April 2 - 15  2023: Issue 578


Autumn School Holidays 2023: DIY Project Ideas For Youngsters, Older Youngsters & The Young At Heart

Lava Lamp (60th year of this invention), Wood Building Blocks for Toddlers and Older, Let's go Fly a Kite, Basic Wood Bookshelf, Sundial, Make a rope and wood swing, Making Your Own Windchimes + more

Young minds are curious minds that don't stop just because it's the school holidays. This Autumn school holidays Pittwater Online is running an insight into a wonderful local toymaker who was really an Inventor.

See: Lewis George Pimblett - Inventor Of Harbord + Mona Vale: Toymaker Of 'Pim's Toys' + First Speaking Robot Maker Of 1952

In keeping with that spirit, this school holidays a few ideas that combine the love of play with the love of science and which can all be made in your own home should a rain patch eventuate over the Easter-Autumn break or a patch of 'I'm bored' be similarly encountered.

For Youngsters

Lava Lamp

A lava lamp is a decorative lamp, invented in 1963 by British entrepreneur Edward Craven Walker, the founder of the lighting company Mathmos. It consists of a bolus of a special coloured wax mixture inside a glass vessel, the remainder of which contains clear or translucent liquid. The vessel is placed on a base containing an incandescent light bulb whose heat causes temporary reductions in the wax's density and the liquid's surface tension. As the warmed wax rises through the liquid, it cools, loses its buoyancy, and falls back to the bottom of the vessel in a cycle that is visually suggestive of pāhoehoe lava, hence the name. The lamps are designed in a variety of styles and colours. 

As a 60th year celebration - how to make one at home. Idea courtesy National Science Week, which will run August 12 to 23 in 2023.

What you need:

  1. vegetable oil
  2. food colouring
  3. effervescing (fizzy) aspirin or vitamin tablets
  4. a glass tumbler or screw top clear jar with its lid

What to do:

  1. Fill a glass tumbler about 1/3 full with water.
  2. Add a few drops of colourful food dye.
  3. Slowly pour vegetable oil into the glass so that it floats on the water, until the glass is almost full (tip-ping the glass a little helps it form a neat layer).
  4. Drop a tablet into the glass.
  5. Cue disco lights and music.

Safety note: Don’t dispose of the oil and water down the sink. Pour it into a container that can be sealed before putting it in the bin. Better yet, add it to your compost.

What’s happening?

The bubbles in the water are carbon dioxide gas, formed when sodium bicarbonate and citric acid in the tablets react in the water:

acid + carbonate –> carbon dioxide + salt + water
C6H8O7 + 3NaHCO3 –> 3CO2 + Na3C6H5O7 + 3H2O

The bubbles take globs of coloured water with them up through the oil to the top of the glass. The gas bubbles burst at the surface and the coloured water drops then fall back down through the oil. 

NB: You can recharge the lava lamp with another tablet when the first one has finished reacting.

An original Mathmos Astro lava lamp. Photo: November child

Wood Building Blocks for Toddlers and Older

For the youngster who has a younger brother or sister, how about making them something just for them these school holidays. These can be brightly painted with animals or lettered with the letters of the alphabet so you can teach your younger sibling all about those letters, or simply paint them a range of colours so you can share what yellow and red and green and blue is. OR you can make these in a variety of shapes to 'build' other things like spaceships and homes or animals themselves.

This is a great one for those who like 'mucking about with bits of wood' although you will need an adult to help you with the cutting of the wood part. The wood can be picked up from your local Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 hardware store - the one in Bassett street at Mona Vale has some great lengths of wood in a variety of wood types. 

To make yours last, and even be turned into something else when everyone has grown tall, we recommend sealing them after the painting and decorating has been completed with a varnish of some sort. This also makes them easier to clean should sticky fingers have left some marks, such as strawberry jam, all over your blocks.

This version is for a castle or House of any sort and comes courtesy of Lee Schnitz on Instructables - you can just do simple square blocks to start with if you prefer, and of course, you can adjust sizings and shapes to suit what you want as well - this is simply a guide.

What you will need

  1. 1 - 90x45 length of Pine with 20 centimetres width - As straight, and ding free as possible. In American sizing this is a 2x4x8. 
  2. 1 - 3.81 x 91 diameter hardwood dowel


  1. Saws - Table and Miter, or hand saws and miter box
  2. Drill - Hand or Press
  3. Drill Bits - 3/8" and 2.5" hole bit
  4. Sander - Hand or Belt


  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask

Before we cut out our blocks, we need to determine the dimensions of our blocks.

As a 2X4 is really 1.5x3.5, most of the pieces use the 8.89cm width.

This are the dimensions used.

  1. Square: 8.89cm x 8.89cm 
  2. Brick - 17.78cm x 8.89cm 
  3. Triangle 8.89cm x8.89cm x 12.7
  4. Square Column 3.81cm x 3.81cm x 8.89cm 
  5. Round Column 3.81x 8.89cm 
  6. Long Bridge 12.7cm x 4.445cm
  7. Short Bridge 6.35cm x 8.89cm 

What to do

Now that we have our block dimensions, we need to get to the cutting! I used my compound miter saw, if you don't have one, you can use a handsaw and a miter box.
First, I started by cutting all of my pieces that were 8.89cm long. To ensure a consistency in the length, I clamped a wooden block to my miter saw 8.89cm from the blade. This basically acted like a fence so I wouldn't have to measure and mark each individual piece. I used this fence to cut the square, the square that would become triangles, the round column and the square column.

For the square column, I had a piece of 2x4 I had previously ripped into a 3.81 x 3.81.
Second, I set the 'fence' to 12.7cm and cut four pieces that would become the bridge pieces.
Next, I set my wooden block 'fence' to 17.78cm and cut the brick pieces from the 2x4.
Lastly, I set the blade on the saw to cut at 45degrees. I then placed a square under the blade, and cut into two triangles.
At this point you should have all your pieces roughed out.

