A few weeks ago, I got an email from Bosch DIY and Garden with a challenge. They asked if I wanted to put my (lack of) craftmanship skills to the test to undertake “an easy, small scale DIY project” which used Bosch power tools, including the new and updated Bosch IXO screwdriver. With grand designs of being the 2020 version of Handy Andy, I instantly said “yes”, before quickly regretting it…
Why? Well, let me start with an admission – I’m not great at DIY. I’m comfortable at painting and drilling a hole in the wall to put up a shelf, picture frame or mirror, but ‘proper’ power tools like electric saws genuinely scare me – hence why I don’t own any! The most DIY thing I’ve done is board the attic, which, to my credit, hasn’t fallen through the ceiling. Yet.
Bosch directed me to their All About DIY website which has a plethora of DIY projects to try out. From wooden benches to bird boxes to floating shelves, they have step-by-step instructions to help guide you through the process. Having spent way too long checking out these projects, I finally settled on one perfect for my skill level and for this time of year – gingerbread men Christmas decorations!
The original project instructions are here, but as you’ll see, I’ve employed a bit of creative licence and deviated slightly from their steps. What’s more, I challenged myself to do this on a budget. As we’re doing building work at the moment, there’s plenty of bits of material lying around. So, rather than go out and buy new, I thought I’d reuse and recycle what I could.
After agreeing the project, I was sent a huge box of Bosch power tools – it was what I imagine winning the competition on The Gadget Show is like. I’ve not actually tried any Bosch power tools before. I’ve reviewed their Indego 400 Connect Robotic Lawnmower previously and have checked out some of their other smart home tech, but that’s as close as I’ve come – until now!
To undertake this festive DIY project, I was loaned the following Bosch tools and accessories:
- New IXO Lithium-ion Cordless Screwdriver (£49.99 RRP)
- PSM 18 LI Cordless Multi-Sander (£59.99 RRP)
- PST 18 LI Cordless Jigsaw (£79.99 RRP)
- PFS 3000 Paint Stray System (£109.99 RRP)
- PKP 3.6 LI Cordless Hot Glue Gun (£44.99 RRP)
- 2 x Battery Pack PBA 18V 2.5Ah W-B (£50.99 RRP each)
- 2 x AL 1830 CV Charger (£31.99 RRP each)
I’d have usually gone out to the garage to undertake this project. However, after recently converting it and turning it into our kitchen, I had to come up with another solution – I don’t think sawdust in our Sunday dinner would be particularly appetising! This meant that I had to wait for a non-rainy day – which there seems to have been a lot of recently – and undertake the task outside.
First up, I needed to charge the battery. It had some charge out of the box, but I didn’t want it to run out halfway though, plus didn’t know how long I’d be attempting to make something photo-worthy. The 18V battery pack simply slots into the battery charger, which in turn plugs into the wall. The LED gives an indication of status.
The clever thing about this is that the battery can be used for all Bosch tools which are part of the ‘Power for ALL’ 18 volt cordless system. So, with just one battery, you can power multiple tools – or with two batteries, you can always have a spare ready to go. For my gingerbread man Christmas decoration project, the lithium-ion battery would be used for both the jigsaw and multi-sander.
Whilst the battery was charging (it’s advertised as getting to 80% in 40 minutes), I printed out the gingerbread man template on the website. Because I’m a sucker for punishment, I then took an enlarged photo of the template and printed this out too. I not only thought that the finished product would look better with a big and small gingerbread man, but it also gave me a contingency plan in case I buggered one of them up!
Once I’d cut out the templates, I drew around them with a pencil – or a pink pencil crayon to be exact – onto the leftover piece of MDF. It was looking good so far and I was tempted to call it a day and congratulate myself on a job well done, but I decided to continue and try out my first Bosch power tool.
To cut out the gingerbread man shape, I’d been sent the PST 18 LI Cordless Jigsaw. As I’ve not used one before, I had a quick read of the instruction before I started. I discovered the blade in a handy storage case at the bottom, then fitted it by pushing up at the front. I slotted the now charged battery into the back and was ready to go.
I found that the jigsaw easily cut through the MDF. I liked how the speed of the blade could be increased by pulling the trigger harder, how I could see through the clear, plastic protector at the front and how an integrated LED PowerLight helped to illuminate the way forwards. I also found it to be surprisingly compact and lightweight, plus no power cables is a huge bonus.
I found confidence to be a key factor in using the jigsaw. I was understandably a little hesitant at the start, which led to a few user-generated mistakes such as creating a few nicks where there shouldn’t have been. Over time, I became more comfortable with the tool and was able to be smoother in how I operated it.
I later discovered a couple of accessories in the box which I’d missed in my haste. One of these was a CutControl which clips onto the front of the jigsaw and acts as a guide when cutting straight lines. It probably would have been really handy for the base, but I don’t think I did too bad considering! All in all, there’s definitely room for improvement, but I was happy with the cut outs.
The next step was to sand down the gingerbread men and stand to get rid of rough edges and some of the accidental indents I’d made. For this task, I had the PSM 18 LI Cordless Multi-Sander. I popped off the battery from the jigsaw and slotted it into the multi-sander with no effort at all, before putting the included sandpaper on the bottom of the tool.
I found this extremely easy to use and very effective to achieve the desired finish. I’ve never owned an electric sander before, so my previous method would have been a file and sandpaper. However, the cordless multi-sander was much easier and made light work of smoothing the edges, tops and bottoms of the gingerbread men – there were a couple of areas, such as the neck and groin, where it wouldn’t quite fit though (to clarify, that’s the gingerbread men, not mine).
