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Projects

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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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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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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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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