Learning DIY

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Bragging rights in Shitland in the 60’s was probably who could afford a coal fire.

We all had coal fires back then, it was leccy we didn't have
 
Time constraints of the curriculum :( .

I went to a comprehensive. I loved woodwork in the first two years, but it was abandoned in favour of specific academic subjects in year three. My parents had even bought me a starter-kit of 3 chisels, tennon(?)saw, plane, all of which I still have/use. I never got near mettle work classes.

However, by the sixth form (1967/8 ?), I decided to make my own electric guitar. The body was a beautiful piece of crafted wood . . . that years later, my father threw-out :( .

I went to the mettle work classroom, and explained I'd like to make a couple of knurled volume/tone knobs. Not sure if it was because he was short of pupils, or just because he was a very committed teacher, but in-between my A-level lessons, and his formal classes, he led me through all the different stages. I know they are in the house somewhere, having followed me around for the last 55 years, but no idea where !! ;) .

" I never got near mettle work classes".

Probably just as well. It's metalwork.
 
Go on YouTube and search something like "projects built with wood"
read up on basic small projects that will teach you how to do joints,
and you're on your way.
Before you start on a project, make a plan on how to do it,
and stick to the plan,
Do not rush the job.
Agreed, though I would *also* say winging it & making mistakes can be good instruction!
Example: making a box, even without dovetails/tenons.
a) not paying attention to which side of a line you're cutting means you can be 3-5mm off at the end;
b) drill/drivers are great for screwing things together, but if you use them at full-pelt you can end up splitting wood, snapping screws and the torque can pull joints out.
c) how to accidently make a parallelogram

Edit a decent combination square (Bahco, not cheapo stanley B&Q?) makes things easier, quicker, generally more satisfying. A cheap wobbley one will make things confusing :)
 
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. . . . 3 things I won’t touch, Gas, anything more electrical than replacing a light fitting or working at heights. Of course I still hire trades and don’t DIY everything, you have to be part of the economy and I would rather be sat in my arse watching sport than digging anything or breaking a sweat. I would have a gardener too but the wife said no, then makes me feel bad not doing it, so whereas I could go to work and earn 5 x a lawnmower person, she still doesn’t see it and I end up working my time off.
Gas plumbing is just like water (high-pressure/supply) plumbing !! Obviously make sure it is, both are, TURNED OFF first ;) .

I like electrics . . . ever since - as a lad - I bought my parents an electric alarm clock. The old wind-up device lost so much time, father had to calculate how much in advance, he should set the clock, before going to bed, between his shift work. I asked if I could wire-in the new alarm clock, and was told yes. I gauged a reasonable distance along the flex, between the plug/socket, and the actual bed-headboard reading light, bent over the wire, and attacked it with a pair of scissors . . . ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU UNPLUG or TURN-OFF THE ELECTRICS !! Lesson learnt !

Many years later - up in Scotland - I read about "Radial" house wiring (which my Miller Homes house had), and "Ring Main" which would more safely accommodate the additional sockets I wished to install. Switching-on everything electrical in the house, then turning off, one-at-a-time, each of the fuses, I learnt we had four radial circuits. Two upstairs, and two downstairs. It was then a case of dropping down wire (inside the brick wall cavity !!), from the socket at the extremity of an upstairs radial, and then joining-it to a convenient socket at the extremity of an downstairs radial. I did that twice, and ended-up with TWO "Ring Mains", both with two fuses, on the fuse board. Bloody uncomfortable, crawling around under the ground-floor floor-boards, particularly when the space was strewn with half-bricks, lumps of cement, builders empty fag packets, etc. I asked the "electricity board" to come and check it. He applied clips from his meter, to several points of my handiwork, and said it was OK.

According to Google maps, street scene, the place is still standing !!

Note: this was the 1980s, before "Home computers" had been invented - never mind the inter-web - to use for reference !! ;) .

 
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Slime

LE
Hopefully youtube should be an excellent place to learn things.

A lot will depend on what DIY you want to do.
I find that there a lot of things DIYers do but have no idea why they are doing them, or why things didn’t work as planned, this shows the difference between a DIY relying on ‘monkey see monkey do’ as opposed to a tradesman/woman who knows why to something.

If any person is new to DIY a good (and obvious) thing to do is practice as many skills as possible before actually working on a project. If it’s considered that many DIY projects are not only the initial and only prototype, but are also the finished result :)

Learning to use tools correctly also sounds obvious, but is worth spending as much time as you can on, it will pay dividends.
Some things should be obvious, but just look how many people:
Hold a hammer half way down the shaft.
Use a hand file in both directions on metal.
Use adjustable spanners with the adjustable jaw following the action rather than leading.
Use a hand saw but only do short jerky strokes utilising a tiny portion of the blade.
 

Yokel

LE
One of the reasons for my interest in the local men's shed is to work with others with different skills that complement each other. Whilst my woodwork skills may be limited, I do have some basic abilities. I have other skills that I can offer - the notice mentioned electronics.

However the social aspects are just as important for me, and building a local network of contacts.
 