To create the bridge pieces we need two additional steps.
(1) Drill a 6.35cm hole in the centre of the block.
This can be accomplished by using a 2.5" hole drill bit. First, we need to find the center of the block. Easy enough.. just draw a line from corner to corner and find where they cross in the middle.
The drill bit I had was not deep enough to cut through a 2x4, so I had to drill from both sides. In order to ensure that the holes lined up, I drilled a 3/8 pilot hole completely through the centre and then proceed to use the hole bit on each side.
Both sides should meet up and now you are ready for step 2.

(2) Cut the blocks in half.
Using a table saw, cut the blocks in half. For a short bridge, set the fence to 2.5" For the long bridge, sent the fence to 1.75".
Get your push stick, and slowly cut the pieces in half.
Now you should have all your pieces cut out!

Since we don't want any splinters, it's time to sand. You have your choice when it comes to sanding. Feel free to use a table top belt sander (like me), or you can use a handheld power sander, or even a manual sanding block. Regardless of tool, the methods are the same.
(1) Start with a rougher grit like an 80, and then move on to a finer grit like a 120. And if you want to go even smoother, you can do a 240.
(2) Always sand with the grain.
(3) Wear dust mask. Its no fun breathing in all that saw dust.

Now that sanding is complete, you can finish as you see fit. You can go classic and just put on a nice coat of polyurethane. Or paint with some primary or pastel colours - make sure you use a non-toxic paint just in case any youngster teething decides to chew on them.
Give them to your favourite youngster, or youngster at heart, or keep them on your coffee table. They are almost IMPOSSIBLE to resist when they are done.
Enjoy! PS - special thanks to Max, my number one assistant and photographer.

Let's go Fly a Kite

An oldie but a goodie. With Autumn settling in we get a lot of those change of seasons breezes and winds - perfect kite flying weather. The foundations of what it takes to build a kite were fundamental to Australians developing flight for humans. More in 2017 page ''Let's Go Fly A Kite'', which shares some of the history of box kites leading to human flight in Australia.

First how to make some kites - and since that too is something that has been around for so long; some classic designs people have made before today from those yesterdays. As these are also done in measurements of inches in some cases, this table will help you change those measurements to suit today's rulers and tape measures:

Inches to centimetres conversion table
Inches (")         Centimetres (cm)
0.01 ″         0.0254000 cm
1/64 ″         0.0396875 cm
1/32 ″         0.0793750 cm
1/16 ″         0.15875 cm
0.1 ″                 0.2540 cm
1/8 ″                 0.3175 cm
1/4 ″                 0.635 cm
1/2 ″                 1.27 cm
1 ″                 2.54 cm
2 ″                 5.08 cm
3 ″                 7.62 cm
4 ″                 10.16 cm
5 ″                 12.70 cm
6 ″                 15.24 cm
7 ″                 17.78 cm
8 ″                 20.32 cm
9 ″                 22.86 cm
10 ″                 25.40 cm

How To Make A Kite.

Having decided upon the size, the skeleton is to be prepared in the following manner (see Fig 1). A straight, strong, but light, lath should be obtained, of the required length, to form the backbone of the kite; it should be shaped to a point at the 'top. A small piece should be notched out of the lath a short way from the top on each side, and also on each side a little way from the bottom. The former notches are to hold the string which fastens on the bow, the hitter are to catch the strings over which the paper or calico is to be pasted. A notch is also to be cut at the point marked H in the figure. 

The backbone is also known and may be described as the 'standard,' ' straighter,' or' upright,' and is marked in the diagram A b. The ' bow ' or ' bender,' marked c B, should be of a piece of pliant wood, such as may be obtained from the ash or hazel, should a piece of cane not be readily procurable. A piece of a wooden hoop, thinned down to the thickness of a common cane, will be found useful, out of which to form the bow. Whatever it be, it is essential that it be of equal thickness and weight throughout its whole extent, and that its length be about the same as the backbone. 

The exact centre of the bow should be next ascertained, and fastened with thin string to that point of the backbone where the first two notches were cut. A small notch is then to be cut at each end of the bow, and the bow bent down to the points marked B and p. In the diagram the thick lines represent the bow and the backbone of the kite, which are made of wood, as above described ; the thin lines represent string, and should be secured to the wooden frame as follows :— Secure the end of the string at the point e, pass it on then in succession to the points b, f, e, A, f, h, and e, fastening the string at each point, and upon fastening the string from F to E twist it once round the backbone at the point G. The skeleton is then complete; but if the balance is not quite true, shavings from the heavier -side should be sufficient to remedy the defect. The point next to be decided is the covering. All things considered, paper is best for an all-round kite ; paper kites truly are very easily damaged, but then the damage is as easily repaired, and paper is inexpensive and always to hand, old newspapers serving the purpose as well as any other kind of paper. For the largest kites, calico, silk, or thin gutta-percha cloth may be preferable, but even for these very stout paper will be found to answer every purpose. It is to be remembered that small kites require to be made of thinner and lighter material than larger ones. Having agreed to use paper as the covering, it should be cut the size of the kite, leaving a margin just sufficient to overlap the bow and the strings, so as to curl round; the edges of the paper should then be fastened to the frame of the skeleton by means of gum or paste, and left to dry. 

The covering is to be secured to the backbone of the kite by pasting some slips of paper across the back of the kite. If the kite is large it is also well to secure the covering to the cross strings in the same manner. Should it be found that one sheet of paper is of insufficient size, two or more sheets may be pasted together, the edges of which should overlap about an inch. Calico, or materials of that nature, may be sewn on the strings and bow instead of being pasted on, and should in that way also be secured at the back to the cross strings and the backbone. Before securing the. covering to the backbone two holes should be pierced therein, the one at the fifth of the whole length from the top, the other at a trifle less than the same distance from the bottom. Through these holes a string is to be passed and fastened at the back of the kite; this string is known as the 'belly-band,' and to it is fastened the string by which the kite is flown. The kite proper is now complete; but as the kite cannot fly without a tail, the construction of that appendage is next to be proceeded with. Ordinarily, the tail is a long string with pieces of folded paper fastened on to it at regular intervals. Its length depends on the size of the kite and the weight of the string and paper out of which the tail is made, together with, a number of other considerations, all of which experience will soon point out. It should, however, never be less than twelve times the length of the kite, and the longer it is the better, so long- as the kite is big enough to carry it. The tail papers should be tied on by noose knots, and at intervals or from three to four inches. A paper tassel tied to the end of the tail forms a graceful finish. The tail is then complete and ready to be fastened to the bottom of the kite; for convenience of carrying, it is better to keep it rolled up, and to fasten it on only when the kite is in its field from which it is to be flown. 

The use of the tail is to steady the kite and to keep the kite's head to the wind. If the kite seems to rise with difficulty the tail has probably been made too heavy; should the kite dip and plunge, or show a tendency to topple over, the tail is probably too light, and may be weighted with any convenient object, a stone or piece of turf being generally found handy and serviceable. Wings or tassels attached to the end of the bow add to the graceful appearance of the kite, but will be usually found to diminish its flying powers. Experience will in this matter, as indeed in all others, soon teach when tassels may be judiciously affixed and when removed, the state of the wind having very much to do with, all these questions of additions to and ornamentations of kites. How to Make a Kite. (1886, April 24). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 878. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162815769 


Material, needed: A lath 38 inches long, a, piece of string, a piece of thin cane 34 inches long, a sheet of strong paper or 1 yard of balloon fabric. Several newspapers.

First make two notches in the lath, or spine; each about 1 ½ inches from the ends. Make a similar notch in the centre of the cane and attach it firmly to the notch at one end of the spine. Bow the cane by tying a piece of string between the ends; the distance between should be about 28 inches. Without cutting the string, carry it down as far us the notch as thee lower end of the spine; tie it tightly here, and carry it up to the other end of the bow.
Now you have the outline of the kite. Lay it over the material and cut out in the balloon fabric, allowing 13 inches all round for turnings. Tuck in the ends over the framework and sew tightly with strong thread, using over and over stitches. The tail can be made from a long piece of string with twisted 4-inch lengths of paper, tied at intervals about 4 inches apart. In the spine of the kite make two holes for the string; the holes should be about 18 inches apart, the top hole coming about 7 inches from the top of the kite. HOW TO MAKE A KITE (1928, February 22). Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93662971 

Things To Make And Do: KITES ARE IN— So Make This WHISTLING BOY KITE

AMONG the people of the Far East (who are the world's kite experts) whistling kites are common. This week we give directions for making a whistling kite of a rather unusual design. The sketches show clearly how the kite is made up, in the shape of a boy, the whistle in this case being placed in the boy's mouth. In the East reed whistles are used. You will find it easier to use one of the round, flat whistles that are sold very cheaply, but if you are one of  those boys or girls who prefer to do everything your own way, you can easily make a whistle as shown. The framework is made of straight, light sticks. The spine is 2 ft. 5 in. long. For the boy's head, make a circle of cane 8 Inches diameter, and bind it to the top of the spine with thread, making sure that the spine divides it exactly. Cut a stick 3 ft. 6 in. long for the cross stick that makes the arms; bind it at its exact centre to the spine, at a point 3 inches below the bottom of the head. Two sticks 3 ft. 9 in long form the legs, bound to the spine and the arms in the diagonal positions- shown. The tops at these sticks are bound at points 7 Inches on either side of the spine. 

The distance between the lower ends of the legs should be 3 feet. The hands and feet are loops of cane, each 3 in. across, and bound at the ends of the respective sticks. The hands and also the feet must match exactly, or the kite will not balance properly. Four more short sticks, 3 inches long, are bound to the frame to form the ends of the boy's sleeves and the bottoms of his trousers. Bind them at right angles to the arms and legs, just at the tops of the hands and feet. One of the diagrams shows how to string the kite. Be sure that the strings are evenly placed on either side of the spine. Where the strings cross the spine, arms or legs, give them a turn around these sticks. Keep the lines parallel and at equal distances on either side of the limbs. Japan tissue, the material used for covering model aeroplanes, makes a good cover for this kite, but any other strong, light paper can be used. First paste sheets of tissue or paper together until you have a piece a little larger that the frame. 

Then cut around the frame, leaving a margin of about an Inch all round for the overlap, and paste the flaps, over the strings. In order to make the paper fit smoothly, cut silts in the overlap at every point where the angle changes. Make slits about an inch apart around the circular parts (heads, hands and feet), Keep the paper tight as you paste it down. A coating of aeroplane "dope," applied to the paper after the paste has dried, will toughen and waterproof it. Now you are ready to paint on the design, which should be done in colors. The hair may be made with a few wisps of colored wool pasted to the head. The whistle you use must be very light. If you make it yourself, use two small blocks of balsa. It should not be more than l1 ¼ in. long, and almost round. Hollow out the blocks on one side. Stretch a piece of thin tubber tightly across- the opening, then bind the blocks together with adhesive tape. The whistle is attached in the exact centre of the face with thin strips of adhesive tape, a ½ inch hole being made through the painted mouth to let the air through. Two strings tied across the body from the shoulders to the legs, and tied where they cross, as shown in the sketch of the finished kite, form the bridle to which the flying string is tied. The kite will need a tail. This is attached to a loop of string tied between the two legs. Things to Make and Do (1937, October 15). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 4 (JUNIOR SECTION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206729756 


TO MAKE THIS KITE, you will need four sticks of soft, white wood measuring 2ft by 4in by 1/4 in square, four pieces 16 1/2 in. long by 1/4 in. square, some thin brown paper 4ft 2in long, glue, 10 fine long tacks or brads 3/4 in long, and a ball of string with which to fly the kite.

