May 15, 2012

Not your average growth chart

Last week I built a cool growth chart with my 4-year-old friend Quintyn (with some help from his little brother, Kai).  The design has sandy beaches (made from sanded caulking), sea walls (made from pea gravel), tiny houses (made from 2x2 poplar scraps with sandpaper roofs) and the metal tape from a busted tape measure, which acts as the yellow line going up the middle of the road.  Magnetic cars slide up and down the tape to measure kids' heights. SO FUN! I'm learning so much from these little kids with their fearless approach to design and colour.  No hesitation, EVER!   A video and free plans for the growth chart are available now at Lowe's Family Fun Projects.

Quintyn&Kai&Mag2

Growth Chart

May 07, 2012

Lowe's Canada invests in kids with new online building series

 

Here's our latest media release...
Photo-Mag&Quintyn1

Lowe's Family Fun Projects pilot series features 20 kid-friendly building projects designed by Mag Ruffman (toolgirl.com) for kids 3 and up.  The first 5 projects are now live online at lowes.ca/kidsvideos

From chalkboard tables to hockey nets built with PVC pipe, Lowe's Family Fun Projects give families video instruction AND free downloadable plans.  

“The videos are shot with real kids, not actors, and the free plans are insanely detailed with tonnes of photos,” says Mag Ruffman (Ruffman Entertainment Inc.), series creator and producer, “because text without pictures makes learning frustrating, especially for kids.  We deliver an extremely graphical package to make it easy for anyone to make these projects.”

The kids' projects require simple hand tools along with a few beginner power tools.  Kids learn clamping, gluing, sanding, driving screws, painting and taping, while adults do most of the cutting.

“We’ve shot 12 episodes so far,” says Ruffman, “and every one of the kids has asked to come back again.  They love building, they love using their hands, they love being free to make some of their own design decisions, and they love taking home what they built!”

Ruffman and partner Daniel Hunter (executive producer) pitched the series to several television networks last year, but the liability issues around kids using tools became a barrier.  

So they turned to Lowe’s Canada.  “Lowe’s already conducts regular Saturday workshops for kids. They were quick to respond to our proposal and I’m really proud of this partnership.” says Ruffman, whose previous television series taught women and beginners to attempt home repairs and build their own furniture.

Ruffman is on a mission to help children develop their 3D aptitude and design cognition. “We’re at a turning point in history.  There have been 2 generations now of kids who receive little or no encouragement to use their hands.  They’re directed into professions and discouraged from entering trades or becoming artists or artisans.  There will be a shortfall of 1,000,000 skilled tradespeople by 2020 in Canada.  After 4 million years of evolution, today’s kids have the potential to be the best tool-users of all time.  But they’ve got to get it early or key brain development is lost, eye-hand coordination doesn’t develop, and you get students at MIT who have to be hauled out of class and put in practicum courses because they have no idea how to use a hammer or which way to turn a screwdriver.  Human brilliance isn’t only in the mind; it’s in the hands.”

Family Fun Projects will launch officially in mid-June when all 20 pilot videos are online.

 

 

April 03, 2012

World's best fix-it compound Sugru now in primary colors!

Great news for hackers and fixers - Sugru, the mouldable silicone putty that air-cures to resilient toughness so you can repair or improve ANYTHING - is now available in primary colours that combine to create ANY SHADE on earth!!!

 

March 12, 2012

The (Kreg) Jig is Up! How you can start building furniture now, even if you're a noob.

One Jig to Rule Them All

Hot tool helps newbies build fantastic furniture  

Photo

Stephanie Reavis' beautiful cabinet constructed with a Kreg Jig

 

As spring sneaks in, it’s fun to go through each room in your house and create a punch list of things you’d like to change, add or replace.  The list can hold all of the items that bug you, from minor to major, not including relatives.  

Don’t hold back; put everything down on that list, from faucet repairs to paint jobs to pictures that no longer give you a happy feeling.  If there’s anything you see that messes with your well being - ping! (magic wand sound effect) - it goes on the list.  

If your list reveals lots of holes in the furnishings department, don't be bummed.  It’s never been easier to build stuff.  And try not to feel overwhelmed if you've got a long list; here are a few of my must-builds for comparison:  

  • pine recycling center for the kitchen
  • wainscoting in basement
  • big framed whiteboard for the home office
  • computer hutch for the kitchen
  • matching nightstands for the master bedroom
  • built-in cabinets and shelves for the master bedroom
  • floor-to-ceiling bookshelves for the den
  • window bench in the guest room
  • bed frame and headboard for the guest room
  • storage benches in the mudroom 
  • storage shelves for dumbbells in the workout room
  • built-in storage for the laundry room
  • tool storage shelves and boxes in the workshop

So, what are the chances of any of these projects actually getting built, whether in your house or mine? 

Pretty darn good.  Even if your desire level is way higher than your budget.  

Continue reading "The (Kreg) Jig is Up! How you can start building furniture now, even if you're a noob." »

March 06, 2012

Standing room only in Halifax for free samples of @sugru

 

P1240769



 

It was standing room only at the Real Home Show in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I had 5 packed shows and we gave away more than 500 free packs of Sugru (not an affiliate link), the silicon putty that fixes, improves and customizes just about anything. Lots of people brought busted stuff for me to fix, and we had some great laughs. Thanks to Herald Homes for inviting me to speak, and to Sugru for supplying the free samples for all of our show visitors. And it was great to meet some of you there!

One of my favourite repairs was Margie's hose reel, which had a cracked housing.  

 

P1240728

 

We reinforced and buttressed the bejeez out of the plastic base, which had split around one of the screws.  Naturally we did our best to complement Margie's colourful personality using orange, blue, green and marbled black and white Sugru!

 

P1240824

 

Plus, I learned (well, sort of) to step dance at the opening night party, courtesy of Herald Homes editor Claudia White! Toe, heel, toe, hop, bang bang...

 

P1240831



 

Make a drop spindle

I've developed the possibly weird hobby of spinning newspaper strips into 'yarn' using a homemade drop spindle. (Sometimes, for the dessert course of spinning, I use strips of plastic food wrap instead.  It's easier to spin and makes a really tough, clear yarn.)  

When I saw drop spindles for sale for $50 at the local wool shop, I came home and made one with some doweling, a picture hook and a chopped-off bit of old candle stand (the circular part). I fastened the parts together with Sugru, the mouldable silicone putty that air cures to a resilient, springy toughness.  

P1080438


 

Bottom view:

P1080437
Yarn from food wrap:
P1080439



Stay tuned for possiby weird crafts made from plastic wrap and newspapers.

March 05, 2012

Sugru Subterfuge at IKEA!

Sometimes you just have to help giant manufacturers out with a few hacks to their displays...

 

Tutorial to make a penny-tiled floor

via big-design.blogspot.com

Love this fearless tutorial on how to apply and grout pennies to make a cool looking floor

February 15, 2012

That's My Letter: "P" is for Personalize

via thatsmyletter.blogspot.com

Want to know how to personalize stuff perfectly on wood? This lovely blogger has figured it out.  Hint: Think pointy.

In this Crazy Life: Tips and Tricks

via inthiscrazylife-bethany.blogspot.com

This girl has a fantastic collection of tips for DIY and household stuff. I love the paint can elastic that saves you from gobbing up the rim, and using marshmallows as a hydrating agent for brown sugar.

258464466084060302_RPSQQbQl_c



FUN

  • Get ToolGirl's Newsletter
  • Watch ToolGirl's videos

FIND MAG ON...

  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
ToolGirl

Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie