Category Archives: DIY Projects

Here are various projects I’ve spent my free time on.

DIY Sliding Door – easy to do, instructions & plan.

I wanted to add a sliding door to hide a hallway in my living room

As well as a decorative item adding character to the living room the sliding door will also act as a stair gate and add sound proofing properties. I wrote this guide to help you understand how your DIY sliding door project can be a success!

DIY Sliding Door
This is what my design of a sliding door looks like when it is completely finished.

Before I jumped into building the door, I drew up some plans so I could understand the cost and materials needed. Feel free to steel my plan with pride! I went for a barn style door and tried to figure out how to achieve the design, by considering the ease of construction, the cost and quality of materials and additional benefits such as sound and fire proofing properties.

The plan contains the board pattern (ABCDE) and the dimensions for the plywood panel.

You can build a sliding door easily, cheaply and safely.

I realise there are a ton of designs on the internet and probably tons of ways to build sliding doors but I used DIY techniques that I knew I was relatively good at. I purchased materials that were cost effective and researched the sound absorption properties of those materials.

My main aims for the project were:

  • Have a great looking design, clean simple and characteristic.
  • 10-20db Sound absorption
  • Easy to slide the door, especially for children
  • Handles easy to grab onto and reachable by adults and children
  • Door is safe to use and has limited possibility to demount
  • Low cost, sustainable and durable materials
  • Has basic fire protection capabilities

So, to summarise, I felt it would be a good idea to use wooden boards (planks) for the decorative effect and then one single piece of plywood to hold it all together. Looking around online for ideas I found a kit for hanging a barn style door.

I purchased the Kit through Wish but Amazon also offers some design variations of the kit, that you might like to consider.

What thickness should a sliding door be?

Cost was not the only thing, the brackets I chose to use to hang the door allow for no more than approx 45mm thickness. I figured this out by playing with the door kit and measuring it with a tape. Having a door too thick will mean the door bolts won’t fit the door and if you decide to use longer bolts, they might rub along the wall. So I suggest carefully choosing the thickness of the door in your plan and stick with it. The kit I purchased (link below), has bolts that could support 40-43mm quite comfortably. My door ended up being just shy of 40mm.

This kit can be found on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon AU

Deciding the height and width of your sliding door

The height and width of the door was simply the height and width of the opening I wanted to cover + 40mm each side and 40mm on the height to block light and sound coming through the side of the door. Hence 1080mm by 2000mm for an opening of 1000mm x 1960mm.

Sliding door with soundproofing

You have a few options when it comes to choosing the right materials for soundproofing and my decision to use Spruce Plywood as the main component for soundproofing the sliding door was based on the thickness, cost and durability (door being long lasting with minimal maintenance).

MaterialCostProsCons
MDFCheap– Very dence
– Very thick
– Very heavy
– I was not confident that the nails and glue would hold
Birch PlywoodExpensive (100€ at 18mm)– Exceptional sound proofing– Expensive, double the cost of spruce plywood
– Still quite heavy but not too bad at 18mm.
Spruce PlywoodReasonable cost (approx 50€ at 18mm)– Excellent sound absorption (albeit not the best)– The local sawmill didn’t offer 21mm which I would have preferred.
– Not as good as birch
OSBCheap– Great sound absorption (albeit not the best)– The wooden pattern was not what I desired
Above: Options that I compared Spruce plywood to.
Sound reduction, dB suggested by the Finnish forestry union. https://www.metsateollisuus.fi/uploads/2017/03/30041750/887.pdf

So at 18mm, spruce plywood, I can expect to meet my goal of achieving 10-20db soundproofing. Grade 3 has knots in the wood, holes and dents are still minimal. If you intend to paint your door, grade 3 will suffice.

Sliding door material cost breakdown:

Prices are retail from a local DIY store

  • Grade 3 Plywood (Spruce, not birch) including sawmill fee for cutting: 47€
  • Water-based white paint (half gloss/Satin): 20€
  • 4 x stainless steel bolts for door handles: 2€
  • Packet of black bolt caps M8 size: 4€
  • 22 x 150mm Wooden boarding (approx 2€ /m), about 20€
  • Door handles: 29€
  • Sliding Door Hanging kit: 60€
  • Wood filer (optional) and sanding paper: 2-10€

Tools used in this project:

  • Air powered nail gun + compressor (Can be hired if you don’t have one).
  • 30mm length nails for nail gun (ensure the length is 2mm less than your door thickness).
  • Socket set, screw drivers.
  • Door hanging kits comes with wall plugs, bolts, washers.
  • Strong PVA / Wood Glue
  • Clamps

Some practicalities and safety advice

  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes
  • Wear ear defenders when using loud machines
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • Help from somebody for lifting the materials

Consult a professional if you are unsure about anything, or feel free to drop me a line (I’m not a professional myself but I am happy to provide clarifications and offer assistance). Ensure that your installation location is free of electrical cables, plumbing gas pipes and or other obstacles that could put you or your loved ones at risk.

With this in mind, here’s how it’s done..

Cut a piece of plywood to size

Spruce Plywood cut to size, rested on supports.

To save time, I visited a local home improvement shop that was equipped with a sawmill and had the plywood cut to 1080 x 2000. In addition to this, I loaded up some 22x150mm boards onto the trailer.

Pick up as many boards needed to cover the pieces needed to cut. I rough cut them at the shop and then cut them to size back at home with the mitre saw.

Measure and cut the boards to size

Measure the length with a tape measure. Mark and then rule across with a set square. Line up the mitre saw blade with the line, ensuring the the blade is cutting on the scrap piece edge. This way you’ll get a more accurate cut.

