Saturday, 7 February 2015

Pallet wood planter

My new workshop is now up and running ready for Spring and I couldn't be more chuffed and so grateful that Mr TG gave up one quarter of his own shed to make me my own area. I now have a 20ft by 20ft space with fabulous scaffold board work surfaces and every tool I imagine I will ever need - except for one of Mr TGs table saws which I have my eye on, I've never used one because they scare the heck out of me but I still need one lol.

So my first projects are pallet wood planters. I've made planters before and I didn't want just a bog standard boring square but I've made 6 sided ones before and tbh I can't remember the degrees etc so bog standard square it is.....with a little scallop included.
These take me one day to build and cost nothing to make cos it's all pallet wood

I know not many people will want a blow by blow account of how I made it so if that includes you then I guess you shouldn't read on. If however you want to make one and want to know how I did it then continue reading and I'll try to tell you as best as I can, plus you can learn from my many mistakes as we go.

First assemble your materials - I know this is common sense but when I made the prototype of this (I had no plans) I kinda made it up as I went along and by the time I was on my third panel I realised I was out of pallet wood that had the same dimensions as the other 2 panels and although it only made a teeny weeny increase it affected the entire structure.
So gather your pallet wood first ensuring you have enough of the same size for the 4 panels, my panels measured 20" high by the combined width of 4 pieces of pallet wood wide (14").

First I cut 16 pieces of pallet wood @20" high and 4 pieces of batten @ the width of the panel (I used pallet wood that was about 3.5" wide so we'll say the panel width was 14") We actually need 8 pieces of batten but we'll come to that later.

So, I lay 4 pieces of the 20" wood down on my workbench best side down as we're working on the inside of the planter here. I actually made use of this iron angle square screwed to my workbench and I cannot tell you how much it helped, not only did it help square everything up but it helped keep everything tight together.

Next I attached a scrap piece of wood across the centre to keep all those boards tight together (I forgot to photograph that though).
Next I started marking out the arches top and bottom of the panel. I made a pencil mark 2" in from either side at the top at the same at the bottom, then I took a huge round plate and placed the edges against those marks and traced round it to create the curve - I did this top and bottom.

Next I used a jigsaw to cut out the arch following my pencil line.

TIP: Once you have cut the arches out do not be tempted at this point to remove the scrap wood. I did that once and it was ridiculously annoying trying to get the arch back to shape.
Next make a pencil mark 3" up from the bottom and 3" down from the top on either side of the panel. Take your cut batten and screw it down to the panel making sure each end is flush with your pencil mark. Do this top and bottom and then remove the scrap piece from the middle.
Then turn your panel over and screw into those battens from this side also as this will help make it super secure - remember to pre-drill first and use a counter sinker if you like, I didn't in the prototype and the wood split terribly.

That's one panel complete and you now need to make one more exactly like that.
Next you need to make 2 more panels the same as the first two but with one slight difference, the batten pieces need to be shorter to enable the entire structure to fit together.
To get the desired width of the shorter battens I simply held up the two finished panels against my new panel and measured the width required. This next photo shows you the process and the yellow pencil shows the width I need to take the measurement of

Fix the shorter battens in place 3" up from the bottom and 3" down from the top as you did on the other two panels. Once that's done pre-drill and screw in from the front again and then make another panel exactly the same.
You should now have 4 panels looking like these

The next bit couldn't be simpler - construct a box with the four panels.
Then pre-drill pilot holes and screw the sides together, again using the counter sinker if you like - this made it easier when I gave it a light sand too as there were no screw heads to rip paper on.

Once constructed this is what the inside will look like (those shorter battens suddenly make sense).

Next I cut 3 pieces of scrap wood and screwed them to the bottom battens to form a base, I left gaps between so that I can puncture the lining to allow water to drain.

For the liner I would usually use some of Mr TGs DPM poly as it's really thick but I was feeling particularly lazy and wanted to use what was to hand - bin liners!
As it happened these particular bin liners were a perfect fit and I secured it by stapling it to the top batten supports with my nail gun.
To hide the plastic and the staples I cut some really thin laths to fit around the top of the battens and nailed them in place.

Finally a quick sand down with 60 grit and then another quick going over with 240 grit and a coat of external varnish and the job was done.

My instructions may make this seem difficult but it really couldn't have been simpler to make nor quicker. It used minimal wood and cost nothing and a rose is going to look lovely in it.

I'm currently working on other planters, I'm hoping my mitre saw will cut accurate angles for an 8 sided planter and I'm trying to work out a square planter that staggers outward - could take a while.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

RSPB bird watch - did you remember.

I want to clarify something right from the off - a narcoleptic does not make a good bird watcher!

I was really looking forward to this RSPB bird watch and while I was eager to do it yesterday the weather was atrocious so I decided today would be the day.
I chose to watch the bird table round by the polytunnel because there's usually more activity there due to all the surrounding hedges. The problem with this bird table though is that I cannot hang anything from it because the Rooks arrive in their droves if I do and scare all the small birds away so there's just the one bowl of food in an area that won't allow anything bigger than a Starling to get in.

On the menu today was bird seed, mealworms, pinhead oatmeal, crushed peanuts, mixed seed, mixed dried fruit and scraped suet block.

I gathered pen, paper, binoculars and camera and set myself up in the hen house which has a good view of the feeding station although because the feeding station is so tall - 7ftish - this was never really going to be a photo opportunity.

I had quite a few regulars show up such as a lone Robin. The Blue Tits and Great Tits were of the greatest number and you could tell them a mile off because they fly so funny.
I also saw 2 Blackbirds that were cleaning up the part of the feed station they could access - the edges, 1 Starling and 2 Blackbirds and a few house sparrows. Not really a fantastical number - I thought there would be much more and I was a tad dissappointed that the Wrens weren't showing up because I know there's plenty of them around - usually in the polytunnel. Just as I was coming to the end of the hour 1 Wren showed itself on a pile of wood below the feeding station and started feeding from the seed scattered below so that cheered me up a bit.

I made various notes during this 1 hour of sitting in the hen house in the freezing cold, in fact my page consists mainly of doodles and little snippets in barely legible hand writing as my fingers began to freeze and refuse to function.
"I'm cold" followed by "I'm bloody cold" topped off with "I'm frozen".
"Even the birds are too cold to eat" I wrote that while I sat there for at least 10 minutes of absolutely no bird in sight and not even a teeny tweet.
"Hens make some weird noises" - they all decided to stay around my feet and they made some really weird sounds as they sat there talking to one another.
"Stupid binoculars" - every time I tried to look through them they steamed up within 5 seconds.

I did enjoy the process, despite freezing my do dar off and I've decided I shall do it once every season at the same time each year to compare results.

I did get a show from this little lot though - Rooks, I hate them and they arrived by the hundreds thanks to the Rookery next door. The noise they make is awful .

Also a huge flock of these appeared - I'm assuming Blackbirds or Starlings or something? Certainly a lot smaller than the Rooks and way too agile for Rooks.

So in the field we had a flock of Rooks, a flock of whatever the smaller birds are a whole load of Graylag geese - at least 200. The geese arrive every year, stay for a couple of days and then head of to wherever they go next. Love seeing them, though they seem a tad earlier this year.

Had to have a little chuckle at the hens a couple of days ago. The pond had totally frozen over and I was trying to stop the dogs from walking on it when I noticed mama hen making her way over to me

All cocky as she was the only one brave enough (or stupid enough) to attempt it and then Huntly appeared and noticed her. Mama hens courage was short lived and she turned tail and ran while I had to make sure Huntly didn't attempt to take off after her on the frozen pond. TheShepherds had been on it but I wasn't risking Huntlys weight on it.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

Thanks to Sue over at 'Our plot at Green Lane Allotments' I have remembered to sign up for this years 'RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch'.
I've been meaning to do this for a couple of years but I always seem to forget but having seen Sues post on the subject I've registered and have put a reminder on my Ipad and phone so that I don't forget.
If you're not sure what is involved it's very simple: All you need to do is spend one hour over the weekend 24-25 January counting the birds in your garden. Then you can either submit the results live online or through the post, whichever is more convenient for you.  Couldn't be simpler!
So head over to the RSPB website, register free of charge (you also get a £5 voucher to use in the RSPB shop IF you want to - no obligation) and they'll either send you the information pack or you can download it immediately and there's even activities for the kids to enjoy if you need it.
Now all I have to do is decide which feeding station I want to sit at, the one round near the polytunnel is likely to get more variety as the Rooks tend to raid the house one so I guess my query may already have been answered.

Happy bird watching!