Category

How-To

Category

Here at ManoMano we celebrate International DIY Day on the 24th May. To make the most of this wondrous occasion, we have put together a new DIY project: a tutorial on making your own bird feeder which will encourage lots of beautiful birdsong in the garden.

Whether it’s spring, summer or the depths of winter, there are bound to be some peckish birds around. So why not give them a place to eat and rest, and at the same time fill your garden with some feathered friends? Learning how to make a bird feeder will also educate you on which birds are local to your area.

In this article, we will guide you step by step through a DIY bird feeder and also a bird nest, in addition to sharing advice on what to feed birds.

What do birds eat?

The RSPB, which is responsible for the protection of birds, recommends feeding our feathered friends all year round in order to give them a better chance to survive food shortages whenever they may occur. They suggest providing both food and water during the winter months. 

As far as food is concerned, we recommend sunflower seeds, which are ideal for most birds. Always choose quality seeds that have not undergone chemical treatment. You can place them inside the feeder, without forgetting to add a corner for water.

DIY bird feeder: Tools & Materials

For the DIY bird feeder, you will need the following tools:

You will also need the following tools to make the bird’s nest:

  • Wood file
  • Front and back side : 2 wooden planks – 240x170x10mm 
  • Right and left side: 2 wooden planks – 155x100x10mm for the nest
  • Roof of the feeder : 2 wooden planks – 220x140x10 and 221x150x10mm
  • The base: x1 wooden plank – 170x120x10mm
  • 1 plank for the floor
The tools you need for the DIY bird feeder project

Cost, duration and difficulty

You will need about 30 minutes for each of the two parts to this project. Excluding the drill, it will cost about £45 in total.

DIY bird feeder in 3 steps

Step 1: Cut it up 

Cut the 1000x80x10 mm plank of wood into several pieces:

– 2 x 14 cm planks. Make a 45° cut at the ends.

– 3 x 14 cm planks

– 1 x 15 cm plank

To cut the planks, use the frame cutter kit, which is essential for making 45° corners. If you have one to hand, use the frame saw; it will be a great help.

Step 2: Assembly

Place the two planks with 45° cuts at the sides, as shown in the photo below. These two sides will be placed on a 14 cm board that forms the base. Assemble the roof with the 15 cm and 14 cm planks, as in the photo. 

The last plank will be the bottom of our bird feeder. Before inserting the screws, remember to make a small hole with the wooden bit to prevent the wood from being damaged.

Assemble the DIY bird feeder

Step 3: Add your own touches to the DIY bird feeder

Fix the two hooked nails to the roof and thread a string through them to hang the bird feeder. You can personalise your creation by adding, for example, a wooden log to the front where the birds can rest.

Alternatively, you can glue thin wooden discs to the sides of the feeder to add further pattern and texture.

Make a bird nest in 3 steps

Make a bird nest too

Step 1: Prepare the boards

Draw the line of the roof slope on the two 240x170x10mm boards. For this step, place the boards vertically and find the centre. Next, on the 24cm side, draw a mark at 8.5cm, then draw the slope from the centre of the 17cm side to the point marked at 8.5 cm. The following photo shows the lines drawn.

The two 155x100x10mm planks will be the left and right sides of the nest, and the two 220x140x10 mm and 221x150x10mm planks will be the roof. For one of the planks where you have made the roof slope, make a hole in the centre 2.5 cm in diameter, then file the edges slightly. This hole will be the entrance to the nest. 

Step 2: Bring it together 

You can now move on to the assembly phase of the nest. Assemble the two planks with the roof slope together with the 155x100x10mm side planks, then arrange the roof with the 220x140x10mm and 221x150x10mm planks. 

Finally, complete the base by adding the 170x120x10mm board.

Step 3: Stringing it out

Finish by placing two nails in the roof, where the string will pass through to hang the nest. You can also add a piece of wood at the nest opening to make it easier for the birds to enter.

Add string to the bird feeder so you can hang it
DIY bird feeder guide
© Elisa Stone

Did you enjoy this article on how to make a bird feeder? Perhaps you’d be interested in learning about beginner beekeeping or reading our bird cage accessories buying guide!

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags! 

Whether you’re a fan of lazy evenings lounging in the garden or slowly sipping on pre-dinner drinks on the patio, you shouldn’t feel compelled indoors every time the summer sun goes down. That’s what outdoor lighting is for—staying out in the garden for as long as possible! Our latest project shows how you can DIY a solar lamp made from pallets, which you can place along garden pathways.

Often overlooked, outdoor lighting plays an important role in garden design and decor. It can be used to highlight a path, set the ambiance or illuminate special features such as flowerbeds or seating areas. And because it’s solar-powered, it doesn’t require cables, is easy to install and is economical.

We’ve made the solar lamp from pallet wood so that it is not only affordable, but also sturdy enough to withstand being knocked around in the garden. What’s more, this simple but eye-catching design will add an extra touch of character to your home’s outside space.

What you’ll need for the DIY solar lamp:

How to DIY a solar lamp out of pallets

Step 1: Cut the wooden pallet boards

Cut the wooden pallets for the DIY solar lamp

Take the pallet apart and prepare 5 boards from the original pallet. 

Once prepared, saw the boards into 4 pieces that will be used to make the sides of your solar lamp. We used 2 boards measuring 50 cm long and 2 measuring 40 cm long. You can adapt these measurements to the height of solar light you want, but make sure there is a 10 cm difference between the two lengths.

Step 2: Build the solar lamp frame

Lay one of the smaller boards flat on the ground and position the larger ones at right angles to its sides. Make sure that the boards at the bottom of your light are lined up correctly. Mark the position of the screws with a pencil: you’ll need one top and one bottom placement for each board.

Pre-drill your boards with a 3mm drill bit and screw in the stainless steel screws. Repeat these steps for the shorter board, which will serve as the front of your bollard light.

Step 3: Make the top of your solar lamp

Smooth the wood of your DIY solar lamp

To make the top portion of your light, cut a rectangular piece of wood to fit the dimensions you’ve prepared. Next, sand the corners of the wood so that they are smooth and splinter-free.

Using your hole saw, drill a hole in the centre of the top. If possible, use a tool that measures the same diameter as the top of your solar path light so that the fit will be snug. If you don’t have this option, you will need to glue it together and use an outdoor silicone sealant.

Step 4: Fit the solar light into the top

Fit the bulb into the DIY solar lamp

Insert the solar path light (without its base) so that the solar panel fits with the top of your bollard. If necessary, use glue and a silicone sealant.

Step 5: Attach the top of your lamp to the frame

Attach the parts for your DIY solar lamp

Before adding the top (the wood and lightbulb) that you’ve just assembled, you will need to pre-drill the wood. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to attach it onto the lamp base with the screws.

Step 6: Protect your pallet wood for the outside

Protect your garden solar lighting

Wooden pallets are not treated for outdoor use. Typically made of fir planks, the quality of each pallet varies; most will warp when exposed to the moisture and heat of an outdoor environment. To protect your solar light, you’ll need exterior-grade varnishes. Varnishes intended for extreme climatic conditions—such as those used to coat yachts or log cabins— are particularly effective. For something more natural, we recommend trying linseed oil varnish.
Whichever wood treatment you choose, it will need repainting at least once a year if you want to keep your solar light in good condition for many years to come.

All that’s left is choosing the perfect place for your DIY solar lamp—and making more to spread along your garden path!

DIY solar lamp made from wood pallets
DIY solar lamp made from wood pallets

Did you enjoy this article on a DIY solar lamp? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our article on how solar panels work or seeing our 5 tips on outdoor living space design.

Are you making your own solar lamp out of pallets? Share your finished results with us on Instagramusing the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Plastering is a job lots of people tend to leave to the experts, but it is a practical skill to have up your sleeve if you enjoy DIY. You may need to plaster a wall from scratch, or smooth over some minor cosmetic repairs in the ceiling. In this article, we will share a step-by-step beginner’s guide to plastering a wall, alongside some handy tips along the way. 

The tools you’ll need for your wall plastering project:

Tools for wall plastering
Tools for wall plastering

 Large mixing bucket

 Smaller varying sizes of buckets

Hawk (plastic if you’re only going to use it once. It’s cheaper and lighter)

Trowel(s)

PVA Glue (optional for new plasterboard)

Paddle mixer (or strong arms)

Large paint brush (6”)

Stainless steel Bucket trowel

A cleaning brush

A face mask

Step 1:  Prepare the area for wall plastering

Ensure the area is clear of furniture and other objects that may get in the way. Use protective sheeting or old blankets to cover up larger items that can’t be moved.

Step 2: Get the wall ready

Ensure the wall is clean and free from dust and debris.

Fix the angle beads to the plasterboard edges – using a staple gun works well. Angle beads give the best finish to edges, plus provide a great guide to the correct thickness of the plaster you need to apply.

Fix the angle beads to the plasterboard edges
Fix the angle beads to the plasterboard edges

Apply some scrim tape to your plaster board or any cracks if on an existing wall. All buildings and walls move due to expansion and contraction, and the potential for cracking is always there, but with this self adhesive scrim tape you really do minimise the risk. Just stick to the top of your board and roll and stick as you go covering the joint. Once at the bottom you can either use the toe (front edge) of your trowel to cut the mesh with a ripping motion or a Stanley knife.

Step 3: Glue it out

Mix the glue
Mix the glue

Mix some PVA glue at a ratio of 4:1 – that’s 4 parts water to 1 part PVA glue. This is more applicable if you’re plastering on to old plasterboard or skimming over old walls. However I still use this as an aid to my plastering even on new plasterboard. Mix the PVA glue mix and allow to dry (preferably overnight if you have the time). Once it has dried you then apply a second coat of PVA mix. When this has become tacky and nearly dry, you then start to mix your plaster – this is the glue coat which helps the plaster to bond with the wall.

Step 4: Mixing your plaster

Add the powder to the water in stages to avoid getting lumpy bits at the bottom of your bucket. 

For a bag of plaster (Thistle Multi finish) you need roughly 12.5 to 13 liters of water – try different amounts between this gauge to find a mix that is neither too runny or too thick. Ideally your plaster should be creamy and firm enough so that when you remove your paddle mixer, the sides where your mixer was should hold firm and not collapse in on itself.  Your second coat mix should be slightly wetter than the first. It will still hold firm but slump in a little.

Aim to mix the plaster in 3 stages. Begin with your clean water, never dirty or even slightly dirty water. Also, make sure you wear a mask to protect yourself from dust from the plaster.

Add enough plaster powder till it sits on top of the water. Use your paddle mixer on a slow setting to get it all nicely mixed together. Use your bucket trowel to clean the powder and mix back into the bucket.

Mixing the plaster
Mixing the plaster

Add your second amount of plaster again till it sits on top of the water. Then mix with the paddle and use your bucket trowel as before. Your plaster should be now getting close to correct consistency.

For the final third, you will be able to gauge how much powder to add to get the right mix for you. Just always remember to move your paddle up and down and around the side of the bucket and clean the side with your bucket trowel. 

Now, onto the plastering! 

My top tip at this stage: clean all the materials you’ve just used.

Step 5: Time for the first coat

If you are right handed, then start plastering from the top left of your wall – and vice versa if you’re left handed.

A lot will depend on the size of your wall, especially height. Because this wall is not very high, I knew I could plaster the top first, meaning that I could come back to the beginning and plaster from the floor to meet the top. However, if the wall had been taller and longer, I would have broken it down into individual areas.

The wall plastering begins!
The wall plastering begins!

So, the first thing is to wet your trowel and hawk with clean water. I always have a small bucket and brush with fresh water during the first and second coats. Then get a little amount of plaster on your Hawk and smear it around with your trowel. This will stop your plaster falling on the floor when you start. Next, get a dollop of plaster with your bucket trowel and put into the middle of your hawk. The hardest part is getting it on your trowel from your hawk. Let me explain:

Hawk in your left hand, trowel right hand – opposite if you’re left handed.

