Storage Wars

It is proving a very busy end to a very busy year.  Turns out, preparing to move involves a lot of work (not unexpectedly).  Sorry if I’ve been a bit quiet here – been packing.

We’ve been moving things as they are packed into a storage unit (and thus the title of the post for those unfamiliar with the A&E channel on Foxtel).  Like a shed, just neater (and more costly per square metre in the long term).

In the meantime, I have also been planning the layout of the new house – scale drawings, and it is really looking like my original concept of using the double garage as a shed for a while until I sort the shed out, is not going to be the most practical option.  Based on that, I will need to solve the shed (or lack thereof) issue as quickly as possible.  It will definitely be interesting to then layout a new shed, and I’d love to get right into it, but at this stage I don’t even know what shape, or area the shed will have.  That may sound strange – sheds are normally rectangular, rectangular or….rectangular (yes, some are square, but that is a subset of rectangular).  The area on the new block where the shed will go is triangular, so either the shed will mimic the block shape, or will be made up of a combination of increasing sizes of rectangular sheds joined together.  Definitely will be talking to some suppliers to see what may be possible.

I finally found a few minutes to open the boxes of Nova accessories that arrived just before Xmas – a grinder that attaches to (and is powered by) the Nova Comet II lathe, and a Titan chuck.  The grinder attachment is pretty cool, whereas the Titan is simply awesome.  It makes the PowerJaws look, well, like the 50mm jaws that come with other chucks!

We’ll be having a look at that shortly, as well as a dado blade from Amana Tool /

Busy start of 2013 coming, but I will be endeavouring (as in not promising!) to get back to the ideal of a post/day.  Need some more videos as well!

Future kitchen upgrades

So we have been playing with the kitchen pretty much constantly since it was unwrapped (which is awesome, obviously) – Jess is thrilled with the kitchen, and is also really looking forward to working with me to finish it off (rounding over edges, sanding, oiling).

Few things I need to do to finish the unit off as well – new hinges for the door, drawer dividers for the cutlery drawer

While watching her play with it (and doing a fair amount myself alongside her), I’ve been making up a list in my head of additional items that is needed, that will be added over time.

Rolling pin
Paper Towel Holder

Can’t think of any more at this stage, but even this list is unlikely to be completed before the big house and shed move.  We’ve begun packing.  It is a huge job, and I haven’t even begun considering the shed.

Christmas Cooking

The kickstarter for this project came just over a month ago, and it has consumed a great deal of time and effort, but it is all worthwhile.  And she is the reason why.


My little one

Soon to turn 6, it was well overdue for her to have something significant out of the shed she loves visiting.

With a combination of conflicting priorities, it was always going to be interesting to see how it came out.  Short deadlines, a house purchase and a particularly busy work schedule all competed to derail the project, while making a great kitchen for my daughter, making the kitchen entirely from timber and having the experience of making two different toy kitchens before worked towards a decent result.  Especially wanting Jessie to have a kitchen that I’d made her.  I’ve never finished a project so late (and during the build I knew it wouldn’t be fully complete, as far as being fully finished, so already had some compromises), nor have I had so many nicks and cuts from rushing around a shed that was quickly running out of space, and being pushed for time meant I wasn’t working to keep things as orderly as needed for a limited space, while splinters were common from the hardwood.


The unwrapping begins

The two large wrapped parcels hardly gained a second look during the morning, but there were tonnes of distractions in the form of wrapped parcels!  Finally, it was time for the reveal – two large, fully wrapped presents.  It didn’t take long to reveal what was within, and it was pretty exciting!  You cannot tell from the photos, but I can see the different expressions there, and can still hear the excited squeals.


The great unwrap!

It did look very cool breaking through the wrapping paper.


Amidst torn paper


Kitchen full of……wrapped stuff

Once the main sheets of wrapping paper were removed, there was another surprise.  The units were packed full of more presents (and this after a morning of unwrapping).  It was all the real tools of the trade- saucepans, cutlery, mashers, bowls, jugs etc.  We had been shopping at Kmart a week earlier – they have a whole range of kitchenware, most with a $2 price tag.  At the checkout, they fully expected us to be first-home buyers given the range of items in the cart.  They are perfect – cheaper and better than any sold in toy sections, and that they are ‘real’ not ‘toy’ added to the experience during the reveal.