Diagram 1 shows the finished model, and you will notice that no tail is needed on this kind of kite.

Diagram 2 shows how to tack together two of the shorter pieces after they have been notched each end. Flatten out the end of the tack underneath. Make two crosses in this way.

Next, fix these two crosses 5in from the top and bottom ends of the long sticks. Glue the notched end on to the big stick as shown in Diagram 3: If you hammer a fine tack or nail in carefully, it will help to hold it firm.

When it is assembled like this the frame is ready for the paper covering.

Cut out two 10in strips, each being 4ft 2in long. Bend over a 1 in. hem down each long side, and then place a piece of fine strong string under the hem and then glue it down. See Diagram 4.

Put glue on the outside of the long sticks, starting 1 in. from each end and continuing along the stick for 8in. Fold the paper around the sticks, over this glue, and glue down the overlap (about 2in).

When it has dried off, your kite is ready to fly, and all you have to do is to tie on one end of your ball of string at the point marked "X" in Diagram 1.  SOMETHING TO MAKE: THE ARGUS JUNIOR (1947, October 7). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 6 (The Argus Super Comic). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22512212

For Older Youngsters

Basic Wood Bookshelf

If there's one thing we need more of around here, it's bookshelves. In fact, we have books stacked on the floor due to a lack of bookshelves. These can also be used to store a variety of items - everything from toys, to ceramic art, to your own books on science and a microscope or anything else you want to store out of the way but where you can still see it when you need to find it. This project can be simple or elaborate - best to start with simple to begin with as then you can dream up more elaborate versions such as putting some shelves into half an old dinghy or canoe. 

You can also source some old timber that can be recycled into this basic bookshelf and in doing so not only save that from being wasted but also source some beautiful woods that with a sand and polish or stain, will make this an outstanding feature wherever you use and for however long you need it. Putting in that little bit of extra effort to make something that is strong and durable, and will last a long time, proves that making your own bookshelf will not only give you something unique, it will also be a lot less expensive than buying one.  

Remember these measurements can be customised to suit where you want t put your bookshelf too. If you want something wider and less tall, simply adjust to suit your uses.

Cordless drill
Cross head screwdriver bit
5mm and 3mm drill bits
Countersink drill bit
Dust mask
Eye protection
Measuring tape
Orbital sander
Paint brush
Paint roller
Roller tray

2400mm x 1200mm x 17mm wood of your choice x2
2440mm x 1200mm x 4mm backing - you can use ply or even just leave this open- however, putting a back on will strengthen your bookshelf
Moveable bookcase/shelf lugs filler x8
6-8g 30mm chip board screws x18
25mm soft sheet nails
Masking tape
Paint or stain
180 grit sandpaper
Wood wax or polish

What to do

  1. Cut your timber to size. 

Cut your 2400mm x 1200mm x 17mm form ply cut to:

  • 2000mm x 295mm x 2
  • 565mm x 3
  • 563mm x 4

   2. Measure and mark for the shelves: Take one of the long lengths of timber and measure out the positions for the shelves. This bookcase will include a fixed shelf in the centre and four other shelves. Measure and mark the halfway point, which is where the fixed shelf will go.  Square this mark off with a pencil line. Measure and mark the positions for the other shelves.

   3. Transfer the measurements: Line up the other unmarked length of long wood so that it's flush with the marked piece. Transfer the marks for the shelves onto the second piece of ply. This will ensure the shelves are straight and even when you install them.

   4. Draw the lines for the shelves: Once you've marked the shelf positions on both side panels, lay them flat together on the bench and draw straight lines across the panels.

   5. Mark for the shelf support holes: Use the square to mark the positions where you'll drill holes for the shelf supports. You'll need two supports for each shelf.

   6. Drill the shelf support holes: When drilling the holes for the shelf supports, you need to be careful not to drill too deeply. A good tip is to wrap masking tape around the 3mm drill bit at the level you want. Now you can safely drill all of the eight holes for the shelf supports.

   7. Assemble the frame: Two of the 565mm pieces of ply are for the top and bottom of the cupboard. Starting with the top piece, make sure it is flush with the end of the side panel and pre-drill holes using a 5mm bit. Then screw into place using 45mm screws. Attach the other side length panel to the top piece the same way. Then you'll need to add the bottom piece of ply in the same way. It's a good idea to use corner clamps to secure the frame while you're working or get some help from a friend to hold it steady.

   8. Sand the bookcase; Once the frame is complete, sand it all over with the orbital sander and 180 grit sandpaper for a nice finish. Make sure you sand the shelf edges as well to remove any splinters.

   9. Paint or stain the bookcase; Wipe the bookcase down to remove any dust before you start painting or staining. You'll need to use the masking tape where you're cutting in with a paint brush to ensure the lines are straight. Then use a roller to paint the larger areas. Apply as many coats as needed. 

Attach the back to the bookcase

Once the paint is dry, flip the bookcase over to attach the back. Make sure the ply is flush on both sides, then hammer the 25mm soft sheet nails into place. Once the back is secure, use a router to remove any excess. Once the backing is trimmed to size, secure it with more nails.

Sand and wax the shelves

Give the shelves a quick sand and then wipe away any dust. Apply wax to the shelves, which will help to protect them and give them a great finish.

Install the shelves

Insert the shelf supports into the drilled holes, then place the shelves on top of them.


For this project we'd recommend using a good weather-proof or treated wood, such as H3 pine, or a piece of stone you can mount on a plinth or post. This version, and there are many, comes from wikihow.

