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Rolling tool storage

The first law of shed dynamics is: The need for shed space will always grow to exceed the space available.
With space at a premium, it is incumbent to make the best use of it. So I evolved an idea for a modular set of moveable cabinets that could be rolled out for each job and configured as required. It means I could easily house my commonly used tools and still retain space in the shed.

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Carving out a career

Shaugn Briggs’ shed is a 6m x 3m pop-up gazebo and heavy-duty groundsheet. And that’s just on a bad day. When the sun is shining, the Christchurch limestone carver works alfresco, with the sky overhead and surrounded by trees and music.
The shedless sheddie’s “workshop” consists of a pile of portable Ryobi benches and an assortment of tools in stackable plastic tubes. When not stored in the single garage at the end of his drive, they are loaded on the trailer he tows around to various working and teaching venues.
Shaugn, who is also an accomplished painter, started his working life, somewhat reluctantly, as a painter and decorator. “The art thing was all I ever wanted to do but there is always that pressure to get a proper job,” he says.

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Hi-Q Toggle clamps

Toggle Clamps
When it comes to clamping, lever-action toggle clamps offer excellent power from a quick and easy motion and they are simple to install for ready access. Toggle clamps have a multitude of uses in engineering, metal fabrication, and woodworking. Hi-Q Components stocks a wide range of high-quality Turkish-made Kukamet toggle clamps including horizontal and vertical actions, latching or push–pull configurations with different mounting options, and even pneumatic versions.

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Snack shacks for birds

Home handyman Rob Allison originally made his first birdfeeders as Mothers’ Day presents for his mother, mother-in-law and wife. Popular demand has seen his feeders, with a few modifications, hanging on trees in the gardens of friends and family around Christchurch.
“It’s a very simple design,” says Rob. “An ideal first project for a youngster interested in woodwork, and they will have the added pleasure of watching the birds enjoy their handiwork.”

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One for the birds

Megan Collings’ birdhouses tick a lot of boxes. Her quirky shelters are not only well-constructed and aesthetically pleasing, but they are indirectly providing food and shelter for more thanher feathered friends. Megan gives the proceeds from every birdhouse she sells to an orphanage in Nepal.
“The earthquake in Nepal hit me hard after our own quakes in Christchurch,” says Megan. “I couldn’t get it out of my head, there were so many thousands affected. I wanted to go over and help but felt I was just a nobody. I’m not a nurse, I’m not a doctor. I love making my birdhouses and thought it was a way I could create and sell for a good cause.”

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The Shed February/March 2024 issue 113 on sale now

This February/March 2024 issue 113, we visit a whole bunch of sheds around NZ and in fact all around the world. We start with a profile of the talented Auckland sheddie Chris Elliot.
Chris has a small shed in Central Auckland from where he restores Italian scooters and cars, well, cars that don’t take up a lot of space such as Fiat Bambinas. With a background in movies and TV set design, Chris is never idle and not only restores all the Italian autos he can but gets his creative side going with household artefacts as well. One talented sheddie.
Jason Burgess writes “A cinematic late-afternoon light pours through the corner window of Chris Elliott’s vest-pocket shed. The miscellany of collected artefacts, fabric, and vehicular memorabilia conjures up a neat yet cluttered bazaar in some exotic foreign land rather than an active workshop on the fringe of Auckland City. This concrete single garage is a celebration of creativity and productivity. Swinging a cat – or, for that matter, a hammer – might seem problematic in such confines but, when it comes to fulfilling a wide array of job briefs and cross-disciplinary commissions, Chris somehow makes things come together.”

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Customising your plane blade

In my previous article on sharpening a plane (“Sharpen up your plane blades,” The Shed magazine, Feb/Mar 2010 – also on this website) we worked on how to consistently produce a sharp, straight edge on our plane irons. Now that we have that skill in place it’s appropriate to look at how modifying that straight edge can allow us to achieve a range of differing results in our woodworking.
It is important to understand that what drives the modification of our cutting edges is what we want to achieve with them. Therefore after describing the shape of the plane blade, I’ve outlined four major tasks that we can achieve with the particular shapes our planes. Each requires progressive development of the edge “shape” so I recommend re-reading of the earlier article to get you on the starting blocks for this one.

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Locking in efficiency and innovation

In the world of furniture manufacturing, every detail matters. A new product revolutionising cabinet and furniture construction is the Peanut Connector. Available from Jacks, these unassuming yet highly effective furniture connectors are set to become an essential tool in the arsenal of modern cabinetmakers. Peanut connectors offer a host of advantages that speed up and simplify the assembly process, reduce material costs, improve the overall quality of cabinetry, and deliver a more contemporary slim-line look. Let’s explore these connectors and the numerous benefits they bring to the table.

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Getting up to speed

The ever rapid and constant development of electronics has had many positive effects for the sheddie, and one such example is the Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), which allows the speed of 3-phase motors to be electronically controlled with the bonus of adjustable speeds. Historically, continuously variable speed motor drives involved mechanical systems such as the Reeves drive, which is similar to a motor scooter CVT transmission where belt-drive pulleys can be varied in size “on the fly” and hence vary the drive ratio.
These and other transmissions were universally expensive, difficult to retrofit and inefficient. The increased use and falling prices have brought new and used VFD drives within the reach of the home user and have opened opportunities with industrial machinery that previously did not exist.

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Fun in the sun

When I made my first tambour door a couple of years ago, what immediately struck me was not the functionality of the door itself (although it is not without its aesthetics or merits), but that it would potentially make a really comfortable deck chair.
This project is the realisation of that idea. Using a long tamboured top as the basis for a piece of furniture, I decided to make: a tambour sun lounge.
I expect most people would be familiar with the classic roll-top writing desks, popular in the 19th century and a progression from the solid-topped Bureau du Roi, or “Secrétaire à cylindre de Louis XV” from 1769. The tambour form particularly suits itself to the ogee curves and it is that aesthetic that inspired the form of this sun lounge.

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The Shed magazine December/January 2024 issue 112, on sale now

The cover story in our 2023 year ending issue is on the jaw dropping memorabilia collection of Terry Dalton. This is not simply a small room filled with a few bits and pieces, this is an enormous cathedral-like shed, crammed with memories. The collection is truly varied but includes a huge chunk of 1950s American Graffiti Americana including the cars and diners from that decade. Our own Kiwana has not been overlooked and there is an enormous swag of that as well. You really need to see it to appreciate it. Terry’s shed probably houses the most significant private collection of memorabilia in NZ.
“Terry likes collectibles. He has several extensive collections of different sorts of memorabilia, much of which he has bought online. He collects, for instance, oil bottles and tins, 1957 Chevrolet memorabilia, F1 stuff, musicians’ autographs, and the picks of well-known guitarists.
One corner of the shed, furnished with plush theatre seats, is devoted to the display of his treasures. He likes the collectibles not only for their own sake but also because they have a known value and are readily saleable; there is a market for them. He says that most will be sold as he gets older.“

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Going glamping

What do you do if you want a caravan but drive a Mini? You make one to fit. That’s just what Michael Wolfe of New Plymouth did – turning out a real dinky little teardrop-shaped caravan that matches his 2004 Cooper S and has all the mod cons for a decent holiday.
Michael saw pictures of little campers on the net and decided that was what he wanted – a cross between a caravan and a tent.
“I got some ideas from little caravans online and decided to go a bit more high-tech,” he says.
He built it to have the same lines, wheels and colour as his car and it looks just the part.
“I never really planned it in detail. I sketched it out originally and a lot of the construction I worked out as I went along.”

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Cutting threads by hand

From time to time in the home workshop, you may need to make a new threaded hole for a bolt and create the threads on the bolt itself. It’s handy to know how to use the dies that are rotated onto a bolt blank to make these threads, and to know how to use the taps that create the threaded holes. This skill will be especially good for those interested in model engineering, go-karts or light engineering, but who have not been trained in the use of hand tools for making threads. 
There are many different thread sizes. These are made to international standards. In all cases, the size of a thread eg, 6mm or ½ inch and so on, is determined by the diameter of the rod or bar on which it may be cut.

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Video of the wooden fairground organ built by David Dilks

The 320-pipe fairground organ that David made from scratch is visually and acoustically impressive. The array of beautifully crafted pipes, different shapes and sizes, the accordion-playing monkey, and the drums make quite the show. It’s hard to resist jiggling — but then David and wife Joy, both ballroom dancers, kick up their heels and show their form. Music is a big part of their life.

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Electronics: Powerful stuff

Everyone who dabbles with electronics or even automotive stuff will eventually find a bench power supply very handy. When I first started getting into electronics, they were large, expensive beasts, and very much out of the reach of hobbyists. There were a few kitsets provided by some electronic parts suppliers, but these tended to be limited in voltage and current.
If a hobbyist wanted an affordable adjustable supply, they usually had to make it. We even resorted to designing and making our own when I worked for Telecom. Commercial units were available but they didn’t suit our requirements, or budget.

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His worship – the shed and vintage cars

The morning we visited this particular sheddie, the bloke was under fire. In The Press, he was being slagged off on the front page. Inside the paper, a swag of writers was pinging him this way and that in letters to the editor. Christchurch is a hotbed of political discontent these days and the buckshot stops with the mayor Garry Moore.
So he’d be in no mood to spend a lovely spring Saturday morning talking to a complete stranger about something as mundane as his not-quite-finished shed? Wrong.

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Up the wall

A friend loves gardening and has always wanted a vertical garden or ‘living wall’. She has been pestering me to build one ever since I started doing the welding articles for The Shed. I looked at a few and developed a simple concept that is simply an angle iron frame with a wire lattice.
I measured the wall it was to fit on and arrived at a final size of 1m x 1.6m. I
happened to have that on hand in 3mm angle iron. The vertical garden needs
to be offset to the wall to allow for air circulation and watering. I decided to offset it
by 60mm so that required 100mm feet.

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Video of Austins Foundry’s final pour

This is video of a family firm that has provided a good living for at least two generations, building up an impressive skills base while manufacturing essential farm machinery for more than 90 years. The Austin family has run a foundry in Timaru for 93 years. Ken Austin, grandson of the founder, says the business has faced increasing headwinds since the Covid-19 pandemic, so he has tested the winds of change and decided to close down. The Shed visits to celebrate their technical foundry skills, the likes of which we may never see again in New Zealand.

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Life in the fast lane

He might describe himself as a larrikin biker, but former world motorcycle racing champion Graeme “Croz” Crosby is really more of a modern Renaissance man.
Put simply, a Renaissance man is defined as a very clever person who is good at many different things. So check the Croz record thus far: Champion motorcycle racer, commercial pilot, successful author, businessman, house builder, skilled motorcycle mechanic, enthusiastic cook, raconteur – the list goes on. He can speak a little Japanese, bake a soufflé or lace up a wire-spoked bike wheel. And even though he turns 62 this year there’s still quite a bit of the larrikin left.
It almost goes without saying that Graeme has a shed. Well, it started out as a hobby shed, somewhere to tinker with old bikes and other motorised toys. In typical Crosby fashion, though, it has become the headquarters for a thriving business restoring and exporting classic Japanese motorcycles. Graeme and his wife Helen bought a 12 acre (4.8 ha) block in the picturesque Matakana countryside an hour north of Auckland more than eight years ago, built a spectacular house, the shed and, across the road, Helen’s The Vivian art gallery.

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The Shed magazine October/November issue 111, on sale now

Headwinds in the foundry
The end of an era for Austins of Timaru
Our cover feature this issue is the story of a family firm that has provided a good living for at least two generations, building up an impressive skills base while manufacturing essential farm machinery for more than 90 years. The Austin family has run a foundry in Timaru for 93 years. Ken Austin, grandson of the founder, says the business has faced increasing headwinds since the Covid-19 pandemic, so he has tested the winds of change and decided to close down. The Shed visits to celebrate their technical foundry skills, the likes of which we may never see again in NZ.