Proud new owner

I’m very pleased how the units came out, and the small details of jarrah and redgum stood out against the quality of the Tassie Oak.


Learning the ‘controls’

I couldn’t help myself from pointing out some of the details I had included (mainly what each of the controls said, that I had burnt into the knobs with the pyrography set).  Then it was a matter of sitting back and enjoying the soups, cupcakes etc that were being produced for the family.  With playdoh food, the imagination play is endless.


Checking out the oven


Cooking up a storm


Making tea


Washing up


All fitted out

Some of the details then: the sink is laminated Tassie Oak and Redgum, as are the drawer fronts (with a jarrah handle).  It is all glued, and in some cases also using Dominos.  I avoided any metal fasteners until near the end, when it became obvious that it would be a significant compromise to continue with that ideal.  That was when I first made some hinges for the oven, using wooden dowels, and that caused breakages.  Once I had decided on brass hinge rods, then a few other places benefited from a minimal amount of metal.  The drawers are dovetailed, the shelf a lattice, and the lower shelf using offcuts.  In fact this project had less wastage from offcuts than I can remember seeing in a long time.  There are hardly any at all, with wastage being small pieces assigned to the firewood bin, or are sawdust in the collection bag (and that is full).  I went through two full bottles of glue – about a full litre of yellow PVA on this project.  Again, the result of joining so many boards together to create the panels required.  The Frontline clamps got a significant workout.  The side panels each have a routed picture – one of the little surprises.


Oven detail

I love the strap hinges – they came up awesome!  The Incra Hingecrafter was a significant asset.  The Hingecrafter is not just the drilling jig, but also the box set of router bits that match.  Being able to make your own hinges is a great feeling – you really come away ‘owning’ the project being able to make, rather than buy the accessories.  About the only thing I purchased for this was the castor wheels.


Stove / Oven controls

The toy wheels, repurposed as control knobs were supplemented with the pyrography kit burning in names, and values.


Oven hinge detail

The hinges for the oven – very functional, strong, and compared to commercial hinges I have used before in the same situation, less likely to rip out of the timber as the load is distributed over a larger area.



A bandsawn faucet (rounded over on the router table), and a couple of oversized wheels for taps made with a wheel cutter on the drill press.



The tambour door looks the part, and I added a spinning nozzle to the base to complete the dishwasher.

To finish this project off, I need to replace the hinges on the cupboard door (a short job with the hingecrafter), sand, roundover edges, and apply an oil finish.  Even so, a very satisfactory conclusion to the project (or at least a major delivery point).

Next, the kitchen needs a microwave, sandwich press, toaster (to start).  A storage cupboard may be in order, and a fridge.  The possibilities are endless.

Merry Christmas Jessica!

Xmas Day

The stocking is emptied, the presents unwrapped
Dinner is eaten, the kitchen ransacked.
Everyone now is lying down
The inlaws, the Olds and from my girls, not a sound.
I could head to the shed, and escape the riot
But that pillow looks comfy in the dark and the quiet
Perhaps later I could make sawdust and noise
But for now I think I’d prefer to zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Success, and failure- quick update

It’s late. Like 2:20am and I have finally finished wrapping presents, drinking Santa’s Drambuie, eating his mince tart and biting reindeer-sized chunks out of the carrot.

The first year, I took a boot, rubbed it in the fireplace soot and stamped a footprint or two. Note to self- not the greatest idea! The footprint was mostly gone by the following Xmas.

Around 1am, I had surprised myself, and had finished the kitchen (well, not finished, but still at. Stage I was happy with). I had screwed the knobs on, glued handles on and had hung the final door with wooden hinges I had just finished.

While lifting the unit (which weights a lot being solid hardwood construction!), it was too heavy for me in my tired state, and at one point while exiting the shed, I watched in slow motion as the door swung open too fast, hit the stop point of the hinges, which exploded into toothpicks.


At least the glue hadn’t dried, but what a pain. Oh well, easily fixed.

In the meantime, the kitchen is wrapped and ready for the big day,



The 11th hour has come and gone, and now it is but a minute to midnight (figuratively).

