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Projects

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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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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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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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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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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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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