build-it

Ikea Kitchen Part 2: Extract and Install

Last year I installed an Ikea Kitchen. I posted about the joy of the Ikea ordering process, installed the kitchen, and forgot to post the installation process. Well, here it is. If you’ve ever wondered how to install your own kitchen, wonder no more. I’ll walk you through installing an Ikea kitchen.

Part 1 is available here

As you may have gathered, ordering an Ikea kitchen is about as much fun as a DIY lobotomy. On the plus side, installing it is far more fun.

Before

Here’s my original kitchen, a true master piece of the 80’s:

Old kitchen

After

Here’s my new kitchen (mostly complete, except for a splashback and some paint):

New Kitchen

Kitchen Building 101

Before we start building, note that this is an Australian Ikea kitchen from the FAKTUM range. The entire range is going to be updated in late 2015. If you need a kitchen before then, the current range is great - and straight forward for the average DIY warrior.

Step 1. Prepare the area

Our first task is to ensure we have our kitchen area prepared. Make sure the following things are true:

  1. You have flat, mostly-level ground to sit the cabinets on (they have adjustable legs, which is great on wonky floors).
  2. You have repaired any drywall that you damaged when removing the old kitchen.
  3. You know where the wall studs are. Check the walls with a stud finder, and put a pencil line where each stud is. Both the wall and the floor cabinets are screwed into the studs, so best to find them before you start installing.

kitchen start

Step 2. Assemble the cabinets

The hardest part here is understanding Ikea’s inane instructions. Some genius thought it was a good idea to have pictures only, and no descriptive text. That would be great if the pictures made sense, but they don’t.

Installation Posters

If you didn't pick up the kitchen installation posters while you were at Ikea, google them, download them, and read them. Make sure you have them handy while you are installing the kitchen.

You will need these tools:

  • hammer
  • power screw driver OR impact driver

Assembling the cabinets is not hard, but it is time consuming. The cabinets are made from MDF with a thin sheet of ply for the back. The ply seems like an obvious cost saving measure - but the assembled cabinets are strong enough to withstand years of abuse - so there is no need to worry.

This is how you assemble the cabinets:

  1. Attach the base to 2 of the sides
  2. Attach the top rail (that the doors close against)
  3. Attach the 3rd side to the base
  4. Nail the plywood backing to the back.

Sea of cabinets

Tip: Why do my Ikea screws keep stripping?

Those screws they supply are not phillips head screws. They are Pozidriv screws. If you have the correct screw driver or drill bit, they are great - self centering, and less likely to strip. Sadly, Ikea hate their customers and don't mention Pozidriv. The result is lots of head scratching and stripped screw heads.

Step 3. Attach the guide rail

You should have received some cabinet “wall strips”. They may be in the same packaging as your plinth boards (kick boards). The wall strips are long MDF strips used for supporting the cabinets. These strips are screwed into the wall (into the studs), and must be level.

There are two ways you can ensure these strips are level:

The hard way - rest a spirit level on top of the strips as you screw them in, and carefully adjust the strips while keeping an eye on the spirit level.

The easy way - buy a laser level, such as the awesome Bosch Quigo. I bought one for about AU$100, and it is great. It projects a set of level laser lines onto the wall - then you just line up the strips. It auto levels and can be attached to a tripod or can be clamped to furniture.

Laser Levelling

Guide rail attached

Step 4. Install base cabinets

Remember how I mentioned marking the studs? This is why. The back of each cabinet has 2 upper anchor points. Some of these anchor points will be close to a stud, some won’t. On the upside, each base cabinet is screwed into the cabinets either side - so as long as some of your cabinets are securely anchored, the entire row will be secure.

If you have a corner cabinet, start with that:

  1. Lift the cabinet into place, with the back resting on the wall strip you secured earlier.
  2. Raise the legs on the back of the cabinet (by twisting them), so the back is enirely supported by the wall strip.
  3. Place a spirit level across the top of the cabinet.
  4. Adjust the front legs until the cabinet is level.
  5. Hopefully the anchor points on the upper back will match up with at least one wall stud (although you may need to drill at some very interesting angles). Note that Ikea do not supply the wall mount screws, so use something appropriate to secure the rear of the cabinet to the stud. For the remaining anchor points, use a drywall anchor (such as the EZ Anchor). The legs and wall strip take virtually all the weight. The back anchors are mainly just to keep things from wobbling around.
  6. Repeat for the other base cabinets, working your way outwards and securing each cabinet to the cabinets either side.

Corner cabinet

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Tips

  • The cabinet for the sink is going to need holes at the back and possibly the base for the pipes and drain. Rest the cabinet as closely as you can to the wall, then mark and cut the pipe positions before securing the cabinet.
  • Clamp cabinets to each other before you screw them together. It ensures they stay lined up while you tighten the screws
{% endraw %}

Step 5. Install wall cabinets

If you’re Australian, wall cabinets install the same way as base cabinets - but you have to be far more careful about screwing the cabinets into the studs, as there are no legs to support the cabinet.

Corner cabinet

For some odd reason, presumably because Ikea hate Australians, we missed out on the great rail system that North Americans get. On the flip-side, Americans measure their kitchens in bizarre obscure imperial units like “fathoms” and “perches”, while we have a system where everything is divisible by 10 and the world is a happy place.

The reason the American rail system is great is because the cabinet mount points don’t have to line up with the studs. They install a long metal rail along the wall, fixing it to the studs as they need to - and then hang the cabinets off that. Great system!

Step 6. Install drawers

Here is how you install the drawers:

  1. If you bought drawer dampeners, click them into the drawer rails.
  2. Look at the instructions, and count the number of holes from the top or bottom that you need to secure the rails to. I mention this because I had to remove and reinstall a few rails after miscounting holes.
  3. Seat the drawer. To do this, you need to slide the runners all the way out. There are some lines on top of the runner. Sit the back of the drawer on them, then wiggle the drawer so the entire drawer is seated on the runners.
  4. Slam the drawer. I’m not joking. You need to do this to seat the drawer correctly.
  5. Stick the little rubber bumpers on the cabinet frame.

That wasn’t too bad right? unless the drawer didn’t seat properly. If that happened, keep trying. Once you have one drawer sorted, the rest are easy.

Step 7. Handles

To install the handles, you need to buy the drill guide (buy 2, they break easy). Work out where you want to position the handles, and mark the drill guide with a sharpie. I didn’t mark it with a sharpie, and this happened:

Derpy drawer holes

Yes, those holes do not match up to the handle. Whoops.

Step 8. Benchtops

For benchtops, don’t get the cheap laminate. If you do, it will look cheap, and all your friends will judge you. Go for a stone benchtop. You can have ikea supply the stone benchtop - but they will just outsource it to a local company and slap a $500 markup on it.

I rang a few local stone suppliers and finished up with a price of $2100. Most of the other local companies were quoting $3000+, so that is quite a saving. The product I used is Samsung Quantum Quartz. It is reconstituted quartz (a mix of crushed quartz, fillter, and glue), and is much the same as other name brands (such as Silestone or Caesar Stone).

Benchtop

You can have a go at installing a stone benchtop yourself, but when you crack it - there isn’t going to be any form of warranty. This is one task best left to the professionals.

Step 9. Splashbacks / Backsplashes

I could write several pages on Splashbacks (Americans call them Backsplashes, no idea why). There are a lot of options:

  • subway tiles
  • tempered glass
  • stone
  • acrylic

Which one you go with is going to come down to looks and cost. Expect tempered glass to be $1000+, with tiles being the cheapest (if you DIY).

The Ikea splashbacks seem like cheap rubbish. My local Ikea is so embarrassed by them, that they don’t even put them on display - all their display kitchens have subway tiles.

One Last Tip

The best tip I can offer, is get a friend to help. My good friend Jared assembled many cabinets, as well as providing a second set of hands to hold things level while they were screwed into place. You can do it alone, but like most things, DIY is more fun with friends. Especially if they are friends with beer and power tools.

/eof

Floating Floors

If you’re sick of staring at tiles from the 1970’s or you have a concrete slab floor (?), this guide is for you! Laying a floating floor is a great way to update your house.

Materials List

  • Floating floor boards
  • Tapping block
  • Hammer
  • Spacers
  • Underlay
  • Drop Saw
  • Circular or Jig Saw
  • Multi-tool

A floating floor is a type of floor made of interlocking pieces, that “floats” on top of your existing floor (concrete slab or floorboards generally). This is much easier than glueing or nailing a new timber floor down, but has the disadvantage that it needs gaps around the edges to allow the floor to expand and contract. Floating floors range from $15sqm, to over $100sqm. At the lower end of the scale you find thin laminate, and at the upper end hardwoods or bamboo.

Tools

Here are the tools you are going to need:

Floor laying kit

These are available at pretty much any hardware store. They include:

  • tapping block
  • tapping block for tight spaces
  • spacers (plastic wedges)

Hammer

If you don’t already own a hammer, I can’t help you. Stop reading now, go call someone else to do it… then go back to crossword puzzles and watching the Bold & the Beautiful.

Drop Saw

If you don’t have a drop saw, get a drop saw. You could use a jig saw, or a circular saw I guess, but a drop saw will make things go much faster.

drop saw yay!

Jig Saw

If you have any awkward cuts, you will need a jig saw.

Circular/Table Saw

You will need one of these to cut the last few planks length-ways. You could use a jig saw, but you really shouldn’t. It’ll be painful, and probably not overly straight.

Multitool

If you are running up to any door frames, you will need a multi tool. The multi-tool allows you to rebate the base of the door frames and conceal the ends of the plants. A hammer and small chisel will help remove the waste.

Floating Floors can look great

Here are some pictures of recently completed floors. These particular floors are both strand-woven bamboo, costing about AU $40sqm (including underlay).

Carbonised color bamboo

Carbonised colour Bamboo floor.

Natural color bamboo

Natural colour Bamboo floor.

Things to know before starting

  • Is your slab new, or prone to dampness? You’ll need a moisture barrier. In English, that means you need some builders plastic. This goes down before the underlay, and will protect your floor from rising damp.
  • When estimating, allow for an extra 10-15% over and above the area you need to cover. This is for waste from cutting down boards to fit corners, angles, end of the room… and also when you are a numpty like me who cuts a board back to front, then upside down, then back to front again.
  • Once a board is locked in place, and has boards locked on all 4 sides, it is not coming out. So, if you have to replace a stuffed board, it is going to be nothing except pain and suffering. Make sure you check each board before you lay it, to ensure it doesn’t have obvious defects (scratches, chips, etc).
  • Expansion joints between rooms. Some companies specify that you must include these every x number of meters. My supplier explicitly told me not to use them. Make sure you find out either way.

Laying the Floor

  • floor with holes

    1

    Assuming you are laying over a concrete floor, you are going to need to make sure it is level. If you don't, floor boards will squeak, and the floor may have a springy feel when you walk on it. To level it, grab a decent length spirit level, or even a nice true (straight) length of wood. Use a sharpy or chalk and mark any depressions. To fill in the depressions, I used a product called "Dunlop Floor Repairer - Rapid Patch".
  • laying underlay

    2

    At this point, if you are going to run the floor under your skirting boards you will need to remove them (see elsewhere on this page).

    Now you can roll out your underlay. Underlay should run the opposite direction to your floor boards (ideally). Roll the underlay out to the other side of the room. Tuck the starting side under the drywall, and put something heavy on it, or get a friend to hold it.

    Back on the other side of the room, unroll a bit more than you need, and cut the underlay off.

    Now push the underlay down against the wall (under the dry wall a little if possible), and use a stanley knife to cut away the excess. Repeat until the room is done. cutting underlay

  • laying boards

    3

    It is important to stagger the floor boards in a fairly random pattern, otherwise you will end up with a grid. A grid floor won't be as strong, and will look dumb, so don't do that.

    Start with a full board. The board should start a small distance from the wall (the gap should be small enough to cover with scotia or skirting boards). Use wedges/spacers to ensure a consistant gap.

    For the second row, cut a board about 1/3rd of the way down, then attach the next board to it.

    You should only be cutting boards at the start and end of each row, all boards in between should be full length.

  • more boards

    4

    For subsequent rows, stagger the boards randomly, making sure that no starting boards sit next to a board of the same length.

