Monday, September 12, 2011

Making a gate

This post is about making a gate.

I wanted a small gate to close off the entry to my door. My dad had some leftover wood he "rescued" from being thrown away by someone. I'm glad he did because it's a high quality wood that is probably not allowed anymore these days.

So let's begin.

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The wood. High quality, straight planks. More or less painted. Good stuff.

I used a sawing bench since it's a fair bit of work. I used it to cut the pieces the right length and also to cut the tips.

Quickly put together after it was cut. Looks promising.

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Back home I have a tiled floor. The lines between the tiles come in handy. I used the lines to make sure everything was on a 90 degree angle.

The result of putting in a zillion screws. Well, not really a zillion, OK... The top 2 horizontal pieces and the bottom one have 2 screws on each intersection of wood. The diagonal piece has 2 screws at the ends and 1 everywhere else. You can see the screws reasonably OK in the next picture.

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The diagonal bit is crucial to making a solid gate. Without it, the gate would collapse after it was put on the wall. It is important that the bottom end of the diagonal bit is on the side where it is mounted against the wall.

So I painted the back of it first. That way I could paint the front after mounting it to the wall.

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You can see the separate piece of wood here as well. That's to put on the wall. The gate will then be mounted on this piece of wood.

To put it on the wall I needed some big screws and matching plugs. I wanted to know exactly where the holes needed to be so I drilled hole in the wood first, held it against the wall and then drilled holes in the stone with a small drill-bit, just to mark where the holes needed to be.

It needs to support a fair weight so I put in quite a few screws. Starting to look good there!

Next up are the hinges. I bought the biggest ones I could find. Since the wood is hard, I pre-drilled the holes for the screws to prevent wood-splitting. You have to be very careful though not to drill through the wood!

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I sat the gate on a small piece of wood to lift it off the ground a bit. It happened to have exactly the right height. This made it easy to mount the gate on the wall.

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I don't want it to be smacked against the wall by the wind when it's open so I made a hook to hold it still.

I painted the front of the gate as well.

Not bad I think :-)

I had to think about how to lock the gate for a while. There's a gate and a pole. Hmm... In the end I decided to make a sliding lock that slides in to the pole. Except the pole is made of solid metal and the hole needed to be 1cm in diameter.  I drilled the hole by using 3-, 4.5-, 6-, 8- and 10 mm drills. I had to use my power drill for the last 2 bits.

After that it was a simple matter of putting the lock on my gate. I did this by holding it on the gate with the slide in the hole. Then I pre-drilled the holes for the screws and screwed it on.

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And so the gate got finished. This is the view from my hall way. I like the result very much.

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And there is the all finished gate from the front. It was a very satisfying bit of work and I enjoyed making it.

Mission accomplished :-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fixing outside plaster

I am preparing my little patio at the back so I can put up a small shed. The wall that the shed will be standing next to needs fixing and painting. The weather was reasonably OK so I took my chance.

Plastering is difficult and requires a fair bit of skill. This was my first time ever and even though I'm pleased with the result, a proper craftsman would've done a much better job.

Anyway, this is what I did:

The bad part of the wall. I wanted that big hole and the crappy corner edge fixed. I cleaned it so it would be reasonably dust-free.

I bought stuff particularly suited for this kind of work. I have no idea if there's a special name for it in English though...

It said 3.7 litres of water on 20 kilo of cement. I only needed 2 kilo of cement so I added 370ml but that was too much, the mixture stayed to runny. I think I ended up putting an extra half kilo of cement in.

With a simple spatula I put the cement in the hole and other places.

The result is quite rough but a bit of sanding will do the trick. It's not smooth and flat but it's a lot better than it was before :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Straightening out plants

Not really any serious DIY but a small chore to do around the house anyway is doing up your plants. These plants have been bugging me for ages. It's too much plant and they're not standing straight up. Rubbish collects underneath them which attracts vermin.

So it needed a quick face-lift.

I put one of these in the wall behind each plant and tied them to it with a bit of metal wire.

I also trimmed them down a lot and now it's a lot more presentable. They'll also withstand the winter storms a lot better this way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another sensor light

Here's a quick explanation of how I put up another sensor light outside of my front door.

At the back of my light were a few places where the plastic was very thin for you to cut a hole. These are the holes used for mounting it to the wall.

Because I wanted to put it up in a corner I needed to create a bit of surface so I cut a 45 degrees angle on a block of wood.

The wood is hard which means it has a higher chance to split when you put a screw into it. So all the places where a screw needs to be were going to be pre-drilled with a very small drill 1/2 to 1/3 of the thickness of the screw. Also the wood needs to be removed where the power chord comes out.

3 holes for screws and 1 showing where to cut away some wood for the chord.

This is the corner it will be in.

To fix our "surface" well, I drilled 3 holes for long screws to fit through.

This is the idea...

... After fixing the wood we have a solid surface for mounting the light.

Wire the light. Be sure to switch off electricity for safety reasons.

And mount the light. Voila, all done.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Creating an Urban Micro Garden.

In the city where I live, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, it is very crowded. Like most major cities really. People live in apartments where only the person in the bottom apartment may have a garden and sometimes the people all the way at the top have a roof terrace. However, even the garden that some people have are usually very small. Mine is 10 square metres for example but it gets zero sun. So it's good for storage but nothing else. The front of my house gets sun from the early morning till late afternoon. So that's where I want my garden! But since it's a bit anti-social to use up all of the sidewalk (and a bit illegal, too ;-) it has to be small, very small... Other people had the same problem and the idea of urban micro gardens (or sometimes urban micro "farms" if they actually grow food!) was born.

This blog post shows how I made mine.

Last weekend I went to a garden centre and bought the borders and proper dirt. It's actually all quite inexpensive. Check your local garden centre for prices. I needed 6x50cm and 10x8cm pieces and 160 litres of dirt. I also bought some plants.

This is the "before" picture. Pretty ordinary. But that's about to change :-)

Clean the place up a bit. It will make working nicer.

I placed the border around the windows to see where it needed to go exactly and which tiles needed to be taken out.

One tile in the middle was easily removed so that's where I started.

All the tiles have been removed.

The next step is to dig a big hole. I made mine about 20cm deep. In the middle  I made it about 35-40 deep though because I'm going to plant a big rose there which needs more dirt than the smaller plants.

Make sure the "bottom" is as flat and straight as possible and then start by putting in the side and continue all the way round. I used a piece of brick that came out of the ground as a measure to make sure all the parts stuck out evenly.

Create the whole border this way. Be accurate, it saves you from having to do things again.

Fill it up with dirt.

It's a bit tricky putting the tiles back because there may not be enough that fit. I barely made it. A few holes had to be filled up with sand here and there.

The next day I put up this grid for the rose to grow on.

Now it is finally time for the fun part! The planting :-)

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And here it is, an Urban Micro Garden!