Sunday, December 8, 2013

Recycled Timber Daybed

I haven't posted anything for a while, though it is with good reason. I've been renovating our house and backyard, and a part of that was making my wife a daybed for our courtyard. I wanted to make it out of as much recycled timber as I could, but it had to look clean and sharply finished. In making the daybed I only bought two pieces of wood (185mm x 19mm Oak boards) and helical decking nails, the rest was made using wood I've collected from broken furniture and home renovations. I'm going to get some pelts to lay over the daybed and Krystal is going to knit some blankets, to add to the rustic feel, and I'll post a few pics when it's all done. We're going for a Japanese/Fantasy theme to the backyard, which is why the focus is on wood/stone/iron and hand fashioned materials with a natural finish.

Dimensions:   1860mm x 1320mm x 450mm


Corner posts:
4 x 430mm Cypress Gold (115mm x 115mm)

Side cladding:
6 x 2.4m Merbau and other hardwood skirting (115mm x 18mm)
8 x 2.4m Merbau and other hardwood skirting (65mm x 18mm)

Picture frame bed edge:
2 x 2.4m New Oak (185mm x 19mm)

Centre slats:
9 x 1490mm Tasmanian Ash (90mm x 19mm)
4 x 1490mm Tasmanian Ash (45mm x 19mm)

Roughly 12 x 1.8m Structural Pine (mostly 110mm x 35mm)

Bed head:
We used the bedhead off of an old, broken queen size bed (1620mm x 1150mm x 90mm).

Surface Finishes:
500ml Gloss Clear Polyurethane (I use Cabot's, but any reputable brand is suitable)
200ml Decking Oil (for the Cypress Gold corner posts)
1lt White exterior house paint (I use Solagard Extreme, but again any reputable brand is suitable)

Slats, framing and picture frame  -  300 x 65mm Deckings Nails (3.5mm with helical screw)
Side cladding - 80 x 35mm Bullet Head nails (2mm galvanized)
Bed head and frame load points - 10 x 150mm Bullet Head Nails (4mm galvanized)

On the right are the side cladding (skirting boards), at the bottom the corner posts (Cypress Gold) and on the left is some structural pine.

You don't have to, but I like to sand and apply a couple of base coats to most of the visible wood before I started putting furniture together. This makes the finish on the joins look crisp and accurate, and makes the final finish super easy to apply (and much cleaner than if all the wood started unfinished).

The corner posts, from left: Raw, Sanded, Finished.

The side cladding, with two coats of white exterior paint applied.


When working with recycled materials you can't write accurate instructions ahead of time; first you must get the materials and then work to their dimensions. In the case of this daybed the limiting factor was the bed head; there was no way that I could change its dimensions. That said it was about the right size so I just built around it.

First of all I had to brace the bed head. As it is now a structural member it can't be trusted to stay together firmly, so I've used some structural pine as a brace (the cream coloured piece).

Next is getting the basic dimensions right. With 5mm of overhang for the picture framing at the sides and front, I had to make it 1850mm x 1315mm from the outside of the posts. I used the side rail off of a broken bed, some structural pine and nails to tack and hold it all in place. At this point you should measure carefully and align all the corners at right angles. I use string lines and a tape measure to get it all correct, then commence the framing proper.

Once it's all measured and straight, a beam/joist centre goes in and is checked for alignment once more before having steel bracket nailed at a few beam/joist intersections to stay any movement. Then the picture frame is test fitted by using screws in each corner for easy adjustment. Only affix the picture frame surround with nails when all the centre boards are in place, and make sure that you use PLENTY of nails (I used about 25 for each edge piece). Once everything is straight, the centre can be clad with the Ash lengths. To space them out I used 4mm nails between boards, and affixed them with two nails per board per joist (total 10 per each length).

Once the top was done, the sides had to be added. This was done fairly simply by cutting three lengths of structural pine and screwing them into place so that the cladding has something to be nailed to. I used three on each side, leaving the rear open for ventilation and possible storage at a later date. The cladding was then affixed from the top down, ensuring that the first board was affixed straight so that the rest can simply to nailed in place accurately.  


Krystal, daydreaming and making it hard for me to apply polyurethane.

Once the sides are clad all that remains is the finishes applied to the wood. For the top I used an oil based wood finish (polyurethane) with a rag. I recommend wearing gloves, and all you have to do is rub in a thin coat, wait a day, then lightly sand and reapply. I applied 5 coats to ensure that it was super smooth and well protected.

The sides of the bed and the vertical slats on the bed head then received two coats each (sanded in between coats) of the white exterior paint, with the corner posts receiving another coat of decking oil each.


That's it! Just make sure that once a year you check on any exterior furniture to ensure that it doesn't require a coat of paint/clear. Furniture deteriorates pretty quickly outside, but as long as you take care of the exterior finish pieces will generally last a very long time (it also helps if you use hardwood). All you usually need to do is give it a quick sand and then a new top coat if it's looking a little damaged, or a heavier sand and a couple of coats if it's very badly weathered.

Cheers, all the best!


As an aside, the ground is soon going to be Bluestone flagstones and I picked up this brazier from a customer of mine who happens to be a blacksmith. It pumps out a lot of heat, and is basically what I imagine Sauron would use to roast marshmallows (if he was into that sort of thing).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Superhero Themed Arrows

I've been rather busy lately and as such a few of my projects have been put on hold. However, one major project I've had on the boil for a while is a traditional archery business which is now up and running: Living in Australia it can be hard to get good quality traditional archery equipment, so after long chats with my wife, fellow archers and interested friends, the business was born.

To start things off I decided that I'd make quite a few example arrows, to showcase different designs and options that on offer in the Arrow Builders that I made. Given my love of comic books and cartoons I couldn't help but make some Superhero themed arrows. I've come to absolutely adore all of them, so the only problem now is deciding which set to make for myself next!

I'll be back soon with some posts on my other projects, one of which may have something to do with League of Legends. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to make a Hylian Shield Pt. 2

Now that the face of the shield is done it's time to paint the back. In part 1 I didn't state how I made the border on the back of the shield. To do this I used simply used masking tape to create the shape and then used a thin layer of filler around the edges to build up a smooth border, being sure to remove the tape whilst the filler was still curing. Left to harden and then sanded it looks great, and the rivets are added the same way the rivets were added to the face of the shield (see pt. 1 for details). This was then spray undercoated in matt black and left to dry.

Base colours are painted on. Both silver and brown are applied with a heavy drybrush. You want to make the wood dark brown but leave black in the detail, as it comes through as texture and depth as it increases in contrast between highlight layers.

Layers of progressively lighter brown are added with an increasingly dry drybrush technique, with the final two highlights added by drybrushing vertical strokes to give the wood grain direction. This is so that it doesn't look like a slice of ply, but rather a number of boards or a thick piece of hardwood.

The metal border is five layers thick, using a different technique and/or direction with each layer so as to randomise the pattern and give it a consistently random metal texture. Clean up the edge where it meets the wood and you're done.

I decided not to make a wooden handle on the back, and instead made a leather/suede handle and leather thonging strap. The strap was plaited and half hitch knotted at each end, whereas the handle was a rectangle of suede wrapped with the black leather, half hitched at each end on the underside. The suede ends were then trimmed to be round, and some brads that I had in my parts box were added to look like metal studs. I then attached them to the back of the shield with a small amount of two part adhesive, clamped them in place and left them to cure.

Note: I used adhesive as this is a small decorative shield, but if you're planning to make a larger version that you plan to hold or use for cosplay I recommend that you affix the handle/strap with screws and adhesive.

I wanted the base to be minimalist and made out of hardwood because of its weight, strength and beauty. I managed to score a piece of 40mm thick Merbau off cut to use for the base, though I would like to note that I only used Merbau as it was an off cut. Merbau is one of the least environmentally friendly timbers in the world thanks to their depleting numbers and the methods used to extract them, and I wouldn't buy it or anything made with it new. However, as this piece was going to become wood chips I figured it would be better to rescue it and turn it in to something beautiful. Merbau is depleting quickly for many reasons, one of which is the fact that it's a gorgeous deep crimson colour and is extremely dense and heavy.

I decided that I didn't want a support on the base of the base as it would clutter the look, so instead I cut the base of the Merbau at a slight angle (around 7°) so that it supports itself.

With a mitre saw I cut three 5mm deep lines in the front of the base to represent the Triforce, after which I used a rotary tool to scribe a triforce shape in the middle front of the base, which was followed by a heavy sanding of the entire base. Holes were then drilled for the three pegs that I'd add to the base in order to support the shield. The pegs were added by dipping the end of a length of doweling in gloss lacquer, pushing it in to place and then using a saw to trim it to the appropriate length. Once complete the base and pegs were coated twice with high gloss lacquer and left to dry.

Note: It's better that you cut each peg too long and then adjust it when the lacquer has dried, because if you cut it too short you'll have to start all over again.

The pegs, being lacquered wood, are hard and will damage the shield if it is left on the base. To avoid this and give the base a rustic look that seems as though it belongs in Kokiri Village, I used some black leather thonging to bind rectangles of red suede to each peg. Once bound the thong was tied off with a double hitch close to the base of each peg and trimmed flush. 

Finally, I used some clear tape to mask clean edges for the Triforce that I'd scribed in to the centre of the base and then painted in gold.

