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Here's how you can get started with your own woodwork project

You don’t have to have a screw loose to build your own shed, says Big Issue vendor Rob. But if you’re less professional, he has some easier jobs for beginners

Woodwork expert Rob Lovett explains how to get started when building a shed. Illustration: Matthew Brazier

Woodwork expert Rob Lovett explains how to get started when building a shed. Illustration: Matthew Brazier

Big Issue vendors have a wide variety of skills and experience, so we bring you the best of their knowledge each week. This week, Kent vendor Rob Lovett has some tips for both the ambitious and the amateur on how to get started when it comes to woodwork.

At the moment I’m building a shed for a friend, 10ft by 12ft. All the structural work is reclaimed wood but what you see on the outside has been bought, and so has the roof. The doors and the windows are reclaimed too. I like going round to see what I can find, I go to builders’ yards and industrial estates and there’s some good-quality wood there. Always get permission though, don’t just take it!

I know how to do some joints but usually I just use screws. I like working with shiplap because it’s easy to put up. For a shed like the one I’m doing now, you just need to make sure it’s level and put in two or three screws then you’re ready for the next piece.

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Also, because it’s shiplap it’s pretty watertight. I finish by painting with outside weather paint. That’s guaranteed for five years, but it’s a good idea to give it another coat every two or three years.

A shed is quite an ambitious project, so a better place to start might be small boxes or raised beds for the garden. I recently built a little shed box that was about 3ft high and about 6ft long. I built a little 2ft fence as well out of battening I picked up from a local builders’ yard.

1456 Vendor ExpertHOW TO HAVE A bASH AT WOODWORKCredit: Matthew Brazier
Wood you credit it? Good measurements are key to your success. Credit: Matthew Brazier

I haven’t got any qualifications, I’m self-taught. When I built my first shed I didn’t really have any funds but I still managed to build it. I’ve learned a lot, you learn all the time. The main thing to remember is to measure carefully. And use a spirit level to make sure you’ve got a level base.

We put up the sides of the shed the other day and I checked the level with my eye. I could see that it looked good but we checked it anyway and it was bang on. So with practice you get to know what’s good, but when you’re just starting out measure, check, and check again.

It’s not just wood I work with, I can paint, decorate and I do a bit of tiling. There’s quite a lot of stuff that I can do.

Rob Lovett sells The Big Issue in Longfield in Kent. Rob was talking to Sarah Reid

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