“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 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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”