How to build a timber fence

timber fence standard

I’ll show you how to build a timber fence to define your home’s boundary. Timber fences are a classic DIY project most handymen can achieve.

Planning your fence


Consider what you want your timber fence to look like and what the fences main objective. You should consult your neighbour regarding the fence height and costs. Neighbours may agree to help with the cost of the fence, but are not bound to make any payment.

Fences can be a cause of conflict between neighbours for many reasons. Check your boundary and if there are any doubts, consult a surveyor for professional advice.

Also check with local authorities regarding fencing in your area, and check that there are no underground services that may be impacted.

A standard timber fence is 1.8m high, but can be 1.2 or 1.5. Corner posts are 100 x 100mm and posts in between are 100x75mm. Fence rails are 75 x 38mm and 4.8m long.

Tools needed

You’ll only need basic tools tools to build a timber fence, but power tools will make the job a lot easier. See my post on basic handyman tools here.

A post hole shovel and crowbar or a power auger.

Saw, hammer, level and a string line. Or circular saw, nail gun to make the job easier. A coil nail gun is very handy for fencing and a circular saw is a must for any handyman.

Setting out your timber fence

Once you have found your boundary, stake each end of the fence and run a string line the full length of the fence line. Dig holes for the post 300mm diameter by 600mm deep. Place 50mm of gravel in the base of the post holes for the posts to rest on.

fence post hole diagram

Place your posts in the ground and put a couple of stays on the posts to keep them straight and upright. Use your level to make sure the posts are vertical and straight. Fill each post hole with post mix available from your local hardware store, or mix your own.

When you have your corner posts in, run a string line between the two posts and mark out the post holes for the rest of the fence. Posts are usually 2.4m apart and the posts are set flush to the string line you have between the corner posts. Place your post as you did with the corner posts and fill the post holes with post mix, keeping the post straight with stays.

String lines for fence

Allow 24 hours for the post mix to set.

Placing the rails

After your fence posts have set, it’s time to put the fence rails on the posts. Each post needs to be checked out for the rails to be put in. This requires you to saw the fence posts the width of the rails, so they sit flush with the face of the fence post. While you got your saw, cut the tops of the fence posts off about 75mm from the finished fence height.

Generally the check outs will be 38mm deep and 75mm wide.

Fence rail check outs

Fence rails are 4.8m in length and you need to stagger any joins on posts.

On standard 1.8m timber fences there are 3 rails, the top rail is 150mm from the top, the bottom rail is 175mm from the ground with the middle rail centred between the top and bottom rail.

Putting the palings on

Basic paling fences a butted up together, make sure your 1st paling is vertical and check every 4 or so palings adjusting as required. Using a coil nail gun makes this job very easy and does not knock the fence around to much.

You need to saw the top of the palings off to the correct height once they are all nailed on. The easiest way to do this is to nail a batten onto the fence and use a circular saw to cut the paling tops.

Types of palings

There are 3 styles of palings, standard flat top, colonial and paddle pop.

Colonial palings
Colonial profile palings
Paddle pop palings
Paddle pop profile palings

Ways to use your smartphone for DIY

iPhone utilities apps

In this post I will show you many ways to use your smartphone for your DIY projects.

As a Camera

There are many reasons to use your smartphones’ camera, from taking before and after photos to recording specific details about your project.

Before and after photos of your DIY project is a great use of your smartphones’ camera. You can also record steps along the way to completing your project. As an example you could check out my post on building a cubby house, I only used my smartphone for all the photos in that post.

If you need to pull something apart, using your smartphone to take photos of the parts and how they go together is an invaluable tool. Also taking photos of the serial or part number makes getting the correct part alot easier. Maybe taking a photo of the dimensions of your project would be handy.

Another way I’ve used my smartphone camera is to take a photo of the back side of an object I cannot see due to no room for my head to fit.

As a Measuring tape

Most smartphones come with several utilitiy apps, one is measurement on newer smartphones.

iPhone utilities apps

Opening your measurement app will enable you to measure things when you don’t have your tape measure at hand.

