Category Archives: Personal

Creating a Balcony Herb Garden

Updated: See the bottom of the post for what it looks like after 3.5 months!

We’ve been growing some herbs on our balcony for a while, but mostly in their original pots from the nursery. Over the last couple of days I’ve replaced them with some new plants in new pots.

I purchased two rectangular Yates Artesian Classic planter boxes from Bunnings in a terracotta colour. We’ve got another similar Yates Artesian pot for our fern that seems to go great. They’re good because they’re self watering with a large base storage of water which is good for us as our balcony gets quite dry and we don’t always get to water them.

I chose them because I remember Don Burke from Burke’s Backyard mentioned many times that you’re better to get a plastic terracotta look pot than a real terracotta pot. They’re much lighter, last better and don’t dry the plants out as much. The tubs cost $15 each from Bunnings and hold 10 Litres of soil each.

The labels on the Yates pots are annoying though, being hard to properly remove!

We bought the herbs as seedlings from The Plant Shack at Deception Bay, who’s owners have always given us great service. We got:

They cost us $18 for the four.

Update: Here’s what it looks like in late December:

3.5 Months Later: Italian Parsley and Garlic Chives
3.5 Months Later: Italian Parsley and Garlic Chives
3.5 Months Later: Thyme and Oregano
3.5 Months Later: Thyme and Oregano

KMart $15 Virtual Reality Goggles Review

If you’ve been following the state of virtual reality technology of late, you’ve likely heard of or even used Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard was a precut cardboard fold up VR headset that cost less than $30 and used your mobile phone. Since that came out different companies have produced fully manufactured plastic units similar.

In their most recent catalogue KMart Australia started selling $15 Virtual Reality Goggles using the same design and technology as Google Cardboard. This kit is made of injection molded plastic with comfort foam and adjustable fabric straps to hold it on your head.

KMart Virtual Reality Goggles
KMart Virtual Reality Goggles

The lenses are larger than those in many similar Google Cardboard based headset, which leads to a larger, better field of view. The headset is quite comfortable and lightweight, even with my phone, an Apple iPhone 6, inside.

KMart Virtual Reality Goggles and the box the come in
KMart Virtual Reality Goggles and the box the come in

The virtual reality effect is quite impressive. A rollercoaster app makes you feel like you’re really moving around. Full 180 degree 3D dome videos look impressive. It is quite low resolution and dotty however as the mobile phone’s screen is being spread across your full field of vision.

Looking into the goggles
Looking into the goggles

The unit has a bottom magnet slider which can be used to control some apps on some phones. I’ve not found it to work with my iPhone though.

The manual contains links to some apps that can be used, including a Roller Coaster VR app for iOS.

A Note for Android Users

Commenter Darren Ferguson(see comments below), noted that the magnet on the bottom is should be on the side. The magnet works with the Apple iPhone correct(although intermittently). However on many Android phones including the Nexus5 it magnet will turn the phone off. Thanks for the info Darren!


For $15 I’m really impressed with the quality and strongly recommend it. I’ve only tested with an Apple iPhone 6, but Google Cardboard was originally designed for Android phones so should work fine with those too. This unit is a great chance to play with VR at a low cost.

You can find the KMart Virtual Reality Goggles on their website here or visit your local KMart where they’re strangely stored behind a glass cabinet in the Audio Visual section.

I’ve also published a list of some suggested iPhone Virtual Reality apps to try here.

Comparison of my cardboard VR kit to the KMart Virtual Reality Goggles
Comparison of my cardboard VR kit to the KMart Virtual Reality Goggles

Protecting my Rack It Work Bench Top

After completing my Rack It Work Bench Kit construction, I wanted to protect the MDF bench top surface from damage. Initially I’d intended to use a spray lacquer or varnish, however my father-in-law recommended I use a Carnauba Wax. He advised it is more suited to the purpose and the surface can easily be restored in the future by re-waxing.

I purchased a 500 gram tin of Carnauba Wax from Bunnings. It’s available in either natural or brown. I probably would have gone with the natural colour if I had seen it, but instead I’ve got the brown.

To apply the Carnauba Wax, you smear some from the can onto a clean cloth and wipe a thin coating onto the surface with a circular motion. I found this to be a bit difficult to achieve a smooth consistent coating.

My less than perfect job of the underside
My less than perfect job of the underside

Fortunately I had started with the underside of the workbench, because I ended up with a blotchy finish with some spots much darker than other where more Carnauba had been applied.

After consulting with my father-in-law again, he suggested putting the Carnauba on the inside of a folded cloth and applying it through the cloth. This worked much better as the wax was applied at a much more constant rate as it squeezed through the fine holes in the cloth. I used this technique on the top surface and got a much more consistent end result.

Applying the wax through the cloth
Applying the wax through the cloth

Doing this is quite labor intensive but took about an hour for each side with lots of circular motions to spread the wax consistently and rub it in.

After leaving it to settle for 15 minutes, the surface is then buffed with another clean cloth to remove the excess Carnauba Wax that hasn’t been absorbed into the surface. This probably would have been easier with an electric buffer, but I was able to get a smooth surface result with just hand labor with a cloth. I used white cloth rags I bought in a bag from Bunnings cheap.

The completed job
The completed job

Overall I was quite happy with my end result. I think it looks great and it’ll protect the surface nicely as I use my workbench.

Mounting a Vice to a Rack It Work Bench

Having just put together my Handy Storage Rack It Work Bench Kit, I now wanted to mount a vice on it. Prior to doing this I’d already treated the MDF surface of the work bench with Carnauba Wax to provide it with some protection and to smooth it.

Positioning the Vice

I decided to position my vice to the right hand side of the workbench. There’s a bit of information around online about where to position it, but I decided to go as far to the right hand as I could, so as to keep the flat surface of the bench clear. It gives me good space for cutting things on the right hand side of the bench which is mostly what I’ll be using it for.

Holes drilled in MDF bench top

Drilling the Holes

The vice I have has two slots of either side for bolts and a hole underneath the centre at the rear which is hard to get to. I decided to use 75mm M12 bolts through each hole. Marking the hole positions for the side holes was easy but the rear centre hole was harder as I couldn’t just stick a marker through it.

Instead I marked the centre of the back edge of the vice, then used digital callipers to measure the distance from the back edge to the edge of the hole which was 10mm. The diameter of the hole was 14mm. This gave me a distance 17mm from the centre of the back edge of the vice to the centre of the hole.

I used a Dewalt hand held drill to drill out the holes with a 1/2″ bit which gave a slight bit of clearance for the M12 bolts. Drilling through the MDF was quite easy, but I took it slowly to prevent damage to the surrounding material.

Once the holes were drilled I put the vice on top to check that the bolts would go through into the right holes for confirmation.

Cutting two Metal Plates

Completed metal sheets

To provide some extra protection against damage to the bench top, I followed some advice I found online to put a piece of steel above and below the bench top where the vice was. I used some .75mm Galvanised Steel for this which was cut with a bimetal blade on a jigsaw to 165mm squares.

Marking out the sheet was a matter of placing the square in the right position on top of the bench then placing the vice on top and marking with a pen through the holes. Marking the rear centre hole required some calculation though.

The bottom plate was marked out(in a different position due to the bench frame) by putting it on the bottom of the bench and marking through my drill holes. I then mounted it to my other work bench and drilled through the holes progressing from small bits to large bits as I don’t really have the right tool for this. I had to round out the holes a bit with the side of my 1/2″ drill bit to reef them out a bit as they weren’t perfectly aligned.

Bolting into position

Once all the holes were drilled it was then just a matter of putting the top plate in position, dropping the vice onto it and dropping the side bolts through with a washer. The bottom plate was then positioned underneath and the nut and bolts finger tightened underneath.

The mounted lower base plate

The rear centre bolt was inserted from underneath and a washer and nut applied in the gap underneath the vice slide. Once all in position everything was tightened off with a shifting spanner and socket wrench.

I’ll also be putting some small self tapping screws in the corners of the metal plate just to keep them down perfectly flat so things don’t get caught on it as some of the corners have raised a little.

The completed mounted bench vice

Handy Storage Rack It Workbench Kit Review

I’ve been wanting to have a workbench for a while and instead of building from scratch I decided to use the Organised Solutions Handy Storage Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit from Bunnings. I’d previously built a couple of their Rack It shelving units and had liked their quality.

I paid $169 for the Work Bench Kit and $60 for the Castor Wheel kit as I wanted a mobile workbench.

Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit Box
Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit Box

The kit comes in one large box and is quite heavy(more than 16kg) so you may need some assistance to pick it up and carry it. I used a small trailer to carry mine home as it wouldn’t easily fit in a car. Even the castor kit is quite heavy.

After opening the box
After opening the box

Opening the box, the contents are packed with foam to protect them from scratches and marks, although things can move around inside as you tip the package up or down. A single page instruction sheet is included in the Work Bench kit. The assembly is pretty straight forward though.

Unpacking all the components you get two 900mm high end frames(same type as for the shelving) and two 1300mm crossbeams(with brackets for holding the benchtop). The benchtop has nice beveled top edges and overlaps the top of the frame. I had been expecting the same type of MDF sheet as the shelves, but was pleasantly surprised that they supplied a nice solid bench top. It’s not coated or treated that I can tell though, so I’ve been thinking of painting or lacquering it protect the surface a bit.

Assembled frame
Assembled frame

Assembly is simple, just push the tabs of the crossbeams into the slots of the end frames and slide them down till they lock. Lock the first crossbeam into both end frames then the second. Then use either a mallet, or hammer with a wooden block for protection, to tap the crossbeams firmly home in their slots. Locking pins then go through holes in the joins so the crossbeams don’t come out.

At this stage I decided to put the castor wheels on. I figured it would be easier to put the wheels on before putting the heavy benchtop on the frame.

Rack It Workbench Castors
Rack It Workbench Castors

Unfortunately the castor wheel kit wasn’t as a good as the Work Bench Kit. While the castors seem to be great heavy duty quality, there were no instructions. The castors fit firmly on the bottom of the frame legs and have wedges to spread the load better. While the Rack It kits don’t really require tools to assemble, you will need the following tools to attach the castor wheels to the workbench:

  • Shifting spanner
  • Socket ratchet with 17mm socket
  • Size 2 philips head screwdriver

It’s a little awkward to get the bolt through the castor base, leg and wedge. It has to go through at an odd angle which then pulls straight as the nut is tightened off. Getting the castors all on took longer than assembling the whole rest of the frame.

One assembled castor
One assembled castor

Once all the castor wheels were on I then flipped the frame onto the wheels and lifted the benchtop onto the frame. After lining the screw sockets up with all the brackets you then put the screws in to lock the benchtop off. Be careful when doing this that the frame is squarely and firmly down on all it’s castors. The first time I screwed mine into place the workbench would rock back and forth on two wheels. It turned out when I screwed the benchtop off the frame wasn’t quite square.

Loosening the screws off and putting weight on the benchtop pushed all the wheels onto the ground and straightened it up, then I screwed it all secure. In the end it’s all very firm and solid.

Overall Conclusion

The completed Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench
The completed Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench

The Rack It Heavy Duty Work Bench Kit from Bunnings is a great budget package for anyone who wants a decent garage work bench. It’s solid and with the castor wheels easily mobile.

It’s quick and easy to put together with the Work Bench itself taking me just 1 hour to put together by myself. If you want the castor wheels though prepare for it to take 1 extra hour to put them on.

Scroll to the bottom to see the modifications I’ve made after building my Work Bench.

Full Construction Gallery

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My Modifications

I wanted to protect my work benchtop a bit from damage as the MDF coating is porous and possibly would get damaged over time. So I applyed a coat of Carnauba Wax to protect the surface.

I also added a lower shelf for me to store and carry tools on. I’ll also mount an RCD Power Board on it to provide electrical supply. I’ve mounted a Rack It hook at the rear to hold a coiled power cable.

Work Bench with added shelf
Work Bench with added shelf and hook

I’ve also mounted a bench vice on top of the bench too.

My complete Work Bench, with extra shelf, waxed benchtop and mounted vice.
My complete Work Bench, with extra shelf, waxed benchtop and mounted vice.


An Exciting Announcement

Hi everyone! My wife Jacqui and I are both very happy to announce that we’re expecting our first child in June 2015!

David and Jacqui are expecting a baby!
David and Jacqui are expecting a baby!

She’s only 10 weeks along so far, but we had a scan today(2nd actually) and I finally got to see my baby moving its arms and legs around. I’d missed the first scan while in Canberra last time, but it was only 8.7mm long then. It’s now 3.5cm!

Our baby on 3/12/2014
Our baby on 3/12/2014

The scan print is pretty hard to understand – it looks so much more amazing when you’re watching it live. As the doctor moves the scanner it’s easy to recognise parts of the baby. Wasn’t expecting to see it move as fast as it did. Heart rate is still 176 beats per minute.

So far everything is going fine and we will find out its gender soon. We’ll be happy either way.

My Reading and Listening List

Here is a list of entrepreneurial, business and personal development books I’ve read or podcasts I listen to and would recommend to others.


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie

The classic book on networking for business and personal life. A must read for anyone who wants to become more successful

 The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris

The Four Hour Work Week

Timothy Ferris

This book will teach you how to work smarter and avoid becoming the overworked micromanaging business owner. Even if you’re not planning to run your own business this book will give you ideas on how to reduce your working hours and how to be location independent. I thoroughly recommend it.

 Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill

Learn to think the way the rich and successful do. This book also explains why joining a mastermind group and self-belief are important to success. A classic of personal development literature.

 How to Work a Room by Susan RoAne

How to Work a Room

Susan RoAne

The classic reference on personal networking. This is my latest acquisition, so I haven’t finished reading it yet. It comes highly recommended from the Art of Charm podcast though.

 Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker

Virtual Freedom

Chris Ducker

Learn how to outsource parts of business to virtual staff. A great reference on how to manage and use virtual assistants effectively.

Rich Dad Poor Dady by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Robert T. Kiyosaki

An excellent book on how rich people think differently than the middle class. Helps you to think about assets and liabilities in a different way. I’d also particularly recommend Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant. His other books are good too.

I’ve recently bought the following books on recommendations of others but not yet had time to read them:

How to Work a Room, 25th Anniversary Edition – Susan RoAne

Contagious: Why Things Catch On – Johan Berger

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income – Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

From Unknown to Expert – Catriona Pollard

Here’s an article on some great other entrepreneur startup books: Top 15 Books Recommended by Today’s Top Entrepreneurs


Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn

The Smart Passive Income Podcast

Pat Flynn

This an inspirational and practical podcast for learning how to run an online business.

Ask Pat with Pat Flynn

Ask Pat

Pat Flynn

Another great podcast from Pat Flynn when

The New Business Podcast with Chris Ducker

The New Business Podcast

Chris Ducker

A great podcast by Chris Ducker, an expert on virtual staffing and outsourcing for startups.

The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferris Show

Tim Ferris

A podcast on business and lifestyle design by the author of The Four Hour Work Week.

Entrepreneur on Fire with John Lee Dumas

Entrepreneur on Fire

John Lee Dumas

A daily podcast with interviews with the internet’s most successful entrepreneurs.

The Art of Charm Podcast with Jordan Harbinger

The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger

Originally a podcast to teach men how to be more successful, it’s evolved into the leading podcast on networking and business success, with some relationship advice mixed in.