Archive for the ‘Projects & ideas’ Category

Hello!

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

This is for everyone who’s just stumbled upon World Sweet World or who’s been wondering what we’ve been up to lately. A lot of things have happened in the last while and we’ve started new endeavors. We have lived in Germany for two and a half years, and are back for a few months now and in the process of converting a schoolbus into a housebus. We have also set up Future Nature, where we offer web and print design services. Thanks all!

Future Nature web and print design

Liberty the Great, a house bus conversion

Wheelie bins

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

While around a quarter of all the energy we use in New Zealand is for transport, two thirds of the trips we actually make are less than six kilometres. If you calculate the embedded energy used to get your food on your table (how much energy is used for the farmer to fertilise the field, to run the tractor, package it, transport it to market, etc.), you are likely to double that amount by driving to the supermarket to do the shopping. It’s relatively easy to make big energy savings here and you’ll be better off health- and wallet-wise in the process.

I got into making bike trailers a few years ago after I realised that most of my car use around town was for carrying stuff. I had attempted load-carrying with a bike by tediously stuffing and unloading too much shopping into panniers that were too small, putting my neck out carrying heavy loads in a backpack, falling off my bike when bags over the handlebars caught in my front spokes, and dropping cardboard boxes and contents all over the road that were precariously bungied onto a carrier. It was my bass guitar and amp that finally got me into constructing a trailer, and suddenly everything got much easier for load-carrying by bike. In this article I’ll describe how to make a wooden bike trailer using an aluminium hitch that I’m producing.

Obtaining your materials

Bins: Two bins are very convenient for shopping as they fit in the shopping trolley for direct loading at the checkout. Making a trailer with a deck is ok, but the load sits higher and makes the trailer less stable, and things have to be bungied on. Avoid cheap and nasty bins as they crack easily – Bunnings, Mitre 10 and Stowers have good selections of strong bins for $10-$25 each. A free option is a couple of banana boxes with a strip of wood glued and screwed to the side. These will last a surprisingly long time if kept dry.
Second-hand bike wheels: 20” wheels are very good stability wise. 26” wheels on a narrow trailer are more prone to rolling with higher centre of gravity, but give good clearance for deep bins, although don’t use wheels any larger than this. 24” wheels are a good compromise between clearance and stability. Garage sales or dump shops are good places to find an old bike to pinch wheels off – using a set of wheels from the same bike (one front and one rear wheel) is quite acceptable. Check the bearings and re-grease if they are sticky. I’d also recommend you remove gear clusters, although this is not absolutely necessary.
Wood for the frame: 6 or 7 lengths of wood, around 800-1000mm long and between 75mm and 100mm wide and 25mm thick. Such wood can be easily obtained for free from old packing crates.
Hitch, tow bar and dropouts: Available by emailing steve@cycletrailers.co.nz, for $50 (+$10 to courier).

Create the H-frame FIG 1

1. The rectangular wooden frame is built to suit your chosen bins, which should be of equal size. Measure the longer width of your bin, just below the lip. Cut your centre strut to this length.
2. Calculate the lengths of the two side struts by measuring the shorter width of the bins (again, below the lip), multiply by two and then add the thickness of the centre strut. The outer struts of the completed frame are as long as the H-frame’s side struts, so cut four struts of this length.
3. Screw your ‘H’ together using two 50mm screws in each joint to make it strong.

Finish the frame FIG 2

4. To calculate the length of the front and rear struts, take the width of the H-frame, add the lengths of both wheel axles, and then add the widths of the two outer struts. It may help to measure the wheel axle by attaching the dropouts to the axle first and to then measure the distance from dropout to dropout.
5. The wheels’ axle lengths will be different, so when attaching the front and rear struts to the H-frame, make sure to leave the appropriate room on each side. Use two 50mm screws in each joint.
6. Finish the frame by attaching the outer struts so they sit flush with the ends of the
front and rear struts.