To measure an object:

  • Launch the Measure app from your Home screen.
  • Move the white dot to your start point. …
  • Tap the + button to select your start point.
  • Move the white dot to your endpoint.
  • Tap the + button to select your endpoint.
  • Look at the final measurement located in the middle of the line.

As a level

Another utility app is a level which you get to through the measurement app. This can be handy when you only need a approx level hanging pictures on the wall or getting an idea of where level will be.

iPhone SE level app
Not quite level
Level in iPhone SE
Spot on

As a Calculator

Having a calculator handy is also useful at different stages of your DIY project. From figuring out the area of a slab or floor to how many cubic metres of concrete you need for your slab.

To calculate your area, simply times the length by the width of the area, as an example 3m x 3m equals 9 square metres.

3m x 3m = 9m

Calculating cubic metres is taking the area m2 and multiplying it by the depth, for example a slab 3m x 3m x .1m would equal 0.9 cubic metres.

3m x 3m x 0.1m = 0.9m3

Maybe your at the hardware store and need to work out how many lineal metres of decking you need.

To calculate the lineal metres required for a 3m x 3m deck with 90mm boards, times 3 x 3 and divide it by .093 allowing 90mm for your board and a 3mm gap. This will give you 96.77 lineal metres, now to allow for wastage and offcuts times 96.77 lineal metres by 10%, which is 9.67 lineal metres to add to the 96.77 lineal metres, giving you a total of 106.45 lineal metres of decking required.

3m x 3m x 0.093 = 96.77 l/m then 96.77 x 0.1(10%) = 9.67

96.77 + 9.67 = 106.45 l/m

As a torch

The torch app can be useful when looking into dark spaces in an attic or roof or behind a sink in a cupboard. You can use the camera app at the same time and get a clearer picture that you can see in the dark.

iphone torch app
Iphone torch app
Using an iphone torch

These are just a few ways to use your smartphone for your DIY.

If you have any more ways that use your smartphone for your DIY projects, please email me at thehandymancentral@gmail.com

How to choose a pressure washer

Pressure washer

How to choose a pressure washer? We’ll show you which pressure washer is best for your job.

What is a pressure washer?

Pressure washers pumps water at an increased pressure and speed of water to clean many different surfaces. A typical pressure washer will deliver 50% more power and use 80% less water than a garden hose.

Water blasters can be electrical or petrol powered, and deliver cold or hot water. Most pressure washers come with accessories such as different nozzles, brushes and detergent pickups.

Water blasters are measured by their PSI (pounds per square inch).

1000 – 4000 PSI pressure washers are good for general domestic jobs. Such as washing cars or decks and washing down siding. Washers in this range are usually electrically powered. Being electrically powered means that you are restricted to places with electricity and the length of your electrical cord.

The next step up in power is around 2500 – 4000 PSI. To get this sort of power the washers are powered by petrol engines. Petrol powered pressure washers are much more versatile than electric models. With petrol engine washers you are able to use them almost anywhere.

Bigger and more powerful pressure washers are over 4000 PSI. Some of these models can also produce hot water to clean tougher stains and chemicals. Models over 4000 PSI are used by professionals for commercial cleaning jobs.

Stanley pressure washer

Which pressure washer is best for you?

Questions to ask yourself are:

How often will you use a pressure washer?  If your only going to use your pressure washer on the odd occasion, maybe hiring a pressure cleaner is your best option. You may want to regularly clean your car or a outdoor deck. Then a electrical powered pressure washer could be the best model for you. Are you going to be using your pressure washer on a daily or weekly basis. A petrol model will be the model for you as these are more suited to commercial applications.

How big a job do you want use the pressure washer for?  The size of the area or job will also help you determine which model is best for you. If your only going to clean your car or have a small deck area, a electrical 1000 – 2000 PSI model would be suitable. Petrol powered washers are better for large jobs such as driveways and trucks and tractors.

What is it that you are trying to clean?   Electrical pressure washers for backyard decks or patios and cars.  For ground in dirt or oily stains a petrol power washer is the way to go. Commercial cleaners will often have pressure washers that heat the water to around 90 degrees Celsius to clean difficult stains without using harsh chemicals.

Do you have access to electricity and water?   Access to water and electricity allows you to use a electrical pressure washer, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use a petrol powered washer. If the area that needs to be cleaned is out of reach of your power cord and or hose, use a petrol powered washer.

RECOMMENDED PSI FOR APPLICATIONS

What’s the difference between PSI and GPM?

PSI is the pounds per square inch of pressure a washer puts out and is the usual method of rating pressure washers. Another measurement that helps determine the power of a pressure washer is GPM which stands for gallons of water used per minute. You get a deeper clean from a pressure washer with higher pressure and more water. Hence the best all round pressure cleaner has a high pressure output and uses more gallons per minute.

For example, you have a large driveway to clean. Using a pressure washer with a high PSI but low GPM will take a lot longer than using a high PSI and high GPM. A pressure washer with 3000 PSI and 4 GPM would be the ideal washer to clean your average driveway.

The PSI is what gets the dirt and grime off your surface, GPM is what washes the grime away.

Accessories

Most pressure washers come with accessories such as different nozzles, brushes and scrubbers.

Interchangable nozzles allow you to apply different amount of pressure to your cleaning surface. Red and yellow nozzles are hard and fast cleaning. Green nozzles are not as hard and white nozzles offer the widest spray. Black nozzles are generally for applying detergent and very light pressure. Turbo nozzles operate in a spinning fashion and increase the cleaning efficiency.

PRESSURE WASHER NOZZLES

Brushes are good for washing your car and usually have a spinning action.

Scrubbers are for cleaning large flat surfaces, such as decks, driveways and roofs.

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Pressure washer safety

Pressure washers exert high forces when in operation. Always use two hands, don’t point the lance at people or animals. Test surfaces to determine pressure required for the job. Don’t blast electrical wires or power points. Keep the nozzle moving to avoid cutting into the surface. Take extra precautions when using a ladder or on a roof.

Don’t use petrol or diesel powered pressure washers in enclosed areas.

Check out my post on How to set up a small workshop

Which pressure washer should you choose?

If you only have small, lightly soiled surfaces around the home, a electric pressure washer is for you. These are light and easy to handle.

You need a petrol powered pressure washer for your larger jobs. The PSI and GPM will depend on the type of jobs you want to carry out.

If you are going into the pressure washing business, you’ll need an industrial model.

I hope this has helped you choose a pressure washer for your specific needs.

Build a chicken coop

How to paint your house exterior

How to paint your house exterior

Painting your house exterior is one of the easiest ways to spruce up your home and add value.

Painting your house exterior yourself will save you mega bucks. Labor is the expensive part of painting.

A professional painter will charge around $50.00 per hour for labor, and the average total for a exterior paint job starts around $2500.

You can do many of the painting preparation work yourself, saving a lot of money. And if you have done all the preparation, why not finish the job and paint the house yourself.

It is a huge job to paint your home, but breaking it down into smaller steps is the way to go.

Follow the steps below and you will be able to paint your home with confidence.

preparation – clean & inspect your home exterior

Clean the exterior of your house with a pressure washer and inspect for any damage that needs repairing.Pressure washer to clean your home exterior

Remove and replace any rotten or decaying timber. Fill any holes or cracks with an exterior grade filler.

Remove any loose or flaking paint and sand any timber that has been exposed to the weather.

Tip – Get a power sander, we found it cheaper to buy a sander than to hire one, and have used it for other projects since buying it.

Different materials used on your exterior require different preparation.

Timber exteriors

As above, clean exterior and remove any loose or flaking paint. Repair any rotten timber or holes and cracks. Then give it a good sand with a power sander and clean off sanding dust.