“DIY” is an enormously wide descriptive term. It includes everything from concreting a driveway through repairing a leaking washing machine, building a shed, putting shelves up, through making tables and chairs, small projects etc.

But each of those things has some common aspects (less the washing machine).

Firstly I consider “why am I doing this”. Generally it’s to save money vs buying something, or paying somebody to do something. Occasionally it’s to build skills (as in your case) and sometimes just plain old “because I want to”. All are valid, but frankly sometimes the first one just doesn’t work out.

Let’s say we’re going to make a tool tote. Like this:

1626616214588.jpeg


Before even getting near it, I’d consider whether I could buy one, and if so, how much/what is the benefit of making it vs buying it. Assuming I’m now going to make it, I’d consider what I’m going to be carrying in it. That subtends “how big does it need to be”, which subtends “how strong does it need to be”, which then gives me a basic idea of the design.

If it’s an Ornamental thing with some small flowers in it that would sit on a windowsill, I can make it out of thinner wood, and just nailed joints. No need to make it any more complex than that. If it’s going to hold a 3lb hammer, a couple of power tools and box of screws, I’d consider proper joinery, dovetail or tenoned joints.

if it’s dovetail or tenoned joints, I’d probably use solid wood, not plywood for the sides. How am I going to hold the base in? A groove along the sides and ends would be ideal. But how am I going to cut both that and the joinery? Do I have access to a table saw and router, or is it hand tools only? These things drive the design. Or perhaps tool acquisition. Perhaps this project is the trigger that justifies a router.

What about finishing it? If it’s basically a flower pot, perhaps paint is the way forward. Will it go outside? If so, and it’s for tools, I’ll varnish it. If I’ve gone to the effort of making dovetail joints, I’ll probably stain it before varnishing it, and my grandkids will have it in 50 years’ time and say “this was Grandpa’s”.

There are many facets to even a simple project like this, but getting the design and method right going into it make the project run more smoothly and produce a better outcome.
 
I need to improve my practical DIY skills. My father is a retired electrician, and my brother is a landscaper. Both are generally good at practical stuff - my brother can build things from wood, build small walls, plaster a wall, and things like that.....

I'm lucky enough to have learned a lot at school. More from a couple of relatives, and some more from people I've worked with.

I've picked up a few useful books along the way - charity shops etc,. This is one I'd recommend. I prefer the older editions, they seem to "dumb-down" as time goes on and fill everything with OTT graphics:

1626619428783.png
 
I bought a house that needed fixing up when I left the army and went to uni. I bought myself a weighty readers digest DIY book, some cheap tools and set about it. I didn't have a clue, learnt as I went on and probably kept a couple of companies making filler in business. At the end of the day though the house had gone up in value with the dodgy bodge work time and craftsmanship I put into the place so we decided to do another.......and so it went.

When I finally stepped out of uni the jobs I was offered were paying about a third of what I had made the previous year fixing up a house. I stepped into property development and being a full-time dad. The first proper course I did was as a result of a visit by British Gas. I wanted a gas boiler putting in a village house that had previously run on oil, in the years since the build BG had laid gas in the street. The nice man from BG told me it would cost £5500.00 to put in a boiler so I called the college in Leamington Spa and he told me I would be able to do it myself after 6 months on the city & guild plumbing (& gas) course. I did. That course was followed by the advanced plumbing course, along with 2 evenings a week for 10 weeks learning plastering techniques and 2 evenings a week for a few months learning brickying.

Inspired by seeing an article, then reading Ron Champions book on how to build a Lotus 7 type sportscar for £25.00 I learnt welding. Mig welding city & guilds, 2 evenings a week for an academic year at Hinckley. I never built the car, but I had always wanted to do metal work at school so I had scratched an itch............and the knowledge (I won't say skill) has come in handy a few times over the years.

In the US I did the electricians certificate after I was quoted $6800.00 to install a new $400'ish fuse box. I have done half of the air conditioning engineers course which was useful last week. Had the annual service of the units done and he told me they both needed new capacitors. Hmmm, how much? $600 to you sir. I bought the capacitors off @mazon for $20 - $22 a piece, and it took me ten minutes to change them. $560 saved.

I am just finishing off my final essay for an undergraduate certificate in construction management. The reason I have taken that is to manage the build of a house I am having built, got the land, got the plan, just tweaking the financials, and the fixtures and fittings.

Plenty of colleges in the UK running courses, always something new, and interersting to learn out there. There is also this place for anyone in that area:


Manufacturers and suppliers also run courses for installers, many of them freebies, and to be honest some of the one's I attended had non-trades DIY'ers attending too.
 
I'm lucky enough to have learned a lot at school. More from a couple of relatives, and some more from people I've worked with.

I've picked up a few useful books along the way - charity shops etc,. This is one I'd recommend. I prefer the older editions, they seem to "dumb-down" as time goes on and fill everything with OTT graphics:

View attachment 589763
I have that somewhere about the house, I think my father gave it to me as he thought it might be of use, he was right, as he so often was though I didn’t always see it that way.
 
....Plenty of colleges in the UK running courses, always something new, and interersting to learn out there.....

Sadly, it might vary around the country, but a lot of the mid-level evening classes have disappeared over the last couple of decades. The sort of course that was ideal for the keen and experienced amateur. It's the way the education system has developed.
 
Learning to use tools correctly also sounds obvious, but is worth spending as much time as you can on, it will pay dividends.
Some things should be obvious, but just look how many people:
Hold a hammer half way down the shaft.
Use a hand file in both directions on metal.
Use adjustable spanners with the adjustable jaw following the action rather than leading.
Use a hand saw but only do short jerky strokes utilising a tiny portion of the blade.


Screw

887585.jpg





Screwdriver


ae235
 
Learning to use tools correctly also sounds obvious, but is worth spending as much time as you can on, it will pay dividends.
Some things should be obvious, but just look how many people:...

Use a hand saw but only do short jerky strokes utilising a tiny portion of the blade.

Nothing boils my piss more than picking up a hacksaw with the middle two inches of the blade worn! Impossible to take a full a stroke, waste of a blade.
 

CharleyBourne

Old-Salt
Our first house was a clapped out old fishermans place, within spitting distance of the sea (or less if the wind was in the right direction). I did a lot of DIY there, but I was lucky because my Father in Law was really handy and taught me a lot. Right now we're in the middle of replacing the kitchen, and some of those old skills are coming in useful.

Perhaps the tip I have is that there are old blokes out there who can pass on their years of experience to the youngsters like you. Do you know any of your old neighbours who used to be tradies? If you have a job in hand ask around and see if there is someone who used to do that kind of work and have a chat to them. It might come down to you feeding them cups of tea while they sit and watch you do the job, chipping in hints alon g the way.
Bought my first house at 28 with no DIY experience. Several years on and I am ok, can tile, do a bit of plumbing (having had to rectify the mistakes that "professional plumbers" have made), fitted a kitchen and two bathrooms, re-roofed outbuildings etc, paths, gates etc. Not an expert and very slow but get a sense of achievement from it. Helped immensely by my neighbour and friend who did 25 years in the R.E.

Don't let him near plant however. He was supposed to take a few inches off my front drive so I could surface it, but started going down to Oz. "Sapper Red Mist" he called it. I'd like to have seen the airfields he was constructing/repairing in his days as a POM.
 
....Helped immensely by my neighbour and friend who did 25 years in the R.E.

Don't let him near plant however. He was supposed to take a few inches off my front drive so I could surface it, but started going down to Oz. "Sapper Red Mist" he called it. I'd like to have seen the airfields he was constructing/repairing in his days as a POM.

There must have been a soft spot. He was doing you a favour.
 
One thing worth learning is type of screw to utilise, length of screw and Importantly

 

homeworker

War Hero
Last year I took a ‘white goods’ repair course - washing machines, fridge, electric cooker, microwave, freezer. I won’t say that I am perfect but I now know what is worth repairing and what is not and I can do most things for myself. Taking that sort of training is good for the confidence. Next I want to do locksmithing, particularly locks in upvc products - they annoy me because their repair seems to be the domain of double glazing bods who suck through their teeth and then try to palm you off with a new window/door costing an arm and leg.
 
Sadly, it might vary around the country, but a lot of the mid-level evening classes have disappeared over the last couple of decades. The sort of course that was ideal for the keen and experienced amateur. It's the way the education system has developed.

I know what you mean about closures. I went along to Rugby college to enquire about their lathing and milling City & Guilds only to be told that due to the closure of a major works in the town the course was shut down. No more apprentices coming through for training so it was not financially worth the colleges time to maintain the department.

I have listed some colleges I have personal experience of below. They generally do not list their short courses on their websites, or in their prospectuses. Give them a call and ask. Better yet, get yourself on a level 2 C&G course in whatever skill you desire, 2 evenings a week for an academic year, starting in September finished the following May and you will be qualified, have a piece of paper, and a useable skill. As soon as people know you have a construction skill if you want to earn extra, trust me, people will come knocking. When I was a Special constable as soon as it got around I was a gas qualified plumber I was getting calls from control room civvys to Chief Superintendents.

Added bonus is you get to meet people on the courses who are generally like-minded, and usually have other skills that they are simply adding to.

If anyone is in the Midlands I can from experience recommend:

Northampton College for general construction and DIY skills courses. Full time courses | Adult Courses | HE | Apprenticeship

Warwickshire college group (I did C&G plumbing & gas at Leamington Spa, short bricky course at Rugby). https://wcg.ac.uk/page/2/study

Leicester college (I did the short plastering course), they also run other skills courses. You searched for plastering | Leicester College

North Warks & south Leics College ( I did the Mig welding C&G here). You searched for welding - NWSLC

Further north:

Leeds college of building, I stuck my nose in here for a while for some basic short courses, how to hold a paintbrush, how not to drop a hammer on your foot, using a screwdriver, etc. They are very good, I knew a couple of lads at uni who started out learning a trade there before stepping up to uni. Home

South West:

Swindon, New College. The Mrs did finance here, and a good mate, ex-RM, did a 6 month, full-time, bricky course here. Within 2 years he had his own firm and was employing a dozen blokes, doing contracts, and making well over £100K a year. Course search - New College Swindon
 
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