Place the planks

When you’ve cut all four lengths, place them on the plywood and line them up. If you find that something is too long or short. Trim down or sand the plank/board until it fits. What you are looking for here is a perfect fit on all four sides.

It’ll save you time and get you a better finish if all the planks match up and fit snug. Small imperfections can be sanded away at a later stage in this project.
Walk around and check all sides!

Time to glue and nail the planks

For a longer lasting finish, you’ll need the help of some glue to bond the planks and some nails to hold everything in place.

I would highly recommend renting, buying or borrowing a air powered nail gun (brad nailer). Brad nailer fires really small nails (typically 15mm – 50mm in length). It’s the perfect tool for precision projects like this, where using a hammer to hit nails would make it really difficult for you to keep everything in place. Additionally you’ll need an air compressor capable of 6-8 bar.

Tiny nails become hidden

If you’re worried about seeing nails, they are so small you can paint over them quite easily – no filler needed. Set the nail gun to indent the nail by 1-1.5mm.

Alternative to nailing?

If you don’t have a brad nailer or air compressor, then you could probably get away with just using a really strong adhesive such as a polymer based adhesive.

My weapon of choice has been the Senco S200BN. Highly accurate, safe and easy to use.
Senco Nails 30mm are what I used in this project. My tape measure always makes me feel thirsty during work!

Note: Make sure that the length of your nails does not exceed the thickness of your door! The thickness of my door was 38mm approx. 30mm in this case, meant absolutely no risk of nailing through to the other side of the door.

Tidy up the loose ends

Give the ends of planks a quick sand, to remove splinters that might prevent your planks sitting flush with the plywood.

Give a quick rub down with 40 / 100 grit paper to remove splinters. You want a flush fit plank to plywood. The edges of the door can be sanded later on.

Here’s the process for installing the planks using nails

  • Pick side of blank that has the better appearance and place face down.
  • Glue the back of plank with a wave pattern of glue or polymer adhesive if you are not using nails.
  • Carefully place the plank down onto the plywood and clamp.
If you have clamps available, clamp with two pieces of wood so that the clamp arms do not dent your workpiece.
  • With the plank clamped, Nail with the square gun. Nail away from the edges of the plank in a formation like this:

With all the planks in place, nailed and glued, you can begin work on the diagonal plank. Place a length of wood across the door so that it extends past both corners.

Now we are going to cut to fit a diagonally positioned plank.

Line up each end of the plank, so that it meets the corner of the other planks. Like this:

The right side of the plank laying down is lined up with the corner of planks fitted to the plywood.

Check each side twice, make sure you are happy with the alignment on each side. When you are happy, use a straight ruler or a set square to draw a line across the plank. This will be the line that you cut.

Before you make the cut, have a few practices with the scrap end of the plank and change the angle of your mitre saw accordingly. Try to get it as close are you can, better if it’s slightly larger, because we can sand down 1-2mm as a next step.

Practice cuts before the real cut.

Sand back until you get a good fit.

Keep sanding until you get a great fit.

Do the same for both ends of the plank.

Glue, and nail into place. If you can’t clamp, hold down with weight as you nail the board into place.

The next step will be to give the door a sand down with 240 then 400 grit sandpaper.

I’m using an orbital sander but a regular sanding block also works well.

If you have an air blower attachment for your compressor or a brush, give the door a once over to clean away dirt, dust and wood particles.

Now its a good time for a coffee and snack. The wood work is mostly complete!

Preparing the sliding door for painting.

Prop up the door and take a good look at it. Identify any parts of the door you wish to sand or use a filler to close gaps or imperfections. On my door, I closed a few gaps with wood filler and acrylic. If you use a water based floor paint, half gloss, it will seal gaps 1mm by itself easily, so you’re really looking for larger gaps.

Any decent wood filler will do. Apply with finger or spatula.
Basic builders acrylic / caulk is good for gaps also, a bit more fluid like.
Planks join with wood filler
Now your door is ready for painting!

Painting a sliding door

If you’ve used any filler, let it dry out for some time before adding paint.

For the painting of the door, you will need paint, a stiff brush, a roller brush and tray. Pour some paint in and make a start!

The stiff brush makes it easy to get into corners.

Nails should be paintable with very little effort. If the paint is thick enough, no filler is needed.

Before>

After:

Nails are so small, that they are quite easy to miss.
After first coat, the wood marks are still visible. Apply a second coat if desired.

Paint the back of the door next.

With grade 3 wood, you will have knots but they should not affect the surface or finish of the paint.

Hanging / installing a sliding door

I ordered a sliding door kit which contained everything I needed to hang the door onto the wall. The basic components of the kit are two hanging arms with wheels, a rail and wall bolts.

The kit has everything you need for a basic installation.

This kit can be found on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon DE | Amazon AU

This manual was included in the kit but unfortunately I do not know the original supplier so that I can reference the image.

Installation of the sliding door arms

My suggestion is to place the arms where they look the best whilst ensuring the holes for the bolts are not too close to the edge of the door, otherwise you will risk the bolt eventually splitting the wood and your door will fall off! We want the door installation to be as strong and safe as possible.

Ask your partner or friend to give you a visual reference if you are unsure where to put the arms.

I played with the idea of mounting them away from the joints of wood but decided in the end to mount them where the angles joined.

Arrow points to the angles in the wood

When you have decided on the location, mark the centre of one hole with a pencil (or use a set square to if you want to quantise the measurement). You’ll need to use a set square to find where the hole is positioned horizontally in any case. In my case it was 150mm. I drew one mark at 150mm.

Marking and finding out the measurement so that the second hold can be drawn in the same position hozitonally.

Then a second mark higher up.

Marking another hole in the same horizontal position.

Now, I am able to draw a line vertically over the holes.

Drawing a line vertically.