  1. Cut a 20-inch diameter circle out of wood or use a flat piece of stone to size you want. This circle or piece of stone will be the sundial’s face. Coat both sides of the wooden circle with primer. As the primer dries, think about what you want your sundial to look like. You will need to choose a number style, such as Roman numerals, standard numbers, and so on. Pick out the colours you want to use and, if you like, a drawing or illustration to put on the face. Sketch out a few different designs until you’ve settled on something final.
  2. Draw your final design on a large piece of circular paper. You will be using this as a stencil to transfer the design onto the wooden circle, so draw it to scale. Now you need to put the numbers onto the design, which will require some precise measuring. Use a straightedge and a protractor to do this. Start with the number 12 at the very top, like a clock’s face. Measure where the centre of the circle is, then use the straightedge to draw a precise line from the 12 to the centre.
  3. Use the protractor to measure exactly 15 degrees to the right. Mark the number 1 there. Use the straightedge to draw another hour line. Continue marking the numbers exactly 15 degrees apart. Move in a clockwise direction and use the protractor to continue marking off the numbers. Work your way around until you get to the number 12. This will be directly across from the first 12. These represent noon and midnight. Then start over with 1 again until you end up back at the original 12 at the very top. The numbers are now accurately marked onto the paper. The full 24 hours is represented for the most precise accuracy. When seasons change, so does the position of Earth. In summer, days are longer. In winter, they are shorter. There are days in the summer when there are more than 12 hours of daylight.
  4. Paint your design onto the wooden circle. Use your paper as a stencil so that the numbers and hour lines match what you’ve measured out precisely. Use paint markers to put the numbers onto the wood, since they will involve fine detail work. Paint markers are preferable to permanent markers, since they’re more resilient to the elements.
  5. Obtain the gnomon. The gnomon is the part of the sundial that will cast the shadow. It is a length of threaded pipe, and you’ll need it to be approximately two or three inches long. Its diameter should be a half inch. Make sure the diameter of the gnomon is slightly wider than the pipe itself. Improvise a conical tip. The length of the pipe and the gnomon tip should be no longer than 7.5cm total. Paint the gnomon in whatever colour you’d like. This will keep it from rusting.
  6. Prepare the sundial post for mounting. The post is what the sundial’s face, the wooden circle, will be mounted on. You will need a 4x4x8 pressure-formed wooden post that has been outdoor-treated. It needs to be perfectly straight and have no large cracks in it. To mount it correctly, the top of the post must be cut with a precise angle. To get this angle, subtract your current latitude from 90 degrees. For example, if you are located at 40 degrees N. latitude, you would draw a 50 degree angle on the 4x4.
  7. Cut the angle into the post. Draw a line at right angles using a carpenter’s square. Draw this line 15.25cm from the top of the post. The line is the bottom side of the angle. Use a protractor to measure it, then cut the angle with a table saw. Then measure the centre of the sundial’s face and drill a hole there. Test the attachment of the post to the sundial face with a 5/16-inch lag screw, just to make sure everything fits together properly.
  8. Dig a hole for the post. Find a sunny spot for your sundial and dig a hole for the post. Be sure you aren’t disturbing any buried cables or lines underground. Put the post in the hole. Test to make sure it’s no taller than five feet off the ground when standing erect. Use a compass to make sure the angle you cut into the post is facing north. Use a carpenter’s level to make sure the post is standing exactly vertical. Permanently put the post in place by pouring and setting it in cement. Allow a few days to go by before mounting the sundial face, so that the cement has dried completely.
  9. Attach the sundial face to the post. Use a 2cm by 5cm lag screw to attach the face. Tighten the screw enough so that it holds the face in place, but you are still able to turn the face easily. Place the flange directly over the sundial’s face. You should be able to see the lag screw in the flange’s centre hole. Use your right hand to screw the gnomon pipe into the flange, which you should hold in your left hand.
  10. Rotate the sundial face so that the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. lines are horizontal. Then align the gnomon so that those same lines look like they are going straight through the centre. Make sure the line at 12 noon also looks like it is going directly through the gnomon.
  11. Set the time and attach the gnomon. You must set the time during Daylight Saving Time to read accurately. Hold the flange steady with your left hand. Use your right hand to turn the sundial face. Check the current time. Keep turning the face until the shadow of the gnomon shows the same time on the sundial. Use a pencil to mark where the four flange screws are and then take the flange away. Now tighten the lag screw. Do not move the sundial face as you do this. Drill holes for the four screws and then screw the flange onto the sundial. Lastly, screw the gnomon in.

A sundial is a horological device that tells the time of day (referred to as civil time in modern usage) when direct sunlight shines by the apparent position of the Sun in the sky. In the narrowest sense of the word, it consists of a flat plate (the dial) and a gnomon, which casts a shadow onto the dial. As the Sun appears to move through the sky, the shadow aligns with different hour-lines, which are marked on the dial to indicate the time of day. The style is the time-telling edge of the gnomon, though a single point or nodus may be used. The gnomon casts a broad shadow; the shadow of the style shows the time. The gnomon may be a rod, wire, or elaborately decorated metal casting. The style must be parallel to the axis of the Earth's rotation for the sundial to be accurate throughout the year. The style's angle from horizontal is equal to the sundial's geographical latitude.

The term sundial can refer to any device that uses the Sun's altitude or azimuth (or both) to show the time. Sundials are valued as decorative objects, metaphors, and objects of intrigue and mathematical study.

A horizontal dial commissioned in 1862, the gnomon is the triangular blade. The style is its inclined edge. This is the Melbourne sundial at Flagstaff Gardens. Photo: Jeepika.

For The Young At Heart

Some ideas you can do with children and grandchildren this Autumn school holidays. 

