Homemade guitar cradle is as easy as one, two, tree!

How to make a guitar holder from a tree branch

Bruce’s 40-year-old guitar cradled in a holder made from a Y-shaped stick. Photo: Bruce MacNab.

According to the late Waylon Jennings, only two things make life worth living: “guitars tuned good and firm feeling women.” He might be on to something, at least with the guitars. Nobody likes an out-of-tune guitar. That’s why you should store your guitar carefully.

Guitars are too cool to hide in a case. You want them displayed so you can admire them. But if you lean your six-string in a corner, it’s bound to go out of tune. You can buy a guitar stand, of course. Or better yet, you can make a wooden one for free. To make one like mine you’ll need some help from the world’s greatest woodworker, Mother Nature. (more…)

The Garbage Arbour

How to build an outdoor room for your garbage cans and green bin

Bruce’s garbage arbour before grapevines completely covered the structure. Photo: Bruce MacNab

When I lived in the city, I had a giant green bin and four garbage cans. On windy days, the garbage cans and their lids blew away. Some of my lids were lost forever, but I replaced them with other people’s lids that were blowing down my street. That’s why my garbage cans always had mismatched lids!

Lids were the least of my garbage problems. In the summer, the smell of rotting meat coming from the green bin was brutal. As if the stench wasn’t bad enough, an army of maggots constantly patrolled the lid. In the winter, the smell was gone but then the green bin lid froze shut. (more…)

Sew what? Sew tarpaper!

How to keep tar paper on your walls and roof with string

Keep tarpaper on your building with string and staples. Photo: Bruce MacNab

Tarpaper has always been the poor man’s siding. It’s cheap and the three-foot-wide paper installs quickly. You don’t need many tools, just a knife and a stapler. Tarpaper isn’t a permanent material, but it will last for several years. It’s great for building sheds and camps, especially when your money runs out before you can buy siding or roofing.

Tarpaper will keep the rain out, but it will blow away on windy days. Staples alone will not keep it on your walls and roof. That’s why you sometimes see it secured with rows of boards or even lobster trap lathes. But there is an easier method of securing tarpaper to your building. (more…)

All the right curves

How to draw a custom curve with a handsaw or other everyday items

Draw smooth, true curves by bending a handsaw or use a French curve drawing tool. Photo: Bruce MacNab

Why would a woodworker borrow your turkey platter? Well, maybe they’re cooking a turkey. Or maybe they need the oval shape to trace a curve for one of their projects.

It’s not always easy to draw curves and arches. You can, of course, print a pattern from your computer and trace it onto your material. But your printer won’t help you when you need to draw a quick custom curve. And computers aren’t much help when you need to draw a curve bigger than a sheet of paper. Besides, we can’t keep computers in our shops — the sawdust would kill them and we’ll pile stuff on top of them. (more…)

A stump can be a garden’s best friend

How to plant a beautiful new garden around an old stump

This stump helped Bruce create a super-charged garden. Photo: Bruce MacNab

I once watched a homeowner go to war with a tree stump. First he tried cutting it with a chain saw. Then he tried burning it. Finally he rented a gas-powered stump grinder and shredded the top off his stump, covering the rest with sod. There was a time I didn’t like stumps either. But I’ve since changed my mind. (more…)

Homemade post caps

How to make your own post caps the cheap and easy way

Beachcomber’s post cap made from driftwood, sea rope and a wishing stone. Square hat cap made from two pieces of wood. Photo: Bruce MacNab

Tailors know that buttons can make or break a suit. If you think about your deck or your fence, the “buttons” are your post caps. It’s easy to make your own caps from leftover scraps. You can even create them from junk you find on the beach. (more…)

Hit the deck with better butts

How to install deck boards to prevent tripping, broken shovels and rot

Deck butt joints

Have you ever been pushing a snow shovel when it suddenly catches on something? Did it dig into your stomach? Or worse, a little lower? This should never happen on a wooden deck.

Deck boards have a tough life. We expect them to take the abuses of all 4 seasons—baking in the summer sun, soaking up rain water, freezing, and then carrying the weight of thousands of pounds of snow. Then we stomp on our decks, throw salt on them, scrape them with shovels, and drip barbeque grease on them. (more…)

Pipe pieces can handle the job

How leftover pipe pieces can become handles and containers

Pipe pieces

Some people collect swatches of fabric. Some people hang on to scraps of wood. Some people save rusty old cars. You never know when something might come in handy. That’s why I keep a five-gallon bucket filled with pipe pieces. And almost every type of pipe is in my bucket: copper, iron, ABS, PEX and plastic. You’ll find plenty of colours in there too: blue, red, white and black. (more…)

Tape tricks that measure up

How to measure from an angle cut when installing interior trim

Measuring Tape Trick

Have you ever asked someone to hold the hooked end of your measuring tape? Carpenters call this the dummy end. Sometimes, you have to work solo. Who is the dummy then? Luckily, there are plenty of clever tricks for measuring when you don’t have a helper. (more…)