A Tiny Taste of Exciting Things to Come

Since the beginning of September, I have been, (slightly impatiently,) awaiting the arrival of an order of 7mm plywood; the cladding for the ceiling and walls of my home. As the hold-up has prevented any substantial progress, I have found myself with no excuse but to commence some of the ‘finishing’ work on the pieces I have built this year.  Sanding, gluing, staining, etc. All my favourite things. -_- However, as I raided my offcuts for suitable pieces for edging/moulding, I discovered half a sheet of 7mm ply in my stock, giving me the idea that I could have a go at cladding the small skylight. Much more exciting. 

Using leftover Foilboard, I insulated the supporting steel boxes, of both skylights, and attached the strips of cladding with tek screws- fun, fun, fun! (Though I suspect the ceiling is going to be anything but).  Despite not having enough plywood to finish even this small task, it did give me a taste of the next step, a glimpse of the transformation the house is soon to face! (Hopefully!!The exercise also decided how I will hide the screw heads and ply sheet joins. Win! 

In the below photos you can see me playing around with some ideas for the moulding, (nothing too fancy as I am limited to the table saw). I’ve narrowed it down to two similar-but-slightly-different designs, but once all has been painted I am hoping either will look pretty neat! Opinions welcome!

The Dining Table

Though I frequently post incomplete pieces on here, this one is particularly rough. Essentially, it’s a mock-up of a mock-up, but one I am most excited about. It is also one of the final pieces of the puzzle. Finally, I have made a start on the Dining Table.

This has been left to last for a couple of reasons, but the biggest problem I had was I didn’t believe I had much space for one. I had been picturing a table, which would double as my desk, that would have to pack down to fit at the end of the Murphy bed, a space only 100mm wide. It was going to have to be a darn slim table, only functional when it had been unfolded. Not ideal, but better than nothing. It was only last week that I realised I had a rather perfect sized gap between the couch and the kitchen counter. A space I hadn’t considered, with the exception that if I was going to need a fan or a heater it could sit there out of the way. It didn’t take long to decide that would not be the best use of this spot.

I had always been keen on the Ikea NORDEN Gateleg table but it’s rather chunky, and even now wouldn’t fit, but now that I had a bit more space, there was no reason I couldn’t build my own. With a bit of research, I found two DIY gateleg tables with instructions, the first a sewing table using pocket holes and scrap wood, the other a handsomely crafted piece of furniture with drawbored mortise and tenon joinery. Opposite ends of the spectrum, both time wise and expense wise. Knowing I would have to make adjustments to suit my own scale, yet uncertain on the exact dimensions, I decided I would start with the first design, made from pine and ply. This would be relatively speedy and allow for mistakes and change of mind, and will be the table that I can road test. Once I am happy that it will comfortably seat five, function as both a desk and dining table, prove to be easy to move around and use, and free from any other issues, I shall invest my time into building the final piece with nice timber and slick joinery, as per the second method. A sensible plan! More excitingly, it means I get to pretend to have a dining table so much sooner, which is what this afternoon was all about. 

Yesterday I cut the pieces for the centre base and the first gateleg, and this afternoon I assembled the sections and had a play. I don’t currently have any plywood pieces large enough for the tabletop, but I found an offcut that was almost the right size, at least big enough to give a good indication of what the table could be. I also didn’t have enough hinges, hence the single gateleg for now. Despite it’s humble state I was quickly using it as a desk even though the table top was only sitting in place- a promising start! You may have to use your imagination a little, but these photos capture the general construction of the piece.

Room, or rather, Home with a View

Not a progress post but one of sheer appreciation! After spending Autumn and Winter under cover in its own slightly bigger shed, this little house is seeing the light of day! After a week, it is still a thrill to see the skylights back in pride of place and to have the afternoon light stream into the house! I can stay in here right up until dinner, (we eat early), and I can STILL SEE!  Not that I am complaining about the old situation, it allowed me to work in my own space without getting in the way! But now that there is sunshine to enjoy, the move has seen me spending a lot afternoons in here. That’s right, I am currently lazing on my couch tapping away this very post. (The chair is far more comfortable than it looks!)

It’s not just the sun that I am delighting in, over the weekend we welcomed two days of heavy rain and I have to say it was charming to be able to work in my little house with the rain drumming steadily overhead, the windows blurred with rain drops. Just like something out of my very own daydreams. I have new neighbours, the ever-agreeable chooks, and occasional visitors! A mistaken Honey Easter sped through the front door and out the neighbouring window just yesterday. I have even found myself eye to eye with three Guinea Fowl through the bathroom window as they perched on the timber railing of the hen yard. The view may not cut it on Escape to the Country, but when I am sitting on my lone chair looking out the windows, all I see is blue sky or the generous branches of gum trees. From one window I can even spy on my favourite squad of lambs.

I have tidied up and given the house a much-needed sweep! I’ve banned myself from wearing gumboots in the house. What’s more, I now have my work bench on wheels, which is the perfect set up for working on smaller bits and pieces, or even as an unplanned but convenient desk. It just makes it all much more likely- a small step from building to living! Even if that is being slightly optimistic.

Oh, and it is always reassuring to see it keeping weather-tight!

Minimalist Shelving

This is just a brief look at what I have been working on this week, the second component of my set of tiny drawers. Essentially it’s just another two shelves of storage, but with a lighter, more elegant style. I came across an image on Pinterest with a similar design and I just really liked the thin vertical strips that break up the view of anything on the shelf that extends beyond its own third. It has been quite a fiddly creation as even though I knew the effect I wanted to create, I began the build unsure about the details of the design. There was a number of changes of mind as I  happened across design improvements, which resulted in a couple of blemishes that will need some attention at a later date! That said, I am super pleased with the rough fit and believe it will look pretty neat once complete. It also provided one of those step back moments when, with surprise, you think – I can’t believe I made that!

