My aim with DIY projects around the home is to look for innovative space-saving ideas and save costs on materials by recycling.
Objective of Making an Overlocker Cover
The main objective was to make a protective cover to prevent our cats from playing with the threads of the overlocker. Each time our cats play with the threads and breaks or tangles them, my wife then has to rethread the overlocker, which is fiddley and time-consuming.
The other objectives I set myself was to use recycled wood to keep the cost down, make it more than just a simple box so that it would be aesthetic, and make it multi-functional.
What Is an Overlocker?
An overlocker (or serger) is a specialised sewing machine that uses four threads to produce a stitch that sews over the edge of one or two pieces of material for edging, hemming and seaming.
The two main constraints were size and weight.
My wife keeps her overlocker on a tea-trolley, which is just a couple of inches wider than the overlocker itself. So the first constraint was that the inside measurement of any protective cover couldn’t be much smaller than the width of the trolley top so as to give adequate clearance when placing the cover on top or lifting it off.
The second constraint was that it couldn’t be too heavy for my wife to lift when removing or replacing it over the overlocker.
Upcycling and Recycling Wood
When doing DIY projects, I like to recycle or upcycle materials because it’s good for the environment and saves money. For this project, the scrap wood I recycled and upcycled included:
- Two folding tables
- Part of a wooden drawer
- A cat motif fruit bowl
- A wooden mouse
The folding tables and wooden drawers was pine wood and the fruit bowl was MDF.
We were originally given the folding tables from a friend, who no longer needed them, and for a while used them as sofa tables for our evening meal when watching TV. Then I replaced them with two bespoke tables, one I made by upcycling an old solid oak valet stand that we’d been given. I then added the folding tables to my wood store in my workshop for future recycling.
The solid pine wooden drawer came from an old wardrobe that a friend gave us for scrap wood because he no longer needed it.
The 12mm plywood I used in this project was originally the door to my garden tool shed, but became surplus when I replaced it with our old front porch door that I salvaged when we had our house re-doubled glazed with new uPVC windows and composite doors.
The 9mm plywood was from a piece of surplus homemade furniture a friend gave me for use as scrap wood, and the 4mm plywood was offcuts from previous DIY project.
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The cat motif was from an MDF fruit bowl that had broken, and which my wife was going to throw out; but which I salvaged for future use.
The wooden mouse was from an old cheeseboard.
Other Uses for the Cover
When making something for the home, I like to make it multifunctional if possible. In this project, I saw the opportunity to make the anti-cat overlocker cover to double up as a stool and or coffee table. The concept being that if at any time we’re in the conservatory with guests (where the sewing machines are), and thus able to keep an eye on the overlocker. We’ve also got the option to use the protective cover as extra seating or a coffee table.
The last thing I wanted was just a wooden box; it would just look too naff. I wanted something with a little bit of character or style. Hence my delight in the prospect of incorporating the cat motif from the fruit bowl and the wooden mouse; which I thought would be poetic justice in that the box is designed as an anti-cat protective cover for the overlocker.
Another consideration for the aesthetics is that as the protective cover would be made from a mishmash of recycled scrap wood that a rustic look might be appropriate; especially as it is a finished look that we like in some furniture.
If I piece of furniture is made from quality wood, usually a hardwood such as oak, teak or mahogany, then yes it should be finished to a high standard to show off the beauty of the wood. However, although you can achieve a good finish by wood staining cheaper (softwoods), such as pine and or plywood, it can sometimes look contentious (false); and we don’t like painting wood because it just hides the natural beauty of wood. Therefore, we sometimes find it more pleasing to see a rustic finish, as it’s a more honest statement; just as some people like to see the patina of old furniture.
In accordance with the objectives and constraints, including the desire to make it from recycled wood, aesthetically pleasing and multi-functional, my first task was to take detailed measurements of the overlocker, and the tea-trolley it sits on so as be able to draw a sketch plan as a guide.
Having sourced the recycled wood I then needed to clean and prepare it for construction by:
- Disassembling the old pine folding tables
- Removing the broken centre piece from the fruit bowl
- Using the belt and orbital sanders on salvaged plywood
Construction and Assembly
Having all the materials I needed, the main phases of construction was:
- Make the two sides
- Cut the front and back to size
- Assemble the box
- Make the top
For this project I used 12mm (half inch) plywood for the front panel, 9mm (about 3/8 inch) for the back panel, and 4mm (about 1/8 inch) for the two side panels. The intention of using thinner, rather than thicker, plywood where possible was to keep the overall weight of the box to a minimum (while not compromising on strength too much) to make it easier for my wife to be able to lift it over the overlocker when putting it in place or removing it.