My first project from scratch – planter

How happy am I, lovely workshop with all my tools in one place, now I can get on and make things… From wood!!! One of my friends gave me some tomato plants the other day:

  

I have not got any spare plant pots and there are four plants here. I will make a planter for them, I have some left over decking from the workshop base I built, perfect. This was a really simple build, a lovely first project to use my workshop. I decided what size I wanted the planter based on the size of the deck pieces I had, picked a really easy size to measure, mark and cut then decided to make the end panels a bit smaller to give a rectangular shape. It was going to be two decking panels high. I arranged the panels a few different ways before choosing the final layout. I decided on the over lap as I thought this looked nice. 

Now to join the panels, a great opportunity to use my KReg pocket hole Jig (love using new tools). I read the instructions and set up the jig, I had watched April Wilkerson using a KReg pocket hole jig on YouTube before, she uses a PH jig to join most of her projects, the big advantages are that the joints are strong and hidden on the inside. It was very easy to use, drilled the holes perfectly. The pocket hole screws also went in easily. I built the first rectangle then the second, I used pocket hole screws in the front and rear panels to join the two rectangles together.

  
The base… I pondered this for a while (coffee time). I eventually chose to use two pieces of decking cut to size screwed to the base (pilot holes first). This base would then rest on the ground and hopefully stop the planter from standing in the wet and rotting, I also thought this would give a strong base for the planter as it will contain quite a large amount of compost.

Lining, I had been thinking of this project since I was given the tomato plants, during my shopping trips for timber I searched for some pond liner or similar to line the planter, I couldn’t find anything. I ended up using a couple of bin liners. I figured the tomato plants would only last this season so at the end of the year I could empty it and reline it next year. I staple the liner to secure it inside the planter. I was really pleased with it, it looked lovely… And I had made it… Wow how cool!

  
  

  

Moving in 

Yay… After all that work (not really how I had planned to learn wood working), I can now move everything in and have my house back. I started moving all the tools from the kitchen, the lounge and my bedroom into the workshop (from here on the summer house will be known as the workshop)! 

I needed a work bench, I had been thinking about using an old kitchen unit that had been in my shed for the last ten years, used for storage. Money has been spent on tools so need to make as much as I can now. I got the unit out of the shed, dusted it off (spiders and all) and thought about how to make it into a work bench. I had kept the wooden slats from an old double bed in the shed, I decided to use them for my work bench top. The unit wasn’t very sturdy, so first I reinforced it along the back and across the middle with a couple of bed slats cut to size. This would also serve as a strong support for the bench top. I have realised it is better to drill pilot holes before screwing wood together, it stops the wood from splitting and the finished join is much smoother. It takes a little longer but worth the effort for a better finish. Next I measured the size of the work top I needed to fit the bench, I cut a number of bed slats (with the mitre saw) to size and joined them with two smaller slats across the back. The top fitted perfectly and would do for now. 

  

A pano of the workshop, I’ve no doubt I will move things around a bit until it’s comfortable in there but so far I am very happy with it. I even have a bit of a wood stack already!

  

Dressing the workshop

Inbetween waiting for the panels to arrive and building them myself I though about what I needed for the workshop to make it practical to use and secure once all my tools were in there. The summer house was fitted with 2 lockable bolts which didn’t fit particularly well as the log lap is rounded not flat, looked awful. I also thought some one could easily undo the screws and get into the unit, not very secure. 

I ended up getting, a 5 level mortise lock, lockable bolt, a garage bolt, 2 cabin hooks and 2 door handles. I pottered over the course of time fitting all the above. The mortise lock was the most challenging. I religiously followed the instructions supplied with the lock. It had a lovely template to use to mark points that needed drilling. When it came to fitting the lock in position I realised the log lap was quite thick and the key would not reach the lock mechanism though it. So had to make the void for the lock slightly wider to move it closer to the edge of the door (hence the gap down the side of the lock), the key only just fits, may have to get some longer keys cut? 

I put one handle outside on the right hand door and one handle inside on the left hand door, it works well as the left hand door is lock bolted closed so we don’t want to be pulling it from the outside, it’s useful to be able to pull it closed from the inside when securing the bolts at the end of the day.