Again, the tool was compact and light, but powerful in performance. It also had a Microfilter System which reduced the amount of mess by sucking up the dust and placing it into the box at the back. It left me thinking back over the last 10 years of being a homeowner and how easier and better life would have been with one of these bad boys.
Rather than drill holes for the eyes / buttons and jigsaw for the mouth as per the original instructions, I was keen to try out the new Bosch IXO cordless screwdriver so decided to decorate the gingerbread men with screws instead – creative genius, I know.
The updated Bosch IXO cordless screwdriver only came out a few months ago and is now in its 6th generation. According to the bumf, the main improvements are the design, weight, ergonomic handle, speed control and LED display – oh, and it also comes in pink to match my pencil crayon, but sadly I had the green.
Rather than using the 18V battery as per the other tools, the electric screwdriver uses the included micro USB charger which fully charges the battery within 3.5 hours. It comes with 10 different screwdriver bits to cover all manner of DIY jobs, plus there’s a handy case to keep things together and tidy.
Once charged, as indicated by the LEDs on the top, I was able to screw the gingerbread men (ahem). After spending a good 20 minutes rifling through my toolboxes, I located a number of screws with short threads that I hoped would work well. Continuing the ‘handmade theme’, I didn’t plan where the screws would go, I just cracked on and secured them in the MDF.
I was really impressed with the IXO. As well as being comfortable and easy to hold, I liked the integrated LED which beams light down to improve visibility in poorly lit conditions and found the variable speed control really handy. Basically, the tighter you grip the trigger, the faster the IXO drives – this was useful to ensure I didn’t go too fast and screw right through the MDF.
I’ve never owned an electric screwdriver before – I either use a manual screwdriver or use the screwdriver setting on my drill. However, after trying this, it’s definitely going on my Christmas list. As this is compact, lightweight and rechargeable, it beats my big, heavy drill and a normal, manual screwdriver each and every time. You can also buy additional attachments including a drill attachment, angle screw attachment and even a corkscrew attachment. Yes, really!
Now that I’d done my best Dr Frankenstein impression by accidentally creating some kind of robot gingerbread man hybrid, the next step was to secure them to the base. I’d considered screws, but the thin MDF would probably have splintered. So, instead, I got out the Bosch PKP 3.6 LI Cordless Hot Glue Gun.
Similarly to the IXO screwdriver, this too has a battery which is charged using the included micro USB charger. Once charged, I inserted one of the four glue sticks into the back of the glue gun, pressed the “On” button, then waited around 15 seconds for the solid LED to show to indicate that it’s ready to start gluing.
With a pull of the trigger and a dab of glue under each foot, the gingerbread men were vertical for the first time in their short lives. I was surprised with how little mess there was, how quickly the glue set and how firmly it held – I wouldn’t quite say toddlerproof, but they’re not falling down because of gravity any time soon!
As the gingerbread men were naked, I thought I’d keep them warm and protect their modesty with a nice, festive scarf. Using some Christmassy ribbon, I cut off a couple of strips and wrapped it around their necks. Rather than tying a bow, I once more utilised the glue gun with a couple of strategically placed dabs to keep the ribbon where I wanted it.
Ta da! And just like that, my DIY gingerbread men Christmas decorations were complete. Yes, I know there is room for improvement, and yes, I know they’re not perfect. I’m under no illusion that they might look a bit crap, however, I’m genuinely chuffed with myself for making them.
Not only is it the first bit of woodwork I’ve done since Year 8 when I made a whale-shaped ornament for my mum, but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and used a set of power tools I’ve never touched before.
Whereas you might describe them as “childish” or “rough around the edges”, I prefer the terms “rustic” and “handmade”, which simply explains away any design flaws and allows a premium to be charged!
Much in the same way that you might display your child’s crap artwork on the fridge, there’s no doubt in my mind that these are going to take pride of place in our living room every Christmas – hell, I might even display them all year round!
For those eagle-eyed readers, you might notice that I didn’t actually use the PFS 3000 Paint Stray System. I really wanted to give it a go, but (a) I had no paint and it’d mean a special trip out, (b) my novice level of ability meant that I’d already spent most of the afternoon making this, and (c) I quite liked how it looked already and decided that it’s impossible to improve on perfection.
All in all, I really enjoyed getting hands on with the tools and trying out something different. All of the Bosch power tools were simple to use, with the once exception being the jigsaw which was a little trickier – however, with a bit more practice, I reckon I’d become comfortable with it pretty quickly.
As well as being comfortable and lightweight, I loved that all of the tools were cordless. As they work on a rechargeable battery, you don’t have to find a plug socket and aren’t in danger of accidentally tripping – or cutting through – any cables.
For me, I could definitely see the IXO screwdriver and hot glue gun coming into use on a daily basis. The former would be useful for all of the furniture I’m having to assemble at the moment due to the building work, whilst the latter would be a marked upgrade for crafty projects with the kids or when fixing broken toys.
Although I’d still have them in a heartbeat, I wouldn’t use the jigsaw and multi-sander that much use on a daily basis. I don’t really have a pressing need to cut wood or pipes, plus don’t have much that needs sanding. When we moved into our house 10 years ago, that would have been a different story and they’d have helped massively when we were doing up the house.
What do you reckon to my DIY gingerbread men Christmas decoration? Why not try it out for yourself – or alternatively I’m happy to set up my own Etsy store and start creating them myself?! What do you think to the Bosch cordless power tools? Would you have a use for something like this? Let me know below!
Disclosure: This is a commissioned post in collaboration with Bosch DIY and Garden.