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Lawsons are the largest independent timber, building & fencing merchants in London and the South East of England. Established in 1921 Lawsons now have a number of branches offering the complete range of building.

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How to Make Furniture from Railway Sleepers

Railway sleepers are arguably one of the simplest materials to use when making your own furniture – they are already thick and fairly uniform, so you essentially just need to stack them properly and make sure that they don’t move, rather than having to sand, whittle, and shape everything especially.

Sleepers are heavy, so it’s important that you either know that you can lift everything yourself or have someone to help you to avoid injury or straining your muscles. Fortunately, that weight means that they have a luxury feel and are extremely sturdy – you definitely won’t mistake your railway sleepers for flat packed furniture!

Railway Sleeper Tables

There are a variety of options when it comes to making a railway sleeper coffee table. By far the simplest is to create a low, Japanese style table by just lining up a few sleepers together – you don’t even need legs for it! If you’d prefer to take it a step further, you can cut a sleeper in half and put both halves underneath the tabletop so that it’s elevated from the floor. The most important thing is to line up your sleepers properly and ensure that they are well secured to avoid it falling on somebody’s foot.

This discontinued style from Indigo Furniture is simple to replicate and extremely solid – you’ll never need to worry about wobbly legs.

If you’d prefer to create something a little more interesting, you can draw inspiration from designs like the Susie Frazier accent table below. You can make your own accent table by cutting sleepers to different lengths, taking care to sand them properly to avoid splinters, and fixing them together to create a beautiful, high-end piece of furniture that definitely costs less than it looks.

Unique Benches & Chairs

If you’d prefer to work on your seating area, the principle is much the same – decide the height of your seating and style (do you want a bench, does it have a back and arm rests?) and stack your sleepers accordingly! Here are two simple styles from DIY Crafts Decoration and Worth Trying DIY Projects.


When making furniture, it’s best to use new railway sleepers – the size will be more uniform, the edges are more crisp, and the wood will not be covered with any treatments that might make it stain your carpet or clothing. Used railway sleepers are mainly for outdoor use, such as paths, steps, or retaining walls. If your furniture is going outside, don’t forget to use a preservative to prevent water damage, rot, and fungi.

Our railway sleepers start from just £9.79, so your new bespoke piece of furniture will probably work out costing far less than you think. We also stock a range of screws that are specifically designed for this type of thick, heavy wood so you know that your furniture is properly secured. Our Carpenter’s Mate Hex Head Screws are in stock at lengths between 90mm and 240mm, depending on your project. 

New Years Resolutions for Your Home

Everyone loves a fresh new start in the new year – we all have resolutions, new ambitions, and frankly after 2016 we probably all hope it’ll be a bit calmer in the next 12 months. What better way to reshape your thinking and turn over a new leaf than updating your home environment? Changing your home can seriously affect how you use each space, so here are a few ideas that can give you a head start to your 2017 new years resolutions.

Create a Deck So You Can Entertain More

If you feel like you never see your friends and want to make more of an effort, creating an entertainment space at home will give you an excuse to invite them over for some drinks or a BBQ in summer. You can even see if they’ll come and pitch in with the build in exchange for a good dinner. Make the most of your outdoor space by making it clean, safe, and attractive all year round. It’s just a weekend project, and one that will encourage you to have people over and get in touch a little more often.

Declutter to Create an Exercise Area

Losing weight and exercising more are the most popular new year’s resolutions in the UK, but they are  tough to keep. Instead of forking out for a gym membership you’ll never use, create space at home to exercise so that you’re more likely to do it – after all, there’s no driving out to the gym when you’re already home and you don’t feel guilty about paying the fees and never going. You can just pop into your exercise space when you have a moment and then get on with your day. There are so many ways to do this – one of the simplest is to move things out of the house if you rarely use them. Storage fees can be surprisingly high, so buying a shed is often a cheaper way to create storage at home (and you won’t need to drive across down and check opening times when you need something).

Feel Like a Grown Up

Even if you’re a few decades out of school or university, you might still feel like a student if you’re still using the wobbly coffee table you put together and those flat-packed bed side tables you don’t even remember buying. There are plenty of impressive and sturdy pieces you can make yourself from railway sleepers or even using timber and building your own farmhouse style table or bed.

Large changes are difficult to maintain, but small changes to your environment can help you alter patterns in the long term, whether that’s seeing the weather and texting your friends to come over or just taking 20 minutes to do some weights and stretches in your spare room. 

Make Your Own Furniture Out of Timber

We’re all willing to make our own furniture – it’s likely you’ve made a few pieces already, but in the form of flat-packed pieces rather than making it from scratch. With a few tools and a bit of confidence, you could make furniture from scratch and customize it to your own designs. It works out cheaper than buying it from shops, and you avoid that moment when screw E needs to go into F but you have no idea what F is and you only seem to have 3 screw Es instead of 4.


Making your own things is incredibly satisfying – you’ll have Facebook bragging rights and don’t need to be particularly skilled. One of our favourite furniture-making blogs is from Ana White, a woman who had never made furniture before in her life, but after she and her husband built a home in Alaska, she had to make her own beds and tables to save money. Here are some of our favourite designs, with links to the plans so that you can do it yourself. If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen us link to a few of these already.

Make Your Own Dining Table

This dining table wouldn’t look out of place in a highstreet furniture shop, but you can save money by making it yourself (and avoid waiting 4-6 weeks for delivery). The plans make a table that’s 1828mm long, but you can customize it to any size – perfect if you have a small room or if you need an unusually large table to seat a big family.


Build Your Outdoor Furniture

If you want to start with something relatively safe, outdoor furniture might be the best way to go. You can pay thousands for quality outdoor seating. Or you can pay less than £100 to make it yourself, and feel the pride of sitting on your own creation.


Make A Farmhouse Bed

If you’re sick of wobbly beds with MDF headboards, make one from solid wood. This farmhouse bed is fast, cheap, and you don’t need special tools to make it. There are 5 steps and you start by making the headboard before making the body of the bed and fitting it all together.


Save on a Dollhouse

You really don’t need to spend so much on a dollhouse – it’ll be even more fun to include the kids in the design process and get them to help you make it on a rainy day. Use this plan as a base, and see if your kids want to add their own special touches to make it really theirs. Ana White’s site also includes some dollhouse furniture designs, so you don’t need to stop there.


Make the Kid’s Room More Interesting

Any boy would love to sleep in a fire truck. This is a great way to make the bedroom more interesting and add valuable storage space. 

Benefits of Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring usually looks identical to a solid plank floor once it’s installed, even to experts. Both solid and engineered wood floors use natural wood, but engineered floors are easier to install and cost far less than solid wood. If you’re struggling to decide between solid wood, laminate, and engineered wood flooring, this could help.


You can use engineered flooring on any storey, even though it was originally developed for use on the ground floor where it would be laid on top of concrete slabs or in a basement. It’s generally more tolerant of high moisture levels and instability because of the bottom layers of the board, which means engineered flooring can be used in places where solid wood might rot or warp.

Cheaper than Solid Wood, More Long Lasting than Laminate

When it comes to wood or wood-effect flooring, engineered floors have the convenience of laminate without the cheap look. They last over a decade and look much like a real wood floor, but at a fraction of the price. Since real wood is used for the veneer, rather than a wood image like you’d get on a laminate floor, you still benefit from the physical properties of wood and the textures, so your floor will still feel warm underfoot and you can see the grain and grooves of the natural timber.

Easy Installation

Installation is almost as easy as laminate – a lot of engineered floors have a tongue and groove system that locks each strip in place, so you can place it straight over a concrete or cork floor or just over an older floor if you prefer.


Engineered floors can be more sustainable than solid wood, especially if you’re looking at exotic woods or timber that takes a long time to grow. This is because an engineered floor uses less of the top-layer timber, so fewer of those trees are felled to cover each floor.   

Velux Loft Conversions

Loft conversions are the new black…they are everywhere! This is partly due to the fact that while house prices have shot up, families have not stopped growing and people continue need more space.

Families are ever-changing; whether that’s because of new additions or because of teenagers growing up and needing different spaces, or because of shifting lifestyles.

Loft conversions are the simplest and most cost effective way to ensure that your family have enough space in which to grow; far more affordable than traditional ground-level extensions, loft conversions have the added advantage of the fact that they don’t take away any of your outdoor space.