Attach the wheels FIG 3

7. Drill at least four wholes through each dropout, and use 40-50mm screws to attach them to the underside of the frame, making sure the dropouts don’t hinder the bins going in and out. Hacksaw the
dropouts if required for bin clearance.

Attach the tow bar FIG 4

8. Attach the aluminium tow bar using the bolts provided. Drill the hole that’s closer to the end of the tube at least 25mm in from the end so it doesn’t collapse. The Nylocks provided don’t vibrate loose, so don’t over-tighten them, which could also result in collapsing the tube.

Attach the hitch FIG 5

9. Attach the hitch base to your bike underneath the rear wheel nut or quick release lever (on the left hand side). The
hitch base stays on your bike all the time. It is important to horizontally level the hitch with the tow bar and quick-disconnect ball joint coupling to allow up/down movement over bumps. If there is a permanent angle on the tow ball there may not be enough play and the ball joint may bend or break.
It is also important to make sure the quick-disconnect ball joint coupling can rotate at least 90 degrees on the bolt thread in both horizontal directions. It would pay to get in the habit of checking this every time you connect the trailer on as it can tighten up over time and will damage the ball joint if it cannot rotate freely.

Weight test

Weight test the trailer by standing on it with your weight over the wheels. I recommend carrying loads less than 50kg routinely, with maybe an occasional load up to 70kg if it’s well balanced. Most people can pull 20kg up hills just by changing down a gear and going a bit slower, and you hardly notice it on the flat.
Loads of 30-40kg slow you down a bit more, but most people can still easily cruise at 15-20km/h, even with a heavy load.

Other resources

carryfreedom.com: I’m not the first to try a wooden bike trailer. Carry freedom have very good instructions for making a bamboo trailer (carryfreedom.com/bamboo.html), but bamboo can be difficult to source, whereas old pallets are very readily available. The site also describes how to make your own hitch, which is a bit more technically challenging.
cycletrailers.co.nz: My website has details on building various trailers, from one using an old bed frame, to a full aluminium model. You can get the hitch used in this project there, or learn how to make one using an old trampoline spring. For an overview of my trailer options, see ‘Product List’ on the site.

Workspace makeover

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Look at what our clever friends Matt and Bonnie, formerly Lone Moose, did with their workspace/bedroom/storage area. So multifunctional, and now uncluttered:

BEFORE / AFTER

MAKING

Preparing the drawers before going on the wall, and painting the new pulley rack. They followed our Pulley Rack Project instructions from World Sweet World Magazine issue #8 – you can check out the whole project here.

NEW WORKSPACE ALL DONE

Thanks, Bonnie, Matt and Theo!

-Thomas

The Pulley Rack: Your Rainy Day or Gardenless Clothes Drying Solution

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

I dream of being able to string up a clothes line from my bedroom window to the ones on the other side; our busy city street transformed into a lazy village lane, our washing waving in the wind like bunting. Sadly, it is not to be – the windows opposite belong to a huge office block and undies flapping about outside is simply not the corporate way.

We have had to come up with a less obtrusive way to dry our clothes; the Pulley Drying Rack, not so picturesque but just as old skool. Known in another gender stereotyped life as a Lazy Betty or a Pulley Maid, the Pulley Drying Rack is friend to all who dwell in abodes without gardens and friendly neighbours across the street.

