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.


Camping Tips

24 06 2011

So, the summer holidays are almost upon us and, for those of us trying to stick to a budget, camping is probably somewhere on the agenda.

I’m really not one to try to take all my home comforts camping with me; all I want when I’m camping is somewhere to sleep, eat and have a drink. The first two turned out to be somewhat problematic the last time we went.

The problem with sleeping turned out to be the thing we thought would help the most: an air mattress. While it kept its word and protected us from bumps in the ground, it also indulged in some pretty base treachory, which took the form of wobbling, tipping us into the middle and causing each of us to bounce up and down every time the other moved. Perhaps it would have been less trying if it had been for one person. We ended up deflating it and using self-inflating roll mats instead. They were fantastic but, to be honest, a good layer of blankets and clothes would have done as good a job.

Another caveat is temperature. It can be pretty hot in a tent when the sun’s been on it, but the temperature can seriously drop in the night. I particularly dislike having hot feet in bed and find they get far too hot in sleeping bags, so I prefer multiple layers of blankets. Layering provides good insulation and it’s easy to add and shed layers as temperature dictates.

I’d love to hear about your camping experiences:

  • What is your must-have camping item?
  • What have you learnt the hard way?
  • Why do you like (or dislike!) camping?
  • Do you have a favourite camping food or drink?
I’m afraid to say we also had problems with eating, as our camping stove set fire to itself within 5 minutes of switching it on. I’ve just stumbled upon this video, which shows you how to make a camping stove from various materials. I’m itching to give it a go!

Click here for a slightly more complex version


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.


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