Tilt your hawk slightly inwards and push your trowel into the top of the plaster at the halfway point and push through and out the back. Increase the tilt inwards as you push through so as not to push it straight on to the floor. It’s worth practicing with a little plaster if you can spare any.   

Smear the plaster on your Hawk with the trowel
Smear the plaster on your Hawk with the trowel

You then apply the plaster with your trowel at about 15° – 20° to the wall. Steadily glide your trowel and plaster across the wall narrowing the angle as you go till it’s almost flat, applying even pressure throughout.  Do not worry at this stage if it doesn’t look pretty, as that will come later. Ensure you are filling all the gaps at the angle of the wall and ceiling.  Ideally you need to be laying approximately 1-2mm of plaster.

Continue this process until you have completely covered the top third of your wall.

For the bottom section, load your trowel and stopping just short of the floor, place your trowel against the wall. Using the same technique and angles as before, glide your trowel up the wall using the angle bead as your guide. Always apply even pressure and this will help you keep it flat. If you hear a scraping noise you are pressing too hard. If you end up with a big dollop on the wall then not enough pressure.

Apply even pressure to your wall plastering
Apply even pressure to your wall plastering

As you become more confident, you can apply more plaster and be able to fill in from the bottom to the top third you have done already. However, if you need to do a middle section then do that first with this same method, finishing from the bottom to the middle. The reason we do this is so that each section blends in with each other.

Complete this whole process across the wall. When you are plastering up the wall, move in a sweeping arc like motion as if you were creating a rainbow, but keep the arc short. Once again this helps to blend all the new plaster into the plaster already laid on the wall.

And the first coat is complete! Clean the tools with clean water.

First coat is complete!
First coat is complete!

Mytop tip at this stage: For your first attempt don’t load too much plaster onto your hawk.

Step 6: Get in line

It is normal if there are some lines and uneven patches at this stage. However, you don’t want the wall to set the way it is with lots of lines in it. As it starts to firm after approximately 15 minutes, you can start to get rid of the lumps and lines by troweling over the whole area, trying to get it as flat as you can.

Trowel over any lumps or lines
Trowel over any lumps or lines

You also need to pay attention to the corners, top and bottom of the wall, using the edge of your trowel to cut away any excess plaster.  Using a small brush is very useful for the angles.

Step 7: Time for the second coat

The second coat should be applied once the first coat has become tacky, like putty. You can push into it and leave a print but you won’t pull the plaster off the wall. If it pulls from the wall and or comes off a little bit on your finger, then leave it a bit longer to firm up. 

Mix your second coat as you did the first. However, you should not need as much as the first coat as the first is your base coat, the second is where the magic happens. The second coat should go on much smoother and fills in all the voids and imperfections. I would also make this slightly runnier than the first.

Applying the second coat of plaster to the wall
Applying the second coat of plaster to the wall

Then you will apply the second coat exactly the same way as the first. This time we are aiming for 1mm covering of plaster. Working from the top edge, pull the plaster down the wall to help fill in the voids.

Once the top is completed then start at the bottom and do the same as previous. Nice smooth long strokes up the wall to meet the previously laid plaster forming an arc at the end. 

Try fill as many holes as possible, again don’t get too tied in with this as the wall will be setting.  Keep applying good even pressure throughout the process. This will push the plaster into all the gaps and help keep it flat and even.

Step 8: Fill any holes                                                                 

As you pass over each part of the wall with your trowel check for holes. With good firm pressure,  start to fill in any holes as you did previously. Just the pressure alone should fill in the holes but if needed, use the excess that is on your trowel.

Step 9: Smooth things over

At this stage, we have a wall that is hole free – but there may still be lines to attend to.

Once the plaster is firm enough to flatten the ridges without making any more lines, then you are ready to go. If you do create more lines then your plaster is still too wet and you’ll need to wait a little longer for it to dry. Once the wall is firm enough, trowel out those lines. 

My top tip at this stage: Have a cup of tea and just keep checking the wall. 