Make a rope and wood swing
How easy is this?! Children will get endless enjoyment out of an at-home tree swing. A tree swing is also a great way to encourage little ones to spend more time outside. The best part? It can be made in an afternoon. All you need is a solid piece of wood, some rope, some washers to prevent little fingers getting caught where the rope threads through the wood, some colourful paint or a sealant to protect your wooden seat from the weather.
You could also recycle an old skateboard deck or even an old tyre.
We don't recommend using chain instead of rope, little fingers can get caught in chain links!

Drill four holes in the board, one in each corner. This will be the seat. Then thread the rope through the holes, tie a knot on each side and then attach the swing to a sturdy tree. If you want to ensure extra strength and safety, attached a length of wood at either end of the seat area with screws and thread the rope further down before tying off:

To protect the bough, and also ensure the swing won't break that branch, try employing one of these:

Pad the Rope
Lengths of rubber garden hose can be used to prevent rope from making direct contact with a tree. When placed between the rope and the tree, rubber hose reduces pressure on the bark and the risk of friction. 

Employ Friction Guards
Arborist and recreational tree climbing equipment suppliers have specialized equipment for protecting trees from ropes. Some friction savers are flat straps up to 6 feet long; they can be attached to climbing rope to prevent tree damage and increase climbing safety. Leather cambium savers follow the same principle as a rubber hose: The cambium guards keep rope off the bark. These devices, also called tree savers, are straightforward to use. Just feed rope through a friction guard, and place the guard over a branch or around the trunk.
Use Hammock Straps
Hammock straps made from flat webbing are designed to prevent bark abrasion. Different brands of hammock straps are available, and the straps are adjustable to create a snug fit without harming a tree. Adjusting the straps as the tree grows prevents girdling, which will kill the tree; a tight rope prevents the tree from obtaining nutrients and water. Check sporting good suppliers for hammock hanging kits; a kit generally includes two straps for slinging a hammock between trees. These straps also work for suspending chairs and swings from trees.

Making Your Own Windchimes
Market days are coming up in Pittwater. Here's something you can make with the children to keep, for gifts to others, or something they can help make to sell to help their local surf club or organisations like the Pittwater Friends of Soibada or their school. This will be a unique gift to give or keep and every time it gives music out someone will remember where it came from.

Wind chimes are made from suspended tubes, rods, bells with attached lengths often made of wood or metal. They are hung outside our homes and make great ornaments for verandahs, terraces, balconies but also for gardens. Moved by the wind, they make pleasant sounds from little tinklings to rhythmic tones of wood. You don’t have to limit yourself to the usual materials. You can think outside the box and come up with something wonderful, something found in your own garden - like dried seed pods or a variety of sound makers bought from our local Greenlife Garden Centre - small pebbles for what is suspended, or use flowerpots, brightly decorated, for the alternative 'bells'.

Just remember to apply a coat of sealant as these too can be the worse for wear in all weathers. (Right - multicoloured windchimes, photo courtesy Jina Lee)

You will need: 
Pipes and tubes are the same in wind chimes. Rods are not hollow and sustain notes longer. Hard metals such as steel and aluminum produce sharper tones. Soft metals such as copper produce softer tones. Metal objects are good at producing vibrations, so non-metal chimes such as glass sound more hollow. Test out the sounds of different metal pipes such as copper or aluminum, visit your local Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 store, the one at Mona Vale stocks everthing, and rap on the pipes with something that creates vibration, such as a piece of wood. Or get some pretty shell or pebbles to string all in a row.

Suspension lines. These lines, made of chain, synthetic cord, or another sturdy material, connect the base from which the chimes dangle to whatever holds the wind chime. Cords such as strong nylon are good for bearing the weight of the wind chime and can also be used when connecting the chimes and the striker. The support line material has little impact on the sound. It’s how you hang the chimes that will determine sound, so choose line materials that will last. If you want to hang the chime from a hook or a tree, buy a metal ring to tie to the lines at the top of the chime.

Make a striker. Also called a clapper, the striker is the piece that fits between the chimes and bumps into them to create the vibrations that cause sound. Possible choices for strikers include a round of wood or metal. The wood version is where mums and dads may have to help out with shaping and sanding. Strikers are  circular so that they can hit all chimes equally, but they can also be star-shaped. These hit all chimes at the same time with less force. The weight and material of the striker, in conjunction with the qualities of the chimes, will produce a unique sound.

Make a suspension platform. The platform holds the chimes, letting them hang around the object that will strike them. Make a piece big enough for your design. The piece should be bigger than the striker. Suspension platforms are often made out of wood, metal, or plastic. Make one that can hold five to eight chimes at equal lengths.

Make a sail. The sail is the part that hangs from the striker. Extending lower than the chimes, it gets caught up in the wind, forcing the striker to move into the chimes. Sails are often rectangular or rounded and made of a substance that can be moved by a decent wind, such as a block of wood.
The sail can be carved from wood into many artistic forms, but you may find it easier to choose a simple block of wood that you can drill into and hang from the striker with a suspension line. A small sail will be less durable, but a bigger sail will require more wind to move.

Secure the Suspension Platform: Mark the base. Choose five to eight points where you will suspend your chimes. Indicate the points with a marker. This is where you’ll drill holes, so the marks should indicate that the chimes are equidistant from the center with equal space between each chime. Don’t forget to include a hole for where the striker will hang. Mark the other side of the base, too, to indicate where you plan on drilling holes to make the base hang from the wind chime’s point of suspension if needed.

Drill the holes. These should be tiny holes. Your goal is to be able to run the thread on the chimes through them. Drill a hole in the center of the platform between the holes for the chime threads, then drill a hole through the striker's center and one corner of the sail.

Thread the sail and striker. Cut an appropriate length of thread. This depends on how low you want these pieces to hang. For a five-foot thread, for example, fold the thread in half, then pull it through the sail and knot it. Make a second large knot where the striker will hang about 16 inches or less above, then thread it through the striker.

