Welcome to the Green Lever, a site about saving resources and reusing materials. The projects covered are those we use in our daily lives and the 'alternative' energy articles are real case studies from our own house or those of friends. You can find a full introduction to this blog here


Home-made Studio Lights from Recuperated Materials

Anyone who takes photos or makes videos especially indoors realises the importance of good lighting. Some years ago I made a floodlight using a bright, low energy bulb fitted into a reflector-lined bowl. The bowl was a plastic garden planter and the whole thing cost me next to nothing to make, the most costly item being a 1 Euro low energy bulb. This light has performed well except despite being sufficiently bright, the colour of the illumination tended to the yellow-orange end of the more


Re-roofing a Tiny House Including Carpentry

The tempest of 1999 destroyed a great raft of tiles, which came off like falling dominoes, all the way along the front of the main more

Renovating our House - Sourcing and Using Ecological Materials

You may be eating organic food, exercising, managing your weight and stress levels but you can still, in effect, be being poisoned in your own more

Sourcing and Using Lime/Hemp & Lime/Linen Mortars

Like all organic matter linen and hemp react to their environment so although there are some indications as to the quantities used to make up plaster, there are no more

Using Natural Earth and Mineral Pigments in the Home and Garden 

The Alchemy of Artists' Materials - whether painting a leaf motif or a window frame, it's  so much more fun than opening a tin of more

Mixing and Using Lime Mortar

I’ve used lime mortar a lot in our present house firstly because it is obviously appropriate to a 300 year building, as it is sympathetic to the original build of stone laid on a bed of clay more

Home-made Ecological Paint for Interior Walls Part 1 Making Wheat Paste

Ecological paint, like a good organic food recipe is made up of just the basic necessary ingredients, it is simple more

Home-made Ecological Paint Interior Walls Part 2 Claypaint

When the wheat paste was cool we were ready to go ahead with the next part of the process. We decided to add a little of our earth pigments, a red and yellow ochre, to avoid the grey tone that you can get with clay and flour more


A Few Guidelines for Collecting Pallets

I thought it might be helpful if I shared my five rules to make it easier for you to obtain the basic more

Pallets - The Low-down - Where, What and How.

So you've been round to your local big chain supermarket and they've told you all their pallets are reused. Well this maybe true for them but not for all more

How to Dismantle Pallets for free Carpentry Wood

The first thing to do with your pallet when you’ve got it out of the car is look underneath it and see if the nails attaching the planks are more

Dead Bicycles - A Valuable Resource

It has become increasing clear that we live not only in a throw-away society but one in which an ever increasing obsolescence is factored into manufactured goods. more

Windows for Free Part 1 How we glazed our house.

There is a massive resource out there just waiting for you and you'll be helping the Planet at the same more

Windows for Free Part 2 Replacing a Double-glazed unit.

We luckily recuperated a pair of these double-glazed units some ten years ago and I made a frame for and fitted one of them into our sitting more


The 5 Euro/Dollar/Pound Greenhouse

Home-made low cost greenhouse designed to use free untreated pallet wood. How to build a viable, safe, year-round food production more 

Home-made, Big Cheap Glass Greenhouse from Old Windows Pt 1 - Design

The idea for the greenhouse was to have something that was both decorative and more

Home-made, Big Cheap Glass Greenhouse from Old Windows Pt 2 - Construction

Although it is a large sized greenhouse and in itself quite an imposing feature, it actually fits very well into its surrounding more

Home-made Big Cheap Glass Greenhouse from Old Windows - Pt 3 The Roof

This shows details of the design and construction of the roof plus pictorial evidence of how the design stands up to extreme weather more

DIY verandah-style greenhouse, sunspace, draught lobby

I love this greenhouse, it seems so right in the surrounding rural scene and it's made from an interesting eclectic mix of recuperated more


A Simple Home-made Honing Guide for Plane Irons and Chisels. Part 1 

Maybe a shudder runs down your spine at the thought of school geometry but there is an elegance in being able to reproduce angles very accurately and more

A Simple Home-made Honing Guide for Plane Irons and Chisels. Part 2

This method is to enable the beginner at sharpening to get a feel for the correct sharpening angle by using a home-made low-cost more

A Simple Home-made Honing Guide for Knives

This method is to enable the beginner at sharpening to get a feel for the correct angle by using a home-made low-cost more

Accessory for my Simple Home-made Honing Guide for Knives

For the smaller blade on my Swiss Army Knife,it is harder to keep the straight edge against the flat face of the blade so... read more

How to save time when cutting pallet wood. The Plankmaker's Holdfast.

