Latest news and features

A dead accurate optical punch

An optical punch consists of a brass body with two holes through it, one for use, the other for storage, because there are two rods. One rod is the punch, the other a vertical magnifying glass made of a plastic rod. You look down the viewing rod at a dot marked on its base. You then move the whole apparatus around until you can see the point where you want to put a punch mark. Holding the brass body, you remove the plastic rod and drop the steel punch back into the same hole, then hit it. Result: a perfect, vertically punched mark, precisely on the spot.

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Pleasant Point Railway photo gallery

We visited and wrote about the impressive Pleasant Point Railway & Historical Society in South Canterbury, in The Shed September/October 2020 Issue 92.
Sadly, we just couldn’t squeeze in all the great photos we shot for the article into the magazine. As you will now see, these unpublished photographs are just too good to leave sitting on our hard drive so we felt we just had to share them with readers.
Enjoy.

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Spotless shine

Polishing metal isn’t a task for which you want to be ill-equipped, especially when you’re chasing that perfect shiny finish! That is why Autosol has been the most trusted name since forever. The new Autosol 3in1 for Stainless Steel is specially developed to clean, protect, and leave a shiny streak-free finish on stainless steel surfaces — with anti-fingerprint effect.

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Is it a beer keg? No, it’s a hangi

It’s not every day that you come across a blindingly brilliant and deceptively simple use for a piece of gear that you just knew would come in handy one day.
When sheddie Stan Scott showed me his prototype portable beer keg hangi, I knew it was something that the world needed right now… like world peace.

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Installing a sash window

Old villas don’t necessarily have all the windows desirable for modern living.
In the project here, the homeowner wanted to install another window into an outside wall. The most effective method was to buy a window that was made by a joinery firm to match the existing window and create the hole in the wall to match.

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Video of the weird and wonderful world of Andrew Hall

A visit to Andrew Hall’s shed — a single garage in suburban Henderson, West Auckland — is a portal into another dimension. In this realm, a sense of humour is essential.
For the past two decades, Andrew has been working full time at turning society’s cast-offs into three-dimensional cartoon gargoyles, aliens, monsters, and effigies of mirth.

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Modern man, ancient craft

Asked why he has spent the best part of 20 years producing garden trugs, besom brooms, bentwood log carriers, wooden pitchforks, and rakes, he says he’s always had an inbuilt love of wood, of trees and the desire to work with his hands. “I was brought up on a farm in North Otago and in the Moeraki village.
My parents valued things like gardening, sewing, and cooking, and being self-sufficient. And those values were inculcated in me.

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The Shed September/October Issue 92 is on sale now

There’s a real treat for knife makers in the September/October Issue No. 92 of The Shed.
We head to the Auckland workshop of master knifemaker Brent Sandow to get insights into what makes him such a well-regarded exponent of the art. We watch and learn as he goes through the steps on how he makes a Springbok Hunter knife.
Get ready, secrets are shared.

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Make a simple toy truck

With toys, in particular, maintenance and reparability are important to ensure a long life. A broken plastic toy goes in the bin, whereas a well-designed wooden toy can make many trips to the repair shop over generations of play.

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Make a simple vacuum former

A vacuum former is a very handy piece of equipment to have around the home workshop.
It works quite simply: heated plastic is sucked rapidly and strongly over a pattern or formed shape. As soon as the plastic has set again, it retains the shape.

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Hold your grip

GripWorks’ very popular line of ‘Hunt Wilde’ injection-moulded FPVC grips come in a variety of styles, with local distributor Hi-Q Components stocking plain straight, ribbed nubbed, contoured bump, straight ribbed, tapered flanged, flanged rib-finned, and honeycomb options.

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A toddler’s table and chairs

You can follow the basic design in this article or design your own version. Once you have absorbed some of the basics of furniture-making, there is a great sense of satisfaction in designing and making your own. As an amateur hobbyist, I find the process is just as important as the finished product itself, so to check this I decided I would try to make a scaled-down version of an adult chair with a curved back.

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Make a camper trailer

American teardrops first became common in the 1930s after DIY magazines such as Popular Mechanics published plans to build your own. The ultra-lightweight concept normally only sleeps a maximum of two adults in the cabin and has a small outside galley or kitchen at the back of the trailer. Often these campers weighed little more than 450kg and were very streamlined so were ideal for towing behind small cars or for long road trips.

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Making a ring roller

The solution was to use the offcuts and a cheap bottle jack to make a set of rollers that can bend the material into wide arcs. Since I had to buy the $39 jack, the budget was well and truly blown. But this ring roller will be useful for future projects.

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Simple hydroponics nutrient solution

Hydroponics is all about growing without soil. In many ways, this simplifies the lot of the gardener, but it gives them added responsibility for providing plants with the right level of nutrients.
As water with nutrients tastes, feels, and looks much the same as plain water, a testing instrument called an “EC meter” or “CF meter” is used.

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Building a 50cc mini-kart

The design is not intended to be a high-performance, go-anywhere vehicle. It is a school project and therefore there are a few compromises in the design. It is economical to construct, achievable and straightforward for average Year 12 students. I might add, with some guidance.
It is also intended that most, if not all, of the Tools4work Level 2 mechanical engineering standards can be assessed against this project. Some of the techniques described may seem unnecessary, such as using a surface plate and scribing block for marking out, the design of the bearing retainers, or the generous use of a Bramley tube bender.

