Fold-away bar / card table

22 07 2011

A couple of years ago, I made a fold-away bar-cum-card-table for my brother’s birthday. Apologies for the quality of the photos: they were taken on the mobile phone I had at the time. I don’t have any exact plans for it, because I pretty-much made it up as I went along. I think it’s pretty clear how it fits together from the photos, though. If anyone has any questions, I’ll try to elaborate.

I started out with two squares of board and attached lengths of 1×2 round the edges on the underside.

I then sized two sheets of board to fit inside the two squares created and another two sheets to be the same width, but about 100mm smaller in height. I hinged the sides of the smallest boards to those of the larger ones, so that the bases were level. I then hinged the top of the larger boards to the 1×2 on the first boards, so that the whole lot folded away inside the 1×2 frame.

Folded out.

Folded away.
I painted the assembly so far and a length of decorative edging with wood stain.

I then stretched green felt over one half of the top and fixed it in place by nailing on the pieces of decorative edging. On the fourth side, I used flat-headed tacks to nail it in place. I then attached the same edging to three sides of the other half of the assembly, but without the felt.

Next, I hinged the two halves of the assembly together along the sides without the decorative edging.

Folded away.

Folded away: hinge edge.

Folded out. I drilled holes in the underside of the 1×2 and in the top of the front pieces and cut lengths of dowel to fit. The weight of the folded out bar is borne by the dowel and by the sides of the 1×2 pressing together.



24 05 2011
I know that the mere mention of DIY sends shivers up some people’s spines. Although it’s often time-consuming, noisy, messy and or smelly, it really doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. I’m really selling it here, aren’t I?
Personally, I enjoy DIY once I get started, but I find the getting started difficult – I just can’t motivate myself to do it – what if I get half-way through and find I want to stop and can’t? What if I get a room into a state in which it can’t be used and then don’t get time to finish? I don’t worry that I can’t do it, I worry that I just won’t do it, which can be overcome – it’s a case of determination and mind over matter.
Many people do worry that they can’t do it, though, or they don’t know how to go about it and don’t know where to start. There’s also the potential problem of not having the kit for the job.This is all sounding a bit negative, isn’t it? Let’s cut to the good bits.

There are now LOADS of free resources online. With the continued popularity of DIY shows in recent years, the BBC and Channel 4 (and probably other TV channels) have lots of videos and step-by-step instructions on their websites (links at the end), as do hardware stores, such as B&Q.

The larger hardware stores, including B&Q, also offer tool hire, so there’s no need to shell out huge amounts of money for equipment you’ll only use once or twice.

B&Q and, again, probably other stores, offer free demonstrations of how to perform various tasks in their stores – details are provided on their website and are also tweeted by @BandQ on Twitter.

So, it’s time-consuming, messy, noisy and all that other stuff we mentioned above – why bother with DIY? Firstly, it’s cheaper than paying someone to do it for you and means that jobs that wouldn’t be worth spending the money on can be done. Secondly, you can get a great sense of pride and satisfaction from looking at something that you have completed, particularly if you’ve pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and done something you’d never done before and perhaps thought you couldn’t. Thirdly, our surroundings are important to us. If our home looks shabby and things are broken, we sub-consciously start to feel that we don’t deserve good things and over time it wears us down.
As a Bunty annual I had as a child stated, “the first step towards feeling good is looking good”.I’ve just searched Twitter for #householdpride and there are no tweets – let’s get it up there.


Preserving herbs

20 05 2011

We had ordered a basil plant in the online shop this week as they were only 50p: cheaper than a refill for the jar of dried basil we had. As it turned out, they run out and we were given a bag of freshly-cut basil leaves as a substitute. We didn’t actually want to eat it today, so I thought I’d dry the leaves and pop them back in the jar.

I was putting a pie in the oven this evening, so I laid them out on a baking tray and put them it in the oven while it was on; it was on at 180 C. It took about 10 minutes for them to become brittle, at which point I took them out and crushed them in my finger tips and put them in a jar.

Basil leaves after they came out of the oven

Dried, crushed basil leaves

Weekend update

16 05 2011

This weekend’s favourite recipes: rhubarb cumble and, slightly more contentiously, savoury pudding. My parents have a bit of a surplus of rhubarb at the moment, so they gave us some over the weekend and we knocked up a quick crumble (recipe below). I made savoury pudding to go with sausages and gravy on Friday night. Four out of five of us liked it, but the fifth ended up going and making himself some sandwiches! I’ve provided the recipe for that below as well.