As I was about to start building a new hen house and had 30 pallet planks I needed to cut more

Hand-powered Sander - Precision Picture Frames

From time to time I need to cut mitred corners for picture frames. This is something I find impossible to do free more

Home-made Guillotine from Scrap Metal

Fruit crates are in constant supply in our home and we've used a lot of them in our projects, for storage and chicken more

DIY Sack Truck Hand Trolley for 1 Dollar/Euro/Pound

A medium duty sack truck (here with 40kg/88lbs on board) from repurposed materials, pallet wood, old (lawn mower) wheels, screws and... read more

Tailgate gas strut fail? Pallet wood car repair solution - 2 Methods

Goods are made from a series of mass-produced 'outsourced' components,...the durability of some is less than the working life of the more

Crosscut Saw Table - designed & made from recuperated materials

The home-made crosscut saw table has proven a valuable addition to the workshop. A robust hand power tool into a precision cutting tool at little more

Pallet Wood Dress Form & Display Dummy. Part 1

Sue is making costumes for Climb the Ivy Films in Scotland, with no possibility for fittings. Our pallet wood dress form can be adjusted for men women and more

Pallet Wood Dress Form & Display Dummy Part 2

Stretching a tee shirt over the form and/or padding it out with fabric the finished mannequin also makes a great display stand for yard sales, craft fairs or for photographing items for sale on etsy or more

How to make a hands-free quick-action drilling clamp

This simple wooden clamp is fast and effective and cost me nothing to make! more

How to Make a Low Cost Router Table

I have several jobs lined up over the next few months which will involve the use of a router. These include making several wooden doors. Much of the planking I will be using will need to have moulded edges more

Home-made Studio Lights from Recuperated Materials

Anyone who takes photos or makes videos especially indoors realises the importance of good lighting. Some years ago I made a floodlight using a bright, low energy bulb fitted into a reflector-lined bowl. The bowl was a plastic garden planter and the whole thing cost me next to nothing to more


Portable Untreated Pallet Wood Picnic Table & Seat Set for $2

The idea behind this project was to make a portable, elegant picnic set from pallet wood comprising two stools and a picnic table. The design can be made from just one untreated pallet. more



The Triumph of the Cream Separator and la Vache Normande Heritage Breed

Looking at a machine which revolutionised the small dairy farm and is going strong today. Joining our friends on their organic farm to make cream and more


Pallet Wood Hen House/Chicken Coop & Prototype Tiny Tiny House - Part 1 Construction

We designed and have already built one of these coops not just as accommodation for the hens but as a prototype we could build here in the workshops... read more

Pallet Wood Hen House/Chicken Coop etc.,. Part 2 Dismantling & Foundations

Leaving the dear old home, the old coop started life as the quail run...The foundations of the old house will be recycled for the more

Pallet Wood Hen House/Chicken Coop etc.,. Part 3 Erecting

This simple idea also means that the project can be handled by a person working on their more

Pallet Wood Hen House/Chicken Coop etc.,. Part 4 Erecting cont.. & Finishing

It's bigger and roomier than their old one, never again will I design or make a hen house which doesn't have space for us to stand upright!... read more

Hen House/Chicken Coop Mark 2 Pallet Wood Roofing

In the past, I have used tongue & groove as a roof covering, prior to the final waterproof layer because it makes a homogeneous, more


How to Make a Simple Fuelless Cooker or Hay-box

Here's a quick and easy way to use less fuel, less water and still have a tasty and nutritious meal from a cardboard more

How to Make a Wooden Fuelless Cooker or Hay-box

A more robust model which you can keep to hand in the kitchen or to take in a car to provide hot, nourishing food on a more

Choosing and Using Woodburning Cookers

When we first arrived here the Spartan heating was a massive granite fireplace, the chimney of which, 1.70m by 0.70m more

Heat Pumps - Case Study. Lake & River Water

Anne-Marie and Jean-Louis have always used heat pumps as their principal source of more

Wood Chip Boiler Biomass Heater - Case Study. Organic Dairy Farm

A project that actually lies at the heart of what future energy conversion may be all more

Home-made low-cost stove night storage heater from strawcrete and stone

For some time we have been toying with the idea of changing the heating system in our sitting room more

Home-made strawcrete and stone storage heater Part 2 - building the wall

Discussing our previous experience with storage heaters and why we wanted to make our own with ecological materials. And with the strawcrete pad now dry, the stone work more

Home-made strawcrete and stone storage heater Part 3 - building the wall cont..

Building the wall and firing up! more

How to Sweep the Chimney - Tips and Strategies

When wood or coal is burned in a fire, smoke is given off, in this are particles of unburned material, tars and water, which are slightly sticky and will adhere more

Better Heat Distribution from Wood Heat 'How To'

For most of the year, the heat output from the cooker is adequate to keep the kitchen 'comfortable' more


Pallet Wood Garden Gazebo Part 1 - Posts & Framework

We want to spend as much leisure time in the garden as possible. Much as we love our poultry we do draw the line with sharing our meals with more

Pallet Wood Garden Gazebo Part 2 - Trellis and Door

The perimeter of the garden gazebo now being complete,  the next stage was to make it chicken proof, starting with the more


Setting up a Dry Toilet System - Facts and Figures 

What is interesting about this bill is that the actual water used has gone from 45 cubic metres to 13 cubic metres, so the water consumed now costs us over two thirds less than before... read more

Pallet Wood Compost Bin and Dry Toilet Project Part 1

I opted for a completed bin size of 800mm x 800mm x  800mm, the wood used was recuperated from pallets.
The unique design feature... read more

DIY Dry Toilet System for  8 Euros $11. Part 2 The Cabin

A practical design if you want to use this design for somewhere such as; your allotment, social garden, a field or even set up a business making them for others.... read more

DIY Dry Toilet System for  8 Euros $11. Part 3 The Seats

The toilet seat is for the ‘two bucket’ system. One side is for collecting liquid and the other is for more

DIY Dry Toilet System Part 3 The Seats continued

Continuing the above more

Composting Urine Using a Straw Bale. Dry toilets for all climates.

