Making a lathe bench – part 1

The lathe needs a bench. I can’t keep it on the main bench in the shed, it’ll need it’s own stand. At some point, I may want to think about making it mobile, but for now I just want something stable so I can actually use the lathe before I go back to work next week. I’m desperate to have a shot at turning a bowl on it!

I’ve built / made a few things now, some of them I just made up as I went along (bird table), but some things I want a better idea of what I’m doing before I start. That includes the garden steps I built and an elevated planter for my mother-in-law. It also includes this lathe bench.

3d plans showing a raised planterI have used Sketchup Free for the various projects I wanted to plan and it works out great! It’s not easy, but it isn’t terrible and it really helps. What it doesn’t do is help visualise how big something will be (the planter turned out massive), but that’s also my achiles heal anyway (cooking too much food, building things too big, buying too much decorating stuff, etc.)

Here’s the plan for the lathe stand.

3d plans for a lathe stand

Imagine that diagonal brace in the middle being mirrored on the other side (I couldn’t be bothered to draw it). The different colours are for different sizes of lumber, 14cm, 9cm or 6cm wide (all 3.8cm thick). Hopefully that’ll be strong enough to hold the 85kg weight of the Record Power CL2, and keep it stable. We’ll see (it’s going to be sitting on a shed floor with a lot of bounce, which isn’t going to help!)

Wish me luck.

Hole in the Wall

From this (rotten, been there years and been getting worse, had it ‘repaired’ twice so far).

To this (done it myself, over two weeks, bit by bit, don’t care about how messy it looks as long as it keeps the rain out).

Regrets …

I often joke that regret is one of the four pillars of my life, but I don’t really dwell much on past decisions once I’m over the ‘angry at myself’ period.  I do regret not spending more time in my 20’s being more hands on with stuff, decorating, DIY, repairs, etc.  It’s a confidence thing mostly, but it prevents me doing even small jobs around the house, and as a result, the house slowly rots.

One of the things they don’t teach you at school is how to find reliable craftsmen.  We paid a guy last year to repair some rotten wood, he did 2/3rds of the job and never came back (used the weather as an excuse, but then just stopped responding to us).  Turns out, he only did 1/3rd of the job and I’ve been repairing the mess he left for the past two weeks (good weather, so taking my time sealing up the hole with multiple layers which I’m allowing to dry in-between).

So we’ll once again be on the lookup for a ‘handyman’ who can do lots of little jobs, because there’s loads of stuff which needs fixing once the Covid19 shit is over, and unless we win the lottery we can’t afford to get the whole house done in one go.  Typical example of Samuel Vimes’ ‘Boots’ Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness.


I think DIY might actually stand for “Disaster Incoming, Yes?”.  I have a perception of myself not being any good at DIY.  It may or may not be true, perhaps I’m just below average rather than not very good.  It stems from a lack of practice, a lack of knowledge, a lack of confidence and a lack of skill.  Other than those four things, I’m totally set though.

Which is why owning a house (car / object-which-requires-maintenance) is a bit stressful for me.  I can’t really afford to pay other people to do this stuff for me, and I’m crap at doing it myself, catch 22 (yeh, I’m a whining old bastard and should just shut up and get on with it like everyone else has to).

Half the problem (99% of the problem?) is that I have a very ‘what could go wrong’ mindset.  I’m good at spotting risk, understanding consequences.  This is great if you’re trying to stay alive somewhere dangerous, it’s stupid if you live in a warm house in the middle of a quiet town where the biggest risk is you might get wet from a rain shower.  But there you go – that’s what I have.  It comes in handy in my job sometimes, but in terms of DIY it’s a major stumbling block.  If I was stupid, or didn’t understand the consequences or risks, I’d probably do a lot more DIY.

We’ve got a set of vertical blinds installed over the sliding doors at the back of the house.  We put them up ourselves when we moved in, pretty sharpish since that bit of the house lets in a LOT of light.  I was pretty pleased with the effort, because there’s a lot that can go wrong putting up a rail for blinds, trust me.  Anyway they’ve served us well for 5 years, but in the summer, they still let a hell of a lot of light in.  Enough for it to be uncomfortable being in here using a computer.  Last summer we hung a blue throw from some paper clips and string behind the blinds to block the sun out.  Yes, we did.  MacGyver would have been proud.  We talked about replacing the blinds with some curtains.  But that means another rail.

Grete was really patient, and eventually, with a sulk the size of a 10 story building, I went to Ikea with her and bought a rail system and some curtains.  All I have to do now is hang it.

Which is where the fun starts.  What’s the material above the door made of?  Is it a metal lintel, or concrete, or is it just hollow plasterboard or something else?  Will it be strong enough to mount the three fixings?  What screws do I need?  Why is the plaster all cracked (hidden from our eyes by the blinds).  Is that bad or just annoying?  What if I hang this and make it worse?

What if I make it worse.

And there’s the crux.  There’s why I don’t like DIY.  It’s not a fear, that’s too strong a word, but it’s a constant doubt, what if I do this, and fuck it up so badly, that we end up having to pay someone more than we would have to do it right in the first place?  But hell, it’s only three holes and three screws, how bad can it be?  Well, my mind paints some pretty bad pictures.

And I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking ‘you pussy, just get the fuck on a set of ladders and mount that rail’.  Some people can just do it.  Some people have a lot of experience, practice and innate skill with this kind of thing.  But not me, and that means I have no confidence either, and if you have no confidence, you’re skill level is halved again.

But we’ve bought the stuff, so I will mount this rail and take down the blinds, and I’ll give it my best shot.  And somewhere, in the back of my head there’s a little voice saying, ‘it’ll be okay, it’s only a rail, you’re worrying about it far too much’, and I know it’s right, but at the front of my head, with a loud hailer is the big voice shouting ‘Remember when you tried to put that shelf up in your bedroom when you were a teenager?  Yeh.  Remember that’.

Stay tuned, I’ll post pictures as I go!

A day of stuff

My advice is look away now if you’re not interested in reading the litany of DIY / Gardening activities that made up our weekend.  I’ll even put a cut in for you so you don’t accidentally see boring photo’s of flowers, painted walls, borders and coat hooks.

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