I had a large hole in one of the pockets in my work trousers (large enough that my big bunch of keys fell straight out of the bottom of my trouser leg), so I went into town and got a replacement pocket on Saturday and sewed it in last night. Now, we all know that my sewing skills aren’t great (I opted for woodwork instead of needlecraft at school and never learnt at home either), but I struggled more with this project than I ever have with anything else. I couldn’t seem to get it into the right position, then I managed to sew the pocket and trousers onto the trousers I was wearing, then I sewed the pocket shut etc etc. I ended up having to take it off again twice. I really did make a meal of it. It went on ok in the end, though – the trousers don’t look any different from the outside and the best part is that I now have a decent-sized pocket. It drives me crazy that women’s clothes have such small pockets; this is a proper man-sized pocket – I’ll be able to fit things in it! I’m wearing the trousers at the moment and am happy to say that, so far, the pocket is still attached!

Sewing seems to be becoming a bit of a lost skill. Apart from one of my brother’s friends who is a tailor, I don’t know of anyone around my age who feels competent at sewing. It seems that it’s not something that is handed down from mother to daughter any more and neither I nor my brother was taught it at school, although I can’t vouch for other schools. It is perfectly understandable that needlecraft has stopped being a ‘feminine’ skill – why should there be separate skills and hobbies for males and females? But equally, you reach something of a stand-off when it’s not being taught to girls because it’s not right that they should have to sit and sew when boys don’t and boys don’t want to do it because it’s ‘girly’. That’s when you end up with no one being able to do it. Then, in this world of cheap clothing, is it necessary? People don’t darn holey socks any more – they just buy a new pair. It’s often cheaper to buy new clothes than it is to buy fabric and who has time to make clothes? People have neither the time nor the inclination to mend clothes – they don’t fell competent to do it and the clothes will no longer look as good as new. This seems to be a common response to many challenges these days – give up and do something else instead.

Rhubarb Crumble

Stew the rhubarb with a little ginger. Grease an oven dish and tip in the rhubarb. For the crumble, use plain flour and butter in a ratio of 2:1. Cut them together and then knead with your finger tips until you achieve a bread-crumb texture. Add caster sugar to the crumble, to taste. Tip the crumble on top of the rhubarb and spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with demerara sugar and bake in the oven at 190 C until piping hot and golden brown.

Savoury Pudding

Soak 8 oz breadcrumbs in half a pint of boiled water for 30 mins. Mix in 8 oz suet, 1 oz porridge oats, 3 large onions (finely chopped) and sage to taste. Grease an oven dish and pour in the mixture. Bake in the oven for 30 – 45 minutes at around 160 C.

Saturday night

19 03 2011

This morning was nice and lazy. Since then, we’ve been doing field maintenance and then went and paid the horse feed bill. We didn’t take the dogs with us, as Shadow was still a bit tired and poor JJ has somehow managed to skin the pads on his hind feet and is lame, so having to take things easy.

We’ve been offered a table, which my parents have finished with, so that’s hopefully coming tomorrow 🙂

I think we’re going to have eggs for tea and then settle down to watch The Killing (Forbrydelsen). It’s a 20-episode Danish police drama and is running on BBC Four. Rather than the typical one or two episodes per case format, it’s about one case and runs for twenty episodes. It’s full of twists and turns and is so much more detailed than most series. We will be really sorry when it’s finished. I would definitely recommend it.

The super moon came up lovely and orange. I’m looking forward to going to bed as the moon comes round to that side of the house around about bed time. It was incredibly bright last night, so can’t wait to see it later. There was a very entertaining discussion of it on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 yesterday – well worth listening to it on iPlayer!

Summat and nowt

18 03 2011

I went to the dentist this afternoon for a couple of fillings. After a couple of attempts on one tooth, it became clear it wasn’t going to work and I’m now going to need that one crowning instead. I’m with an NHS dentist, fortunately, but this still means that the cost for the treatment has more than quadrupled and it’s going to be a bit of a stretch, particularly as I’ve no source of income after the end of next week. The brakes on my car also need fixing.

Anyway, on the brighter side, it was really sunny today and it’s apparently set to remain so for the next few days. We’ve a bit of horse and dog muck to collect up and, apart from that, the weekend’s free!

The dogs went into work today, as there was a “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” for Comic Relief. All the dogs got a walk, brush and wash. They both had a great time and are absolutely exhausted now. Shadow was apparently quite apprehensive at first and was barking and growling at people a bit, but she settled down, which is great 🙂

Reading List

15 03 2011

I’ve some great book lined up for when I finish work. Here are a few from the top of my reading pile.

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