“D.I.Y. gives you a sense of achievement,” reckons Workshop member Judy Kelly. “To be able to sit back and say: ‘I made that, or I fixed that’."
Judy also considers her D.I.Y. projects a “continual learning process”. “It stretches your imagination. It challenges you. It makes you think outside the box. And you end up with something you are proud of, and a lot of new toys (commonly known as tools!)”
Known as @kel on the Workshop community, Judy has shared many fantastic projects in recent months. The most popular has been her wonderful vertical gardens, which includes instructions for members who want to build something similar, and a gallery photo complete with plants and watering system.
My wife had seen the vertical gardens on The Block and wanted one,” explains Judy. “I thought they were small and overpriced, so I just designed my own and built them to suit our situation.
"I have two big dogs so I didn't want to reduce the space in the backyard. One dog also likes to dig, so garden beds would only be destroyed. My solution was the vertical gardens along the fence-line. Happy wife, happy dogs!”
Judy, who lives in country New South Wales near the Victorian border with her wife Sandra, says she has always been a “hands-on sort of person”.
Growing up, she spent a lot of time with her grandparents who lived on a small farm. “It was just natural to get in and have a go at things, whether it be shifting irrigation pipes or helping paint the house.
“My parents owned a garage, so I would work there. Not content at just pumping petrol, I would help in the workshop as well.”
Judy also got some foundation in woodwork and metalwork at school. “I did two-and-a-half years of metalwork, which I really enjoyed. We covered soldering, welding, metal forging, machining to name a few.
I found it fun.”
Now in her 50s, Judy says the best piece of D.I.Y. advice she has ever received was just to “believe in yourself”.
“The internet is a great source of knowledge, so I just browse if I want to learn how something is done or how something works. Other than that, I picked up a lot from my grandparents and my Dad. And having the ability to think outside the box is also very helpful.”
Recently Judy has been playing with a new scroll saw, and sharing the results. Other projects she has shared with the community include a new sunroom on her veranda, an entertainment cabinet made from recycled wood, a pergola with a mist system, a lounge chair, table, and a front garden makeover.
Judy is most proud of her pool room, in which she made everything except the pool table, including a bar. Next on the to-do list is painting the entire interior and exterior of the house.
“I think there are a lot of women out there having a go at D.I.Y. and doing a great job of it,” says Judy. “Over the past 10 years or so thanks to various TV shows, D.I.Y. has been pushed into the spotlight and inspired people.”
Judy’s advice to those lacking her confidence and experience is “don’t be afraid of failure”. “That is how you learn. And you will learn! Start with a few little simple projects, take your time. If you are unsure about how to do something, ask! Soon you will be doing things you never thought you were capable of and you will be so proud of your handiwork.”
Workshops where women are shown how to use various tools, like the D.I.Y. workshops in Bunnings, are also a great avenue for learning hands-on skills according to Judy.
And more schools should offer practical subjects like woodwork and metalwork to students, she says. “Society is losing the skills of being able to fix anything or to physically be able to manufacture anything.
"Australians were great at improvising in the past and were proud of it, an art we are rapidly losing. We need to get back to basics and start teaching the kids how to be self-sufficient.”
Judy’s workshop is a 6x3m garden shed. “The walls are insulated and lined. We did this to reduce noise levels from power tools. I recently paved an area in front of the shed and built an awning to increase work space.
“It is pretty well stocked. I have an air compressor plus air tools, bench grinder, drill press, thicknesser, planer, biscuit cutter, corded and cordless drills, metal dropsaw, wood dropsaw, sliding compound saw, scrollsaw, circular saw, handsaws, glue gun, welder, soldering iron, tablesaw, angle grinder, oscillating tool, routers, chisels, wrenches, spanners, sockets, hammers, clamps, squares, the list goes on. So yeah, plenty of toys to play with!”
When she visits Bunnings, Judy says she “covers just about every aisle”. “I have a running joke with the staff at my local Bunnings that I'm buying Bunnings out bit-by-bit.”
An experienced chef who “never cooks at home”, Judy says she works in a job where she has to “wear many hats” and is “constantly under pressure”. “So D.I.Y. is my release. It is how I unwind and relax.”
Judy encourages everyone to join in the discussion on Workshop. “Come on in, the water is fine and the natives are friendly!” she jokes. “Seriously, pop into the community, browse the discussion boards, you may find an answer to your problem or you may even be able to assist someone else with theirs.
“Everyone is really friendly and only too willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you. And if you're in need of a little inspiration, pop into the gallery and be inspired.”
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