The Shed 99, November — December 2021

Like so many of us in a COVID lockdown, Gail Varga couldn’t just sit idly by and watch a screen all day — she headed to the shed and got building.
Usually sailing around the world on her 40-foot-yacht, Gail has been kept in her home port of Whangarei for many months by the pandemic. This was seen as an opportunity to ditch the inflatable and get building a more versatile wooden tender that could be used for fun as well as purpose. We follow the build of a  two-part nesting dinghy, ‘Punga’. It’s a Spindrift 10, 3.1m long and plenty big enough for two to four people.

Gail writes, “One of the chief beauties of making things myself is making them unique. This can be as a result of finding a good way to get around a problem with limited resources, simply through making creative choices about what to use or how to use it, or inventing new solutions altogether. Punga is no exception to this, and has many little quirks.”

Another Level 4 lockdown for us Kiwis in 2021, so what do our readers do? They head to their sheds and start creating. We asked our readers online to share what they were up to and dozens replied with some extraordinary projects. In this issue we showcase a handful of these lockdown sheddie projects.
In The Shed, Issue 98, we published a letter from a reader asking if we had any articles in our archives or on the go about how to build a power hammer. We weren’t able to help but put the call out to readers to see if they were building or had built one. Happily, several readers got in touch with their projects.

Ian Knight and Mike MacMillan invited us around to see how they built two different styles of power hammer. Ian’s is the tyre power hammer style while Mike’s is the Frankenhammer leaf-spring version of hammer. Both builders share how to build these tough shed power tools.

Nigel Young has his third and final instalment on building his own home server but is still asking himself questions as to the viability of the project.
Nigel writes, “Which makes me wonder, has this project been about the noble ideal of minimising landfill, or about the troubled ability to let go due to the time and memories it represents? Some pop-psychology to reflect on.”

The Shed’s long-time contributor Mark Beckett has seen the advertisements in the magazine for the revolutionary Nova Viking electronic bench drill press and decided he just had to have one. So he ordered one from Carbatec in Auckland and then gave it a thorough tool test for us in this issue. Is it as good as it appears? 

There is a spirited musical revolution ringing out from backyards, lounges, and stages across the planet. It is a joyful, noisy uprising; picked and strummed by a passionate community of makers and players of handmade cigar box guitars (CBG). 
These humble lo-fi instruments are capable of producing new sounds and unorthodox voices without the need for digital inputs or hard drives. Call it a rebellion against technology; they are innately unique, and can reawaken a sense of musical freedom in any virtuoso. Their reverberations were heard loud and clear — some time ago — by self-taught, Auckland CBG creator, Don Buckley of Bigsmoke Guitars.
Spend some time with Don in this Issue 99 and be enthralled with his creations.

We are up to part seven in our nine-part “Mastering the Lathe” series, and in this instalment Bob Hulme shows us why hand-ground turning tools still have a place on the lathe.

Bob writes, “It used to be the norm to grind turning tools to shape from stock pieces of high-speed steel (HSS). Then convenient tungsten carbide cutting tools with screw-on inserts became commonplace. However, hand-ground tools still have a place in the thrifty sheddie’s workshop and indeed in commercial workshops where a tool with a particular shape is needed.”

Lockdown again features in Murray Grimwood’s “Off the grid” column in this issue. 

“In lockdown, and with no worthy projects to report, I thought I’d carry on where Jude Woodside (“Back o’ The Shed”, Sept–October 2021, Issue 98) left off and take a look at future energy options. That involves challenging the way we currently value things. My simple argument is that energy underwrites money; therefore, we should be counting the energy cost, rather than the money cost, of energy.”  

Our electronics section writer, Enrico Miglino, is thoroughly enjoying his new life on the road, and making his mobile home into the smart home on wheels he needs for his new way of living. In this second instalment of his hi-tech camper-van mods series, he prepares and installs the hardware needed to create the vehicle’s internal network.
Mark Seek is back again with his column “The Shed Shrink”, with helpful advice to help us all cope with the demands of our busy lives. In this issue’s column, Mark helps a work colleague sell a hot rod but wonders if this is just a safe return to his teenage years and his obsession with fast, modified automobiles. 

Back in Issue 92, Sept–Oct 2020, Mark Beckett detailed rescuing a very large tree with the aim of turning into an outdoor table.
While there were some interesting challenges involved with the first part of the project, the second stage required a bit more lateral thinking to achieve the finished result. See how Mark preps and completes the build of this huge wooden outdoor table.
You recognise flavours with your taste buds, right? Well, how come a whole bunch of beer-brewing experts were fooled into extolling the virtues of dark beer flavour notes when in fact they were tasting an IPA beer that happened to be black? 

“We were told that the two beers were actually the same beer; the only difference was that a tasteless brewers’ colour additive had been added to one to make it dark.”

In this issue’s “Brewers Scoop”, Bryan Livingstone gets us brewing a black IPA that is one of his favourites.
We head off the grid again to meet a couple who live in a collection of sheds and a caravan and enjoy the eco lifestyle.
“Retired landscaper, Fred Frederikse, lives a semi-hippy lifestyle with wife, Deb, in pole sheds beside the Whanganui River. Fred and friends have built the sheds, including a recording studio where he plays in a band. 

A largely self-taught builder and self-confessed “dropout from the School of Architecture”, Fred works out of his head, without plans. He says he learned about building by demolishing a house, and as a landscaper built anything from fences to decks, to retaining walls, to fountains and waterfalls, to lighting systems.”

As usual, The Shed founder, Jude Woodside, closes the issue with his “Back o’ The Shed” column. He describes getting his Covid vaccine jab, tells us that we have all been here before, and asks what the big deal is about getting a vaccine shot. He says it’s old news — his generation has been getting vaccinations all their lives —so go get the jab.
To purchase a copy of this issue, or a back issue, or to subscribe to have The Shed posted to you anywhere in the world, head to our online store.

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