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How to build your D.I.Y. confidence

Community Manager
Community Manager



“The only way to build your confidence is to give it a go,” says Workshop member Tara Harris.  “Don't worry about making mistakes. Mistakes are the best way to learn.”


Tara is particularly passionate about encouraging other women to get into D.I.Y. “As a busy working Mum I know it’s easy to put everyone else first, but we need our own thing too. D.I.Y. is perfect for this. The benefits are endless!”


The 33-year-old mother of three says she learnt D.I.Y. basics by researching on the computer then trying to replicate simple projects. “Pinterest, YouTube and Bunnings are great for easy-to-follow steps and tutorials. Nothing is better than hands-on learning.”


Tara says she also “owes a lot to Workshop members”. “For any question you have, members are always ready to provide advice or support. There is so much you can learn, and any advice is given with respect.”

Tara's skills are self-taught.Tara's skills are self-taught.


Tara only 'officially' started her D.I.Y. journey a couple of years ago after buying her first house in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs with her partner Kelvin.


“I was unable to find furniture the right size, style and cost,” Tara explains. “My partner was away for work so I attempted my first project – a hallway table including a shoe rack using only a hammer, nails and glue. It wasn't perfect, but I loved it!”


Wide range of D.I.Y. projects


Since Tara proudly posted a photo of the Merbau deck she built from scratch with Kelvin, her wonderful creations have been hugely popular with the Workshop community.


Highlights have included a shed storage project, kids cubby house, pallet wood clock, kids loft bed, bathroom organiser, D.I.Y. drawers, portable bike stand and D.I.Y. side gate.


When asked about her favourite project, Tara says her much-admired “deck would be up there”. “But in regards to projects I have made myself, I can't go past my portable workbench. It’s on castors with locks so I can easily move it or lock it in for stability. The top converts into a drop saw table/dust guard. It has made our lives so much easier.”


The portable workbench is part of a well-equipped workshop housed in Tara’s garage. “I have built storage along one side. I made my own version of a peg board to hang all the small things and keep organised. Aside from my D.I.Y. workbench, I also have a small one I bought from Bunnings and added a larger MDF board on top.”


Tara’s favourite tool is a sliding compound mitre saw. “It saves me so much time as well as adding a neater cut,” Tara enthuses. “My most recent purchase is a brushless hammer drill-driver. It is fantastic!”


When at Bunnings, Tara says she buys a lot of timber, screws and tool accessories. “In the tool area I can't leave without browsing the Ryobi One+ range. I try to use my birthday and Christmas vouchers to add more to my collection.”


Using your imagination


Tara loves sport, spending time with friends and family, and also really enjoys “learning new things”.


“D.I.Y. is being able to create something using your imagination," Tara says. "The gratifying feeling when you've made it a reality. The appreciation you have when you've made it yourself.”


Before she starts any project, Tara says she does a lot of research. She also always sketches a design and creates a list of tools and materials.


“If I get stuck I always check Workshop for any related posts, Bunnings tutorials or Pinterest. If I am still unsure, I will comment on any current topics on Workshop for advice, or create one myself. In some cases, I will start over using a more basic idea and work from that.”


Helpful advice


When asked about the most helpful advice she has ever received, Tara repeats the ‘measure twice, cut once’ mantra. “And when using my compound saw, never cut along the marked line, always to the side,” she adds.


Tara built a cubby house for her three kids.Tara built a cubby house for her three kids.

“The other major one was ‘know your tool’, which I think is not only important for achieving the result you want, but also for safety. Research what it does, know its limits, practise using it till you are comfortable. With such a huge range of tools it's easy to get confused.


“Last tip – ‘plan ahead’. Know what materials are needed, and always buy extra so you can have them on hand.”


Like many Australians, Tara often battles with depression. Diagnosed as a teenager, she describes it as “a battle you fight everyday”.


“(But) I have found woodworking to be very therapeutic. It helps me shut everything out so I can concentrate and focus.”


Backyard projects


Tara now has her sights set on the backyard for her next project to tackle. We are on a large slope and have no easy access to the backyard.


“We had to sand the deck back so will re-stain once we finish extending the decking for our outdoor dining area. We also need two separate retaining walls and will add a vegie/herb garden. Last job will be to lay turf.”


11 Replies
Community Manager
Community Manager

We love your work @Tara86. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the Workshop community, and for sharing so many fantastic projects with us. You have inspired so many community members with your creativity. 


Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!




Amassing an Audience

Cheers @Jason. I know I keep saying it but thank you I really do appreciate everything the workshop has done. So much I want to learn and areas I want to improve on. So many ideas ha ha. 

Cultivating a Following

@Tara86 Thanks for the inspo! I'm going to read a couple of your threads (mainly workshop bench) then get out of bed (Lazy Sunday here) and go make myself a space in the shed and actually start some of the many projects I have planned! 


I'm looking forward to keeping an eye out on your projects and learning from you! 

Just Starting Out

Tara86. Fantastic vision on what you wanted from the project. I really struggle at the starting point to be clear on the end goal but you have sparked something.   This weekend project #1 starts! 

Amassing an Audience

I totally agree with Tara and I say good on you for actually having a go.

Let's be honest here, the only way you learn is by getting your hands dirty.

In saying that though, a fair bit of design and planning never goes amiss and it can be the

difference between success and failure (and no-one wants that).

I have two trades as an Electrician and a Mechanical Engineer, however I love to work with wood in my spare time, building things like cabinets, tables and all sorts of other stuff.

Having a whiteboard in my garage, allows me to sort out how long timber sections need to be with things like rebates and housing joints, it's pretty embarrasing if you cut a really nice piece of timber 5mm too short because you didn't do your calculations before-hand.

Learn from those that have been down this road, I'm open to help anyone out in this respect, the quality of your design, is the quality of your finished product.

Growing in Experience

Hi Tara, I have just joined workshop to get some ideas and help others in what I will learn from making different DIY projects. I have just read about your personal journey and I applaud you for giving it a crack with a family also to look after. You have accomplished quiet a lot well done and I look forward to seeing your future projects.

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @PamW,


Let me mention @Tara86 so she is alerted to your comment as I'm sure she will appreciate it.


We are extremely lucky to have such an inspirational member as part of our community and her journey is a remarkable one as you have seen.


We look forward to seeing your future projects and once again welcome you to the Workshop community.




Amassing an Audience

Thanks @Nath123 @MikeTNZ @PamW  for such lovely comments! Really appreciate it.
Completely agree @MikeTNZ  taking the time to plan beforehand can be the difference between a project to be proud of or an epic fail. It also helps when calculating what materials are needed. Nothing worse than being half way through only to find out you need more supplies. Especially when your in the ‘zone’. 
I have so many exercise books full of drawings, ideas and plans for projects I’ve done or want to do. 

@PamW Welcome to the workshop! It’s a great place to start your DIY journey. There are so many talented and experienced members here who love sharing their knowledge. It’s great you want to be able help others with everything you learn on your journey. Thank you for your kind words. It’s been a life changing experience. There are times while working on a project it’s really tough trying to juggle everything but then you have days where it all falls into place and it makes it all worth it. Best of luck 😊😊

Cultivating a Following

A very inspiring story. Congratulations Tara. I'm feeling inspired :smile:



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hello @Hely


I'm glad you found @Tara86's story inspirational. "Nothing is better than hands-on learning." I believe should be the mantra of every D.I.Y. enthusiast. By attempting a project, you accomplish so many things. You learn a new skill, you step outside your comfort zone and you make mistakes. It is by making mistakes that you truly learn and improve your skills.


We look forward to seeing your D.I.Y. creations.




Kind of a Big Deal

I can’t wait to see what else @Tara86 makes !!!!!! 💛

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