Good Times at the Market

We went out to the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market again today and had a great time!

Our new project this week was the Boo-gly eyes made from LEDs and ping pong balls (thanks to Everyday with Rachael Ray for the inspiration). 

scary halloween eyes made from ping pong balls and LEDs
Make these scary eyeballs from ping pong balls and LEDs

The stomp rockets were once again a big hit with the kids, but it seems we need to find a convenient bellows-action hook-up for re-inflating the launch pod (pop bottle).

The tool drive continued with a few more donations coming in. If you are interested in donating any hand tools to the tool drive contact us. 

Despite the early-morning rain the sun came out and the market enjoyed a glorious fall morning. 

We plan on being at the last few markets of the season, which is until the end of October. 

We hope to see you there!

We’re Going to the Market…

We’re planning on being at the Sam Smith Farmers’ Market this weekend to launch the Tool Drive idea and get out with our neighbours!

The Sam Smith Farmers’ Market is on the skate trail in Colonel Samuel Smith Park, just south of Humber College’s Lakeshore campus in south Etobicoke (what we locals like to call New Toronto).

As mentioned in an earlier post (Toolbox Workshop – Update) we want to collect spare, gently used hand tools. If you have any extra pliers, hammers, etc (see the linked post for more details) then please bring them by.

We will focus on three projects this weekend:

There will be kits for sale if you want to make your own project at home, so bring some cash (no credit or debit). We will also have some tools and a bit or workspace on-hand for a few makers who just can’t wait to get building.

We are looking for the following new, gently used, or in good working order tools, for example:

  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Screw drivers
  • Level
  • Square
  • Pliers
  • Snips
  • Hand drill
  • Drill bits
  • Tape measures
  • Clamps

We have already started things off by building and filling one toolbox with some new and reasonably-used (i.e., still in good working condition) hand tools.

Hand-made small wooden toolbox filled with  hand tools
This toolbox is all ready to be donated to a needy family.

Hope to see you there! With tool donations!

Toolbox Workshop – Update

After a busy summer spent vacationing and having heaps of maker-y fun it’s time for an update on the toolbox workshop idea proposed here.

We have been talking with the good folks at the Sam Smith Farmer’s Market ( and are planning on bringing some tool box kits to a booth at the market in the coming weeks. This is an opportunity to come out, buy or make a kit, and maybe even drop off some tools as a donation to those who need them. 

These kits are slightly modified from the one shown in the original post; these toolboxes are slightly cantilevered to hang more naturally against the leg. It looks a bit counter-intuitive but the off-set centre handle and the low-rise front panel make it very easy to throw a whack of project tools in the box quickly and still carry it with ease. Toolboxes that have handles on-centre force the carrier to hold his or her arm own arm unnaturally proud from the hip, which causes fatigue and sometimes dents in the wall or bruises on the leg.

These toolboxes are designed to hold a good bit of kit while snugging comfortably up against the carrier’s thigh. They can be fastened with brads, nails, or screws and are  lightweight, sturdy, ample, and easily portable. The kits are all custom made-to-measure and easy to assemble as long as you have a flat surface on which to work.

Confirmed dates will be posted here at

DIY toolbox
You, too, can make your very own toolbox

Tool Drive and Tool Box Workshop

As just about everyone knows there are a lot of families leaving Syria and coming to Toronto. Recently we reached out to Lakeshore Syrian Connection, a local group who will be helping a family come to the New Toronto community with an idea about how we could help out. One of the things that could make coming to a new city a bit easier is having some hand tools. Buying new tools can be expensive, but many people have some tools lying around that they might be able to easily pass on to hands that need them.

So, we’re going to run a tool drive and see if we can gather enough tools to gift newcomer refugee families with a small kit to help fix little things around the house.

Chances are, most families coming to Toronto will be settling in apartments or shared living spaces, so we aren’t looking for large items like table saws, lathes, or drill presses – despite those being very exciting tools to have donated.

Maybe you have some extra tools lying around the house – or have a relative with too many to use. Of course, new tools are also welcome if you want to bring those in as well.

We are partnering with the 1st Lakeshore Scouts to get things underway. The Scout group will be running their annual Dirt Drive to fundraise and it’s a chance for some symbiotic community giving-back.

We are looking for the following new, gently used, or in good working order tools, for example:

  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Screw drivers
  • Level
  • Square
  • Pliers
  • Snips
  • Hand drill
  • Drill bits
  • Tape measures
  • Clamps

We are also going to be building some simple tool boxes to hold the tool donation and will be running a make-a-toolbox workshop: you, too, can make your very own toolbox!

We’ll have a number of pre-cut templates that can be bought on-site (for a small fee) and assembled with tools we’ll have there. The toolboxes can be made in an hour or two depending on how much you will be able to do on your own. Of course, we’ll be around and able to lend a hand or give some advice.

Here’s a sample toolbox that we whipped together one Sunday afternoon. This is the same model we’ll be using for the make-your-own project.

A toolbox that you can make too!

We haven’t finalized all the details yet, but will be coming in the next few weeks; check back here for updates.

Make: Simple Wooden Toolbox

Looking around the shop we saw just too much obtanium for the available space. So, in order to clear out a bit of room and also to kick-start a new project, we made a little wooden toolbox. 


re-using wood to make a toolbox
Obtanium becomes Usefulonium
This model is very straight-forward using 1/2″ sides and bottom, with 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ pine rails. The bottom and sides are flush against the sides. This allows the fastener screws to also act as strength reinforcements for the bottom. This does run the risk of splitting the 1/2″ bottom if the pilot holes aren’t carefully aligned, but there should still be enough material to work with.


clamping up square corners
Clamps are Awesome!
It’s possible to add another rail on top of the 3 and a half inch height in this one, but this model does make it easier to put tools in and pull them out without knocking against them.

finished toolbox
Handy Dandy Toolbox Made From Obtanium

Little Free Libraries

We’ve had some action lately building little free libraries.

The basic model is based on a typical 1/4″ or 1/2″ 4′ x 8′ piece of one-side-good plywood cut into 1′ x 4′ lengths. From there it’s easy to cut out the backs and sides to make a simple box, roof, and a shelf. Cedar shingles to finish off the roof are a nice touch, and pretty easy to apply. A simple piece of angled trim makes a nice cap rail for the roof line. As per usual, we’re grateful for our good friends Frank and Dave at Lakeshore Lumber for supplying the wood and hardware, and even going so far as to help cut the 4′ lengths.

The recent addition of two tools (a square corner-set found at ReStore and an air compressor with nailing head) make all the difference in putting this together. Seriously, the nailing head and the air compressor make this so much easier. Trying to tap the nails in while holding everything even would be a total pain. Gluing the joints before setting them also helps with stability.

The larger one measures 12″ x 19 1/2″ x 24″ and needed some extra support for the bottom; hence the width-spanning brace underneath that both adds extra rigidity to the base and creates a housing for a set-post. Some simple halved-joints made it easy to create the post housing.

Next-time additions could include dormers, skylights, lights for night-time browsing, or maybe even a Little Free Library LibraryBox…?…

Little Free Library Post Housing
Some simple halved-joints make creating a supported base and post housing a 2-for-1 double-plus.
Little Free Libraries
Two naked Little Free Libraries with open doors.

Pintail Skateboard

We made a skateboard using the Roarockit thin air press (TAP) kit.

It took longer than anticipated, and there were a few surprises along the way, but the end product is a successful pintail skateboard that is sturdy and smooth.

The deck is all from the Roarockit kit, and this model incorporates a piece of red veneer as the centre layer for a bit of flash. They said the dye permeated right-through, but it didn’t turn out that way when actually cut into. Nevertheless, the end result is a clearly visible streak of red in the middle layer of the deck.

The trucks, wheels, and bearings were all courtesy of the Longboard Living skate shop in Kensington Market.

Deck screws, helmet, and a good bit of friendly advice thanks to CJ Skatepark and school.

The vinyl decal was printed/cut at Graphic Print and Copies, another New Toronto shop.

Using the TAP bag from the kit was pretty easy. The first surprise came, though, upon reading the internal instructions, which say to glue the first three layers, then the second three layers, then the last two layers. This increased the amount of time needed to complete the deck by several days. The expectation was that the deck would be glued-up after eight hours; the reality was that it took three eight-hour sessions with the TAP bag. Not bad, but unexpected.

Rasping off the edges was a snap. The tool included with the kit worked very effectively and it was easy to sculpt the edges of the deck down to the correct profile.

Sanding down the edges was also pretty easy, but did take determination.

Sanding down the deck surface took several sessions as well. Starting with 80 grit, then 120, then 220, then 300 and finally 400 produced a beautiful surface on the maple veneer.

The finish for this deck was spar varnish. Stinky stuff. Not sure it will be used in the next deck. The biggest challenge was getting a smooth surface without burning through the layer; unfortunately this was not an entirely successful result. There are a few spots where the layers show through but generally speaking it’s a nice result.

This deck also incorporates a vinyl decal. To make sure that the deck was preserved properly, the decal only went on after three layers of finish. That ensured that the deck was completely sealed, and there was enough varnish to even out the drips and what-not. There are another 4 layers of varnish on top of the decal, and the profile on the deck face is almost smooth – only a wee bit of a bump where the decal is applied.

Sanding of each layer was 220 – 400 grit. The final layer was sanded up to 2000 grit, which I obtained through the most awesomest of stores, Lee Valley Tools.

Cell Phone Microscope

This latest project is based on the post “$10 Smartphone to digital microscope conversion!” by Yoshinok from Instructables.

With a bit of patience and perseverance we were able to get some great pictures of everyday stuff like paper towel, sand, milk weed seeds, snake skin (ok — not so everyday).

Preparation for 6 – 10 kits took about a day. Assembly can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on skill level.