Covid lockdown maintenance

With Covid lockdowns in Melbourne keeping us home we have been performing maintenance on the property.

This weekend the weather was very cold and threatening to rain so we:

  1. Cut down a big old dead wattle tree that was dropping branches on the path where we walk
  2. Replaced the window winders on three windows that we had repainted a nice crisp white. The old brown Whitco ones clashed with the white windows and were pretty cruddy, so rather than repaint the winders I ordered some new white lockable ones from Keeler Hardware , and they arrived in the mail. Being Whitco the screw holes all lined up so the install was super easy.

Ammo box bluetooth speaker

This project has been a long time coming. I started collecting the components for this in June 2019.

Basically it’s an Australian 50 cal ammo box with speakers from some old panasonic surround sound speakers I have had in the shed for 5 years. It’s powered by a bluetooth amp module which is really loud. There is a 12v SLA battery providing the power. It gets surprisingly loud and sounds very clean.

I lined the inside of the box with 6mm ply to reduce rattles from the tin box. There is a basic filter capacitor to drive the tweeters. It was a challenge working in such a confined space and trying to squeeze everything in. Most of the wiring was done on the bench and then everything installed – speakers, then amp, then battery. The battery is charged via a 2.1mm socket underneath the power switch.

Update – the 12v SLA battery was completely discharged too many times and no longer could be charged. I replaced it with a Lithium battery that is the same size and capacity, but a lot lighter and able to be discharged a lot lower than an SLA battery.


We have been building this mud brick studio for over a year now. This weekends project was framing up some double glazed stain glass window panels and installing them. We used F17 hardwood for the frames and screwed them together with galvanised screws and then screwed them to the building framing with baton screws. Flashing on top to make water proof. So all fairly strong. Now to lay more mud brick up underneath to finally finish the walls.

Pickled cucumbers

With the fabulous growing weather we are having here in Victoria – lots of rain and sunshine, there is an abundance of cucumbers. A few years ago I pickled some and they were very tasty so I decided to make some again. I couldn’t find the recipe I used last time so I used this recipe from the internet and made some changes:


  • 2kg cucumber
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • 500ml water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons peppercorns + chilli flakes


  1. Thinly slice the cucumbers
  2. In a saucepan combine the salt, vinegar, water, sugar, cayenne pepper, and mustard seeds. Bring to the boil and stir to allow the sugar and salt to dissolve.
  3. Pack the cucumber into sterilised jars. Layer peppercorns and chilis throughout the cucumber. Make sure you pack the cucumber in quite firmly.
  4. Pour the hot vinegar mixture slowly into the jar, allowing the mixture to seep in between the layers. Tap the jars to help any air bubble escape.
  5. Place the lid on the jar while the mixture is still hot, and allow to cool. Sealing the mixture while hot is very important to preserve the pickles.
  6. Sit the pickles on a shelf for at least a week before opening to allow the flavours to infuse.

Red dust pool

The drought across eastern Australia has caused a dust storm in the west of Victoria which somehow got caught up in the rain. Everyone’s swimming pool and water tank has been filled with this red-brown dust. Our pool went swamp like overnight, so I have been running the pump constantly with a good dose of clarifier to clear it up. 24 hours later it is starting to clear-up. Earlier this week it was sparkling blue, so lets hope we get it back soon!

Fire pump trolley

With the bushfire season upon us, I needed a trolley to move the fire pump around on. It’s a heavy beast and along with the fire hose and inlet hose pretty awkward. The idea is that you wheel the pump near the swimming pool, throw the inlet into the pool and pump water from the pool onto the fire.

Like most things I build it is made of recycled stuff from around the property. I took a frame with handles that someone had given me and adapted the wheels from a billy cart (that were taken form a hand trolley) onto the bottom. For the first time I used a welder and steel and did an ok job on the thicker stuff and struggled to weld the thinner stuff without blowing holes in it. I painted it with some epoxy rust proof paint, put some decking offcuts on top and it’s ready to go!

Make old window look new

Some smart person (sarcastic) painted all of the cedar windows in the house white. Fortunately it was not a good paint job. We wanted one to be clear timber so we attacked it with a scraper, paint stripper and sandpaper. It took ages, because we got disillusioned with it and it sat there for ages. Finally it was time to finish it off. More paint stripper. Course sandpaper and a belt sander and palm sander. A wire brush on one of the timber posts next to the window with paint stripper. Eventually we said enough – it was good enough to put some finish on. Cabots water based poly was used. The window now look great. Sure there is a bit of white paint here and there, but overall everyone is happy. Now just need to clean the glass… and do the rest of the windows in the house!

Canvas bag

I was travelling overseas and I had this idea of a messenger bag to carry around my water-bottle, snacks, scarf and gloves etc. Previously I had carried a backpack on such trips, however i had been made to put it in locker rooms and it got in the way on trains. The messenger bag would look less touristy. I had some black waterproof canvas that I had bought for this kind of project and some webbing. I found a pattern on a Youtube video, so changed the measurements to suit me and sewed it up in an afternoon on an old Singer 201 with some nylon bonded thread. It turned out really well. The fastener on the front flap is not quite in the middle, however it is all black so hard to notice. I carried it around Japan for 2 weeks and it was perfect. Folded it up and stuck it in my main luggage to come home.


I haven’t blogged for a while, which doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Woodwork projects have slowed down because a family member is restoring a furniture item that is taking up a lot of space in the workshop.
I have confined myself to sharpening tools and even built a mallet out of redgum the other day.
This weekend I helped my daughter restore an old door, it’s made of cedar and is quite nice, but has been cut down significantly, especially on the bottom. I don’t have any cedar to extend it with but I do have some old oregon which looks similar when stained up. So I have had to reduce the thickness of the oregon down to around 35mm from 50mm which has taken a lot of planing. Oregon is quite hard when it is seasoned! Will attach that to the bottom with glue and some biscuits.

I have also started working on a knock box for my coffee machine. I used some pine from the sides of an old drawer. I just cut 45 degree angles on each side and glued it together. Pictures to follow

Duckie Project

These are Duckchasers or Duckies, a canvas and timber folding kayak designed by Don Nicholson based on a US design from the 60s. Don changed the design to suit Australian materials and sizes. Mine still needs to be painted etc. One was made in 2014 and the other 2015