Latest news and features

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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Make This Summer Cape Cod Chair

A chair with low-slung and raked back, and wide arms perfect for holding a drink seems to epitomise long, lazy afternoons. This design was created in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state where New Yorkers would take their respite from the hot humid summers of the city. It is also commonly called the Cape Cod chair

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Knifemaking by Leif Haseltine

The design for this article is my everyday carry knife, a four-inch (100 mm) dropped hunter—an all-round knife whose blade is ample, large enough to skin that buck and small enough to carry all day without getting in the way.

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At The sharp end

Japanese chisels have a reputation for high-quality manufacture and exceptional steelwork.
Undoubtedly, the origins of this tradition of blade manufacture lie with the swordsmiths of the samurai era when only samurai and swordsmiths had the right to bear arms. The blade manufacturers had revered status.

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Safety in the shed

One of the things guitar legend Eric Clapton and I have in common is tinnitus.
Eric blames the years he spent in the band Cream, playing in front of the bass speakers of fellow band member Jack Bruce, who always had his amplifier turned up to 11.

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Maintain that chainsaw

It’s just like another tool. Your chainsaw should have a basic service by a professional shop six-monthly or yearly. But you can do several things to keep your chainsaw up to scratch at home. To show how to dismantle and check a chainsaw, we are using one of the big, forest 95cc machines. A home machine would usually around 30-60cc, but the principle of maintenance is the same.

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A scooter carrier for a campervan

Owning a campervan means you can take your house on holiday with you. The downside is you need to pack up your whole holiday site when you want to drive off and get some fish and chips for dinner. I considered towing a car behind the campervan but that was impractical. I use a scooter for commuting so the solution was obvious—put a scooter carrier on the campervan to give us an easy transport option on holiday.

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Plug or cap it with Stockcap

When you are pulling apart engines, machinery, and hydraulics, and you need protection to plug off or cap fluid lines, ports and threads, throw away the rags and the tape and contact Hi-Q components.

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Shine like a diamond

It’s been a long-time Kiwi favourite for a very good reason — Autosol Metal Polish is the ideal way to clean, polish, and protect all types of metal surfaces.

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Drumming up a top kiln

Nothing vertical beats the excitement of opening a kiln and seeing the effect of naked flame on your creations. Gas kilns produce glaze finishes that are often unexpectedly beautiful but commercial gas kilns are usually expensive and bulky.

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