Fiddler on the Roof

Edinburgh Tool Library
Fiddler on the Roof 1

Another Edinburgh Tool Library member Anna, tells us about the pride she got from her van rebuild, the help she got from out Tooligans, and how her van allows her to be “in the landscape”.

What do you love about being a van owner?

The sense of freedom and independence it gives you is wonderful, having your own cosy space with you wherever you go, and not having a schedule or bookings to stick to when I go away. I’m a renter so this is the one space I can do what I like to and really personalise it. I also love the feeling of being ‘in the landscape’ in the van that you don’t get staying in bricks and mortar. I have a little tent too, but the van hasa few more ‘home comforts’, and you don’t have to set it all up again each time you move.

What is your favourite part of your van?

My favourite part of the van is the kitchen; it’s what really makes the van feel homely. The effort in hand-making the basin out of an enamel bowl and days spent oiling the wooden worktop were definitely worth it,and the spice racks and tiles are very satisfying final touches. The kitchen is tiny and pretty basic – I haven’t got a built-in cooker or fridge – but it’s amazing what you can still do with the a simple set of kit. With just my pocket rocket and a small cool box I can go over a week living off grid if I had to (although a hot shower every other day is a nice luxury!).

Fiddler on the Roof 2

How did you feel when you completed your van?

I think as most van builders (or DIY-ers in general) would say, it’s never quite finished, there are always finishing touches or adaptations to make… But firstly I was exhausted when it was finished, as I was working all hours around my regular job to get it finished for a weekend away. I was also really proud of what I’d made though, having done it all myself, and excited to show it to my family and friends. My family were pretty amazed, probably because I’d never really done any big DIY projects before, and though I had a clear vision in my head I think others were a bit more sceptical!

Fiddler on the Roof 3

What was the most challenging part of the van build?

Cutting and fitting the wall panels were definitely the most difficult bit. I used a template which was pretty essential, but you still really have one go at getting it right, and at £25 a sheet for the material cutting it wrong is an expensive mistake. It was very frustrating, and it’s far from a perfect finish, but it works and I’m sure I notice the flaws more than other people! Why is doing the van yourself important to you?I think the number one reason was to prove to myself that I could do it. I like a challenge and am always looking for a new one, so I was really keen to learn and put into practice new skills. I also really enjoy being self-sufficient, so converting the van myself I know exactly how everything was put together and works, and I was able to tailor-make every detail to how I wanted it as I went along.

How much money do you think you saved by sharing ETL tools instead of having to buy them yourself?

I’ve probably saved upwards of £150 using the tool library, which is great, plus I don’t have tools hanging around that I won’t use again for a few years, and have to find space to store them. But I’ve got more than just saving money from it. I’ve learned how to use larger tools in the workshops that I would never have bought myself, and benefited from the advice of tool librarians as to which tools were best for each job, and how to use them properly. It gave me confidence to use larger and more powerful tools which will be good for future projects, and the finish is much more neat and professional when you use the right tool for the job.