« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

August 2010

August 31, 2010

Conjoined Tin - Make a Tin Backsplash from Ceiling Tiles


Although I’m under-endowed as a decorator-y person, sometimes my lame decor ideas actually work.  And by ‘work’, I mean that the concept has to pass the ToolGirl 3-way Test; Cheap, fast, easy.  Notice I didn’t mention ‘good’ – that’s where denial kicks in.

And let me qualify the ‘easy’ part.  You need the right tools. 

For example, the Conjoined Tin Backsplash described below is easy IF you own a pair of offset tin snips (also called aviation snips).  Any other kind of tin snips will torture your soul beyond the gut-sucking spasms of unrequited love, albeit for a shorter length of time.

2010 Tin Backsplash  305

Continue reading "Conjoined Tin - Make a Tin Backsplash from Ceiling Tiles" »

August 28, 2010

Transfer Photo Images to Wood Using Your Inkjet Printer

CoastersIn case you missed it, this is a really fun, cheap way to cover wood with your favourite photos.

The plywood coasters pictured on the left are part of my recent discovery that you can take any digital image and transfer it to plywood, solid wood, wood veneers or unfinished furniture.  It's fun, fast and cheap.  I've made mouse pads, lap desks, flooring and even wall tiles using this technique.

The result is a fantastic alternative to stencilling or staining and you can even use your computer to create watercolour effects in your photos, or do other freaky stuff to the images.  If you're into carving wood you can also use this technique to transfer your pattern directly onto the wood surface.

Continue reading "Transfer Photo Images to Wood Using Your Inkjet Printer" »

August 23, 2010

Cork-a-Doodle-Do - Make Fridge Magnets from Corks, Twigs and Rare Earth Magnets


Fridge magnets are an under-sung hero of modern communications.  You can forget a voicemail, a text message or an email, but you can’t ignore a note stuck to the fridge.   

The average person opens the fridge 22 times a day (94 if you’re dieting), so a fridge message makes at least 22 impressions on the visual cortex.  That’s why fridge notes work better than nagging tones in a voicemail or SCREAMING CAPS in an electronic message. 

The only thing that can erode the impact of a fridge note is the strength of the magnet that affixes it to the metal surface. Under the force of say, a hungry teenager slamming the fridge door, some magnets have less sucking power than a dying leech. 

My fridge magnet collection of circa 1989 Fimo ladybugs is so lame that whenever I post an important note it slips to knee level by the day’s third FDO (fridge door opening). 

I needed a new fridge magnet design that couldn’t be dislodged by gravity, impact or a light breeze. 

Inspiration struck, as often happens, when I was opening a bottle of wine. 

Continue reading "Cork-a-Doodle-Do - Make Fridge Magnets from Corks, Twigs and Rare Earth Magnets" »

August 19, 2010

Knock-Off Wood: Free Woodworking Plans for Beginners

via www.knock-offwood.com

Ana White is a really smart girl offering very cool, simple, free downloadable woodworking plans for beginners. These are great projects using standard lumber that's readily available at your nearest hardware store.

Here's one of my favourites:


August 18, 2010

Make Rustic Twig Hooks with 'Sugru'

Sugru hooks

I'm a fan of rustic functional art.  This project from Instructables mixes two colours of Sugru, the new formable silicon putty, to create permanent forest-green anchors for twiggy kitchen hooks. 

via www.instructables.com

August 17, 2010

It's a Wild, Wild Life: Mexican Oilcloth Wallpaper

via www.readymade.com

Wallpapering is for the strong of spirit, the steady of hand and the gentle of vocabulary.  This project takes wallpapering a couple of steps beyond normal. For step-by-step instructions on creating your own Victorians-on-Opium styled room, visit Readymade.  And don't forget to sort your books by colour. 

Cheap, Fast Wood-Fired Earth Oven | Slice Pizza Blog

via slice.seriouseats.com

This link focuses obsessively on wood-fired pizza (not that there's anything wrong with that), but if you look at the photos you can see the steps the builder took to make a sweet outdoor wood-fired oven for under $200!

Bamboo Sinks


I recently made my own bamboo desk but never thought of using bamboo for a sink. Kind of goofy not to think of bamboo as water-resistant though, since we use bamboo in other moisture-rich environments (i.e. cutting boards, chopsticks, boats).

August 12, 2010

First Day of Shooting with the 'Real Life' Crew


We're halfway through our first shoot day for Real Life with Sharon Caddy.  As you can see, we're out standing in our field. 

This shot is an intro to a segment called 'Reserved Sparking', a beginner's guide to changing a lawnmower spark plug.

The weather's great and the crew (Greg and David) are way more efficient than me but I'm trying to lower their standards. 

August 11, 2010

30 Quotes to Inspire Creativity


I rely on these quotations when I'm making, writing, hacking or dreaming.  Maybe you can use them too.

I have learned to use the word 'impossible' with the greatest caution.  Wernher von Braun   

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.  Eden Phillpotts

You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough.  You must want it with an exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world.  Sheila Graham

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.  Joseph Campbell

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.  To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.  Helen Keller

The work of art which I do not make, none other will ever make.  Simone Weil

I think I should have no other mortal wants if I could always have plenty of music.  It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain.  Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.  George Eliot

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  Anais Nin

Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what, next or how…The artist never entirely knows.  We guess.  We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.  Agnes de Mille

The notes I handle no better than many pianists.  But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides.   Artur Schnabel

When you perform…you are out of yourself – larger and more potent, more beautiful.  You are for minutes heroic.  This is power.  This is glory on earth.  Agnes de Mille

The real leaders are the ones who say, "I don't know. Let's find out."  Betty Cohen

No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.  Napolean Hill

I am always doing that which I can not do in order that I may learn how to do it.  Pablo Picasso

Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.  Nolan Bushnell

We love to expect, and when expectation is either disappointed or gratified, we want to be again expecting.  Samuel Johnson

The power and resources of our intuition, imagination and unconscious are greater
than the rational mind can imagine.  Robert Burns

Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.  Henry Miller

Commitment is never an act of moderation!  Kenneth G. Mills

It’s never too late to be who you might have been.  George Eliot

Only God creates.  The artist reveals.  George Balanchine

Everything you can imagine is real.  Pablo Picasso

In creating, the only hard thing is to begin: a grass blade's no easier to make than an oak.  James Russell Lowell

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.   Henry B. Adams

What is now proved was once only imagined.  William Blake

One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.   Goethe

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.   John F. Kennedy

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.   Edgar Allen Poe

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.  Tom Robbins

Ideas won't keep; something must be done about them.   Alfred North Whitehead

And if I can just add one more:  Just because you’ve never done something before doesn’t mean you don’t know how to do it.


  • Get ToolGirl's Newsletter
  • Watch ToolGirl's videos


  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie