Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Get Ready to Create: DIY Project Prep

As promised, I will be writing about some simple DIY projects that are as close to no-fail as is possible. But whether you'll be creating based on my how-to's, from other websites or books, or from your own imagination, there are some things you'll need first.

The basics are often enough to get you started on simple projects, and if you don't already own these items, many of them can be borrowed from a friend or neighbour, or purchased fairly inexpensively at any hardware store. The basic tools are:
  • a drill with a decent selection of bits and screwdriver bits (so you can use your drill as a power screwdriver, eliminating the need for an extra tool). Note that you will sometimes have to purchase a particular bit for a specific project as the same bit won't drill through both plywood and glass tile, for example.
  • a jigsaw with a couple of blades. Again, blades should be material-specific; there are different blades for metal and wood, as well as for different material thicknesses.
  • a level, at least 24-inches long
  • a good sturdy tape measure with clearly indicated markings
  • a couple of clamps for holding things together while you are waiting for glue to dry or lining things up to drill into
  • adhesives - it's really practical to have a selection of them on hand, including construction adhesive, wood glue, a hot glue gun and glue sticks, masking tape
  • a staple gun (does not have to be electric) and staples for it
  • an iron, yup the thing you use to press your clothes. But I strongly suggest you buy a cheap one to keep for creative projects and not use the one you use to press your work clothes near adhesives and paints. Just in case...
  • a basic set of screwdrivers (not electric)
  • a hammer, mid-sized with a decent weight to it is the most versatile
Time & patience: This may sound like a crazy thing to reiterate, but it has to be. Don't start a project that you figure requires 3 hours time when you know you have to go out in exactly 3 hours; projects always take a bit longer than you expect. Likewise, don't start a project when you would really rather be doing something else - you will try to rush, a step will be overlooked or not done with the care required and the outcome will be affected by this.

Work space: When possible, you will want to do certain tasks outside or in the garage with at least a window opened. Solvents, some adhesives, etc have pretty strong odors that you won't want wafting through your home and being inhaled by all. Tasks such as drilling and sawing create unbelievable quantities of sawdust that can be a respiratory irritant, irritate the eyes, and so on. Plus dust travels in mysterious ways and you don't want it ending up all over the place. If you don't have a garage and if weather doesn't permit outdoor work, close yourself in a room with open windows. Wherever you set up to work, make sure you have electrical outlets available to you (or a safe way to keep extension cords from tangling in power tools as you are working or from tripping you as you move about) and also make sure that you have the room you'll need to keep your tools and materials at hand but not crowding you as you work.

Check back soon for the first do-it-yourself project to be posted here!

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