GETTING STARTED

  1. Work out where you would like your indoor clothesline. Think about roof height, usual temperature of the room, sunshine, and proximity to the washing machine. We chose the
    laundry. You’ll be screwing it to the ceiling, so you’ll need to note where the studs are. A stud-finder can help with this, and they’re pretty inexpensive from the hardware store.
  2. Dig around at the dump shop or building recyclers for a frame. Think framing in old cupboards or cupboard doors, or even louvred doors (you’d have to cut the louvres out). Look for a sturdy frame that doesn’t weigh too much. Alternatively, if all else fails, grab four lengths of wood and make the frame yourself, using a screw for each corner.
  3. Evenly space the screw eyes horizontally on the inside along the frame. Pre-drilling with a tiny drill bit makes screwing in the eyes a whole lot easier. Do this on two sides of the frame, making sure the screw eyes are directly opposite each other FIG 1.
  4. Cut your plastic-coated curtain wire into lengths, about 7cm shorter than the inside width of the frame. Screw a screw hook into each end of each curtain wire (the wire is a bit like a tightly-wound spring, so they’ll screw in, but it’ll be a tight fit). Each curtain wire has to stretch a bit now when you hook it up FIG 2.
  5. Drill four vertical holes, one on each corner of the frame FIG 3.
  6. Cut two lengths of rope as long as the width of the frame, add 50% again. These need to be
    exactly the same lengths (I’ll call these now the support ropes). In the middle of each of these
    support ropes tie in a loop.
  7. Feed each of the ends through a corner hole that you have just drilled, then tie a gnarly knot on the end so they can’t fit back through. These should form an ‘A’ shape on each end of the frame FIG 4. You now have your main structure sorted, the next is to attach it to the roof!
  8. In the ceiling you need to find where the cross beams in your roof are located. You need to drill two holes through the ceiling into these crossbeams in order to attach the big hooks. The hooks, and therefore the holes, need to be above the middle of the two ‘A’ frame support ropes. Accurate
    positioning is crucial.
  9. Screw in the big hooks, then hang the pulleys onto them.
  10. In the same way you found a strong bit to screw in the hooks, now place and attach another hook at waist height on a wall (where the clothesline will eventually be anchored) and the eyelet, or a double pulley, in the junction of the ceiling and wall above this last hook.
  11. A length of the wax coated rope now needs to be tied to each of the loops in the middle of the support ropes. These lengths of rope will both individually go up, through the appropriate
    pulley, then together pass through the big eyelet, then be tied off together in two positions FIG 5. Firstly, the longest part, where the lowered clothesline will sit when you are hanging up the washing, and secondly, a knot further up the rope, where the clothesline will be anchored when it is pulled up close to the ceiling.

MAINTENANCE

Every so often make sure the anchor hooks and eyelets are all still secure and safe. When it comes to drying clothes this rack is a life saver but it would knock you for six if it dropped on your head. Eek.

EXTRA TIP

An extra benefit of this drying rack is that we have all become arm wrestling champions since having to heave it up and down on a regular basis. Seriously though, if we were to do this again we’d tee up some sort of counter weight system so it’s less of a strain to pull up when laden with wet clothes. If you’re not up to that task, just make a smaller rack.

Solar convection heater

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Winter is almost upon us and, knowing how cold it can get in our mildly insulated flat, we welcomed this making idea Anthea forwarded to us: a solar convection heater made out of pop/beer cans. Apart from wondering where to get that many empty cans from, I do appreciate the idea of giving them a second life.

If my workshop wasn’t that small and east facing I’d consider installing something there. The more I look at the idea though, the likelier it becomes I’ll work on a properly sized version for our flat – maybe 100 cans instead of 50, as in the example. The instructions for this project you can find on a blog all about cars, strangely enough; car enthusiasts do spend many hours in cold garages, after all.

I’m also quite intrigued by the commercially produced solar heater now (oh, them inventive Canadians!). A testament to the efficiency of the product is that it was actually developed in the cold North.

Now, don’t start sending me your sticky, empty pop cans (in fact, avoiding them in the first place would be much better), but I may have to arrange for some fun dumpster diving times.

-Thomas

Curtain call: part two

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Homemade thermal insulated curtains

In last autumn’s issue of World Sweet World mag we published the great project by Christine Reitze (check it out here) showing you how to make snuggly winter curtains out of blankets. We have the beauties from that project hanging in our bedroom already, but with winter looming again I figured I needed to kit out the rest of the house. The only problem is that, living in a villa with super-tall windows, I’ve been struggling to find blankets that will be long or wide enough to do the trick.

On a recent trip to the fabric shop I stumbled across the perfect solution: Lining tape. Now this may sound kind of obvious, but using blankets as lining instead of the main act means that it doesn’t matter if they don’t reach the ground, and they don’t have to be as wide, because the lining doesn’t need to be gathered. Bingo!

Because our windows are so big, I opted for a cheap ($5m), medium-weight fabric, knowing that with the blankets they’d still feel nice and heavy. I made some simple curtains (check out the previous post if you don’t know how to do that), sewed lining tape to the top of a blanket, and then hung the blanket to the back of my curtains with hooks. I now have full-length, totally insulated curtains that look heavy and drape well, and they only cost me around $60, including the blankets, tape and hooks.

I’m stoked with how much difference they make to the room, and our landlord is getting a grant to install insulation and a heatpump through the EECA energywise scheme , but we’re still keen to do further winter-proofing before we have a tiny child in the house.

Any ideas? What are you doing to keep your diggs toasty this winter?

Curtain call: part one

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Homemade blanket curtains

This project by Christine Reitze was published last autumn in issue 5 of World Sweet World. Stay tuned for more curtain-related goodies next week – I’ve been sewing up a storm in preparation for the chilly months ahead. ~ Hannah

It’s always good to be prepared, so here’s an autumn project that will get you ready for winter. In the grand scheme of things, winters in New Zealand aren’t really that cold, but because of practically nonexistent insulation in many of our houses (especially flats), we tend to feel it more than chillier countries.

If you’re flatting in a cold house, chances are your landlord isn’t going to fork out to get the entire place re-insulated (although it’s worth speaking with them about the EECA energywise funding scheme), but there are things as tenants we can do to keep a bit warmer as winter approaches.

These warm woolly winter curtains are sewn with old blankets you can find easily in op-shops for cheap, or if you’re brave enough, you could pinch them from your granny or your dog. For even more warmth you can add thermal lining (you can use your old curtains for this), which is then hooked onto the main wool curtain.

  1. Measure the length of your curtain track and double it, adding an extra 12cm. This is how much of wide curtain tape you’ll need.
  2. If you decide to have the extra thermal insulation you will need to buy the same length of narrow curtain tape for it. Make sure that the wide tape of your woolly curtain can be used to hook the lining onto (they can tell you this in the shop).
  3. Decide how long you want your curtain to be, and add 5cm. I reckon down to the floor looks best, plus it provides far more insulation that way. If you want to hem your curtain you will need to add extra length, but wool blankets are usually nicely hemmed anyway.
  4. Make each of your two curtains the width of the curtain track. Depending on the size of your wool blankets, you might need to cut off or sew more blanket material on to get the right dimension for your window. You can get creative here and sew stripes, have a different coloured border or make a woollen patchwork. If you sew two different blankets together, make sure you pin them first (even if pinning isn’t usually your style). Different weights of blanket will stretch differently, and you’ll end up with one piece that looks flabby like the knees in a cheap pair of trackies. Not cool. How to sew the tape on
  5. Cut the curtain tape in half. Before you start sewing, unthread the three cords 3cm from one end of the tape. Tie the cords together, then smooth out the tape  FIG 1.
  6. Place the tape right side up on the panel, 2cm below the edge of the curtain. Fold in the excess tape 3cm from each end and pin the tape in place.
    Sew the top edge of the tape about ½ a cm from its edge onto the curtain and repeat the process with the bottom edge  FIG 2. Be careful not to sew over the string!
  7. Pull all strings at the unknotted end at the same time, gathering your curtain to the desired width  FIG 3. It should end up half the curtain track plus about 40cm. Knot the three strings together and cut the excess off.
  8. Insert hooks into the middle of every second or third loop of the tape.
  9. Repeat the same process with your second curtain panel, hang them up and feel the instant warmth! For extra thermal insulation
  10. To add extra warmth to your woolly drapes, you can make an ungathered thermal backing. For the width, measure the gathered width of your wool curtain and add an extra 20cm. The length will be the same as the wool curtains, minus 20cm.
  11. Fold the side edge of your lining over 5cm and iron, then fold it over another 5cm, iron and sew in place. Repeat the process with the other side.
    Pin the lining tape on, folding 3cm under at the edges, and sew in place, as you did in step 7.
  12. Insert hooks into every fourth loop and hook the lining onto the bottom row of loops on the curtain tape.