It’s looking lovely now, especially with the addition of four Bamboo blinds at the windows (brought from Argos £3.99 each) and much more secure!

  

Workshop saga… After the new base

So two weeks had passed, still nothing, completely fed up. My house was looking like a tool storage area! I decided to build the floor section so I could construct the summer house again. I pondered the best way to add an extra 14″ to the delivered base. I decided to add the section in the middle as the base they delivered was in two parts. I brought some more timber, a beam and some planks, used the mitre saw to cut the 14″ lengths, drilled pilot holes and screwed them to the beam one side (over lapping only half the beam) and the existing beam from the left floor section the other side. I then joined the right floor section to the new half exposed beam. This made for a perfect, solid base for the summer house. 

I again enlisted the help of Dad to reconstruct the summer house, it was incredibly heavy. Fortunately a friend arrived half way through so I got him to help us. We got it up in a flash, roof and all. Great job!

Another couple of days passed and I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably wait weeks for the sections to be sent from the company, if at all. I then set to build the roof section. Back to the DIY store for more timber and 9mm ply wood. I ordered my table saw (Dewalt DW745) and stand, thought I would need it soon! Over the next two days I built the roof section.

The most difficult part of building the roof was measuring the angle needed at the roof apex. I had a protractor and calculated it to be 19 degrees. I used the mitre saw to cut the angle perfectly then measured the length needed, cut this, tried the pieces in the gap… Didn’t fit. I had measured the beam that was there, my new beam had to sit on top of this so needed to be a little longer. Eventually I got the measurements right. I constructed two half frames which once in position could be secured to the existing roof sections to complete the roof apex. I had to make two halfs so that I could fit them, I thought one piece would be impossible to fit from inside the unit. Next I had to cut the ply to attach to the two half frames. This was another difficult measurement… Ensuring the ply met just perfectly at the apex.

Fortunately my table saw arrived super speedy, I set it up (will do another post about this), cut a random piece of decking… My very first cut using a table saw! Disappointing that I did not have time to savour this moment, I needed to get on with the roof section. I cut the ply with ease, nailed it to the frame and put both sections in place, it fitted quite well and it was getting late so I screwed them into place. It was not perfect, I pondered it over a cup of coffee (my staple means of hydration). I decided that the next day I would take the left piece of frame down and trim the ply to that the apex join was perfect.

The next day I trimmed the ply on the left piece using my Worx mini circular saw. Put the section back up… Perfect! Screwed it in place, job done. I then pondered the roofing felt. I have never been on a roof before, I’m not scared of heights (fortunately) so figured I could do this. Planned it from a safety aspect, worked out where the roof supporting beams were, got the ladder out, put everything I needed on the roof, hammer, tacs, felt, and up I climbed. I was very careful, tried to spread my weight out a little, tended to be on my knees and sitting on my side. Enough of that, I laid the two pieces of felt over the roof one at a time and tacked them to the roof. I did all the edges, nicely folded… It was a bit like wrapping presents!

  
I now need to order some log lap cladding to finish the canopy (top right picture). Also need to make some plinths for the front and back edges of the roof. Nearly done! 

The other day (three weeks have passed now) I emailed the company and told them I am fed up now and have decided to make the floor and roof panels myself so that I can start to use my summer house. I told them I would need a partial refund to cover the cost of materials and my time. I suggested an amount in the region of £200 and guess what… Two days later and they still have not replied!!!!

Watch this space!

Workshop saga continues…

As you could probably guess the parts did not arrive on Wednesday or Thursday, so an email trail was born! A total of twelve emails have been sent to the company via eBay messaging with a total of eight replies from the company, one of which was an ‘out of office’ message. The first two messages were them trying to work out who I was and another message was sent to me by mistake, so I only had four messages for me regarding my summer house, again these were not helpful: ‘I will get him to email you’, ‘I will speak to him’. Seems to be to be a complete lack of communication between the office and the workshop. I found it very interesting that when I messaged about buying a summer house from this company they messaged me back immediately (out of hours) and we had a messaging discussion about my purchase and delivery times. Now that they have my money they leave it a few days before replying or don’t reply at all, I have had no reply from my last two messages… Mmmm.

