Summertime can bring on building projects for the handyman

Peter Whittall, billed as "the five-basic-hand-tool man", was the CBC handyman from the mid-1950s through 1965, on his own weekly Mr. Fix-It show.

We look back for some helpful tips from Peter Whittall, AKA Mr. Fix-It

The Mr. Fix-It show was what the home handyman watched to get practical tips for home repairs using basic tools. (CBC Archives)

Even a modern-day Mr. Fix-It might need some ideas for a summer weekend project.

Peter Whittall shows viewers a small shelf built using only one piece of wood. (CBC Archives)

  Long before the internet was a helper to the do-it-yourselfer, CBC Television brought viewers Peter Whittall. 

He was the CBC's on-screen handyman from the mid-1950s through 1965, referring to himself as "the five-basic-hand-tool man" on his own weekly Mr. Fix-It show. 

In 1959 he billed it as "next to the news and weather, it's the greatest public service."

Jack of all projects

A go-to guru for the handyman, whether it was to build a bric-a-brac shelf, finish a rec-room or put together a kit for a 13-foot sailboat, Whittall had the plans, and the tips and tricks of the trade.

In 1957, when he offered a kit with tips for finishing a recreation room, he received 18,000 requests for it.

Project expert Peter Whittall calls in the gardening expert, Earl Cox (seen kneeling), for how to get a rose growing on his new arbour. (CBC Archives)
  He built practical things, such as this rose arbour, and even had CBC's gardening expert Earl Cox in for advice on planting the rose next to it.

No 'swank' sauces for Mr. Fix-It

And he made guest appearances on other CBC shows, like this Take 30 pool-party episode where he taught host Anna Cameron all about cooking steak. 

With an apron protecting his trademark plaid shirt, he donned a chef's hat, and got cooking, cutting straight to the chase with his first tip — "it's essential that you start out with meat, in barbecuing."

Peter Whittall fixes dinner on the barbecue

3 years ago
Duration 2:18
CBC Television's Mr. Fix-It guests on Take 30 to give viewers tips on barbecuing.

No fancy sauces for him, "it's a bit of swank," but as a practical man who appreciates the many uses of wood, he does highly recommend hickory chips on the fire. 

Tune in for 'Plywood Week'

This Mr. Fix-It show features "sea and sand", constructed with plywood, June, 1962. (CBC Archives)

  And then there was the June 1962 episode he called "plywood week," when he and his able assistant Rex Loring demonstrated turning a sheet of plywood into a sandbox, or, alternately, into a swimming pool.  Using exterior grade, marine bonded weatherproof plywood, of course.

Building a wading pool with plywood, the Mr. Fix-It way

3 years ago
Duration 2:11
Peter Whittall shows viewers how to make a wading pool using one sheet of plywood.