    To finish a row, you will have to cut the board down so it will fit against the wall. To do this, lay the board up against the wall, then flip it on the short edge. The board should now be upside down, and the wrong way around. Push it back against the wall, then use a sharpie to draw a line about 1 fingers width from the board it will connect to (this will allow room for the boards to lock together). You should now be able to lock the board into place.

  • Final board

    5

    In a perfect world, you will have a space left exactly the width of one board. Otherwise you will need to cut a board length ways. Measure the remaining gap, then subtract a small amount for your expansion/scotia/skirting gap. By far the best tool to cut length ways is a table saw. The second best tool is a circular saw. The 3rd best is a jig saw. Anything else is a waste of time.
  • Finishing

    6

    Ok, you should now be able to get your last row locked in, but the fun doesn't stop there. Now you either need to put down scotia, or skirting boards. You also need to add your door transitions.

Tips

Here’s some tips I picked up along the way.

How to cut lengthways with a Circular saw

Sometimes we need to cut a plank lengthways to fit a tight spot down the side of a room. Ideally, use a table saw. If you don’t have a friend with one of these, you can use a circular saw instead.

I’ve found the best way to do it is to turn the plank upside down (this puts the rough cut on the bottom of the board), then clamp a long piece of timber to it, and use the timber as a guide for your saw.

You can free hand cut (after marking the line to cut!), but make sure you have the board clamped securely to a saw horse.

Dealing with Doorways

You will need to rebate the door frames. This means cutting a slot in the lower part of the door frame for the board to slot into. This hides the end of the board, and keeps everything looking neat.

  1. Use an offcut board as a guide. Push it up against the door frame.
  2. Using a pencil, draw a line along the door frame - using the board as a guide.
  3. Get out your multi tool and cut along the line. I found I could rest the multitool on top of the board I used as a guide. This kept the cut straight.
  4. Use a small chisel and hammer to tap the waste out.

You should now be able to slot the board in.

rebating doorway

Handling silly angles

Unless your room is a perfect square, you will probably have to deal with some silly angles around door ways or other obstacles. In this case, make a template out of cardboard. Once you are happy with the template, flip it over and place it on the back of the floor board and trace the cutting lines with a sharpie. Then, use a jig saw to cut out the shape.

template

silly angles

Corners

When marking cut lines for corners, remember to mark on the back of the board, and cut upside down, this minimises tearout. Since you are marking on the back of the board, remember to reverse your cut lines, otherwise when you cut it - everything will be backwards!

Make sure you mark the waste section with x’s. It makes it easier to get it right while doing a cut. A jigsaw is the best way to handle these sort of cuts.

cuting corners

Room Transitions

How do we deal with transitions from floating floor to carpet (or other surfaces)? Use transition strips. They come either flat, or as “ramps”, and come in a variety of finishes - either timber look, stainless, or bronze.

The timber strips are generally made of metal, with a sticker or paint over the top.

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Warning
  • Cut transition strips using a hacksaw. Do not use a drop saw. I overestimated my drop saw, and came dangerously close to crapping my pants… or worse.
{% endraw %}

To install transition strips, the process is generally:

  1. Use a hammer drill to drill a series of holes into your slab / floor.
  2. Slot plugs into the bottom of the transition strip.
  3. Line up the plugs with the holes, and lightly tap the strip into place with a rubber mallet.

rebating doorway

Scotia or Skirting?

Scotia is quarter rounded lengths of timber that can be placed at the bottom of your existing skirting boards to cover the gap around the edges of the floor boards. Generally, scotia is going to be a lot easier to install. Removing skirting boards is a pain in the arse. That said, removing and re-fixing the skirting is going to give a cleaner job.

scotia

This picture shows some scotia purchased from Masters Hardware. Bunnings have scotia too, but the stuff at Masters looks nicer.

/eof

Ordering an Ikea Kitchen is as much fun as riding a cheese grater

Look at your tired old kitchen. Do you need to replace it? Look at all those happy people with new Ikea kitchens on the Internet.

Ez-Anchor

I think those people are all either lying, or they have Stockholm syndrome. I can’t think of any other reason they look so happy. Could be the Swedish meatballs I guess.