Revisiting Dovetails

Last post, I was working on a large drawer unit. This week the work on drawers continues, but on a much smaller scale. Moreover, unlike the Tiny Making Station for which I repurposed three old wardrobe drawers, I am building the drawers myself. All twenty-one of them. If you haven’t guessed, I am attempting to build one of those plastic organiser you will likely find in your dad’s shed. The one with the tiny drawers that house assorted nails, washers, bolts, drill bits etc. Unlike the manufacturers, whose aspiration is to produce a lightweight product in the brightest shade of orange possible, I am striving for something a little more elegant; fine woodwork rather than function over form. Mine too will be home to screws, tacks, hooks and hinges, but perhaps less conventionally, it will also hold my embroidery threads, tiny tins of enamel paints and perhaps the odd button or two. Pretty much anything small enough.

I predominantly used salvaged French Oak to create this drawer unit. I did however relent and use 3mm ply brace for the back and shelf dividers. It didn’t seem a classy choice, but it saved me undertaking any sketchy table saw cuts in an attempt to resaw my timber into 3mm pieces.
Here are my dovetails; a little gappy but nothing I can’t disguise. The bottom shelf is connected using pinned mortise and tenons. This is the first time I have used this joinery technique but I actually quite enjoyed the process and the end result.

I set this project as a practice in proper joinery, a stretch of my patience and skills. Plus, after constantly being exposed to the beautiful hand-crafted pieces on Antiques Roadshow, or The Repair Shop (more on that soon), I wanted to create something that could be appreciated beyond the confines of my tiny home. So far, all is going pretty well! The dovetails may not be the finest I have ever seen, (it is only my second attempt), and there have been a few issues with splitting oak,  but it holds together without glue, (there will be glue eventually), and it is nice and square! Besides, during this build I have discovered that it’s kind of fun when things don’t pan out perfectly. 

Fun? Well, it makes me feel like I am on The Repair Shop facing an antique that needs a little love. The challenge of facing something broken, or just a bit shabby in this case, and finding a solution. A test to see if I can make a feature of the mistake or execute a repair that’s almost indistinguishable. Alright, it’s unlikely that my level of skill can match that, but it is good practice and it relieves the pressure of getting it bang on in the first place. (I shall just take a moment to recommend everyone watches The Repair Shop, it is such a brilliant show and if you are a subscriber of this blog, you WILL LIKE IT. I can assure you it’s far more fascinating than anything that goes on here.  A brilliant homage to makers of all trades.)

If you look closely here, you will see where I ran into a problem with the French Oak. A tiny split in the grain ended up causing a fair bit of damage when I was cleaning up this mortise with a chisel. I have cut a piece to make this repair.
This pine chest was given to me to take apart and use for timber. I cut thin slices of timber from the lid for the tiny drawers.

Yesterday, I began creating the first few drawers using some pine from the chest pictured above. Each will eventually be faced with a hardwood drawer front, but for now I am focusing on building the 21 carcasses. (If you have done the maths, you may be wondering why only 21? I decided the bottom shelf will feature 3 full width drawers. They will be divided on the inside, but I thought it would be more pleasing aesthetic-wise to shake it up.)

My first four drawers, evidently all in need of a good sand.
The tape is a trick I picked up from The Repair Shop- super handy for clamping glue ups, and testing the fit pre-glue.

Tiny Making Station Part II

Tiny Making Station Part II

Tuesday 4th August 2020

Short and sweet! Here is the drawer unit worktop come to life. It might not be pretty as a picture, but I am quite excited about this little space. I think this corner of my home will become one of my favourite spots. It will offer flexibility to the space in which I plan to make many, many things, and will hold all the tools and materials to bring such creations to life. 


The front section has a removable insert which can be lifted out, using the corner cut-out, to reveal a rimmed tray, (much better than my idea of flipping the lid, as described in my previous post.) Here, I can safely collect bits and pieces from the shelves that will be mounted above this unit, and wheel them over to my desk, without the heart stopping moment of watching your chisel roll off the edge of a bench.

Spin the drawer unit around, lift the lid and there is the tiny wood working bench- to possibly feature a vice, and certainly, a sharpening station. I have used a pair of flush overlay hinges, which proved perfect for the job! A lucky chance really, for I picked them up as an afterthought, (despite not quite knowing how they worked), when buying some traditional hinges. They prevented me from having to install hinges on the top face, nor did I have to leave a gap for the swing of the lid.

Later, I installed a stay, not pictured, to keep the lid from falling down when I am working, (irritating!), and a stop at the rear of drawers to prevent them from being pushed back into the unit.

I also made a long, narrow drawer to fill the space next to my colouring pencil drawers; a perfect spot for my fountain pen inks. I must say, all this organising of my stationary and tools is immensely satisfying.


And, it was only today that I realised the potential of attaching a wide piece of trim to the edge of the bench. Besides looking a lot better than the ply edging, such an addition allows me to clamp pieces to the unit. Handy until I get my hands on a small vice.

I suppose you could call this an Easter Egg! A little sneak peek into the future, for these are types of pieces I hope to make in my tiny home; little timber decorations to adorn a Christmas Tree. As of now, I squeeze such work into the time between dinner and bedtime, but one day, once this house is complete, I will have plenty of spare time to really sink my teeth into such things!