Another on-screen feature

In addition to being a general handy-person, I’m a maker of sets and props, and also a tutor at Toi Whakaari for the making of sets & props.

So it was nice to see one of my woodworking jobs quite a few years ago, featured in a viral video, of swan lake bath ballet (you can view the full video on Facebook, via this link).

Swan Lake Bath Ballet
Image reproduced with permission, from Ammara (the location)

The two baths feature pretty heavily, from 1 min 34 – 1 min 45, alongside two dancers from the NZ Royal Ballet.

My responsibility was the twin taps tower, you can see in the centre of the above image 🙂

Like with many of the movie props I make, and the many things I make that aren’t for the movie industry, I primarily enjoy the process of making each item to a high standard, more than anything else.

However it is always a buzz to see my work featured in often subtle ways, to a much wider audience around the world. And so it’s nice to share links to that work occasionally too.


Hero Movie Props

For the last 9 months or so, I’ve been really fortunate to be working full-time with Human Dynamo. This is a company, based in Miramar, Wellington.

In some ways, they are much like the well known Weta Workshops (many of the staff who work at HD have also worked with Weta, and they often seem to do similar things).

Human Dynamo make things, and so that’s what I’ve been doing with them too, for the last 8 months or so, full-time. Hence not making any updates on here.

Of course, with NDAs [Non Disclosure Agreements] I can’t tell you what I’ve been working on, nor can I tell you who it was for, nor can I share any pictures for a few years.

But I have been having a wonderful time, working with an incredible team of highly talented people, in some amazing workshops with all the toys (tools) I could want to work with. This includes CNC machines, laser cutters, lathes, milling machines, welding, 3D printers, spray painting, joinery, and so much fine sanding and fine filling in the fabrication and assembly workshops.

I know many of the things I’ve been working on will be seen in detail by people around the world, in the not too distant future.

It’s been an incredible experience to do this again, and I look forward to sharing more information, when I can.

In the meantime, if you check out the Human Dynamo website, you can get an idea of the types of things they’ve been involved with in the past.


Cat Hammock

This was a quick job aboard our own boat, for our soon to arrive kitten. Giving her a space to gaze out of the window, and bask in the sunshine.

 Wood joints with dominos and glue.  
This was the clamping stage, prior to finishing the edge profiling and sanding.
Installed (prior to the fabric being added)
Installed (prior to the fabric being added)

Update 12th December

Lico alert in the cat hammock
Alert in her fully installed (and easily movable) cat hammock
Lico resting in the cat hammock
She does love basking in the sunshine!

Cubby Holes

After making the first set of cubby holes this time last year, the range was extended to 33 shelves.  

All these units are custom made, with furniture grade Plywood, that should last for decades to come.

Because it’s always nice to lay out the components before assembly
(even when I make all these components myself from sheets of 1.2×2.4m board).
Mid-assembly, using dominos and glue at all the joints.
The year old, and the newly made.
Fully installed, secured to the walls and each other.

Cat Shelves

This was a fun job, developing a range of cat shelves for inside someone’s apartment, for their indoor cat.

Initial Designs
Starting with the basic design
Laying out the cutting sheet for a standard board.
Cat Tree
The additional component of some stools, reconfigured as a cat tree.
Laying out all the components, after edge profiling and some sanding, prior to varnishing.
The complete and installed units, varnished, and with anti-slip material on each upper surface.


Kiwiburn 2017 Temple

I was fortunate this year to have my design for the Temple of Kiwiburn in early 2017 (the NZ verion of Burning Man).

This involved managing a crew of 11 volunteers, for two weeks, building the structure in the middle of a field, in preparation for the main festival event.

The 1,500 festival participants were then able to use the space to say their fairwells, writing on the walls, before the final ceremonial burning ceremony.

Some numbers:
  • 1,000 meters of NZ pine
  • 144 meters of bamboo (24 lengths, at 6 meters)
  • 150 recycled coffee sacks, for the roof
  • 750 meters of manilla rope
  • 500 meters of manilla string
  • 150 meters of LED lights (totalling 4,500 LEDs)

Some thanks:

In addition to the superb voluntary build team, often seen in the images below, I also want to say massive thanks to:

  • Paloma Gardens – For not only letting us take away for free, but also helping us carry and load around 60 lengths of structural bamboo, from their incredibly beautiful gardens, near Fordell, Whanganui.
  • Coffee Supreme – For letting us collect for free, over 150 coffee bags, from their Roastery in Wellington.
Some images:

Smoothing down the timber.
The temporary workshop, smoothing down the 1,000 meters of rough sawn timber, for the build.

teams in the workshop
Some of the build team, hard at preperation.

Finalising the roof mandala (to be positioned in the roof apex)

pillar support production
Production of the 48 pillar supports

Some of the build team hard at work

string art
The roof mandala, now with the geometric string art applied.

the build crew, seen from above
Half the build crew, as seen from above, just before raising the mandala

Securing the bamboo
Raising the mandala, and securing the 6 meter bamboo roof pole sections.

The temple roof (not yet raised), the workshop, and the tool tent.

Checking the apex is level.
Checking the roof apex is level, 5 meters up. As you can see, it is exactly!

Partial roof construction
The tripods to support raising the roof, in position. The roof covering (coffee sacks) being applied.

partial roof covering
The roof section partially covered.