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Size matters

Back in the carefree/careless days we took a drive up to the Hokianga harbour, mainly for a fish and chip meal at the legendary Omapere pub, and promptly fell in love with the place. It’s New Zealand 50 years ago: clean, uncluttered with houses and people and just plain beautiful on any given day.
The harbour simply sparkles on a sunny day and the dunes on the north head are nothing short of spectacular. The views coming over the ridge from Waimamaku and the Waipoua forest are breath-taking. We still stop and try to take it all in.
Everything moves at a leisurely pace up at the “Hoki”. It is still a hidden gem, but not for long I feel. We have a few celebs up there now and there are more and more serious homes going up, but it still has that laid back feel to it. Opo the dolphin is the only thing that has happened to the area and that was 60 years ago.

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Replacing floorboards

Lift the carpet or lino in an old villa to prepare the floor for polishing and you are bound to reveal the gaps or rotten bits in the floorboards.
So how to get them up and insert a tongue-and-groove board into an existing layout? First, work out where the joists are. If you’re lucky, the piece you want to remove will begin and end on a joist, or at least one end will. If not, find the joist nearest to the point you want to cut, usually by tapping the floor.
Often you will see the old nail holes, a good guide to where the centre of the joist might be. Next, scribe a line across the board you want to cut. I use a Tajima knife.

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Video of the Ghent Makers Faire

For our electronics features in issues 110 and 111 of The Shed magazine we stepped away from a build project and instead head to a makers’ fair in Europe, this one in Belgium. Young and old were there, keen to display their electronic creations as well as to learn, share and to just enjoy fellow electronic sheddies’ skills.
“Compared to other more famous maker faires events across Europe – Brussels, Rome, Hanover, to mention just the most renowned – the Ghent Maker Faire is considered a minor event. However, it still played host to thousands of visitors and is well worth attending because of its very special character.
As you may have already read in the “News” in The Shed issue 109, the faire hosted the first European power tools racing along the lines of New Zealand and USA competitions. It was organised by the effervescent Henk Ryckaert, who was also the man behind the scenes for the power tools racing on the first day.”

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The Auckland Blade Show is back

After last year’s awesome success, The Auckland Blade Show is back again! Come on down to the Guineas Ballroom at the Ellerslie Events centre on 23–24 September to see the finest hunting and kitchen knives, handmade swords and axes, and all the supplies and tools to get into the craft yourself! With more than 50 exhibitors, there will be so much to see!
Tickets are $10 and valid for both days, available on our website and socials. All online ticket purchases go in the draw to win one of several amazing knives!
Follow us on @theaucklandbladeshow on Facebook and Instagram, and see more on https://www.aucklandbladeshow.nz/the-auckland-blade-show

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It’s all a matter of scale

They say variety is the spice of life. So it is in the shed. For Taranaki mechanical design engineer Michael Wolfe this means working on projects as diverse as rebuilding a high- powered 1970 American muscle car through to intricate work creating a model of a classic Swiss 1960s train.
Michael re-builds and maintains full-size classic cars and in his spare time model railway construction keeps him busy.
“The skills needed are much the same,” said Michael. “It’s really all a matter of scale.”
His hand-made creation of a replica of an iconic Swiss electric train, the RAe TEE II, is unique – probably the only one in the world.
Panel construction, lathe work, welding, woodworking, and even creating parts with a 3D printer have all been part of the job. In the world of model trains, this is a big one. Each of the six cars that make up the luxury train is about 800mm long.
Michael started off with some plans, photographs of full-size trains, and books, all of which he used to create initial drawings.

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Make yourself a decent chef’s knife

Coromandel knife-maker Lloyd Franklin forges his knives from the raw material of coil spring steel rather than cutting or grinding the blades from existing metal shapes. His high-quality knives are sought after by chefs nationwide and by those who appreciate a well-balanced hand-made tool.
Coil spring steel is easily confused with spring steel that we know from a car leaf spring, says Lloyd Franklin. But, he explains, coil spring steel is a high-tech, shock-resisting tool steel from which you can happily make stone-working tools, woodworking chisels or even knives.

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The perfect desk job

The desk that is the subject of this article was made for one of my grandsons and is made in a similar style to a bed I made for him several years ago (see the article in The Shed, issue 43, June/July 2012). Like the bed it is made out of beech and finished with Danish oil.
While I have been able to undertake almost all of the processes in my hobby- styled workshop, I want to stress that this desk could be made at home with just a few hand tools. For example, you could ask the timber yard to dress the timber for you; all cutting could be done with a handsaw or a coping saw for the curves; the mortises and tenons could all be done by hand. The process would take longer but you would certainly enhance your skills.
The design process is always interesting for me and, with some initial design concepts in my head, I sit at the drawing board and draw out to scale two or three 2D versions of what I think the final product will look like.

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Steely eye

One glance around Allan O’Loughlin’s garden and it’s clear that this is the home of someone with a vivid imagination and the creative skills to bring it to life.
Allan, a fitter-welder and self-taught sculptor, uses the skills learnt in his trade to create works of art in steel. More than 60 of them are scattered around the 9000 square metre property he shares with his partner, Andrea, in Mandeville, 25km north of Christchurch.
Unlike most artists working in the medium, Allan doesn’t construct his sculptures by bolting or welding solid metal shapes together, but relies on the properties of molten steel to mould and fuse his forms.
His initial frameworks are simple structures made out of wire and builders’ reinforcing rods which he curves into shape using heat and a home-built metal former.

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Make a model sheetmetal roller

Isn’t it always the case—you are working away in the shed with the latest project and you need some equipment or tool that you don’t have? I needed to roll some metal for the model project that I am working on and I had recently lost my access to a metal-rolling machine. The best answer was to make my own sheet-metal roller. I quickly realised there were a lot more future projects needing a rolling machine.

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Toggle clamps

Toggle Clamps
When it comes to clamping, lever-action toggle clamps offer excellent power from a quick and easy motion and they are simple to install for ready access. Toggle clamps have a multitude of uses in engineering, metal fabrication, and woodworking. Hi-Q Components stocks a wide range of high-quality Turkish-made Kukamet toggle clamps including horizontal and vertical actions, latching or push–pull configurations with different mounting options, and even pneumatic versions.

Read More »

The Shed magazine August/September issue 110, on sale now

You never know where an interest will take you and for Mark Bedford that interest in fridges has led him to a business where he is the go-to guy for repairing, restoring, modifying and preserving vintage fridges. For our cover story in this issue, we visited Mark in his Auckland workshop where he describes his engineering approach to the preservation of these rare and collectible kitchen essentials.
“Mark’s stand-alone ’60s cinder block workshop sits at the far end of a long driveway skirted by large-scale factories. For this appliance engineer, musician, and general tinkerer, the industrial setting offers the right kind of seclusion.
Mark’s place is equal parts workshop, man cave, and band rehearsal room. His business, hobbies, and work life merge as one. By the roller door, a primer-grey 1980 Bedford CF camper-van conversion sits up on blocks awaiting the installation of a new power-steering system. Next to it, a free-standing 1950s commercial fridge restoration project is in the mock-up stage.”

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Firewood sawhorse

I created this little project because I needed to cut firewood easily without someone to assist in holding the wood. Although not my own invention, it is an interpretation of pictures gleaned from the web and adapted to materials that you can buy easily in New Zealand timber yards. The whole project cost me $25 and took about an hour and a half to make. In anybody’s book that is value for money and time well spent.
It is essentially four crosses of timber braced to form a cradle for cutting your firewood.

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A king-sized country shed for an ex city boy

When Phil Kindberg decided to escape the Auckland rat race and retire to rural Taranaki with his precious collection of old Studebaker cars, he didn’t dream of the massive shed that was waiting for him.
Two years ago he made the shift south and purchased the 100-year-old Riverdale dairy factory, not far west of Hawera.
The big factory, which in its heyday specialised in cheese production, already had a bit of a past with motor vehicles, having been a panel beating shop for a while and also once housing a huge collection of old Citroen cars.
Now on display in the factory are Phil’s seven Studebakers from 1947 to 1962, a 1958 Packard, a mate’s collection of 40 motorbikes, including some classics and home-made bikes, and other weird and wonderful machines.