Let me walk you through designing and ordering an Ikea kitchen…

Step 1. Design your new kitchen

You can use the Ikea Home Planner to design your home kitchen in glorious 3d. Simply load the page on your average basic PC (suggested minimum: Quantum computer, 2Tb RAM, triple next gen video cards running in SLI configuration). Once your browser has installed the plugin, you’re going to encounter these issues:

  1. The Kitchen Planner is very slow. It doesn’t seem to matter how fast your pc is.
  2. Placing furniture is frustrating, eventually you discover that if you keep the button down until the box turns green, you can place the item without it snapping onto the wrong wall/cabinet.
  3. Sometimes door handles and rangehoods are placed half inside cupboards. You cannot do anything about it.
  4. You may run into authentication issues if your session expires…. try to log into Home Planner, then you get redirected to the main site, then get an error message, hit refresh and go to the Ikea family login screen, reload, try again… bam, you’re in.

Handle is half hanging off the cabinet. Who knows why
Pictured: note the high degree of accuracy provided by the designer

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Design Tips

  • Cover panels. You need cover panels. You’ll need them for the end of your benches. Calculate how many you need before going to Ikea, then have the staff double check your numbers and sizes. A word of warning, they will not cut them to size. They will give you bigger panels than you need, then wish you luck.
  • If you want soft close doors, you need hinge dampeners.
  • Ikea hinges come in two varieties 125 and 153 degree. 153 allow you to open doors wider - but you can’t use soft close dampers (at least not the Ikea dampers). Also, the 153 degree hinges may cause the door to hit the item next to it (in my case, my fridge).
  • Decide if you want “push to open” doors and drawers. Push to Open sounds cool, but in reality, those shiny new door/drawer fronts may not look as great with finger prints all over them. Push to Open looks better, but handles are far more practical.
{% endraw %}

Step 2. Head In-Store and Order your kitchen

I took the morning off work, thinking I would have my order sorted within 2 hours. No. It ended up taking nearly 7 hours.

I’m not kidding. 7 hours. Here is where the time went:

  • 45 minutes navigating through the Ikea maze to get to the kitchen counter (to be honest I did spend a bit of time checking out the kitchen displays)
  • 2 hours with first staff member, prepping the order
  • 30 minutes waiting for “on the spot” finance approval
  • 2.5 hours for a second staff member, who was fixing up all the first staff members mistakes
  • 30 minutes getting odds and ends that do not go out for delivery (handles, drill templates, etc)

Any time left was spent waiting at registers. I hate to think of how long it would take if I hadn’t already finished my design. I’d probably still be there.

At one point, I had to jog to the cafeteria and grab a snack and drink, then jog back to the kitchen counter. My wife and I were stuck there for hours - and there is nowhere to get food and drink (no vending machines, taps, nothing). Make sure you take a water bottle with you.

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Ordering Tips

  • Cover panels. Don’t forget to have a staff member verify what you need.
  • Have you design as close to complete as possible before you go in, and double check your measurements.
  • Get the door handle drill template. You’ll need it.
  • If you buy a sink, get the sink tap hole punch. No one else seems to sell them, and drilling through a sink with a holesaw is not much fun.
  • Take a bottle of water and a snack. You will probably be there a while.
{% endraw %}

Step 3. Receive your Kitchen

24 hours later, 83 boxes of kitchen were delivered. Now the real fun begins.

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Things to buy/sort before you start assembling

  • Buy a cheap laser level. Bosch do a good one called the Quingo, you can get one for about $50
  • Buy clamps. Irwin quick change clamps are great. Use them to hold cabinets together before attaching them to each other.
  • If you need to replace any plasterboard, or have any power points run - do it now. It is much much easier to do these thngs before installing your kitchen (under .au law, you need a licenced Electrician to do this).
  • Be prepared for unpleasant surprises. I removed the old cabinets, and found a ton of water damaged plaster board (very old water damage). I had to spend some time resheeting the walls.
  • Don’t forget plumbing! Do you need to to buy new pipework? Probably, unless you already have the sink in the right spot, and braided lines.
{% endraw %}

(to be continued in part 2…)

/eof

Mount a network cabinet

My home network is a little… disorganised. I have 2 or 3 switches residing around the house, PoE, WiFi, and various cobbled together partially wired sections. Time to get organised. Time to get a rack!

I like racks

If you haven’t seen 4Cabling, go have a look. They sell all sorts of networking gear at reasonable prices and they deliver fast. They shipped a rack to me in 24 hours for $10 shipping. I have no idea how that is even possible, given that I’m two states away.

I purchased a shiny new 6RU wall mount rack, a patch panel, a 24 port GigE switch, and 24 patch cables that are too short.

To mount a rack, here are the tools you will need:

  • drill
  • level
  • hole saw (maybe)

You will also need timber screws or timber bolts - with enough strength to hold the rack to the wall.

Installing the cabinet

  • A picture of a rack

    1

    First things first. Measure up the network cabinet. Have a look at all the access points. You need to decide where the cables are going to come in. From the top, side, or base. Remove the cover over that panel. The front door will (hopefully) mount on either side.
  • A picture of my laundry

    2

    Find a nice place to mount it. Check that you have space to open the door.
  • Tape measure against wall

    3

    Double check those measurements. Go back to the rack and look for some mounting holes in the back. Those holes should be in a removeable mounting panel. Remove the panel.
  • Mounting plate against wall

    4

    Go back to your installation location. Use a stud finder to find two wall studs (unless you have brick). Mark the centre of the studs. The stud spacing should match up to 2 of the holes in the mounting panel. Match the holes to the studs, and mark the holes on the wall. Hold a level up and ensure the holes are level (you may need to adjust the holes up or down a bit.)
  • Stupid broken drill bit

    :(

    I broke a drill bit, then I had to use a bigger drill bit to drill it out.
  • Picture of a very attractive bolt

    5

    This is the type of bolts I am using to mount the cabinet. They are high tensile galvanised wood bolts. To use these, first pre-drill a hole the same width as the timber bolt. The hole should be slightly deeper than the length of the bolt. If you don't do this, it will be very hard to drive in.
  • A rachet doing rachety things

    6

    Use a rachet to drive the bolt in (going through the mount plate and into the stud). Put some petroleum jelly on it first, so it is easier to drive in. Make sure you go slowly and carefully. If you go too fast, you will snap the head of the bolt off. It is easier to snap than you might think.
  • a levelled mounting plate

    7

    At this point, check the mount plate is level. You may need to loosen one of the bolts and adjust up or down slightly, then re-tighten. If it is not level, your cabinet will not be level.
  • a hole saw

    8

    Remember how I asked if you want side or top entry cables? That's important now. You will need to drill a hole with a hole saw in either the ceiling or wall for the cabling to run through.
  • ghetto conduit

    9

    I used 90mm PVC (storm water!) pipe. I put a 90 degree bend in the ceiling (from the top!) and attached 2m of pipe. This means I can easily feed cable through from inside the ceiling. It's a bit neater to use proper conduit, if you have it on hand.
  • a cabinet with the reflection of a developer

    10

    Now lift the cabinet up into place. I found that I had to bend the metal mounting tabs on the mount plate outwards slightly. You can probably remove the door to lighten the load a little. Once done, re-mount and open the door and put a couple of screws back into the mount plate. Stand back and admire yourself..*cough*.. admire your work.

All done! The rest is easy. Just install a cat6 patch panel, gigabit switch, and run cable through your walls. No worries mate.

/eof

Build a base for your shed

When I moved into my house I inherited a very sad looking shed. It was jammed inbetween the house and the side fence, and sitting on dirt. Part of the shed had rusted, and it leaked. Now I could have paid someone $1000 to put down a concrete pad, but I already had sleepers, gravel, and some old pavers - more than enough for a shed base!

Materials List

  • 2 x Sleepers
  • Gravel
  • Roadbase
  • Sand
  • Pavers
  • Hex head batten screws
  • (small) L-brackets

One Sad Shed

I literally picked up and carried the shed to a new spot, and left it there, looking a little sad.