As long as your loft is equipped with ample head-height and the fabric of your home is suitable to support another room, then you could soon be enjoying the freedom of a third bedroom, an office space or even a hobby room.

Velux windows are an ideal way to add light to a dark and dingy loft space and to free up that unused space as well as to add value to your property.

Planning permission

You may need planning permission if your home is in a conservation area or indeed, if it is a listed property itself – however most, ordinary houses are often exempt from this because the installation of Velux windows does not constitute a structural change – it won’t affect the appearance of the building in a significant way. You should be able to install a Velux conversion as a Permitted Development, meaning that you won’t need to go through the planning process.

If you’re in doubt, contact your local council’s planning department to enquire about legislation before you begin.

In the meantime, check out the range of Velux windows and accessories at Lawsons


Decorating Tips and Tricks from the Professionals

Painting and decorating is one of those skills at which many try their hand and few succeed. This is usually down to underestimating the importance of preparation rather than a lack of skill or ability.

There are certain tricks of the trade which when taken heed of, will ensure that your DIY decorating job looks as good as a professional job.


The necessary supplies listed here are all equally important. Don’t skimp when it comes to ensuring you’ve got the right gear – that’s part of what will set your DIY decorating apart from the amateurs.

You will need the following if you’re tackling at least one room and this is assuming you do not need to scrape off any old wallpaper or fill any holes!

  • Drop sheets; enough to cover floors and any furniture too large or cumbersome to remove entirely
  • Stepladders
  • A good selection of high quality brushes in a variety of sizes
  • Paint roller
  • 2 Paint trays to enable fast colour changes
  • Sanding paper and block
  • Masking tape
  • 2 Paint cans known as a ‘kettle’ in the trade (any old container will do but don’t choose one that’s too large and try to find one with a handle)
  • Clingfilm; Professional decorators rarely use roller covers or the like, preferring instead to wrap unused rollers and brushes in Clingfilm which will stop oil based paints from drying hard
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment


  • Primer; this is to cover any existing colour
  • Interior paint; this is your main colour
  • Gloss, satin or eggshell; for doors, skirting and frames

Your personal taste as well as the needs of your household will direct your paint choices to some extent. Easy to clean paints are best for families with children and pets.


As mentioned earlier, preparation is the key to a really professional finish and if you skimp on this, it will show in your final result.

Remove any furniture from its usual place and assemble in the centre of the room. If your room is not large then it will be preferable to remove it from the space entirely.

Cover carpets and remaining furniture with drop sheets and apply masking tape to the edges of your flooring.

Now it’s time to prep your surfaces by ‘keying’ them. You can use a fine sandpaper to just remove the shine from the woodwork. Vacuum as you go to ensure that the dust does not settle all over surfaces and ruin your paint finish.


If you can find an assistant it’s a good idea to ask them to hold the vacuum nozzle close to the area which you’re sanding, this ensure that most of the dust is removed before it can infiltrate too much. Always wear a mask when sanding.

Once you’ve completed the woodwork preparation, it’s time to open that paint up!

Painting tips

  • Ceilings come first; ceilings are the trickiest part of painting a room for many people, owing to the awkward position and to the height; make sure your stepladders are in good condition before you start and always have someone at the foot!
  • Cut in the edges of the ceiling where it meets the walls first; do this with an angled brush. Once that’s complete then you can take your roller and put your first coat on.
  • While the ceiling dries, you can move onto the walls; again begin with the brush and cut in, only using the roller once the cutting in is complete.
  • Once the walls are painted, you can now add your second ceiling coat. Again, wait for the walls to be dry before adding a second coat to them.
  • Move onto your woodwork and if you are using gloss, be very careful not to ‘overwork’ the paint. Take broad strokes and let the brush do the work. Don’t be tempted to ‘go over’ areas which look streaky, you will make it worse. Wait until you apply a second coat and if you use the right amount of paint, any first-coat-mistakes will be covered up.

Take your time with your decorating; don’t be tempted to rush or to cut corners or your room will look badly finished.

Set aside a complete day for your first ever attempt so that you know you can dedicate yourself completely to the task at hand.

Visit Lawsons today to see their wide range of paints and accessories and get your DIY decoration off to a flying start.

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