certainly worth the extra effort to stain and varnish the unit and make a few modifications.

First up I settled on an approximate shelf spacing of 30cm (12inchs). On the 124cm tall sides this equated to needing five shelves and one cross brace. When I selected my shelves I carefully picked out shelves that had no joins or filled knots so they would look as nice as possible when finished. I sanded the entire frame down using 180 followed by 280 grit sand paper. Unfortunately I should have hit the side bars harder as there are still some electric plane marks from the original manufacturing process visible.


My finished IVAR compared to the stock version

I screwed and glued some thin pine timber to the back edge of four of the shelves (not the top shelf) to create a lip at the back of each shelf. This should prevent items from being pushed off the back of the shelf and sliding down behind the unit. Very annoying when it comes time to fish the items that have fallen down behind the shelf back out.


I followed the example on the Ikea Hackers page and inserted dowels down each side. This really helped finish off the shelf unit and will prevent items from toppling or being pushed off the shelves sideways.

I finished the whole unit using Cabots waterbased cabothane, the sides used the stain and varnish in one product tinted to Suburbia. I chose Suburbia as I wanted a lighter brown rather than a red brown. The Stain and Varnish product took a little getting used to, best tip I can say is apply it in very thin coats with not much product on your brush.

Assembly was very easy with the shelves popping into place and then screw the back metal brace in place which firms the whole unit up. I’m very happy with how the shelves look and plan to make a second taller set in the near future. They now go to there permanent home for now in a cupboard for food and other item storage. The additional stain, varnish and timber came to about an extra $60 AUD on top of the shelf costs.


Woodworking gives me something useful to do when I’m feeling puny and it takes my mind off my troubles. ~ Gary McCarthy

Trailer – Easy Trailer Folding Trailer

It has been a while since my last post however I have been very busy,  until now I haven’t completed any projects. I try to keep my blog for things I finish so that I do finish them. This is the first post of three showing one of the big projects I’ve/We’ve (Wife, Dad, Mum, Odd Tradesman) have been working on over the past 3 months, the other two projects being; having my house re-clad and working hard to finish off the refurbishment of the spare room.

I bought an easy trailer folding trailer from carlex based in Melbourne, I’m pretty sure if your in the US these are the same trailers you can buy through Harbour Freight. I settled on this trailer for a few reasons:

  • Firstly it’s light about 100kg (220lbs) assembled as a tabletop trailer, I have a small car so I wanted to minimize the dead weight I tow.
  • Secondly the gross tare for the trailer exactly matches the max tow capacity for my car (Toyota Yaris)
  • Thirdly I can fold it up and more easily push it around and store it without it taking up a huge amount of space.

I wont do a big blow by blow assembly post there are quiet a few nice U-tube videos showing assembly and folding. Overall the assembly was reasonably easy although it did take two of us about 6 hours to go from 3 box’s of parts to a finished trailer with working lights. I didn’t order a floor from carlex as I couldn’t see the point in  shipping ply halfway across Australia.

Image borrowed from carlex catalog

Once the trailer was assembled and the floor was on I rolled it down to my local blue slip inspection station. I wont say it was an easy process to get the trailer blue slipped but it definitely was not as tough as getting a Custom built job engineered and then blue slipped. Small tip replace the nuts that come on your light fittings with nylocks one of mine rattled a little loose on the way to the inspection station and then they wouldn’t pass it, which meant my trailer then got trapped unregistered on the other side of my wall cladding material for 4 weeks. I suspect most people wont have the issue of having there new external wall cladding blocking the rear garden gate so it was really a non-issue :).

Once the trailer was registered I built up a wooden cage that provides approximately 95cm (just over 3 feet high) of height to make garbage hauling etc much easier, this gives me approximately 2 square meters of garbage/stuff hauling capacity. The cage itself took about 10-12 hours to build and paint. I pretty much followed the instructions available on the carlex website (available on this page) however I did make some minor changes:

  • I used Aussie hardwood fence slates for the rails should be tougher and stronger, the uprights are standard structural pine.
  • Added a double swing gate to the rear that meets in the middle for easier loading and unloading.

Someone else might like to add rear gates so I’ve included a few close up pictures below of how I mounted my gate. The ocy strap is just in case, but I have been unable to rattle the drop bolts apart when driving and I’ve tried hard. My gates wont fold back 270 degrees but they do go back a little more than 180. You could mount the hinges on the side and use normal square hinges for a full fold back. I decided to stick with the below configuration as the T hinges provide added support to each of the gates.

I plan on eventually having 4 configurations for my trailer:

  • As a tabletop trailer for hauling plasterboard, doors and other large flat building supplies (done).
  • A friend is going to use it to move his motorbike around on the odd occasion so it will also be fitted with a removable front wheel channel (to be mounted).
  • As a 6×4 cage trailer for hauling rubbish or moving odd bits of furniture quickly (done).
  • As a standard 6×4 with small sides (need to build or buy these)

All in all I’m very happy with my folding trailer all up costs for the kit, rego and crate are about $1000, for a 6×4 trailer which weights with crate about 135-145kg. Not the cheapest 6×4 you can buy but probably one of the more versatile and easy to store.

Woodworking – Dog Kennel

I’ve spent the past 2 weekends building a new dog kennel. We got Loki  from the pound just before Xmas last year, he was basically about to be put down when we grabbed him. He’s pretty thin but has really come out of his shell over the past 6-7 months and has a really nice temperament . As the weather has turned much colder now I needed to build him a real kennel to sit in during the day while we are away at work.