Render, stucco and concrete exteriors

Render or concrete exteriors always require preparation before painting. New render or concrete must be allowed to cure for a minimum of 28 days before painting. Previous finishes on old render or concrete will need to be removed and sometimes special primers or sealants applied before you can paint. Fill and fix any holes, cracks or chips

Metal exteriors

Rust or damaged areas are the main concern when prepping metal exteriors for painting. After cleaning and repairing any damage give the metal a light sand to provide a key for the paint to bind to. A metal primer is required for any bare or new metal prior to painting. Never apply oil based paint directly to bare metal as the finish won’t last very long.

Vinyl cladding

Plastic or vinyl cladding is usually easy to clean with a sugar of soap and water. Once it is cleaned and any repairs made vinyl cladding can be painted.

Previously painted exteriors

If you’re freshening up your exterior or just changing the color to something more appealing, you should test the current paint finish. Scour the paint finish in several places with a sharp knife and apply adhesive tape to the cut. Remove the tape quickly and if any paint comes away the paint will need to be stripped or sanded back to  a solid paint finish.

Flaking or peeling paint

Paint that is flaking or peeling can be caused by several reasons. Moisture may be getting in behind the painted surface through cracks or condensation. If condensation is a problem, install vents to improve the air flow.

Or the paint may be exposed to the elements  for long periods of sunlight or heat. Dark colors are also more likely to flake or peel as they retain more heat from the sunlight.

When you have determined the cause of the flaking paint and repaired the cause. Remove any flaking or peeling paint with a scraper and heat gun and sand edges down to a smooth surface.

Mould

Mould can be removed from your exterior with a solution of 1 part bleach with 3 parts water. Apply the mixture to the surface with a scourer pad and leave for 15 minutes, then rinse off with water. It may take several applications to remove the mould.

Which paint is best, water based or oil based

For exteriors a water based paint is the preferred paint these days.

Water based paint retain their color better and last longer as oil based paints yellow and become brittle when they age.

Cleaning up brushes and rollers is much easier when using water based paints.

how much paint will you need for the exterior of your home

A gallon of paint will cover approx. 300 sq ft.

To work out your sq ft, measure the length and times it by the height.

For example a wall that is 10 ft high by 30 ft wide will equal 300 sq ft and will use a gallon of paint to cover this area.

Allow an extra 10% to 20% extra to insure you have enough paint for the job.

tools required to spruce up your home exterior

Painting your house exterior doesn’t require many tools, brushes and rollers, scraper and ladder are the bare essentials. Better quality tools do help make your painting job easier.

Depending on the size of your house will determine what size ladder you’ll need, a single storey house on level ground will only require a 12 ft ladder.

Paint brushes for painting your home exteriorFor cutting in around windows and doors a 2″ sash brush is required. A 4″ brush for larger areas and a 12″ roller and roller pan for the smoother wider areas. An extension pole for your roller is always handy for high areas.

Extra paint tins or buckets.

Tools for preparation include a scraper, heat gun, sander, chalking gun and a pressure washer.

Tip – Keep 2 brushes when painting in the summer, keep one in a bucket of water while using the other one. Swap them over to prevent paint drying in the brush.

Check out my post on basic tools for handymen and women HERE

Plan your painting job

Always paint from the high areas down, large areas then smaller detail areas. Windows and doors should be painted in the morning, giving them time to dry before having to close them for the night.

Avoid painting in direct sunlight, as it may cause lap marks or blistering paint. When painting in direct sunlight, paint smaller sections to keep a wet edge and avoid lap marks.

Windy days can cause pint to dry to quick and may blow dirt into fresh paint and don’t paint if there is a chance of rain.

Cover areas you don’t want paint on with cover sheets.

How to paint

All paint needs to be stirred to mix the color through completely.

When the paint has been mixed, decant a small amount into a easy to handle paint pot. Fill about 2″ of paint into the paint pot for cutting in.

Dip your brush into the paint and tap the brush on the side of the paint pot to remove excess paint then lay on paint to the surface. The aim is to get the paint on the surface as quickly as possible, then smooth the paint out once you have a good covering. Only paint an area big enough that you have time to smooth it out and continue to lay on paint along the wet edge.