You can now place the arm over the line and ensure the bracket is in the position you want it to be. We are only going to start with drilling one hole, so you only need to ensure that the bottom hole (of the two) has the line centred within. We can come back to the second hole later on. Draw a circle or + shape when you are ready.

In this picture I am only concerned about the position of the bottom hole. The top hole will be drilled later on.

Drilling holes for sliding door arms

Now we are ready to drill our first hole. Clamp up two pieces of wood both sides of the door. The first piece that you see in the picture below, is only needed to act as a barrier between the clamp itself and the door. The second piece of wood needs to be positioned over where the hole is to be drilled. Using this technique will prevent the wood splitting as the drill bit exits out the other side of the door. And it’s really important that we have an excellent finish, so take your time with this.

Clamping a piece of wood in the path of the drill, will prevent the wood splitting as it exits the other side. You can see three pencil marks in this picture, the first two were used to create the line and the third to mark where the hole needs to go.
Clamping technique. One piece is vertically orientated whilst the other horizontally.

Drill the hole, completely through the door. Ensure that the drill bit is slightly bigger than the bolt thread thickness. It doesn’t need to be tight but should not be much larger than the thickness of the bolt. For example 8mm bolt, 10mm drill bit is fine.

Drill only the first hole.
If you notice minor splits or if the paint has left the edges of the hole, don’t worry, the arm’s bolts and washers will hide these.

Install the arm with the bolts. Not too tight, tight enough that it stays upright and is movable.

Straighten up the arm take a step back and see if it’s straight. In the picture below, you’ll see that my vertical line is well aligned. When you are happy with the position, mark a + in the hole.

Arm has one bolt installed, we’ll rotate it out of the way to drill the second hole.

Do the same for the other side.

Checking the brackets, both sides.
Take a step back and chek the door.

When you have checked the arms and you’re happy with them, mark the holes with + centred and you are ready to drill.

Rotate the arms to give you the space you need. Do not drill through the arm’s hole.

Once you have drilled both holes, add the bolts and now tighten.You don’t need to tighten too much, the bolt itself is taking the weight of the door, not the nuts. If you over-tighten, you will compress the door and it will be visible to the eye.

Both arms installed, looking good!
If your holes are bigger than the diameter of your bolts, this will give you some opportunity for minor adjustments.
Checking the rear of the door. As mentioned, if you over-tighten, you’ll end up compressing the wood around the bolts. You’ll ideally want a flush finish like in the picture.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Give yourself a pat on the back,. Now we are ready to start with the door installation.

Installing the sliding door.

Now that the sliding door has it’s arms ready, it’s time to install the rail. Before we do that, there’s some practical things to consider.

  • The door must be easy to open both sides, so ensure the door opens and closes with no obstructions. If you have obstructions, move them (plug sockets, beading, skirting, etc) so that the door can travel freely.
  • Door handles should be installed on both sides, so that the door can be operated easily.
  • Mount the door handles so that they are reachable by little ones, or guests. I chose to mount at 100cm.
  • I considered adding a lock to the door but I was too concerned about fire safety and chose not to make the door lockable.
  • Bolts that hold the rail, need to be screwed into pre-drilled holes and into a material that is strong (such as concrete, stone, brick or wood). In my case, I had a wooden struts behind the walls. Gypsum / plasterboard would be OK if you’re using a strong wall anchor.

    Wall Plugs Amazon UK | Wall Plugs Amazon USA | Wall Plugs Amazon DE | Wall Plugs Amazon AU
  • The installation instructions that come with the door install kit are not bad but I found it was confusing in some areas and it didn’t bring me confidence. You’ll see that in the following steps, I have worked around the instructions.
This is the space where I am installing the door.

Test out your door. If you got your measurements correct, the door should cover the space as you expected it!

My door fits perfectly, although in this pic I have slightly to the left, hence the gap.

The installation kit suggests a space of 10mm under the door. I found a scrap piece of wood which measured about 14mm.

A piece of wood underneath the door to prop it up by about 14mm is recommended.

By placing the door into it’s place, you’ll be able to place the bar above it under the wheels. A couple things you need to think about here, is the left position of the rail. Where it will start and where it will end. In the kit instructions is says 120mm from the left border of the opening. My door is 2000mm wide, so if the rail is offset by 120mm, the door is most likely just able to full clear the space when I open it. I’m actually OK with this as I think it is safer to make the door always visible in the space (see below).

Door never fully opens 100%, I think this is safer way to install the door. It means the door handle is in a reachable position at all times.

So with this in mind, carefully think of the sliding door rail position. My door was 1080mm wide. The sliding door rail is 2000m wide. Starting the rail at -120mm meant I lost some of the rail length (in terms of how far I could move the door along to the end of the rail). By having the arms 150mm inset from the door sides, this gave me some extra run distance. Another factor that effects the final door position.

If you can’t figure it out, don’t worry… you really can’t go wrong by positioning the start of the rail adjacent to the opening.

Slide the bar underneath the wheels, to mimic as if the door was hanging.

Have a play around with the positioning, ask somebody to help out but when you have something you are happy with, mark the holes with a pencil.

Pop a pencil in the hole and mark the wall. Drill one hole to begin with, and install a bolt. Test the strength of the wall and it’s ability to hold the bolt. The wall I am drilling into (below) is made up chipboard, wooden panelling, struts and beams. Luckily, there was a beam behind the chipboard that was strong enough to take the bolts. Use a drill bit slightly smaller than the bolt size.

If you’re drilling into concrete, brick, rock or plasterboard, use a masonry drill bit and good quality wall-plugs suited for the wall material type. Plasterboard doesn’t necessary need a masonry bit and/or hammer drill but I recommend a high strength wall plug or anchor.

Links below to get you started:

Wall Plugs Amazon UK | Wall Plugs Amazon USA | Wall Plugs Amazon DE | Wall Plugs Amazon AU

Drilling the marked hole
Adding a test bolt
Tightening with a ratchet and socket
Pull, wiggle and test the strength of the bolt.

If the bolts feel solid, you’re in a good place. If the bolts fall out or feel loose, you might need to think of other options. Longer bolts, larger wall plugs, expanding wall bolts, etc.

If your first bolt was strong enough, carry on drilling the other holes. There are three holes needed for the first half of the rail kit and a further two holes needed for installing the second half.

Add the bar and bolts, tighten.

Since my wall had a soft layer, I found as I was tightening the bolts, the bar was getting closer to the wall. This is a problem as it would mean the wheel assemblies would scrap along the wall. To solve this problem, I needed to use spacers and washers to compensate the 2-3mm. I don’t see this problem happening with harder surfaces.

Installing a sliding door rail bar -finally!

Lift up the door onto the rails and give it a test. Be prepared to lift the door back off if you find the rail cannot support the weight of your door!

Hang the door as a test!

You won’t be able to slide the door just yet, but you can check that you have the clearance at the bottom of the door and that the wheel assemblies do not rub along the wall. Good job! Now for the second part of the rail ..

Installing the second part of the rail is a little easier, follow the same process as before. Lift off the door, add your scrap wood underneath the door to give you the 10-14mm clearance and place the bar underneath the wheels. You should find that the bar lines up quite nicely. Move the door out of your way, Mark the holes, drill and install the bar with bolts and you should find yourself with something like the below:

Installing the second part of the rail, it has a connection that links it with the first rail.

The door kit comes with stoppers, they slide onto the rail and you can tighten two small bolts on top of them. I placed them on the rail where I wanted the door to stop.

Adding the door stopper to the rail. This means the door stops as you open and close it but it’s also a crucial safety feature to prevent the door from leaving the rail.

To install the left hand stopper, you might need to remove the wall bolt, slide on the stopper and then add the wall bolt back. Ensure the door is hanging from the second part of the rail whilst you do this, or better still lift off the door.

Removing the left door bolt to allow sliding of the left door stopper.

Open and close the door, test the door stoppers work and adjust as necessary! As I mentioned earlier, this is the amount of space I wanted to have when the door was opened.

Having space on the door here means I can have a door handle visible at all times.

Installing door handles on a sliding door.

I picked up a couple of metal handles that I thought would suit the style of the door. One important feature that these handles have is that they are secured with screws. Not bolts that go through the whole door. This is important because I wanted to mount the handles at different heights on each side of the door.

Door handles for sliding doors

I grabbed some M8 6 x 30mm stainless steel screws and a packet of black bolt caps. The width of my door was at least 38mm. Stainless steel at 6mm is very strong and durable. The door handles will stay in place for years to come. I chose not to use washers, I don’t think it necessary and felt the handles look better without washers.

I planned to install the handles onto the door 100cm from the floor. So I measured and marked with a small pencil mark.

Mark 100cm with a pencil. This will be the centre point of where the handle will be positioned.

Take a set square and bring it to the 100cm mark. I wanted to install the door handle so that it would be centred on the plank horizontally. In my case the plank width was 150mm, so the position of the pencil mark would be 75mm. On the back side of the door, I wanted the door handle to be lower than that of the front because I have some stairs on the other side of the door. Hence I didn’t use bolts that went through the whole door. This of course is an option for you and up for to you to decide.

This would form the centre point of my door handle. The screw holes would be both approx. 7cm north and south of this pencil mark.

Finding the exact position for the door handle

Hold up the door handle to the door, centre it and mark the holes of your desired location. When you drill the holes, use a wooden drill slightly smaller than your bolt size. In my case I was using 6×30 M8 screws. This meant I drilled in approx 24mm. I used a marker pen to draw on the drill bit. So as I was drilling I knew when to stop. Note, if you go straight into the wood with these screws, you’ll risk splitting the wood. Always worth a pilot hole, it also guides the position of the screw.

Line up the screw with the drillbit and mark it’s length. Do not include the length of the screw head.
First hole done.

Screw in the first screw, not too tightly. Just enough so that it supports the position of the door handle.

Adding a bolt means we can get the position of the second bolt hole very accurate. There’s nothing more annoying that a door handle that looks slightly dispositioned.

Grab the set square again, and rotate the door handle until you find the correct position. Mark the hole with a +. Drill the hole.

The progressive method of drilling two holes means you’ll get it 100% accurate, well at least 99% ! Hah!

With two bolts in place, you can add the caps.

Adding plastic caps over the screw heads.
Rub away pencil marks softly with a sponge and soap.

Now that you have the door handle in place, the second one can be secured exactly the same way. When you position the second door handle, ensure that you do not install it into the same position otherwise your screws will clash.

Door handles installed.
You’re pretty much done! Congrats!

Sliding door safety guide

The door slides over this metal piece. It prevents the door leaving the wall and I’d say it is a critical safety feature.

You’re very close to finishing the project, but there’s one more task that needs your attention. In the sliding door kit there is a small piece of metal that is designed to prevent the door from lifting away from the wall. You have two options with this, either make a groove in the bottom of the door or purchase a roller guide. Most likely the determining factor will be whether you have access to a router.

I will show you how to route a groove in the bottom of the door, but if you prefer to purchase a roller guide, here’s the links.

Barn Sliding Door Roller Guide on Amazon:

Installing a sliding door safety guide

You’ll need a 6 mm wide straight router bit. The

With a 6mm wide router bit, you should have plenty of space for the glider bar. You can choose to use a smaller one if you have one. The guide is approx 3mm thick. With the router you’ll need to use the guide so that you route a straight groove.

The guide you install on the floor can also be used to keep the door at a certain distance from the wall. You might want to have a think about this as it will determine where you route the groove into the bottom of the door.

Guide should position the door well away from the wall and skirting.

Mark on the door where the groove should be made. Lift off the door and get it in a good position where you can use the router.

Line up the router using the guide.

Set the guide of the router to the measurement required so that you have the router bit lined up to the place that you need to cut the channel into the wood. You won’t be able to create the channel in one pass, it will overheat the router bit and you’ll risk becoming a victim of ricochet, no joke! So you’ll need at least 3-4 passes. Remember safety glasses, gloves and ear defenders. Face mask is also recommended.

First pass
When the metal guide fits into the groove, you can stop.

Now that the channel is finished, you can take a look to see if it is straight enough. I’ll be honest, my routing doesn’t win awards and yours doesn’t need to either. If you want to optimise the channel, you can install a plastic U shaped track into the channel. Plastic with metal runs quite smooth, no need to grease or lubricate.

U shaped plastic channel
Channel is straight enough in this case but I think I will use some plastic at a later stage, to make the rolling more smooth.

Plastic channeling can be secured with a construction glue. Cut the channel to length with a mitre saw or a sharp knife.

When you are finished, reinstall the door and test it out.

Guide and channel completed.

That’s it. All well and good, you should have yourself a sliding door!

DIY Sliding Door

I wish you the best with your project and feel free to reach out!

DIY Pallet Planter box – Easy to build & Recycle!

Here’s a DIY planter box (with some character) made from an old wooden pallet! Here’s some inspiration for your own project.

DIY pallet planter box
Here you can see the planter box finished. The box is made from recycled pallet wood and some various other recycled materials.

To complete this project, I basically needed:

  • Pallet(s)I literally got one of these of a nearby footpath, you might need two depending on the size.  I used two small pallets to make this big box but you could easily make a small planter box from one pallet.
  • Saw or eletric jigsaw – handsaw is more than fine, a eletric jigsaw obviously quicker
  • Sand paper or electric sanderwe’ll use this to give a better finish and smooth off the edges and surfaces of the box
  • Measuring tapeyou’ll need this for some planning
  • Strong nailsfor holding it all together
  • A bunch of sunny daysbecause it’s nice to get outside, but useful for paint drying off.
  • Outdoor paintI used red for the outside of the box and black for the inside.
  • Hammer and crowbarfor hammering of course and removing the old nails from the pallet.
  • Compostfor the plants, I used half from a composter I have in the garden and half is purchased
  • Stones – to lay at the bottom of the box to enable better drainage and space out the bottom of the box
  • Plastic lining – I used some basic sheeting and cut to size.
  • Stapler – for keeping the plastic sheet in place in the box
  • Stanley knife – for cutting the sheet

     Planning the size of the box

The size of the box is basically limited to the size of the wooden panels you will salvage from the pallet.  So basically, if you manage to get a really long pallet, you’ll be able to create more planks for your box.  I kept things relatively simple and that was to have a box made up longer sides and then shorter sides.

Building a planter box from a pallet- plan!
Pallets come in sorts of shapes and sizes, remember to keep things simple for your planter box if you want to ensure you have enough wood to finish your project!

The shorter sides would be roughly half the size of the longer sides.  That made it quite easy for me to work out how many planks I needed to build up the side of the boxes.

The best thing to do at this point, is find yourself a pallet and start breaking it down then review what wood is available for use.  There will almost be some panels that come away badly from the pallet and will split or breakup, which can render them unusable. So, remove the nails and panels from the skip carefully as possibly but don’t worry, you can always get yourself another pallet.

Find and then break up the pallet

Once you’ve got yourself a pallet, start using a the crowbar and hammer to pull apart the panels.  To speeden up the process, what I did was to cut away the edges in a straight line fashion like this:

planterbox-pallet-cutting

Use a marker pen,  you could even measure up the length you need and cut to length now but don’t worry if you don’t know what the lengths are going to be, you can always shorten them later on in the project.

That left panels held together with the blocks in the middle.  Removing the edges, has made it easier to remove the nails and middle blocks.

planterbox-pallet-cut

Remove the panels from the centre holding plank and blocks.

Attempt to fit the crowbar down the sizes of the panel and leverage the panels from the center.  Another technique is to hammer the crowbar into the panels to get behind the nail, the pry out the nail.

Once this is done, you should be left with nice panels.  This isn’t easy work, so don’t be afraid to give it some might! If you have some panels with some dirty sides, face them inwards, leaving the better side facing outwards.

wooden-planks-from-a-pallet

Remember to hammer out the nails from the blanks!

When you’ve finished salvaging planks from the pallet, you should have some nice planks ready for your DIY planter box. 

Don’t worry about any marks or roughness, we’ll sand those out later and a good paint will hide any stains in the wood.

Do some planning and cut the planks to length.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as I should have done, apologies for that but basically here’s what we are trying to achieve at this point:

DIY planter box design

I’ll list the steps for constructing the foundations of the box.

Create the foundations of the box.  Red are the long sides with blue shorter planks laid upon them.  Then nail them to each other.Box Design 1

Now, we’ll add some side panels.

Box Design 2

The yellow panels are upright and form the foundation of the walls. Again, nail everything together.

IMG_6484

Keep building up the walls in the same fashion until you get to the height you want.

If you find yourself getting some planks a bit longer than needed, cut off the edges with the handsaw or jigsaw.

I built up the sides of box with planks of wood as far as to hiding the inside four corner supporting posts.  Remember to nail some corner posts!

Nailing the box side panels

I used four nails for each plank.  That’s two at each end nailing the plank to the supporting corner posts.   Basically, nail where you think the support is needed, and use nails to nail planks to planks around the corners.

IMG_6486

Hopefully, your box will start to look a little something like this.

Sanding and preparing the planter box for painting

To smooth things over a little, use some course 60grit  sanding  paper and block OR an orbital sander.  Go over all of the box surfaces and round off the top and corners of the box a little to your taste, this will give a nicer finish.

sanding pallet wood down

Paint the inside of the planter box

You don’t have to do this but I thought it was best to protect the wood as much as possible from the elements, it might add some more life to the box after all.  I used some spare black paint in the workshop.

IMG_6488
Work in progress, paint the inside of the box black.

Adding feet to the planter box

You can pretty much use anything for the feet, but I took an old wooden pole and divided it into four equal lengths and then screwed them to the bottom of the box in equal distances apart.

The next picture shows the feet attached to the bottom of the box.

IMG_6490

The box is ready for painting

Choose any colour you like but make sure it is suitable for protecting wood and you’ll get plenty of life from the box.  I chose a traditional red colour for the box and got my local DIY store to mix the paint for me.  This didn’t cost much and is so far the only new material I have purchased for the project.  Everything else including the screws and nails have been recycled.

Start to paint the wood, you’ll need at least a 2-3 coats of paint and you can leave about 15-20 minutes on a sunny warm day between each coat.

Painting a planter box
Make sure you have enough paint for two to three coats of paint.

IMG_6492

When finished painting, leave it to try for a day.  You might then need to do some touching up or paint the edges of the top of the box to leave a nice finish.

Move the box into position, because when you have filled it, it will be very difficult to move.

Red traditional painted planter box
Tip the box over and check it, do some finishing touches like around the edges.

Now the box is pretty much ready but before that we should add some plastic lining.  Use any strong plastic lining, I would not use plastic bags for example but something quite strong.

IMG_6498

You should cut the plastic lining more than three times the length and width of the box.  This is to ensure that when we stuff it into the box, it comes up to edges on all of the insides of the box. Like so …

IMG_6500

Start to fold and layout the lining so that it is need, this is little like wrapping a gift! You’ll need to overlap and fold over the plastic sheeting but bascially get it into position where you can start to cut off excess and staple it into position.  Use some retaining screws if you need to hold things in place to make it progressively easier to neaten the lining.

When you have the lining neatly attached to the box, use a screwdriver to pierce holes evenly through the plastic lining at the base of the box to allow for the drainage of excess water.

IMG_6499
Some essential things, the screws are washer screws, great for retaining plastic lining

Lay granite stones in the base of the box, enough to cover the surface one time.

granite-stones-for-planter-box

Bigger ones at the bottom and smaller on the top.

Then you can start to add the compost, I used a mix of compost from the composter and from bags that I purchased.

When you think you have enough compost, now for the fun part, add some flowers and water them in the evening.

DIY pallet planter box

And hopefully, you should have something like mine above…

So, there you are! I hope you found the post useful and inspirational for your own project – good luck!

Let me know how you get on with your project, post a quick comment below and a pic of your own planter box below!

DIY Soundproof box for noisy air compressors

I have a 1.5 horsepower air compressor and it’s noisy, about 95db…

…and here’s how I solved the problem.

I built a soundproof box for it.

What it looks like finished. The orange straps keep it together sealed.
This is what my design of an  air compressor soundproof box looks like finished. The orange straps keep it together tight and it’s placed upon wooden blocks until I get some decent castor wheels.

To be honest, when I was designing and building the box, I had some fears that it wouldn’t be very effective – for example, the compressor I have is simply noisy and there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it.

Saying that, I soldered on and with a bit of science and thought into the design, things worked out and here’s the results.

Daytime ambient workshop noise 40-50db.

Compressor running (no box or soundproofing) –
about 90-95db.

Compressor running in my box –
about 70 db.

My box design reduces compressor noise and dampens frequency ranges roughly by 30db.  Enough to be able to  talk, converse and hear the radio playing whilst it is running.

and… I’m no longer worried at least for the neighbours sake!!

soundproof-box-for-air-compressor
Here’s basically how the compressor soundproofing box works

I realise the design isn’t absolutely 100% perfect and there are some improvements to be made but it’s a good first build on the project and I am very pleased with the results- after all, I didn’t spend that much on the materials required for building it; just my time,  supplies and some recycled wood.

There is no heat ventilation but that’s not important in my case because I use the compressor sparingly.  It’s pumps at least 4-5 times from empty and it gets warm inside but it’s no way too hot to cause any problems. If I was to make an improvement to the design, I’d make another dampened outlet for hot air, the other thing would be to have some kind of cooling device inside.

My main aims for the soundproofing box was:

  • Have an outer box structure containing an inner chamber to hold the compressor.  On top of this will be a lid that has a muffler style channel allows the movement of air.
  • Outer box is ‘air tight’ using glue and sealant to prevent sound travel and leaks.  Additional to this the inner box is ‘air tight’ to reduce sound travel into the void between the outer and inner chamber.  The void is stuffed tight with rock wool cavity.
  • Sound treatment foam boards used where possible to minimise mid and high range frequencies.
  • Rock wool used to reduce bottom and mid range and reverberation in the box.
  • All chambers independently sealed to isolate sound.
  • Air compressor is suspended using bungee cords (prevents vibration and reverberating), although I found some nice bed springs that I might install to replace.
  • Air compressor pulls air in through a purpose built complicated air path, works similar to a exhaust car muffler.

Anyway, so here’s how it’s done:

Cut and prepare four pieces of 3/4 inch (~1.9cm) thick plywood.

1. Prepare four equal measure of plywood
Here are the full-size square frame plywood sheets. Cut with a straight saw or perhaps get your DIY store to prepare them for you so you have four pieces.

Thicker the sheets the better but bear in mind the weight – it gets heavy…   You need two pieces of same length, then another two pieces of same height to create the rectangular design or you can choose the same metrics for all pieces to create a sqaure, it’s up to you but I didn’t want the box getting to big in my workshop!  The width should be the same for all pieces.

Just bear in mind we’ll be cutting a lid from this.

The study and measuring

I can’t really tell you exact measurements, you will need to decide exactly how long the pieces are, the measurements are based on the height and width of your compressor + 20-30% and give allowance of space between the machine and surrounding wooden panels.

The 20-30% is the allowance to cut a lid.

Remember to subtract the thickness of the panels from the height if you want the box to be perfectly square, otherwise cheat and use a router!

Here’s one example of working out the box dimensions.

http://www.wikihow.com/Image:Build-Plyo-Boxes-Step-3.jpg
Image from: http://www.wikihow.com/Image:Build-Plyo-Boxes-Step-3.jpg

In addition to the four pieces, you obviously need two side panels to complete the box.

Start glueing the panels to form the box

You can lay one side on the floor, then start glueing everything together, only do one side for now and use a  super strong wood glue.

To be honest, any standard or strong wood glue should work a treat, I used a ‘strong’ wood glue.  Leave the glue for a good 24 hours.

2. Glue the edges with a strong wood glue
So in the picture you’ll see I’ve laid a side on the floor and glued the side panels together standing up on the side. I’ll do the other side later on.

3. Assemble and hold together with a clamp
If you can get hold of a clamp, use it to prevent anything moving or slipping until fully dried.

Once the glue has dried, check everything. Make sure there are no gaps – we  obviously want this to be integral as much as possible.

Cut the box to create a lid

Moving on, it’s time to cut the lid.  Check your measurements and make sure you give enough room for your compressor.  I was aiming to have a 100mm vent path in the side, so I know straight away, I’d need at least say… 150-200mm height in the lid.

4. Now cut 20 percent from the top
Cut the lid with a straight circular saw or use a jigsaw.

Glue the second side panel to the lid.

Now it’s time to glue the other side panel.

6. Glue the lid to the inside and clamp until dryGlue, clamp, put it aside for 24 hours.

When the glue has dried, you can use a router if you have one to straighten the edges of the box so that when the lid is placed onto the box on finish, you have a nice straight fit without any gaps.

The lid and air vent passage

Take a little effort and time to complete this part of the box project. The picture shows the insides of the box and this is what we want to achieve.

Soundproof box lid for air compressor
Here’s the lid just before completion, it shows you the air path. The blue panel is taller than the others and is a part with several small holes instead of one 100mm hole, you’ll see later on what I mean.

Take the lid and install 5 pieces of wood

The first thing we need to do is install some thick insulating mat to the lid.  The type of thing you’d expect to be uesd as a gym exercise mat.  This will add some extra sound treatment to the lid before we start installing the 5 panels needed to make up the air path.

sound insulating mat
Cut and install some soundproof mat to the lid.

 

A quick note: to seal the lid air path effectively, we’ll use panels (mine were about 1/6 inch 4mm), so make sure you give enough for the panels to lie over the passage and meet the edge of the plywood square.  It doesn’t have to be completely spot on since we’ll seal it with sealant but the closer the better.

Panels
One panel on the left installed and another being prepared. I used two because I simply recycled a couple of spares in the workshop but you could measure and cut one length.

The first thing to do is to cut 5 equal pieces of wood that fit inside the length and height of the lid.

Measure up and cut, remember one piece needs to be wider than the others, that piece marks the end of the passage – that part’s role will become clearer to you as we continue on…

Anyway, cut away and try them for size.

7. Measure and cut 5 pieces of wood
Sound mat has been installed and glued but I didn’t have enough for the hole box since my piece was recycled but now trying out the panels.

Then when you are happy, drill 100mm holes in the panels and begin to glue them into place.  The bigger panel needs to have several smaller holes, I drilled 7 smaller holes (not shown in this picture but further down).

8. Glue the insulating mat and cut holes then glue

When the glue has hardened, start applying sealant to all edges and holes in the lid.

9. When dried rub a filler around wood and all corners

Any good quality sealant is good, the one I used was an outdoor weather proof used for sealing gaps between doors and windows to brickwork.  There are acoustic sealants but the stuff I used here is still very effective and cheaply available.  It’s very flexible too even when dried and not messy or nasty to work with.

10. Should look like this

Here’s the seven holes I mentioned earlier, drill several small holes here.

11. Drill small holes in the big piece

Get in every crook and cranny.  There needs to be a good seal here.

12. Looks like this

Once this is done, we are ready to start applying the sound treatment boards.

Installing the sound treatment boards

Sound treatment boards are easily available from the internet and I ordered a large box of tiles, about 30 of them.

13. Get treatment boards like this
Here’s a couple of sound treatment boards

To install these to the lid, we’ll need to cut some up.  It’s a time consuming process but the most significant and important part of the lid.

My dog is trying to tell me something….

14. My pincher wants to go she is bored

Crack on with the measuring and cutting, every panel needs to be covered but don’t obstruct the 100mm air path and several holes. Panels can be applied to all visible sides.

16. sides too

15. install sound boards everywhere
Use a standard glue that will grip

17. air must be able to pass

If you are wondering what the water droplets are all about, the panels are recycled chipboard shelves from a local corner shop which was being renovated and had been used I believe to be as shelving for refreshments in their previous life.

18. getting there

Once you have finished cutting and adding the soundboards, a 100mm hole needs to be drilled with a hole saw at the end of the path.  Then add a vent guard if you wish!

19. drill a 100mm hole at the end of the channel

20. grab a vent guard if you like
Sealant or screws hold the vent in place

 

21. then install a vent cover
This vent came with an adjustable cover although it wont really make much difference and it will always be open.

…and here it is.

22. neary done

 

You’ll need to decide if you want the holes for compressed air and power in the lid or the base.  At some point, drill two holes for air and power.

23. Drill two holes for air and power

 

26. fasten and seal with rubber filler

Install and secure and apply the suspicious looking brown sealant.

For the power, I used a recycled power extension.

27. do the same for power

Mounting a power extension inside.  I decided to add the Power and Air holes into the lid.  I just designed it this way, probably would have been better to make the holes in the lid side wall but there you go!

28. Mount internal power extension block

 Securing the panels

Now it’s time to measure some panels and secure them to the top of the air passage. This is some thin plywood.

29. Measure and cut a plywood panel to cover the lid

31. Cut and check they fit

To secure the panels, I used a line of sealant on each panel. I will position and placed the panel half way across the beams.

34. use sealant on each row

as so

32. If using multiple panels allow surface area for two panels on join

Then secure with washer screws.  This will also help create and maintain an air tight seal in the joins.  Onto the second panel.

36. then the remaining panels
I used two panels because they were recycled and not very big, obviously one panel would be better.

 

39. ensure plenty of filler sealing the edges

Use sealant around the edges and secure the panel with washer screws if needed.  Then start covering the remaining surfaces with sound treatment foam-boards.

40. Place and stick acoustic boards on the panels
Placing soundproofing boards on top of the plywood panelling.

 

Keep foam-boards well within the edges because we need to make sure that the lid will sit into the base.

41. Cover the entire area

Give yourself a pat on the back if you get this far, the lid is pretty much complete.  When the lid is placed onto the base later on, you might need to make adjustments but we’ll come back to that later on.

Completing the soundproof box base

Now back to the base… it currently should look like this but with the glue hardened.

2. Glue the edges with a strong wood glue
Outer Box / Chamber

Next, take some more of the acoustic matting used earlier and place a layer in the bottom of the box.  Give plenty of glue. Placing the matting on the base will help to prevent reverberation of bottom end through the base of the box.

The Inner chamber

Earlier, I mentioned the construction of the outer and inner chamber.  There are probably better terms but what we are making is a box in box and in-between the boxes will be a layer of tightly fitted thick rock-wool insulation.  Lucky for me, at the time of building my box, there was an office renovation and there was plenty of rock wool insulation up for grabs.  So I recycled some thick panels, like shown below.  If you are recycling some too, avoid the broken ones if you can or buy a roll from the DIY/Builders shop and chop it into shape.

42. Get thick rock insulation

Take the rock wool panels and place into the box base and plan the construction .  You’ll need to use plywood panels to create the inner box and ensure the rook wool is firmly pressed – reducing the air as much as possible in the void.

43. Pad the edges of the box and place wood sheets use long screws and glue into position

You’ll see from the picture above that I’ve used plywood no more than half the thickness of the outer box and some chipboard.  I recommend using plywood for the entire inside but I ran out of lengths since I was recycling materials.

Use some long washer screws to hold the inner box panels into place and ensure the panels are pressing the rock wool firmly.  You’ll notice that I created and placed a wooden cover ‘s too (shown on the two left and right sides).  This part I guess is optional but I recommend it to give a better finished job and might help reduce the reverberation.

Then do the same for the floor (base) as shown below, cut the plywood panels to size and place rock wool underneath.

44. secure panels with screws and use sealant

45. This will form the chamber

You can add some more insulation if you have some left and/or the space.

Then get the sealant out and run sealant in all of the gaps and lines in the box. Seal all the gaps and ensure enough is applied to seal.

Suspending the compressor.

To stop vibrations, reverberation and external rattles, I placed some more soundproof tiling  (if I’m honest, I would have covered the entire inside of the box but I had run out of tiles – possibly could have reduce a few more db’s).

Anyway, in addition to this, I placed some hooks and installed bungee cords. The idea is to suspend the compressor rather let it rest on the surface of the box.  This means I can get my hands underneath it to drain it and to prevent vibrations.

46. Add hocks and install bungee chords to support compressor

Then, place the compressor.

47. Try your compressor for size

EDIT: At the time of building, I couldn’t find strong springs but then I found some at a recycling centre strong enough to suspend the compressor in the box.  I’ll now replace the bungee cords with these springs.

Plug everything in and make sure the box is clean from dust, wood, fibres, etc.  The next job will be adding a layer of seal material to the box edges and placing the lid.

Seals, Placing Lid and Adjusting

I hold the box together by using two ratchet straps and fasten them tightly.  The seal between the lid and base is a from a roll of plumbing heat insulation tap.  One side is super sticky.

Before applying the seal tape, run a router on the edges of the box, I still think this is worth doing. Keeping the outer box air tight is optimal.

48. Use this insulation tape to finish the edges

 

Cut up and apply some to the box.  Use a Stanley knife to get the correct cutting and finish.

49. like so and cut excess with a knife

Once this has been done, place the lid and lets hope it all fits together ;o).

The main problem that I had found was that I had to adjust the large panel (with several holes) in the lid to fit between the inner box and the soundproof tiles which were obstructing.  A little bit of chopping and adjusting here and there and I got a good fit.

50. Plug everything into compressor and place the lid on top, cut parts of wood away to get the lid to fit

I placed the box onto some temporary wooden blocks but I’d to install some castors one day.

So, there you are! I hope you found the post useful!

Now I can get onto painting some bikes!

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