A great way to process dry toilet liquid for around 6 Euros or 5 Dollars worth of materials... read more

Humanure - Two Years of Living with our Dry Toilet

Humanure is like death and taxes it's something we all know about but as the elephant in the room, are most loath to mention more


Make a Pallet Wood Creel or Overhead Drying Rack 

Cheap and cheerful engineering in the practical use of recycled, untreated pallet and fruit crate wood - for drying clothes, herbs, more

How to Convert your Washing Machine to Pedal Power 1 - The Basic Model

The electronic fault that arose in our automatic washing machine rendered it useless. I knew that the machine was watertight more

How to Convert your Washing Machine to Pedal Power 2 - Modifications

We’ve exhibited this machine on many occasions and the most frequent comment from spectators has been ‘let’s see you spin dry now!’ more


Home-made Insect Hotel from Repurposed Materials

The Bee Cosy for cosy bees is an elegant green gift for you to make using 99% recuperated more

Home-made Repurposed Wood, Luxury Insect Hotel

Fun to make and fascinating to watch, these insect hotels can make all the difference to the successful pollination of your fruit and more

Home-made Insect Hotels from Repurposed Materials The Gite & The Chalet

Made from repurposed materials, untreated pallet wood, fruit crate wood and general garden debris. To decorate them, we use more

An Insect Hotel as a Utility Box Cover - Design & Construction

The electricity company brought power to the property but sited the ubiquitous supply box right in front of the house. Not surprisingly, she is more

An Insect Hotel as a Utility Box Cover - Roofing & Furnishing

The roof was constructed in a similar fashion to that of a house. The pitch was 45°. The gable ends supported the ridge purlins/ more

An Insect Hotel as a Utility Box Cover - Installing

Having made the insect hotel, its roof and metal posts in 'kit' form as it were,it was time to transport it and put it in more


Home-made Wild Bird Feeder from Repurposed Materials

This is something to make for your own garden but also we have made and given away many as more

Home-made Bird Box for Blue Tits, Chickadees..Repurposed Materials

Two designs, one requiring a minimum of tools and in particular to obviate the need for a hole saw or large more

Home-made Bird Box for Robins, Wrens, Northern Flickers, Repurposed Materials

In Europe these boxes are expected to attract mainly robins, wrens and wagtails. In the USA there are over 50 more

How to Make a Dove Feeding Table from recuperated wood

Our neighbour has a pair of collared doves nesting in her garden and their size prevents them from feeding at the existing bird table so she asked me if I could make a larger one to accommodate more


Binocular Collimation Quick and Easy Method without Prism Adjustment

I was initially put off from correcting an optical fault in an old pair of Porro prism binoculars because all I had seen or read online involved prism more

Home-Made Locking Solar Filter

How to make a robust, lockable solar filter for your telescope from repurposed materials and purchased AstroSolar film. This will allow you to enter the amazing world of solar more

How to make a solar finderscope from scrap

It was whilst I was making the solar filter for my telescope that I seriously started to think about how I was to find the object of study in the more


Make Your Own Indoor Trellis Planter Part 1 -The Base

Many people complain that pallet wood isn't a suitable material for use in anything but rough and more

Make Your Own Indoor Trellis Planter-Part 2 -The Trellis

The trellis back to the planter provides a structure up which climbing plants could grow and provide us with more space for growing more

Simple and Elegant Hanging Wall Planter from Orange Box and Pallet Wood

These planters are very easy to make with hand tools, look stylish, can be finished with earth pigments to suit your colour scheme and despite their delicate appearance are robust and long more


Home-made Greetings Cards, Gift Tags & Decorations from Repurposed Wood

Make and give something original and individual. Includes the recipe for ecological more

Pallet Wood & Old Window Glass for Box Assemblage Art

This like many of our projects is a joint adventure in which Sue and I pool our resources, this time to create an assemblage box for a more

Make Your Own Ecological Greetings Cards

By using this method, which combines stencil, hand-painted additions, collage and d├ęcoupage you can easily produce multiple cards but each design will be individual and thus more

Alien in a box

Our lovely old ash tree fell in a storm, revealing, in the wreckage, a rather surprising item and an unusual gift idea. We also had great fun making the film more


Inspiration from our local area 

We are leaving our children with some really difficult environmental problems, so it's great to see innovative and original ideas like the more