I had some old cupboard doors and bits of timber laying around so designed the kennel around these parts. The design I settled on was an A-frame design using the doors as the underlying framework and weather proofing the outside with hardwood and tin to protect the flimsy hollow core door framework. I’m also hoping the air gap in the hollow core doors will provide some very small amount of insulation for the kennel.

The first step was to build up a solid base using pine slates and pine 3×2’s. I basically kept it as square as I could but didn’t worry to much about cutting the pine boards to exactly the same length. To make my design simpler when looking from the front the kennel would appear to an equilateral triangle. As such the front edge (closest edge in the picy) is approximately 80cm across and the base is just over 72cm deep which was the width of my doors.

Next I cut two side walls out of one of the doors. One side was cut from the top of the door and the other side was cut from the bottom of the door. This was so 3 edges of each side had a hardwood rail. I cut the bottom edge of each side to 30 degrees and cut the non-hardwood top side to 60 degrees.

Next step was to simply nail the sides to the base and screw the top together, I only used two screws front and rear at the top and 4 nails along the bottom of each sides edge. All the nails and screws go through hardwood edges inside the doors. Here’s Loki checking out the fit of his new house after the sides had been nailed and screwed on. The second picture shows one of the sides and were the nails and screws are located.

I cut the front and rear walls next. The walls were cut so that they slotted inside the existing frame, however one layer of outer skin was used as an overlap to make nailing and gluing much easier, you can see the overlap in the below pictures.

As you can see from the above picture the front wall has a doorway cutout, to fit Loki I had to make doorway quiet tall (15cm) as he’s a tall lanky dog.  The cutout however exposes the flimsy cardboard inner support structure of the hollow core door. To strength the door hole and protect the inside I cut some small supporting struts to insert into the door between the two skins. I didn’t nail these in place simply glued and clamped them until they were dry.

Next it was a simple matter to slide and nail/glue the front and rear walls into place. This finished up the underlying framework for the kennel.

At this point I ran some silicon sealant along the top edge and in some of the other gaps along the front and rear wall. Not really necessary but just a tiny bit more protection in case some water gets through the tin roof and hardwood boards that were to placed on the front and rear walls.

I planed some of the old hardwood fencing planks I had laying around so that what would be the front facing surface had a smoother finish. I then cut the planks to length with a 30 degree angle on each end and nailed them in place. Around the doorway on the front side I cut some edging and then boarded around this. It’s a little hard to describe but the photo below should show what I mean. Tory our other dog decided to check the kennel out at this stage.

I gave the outside of the kennel a first coat of exterior paint to help provide a little additional protection. Then I cut two pieces of tin approximately 84cm long for each side and screwed these to the side of the kennel. Unfortunately as I wanted to screw to the hardwood rails in the edge of the door sides I had to screw through the valley’s of the tin instead of the ridges. I’m hoping this wont cause to many problems over time. I used 4 screws along the top which are covered by the tin cap and 4 along the bottom edge which are exposed.

Once both bits of tin were fixed to the sides I pop-riveted the cap in place. I dipped each of the pop-rivets in silicon sealant before using them to try and minimize leaks. I used 4 pop-rivets down each side.

I had to bend the 90 degree piece of tin to a more 60 degree angle. Unfortunately when I did this I slightly distorted the tin and the cap comes down about 1.5 cm further on one side than the other. It wont affect the weather tightness of the kennel just annoy me :). I rounded off any sharp tin edges so that Loki can’t catch himself on them and cut himself.

Lastly I added the few coats of paint to the front and rear. I was going to paint the tin but as it turned out I prefer the tin in it’s natural zinc/tin colour. Here’s a couple of pictures of the finished kennel, one with Loki checking out the inside.

As I managed to scavenge most of the parts up I needed from around the house, the kennel cost me about $50 in materials with most of that being the cost of the exterior paint. It did take me close to 2 days of solid work (across 2 weekends) to finish. I think it was time well spent as Loki will now be warm and dry for the rest of winter :).

Bookcase One

We needed another new bookcase in the house (quickly) as we had gained another pile of books. If Kindles ever catch on I may have an over supply of bookcases. I decided to try out some new ideas on this bookcase as well as designing around the fact my router had burnt out.

After viewing a few ideas and bookcase around the net, decided on a double thickness side design. Basically you double the thickness of the side uprights but cut the inner piece into 5 segments and space and glue them the width of the shelf apart. The uprights appear routed but are double the thickness, the edges are then trimmed with a thin piece of timber to cover the lamination.  I added a lip to the front of the shelves and back brace at the back of each shelf to help absorb some wobble/shelf bend and stop books falling of the back.

The bookcase stands about 85 cm high and is around 140 cm long. I trialed using only screws to hold the bookcase together so it can be pulled into it’s component pieces for easy transport. This seems to have worked okay but in future I’ll use tusk joints rather than screws more work but much more stable and no chance of screws ripping out. I have a 2nd Bookcase to build for some friends and this will utilize tusk joints.

Overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, I should have spent more time sanding and used tusk joints but the side upright doubling worked very well and the bookcase looks and is very solid if the screws ever present a problem I’ll drill the holes out and glue and dowel the whole thing together. Time to move on to the next project.

Few pictures

First up One of the bookcase assembled but un-finished

Second One of the bookcase stained and varnished un-assembled

Third one of the bookcase assembled and Ready for books

Few additional details
Timber: Pine
Stain: Walnut Brown
Finish: Estapol Gloss (Not Water based)
Cost: $80-$90 AUD
Time : 1 weekend and a few evenings

Project Status

WWII Project First Release


B-tech Buildings Five


Design Victorian era City


Something Different


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