The Carpenter's Daughter – Girl Power DIY, Camper Van Travel, &..
Hi, I’m Vikkie and I’m a carpenter’s daughter, taking the advice of my father to tackle almost every thinkable DIY project in our very first home. Girls can do DIY too! I'm renovating our first home and blog about how I've done it and what I've learnt.
While I’ve been renovating my home since 2014, I always take my time on each job. It’s not a race and I cannot be rushed along until I get things right. I’m still saving money on each job, so what’s the problem?
And there’s a number of reasons why I think everyone should cautiously work at their own pace:
I’m always weighing up the risks of what could go wrong on each job
I’m learning while I work, so don’t always know what the next step is
Rushing things can lead to costly mistakes or permanent errors I may not want to live with
I only like using power tools when I absolutely have to as I haven’t had any formal training
I like to stay safe and I’m not a fan of pain
I also have to rely on tales from more experienced people have witnessed, like my subscribers, YouTube tutorials and my Dad who’s a professional.
So while I’ve been renovating on a budget, I’ve also been slowly building up my safety-wear collection. Each new job comes with a whole new set of risks and I don’t want to face any irreparable damage. If you haven’t got much in the way of safety gear, then here’s a few of my most reached for items since getting started:
Gloves: prevents cuts, slices, exposure to chemicals (like cement) and splinters
Goggles: prevents chemicals, sawdust, wood or masonry chips flying in to my eyes
Clothing that covers all my skin: prevents chemicals, grazes/knocks or even sunburn
Knee pads or kneeling pad: protects the knee from chemicals or wear and tear on the joints
Respirator: prevents breathing in dust or toxic fumes
Safety boots with steel toe caps: prevents broken or painful toes!
No matter how big or small my job is, I also have to wear appropriate attire so that I lead by example. And if I take you back to when I grouted my own kitchen after tiling, I really learnt this the hard way. You really do need to take a lot of what DIY YouTubers say with a pinch of salt.
At the time of researching grouting, I saw absolutely no one wearing gloves for the job. Not even the bigger YouTubers. But, I should have done my own research and read the back of the packet for warning labels. Because what I hadn’t realised (and no one had pointed it out), was that grout has cement in it.
In fact, the other day I was researching cement planters. Most people don’t wear gloves in these videos, and to someone who’s never worked with cement before, they might not realise that it burns the skin.
So, after two very small, but painful burns on the ends of two fingers, I now ALWAYS wear gloves and a mask when handling cement. Oh, and keep children and pets away, too.
One combination I haven’t been a fan of though is wearing a respirator alongside goggles. Yes, it’s essential at times, but it often results in fogged up eyes and restricts my vision. It’s really annoying, actually! So when Dickies offered me a selection of three safety pieces to try, these fogbuster goggles were the first on my list. They’re far more comfortable and less intrusive.
I also swapped my very boyish cheapie black steel toe caps for Dickies’ ladies ankle safety boots. I already love these so much because the style is almost identical to my old faithful hiking boots with ankle supports. So even if I headed to the shops right after a day of DIY, I don’t feel like a woman out of place. Sadly I haven’t found much on the market for women’s safety.
As for trousers, most of you have probably seen how I’ve been slumming it. I mostly pull out a pair of old paint stained jeans (I have a lot) and wear them in to the ground.
I’ve been fairly happy with my waste not want not trouser set up. However, I’ve increasingly found myself needing a multi pocket number like my new Dickies Redhawk Overalls. What you don’t see on camera is me swearing at myself because I’ve misplaced small but important things like a pencil, screw or nail. Or very frequently a tape measure. I could go on?
I recently treated myself to a tool belt which I’ve found a great solution, but had to opt for a child’s one because the only ladies’ one was hot pink. Even I wouldn’t take myself seriously if I wore it. But with these, I love how it’s just one outfit to worry about slipping on. So I was able to put them through their paces last week while my Dad taught me how to make his sawhorses in his woodyard.
However, I knew I wouldn’t be so keen when I’d need to nip to the toilet, but that was a sacrifice I was willing to take. It’s now great to have the option for a more intense day of DIY. They’re also a surprisingly great fit with a cinched waist, zip, velcro fasteners and plenty of room for one layer underneath.
I know I sometimes get a bit of stick for wearing safety gear on the smallest of jobs, but if I didn’t wear them, someone would be even quicker to pull me up on it. After all, people like me tend to watch others’ videos to apply techniques in their own homes.
So while I play things safely, it makes for a much more fun and rewarding learning experience. And it’s also why I never touch gas and electrics.
What’s your go-to safety pieces when you’re working on a project?
A video will be coming soon on how I made my sawhorses. But for now, here’s my latest flower window boxes with gallows brackets while testing my Dickies safety wear!
About two years ago, I challenged myself to take on my first ever big wood project: garden decking. It’s these challenges that keep building my confidence to take things even further.
But as we have a whole house to renovate, I try to save money where I can on many jobs to stretch our cash further. And more wisely. This also meant not buying decking furniture on a whim. If I can wait, I’m more likely to find wise-cash opportunities.
And it paid off, because a couple of weekends ago, our neighbour sold us their swing chair and a table with two chairs for £40. They instantly transformed our decking, but it needed some TLC. So, to start off, I looked at replacing the torn and faded canopy, but couldn’t find my size, despite them being rather affordable from £26.
But since I still had the canopy as a template, I started practising some cuts and sewing around the scalloped edge using a scrap piece of ripstop fabric.
The inward corners were my only concern getting a binding to fit perfectly. It looked rather fiddly as it’s been almost a decade since I’ve made them on my patchwork quilt.
I also thought ripstop offered many great benefits: it’s waterproof, anti fray (so doesn’t technically need hemming), anti rip and lightweight and ordered it in plain green. However, when it arrived, it was far lighter than what I’d ever used. So, a heads up: go for a one thicker than 60gsm (grams a square metre). Personally, I’d pick 110gsm or higher.
With the lightweight in mind, I decided to trace around the old one on to the ripstop with tailor’s chalk. Then add half an inch hem allowance (if you’re confused, there’s a video below), cut it and folded it over up to my chalk mark and sew a basic hem.
Note, I eyeballed almost every aspect of this project because I didn’t think it was cost effective to spend all day making something that can be bought cheap. But, I do talk about where you can go for gold in my video.
Another quicker job I did was not copy all of the scallops, so turned them in to straight edges instead using my omnigrid board. Normally I’ll also use this along my rotary cutter and looking back, that would have been a quicker choice. But as most people won’t own one, I demonstrated using some sharp scissors instead.
So now I have the main body of the canopy, the next stage was to resuse the old canopy’s fittings by picking them all off. Again, this would have been just as quick cutting some from ripstop as it doesn’t fray, but waste not want not. And it was all roughly the same colour.
Now, don’t be put off by where exactly to sew the fittings as it did my fiance. It was easy as measuring the distance between each one (from the outer edges). I then measured the distance between my new fabric’s corners and because I’d copied it like for like, it was spot on.
That meant everything fitted perfectly. SCORE!
But for something a little off topic.
The day I was going to start this project was the same day I flicked though this month’s copy of upcycling magazine, Reloved and found my blog in it. I was interviewed back in February and to be honest, I thought they’d dropped me.
It’s very stylish and picture perfect, which is quite a contrast of my usual DIY projects. But was really lovely and coincidental that my last ripstop fabric project (an upcycled roller blind) was also featured.
I am truly thankful for the coverage and memorabilia about my home renovation journey and but also feels surreal. If you also need some updates in your home, I urge you to give a few things a go, no matter how small they may be initially. Each job, whether successful or not teaches me lessons to keep improving. And I’m almost always impressed when I see how far I’ve come with the before and afters.
One thing I love about going back home to see family, is that they ALWAYS know where the cheapest or best place for buying things.
We’re now in the Midlands and there’s plenty of garden centres around, but I don’t care much for the price. Plus, I feel there’s an air of snootiness in them. Besides, I’m good at killing plants, so what’s the point?
So, after spending almost £100 on hundreds of plants (we’re on a mission), this week, I’m showing you how to install flower hanging baskets.
It’s incredibly easy, and as a guide, here’s what I used:
This week, I needed to learn how to install laminate flooring scotia beading under my patio door.
The reason I didn’t need it all the way around was because we’d fitted the flooring before the skirting board. So, no mitered corners needing cutting.
It was very straight forward, but I couldn’t find a piece for the opposite side of the door where the expansion gap was wider. So, in this video, you’ll also see me make one from a piece of chamfered skirting board.
Installing & Making Laminate Flooring Beading | The Carpenter's Daughter - YouTube
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