If you’ve taken old curtains down from your windows, these will work just as well for lining. All you have to do is move the hooks from the middle of the tape to the top, hook them onto your curtain, and you’re sorted!

Frankenstein’s drawers

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I have often thought about the aesthetic of reused and recycled rather than store-bought materials. What I’ve noticed is that things made from old stuff always seems to come out on top when it comes to character and uniqueness. This little chest of drawers is a case in point.

Our Frankenstein's Drawers made out of tea-boxes

The starting point for this project was a few wooden tea boxes we found under our house, and while they’re great boxes, they are a bit too high for a bedside table, not sturdy enough for a TV stand, and too chunky for desk legs. In all their prettiness, we always felt that they had to serve a higher purpose. We started thinking laterally about the box. Often you have an idea or a concept to begin with, but it this case it was the material that was the starting point for the creative process. Lying on its side with the box’s top opening pointing forward, the idea for a chest of drawers evolved.

Because of the project depending so much on the material you can get hold of, this is not a strict step-by-step project to copy, but rather ideas and tips for the design process behind a project similar to this.

SOURCING THE MATERIAL

The ‘box’: This is where you have absolute creative freedom – a variety of wooden boxes work; if you don’t have awesome tea boxes like us, you could use old gutted chests, wooden packaging or crates, or even sturdy suitcases (wow, that’ll be my next project!).
Drawers: Being on the lookout for drawers that might fit (so I didn’t have to build new ones), I was lucky enough to find a cheap desk at the op shop with drawers which fell into my range of “could fit” dimensions.

Legs: We had four legs from an old bed-base lying around that we wanted to put to use, so the decision about composition was made for us. With these slender, long legs, I envisaged something like a love child of a Cheetah and “A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit”’s slightly deranged vending machine “the Cooker”. Of course, you could use any type of legs you want, even pimp it out with swivel top casters, which would make assembly quite easy but can be quite pricy.
Interior material: I used scrap material from my workshop for the interior of the box, otherwise I would have used pieces from the second hand desk I bought for this project.

FIT THE DRAWERS

1. I measured the drawers and trimmed the opening in the box appropriately, so the drawers would sit snugly without gaps.

Illustrating the construction Figs 1, 2a and 2b

BOX INTERIOR

2. The construction I built inside the box had to be sturdy and smooth enough for the drawers to sit and run on easily.
Basically, you need two rails running front to back for each drawer, and two sturdy crossbars per drawer that the rails sit on FIG 1. To figure out how to construct this, you need to have a closer look at your drawers (yes, indeed). Usually, drawers’ bases
are set slightly up from the bottom, so that the drawer actually runs on its sides, not the bottom. In this case though, I figured
the easiest thing to do was to have the drawer’s base run on two rails, sitting just inside the sides FIG 2a.

Make sure that the rails are a bit taller than the distance between the drawer’s base and the bottom of its sides,
otherwise the drawer will catch on the crossbars when closing.

If the bottom of your drawers are not sturdy or straight enough, your drawers’ sides have to run on the rails. If this is
the case, attach a strip to the rails on either side of the drawer to keep it in place as it slides along FIG 2b.

3. The rail method you choose will inform the height the crossbars are attached at. If you have the drawers sitting on
top of the rails, you need to lower the crossbars appropriately, by the height of the rails.

4. To attach the crossbars, hold them in place on the inside and at the same time drill from the outside through the box’s wall
into the end grain of the crossbars, then screw in place FIG 3.

5. Attach the rails onto the crossbars. Make sure they fit the drawers’ widths, and stop the drawers from sliding in too far. TIP: All elements need to come together correctly to have the drawers sit perfectly in the opening and to prevent the drawers from jarring, so make little sketches first, then measure and then sketch some more – it’s all part of the fun design process.

