Austerity craft: Never mind the flatpacks

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Who needs Ikea when your local skip has so much to offer? Drills at the ready as we show how to turn a load of old junk into the hippest of homeware

Eight years ago, Grace Hawthorne and Shoshana Berger launched ReadyMade, a craft magazine for the under-forties, after getting frustrated that the only DIY publications out there catered to housewives wanting to create "the über-perfect doily" or the hardcore DIY set.

"My friends and I were young, urban, eco-minded," explains Berger. "We wanted an outpost for our ideas about how to create extraordinary design out of ordinary objects."

With the magazine and, now, also a website and a book – which feature projects including making a coat rack from empty detergent bottles, and a (surprisingly beautiful) coffee table from old phone books – the pair say they are redefining the terms "DIY" and "craft", making them cool for a generation that grew up without everyday household skills. "Our generation has grown up behind a computer screen, in a very disposable, mass-produced culture," says Hawthorn. "They are hankering for a way to roll up their sleeves and get back to the tangible world."

And that attitude couldn't be more relevant as we square up to economic uncertainty, adds Berger: "These times require a new resourcefulness. If we don't change our single-serving ways, we'll soon be swimming in our own junk."

All DIY instructions adapted from 'ReadyMade' by Shoshana Berger and Grace Hawthorne, published by Thames & Hudson at £14.95. Read more at www.readymade.com

Eames-style shelving unit

Inspired by the tower of stacked drawers by the Dutch design collective Droog, and Charles and Ray Eames's plywood storage units, we created this assembly of aluminium brackets and old drawers. Next time you pass a skip or some fly-tipped furniture in the street, see whether there's a nice chest of drawers or dresser you can pinch the drawers from.



Ingredients:
Three cast-off drawers
Four 8ft aluminium angles, 1/8in thick
Handful of 3/4in flathead Phillips screws
A few 11/2in carpenter's nails
Black eggshell paint (optional)

Tools:
Tape measure
Permanent marker
Hacksaw and sandpaper
Hand drill
1/8in drill bit (for the starter hole)
1/4in drill bit (for the sink part of the hole)
Phillips-head bit
Hammer
Paintbrush (optional)

1. Settle on a pleasing arrangement of your drawers.

2. Measure the height of your configuration.

3. Measure and mark off one aluminium piece, five inches plus the height of your configuration (the extra inches will be the raised footing of the piece).

4. Use the hacksaw to cut the first aluminium piece. Use this piece as your template for making the other three.

5. Lightly sand the sharp, freshly cut ends.

6. Starting from the top of your configuration, position one of the aluminium pieces on the front edge of the top drawer unit. Make sure the top of the aluminium piece is flush with the top edge of the drawer unit. Hold in place.

7. Work out an appropriate pattern for the screws that will connect the aluminium piece to the drawer and mark. We positioned ours 31/2 inches apart and 7/8 of an inch from the outer edge.

8. Using the 1/8in drill bit, drill a pilot hole through the aluminium for each marked hole

9. Using the 1/4in drill bit, slightly drill the larger bit into the same hole so that the head of the screw will sink down into the wood when drilled. '

Ladder bookcase

If you have too many books and too little wall space, this project is for you. Though we'd all like to own those built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves we've seen in the fire-lit libraries in old movies – their rolling ladders giving access to the loftiest tomes – we'll settle for this version. All that's required are two ladders (if you can find the old wooden variety, all the better), and a few sturdy sheets of plywood.

Ingredients:
Two 6ft folding aluminium ladders
Five shelves in varying widths and a standard 83in length
85in of iron-on wood-veneer tape
Semi-gloss varnish

Tools:
Ruler
Hand circular saw
Iron
Scissors
Sandpaper
Paintbrush

1. Stand your ladders next to each other, steps facing out.

2. Measure, mark and cut five shelves with your circular saw. Note that the steps of a ladder narrow as you ascend, so cut to varying widths – approximately 111/2in, 13in, 141/2in, 16in and 171/2in respectively.

4. Iron the veneer tape on to the edges of your shelves.

4. Trim and sand any excess tape.

5. Brush two coats of varnish over the shelves.

6. Let dry.

7. Rack up your shelves on the ladders (you may have to file a little bit of the underside of the ladder shelf if the wood planks are too tight a fit).

8. Move assembly into place, and stack it up with books.

Comb and ruler letter rack

Ingredients:
Two large combs of equal length
1m wooden ruler

Tools:
Handsaw
Sandpaper
Hot glue gun

1. Measure the combs and cut the ruler into four pieces of the same length. Sand the edges.

2. Use the glue gun to glue the length of the wood, lying flat, to the length of the comb's bottom edge.

3. Repeat and glue so that each comb has wood glued on both sides.

4. Slot in your post in priority order.

Clothes-peg doormat

Ingredients:
192 33/4in doll-head clothes pegs
16-gauge or narrower steel wire

Tools:
Hand drill
Diagonal pliers
Nose pliers
Hammer
Drill bit larger than wire

1. Drill two holes through 176 clothes pegs: one 11/8in from the head and one 1/2in from the foot. Now drill two holes through the remaining 16 pegs, one 11/8in from the head and one 1in from the foot.

2. Use diagonal pliers to cut 11 pieces of wire, 27in long.

3. Sleeve the wire into the pegs, alternating the height of each pin accordingly. (Be patient here: the wire will not slide through like butter. You will have to nudge the wire through a little at a time, sliding the upper connecting row over by hand every time you sleeve a new pin.)

4. On the penultimate row, flip the orientation of your pins so your outer edges have a continuous look. Use the second type of pins (the remaining 16 pegs) to make the penultimate row.

5. Trim the excess wire to 3/4in.

6. Drill a hole immediately adjacent to where the wire exits.

7. Use the pliers and hammer to bend, tuck, and hammer the excess wire into the adjacent hole.

8. Flatten the mat by bending the web of pins into place by hand.

9. Set by the door and wipe up.

Shrink-wrap chair

Ingredients:

An old metal chair frame
Shrink wrap (think industrial-sized plastic wrap)
Clear packing tape

Tools:
Utility knife



1. Clean everything from the metal frame.

2. Wrap the plastic around the frame's backrest 10 to 20 times, depending on the opacity and tightness you want to achieve.

3. Cut the wrap with your knife and secure it with a small piece of packing tape.

4. Wrap 30-40 layers of plastic around the frame's seat for appropriate strength.

5. Cut the plastic with your knife and secure it with a small piece of packing tape.

6. Sit down.

Sawhorse table

Ingredients:
One pair of sawhorses
An old 1in-thick door or a custom-cut piece of glass



1. Arrange the sawhorses apart to hold your table surface.

2. Set your tabletop surface on top. (Note: you may want to place a couple of 1in x 2in slivers of thick carpet underlay in between to prevent your surface slipping.)

Measuring jar

Ingredients:
Empty jar

Tools:
Permanent, dishwasher-proof markers – two colours
Rubber band
Measuring cup



1. Clean and dry your jar.

2. Measure and pour increments of 1/4 cup water into your jar with your measuring cup.

3. Wrap the rubber band around the jar. This is your guide for drawing straight lines around your jar's perimeter.

4. With each pour, move the band just under the height of the water and mark with your pen, alternating colours.

5. Use your new measuring jar to bake a cake.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone