Guide to Do-It-Yourself Projects

This selection of fun, clever plans for do-it-yourself projects is taken from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Archive. In this guide, you’ll discover everything from outdoor furniture to solar appliances, with over 40 tried-and-tested projects and illustrated plans to choose from. 


From simple, doable do-it-yourself projects — such as a birdhouse — to much more complex woodworking projects for building structures, these articles promote sustainability, self-reliance and efficiency. All of these expert-tested and MOTHER-approved how-to guides have this in common: Each link helps you learn skills that are diminishing in our society, encourages you to be fiscally responsible, and brings you closer to the products and projects in your own home.


Building Plans

Cozy Cabin
Anyone with basic carpentry skills can construct this classic one-room cabin for under $4,000.

How to Build a Shed and Adding Windows and Doors to Your Wooden Backyard Shed
These companion articles offer detailed instructions and building plans for constructing a small wooden shed, and finish the shed by installing a plank door or sliding windows.

Pole Barn
In just a few weeks, you can build this simple animal shelter: a versatile pole barn building for livestock animals or feed. The article includes a layout, materials and cost lists, and diagrams.

Timber-Frame Woodshed
Build a sturdy woodshed that will keep firewood stacked, dry and ready for use.



Homesteading and Livestock

Chicken Mini-Coop
With this unique portable design, anyone can keep a few chickens — even in a small backyard.

Chicken Pens
Learn how to build fixed and mobile chicken pens, including a chicken-powered tiller.

Corn Crib
Build the perfect backyard storehouse for corn cobs and grain bags.

Fireplace Woodbox Wheelbarrow
Will Shelton shares his design for a handmade fireplace woodbox wheelbarrow, including step-by-step instructions and detailed building plans.

Goat Milking Stand
Janet and Mark Knickerbocker offer this design for a homemade goat milking stand that includes diagrams, a materials list and a layout.

Root Cellar
These unique DIY plans show you how to build a root cellar for food storage by modifying a new concrete septic tank.

This two-day do-it-yourself project produces a wheelbarrow made of sturdy wood.


Barbecue Grill
This outdoor stone grill looks great! You'll enjoy years of backyard barbecue parties with it.

Basement Root Cellar
Storing crops in a passively cooled basement root cellar is one of the most efficient ways to preserve food.

Book Nook and Window Seat
Use recycled or ready-made cabinets and shelves to create this cozy, sunny spot.

Anyone can make this sturdy, low-cost — and big — work space using basic tools and an ordinary door.

Grow-Light Bookcase
Editor-in-Chief Cheryl Long shares how to build this indoor grow-light plant stand, a multipurpose piece of furniture that acts as an all-in-one bookcase, seed-starting shelf and houseplant display case.

Pie Safe
This old-fashioned pie safe is the perfect place to keep those home-cooked berry pies.

Porch Swing
Everyone needs a cozy spot to relax and sip some iced tea, and this plan works even if you don’t have a porch!

Solar Heating: The Heat Grabber
The Heat Grabber is a window-box solar collector you can fabricate in less than an hour.

Solar Heating Plan for Any Home
Slash your home heating bills with this exciting solar project. If you can build a deck, you can build this super system!

Solar Lighting
Learn renewable energy basics and generate serious solar excitement.

Hoosier Cabinet Plans
Steal an idea from Grandma’s kitchen: Use these Hoosier cabinet plans to build a free-standing kitchen cabinet that organizes all your baking needs within arm’s reach.





3 Easy Benches
We'll show you how to build three attractive outdoor benches: a log and plank bench, the Leopold bench and the Jordan Pond bench and table.

Adirondack Chair
You can make your own outdoor patio furniture — or just a comfortable chair for the front porch when you build an Adirondack chair from these step-by-step instructions.

Birdhouse for Martins
Learn how to build a birdhouse for martins, the beneficial bird that not only eats copious amounts of insects but also scares away hawks and crows.

Cold Frame
Take on this relatively simple DIY cold frame over a weekend to save money, extend your growing season and become a more self-sufficient gardener.

Garden Path Bench and Folding Table
Build this unobtrusive table and bench for your garden.

Outdoor Stove, Oven, Grill and Smoker
For only $300, you can build this durable outdoor cooking unit that can function as a stove, oven, grill and smoker.

Patio Furniture
Lean back and relax in a stylish wooden lawn chair or retro chaise lounge you built yourself.

Keep your cool under a hand-built pergola that brings beauty and comfortable outdoor living to your property.

Permanent Outdoor Barbecue
Learn how to build a permanent outdoor barbecue for summer cooking. These DIY plans include detailed building directions, materials and pricing lists, a barbecue diagram and layout.

Strawberry Barrel
Maximize your strawberry growing space by converting a barrel into a vertical garden.

Tree Swing
This sturdy, old-fashioned wood-seat tree swing will last a lifetime.




Belt Sander
Master your woodworking projects with these plans to build your own belt sander.

Solar Furnace
These DIY plans use a fresnel lens to create a high-temperature solar furnace for soldering, jewelry work or firing pottery.

Woodshop Workbench
Build a workbench on wheels using these great do-it-yourself plans.


Bicycle Trailer
Whether carrying groceries or building materials or a child, you'd be surprised how many chores a 2-wheeled bicycle trailer can handle.

You can construct simple, beautiful and inexpensive wooden coffins with these building plans.

Born of necessity, coracles are water crafts that have been made by people of many cultures for thousands of years.

Dollhouse: Make Your Own Family Heirloom
Build a scale farm-style dollhouse from inexpensive, readily available materials with these original do-it-yourself plans from MOTHER.

Install a Mailbox
If it's time to replace your old postal receptacle, make sure you give it a sturdy support system. These DIY plans include diagrams for attaching the mailbox to the post arm, building a lifting arm, and installing a metal pipe post.

Pottery Kick Wheel
Jon Kaplan shares his DIY project to build a pottery kick wheel that is cheap, reliable and easy to build. 

Recumbent Bike
If you enjoy riding a bicycle for exercise and recreation, you may fall in love with this laid-back, 3-wheeled style.

Photo by Fotolia
Illustrations by Will Shelton and Len Churchill

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