Step 10: Add a splash of water

Using clean water, with both a bucket and brush or spray bottle, we need to smooth our flat plaster with water. Wet the brush and apply along the wall, then trowel across with a good even pressure. If the water runs down, trowel it out. 

Any creamy plaster left on your trowel is what’s called the “Fat” – this is what gives the wall its smooth finish. Keep it on the wall to fill the small imperfections. Work the corners and the angles; they will make your job look great with clean cut angles and beads.

Step 11: Wall plastering – the final trowelling

Final steps – give the wall another trowelling. Grab a damp rag to clean the trowel, then trowel out your wall once again. Using a dry trowel will give a shine to your wall, but don’t overdo it as the paint won’t stick afterwards. There should be nothing coming off the wall now at this stage.

A top tip for the whole process: constantly check your wall by touching it. You can’t do much when your plaster is soft apart from get it on the wall and move it around. As your plaster is starting to firm up, that’s when you can start to fill in the holes and get rid of those lines, then it will start to look like a plastered wall. And voilà! Our beginner’s guide to plastering a wall.

Wall plaster project
Finished wall plaster project

Written by one of our expert Manodvisors

I am D from D&L Plastering. I have be plastering 8 years and came to the plastering game a little later than most. So if I can do it then so can you! I work in all areas of plastering -plastering, rendering, dry wall construction. Additionally, I am fully trained in venetian plaster finishes.

Did you enjoy this wall plastering guide for beginners? Why not take a look at our wall panelling tutorial or read our head and ear protection buying guide here!

Are you carrying out a wall plastering project? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Footstool topper project by My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy 

DIY multifunctional furniture is just so handy; it takes up less space in your home and saves money on buying two items, which is exactly why we’ve created this two-in-one DIY project. We’ve made a padded ‘topper’ that allows you to convert any size of coffee table into a footstool or ottoman. It’s not attached to the table itself, so you can take it off while you’re enjoying a cup of tea, and then pop it back on top when you want to put your feet up.

You can easily make the topper to fit the size of your existing coffee table and, if it has a shelf below, you can adjust the measurements of the topper so that it also fits onto the shelf, where it can be stowed away when you’re not using it. The footstool cushion topper has a non-slip base, which not only covers the upholstery staples to protect the surface of the table, it also stops the topper from slipping off the table when you’re using it as a footstool or ottoman.

DIY footstool topper
Multifunctional DIY furniture

Find out how to DIY this convertible ottoman topper with step-by-step photos here.

Project created by My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy with photography by Andy-Greenacre.co.uk 

Did you enjoy this article on how to make your own footstool topper? Why not read our tutorial on creating a raffia mirror in 10 minutes or even our beanbag & pouffe buying guide!

Are you making your own multifunctional ottoman topper? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Upcycle wooden drawers into under-bed storage project in collaboration with My Thrifty Life

It can be a challenge to keep your home tidy, especially when you’ve got youngsters at home all day, so why not make the tidying process easier with some handy under-bed storage? This upcycling project makes use of old wooden drawers salvaged from different broken chests of drawers and turns them into useful storage that fits neatly under the bed, sofa or coffee table. Low-profile castors make it easier to access the drawers once they’re full, just measure the height of the gap and make sure the box will fit underneath once the castors are added. 

Upcycle wooden drawers ideas
(C) Andy Greenacre and My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy

You can make a cartoon-themed drawer for children to help them tidy away their toys, or you could create a handy roll-out box for teenagers’ trainers. You can make multiple drawers to fit along the length of a bunk bed and either go for a coordinating finish or let kids decorate their own personalised drawer in vibrant colours. If you want to add more storage beneath your own double bed, why not add maps or photos to the interior for a grown-up version? 

Check out the step-by-step DIY project to make this handy under-bed storage drawers here.

Project created by My Thrifty Life by Cassiefairy with photography by Andy-Greenacre.co.uk 

Did you enjoy this article on how to upcycle wooden drawers? Why not read our tips & tricks to create a cosy reading space or even our bedroom furniture buying guide!

Are you upcycling your wooden drawers for under-bed storage? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!