I was completely fed up that my summer house was incomplete and therefore unusable. I pondered how I was going to fit a section of floor with the unit already constructed, I also needed to extend the base I had made. I decided I would need to take the summer house down to do this so I enlisted the help of my Dad and we took it down. We leaned it against the house. I was worried about it raining and getting water damage, especially as the roof was in fact 9mm ply wood (bit disappointing, that’s why it was not shown in the for sale pictures). 

I brought some more timber and extended the base, I bolted the extra 14″ frame to the existing base but was not happy that it was an add on section. So I decided to make the whole base more secure and decked over the original base. I really didn’t want to rebuild the whole base again, although decking was not the cheapest option it was the quickest. I ended up buying a new mitre saw too, with slide! This was to cut the decking in one motion, I have cut decking with my old mitre saw and had to turn it over to cut through the whole width, this was difficult to obtain a straight edge. The new saw made it a breeze to cut the decking… Perfect every time. I was really pleased with the finished base, it was level too… Result! The bottom left picture is the summer house base that was delivered (14″ too small) on top of my base.

  

Workshop arrived… Nightmare

Around 4pm there was a knock on the door… “I’ve got your shed” said a very northern accent. I was so excited and refrained from correcting him… It’s a summer house!

I showed him where it was going and the two of them started bringing the panels down, first the base then the left side:

  

Next they brought down the back panel… This is when the nightmare started (little did I know), they had brought 11ft front and back panels by mistake (it was supposed to be 10’x7′). 

  
 

They rang the boss who said bring it all back and we will rearrange delivery of the 10×7′ unit. They chatted amongst themselves then spoke to me about what they could do to avoid having to come back (they came from the West Midlands so we’re not keen to return again). We discussed shortening the front and rear panels but the the roof angle would be wrong and the inside beams would be impossible to dismantle (they were nailed in). He called his boss a couple more times. Eventually the guy asked me if I would accept the unit as it is for less money and they would make an extra floor and roof section in the workshop on Monday and courier it to me for Wednesday/Thursday at the latest. I was not keen on this idea as that meant I would have to fit the extra sections and felt the roof… They talked me into accepting this arrangement. They constructed the summer house. They used some blocks of wood to support the right hand side panel where the floor was too short and trimmed some ply from the roof. I asked them to felt as much of the roof as possible so that I only had a small section left to do once the extra panels arrived. He assured me he would make the extra panels I needed first thing Monday and I would receive them mid week. The original cost of the summer house was £880 including free erection and £90 for delivery, I was paying cash on delivery. They arranged with the boss that I could pay £900 for the inconvenience (saving me £70). I paid the £900 and they left leaving me with my incomplete summer house:

  
Not happy but hopeful that by the end of next week I would have my summer house ready to turn into my workshop!

Base for summer house… Workshop

So summer house ordered, to be used as a workshop… Need to build a base! The deck out back (where the workshop will go) is only half supported by concrete, the other half is raised on timber beams. I am not sure the back half is strong enough to support a 10×7 log lap summer house, also the decking was build slightly sloping (for the rain to run off). So I decided to buy some timber to build a level base. My plan was to sink some posts through the deck and down into the ground below to provide a strong base for the rear of the workshop, the front would be supported on the deck which is supported by concrete. 

Here’s what I brought (all pressure treated):

9x 50×50 lengths of timber

3x 75×75 fence posts

8x M10 160mm coach bolts

I had a big box of decking screws which I used. 

It was simply a case of measuring, cutting and screwing the timber together. I used a mitre saw for this project. I had looked up building shed bases on Google, read some forums etc. Once the base was made I then marked out where the posts would sit. The posts were to level up the base. I cut through the decking using two tools, a mini circular saw, to make the main cuts, then a multitool to finish the cut. This left me with almost perfect square holes in the deck to postition the posts. I decided to use nine posts, four along the back, four along the middle and one in the front right hand corner. Once the posts were in and positioned securely under the deck, I used off cuts of wood and a spirit level to level out the base. Next I marked each post and cut them to size, to just below the frame. I then drilled holes so that I could bolt the frame to the posts (had to pop out and buy another bolt). Checked the level after I had finished… And phew it was still level! Now to wait for the workshop to arrive!

Here are the pics of the job in progress: