Taking the DIY option to make furniture



DIY Divas learn how to use a router when making a CD / DVD rack


The move towards home DIY continues to increase as more people realise the benefits and satisfaction of a job well done. We asked Janice Anderssen of DIY Divas to provide us with a bit of insight and a few tips for those wanting to make their own furniture.

DIY Divas is an organisation aimed at empowering women around the country with basic DIY skills, although more than a few men attend the workshops that are held every Saturday morning at venues in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. Founded in 2007 by Janice Anderssen, DIY Divas has become the ‘go to’ organisation for anyone wanting to hone their skills or discover a few tricks and techniques for doing-it-themselves.


Nothing beats the satisfaction of a project you made on your own.


What was the inspiration behind DIY Divas ?


Following the launch of in 2005 I was inundated with requests from women who wanted to get involved in DIY but were afraid to do so, not just because they hadn’t used power tools before, but also a fear of not knowing where to start. After posting various do-it-yourself projects on the website, requests started pouring in for more information and the opportunity to share and spread knowledge was a process that happened almost overnight.


A group learning how to make their own kitchen cabinets.


Who attends DIY Divas workshops ?


While most of our workshops are attended by women, we also have men attending the workshops. After all, where else can they obtain hands-on experience using tools for the very first time. The men and women who attend the workshops are looking for training in the proper use of tools as well as the techniques required to either fix things up around the home, or to make their own décor accessories and furniture.


Overcome the fear of using power tools.


What is covered at the DIY Divas workshops ?


We try to offer workshops that cover home repair, home improvement and other DIY projects that anyone can do. The Beginners workshops are the most popular workshops and these cover using power tools for the first time, tool safety and what each tool can and cannot do, as well as looking at timber and board and hardware.  I am one of those that learns by touch, by getting stuck into a project and this is what we try to incorporate into all our workshops by letting those attending make a small project to take home with them.

The Basic workshops provide an introduction to home electrical and plumbing repairs – those that any homeowner can do should a minor repair or emergency occur. We try to ensure that all our workshops are as comprehensive and hands-on as possible but we also emphasize that not every project is a DIY option and when it is best to call in a professional.


Learn how to make your own furniture.


What about furniture making workshops ?

These are probably our most popular workshops, especially when making an item that is trendy or useful in a home. Over the years we have probably made in the region of 500 storage ottomans, and this remains one of our more popular workshops. It’s not just the process of making it, it’s the joy of taking home an items you have made yourself from scratch. We try to ensure that every project is made as professionally as possible and not look like a DIY project. After all, you want the furniture you make to look just as good – if not better – than store-bought furniture!


What DIY tips can you pass on for making furniture ?


Invest in a decent set of power tools. You want any project to be easy and fun and not sweaty, hard work. We align ourselves with Bosch Power Tools purely for the reason that Bosch were the ones that innovated cordless power tools in South Africa and were responsible for making DIY easier. Plus the fact that we use Bosch tools at all our workshops around the country and they have never let us down despite continuous and repeated use.


Attend a DIY Divas workshop so that you know the options available to you when it comes to materials and hardware for constructing your projects. If you know what is available you can look at something you want to make and know where to buy everything you need to complete the project.


Practice makes perfect… and this is so true when it comes to making your own furniture. If you start off with small projects it won’t be long before you have the experience to move up to larger pieces. Become comfortable using your power tools and gain the confidence necessary to use them properly. I am often asked what the most dangerous power tool is, but the truth is that power tools themselves are designed to be safe – it’s the person using them that is dangerous!


DIY is addictive and you will soon discover this after making your first project. When window shopping I love to look and see how furniture is made and how I would make the same item at a fraction of the cost, and sometimes even of better quality.


Visit the website for more information on workshops offered around the country.

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