Try to keep the sail close to the bottom of the longest chime. The longer the sail’s support line, the stronger the wind has to be to move the sail and its extra weight. Remember that wind velocity is often stronger the higher you hang the wind chime, so a sail too close to the ground also won’t cause the chimes to sound as much.

Secure the striker to the platform. Take the thread coming out of the top of the striker and run it through the hole you made in the center of the platform. On the top side, knot the thread securely. This thread, if you chose to make it long enough, can be used to suspend the entire chime. You can also choose to add other hanging implements such as hooks.

Creating the Chimes
Determine how to cut the metal. If you want a specific set of tones, now’s the time to measure. Otherwise, you can plan on making the chimes as long as you wish,. Keep in mind that shorter chimes produce higher-pitched tonesMost commercial chimes play a five-note pentatonic scale. The way you achieve the proper notes depends on the type of pipe you use.

Cut the chimes. Measure out the desired length on the chime material, mark it, then start cutting it. To do this, you’ll need to have a pipe cutter, a hacksaw, or a hand saw. For hand saws, be sure to choose a blade that is made for the kind of metal you are cutting. Your local Johnson Brothers hardware store may be able to cut the pipes for you. If you have a piano, tune the chimes by playing a note and matching the sound they make when you rap on them, then cut off more of the chime as needed.

Sand the edges. Wrap the pipes in towels to protect them. Use a file or sander to wear down the sharp edges on points. If you didn’t cut enough off the pipes, you can sand off the excess here. Unless you’re removing significant portions of the material, which makes the pitch higher, the chime’s sound won’t change.

Drill holes into the pipes. How you wish to make the holes depends on the material you have chosen and how you wish to hang the chimes. For copper pipes, for instance, you can drill holes into the sides in the area you wish to suspend by thread then run the thread through later. Please make sure you're wearing protector googles when working with metals if you have chosen to make this kind of chime.

Cut the thread. Take the suspension lines you have chosen. Measure out your desired length. It’s better to keep the chimes as close to the suspension platform as possible so that the chimes do not sway much, allowing the striker to do the work. Bear in mind the striker’s suspension line is measured to align with the chimes. The striker may have problems reaching some of the chimes if you hang them too long. Chimes that hang too low are more vulnerable in wind and move more, making the wind chime out of tune because the striker doesn’t hit them evenly.

Thread the chimes. How you thread depends on what kind of hole you’ve made. For a chime with two holes, for instance, run the thread through the holes enough so you can tie a knot. You could also choose more complicated methods, such as filling the holes with a screw that you knot the thread around or drill into end caps that you make a knot inside before gluing the caps on the chimes.

Hang the chimes from the suspension platform. To do this, run the threads through the holes you made in the platform. Knot them on the other end. When you hold up the platform now, the chimes should hang with the striker between them and the sail below. To achieve balance with the platform, try distributing the weight of the chimes as equally as possible. Hang long chimes on opposite sides.

Hanging the Chime
Test the chime. Hold the wind chime up or find a makeshift way to hang it, such as temporarily knotting a string. Provide wind or strike the chimes to see if they provide the desired sound. Check to see if all the parts hang evenly and securely.

Change the strike zone. Chances are your chimes currently are top-aligned. This means the top of all the chimes hangs from the platform and the striker hits a little below the midline of the longest chime. You can manipulate the chimes and their strings for different sounds. In a bottom-alignment, the bottoms of the chimes are all level. The strings hanging them are different lengths and the striker hits a little below the centre of the shortest chime. In a centre-alignment, the striker is even with the centre of all the chimes. The string lengths are all different and the tops and bottoms of the chimes don’t align.

Install a metal hook. If you haven’t run a wire through the top of the suspension platform, you can push a hook into it instead. You may need to use pliers to bend the hook over so it can latch onto the metal chain you use to hang the wind chime. Other options include running one or more of the chime and striker threads through the platform or installing a triangle of hooks to tie together for hanging the wind chime.

Find an area to hang the chime. Suspend the chime on a tree branch, from a metal ring or hook, or wherever else it pleases you. Find a location that provides an adequate amount of wind and keep the chime off the ground to achieve the desired sound. (Creative Commons Licence - Info derived fromWikihow)

The world's largest windchime was made by Jim Bolin and is located at 109 East Main Street, Casey, Illinois. The windchime was entered into the Guinness World Records as the Largest Windchime on June 22, 2012. The windchime measures 12.80 m (42 ft) long and consists of five metal tubes which are suspended 14.94 m (49 ft) from the ground.The windchime weighs a total of 16,932.4 pounds.

Photo courtesy Jud McCranie 

Previously run hands-on fun for youngsters and older young adults who like bigger projects:

The Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Stores Stock All You Need For Garden Care This  Autumn School Holidays

- includes specials in the Get Set for Ester and beyond Johnson Brothers - Mitre 10 catalogue, on special until April 16, 2023 - available to read here online

Greenlife garden centre at Johnson Brothers Mona Vale - for all your gardening needs.

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10: Serving Our Community Since 1955

The Independent Hardware Group has awarded Johnson Bros Mona Vale the best in state at the IHG state awards and heads to the national finals on the Gold Coast in February 2022. 

Congratulations to the store in Avalon Beach as well, which won best in village.

Johnson Brothers say; ''Thank you to all of our amazing staff and customers for being awesome!''

IHG is Australia’s largest home improvement wholesaler supplying more than 1,500 stores nationwide. These stores cater to a broad range of Trade and DIY customers and range from large format warehouses to convenience operations and Trade centres, as well as frame and truss sites in two States. 

Under the IHG network, there is a clear mandate to support the growth of Independents within the hardware sector in Australia by helping them to be ‘The Best Store in Town’.

The culture of IHG is built on being a low cost and transparent business partner to members, with an unwavering commitment to protect and grow a sustainable independent hardware sector for the long term.

JBH Design Centre 

JBH Design Centre is a tool for builders and DIY'ers to assist in the fit out of houses. It has displays of kitchens, Bathrooms, Doors and Storage as well as knowledgeable staff to assist in making house fit out painless.

Visit: http://jbhdc.com.au/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/design.centre.jbh/

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale - everything you need under one roof.

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Store
73 Bassett Street
Mona Vale - Online Store: Jbhmv.Com.Au

Products advice is available from the trained friendly staff at Narrabeen, Mona Vale and Avalon Johnson Brothers Mitre 10. 

Click on logo to visit Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 website

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Avalon            (02) 9918 3315

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale     (02) 9999 3340

JBH Timber & Building Supplies          (02) 9999 0333

JBH Fencing & Landscape Supplies    (02) 9970 6333

www.johnsonbros.com.au Online store: jbhmv.com.au

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This Movember: Some Lawn Care Tips To Keep Your Grass Greener This Summer - Aerate, Worm Up!, Fertilise, Watering, Mowing Basics  Christmas-New Years 2021 Checklists: Preparing The Garden & Home - Entertaining - Gift Ideas For Every Budget  DIY Backyard Cricket Pitch DIY Surfboard Rack: Vertical and Horizontal Options  Late Summer - Early Autumn Garden Tips: BOM Forecasts Warm Autumn 2022 With Above Average Rainfall  Dealing With Dampness Inside The Home March 2022  Maintenance Of Your Home's Outside Areas After Storm Events: Paths, Walls & Windows, Dampness Under The House, Dying Lawns And Plants - The DIY Checklist  Fun Project Ideas for Youngsters for Autumn School Holidays: wooden cars, blackboards, bright painted herb pots, grow your own food, make a chessboard  Mother's Day 2022: Promise Her An Ever Blooming Native Flowering Plants Garden  Retaining Walls Save Your Garden's Soil: DIY  Winter Draught Stops To Lessen Your Power Bill   Johnson Brothers Trade Day 2022: June 16 At Mona Vale + Winter Garden Jobs For A Flowering Fruitful Spring  Winter School Holidays Projects For Youngsters On Rainy Days Dealing With Dampness Inside The Home: Black Mould July 2022  Stop Winter Rain Soil Erosion In Your Garden - Especially On Sloping Blocks Increases In Building Materials Costs Adds Pressure To Fixed Price Contracts - Construction Industry  Father's Day 2022 - Some Gift Ideas To Make Dad Feel Special; Some For Those Without A Single Dollar + Some For Those Who Get Pocket Money! Spring 2022: Time To Get In The Garden! What Can Be Done In September - For Youngsters + Oldsters  Spring School Holidays 2022: Handmade Toys - For Youngsters + Oldsters Who Want To Lend A Hand  Spring Lawn Care: During Mow For Your Bro Month - Movember 2022  Preparing Your Garden and Home For Bushfires 2022 - The Rains Will Cease; Now Is A Good Time To Clean Out Your Gutters + Prep. The Home  Preparing Outdoor Areas For Christmas Get-Togethers and Summer Visitors: Wooden Decks, Tiles, Pavers, Outdoor  Furniture, Putting Up The Christmas Lights, Garden Spruce Up   Summer Garden-House Care: when to water, mow, when and how to harvest that crop, how to keep the ants, ticks and mozzies at bay this season + Christmas Gifts for all budgets and everyone + Johnson Brothers Christmas - New Years Trading Hours  End Of Summer Garden To Do List For A Bountiful Indian Summer This Autumn  End Of Summer Garden To Do List For The Lawn: How To Combat Armyworm + Small Jobs Boost Winter Resilience - Aerate, Weed, Feed, Patch Bare Spots  A Dry Autumn Forecast: How To Look After Your Garden During Low Rain Seasons + What Plants Thrive In Dry Conditions


John and Bob Johnson - The Johnson Brothers Profile  John William Alfred Johnson - The Eulogies for those who could not attend Mass

Australia's Prime Minister Visits Mackellar - Informal Afternoon Tea with Hon. Malcolm Turnbull October 2016

JBH Win Awards August 2018 Trifecta - 2018 Free Trade Day supporters, Mitre 10 Heritage Advert features JBH Mona Vale Store, Hardware Australia’s 2018 NSW Hardware Store of the Year over 2500sqm.

Front Page Issue 294: 2018 Winners Of National Hardware Store Of The Year - Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale !!!

National Garden Week's 2019 Focus Is On Children(Oct 13-19): School Holiday Garden Ideas (to get started on) & Congratulations Award Winning Johnson Brothers Mitre10 At Mona Vale - 2019 NSW Store Of the Year2019 NSW Trade Centre Of the Year and 2019 Village Garden Centre of the Year

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 were awarded as the best Trade Store in the country: February 2020

Family Hardware Store Wins Best In Australia: Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale Crowned ‘National Trade Store Of The Year’ - Celebrating 65th Year in 2020

Anzac Day In Pittwater 2020: Candles, Crosses and Online Commemorative Services: Johnson Brothers Family Donates 20 Thousand Candles to Community Light Up The Dawn Initiativ

Front Page Issue 447ANZAC DAY 2020

Front Page Issue 478: Johnson Brothers Avalon Store Renovations & Mona Vale Store: Everything You Need This Summer In Stock

Front Page Issue 492:  JBH Celebrates Upgrade Of Avalon Beach Store

Bob, John and Robert Johnson, 2013 - photo by A J G.
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You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this publication (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this publication are provided on the basis that Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 and Pittwater Online News excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this publication. 

Pittwater Online News and Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 also advises there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work. Major projects published in this publication always list these and/orlinks to where you may research what your own project requires to meet regulations.