“I have always loved working with my hands,” says Workshop member Daryl Hewston. “I really love being able to make or fix something and say: ‘I built that’.”
Daryl, whose father and grandfather were both carpenters, particularly enjoys working with wood. “The colour, grain and different types of joinery really make each piece spectacular.”
An electrician by trade who spent over 20 years in the Australian Navy, @darylhewston currently works as a construction supervisor on large commercial and industrial building projects.
“Because I work with a lot of different trades, I tend to ask a lot of questions and my knowledge has increased exponentially.”
Daryl says he has always had a strong passion for D.I.Y. and fondly remembers “helping” his grandfather build houses as a young lad.
“Being the eldest of seven children, money wasn’t plentiful growing up and I tried to help out whenever I could,” Daryl explains. “I have always been hands-on and when I don’t really know what I am doing, I do heaps of research and ask questions.”
Daryl now regularly and generously shares all he has learned with the Workshop community.
“I always say ‘two heads are better than one’ and no one person knows everything,” Daryl says. “I like to learn new tricks, get ideas and share my experience.
"The Workshop community members have different experience levels in a lot of fields and I really enjoy reading the comments and participating. I have also obtained some very good advice from members.”
Some of his favourite pieces of advice collected over the years include “measure twice, cut once”, “be aware of your surroundings”, “do your research and costings” and “plan, plan, plan”. Also, “don’t touch anything you’re not sure of” – which must be always important for an electrician. “And last but not least, you only have 10 fingers,” he adds with a smile.
Daryl says he typically retains information and skills better if he can do a task instead of someone just showing him. “Also, I am really good at remembering my mistakes,” he adds. “I don’t tend to make the same mistake twice, but doesn’t mean I haven’t.”
When he hits a snag, Daryl usually “sits back and has a think”. “It’s amazing what extra ideas and solutions you can come up with if you just sit back and look.”
Married to Debbie, Daryl says the pair have three adult children who have all “moved on from the nest”.
Despite busy careers and social lives, Daryl and Deb have done a lot of work on their home, which is south of Perth in Western Australia. Daryl says their most successful projects have been the front and backyard transformations and the new patio and bar.
“A lot of planning and prep went into these areas and they turned out a treat,” he says proudly. “We have had so many positive comments about all our finished projects. Deb still loves the kitchen makeover and raised garden beds and the custom draw slides for the back of the ute looks and works bonza.”
The toughest job was the paving. “Deb and I prepped, screeded and laid 12 packs in two weekends,” says Daryl. “We couldn’t stand up straight for a week afterwards.”
The garden is absolutely flourishing after years of hard work. “Deb is the green thumb,” Daryl says modestly. ”All I do is cart and prep the soil and mulch and build the raised beds.
“We have been getting heaps of raspberries lately and the veggie patch is going strong - watermelon, pumpkin, tomato, cabbage, lettuce, spring onions, just to name a few.
“The mulberry tree went berserk this year and the grape vine has heaps on it. Deb harvested over 100 Aussie garlic and that is hanging up to dry. Deb has also received heaps of comments on the roses out the front. And I can’t wait for the figs to ripen.”
Daryl says all his tools get used and "all are favourites". “If I had to choose just one, it would have to be my Makita sliding compound saw… oh, and my MIG welder.”
He describes his real-life workshop as both “messy and semi-organised”.
“I try to give the shed a clean between projects, however the sawdust just keeps building up. I did sort out the lean-to the other weekend and was surprised on how much material I have managed to collect. I may have to cut down a bit. My nemesis is that I hate good material going in the skip bin and can’t help myself.”
But as much work as the couple has done inside and out of the house, there’s still a whiteboard in Daryl’s shed “chock-a-block” with upcoming projects. “Deb suggested that I should put up a second one and I refused,” Daryl laughs. “Every time I cross something off the list, another item gets put on.
“We still haven’t finished the master bedroom and ensuite and I would really like to get that sorted. Home maintenance is an ongoing issue and there is always something to be done around the place.”
It’s fortunate that Deb and Daryl so enjoy the chance to spend time together improving the house and garden. “Both of us work full time and try to make as much out of the weekends as we can,” Daryl says. “Starting and finishing a project is always good for the soul.”