If you don’t follow the wet edge, you’ll end up with lap marks.

To get a smooth finish use long sweeping strokes, working toward the painted area and lifting the brush while finishing the paint stroke over the wet edge.

Use doors, windows and natural breaks like siding lines to break large areas into manageable sections. When painting siding boards, paint 3 or 4 boards at a time from one end to the other,

Learning to paint with either hand will help with fatigue and will extend your reach when on a ladder.

Check out this video on painting the exterior of your home HERE

Results

If you have prepped your surface well and used the techniques outlined in this post, your freshly painted house exterior shouldn’t need painting for about 10 years. Annual maintenance of your exterior will also help prolong your paint job.

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Build a chicken coop

What basic tools does a handyman need?

Basic tools for a handyman

 

Hammer 

A hammer is one of the most basic tools a handyman needs. With a hammer you can drive in nails and remove bent nails from your work.

There are many styles of hammers for different applications, but a claw hammer is generally the best for a Handyman. Hammers come with different handles, wooden, steel and synthetic. From experience a synthetic handle will last a every long time and won’t break easily or need fixing, I’ve had my synthetic handle hammer for over 30 years.

Other styles of hammers can be bought when you require them for special jobs, but when beginning a basic tool kit, a claw hammer is the best buy.

Power Drill

A power drill will make your handyman life so much easier. These days a cordless power drill is a handyman’s best friend. Check out our buying tips for a cordless drill.

Cordless power drill

You can use a power drill for drilling into wood, steel and concrete. But you can also use it to drive in screws and tighten bolts with the correct adapters.

Your power drill can also be used to grind, sand and polish with the right attachments.

Your basic tool kit will not be complete without a cordless power drill.

Check out our top 3 cordless drills for the handyman review HERE

Screw Driver set

A set of screw drivers will come in very handy for many jobs you will carry out. Screw driver sets have both Flathead and Philips head drivers, of various sizes.

Using the correct size screw driver makes a handyman’s job so much easier. Besides screwing and unscrewing, screw drivers can be used for prying things apart and are a necessity for the basic handyman’s tool kit.

Measuring Tape

Almost every job a handyman does requires some sought of measurement and a tape measure is needed. To cover most jobs you’ll do, a 25ft or 8m measuring tape is the best option.

Measuring Tape

There’s nothing worse than going to measure a job and your measuring tape is not long enough. With a 25ft measuring tape you’ll be able to cover most jobs.

Pliers

Pliers come in handy for many times when your trying to grasp something in an awkward place of that are difficult to grip with your fingers.

Set of Pliers

You should get a normal pair of pliers, and a pair of needle nose pliers when starting out. 

As your build your tool box or kit, you can add vise grips and adjustable jaws pliers.

Level

Levels come in handy for so many jobs that a handyman will carry out, from hanging picture frames to leveling concrete jobs.

4ft Level

You can get many different sizes of levels, but a 4 ft level is the most useful and be used all around your home.

Utility Knife

There are hundreds of utility knives on the market, which one you use will come down to your preference.

Utility Knife

You’ll be amazed how many times you will use your utility knife, from cutting rope or cardboard to using it around your workshop.

Adjustable Spanner

You’ll need a adjustable spanner for all the nuts and bolts you have to loosen and tighten. Used with pliers you can get most nuts and bolts tightened or undone.

Adjustable spanners

I have a small and medium size adjustable spanners, you probably best off getting the medium size to start your basic tool kit. 

Tool Kit 

Another option is to buy a ready made tool kit. These may have more tools than have been discussed so far, but do contain all the basic tools a handyman will need for most jobs.

There are many tool kits to choose from, from different brands names to different requirements.

Always buy the best tools you can afford, as they will be with you for a long time if they are quality made.

Maybe you have a tool you think should be included in a basic tool kit, let us know and we can include it to future tool kit posts.