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Build your own smoothing plane

Here is an outline for making a small steel and brass smoothing plane which looks similar in style and size to the common Stanley or Record No 3 size. There the similarities end.
The main differences are the blade is 5mm thick, it has a screw blade-adjuster but no back iron or chip-breaker. The screw-type cap is bronze and massive. The sole is 8mm thick and dovetailed to the 6mm thick brass sides. The knob is a refined version of the Stanley but the rear handle is a more radical departure. There is no frog. The blade is solidly bedded on a steel bridging piece which connects the sides to enhance rigidity and houses the swivelling adjuster mechanism, allowing for lateral adjustment of the blade.

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Jet Bike

Paul Jury likes going fast. He enjoys the world of speed so much he’s attached a micro jet engine to a push bike. Paul’s bike has been cranked up to 120kph and he thinks it can go as fast as 150kph.
The New Plymouth man, who runs Floorcoat Taranaki, said he and his mates like speed and a bit of danger. They’re into activities such as drift triking, wake boarding, kite surfing, snowboarding, and skydiving.
Checking out a few YouTube clips they decided to up the ante and use jet power.
“The jet motor was originally attached to planks of wood and when we first cranked it up, it tried to take off in the workshop, showering anyone behind it with gravel,” says Paul.
The next step to check out its capabilities was attaching it to a go-kart but Paul said the kart was a bit heavy to realise the maximum potential of the jet.
Attaching it to the bike worked a treat.

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Chips and dip, anyone?

I have used a piece of swamp kauri from Kaitaia for this project. The wood may well be 45,000 years old although pieces of swamp kauri have been carbon dated from 1000 to 50-60,000 years old from different parts of northern New Zealand. The time-scale of this wood is mind-boggling. How do we get this wood? You keep your ear to ground for news about logs and stumps that emerge, then we have to get off our backsides and do something about it. Swamp kauri, and occasionally other timber dug from old swamps have not rotted because they are preserved in anaerobic conditions. Kauri is the most common “swamp” wood because it is the slowest wood to deteriorate when above the ground before the land area became swamp.
For woodturners, kauri is a soft wood. Puriri, pohutukawa, black maire are hard woods, although botanists use the terms “hardwood” and “softwood” in a way that is related to the type of tree and not the hardness of the wood.

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Build a hydro power plant

Ever thought of creating your own electricity? It’s a challenge a number of New Zealanders aspire to these days, as rising power  prices and possible insecurity of supply bring out the Kiwi leanings towards independence and DIY. 
And how to do it? A small stream, a broken washing machine, a shed and you’re away. Well almost.

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Video of power tool racing in Belgium

In late April, the city of Gent, Belgium, hosted the annual Gent Maker Fair (https://www.makerfairegent.be/nieuws), an exhibition dedicated to all the crazy inventions of makers in Belgium.
On the fair’s opening night of 30 April, the Belgian Power Tool Drag Racing Championship entertained the visitors in a one-off event.
Popular in many countries around the world, this is a spectacular race of electric ‘vehicles’ powered by 220VAC and built with one or two power tools such as drills, chainsaws, and any other kind of electric-powered hand tool. The only rule is that it must be a tool that can be used by hand.
In the next issue of The Shed, issue 110, I will give more detail on the challenge. If it sounds like your kind of fun, there is the option to participate in the 2024 event.

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Raising the bar

I have wanted to make an elevating bar stool for some time. They are a relatively simple design – four legs attached to a nut through which an acme thread runs, raising and lowering the seat.
However, attaching the legs to the nut is problematic. The nut is usually a fairly large piece of steel, in this case it’s 38mm diameter, and even with the hole and threads cut it still has a wall thickness of nearly 10mm. The legs on the other hand have a wall thickness of only 2mm. That size differential makes using MIG welding difficult. It can be done of course but it isn’t quite as straightforward as usual.
I felt it was ideally suited to TIG welding and as I hadn’t tried TIG before I thought this might be a good opportunity to get some experience.

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