Illustrating the construction Figs 3, 4 and 5

GIVING IT LEGS

6. The legs I used have a thread at the top FIG 4, which I figured would be quite sturdy to attach them with. As counterparts for the threads, I attached two lengths of wood to the inside bottom of the box – one counterpart to hold the front legs and the other for the back ones. With a hole saw, I cut two holes from the outside through the box bottom into the lengths of wood tomatch the intended position of the legs. By cutting the holes slightly smaller in diameter than the thread, I then just had to twist the legs through the bottom of the box into the holes. They cut a slight thread into the counterparts and by doing so automatically tightened up nicely. No further screws or glue needed FIG 5!

FINISHING TOUCHES

7. The tea box has nice print on it – “It pays to buy good tea”, so I didn’t give it another finish. The drawers were white, so that worked as a nice contrast to the overall wood look. A bit of candlewax on the rails and drawer bottoms makes a hell of a difference in making the drawers run smoothly. “Alive! It’s alive!”

Materials and tools, skills, cost and speed

Folding stuff

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

This wallet is super easy to make. You’ll need some paper and cellotape. Yep, that’s it. Grab a vivid and twink if you want to customise it, or use the latest pages from the ace review of the new “Die Die Die” album, if that’s more your thing. Heavier card is slightly more durable and using the front of a manilla folder makes the wallet feel like a freakin’ hummer.
Paper wallet

  1. Start with a piece of A4 or similar – slightly bigger is best (about the size of Real Groove Magazine pages is excellent). FIG 1
  2. Crease by folding in half and half again, and then again so your page is divided into eight. FIG 2
  3. Cut as shown. You’ll need slits in the side and the cut out diamond becomes the card holder part. FIG 3
  4. Make some flaps out of the bottom and top sections. These will eventually fold into the wallet and seal it up so your cards don’t drop out the side. FIG 4
  5. Tape the bottom bits back together so both sides are flush. It will seem kind of wonky now but it all will be revealed soon. FIG 5
  6. Fold the top and the bottom quarters in, FIG 6 then fold in half and you should have something like FIG 7 with the flaps poking out the side.
  7. Tuck the flaps into the hole you’ve just created and this will effectively lock the wallet together. You can use tape if you want to be extra sure nothing’s going to fall out.
  8. You should have something that looks a bit like FIG 8. Your cash goes in the back and your cards go in the 2 easy access pockets at front. Sorted.

Illustrations for 'Folding stuff'

Crunch in your lunch

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I’m a big fan of some crunch in my basket lettuce salads – so here’s an easy method of toasting seeds.  I’ve seen bags of ’salad topping’ in the supermarket, but it’s so easy (and cheap!) to make your own at home.

It’s worthwhile to check out where you can buy seeds in bulk if you use them frequently – they’re not expensive, but you can save some cash if you stock up at somewhere like Moore Wilson’s, Toops or Gilmours.

To make your own salad seed mix, brush a roasting pan with some olive oil and tip in a about 4 cups of seeds.  You can make as much or as little as you like, but I enjoy having a good store on hand to keep me going!  I like to use pumpkin, sunflower, linseed (also known as flax seed) and sesame seeds in my mix.  Mix them around and roast in the oven at around 180 degrees.  About half an hour in the oven will have them nicely crisped – just stir them from time to time.

For extra flavour, add a few splashes of soy sauce or tamari sauce towards the end and mix it around.  Once it has cooled, store the mixture in an airtight container.

As well as adding some savoury crunch to salads, it’s a great way to get some protein into your food.  I also like to use this topping for pasta bakes and other miscellaneous meals – it’s very versatile.  It’s also good by itself, although I sometimes melt some honey and stir in the seeds for a snack.

Just make sure you check your teeth after eating – seeds LOVE to stick in your teeth to add some, uh, mystery to your smile…

x Libby