Sad shed

I felt bad for the poor little guy, so I cut the rust out of the sides, and pop riveted in some new panels. I even cut out a section of the roof, and put in a skylight using laserlight panels and a metric ton of silicon. The shed looked a lot happier, but still needed a solid base. To build my base I needed the items on my shopping list, and the following tools:

  • drill/driver
  • circular saw
  • shovel
  • level
  • mallet

Building the new base

  • 1

    First things first. Get your shovel, and level the spot where the base is going to go. Make sure you clear an area at least 30cm (1 foot for Dinosaurs or our American friends) wider than the size of the shed - so you have enough space to work.
  • schematic of shed base

    2

    Measure your shed. You will need to cut your sleepers so that two are the same width as the shed, and 2 are the same depth. Lay them out so that each sleeper end buts against the side of another sleeper. See the diagram showing how to layout the sleepers, and where the screws are going to go.
  • timber base

    3

    Using the diagram from step 2, use a drill and pre-drill a hole for each batten screw. For each location shown in the diagram, you should use 2 batten screws (one above the other). Drive the screws in with a driver if you have one, or drill if you don't.
  • box filled with rocks

    4

    Fill the box with gravel. It should about 2/3rds of the way up. Take a sleeper off cut, and use it to compact the gravel.
  • starting to pave

    5

    If you have road base, put about an inch over the gravel and compact it. If not, put a layer of sand over the gravel (about an inch), then compact it. Once done, put another inch of sand over the top and then use your spirit level to smooth it out and level the surface. Now you can start laying pavers!
  • lay pavers

    6

    When laying pavers, keep in mind that these will sit inside a shed. They do not have to be perfect. Lay a test row of pavers on the sand, and see if they will fit without too big a gap on the side. You can adjust the gap between each paver to try and get a good fit. If you cannot find a good spacing, you will need to cut or break some pavers to fill the final gap - see the note at the bottom of this page.

    Once you are happy, lift the row back up and re-level the pavers. Take your first paver, lay it down, then whack it with a rubber mallet. Repeat this until all pavers are in place.

    Once all the pavers are laid out, spread a few cups of sand over the pavers, then sweap the sand into the gaps with a soft broom.

  • lift shed into place

    7

    Now you can lift the shed onto the new base. It's handy if you have a friend to help. If not, bad luck, but you should still lift the shed up. Once the shed is in place, use the L-Brackets to secure the shed to the base. They are best placed as close to each corner as you can. Drive a screw through the bracket, into the timber base. Drive another screw into the shed itself through the bracket (self tapping metal screws work best). The idea is that your shed won't blow away in a cyclone.

    If you are feeling creative, you can build a small ramp or steps going into the shed. If you're lazy like me, just stack a couple of bricks in front of the door and call it a day.

All done! You can stop reading here, unless you need to cut some pavers…

Note - Cutting / Breaking Pavers

So, you need to cut/break some pavers to finish the job?

You could google it, and some nice chap on google will tell you that you can use a Brickie’s Bolster to do it. That is pretty much a huge ass chisel… and it’s crap. I don’t know if I just have really horrible pavers, or I’m just uncoordinated - but I could never get a clean break. For the inside of a shed, by all means you can try a brickie’s bolster. It’s probably just as easy to hurl the paver onto a piece of concrete, and use the fragments. Sure it’s not neat, but if you’re paving inside a shed, who’s gonna care?

If you really want to cut a paver properly you need a BLOODY BIG ANGLE GRINDER. Because I don’t need much excuse to buy power tools, I took off to Bunnings and got myself an Ozito 9” angle grinder and a diamond tipped blade. Yes, Ozito may not be the top brand, but Bunnings are happy to swap them when they break (unlike Aldi who get very suspicious when you have not one but two rotary hammer drils catch fire).

A 9” grinder with a diamond blade is literally a death machine. If you do try one, be aware that if you come in contact with the blade you will not just scratch yourself, you will probably take half the limb off. I won’t go near mine without safety glasses, a face shield, and steel cap boots. On the plus side, you feel tough and manly when you are holding a 9” ANGLE GRINDER. You can slice through pavers like butter, cut bricks with ease, and it won’t take long before you look at the neighbours cat… back at the 9” ANGLE GRINDER then back at the annoying cat.

Stupid cat.