I really didn’t plan on spending so much of my birthday in the shed, but getting ready for my daughter’s Christmas has been the driving motivation since I started a month ago.  Guess I should have started 2 months ago!  So it is now a given – the kitchen will not be completely finished in time.  That is not a surprise – for a long time I have been fully expecting that, but it was an interesting matter of just how close I would get.

The first kitchen I made (not a dissimilar general look) took about a weekend.  (10-12 hours).  This one has taken a little longer – in the order of 30 hours (very roughly) to date, and I’d expect there is another 6-8 hours of work to go.

Lots of detail in this one, no plans, and the design created on the fly (and modified on the fly as well to deal with various challenges, and time constraints).

No photos tonight – all will be in the Christmas day reveal.

Anyone else been making things for Christmas? (Toys or otherwise).

11th Hour

Been a hard slog for the past few weeks – work has a massive deadline approaching in the new year (like Jan 2!). There is a lot of bitsy stuff associated with buying a new place which has been eating time, and although I need to get the place ready as well, that part will have to wait another week or so. At the same time, I have been scraping together every minute I can find to finish the kitchen project in time for Christmas. The problem has been that a lot of the time I can find has been late at night, and I just can’t fire up the big machines. So progress has not been as fast as I’d want. Now, well, we are right on Xmas and I still have a little way to go. But every day a lot closer, and today was no exception.

11th hour-1

Sink rear view

Just before gluing on the back to the sink unit, I took one last photo. You can see the dovetail drawers, the laminated sink, and the tambour, which includes an access point. It has also been a great opportunity to put the Festool CXS though its paces in an environment it was designed for – internal cabinetry. That right angle adapter has been brilliant, as has it size, and the interchangeable heads. While checking the link, also noticed it is still on special. Anyone stuck for last minute Xmas present ideas?

11th hour-2

Sink front view

From the front, and things are changing minute by minute. After getting some kitchenware to go with the new units, I found that the one drawer was not enough, so came up with a plan to use the second drawer I had made (and abandoned because I had forgotten about the sink). So that was a much better outcome.

11th hour-3

Setting up

It has been a while since I used the Torque Workcentre – haven’t needed it for the current project, until now. The very first job I did on the TWC was to create stove elements for another couple of toy kitchens I was making at the time, and today was the day to get it dusty again (as in its own dust, not thrown from other machines!) With a hole underneath for each element, and a cove bit mounted, the router was plunged and locked. I then rotated the workpiece under the router, creating each circle. A bit nervewracking – I could ill-afford any errors, but the result speaks for itself.

11th hour-4

Stove elements

So that was then attached to the base. Not sure where I got the form from- probably my parents’ old stove which was electric (as is quite the norm in power). Doesn’t matter the source. This way users can clearly see where the stove is, and yet the top is flush if some play activity needs a larger area.

11th hour-5

Backing up

I decided that the units needed something visual to stop the eye looking at, and then past the units. So a barrier was needed at the back to provide this visual stop. Using a combination of bandsaw and spindle sander made it easy to create this form. The top was not as flat as it should, so I needed to correct that. Rather than trying to do so for the entire top, I decided to flatten only the area that was actually important.

Clamping down a straight edge, the HNT shoulder plane one again proved how useful it is. I find it great for tidying up drawers (in situ), and for tasks such as this.

11th hour-6

Dominoed on

To ensure the security of the backing, I used dominos.

11th hour-7

Track cut

So that worked a treat, and the backs got secured in place.

11th hour-8


An offcut of Jarrah was my next victim. I needed a bunch of wheels, so punching then out all at one from the single piece was the order of the day.

11th hour-9


With the aid of my woodburner, this set of wheels became the much needed knobs. Stove controls, oven controls, dishwasher, taps. I like the idea that wooden wheels can be repurposed this way.

11th hour-10


The project is coming down to final details – the value-add. Little features like the knobs, taps, shelves, drawer dividers etc. And in this case, a swing arm / sprayer for the dishwasher. If I had more time, more ideas would present themselves that could really bring the unit to life.

So the final push tomorrow, just in time for Christmas. I need a couple of doors, a couple of wooden hinges, and then sanding, sanding, sanding. I’ll apply a finish later – that would definitely take time.

Next time I hope to be presenting the completed units, with a closer look at details.

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