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The Shed July/August 2020 Issue 91, on sale now

The July/August 2020 issue of The Shed, No. 91, has got something in it for every sheddie.
Even though there is something of a nautical theme to this issue, our cover story is on building a very powerful, vertical, hydraulic log splitter. Bill Stevenson from Christchurch walks us through the construction of his trailer-mounted log-splitting machine that was started prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, worked on during, and completed immediately after. A great effort.

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Building a Stirling engine

I always get a thrill at seeing one of my engines running for the first time. It was especially true for this one because I had had no previous experience in making such an engine. The engine runs at about 600 RPM with a good differential between the hot and cold ends of the displacer tube.

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Work, life and play

Most people have separate places for work, play, accommodation and their hobbies but Malcolm Anderson has successfully managed to combine them all into one.
Malcolm’s father, Bruce Anderson, has a passion for collecting and restoring motorbikes to the highest standard. One of his projects, a 1929 Harley-Davidson OHV Two-port Special that he restored from a pile of parts, now resides in the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee in America.

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Shed Issue 90 late arriving in Australia

An update for all our Australian readers of The Shed.
Shipping schedules have been seriously disrupted with the COVID 19 Lockdown here in New Zealand therefore copies of Issue #90 won’t arrive in Sydney until mid-June.
Expect to see copies in the shops and in subscribers’ letterboxes about a week after 14 June. Our apologies for this lateness, let’s hope this is a one-off disruption.

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Video of Cowper Trucks from The Shed Issue 90

In this issue of the magazine we featured the trucks and workshop of Dan Cowper of Cowper Trucks in his shed just outside Whanganui.
Check out this video where Dan gives us the background to his business and how he builds his go anywhere, do anything, V8-powered, 4×4 vehicles.

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Make useful trammels

A trammel is a really useful item to have when you need to mark a curve onto sheet metal, plywood, MDF, plasterboard, or even a paved surface when painting lines for a netball court.
Sure, you can use a pencil and a piece of string but there can be a variation due to the angle that the pencil is held and differing tensions on the string. A trammel will easily produce an accurate arc.

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Rimu Dining Chair

Start by drawing a full-size plan of side elevation and seat plan. You will probably want to make at least four chairs so it is easier to measure angles and sizes and maintain consistency in measuring from a full-size plan. Make a template from 12 or 16 mm MDF or plywood for forming chair back legs directly from the plan shape. I have found the easiest and most accurate method is to punch holes with an awl or sharp point and simply connect up the dots.

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Installing an automatic gate

With the benefit that he worked for an engineering workshop, Karl knew that making the gate wasn’t likely to be a problem. He didn’t want an elaborate gate, rather one in keeping with his house that would tone in with his existing wooden fence.

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Pipe bender that curves flats

But a pipe bender has no other use and that is too bad because it is a large expensive tool.
I wondered if the heavy 12-ton bottle jack could be used for some other purpose. Once I had inspected it, it seemed reasonable to modify the bender so that it could be used to bend flats as well as pipe.

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Video of McLean weaving of Oamaru

In The Shed Issue 90 we featured this small family business working from a shed in their back garden.
Using a 100-year-old Hattersley Domestic Weaving System, the McLean’s make stunning fabrics using traditional techniques and thread.
Incidentally, this Hattersley loom became popular after WWI when they were embraced by returning soldiers who preferred to work from home rather than a crowded and often fraught mill environment.

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High flyer

What better way to introduce a legendary aircraft to another generation than through the universal medium of toys? While there are a number of limitations in a toy around scalability, safety, and complexity, I wanted to still give a firm nod in the direction of the original inspirational aircraft. A search of the internet yielded some basic plans of the original plane and images of recreations of the Sopwith taken from various angles.

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The Shed May/June 2020, Issue 90, is on sale now

Issue 90 of The Shed has a treat for lovers of fast off-road action. We visit the shed of Cowper Trucks who make world-beating 800hp 4×4 off-road race vehicles. Built strong, tough, and powerful from a shed outside Whanganui, this is automotive engineering at its best.

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Lockdown sheddies

As New Zealand was in this stay at home order for five weeks, sheddies were busy and very active.
Here are some of them that shared their sheds, families and projects with us.

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Video of Ray Woodhouse, artist and sculptor from Raetihi

From his shed on the Central Plateau in the North Island, Ray Woodhouse creates totally unique pieces that are more than sculpture and more than a lamp. They would be a truly special addition to any space you choose to place them in.
An artist who we featured in Shed 82, only started this type of work when he retired. Ray has a working shed than many sheddies will envy.

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Making a dirtsurfer

The real-life issue this all stemmed from was: “I wanted a dirtsurfer and I could not buy one in New Zealand. Therefore, I will have to design and make one myself.” At the same time, my students were able to record their technology practice and gain credits at NCEA Level 1.

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Build a barbeque trolley

BBQ season seems to come around faster and faster each year—not that it is a bad thing and sometimes I wonder if it ever really ends!
Each time I head out to the barbecue, it takes multiple trips to carry the meat, the vegetables, the implements, sauces and marinades, and obligatory chef’s beverage. Then there are never enough flat surfaces in the vicinity of the barbecue to keep everything organised.

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