Monday, 6 June 2016

Woodworking Book Review; Building Sheds by Joseph Truini

Building Sheds by Joseph Truini

This week’s review is for a new book from the ever-popular stable of the Taunton Press, which has a great catalogue of woodworking and hobby titles to choose from. The first thing to understand here is the title and aim of the book. The term “shed” has slightly different meanings around the world. This can be a wooden building in the garden for storing the lawnmower and assorted household junk that can’t be accommodated anywhere else. Equally it’s a refuge from regular life gainfully employed as a workshop for making or fettling objects or small projects of all sorts. This book is very much aimed at the former, concentrating on the design and construction of a range of storage sheds, with some innovative features that make them easily adaptable to a range of uses.

This is a really well-illustrated book with a very hands-on style beginning with the basic principles of methods and materials. Keeping in mind that there are different rules and regulations around the world with regard to permitted development and building codes, there is a lot of ground covered here with good levels of detail. Getting a great foundation is important for any project so whether you need to put in frost-proof deep-level piles or a simple wood skid frame, this opening chapter gets you off to a great start. With sections on walls, cladding and roofing, the basic design and choices of materials are laid out with good images of most of the options. There is certainly enough information here to inspire you to design your own shed.

If, however, you want a bit more guidance in building a quality shed of your own, then there are five full projects to choose from where you can follow step-by-step guides from the foundation to the rooftop. Each project has illustrations with key timber dimensions as well as lots of photos of the entire build process. None of them look like a quick weekend project ­­-̶  in fact, a couple look substantial enough for a small family to live in. These are all achievable given sufficient time and budget. None of the projects requires a great number of specialist tools, although an impact driver, a circular saw and a nail gun are really going to take some of the pain out of it for you.

These are all pretty impressive structures that would be a really positive addition to your property. Some of the design features mean they not only look great but have some well-considered practicality built in. It would have been great to have a compiled cutting list and materials list consolidated for each project to make it easier to work out the budget. However, there are links to websites where the full plan can be viewed and purchased from third-party vendors who make these sheds commercially.

If you are planning or dreaming of building your own purpose-built stylish shed as your ideal workshop or garden store, then this book is well worth a browse. A serious case of shed envy is guaranteed.

Building Sheds by Joseph Truini is available from and other retailers online.  ISBN 978-1-62710-770-9

Friday, 3 June 2016

Best of the Woodworking Web:Timber Furniture

It’s been a while since we shared a ‘Best of The Woodworking Web’ Post, so it’s that time again.

Meet Adam Magers, a skilled craftsman who believes we live in a world where a vast majority of the furniture is mass produced out of man-made materials with the intent of generating excessive profits.
In Adam’s experience, furniture like this doesn’t last and his passion for woodworking led him to start his business, Timber Furniture KC, where by taking time and care to craft furniture by hand that can stand the test of time.
For Adam, making furniture is more than just a job, it’s his passion.
Timber Furniture from Kindling on Vimeo.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Architectural Model-Making - Build a City on Your Workbench.

In March last year we shared an introduction to the team at Studio Hardie on our blog.

Charlie Palmer works as a project manager with William and the team, but also has an independent business - Charlie Palmer Models - which is based in the East Sussex county town of Lewes. Charlie Palmer Models provides architectural model-making services specialising in high quality context/off sight buildings.

We met up with Charlie to discover more about making professional architects’ models. With a background in ‘silversmithing’ and the many subsequent years spent running the workshop at Cockpit Arts, Charlie still has a big appetite for design-and-make projects, with an eye for detail and precision that’s required to deliver huge projects on a small scale.  

Thursday, 28 April 2016

How to build a Longboard

This is the next post from the amazing team at In’Bô in France, where they make really exciting products using innovative techniques fused with traditional materials.  

In this film we get to see the entire process from the construction of the laminated deck from layers of wood veneer, flax fibres and topped with their own marquetry deck.   To make such a high performance product you need to take real care in the storage and preparation of the wood. Temperature and humidity are critical factors in the preparation as is attention to detail in the finishing. The final product is very cool. 
Filmed in French this film has English subtitles.

See this earlier post for an introduction to the team at In’Bô
 If you are making your own high performance products with wood drop us a line  and you could feature here on the blog, leave a comment below or email

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Making space – meet the hackers and makers of Dallas

In previous posts we have talked to woodworkers and craftspeople about the rapidly growing interest in making stuff and being a ‘maker’. 

The stumbling block for many people in realising their vision is the lack of access to suitable resources such as tools or a space to work in. This is where a ‘makerspace’, sometimes called a ‘hackerspace’ or ‘fab lab’ comes in. A makerspace is a community of like-minded individuals who club together to create a facility that supports all members in their creative endeavours.
We visited the Dallas Makerspace in Texas, USA, to find out how such an organisation gets off the ground and just what makes their set-up - one of the largest such facilities in North America - so successful.  In short they have great membership bases who all contribute financially as well as sharing collaboratively in the running of projects. The community has grown to provide support for dozens of small enterprises and Kickstarter campaigns with great facilities, as well as sharing experiences with members and teaching new members.

If you are interested in working with wood, metal, plastics, or other creative arts, or if you would like to include 3D printing or laser CNC machines in your armoury, then working collaboratively is a great way forward. Alex Rhodes, a board member for the Dallas Makerspace, gives us an insight into their community in this short film.

If you have a collaborative ‘maker’ project, we’d love to hear from you, so why not drop us a line and share your experiences?

Friday, 1 April 2016

Studio Hardie Diaries - Building a timber frame farmhouse, Isle of Eigg, Scotland

Hamish Boden from Studio Hardie talks about the challenges of fabrication and installation of a Douglas Fir timber frame farmhouse in one of the remotest parts of the British Isles.

The house was designed by Cameron Scott and was a contemporary take on a traditional four bay farm house, using douglas fir and larch. The brief was to build something that was both eco friendly and robust (considering the regular storms gusting up to 80mph) whilst making the most of the epic landscape.

(This time lapse video has no soundtrack)

The main thing that attracted me to this build was the location.  Eigg is a remote island on the west coast of Scotland at just six miles long by four miles wide, with a population of fewer than 100.  Everything about this place is dramatic from its sweeping mountain-scape to its expansive views and often turbulent ferry crossing, all adding to the islands rich history.  Therefore it is only right that the farmhouse exude a similar kudos.

Another major attraction to this project is that my family live here.  My Father and Grandfather have both built houses on the island. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, whether I liked it or not. Naturally my competitive side is to build something bigger and better so the Studio Hardie team and myself set off on the 600 mile journey to build the house of all houses.

We built the frame off site in our workshop.  It meant that we weren’t exposed to the elements during winter and could give the extra attention to detail that it deserved.  Logistically it was ambitious.  Transporting the timber to the island was the first major hurdle. The articulated lorry was full to the roof and it literally wouldn’t have taken another piece of timber. We had to use a specialist boat for carrying the freight and lastly a tractor and trailer for the last kilometer on the island. It was a relief to get the project to site.

 I’ve done a few small projects there previously. I started with building a little shepherds hut that taught me a lesson on being prepared. You have to be militant in planning and it helps to be resourceful.  The closest builders merchant is in Fort William so any materials take a week to arrive.  You can’t just nip out when you have forgotten a box of screws.  Problem solving is as important too. I know my tool kit better than I know the back of my hand and probably spent more time with it than I have my own family.

Like any project thinking through every process is key.  Knowing what happens next and what you will need in advance. I guess this is something that comes from experience, both good and bad. There’s nothing like getting something horribly wrong to teach you a lesson.  Its how you recover from that situation that really sets your principles.

Another challenge is the lack of and limitations on access to modern luxuries like a crane or access equipment.   We didn’t even have mains electricity so had to rely on generator. We resorted to the medieval technique of raising the building by hand. In some ways it’s the most pleasurable way to put up a building.  It’s slow but you can be methodical and finesse things as you go.

Eigg is one of the first communities in the UK to produce all of is electricity supply locally with renewable resources so building a house out of renewable timber seemed like the obvious thing to do.  For me timber framing is the essence of carpentry and teaches you so much about wood. I really think it’s a good starting point for any carpentry discipline. Being able to read a piece of timber to knowing what the grain will do over the years and how it will be affected by shrinkage.  You don’t get many second chances with green oak as its not like you can cover up a mistake with a bit of filler or paint.  One thing it also really helps with is getting good at using hand tools. The timber is often so large and difficult to move hand tools are the only option, You learn to use the circular saw in all directions and sometimes even cutting upside down.

I think the highlight of this project for me was seeing the frame slowly take shape. It took around 2 weeks to erect.  Each day you would see a little progress and begin to see how the house is going to sit in the landscape. It was every bit as fun, challenging and hard work as it looked.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Best of the Woodworking Web - Wintergatan's Marble Machine

When we first saw this video a few weeks ago, we just knew it was perfect for our next 'Best of the Woodworking Web' post. The Wintergatan Marble Machine was built by Martin Molin, a Swedish musician, and is powered by 2,000 marbles. The end result is really impressive.

Wintergatan - Marble Machine from Wintergatan on Vimeo.

You can see a whole series of videos showing how the machine was made on Wintergatan's YouTube channel.