/eof

Build a ceiling storage system for your garage

Materials List

  • 4 x (A) Pine 89x19mm wide
  • 2 x (B) Pine 70x35mm
  • 6 x Plastic storage tubs
  • 1 x Wood Glue
  • Countersunk Screws Phillips Head

Are you out of storage space in your garage? No where left to put up shelves? No space for cupboards?

I’m going to show you how to build a ceiling storage system for your garage. This system uses plastic tubs that slide into place on timber rails, and can be assembled in a single afternoon.

Materials

First, select the storage tubs you want to use. They need to be sturdy enough that you can fill them to the brim whilst supporting them from both sides. Some cheap tubs have too much flex - so as soon as you put things in them, the sides will bend and the tub would fall out of the rail.

When selecting your timber, the rail (A) will need to be wide enough for the lip of the tub to rest on it.

The spacer (B) provides seperation between the rails, and gives structural strength.

I found that a piece of house framing timber (about 35mm thick x 70mm wide) is perfect to go between the rails. For the rails, I went with 89x19mm timber.

Storage Rail Close Up
Storage Rail Close Up

Build Instructions

1. Cut the timber

Decide how many tubs you want to have per rail (lenth ways). Once you know that, you can work out how long the rails will need to be.

The formula is (number of tubs) * (tub width + 40mm)

The extra 40mm ensures you have space between tubs.

Once you have this length you can use it to cut the following for each rail you want to make: - 2 of the rails (A) - 1 of the spacers (B)

2. Find Ceiling Position

Now is a good time to work out where you will put them on the ceiling. To do this, you will need to find your ceiling trusses.

For reference, here is a diagram of what a trussed roof looks like (image source: Industructables).

If you get lucky, a stud finder will pick them up. If your house is more than 10 years old (like mine!) you will most likely discover the plaster board (gyprock) has sagged a little. This will make your stud finder about as useful as a bicycle to a fish.

Finding the first roof truss is the hard part. One way to do it, is to look at your ceiling from an angle and make an educated guess about where the truss may be (look for divots indicating screws under the plaster). From there, drill a tiny hole with a small drill bit. Hopefully you will hit timber. If not, move along a small distance and try again.

Once you have found the first truss, the second one will evenly spaced. I had a look in my ceiling, and found my trusses are 600mm apart. This meant I could drill 600mm along from the first truss I found, and bingo, there is the second truss.

If you have a friend, get them to hold the timber (A) against the ceiling, where you plan to hang it. Mark the drill holes on the timber (one in each corner). The drill holes must line up with the trusses. If you don’t have a friend, use your best circus performer skills to hold the timber in place, and mark the drill holes.

3. Assemble Rails

  1. Lay (A) down. Mark the centre line (length ways) with a pencil.
  2. Drill a pilot hole every 20cm. Repeat this for your other (A) sized timber.
  3. Lay down one of the (B) pieces of timber with the short edge facing upwards. Run a line of wood glue down the timber, then place one of the (A) pieces on top (centred). Get your drill, and drive the screws into the pilot holes created earlier. Repeat this process for the other side.
  4. Repeat until all rails are complete.

4. Fix rails to ceiling

  1. Before attempting to fix the rails to the ceiling, double check the spacing between them. Lay them down on the floor at your planned spacing, and rest a storage tub on them. You want to be very careful to get this right, because taking them back down from the ceiling and refixing them is a lot of extra work.
  2. To fix the rails to the ceiling, use either lag bolts or batten screws. They need to be of sufficient strength to hold full containers, so a thickness of at least 10G is a good ideaa. Batten screws are easier, as you can drill them in from an angle. Lag bolts will look better, but may be difficult (your socket set might not fit!). Having a friend that can help here is a huge advantage. When fixing the screws/bolts they MUST go through the ceiling trusses. If they do not, your rail will fall down as soon as you put any weight on it.

5. Done!

All done! If needed, you can fix a small piece of timber to the backs of the rails to act as a “stopper” so the drawers don’t fall off the back of the rail if pushed too far. A handy tip for labelling, is to put a strip of masking tape along the bottom of the storage box. Write the contents on it with a sharpy.

I’ve had this storage system in place for 6 months, and it has worked great. Post a comment if you give this a try.

Photo of finished storage system
Finished System

/eof