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Bright ideas & hints

How to make bird feeder in no time

 

Cutting list

Pine plywood:

•          One 300mm x 280mm x 20mm piece for the base

•          One 260mm x 70mm x 20mm piece for the perch support

•          Two 300mm x 280mm x 20mm for the frame sides

•          One piece 270mm x 20mm x 15mm for the frame front

•          Two 90mm x 20mm x 15mm for the frame back

•          One 16mm diameter dowel 125mm long

•          Two 6mm diameter dowels 125mm long

 

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Cut a rebate into the rear of the base to accommodate the perch support 105mm in from one of the back edges and 70mm long, 20mm deep.

Step 2: Round off the top edge of the perch support.

Step 3: Drill one 16mm hole 100mm up from the bottom of the perch support to accommodate the lower perch.

Step 4: Drill two 6mm holes side by side and 170mm up from the bottom of the perch support for the fruit retainers. Countersink both holes.

Step 5: Glue and screw the perch support in the rebate.

Step 6: Glue the 16mm dowel rod for the perch into its hole, making sure it is flush with the rear.

Step 7: Slightly sharpen the 6mm dowels for the fruit retainers to make it easier to pierce fruit. Glue these in place.

Step 8: Sand as many pieces before assembly, with final sanding after assembly.

Step 9: Glue all the frame pieces to surround the base.

Step 10: Apply at least three coats of sealant, clear varnish or paint.

Fix the bird feeder to a garden wall as far from your house as possible. Cut an apple or orange in half and pierce it on the sharpened fruit retainer dowels. Birdseed can be poured onto the table. Sit back and watch – the birds will arrive in no time!

Eugene Taljaard

Tools & materials

•          Waterproof wood glue

•          Sandpaper

•          Drill bits

•          Electric saw

 

Keep your trapdoor clean

 

For years now I have battled with my trapdoor becoming grubby. Each time you paint the ceiling, it isn’t long before work must be done in the ceiling and dirty marks appear on the trapdoor. I have found an easy solution to this problem.

I purchased two cheap cupboard door handles to fit to the trapdoor so, when work must be done in the roof, you simply remove the trapdoor from the ceiling without leaving dirty hand marks all over it. I placed the two handles 150mm in from each side.

Brian Parker, Linmeyer

 

Keep your trapdoor clean

 

For years now I have battled with my trapdoor becoming grubby. Each time you paint the ceiling, it isn’t long before work must be done in the ceiling and dirty marks appear on the trapdoor. I have found an easy solution to this problem.

I purchased two cheap cupboard door handles to fit to the trapdoor so, when work must be done in the roof, you simply remove the trapdoor from the ceiling without leaving dirty hand marks all over it. I placed the two handles 150mm in from each side.

Brian Parker, Linmeyer

 

Keep your trapdoor clean

 

For years now I have battled with my trapdoor becoming grubby. Each time you paint the ceiling, it isn’t long before work must be done in the ceiling and dirty marks appear on the trapdoor. I have found an easy solution to this problem.

I purchased two cheap cupboard door handles to fit to the trapdoor so, when work must be done in the roof, you simply remove the trapdoor from the ceiling without leaving dirty hand marks all over it. I placed the two handles 150mm in from each side.

Brian Parker, Linmeyer

 

Shave time off your clean-up

 

I do a lot of DIY projects at home and when I drill into wood all the shavings and wood chips fly over a wide area, making a huge mess. There is always a lot of cleaning to do afterwards, so I found a solution to my problem and it works 100%.

 

I cut away the bottom away of a 1kg margarine container. I place this container over the area to be drilled and position the drill inside the container. Then there is only a very small area to clean as all the shavings and chips are contained in the container. I use the method with my pedestal drill as well as my hand drill and believe it will prove to be particularly useful for kitchen contractors.

 

Joel van Staden, Brits

 

Industrial dome lights made pretty

 

We have a high central living space and wanted to fill some of the volume with two large pendant lamps. After doing some shopping around, we found that they were quite expensive. Instead of buying these, we were able to get hold of some second- hand industrial aluminium dome lamps left over from a shop makeover.

 

I started by removing the industrial lamp fittings and was left with a bare dome (see left photo above). After that, I sprayed the outside and inside with two different hammertone colours. I then bought smaller dome lamps and fitted these inside the larger domes. Finally, I got some trim used by panel beaters for automotive trim to create a nice soft edge to the dome. This was a very successful makeover and a lovely addition to our home.

 

Gerrit van den Dool, by email

 

Get it taped

 

I have made numerous picture frames and really battled with the four sash clamps and four sides of the frame, which don’t cooperate. By the time they do come together, the glue is almost dry, and I’m sure my sweat and cursing doesn’t help matters.

 

I have bought gadgets and made some very precise triangles out of pieces of MDF, which I clamp onto the inside of the frame using small G-clamps. There many ways to kill the proverbial cat, but using something as simple as insulation tape, as shown in the photographs, has proved to be easiest, despite being the cheapest, and it really works well. I have indeed got the help of an ‘extra pair of hands’ as it were.

 

When using this method, it is important that nothing gets in the way when measurements are taken across the corners to check that the frame is square. If necessary, sash clamps can now easily be employed if the corners need slight coercion.

 

Thanks for the opportunity to share this tip – I found it to be really useful.

 

Malvin O’Donovan

Prevent window ‘pains’

 

I recently experienced a few mishaps when I had to fit glass into wooden window frames. When driven in,
the panel pins used in the process ‘drifted’ towards the edge of the glass causing it to crack. I soon
realised that it is imperative to drill a pilot hole to keep the pin on track. This also eases insertion and
allows you to make sure the angle is correct to avoid the pin touching the edge of the glass.

 

I found the use of a hammer to drive the pins also creates a dilemma. Firstly, the hammer can damage
the window frame and, secondly, it can knock against the glass and
crack it.

 

Eventually, I gave up on the hammer altogether. I used slip joint pliers and pressed the pin into the wood instead. Remember the pilot holes! Take care to press slowly and check that the pin does not bend as you squeeze. Adjust the pliers’ angle and pressure point as you go along.

 

This method can also be applied elsewhere. For example, it came in handy when I had no ‘swing space’ for the hammer when fitting the small shelves seen in the image.
 

Gerhard du Randt, Nieuwoudtville

Improvisation gets the job done

 

Most plumbing repairs and additions require the incoming water line to be shut off. This means that plumbing
repairs can’t wait another day because the family would like to shower in the morning.

 

I experienced this problem while doing some renovations on my house. The existing galvanised pipes were
replaced with copper and I ran out of PTFE tape for the copper fittings. It was well into the evening and all
hardware stores were closed. I certainly did not want to delay the task, and after unfruitful calls to friends,
had to improvise.

 

After I had turned a wooden spoon into a paint mixer earlier, the missus was tracking my movements and warned me to stay out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, my idea needed another item from the kitchen – Glad Wrap. I found that cutting thin strips of the Glad Wrap and applying it to the thread on the copper fitting actually worked better than the PTFE tape as it offered more elasticity and seemed to seal well. I completed my task that evening and was proved right after opening the water supply and checking for leaks.

 

David Dawson

 

Clever rainwater tank

 

I spent quite some time playing with the idea of a rainwater harvesting system, but unfortunately they cost more that I wanted to spend. After thinking about possible alternatives, I came up with this solution. This rainwater tank is made from recycled drums and has been prettied up with flower pots. Let’s hope this encourages some creative water-saving solutions.

 

Monty Mountjoy, Centurion

 

  

 

 

Dry entertainment area

 

Some time ago, we moved into a house in Tableview, Cape Town and it had a blue, material roof covering you could pull open and closed. During the rainy season it was no good at keeping the weather out, so I decided to change things.

 

First, I pulled down the runners and blue material. Thereafter, I called Youngman Roofing to deliver some sheets and installed some extra beams for support. While coming up with a plan to shield the sides from the wind and rain, I thought, ‘Wait, I can still use this material for something’. We got some new runners, cut the material to size and reused the same poles as before to make a sliding curtain.

 

This ensured that the entertainment area was shielded from the sun, high winds and rain. Sometimes an item destined for the bin can be recycled/reused if you put your mind to it and make it work for you.

 

Leon Hendricks

 

  

 

 

DIY paint stirrer

 

During the renovation of our home, finding the time to paint the walls was difficult. Working long hours and not making it to the shops before closing time added to the problem. I had to come up with a solution to save time and keep my wife happy. After scanning the kitchen for solutions, I grabbed a wooden spoon and fitted it to the chuck of my cordless drill and suddenly stirring the paint became effortless. My wife sure was happy that the walls were painted but when it came time to make the pap for the braai…well...
 

Dave Dawson, Mpumalanga

 

  

 

 

Keep tools shiny in humid conditions

 

A few years ago, we relocated to an area of the country with a high annual rainfall figure, allowing subtropical fruits to be grown here. This, coupled with hot summers, creates ridiculously high humidity levels. It didn’t take me long to realise there was a big problem developing in my toolbox. Everything was starting to turn a rust brown colour and I didn’t know what to do. I don’t have many tools, but I sure didn’t want the ones I do have to be destroyed by rust. Then it dawned on me – those little bags of silica gel (desiccant) that come inside your pill bottles are there to absorb moisture.

 

My local chemist was kind enough to collect some for me as I could only rustle up a few at home. I then bought some of those plastic containers with compartments for storage of small items. I put each tool in its own compartment with a bag of the silica gel. For the bigger hand tools, I got bigger Tupperware type plastic boxes and used the larger bags of desiccant I also got from my chemist. This appears to have sorted out the problem and I hope this tip will help others with the same problem.

 

Gregg Butler, Tzaneen

 

  

 

 

Revitalise sanding disks and belts

 

To avoid the inconvenience of having to constantly change sanding disks as well as save money and resources, I came up with this idea. To clean a sanding disk or belt clogged up with fine wood dust and extend its usable life is simple. Simply use a leg or arm piece from a broken outdoor plastic table or chair. Run the sander and apply this firmly across the surface of the disk or belt. The plastic will soften (almost melting) and remove most of the fine wood dust.

 

It is important to note that this cannot remove the ‘baked in’ clogging due to using too much localised pressure on the disk or belt, particularly with resinous or hard wood. This can be seen in the pictures of my disk sander after it has been cleaned!

 

Ralph and Frances Hultzer, Hermanus

 

  

 

 

Hang your brooms

 

Do you have brooms lying around waiting to trip you up, or when you open the appliance cupboard does an

angry mop attack you? You would think there would be a commercially available organiser for something as

simple as storing brooms and mops. I made my own broom bracket out of a piece of wood and three 75mm-long

pieces of 40mm-diameter PVC pipe. I cut a vertical slot into the PVC pipe about 3mm less than the diameter

of the broom handle. Each piece of pipe was further shaped as shown in the picture above. The bracket is easy

to make and doesn’t require many tools or a lot of material.

 

Douw Kruger, NorthridingDo you have brooms lying around waiting to trip you up, or when you open the appliance cupboard does an angry mop attack you? You would think there would be a commercially available organiser for something as simple as storing brooms and mops. I made my own broom bracket out of a piece of wood and three 75mm-long pieces of 40mm-diameter PVC pipe. I cut a vertical slot into the PVC pipe about 3mm less than the diameter of the broom handle. Each piece of pipe was further shaped as shown in the picture above. The bracket is easy to make and doesn’t require many tools or a lot of material.

 

Douw Kruger, Northriding

 

  

 

 

Painting skirtings and not the carpet

 

I have always found painting a wooden skirting adjacent to edge-to-edge carpeting a difficult and messy task.
When using the popular methods, like a steel plate or cardboard, for carpet protection, the paint always drips
through and lands on the carpet.

 

What I have found to be an easy and successful method of protecting the carpet is to use masking tape. I lay
50mm-wide masking tape on the carpet, slightly overlapping onto the skirting. This allows me to use a
screwdriver to ‘caulk’ the masking tape down into the carpet trim.

 

This action also causes the carpet to flatten, which allows the paintbrush to get well below the carpet level. When the paint is dry simply remove the masking tape and, hey presto, you have a beautifully painted skirting without getting paint on the carpet.

 

Note: Before the masking tape is applied, thoroughly vacuum all dust along the edges. This enables better adhesion and prevents the paintbrush picking up dust.

 

Johnny Schwartz, Cape Town

  

 

 

Save your thumbs

 

Ever caught your finger between the wall and the hammer and felt that throbbing pain of a black fingernail? Been there, done that! But now I have found a solution: a common sponge. Take the nail and push it through the sponge (the sponges that you use in the kitchen work the best). All you have to do now is place it on the right spot and start hammering. When you are finished, just pull the sponge away. The other benefit of this is that should you miss, you will hit the sponge and thus not damage your wall’s paint. And, the sponge will also prevent that dreaded occurrence of the nail accidently flying away if hit at an angle. My wife has now taken over the nailing job in the house and she is really impressed with this idea as well.

 

Sakkie Smuts, Rietkuil

  

 

 

Handy woodworking bench and jig 

 

I built a woodworking bench and jig to help with large sheets of wood. Although I built it with large sheets of wood in mind, additional benefits of the workbench are that your fingers are no longer close to the blade, you do not battle to hold the plank up by yourself, it provides a nice straight cut with great ease and the roller system is a framing system used to easily clamp down your work. It is also a safe cutting system. Here are some pictures of my project.

 

Kevin Olson, Roodepoort

  

 

Drill a perfect hole

 

Drilling a perfect hole though a ceramic tile comes with some challenges. Hole saws made for tiles do not come with a pilot drill bit like saws for wood do. Usually, when the diamond hole saw makes contact with the ceramic surface of a tile, it tends to slide all over the show. This is especially true when using a handheld drill. To overcome this, you can go out and purchase an expensive hole saw guide system, or just do what I do and use what you have to make that perfect cut.

 

Take an offcut from a piece of ceramic tile. Drill a random hole with your diamond hole saw. Use this as a jig for precise drilling. This jig can then be clamped to your workpiece and a handheld drill can be used without you worrying about the hole saw doing the dance on you.

 

Remember to use plenty of water as you drill; this will allow
for a clear cut and prolong the life of your hole saw.

 

Pieter Boshoff, Alberton

  

 

Handy router tips

 

A router can be a bit daunting for the normal DIY guy as it almost falls into the category of specialist tools, but using it correctly can actually help solve a lot of issues in the house. Here are some tips that I am sure all DIY’ers will find handy.

 

Tip 1

When buying router bits, buy proper carbide tipped router bits. They are expensive, but you will soon realise how they simply last forever. You can easily sharpen them yourself, an old toothbrush keeps them clean and a bit of WD-40 keeps them rust free. Your collection will grow over time and soon you will have a variety of quality bits to choose from and use.

 

Tip 2

When routing, always move the router against the rotation of the bit. You have much better control over the tool then. Moving in the same direction turns your router into a little race car that’s hard to control. The cut is also much cleaner if you move against the rotation.

 

Tip 3

Instead of using the standard guides you get with your router, rather use ball bearing bits. The bearing rides along the edge of the workpiece, effectively keeping the bit on course and in control. There’s no need to attach an edge guide to the router or straightedge fence to the work. The bearing alone will ensure the bit cuts to the proper width. Many bits are available with ball bearings.

 

Tip 4

Use the guide bush you got when you bought your router. Make a template of any shape using any offcuts or 3mm Masonite. There is a small difference between the template and the actual router bit created by the guide bush, so keep that in mind. Once you have a template, simply clamp it onto your work material and start cutting. A well-finished template will leave a well finished article. It is worth putting the effort into your template and smoothing the edges nicely. Be sure to keep the guide bush pressed tightly against the edge of the template.

 

Tip 5

I know it is a luxury to have more than one router, but keep one permanently in a router table and you will keep going back to it. It is also much easier to use than a handheld router.

 

C Oberholzer  

 

‘n Boer maak ‘n plan

 

As you get older you tend to forget where you put things. It creates frustration in your workshop, especially if you misplace the chuck key, therefore ‘n boer maak ‘n plan. I found a solution for the infamous misplaced chuck key of my press drill. I took a piece of string and attached one end to the chuck key and the other end to a weight. The piece of string then goes over a pulley. Now the chuck key is in exactly the same position each time and I know where to find it. If I don’t need the chuck key anymore, I simply let go of it and it automatically returns to its place. The photo clearly shows how I made life much better.

 

The other idea helps if you have more power tools than electrical plugs. I made a loop which is attached next to the multi-plug in my workshop. This loop is used for hanging all the unused electrical plugs. It means they are always close by and I never have to bend too far to reach them.

 

Chris Erasmus, via email

 

Repair sliding grip clamps

 

Sometimes, if you press too hard, the pin in the clamp’s trigger handle can break. I have 12 of these clamps and have had to fix 11 of them. To fix them is quite easy, so here goes:

 

Step 1: Disassemble the clamp.

Step 2: Drill a 4mm hole in the trigger handle and in the casing.

Step 3: Assemble the clamp again by putting a 4mm bolt through the hole you drilled earlier and then securing it on the other side with a 4mm nut.

The clamp will now be as good as new and will give you many years of service. I’m now at the point that when I buy new sliding grip clamps, I immediately replace the pin with the 4mm bolt.

 

Levyno Botha, via email