Preparing Raw Pine for Staining to Stop Raised Grain

One of the drawbacks of using a water based stain on raw pine is that it can raise the grain on the wood. Raised wood grain wasn’t really a problem with oil based stains, but it is one of the only disadvantages that you will find using a water based stain.

An easy, and zero cost, option to stop the grain on the wood from raising too after staining is to apply a light coat of water to the timber prior to the final sanding.

This video shows you how to do it …

We are currently working on a timber arrow for our youngest son’s bedroom that we want to stain. The idea behind using a water based stain is that it should be lower odour and have lower VOC.

By using a very light application of water to the timber prior to the final sanding and stain should give us a much smoother, and more “professional” finish to the final project.

Staining the Timber

Photo via Russell Wisniewski

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Cost of Monkey Bars in Australia

We have almost finished the kid’s cubby house (photos and plans to come) and the next thing that we would like to do is a set of monkey bars and swing set. Our daughter has a “need” to go upside down and hang around a lot, so rather than have her do it on the couch against the wall, some monkey bars would be great.

Amazon sells a great kit of six monkey bars for about $22.00. This would be a great kit to use to build some monkey bars. Unfortunately I have yet to find a kit like that in Australia …

Monkey Bar Kit

The best I have been able to find in Australia so far is $14.00 each from Peppertown Playgrounds. A set of six from here would be $84.00, substantially more than the $22.00 it would cost from Amazon.

There are cheaper ways to make monkey bars using large diameter dowels (32mm+), or metal pipes. Neither of those options seem as easy as getting a proper set of monkey bars, but at least the dowel option might be possible. There are some interesting ideas on this site for how to do it …

Australian Electricity Price Increase by 15,000 Percent!

I wish that number was a joke, but unfortunately it is not. The price per kilowatt hour of electricity could jump from the current price of about 30c/kWh, up to $47 per kilowatt hour during peak usage times!

Electricity pylon75% of Australian homes have air conditioners, which will be the households most affected by the increase. Because of the harsh climate that we have here in South Australia that percentage is even higher at 90%. The “critical peak surcharge” could be applied on the hottest days, for up to 4-hours.

According to AEMC’s (Australian Energy Markets Commission’s) consumer advocacy panel, the increases in electricity prices will hurt “customers who are least able to manage their consumption”. The people who will be most hit by the increase are said to be households with stay-at-home parents.

Given that I work from home, and my wife is a stay-at-home mum, we could be up for a very large financial hit when the changes start in 2017. My wife suffers from both Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, which makes regulating the temperature in our household not just a “luxury”, but very important for her quality of life.

Not only is it important for my wife’s health, but having proper cooling is also extremely important for our kid’s learning. According to this story, “comprehension starts to diminish at 28 degrees”. Since this goes for learning, no doubt it also goes for working as well.

Let’s see how the changes play out, but I for one hope that the 15,000 percent increase doesn’t come into play here …


Image credit: Lydia

Where Are The Electrical Powerpoints?

One of our larger frustrations with the house is the complete lack of powerpoints in the rooms. The three children’s bedrooms only have one electrical point in each room, our bedroom has only two electrical powerpoints, and the main living areas also have a severe lack of powerpoints.

We have set-up a desk for our children on the “Meals” area of the house so that we can supervise them on the computer and with their homework, but there are no powerpoints in that area, and only two in the “Family” area. The “Formal Dining” room, which is my office, has only a single power point. From that single electrical point we are stuck running all of our networking, printer, and my computer from. It is definitely not an ideal set-up.


On top of that, the only thing that you are allowed to legally do in Australia for electrical work as a DIYer is replace a light bulb! Anything else must be done by a very costly electrician. I bet that the electrical unions absolutely loved getting that bit of legislation passed …