Cold Frame Construction


What is a cold frame?  The best description is a mini glasshouse which is low to the ground.  You can check out one from Gardening Australia here.  They are predominately used in much colder climates than ours, however, the primary reason that we built one is that I want to grow basil throughout the winter months.  It will also be perfect for starting spring seedlings a bit earlier than usual.

For the past few weeks we have been taking small steps towards building a cold frame.

Two hardwood sleepers form the back wall.

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Deciding on a location, sourcing materials (the majority secondhand) and developing a design have all taken time.  GMan has cut and painted timber as well as replacing putty in the window frames.

Everything has moved up a notch in the last couple of days as we began building in earnest.

The construction is almost complete with only the polycarbonate sheeting to be added to the front and ends of the enclosure.  This last step is on hold until we retrieve our jigsaw (lent out recently) to cut the sheeting.  Hopefully this will happen early next week.

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We won’t win any prizes for our carpentry skills but the structure is solid and functional.

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A pair of casement windows from the timber salvage yard form the top of the cold frame.  They are hinged at the back and we attached some old cupboard handles to the front edge to facilitate easy access.

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Apart from the polycarbonate sheeting on the sides, we also need to finish levelling the ground and filling the holes around the uprights.

In the meantime I have put the tray of basil seedlings in this space overnight as even without the sides completed it still offers a warmer and more protected space than their previous location.

The components which we purchased new for this project were the sleepers, hinges, window putty and long screws for the frame.  The windows, handles and timber all came from the salvage yard while the screw used with the hinges and handles came from our collection of odds and ends at home.

I would love to hear of anyone else’s experience  with a similar kind of set-up.

Something Different


As I mentioned at the end I my previous post, I spent the remainder of yesterday far away from my sewing machine.

If you think of the room with my sewing machine as my hobby area then the workshop is GMan’s hobby space.  From time to time we have a clean up and usually declutter a few more things.  Yesterday we had another go but this time the focus was the contents of the storage cupboards under the bench rather than some of the bigger garden items.

We decided to move all of the various jars and containers of nails, screws, rivets etc from the shelf in the cupboard to this set of shelves which we had inherited and mounted on the wall some time ago.  We had not really used the shelves but it is now much easier to see what we actually have.


I finally found a solution for storing the various extension cords.  This metal bracket which came from my father’s workshop has been mounted just above the bench.


We could not complete the final bit of organisation until today as we needed to buy some plastic plugs to allow us the screw into the concrete block wall to mount the shelf to the left of this photo.


We have yet to put anything on it but there is plenty to choose from.  The shelf beside it was the subject of one of my very early blog posts – almost 6 years ago.

I found it interesting to re-read that old post because I realised that all of the items mentioned today actually belonged to my father – even the re-purposed tins cans for storing screws – on the bottom shelf of the first photograph.

And what inspired us to do all of this?  It was trying to find suitable screws and the correct size drill bit for another handyman project.  That will be revealed tomorrow.

Cable Chaos – A Solution


Some of you will remember my earlier post about the mess of some the cables here and the follow-up post.

I finally got around to testing out my design using some plywood and a jigsaw.

Plywood dividers
I also used a wooden presentation box from a premium bottle of wine that has been drunk and enjoyed some time ago.  Once the plywood pieces were slotted together and inserted in the box it looked like this.

Box with inserts
It is not fastened in any way but is totally self-supporting.

Cables in box
Here is the result with the cables separated into their own spaces.  There are a couple of double-ups but they are the same or similar cables.  It definitely makes locating the correct cable much easier.

I am thinking of making labels to go on the edges to identify exactly where each cable belongs.

The other good thing about this system is that it imposes limits.  I will need to regularly review what cables we have and whether they are still required as I would not be keen on having a larger storage box.

What do you think?

Make & Mend – Shelving


My latest project is something completely different.  I designed and made a piece of furniture.  ‘Furniture’ is probably a slightly too grand to use as a description for the rustic shelving unit which is made from vintage wooden crates and lengths of undressed pine.

This creation is the culmination of much discussion over a number of years.  When we first moved into our home in a country town in South Australia we discovered that the large shed held numerous old treasures that had been collected, perhaps even hoarded by previous owners.  Amongst these items were 5 solid wooden crates which had been used to hold explosives.  This was evident from the markings on them.

Box detail
Over the years we have moved house twice, downsized and decluttered many things but the crates, which were someone else’s cast off stuff always managed to make the cut.  The Duke would vaguely suggest that we could use them for shelving and they have often been simply stacked one on top of the other and used to store various things in the workshop.  I had always had a rough idea of a design for shelving which would make the best use of the boxes that we had.  After (yet another) clean-up in the workshop the other weekend my plan finally became clear.  I found 2 identical pieces of undressed pine in amongst the odds and ends of wood. The Duke said that they were part of the packaging on the roll of fencing wire we had bought when we were building the chicken run.  I needed 8 matching pieces for my planned shelving so I asked at the local farm supplier from whom we had bought the wire.  He was happy to give me 6 more pieces that were sitting on a bench out the back of the shop.  The pieces of pine would make the ends and legs for the unit.

Shelving showing the legs
The Duke trimmed the pine to the length required and we then set about assembling the shelving unit using my design which I had roughly sketched on a piece of paper to convince him that it was feasible.

The only cost was $7.00 for some screws. Some were from our stash but we needed to buy more to complete the project.

The shelves will provide some additional storage in the workshop and were a practical way to use the boxes which had been deemed as too good to throw out.  By the way, I checked on eBay and found that similar ones were for sale at between $20 and $60 each.  What is my designer original shelving unit worth?  I would say that it is priceless!