The roof now half covered

The roof panels mostly complete
Only one roof panel left to attach

The roof raised.
The roof apex, now standing at 7.5 meters on the column supports, having survived the gale force winds.

The kiwiburn site.
How the temple site looks, in a field, in the base of a valley.

The temple nearly complete
The complete temple structure, with the final wall panels going on.

Kiwiburn Temple 2017
The complete Kiwiburn Temple, one of the first days of the festival

The temple and the clouds
Some incredible cloud patterns, above the festival site

The temple lit by LEDs
The temple by night, illumated by near 150meters of LED strips

Internal view of the LED lighting
The temple lighting, as seen from the inside

Viewing inside the temple, after many of the memories have been added.

Looking up
The view from the base of the inner spiral, looking straight up

Looking down at the inner spiral
Looking down on the inner spiral, just before the final burn.

The ceremonial burning of the temple structure
The ceremonial burning of the temple structure

Most of the burn remains
After most of the burn is complete, and 1,500 people looked on in silence for the whole hour.


Custom Media Stand

This was a custom media stand, to work with the DVD shelves.

The shelving was designed to hold all the media appliances contained in the final images, primarily built for my own collection at the time (including my flatmates’), and then the unit was subsequently sold with matching speaker stands.

This was also built in the small workshop I had at the time.

The handmade custom ‘flatpack’, prior to assembly.

All the holes awaiting dowels.

Trialing the 40mm box joints prior to glueing.

Initial assembly

Early glueing

The complete unit

The first coats of linseed oil, to bring out the grain.

The joints, as seen from the front.

After the coats of linseed

The media stand in situ.

A wider angle of its placement in the room.

The media stand.



Custom DVD Shelves

These were a set of three DVD / video shelves, for around 400 DVDs and 100 videos, to work with the custom media stand.

Built out of NZ radiata pine, produced in a NZ sawmill, made with a screwless construction.

Built in the small workshop I had at the time.  These were primarily made for my own DVDs, and the merged collections with my flatmates at the time.

Preparing the shelves to equal sizes

Drilling holes for the shelf dowels.

Placing the first of the shelves

First shelving assembly. Waiting for the glue to dry.

Waiting for the glue to dry.

2 out of 3

The empty shelves, placed and secured.

Two of the shelves full.

The completed shelves.


Custom Super King Four Poster Bed

This was a really enjoyable project, designing and building a Super King Size Four Poster Bed (1.8meters wide, by 2 meters long), at just under 2.4 meters high (to fit within a standard ceiling height).

I primarily began making it for myself, but then later sold it to a very happy customer when I moved onto the boat.

The materials were exclusively NZ Radiata Pine ply (18mm thick), produced at a saw mill within NZ.  Finished with NZ Linseed oil.

The whole design was screwless, utlising 40mm box joints on most of the 90 degree joints.  And then 8mm dowels with wood glue was used everywhere else.

Sixteen marine grade (316) Stainless Steel bolts were used to complete the assembly, ensuring the whole bed could be packed down and transported in less than 20 minutes (the columns were designed to nestle inside each other when stacked together).

Matching letters were engraved into the respective internal faces of each joint, so no seperate instructions were needed, just ‘match the eight letters’.  The only tool needed was a 13mm spanner, so no allen/hex keys to loose.

The bed also featured an optional Unistrut railing system (not shown in these pictures), allowing highly flexible attachment points for play, both under the outer edges of the bed base, up the inside corners of each post, and a fully movable rolling rail system enabling rated suspension points, that could be moved anywhere within the 3Dimensional space within the columns, above the mattress, and right to the top of the columns.

Custom planks cut to size
Most of the flat plank sections, cut to size from full sheets.

The custom 40mm box joint jig, accurate to 0.1mm, to ensure consistent results along each 2.4 meter span.

Custom box joint jig
Custom box joint jig, built largely from repurposed Remu bed posts salvaged from an op shop.

Box joints, glued and clamped
Box joints, glued and clamped

Box jointed columns
Three of the pillars assembled. The fourth ready to be assembled and glued

All four pillars assembled, with re-enforced inner corners
All four pillars assembled, with re-enforced inner corners

One of the bed ends assembled for the first time.
One of the bed ends assembled for the first time.

Box jointed column tops, with curved edges shown.
Box jointed column tops, with curved profile edges shown.

The view of the base of one column
The view of the base of one column (designed to sit onto carpet)

The bed slats assembled
The bed slats assembled (and held in position with a box joint and dowel, no glue)

Bed slat support channels, re-enforced to allow a featured channel to be installed under the bed.

One of the side panels, after staining and oiling, to bring out the natural wood grain.

The fourth coat of linseed oil, after wood staining to enhance the grain.
The fourth coat of linseed oil, after wood staining to enhance the grain.

A close up of the detailing around the wooden slats, after the final protective coat of varnish was applied.

The foot of the bed, allowing space for the optional Unistrut railing system up the inside of each corner.

Detailing of the top of each pillar
The bed is screwless in construction, but uses 16 marine grade stainless steel bolts, to lock it all together (and enable disassembly for transport)

The completed super king size (180cm wide x 200cm long x 236cm high) four poster bed.

In placement.