The Finished Product

If you've got any comments or questions about anything to do with this project please comment below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to make a TARDIS Front Door

So we have a front door. I know right, how weird is that? I decided that the door was pretty ordinary and needed to be replaced. After taking it off its hinges it was still in great condition internally, so a new coat of paint and new hardware would bring it back to life. However, post preparation I still wasn't sure what colour it should be. At this point my wife laughingly said, 'It'd be cool if it looked like the TARDIS.' I stood for a moment and thought, why not? I don't mind and it'll make her happy, so I asked her if that's what she really wanted and now here we are.

Before I start, I want to note that I offered to make the door look exactly (to scale) like the TARDIS of the David Tennant era. However, my wife preferred that I make a homage to it rather than a replica (her words) as she likes the door's lines and hardwood texture. With this in mind I had to compromise and build it so that it's recognisable as the TARDIS without being a replica. I think it turned out alright in any case.

What I used

Wood - I used four pieces of wood; 
1) 64mm x 19mm Pine ('POLICE BOX' sign backing)
2) 22mm Hardwood Moulding ('POLICE BOX' sign trim)
3) 25mm Pine Moulding (vertical strip the runs up the middle of the door)
4) 25mm x 10mm Recycled Hardwood (for the 'PUSH TO OPEN' sign framing) 

Blue Paint and Mineral Turpentine - A gloss external paint is best as it'll last the longest. A 500ml pot will be enough for the whole door with plenty left over for touch ups/recoats down the track. 

Black Spray Paint - This is for the sign background. You can paint it with a brush but spraying it will result in a smoother, more consistent finish with no streaks.

A Paint Brush, Sandpaper - I used a roll of 120 grit and a 1 1/2" brush.

Handles - I used two brushed stainless steel handles with stainless screws. Make sure you use stainless screws as they will be left unpainted and therefore exposed to the elements.

Lettering - I used white vinyl decals that I ordered online from I hadn't used them before this project but it was easy to customise my order and they delivered the decals quickly and with a confirmation email.

Mitre box and saw or compound saw

What to do

To begin with I took the door off its hinges, removed all the hardware, filled any holes/imperfections and sanded it back to be ready for painting. Once that was done I gave it a gloss undercoat in white for paint adhesion and a better finish, as well as to seal and protect the door from the elements.

Once I was happy with it I remounted it and made sure it closed properly, after which I applied three coats of blue gloss. Note: You don't have to remove your door if you don't want to, particularly since rehanging it can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing. Well, hanging it isn't so much the problem so much as getting it to close and open as it should.

 The painted door with hardware attached (bad photo, I know).

Here are the three new pieces of wood and the recycled hardwood (from renovations), for reference. Each was sanded and painted before being assembled as this makes life much easier (in my experience, anyway).

The hardwood moulding for the sign border, painted and cut to size with 45deg corner mitres.

The internet makes getting custom vinyl graphics just SO easy. I used Helvetica Medium as it was the closest font to that used on the TARDIS that was available. I believe Gill Sans is the exact font used on the TARDIS in the TV series.

I don't have photos of my building the sign box and notice frame as the battery on the camera ran out (boooo!). However, it was a simple process. 

The 'PULL TO OPEN' notice frame was made from the recycled hardwood by cutting 45deg mitres and using 20mm stainless tacks to put it together and affix it to the door. The notice itself I made using Word, a reference image of the original sign and a fair bit of work given to finding the right fonts (Times New Roman and Arial fit well), spacing and kerning. Once done I simply printed it up and laminated it, then cut it to size.

The 'POLICE BOX' sign was an 800mm length of pine with the hardwood moulding cut to fit the outside. 

The strip running up the centre of the door was simply painted, cut to size, nailed on (20mm tacks) and a final sand and recoat was applied. Make sure you measure for each piece with the door shut, otherwise you might make it a bit too long and you won't be able to close it.

Once both the notice frame and sign box were built and fixed to the door the mitre gaps were puttied, the paint lightly sanded and then a top coat was applied. The brushed steel handles were then added.

Finally, the signage. My wife really wanted to put the 'BOX' text on, so below is her doing exactly that. Applying vinyl decals is easy - peel off the backing, place the text, use a flexible blade (a credit card is perfect) to smooth it on and then carefully remove the transfer paper. Done!

The Finished Product

Though the pedantic individual within wanted to make a scale reproduction I'm rather pleased with the result. However, my wife is ecstatic! Her face when I was finished was priceless, which is the most important thing of all. NB: The hole on the left side of the door is for the deadlock, which I installed after these photos.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please comment below if there's anything you'd like to ask about the project, or anything to do with a project of your own. Cheers!