New Table Saw Switch

Now that I’ve been in my workshop again, it’s time for some table saw upgrades I’ve been wanting to do. The bigger project I had planned for yesterday couldn’t happen because of part damaged during shipping, so I went with the easy one. Here’s the old switch on my saw.

It worked fine, but I wanted something cooler and safer, so I ordered one from Amazon for about $13. The hardest part was finding an electrical box to would work with the location where I wanted to install the switch. Then I built a simple scrap wood box around it and wired everything.

The START button is recessed and you really have to push it, so there is almost no chance of accidentally turning on the saw. The STOP paddle is a big target and at knee height, which will make it easy to turn off the saw without moving my eyes or hands if an operation becomes dangerous.

DIY Desk Backer

Here it is, the final project I had planned for my new home office.

The idea for this actually started a year ago, when I rotated my desk in the old office.

The back of my desk is obviously meant to be up against a wall, so it’s not a finished look with the particle board and the big access holes. At the time, I was thinking I could create some type of artsy piece for the back using reclaimed pallet wood. I didn’t have any motivation to make anything over the winter though.

Fast forward to this year and moving my office to a newly redone room across the hall. With better lighting, the back of the desk stuck out even more.

My idea came back to me and inspired part of the plant stand. I acquired a bunch of reclaimed oak flooring from the 50s to use for both projects. Hopefully the following pictures tell a little bit of the story about how the idea went from my brain, to a 3D model/plan, and came to life.

It was probably the most complicated build I’ve done. Really happy with how it turned out!

Office Blinds

I’m nearing the end of my plans for the new home office. For several years I’d been thinking about getting top down bottom up blinds for the room that used to be my office. With both rooms being at the front of the house I didn’t want people looking in while I was at my desk, I didn’t want to be distracted all day by neighbors moving about their yards, and I wanted to let more light in. So when I needed blinds for the new room, I ordered some. They came in this week, were easy to install, and work great. Now that I have them set I’m not sure I’ll ever touch them unless I want to open the windows.

These two windows are pretty big, with the blinds being 76×65 and 52×65. Smith & Noble wanted almost $900! I found some from SelectBlinds for $430. Both of those are before sales/discounts. It was an easy choice (they’re just blinds!) and the final price was $292 total for the two blinds. I’ve also ordered one for a tall window next to my front door ($92), which is directly in my line of sight while working.

I’m not sure I’ll buy another type of blind again. These don’t have any strings to fight with and no wands to turn. You raise/lower the top or bottom by grabbing a couple of handles and moving them where you want. It’s so easy and gives you more options.

The last thing I have planned for the office is going to be a challenging build for me, so I’m excited to take it on and see how it turns out. Stay tuned!

Improved Dumbbell Storage

I have a 3-tier dumbbell rack, which works well, except for one key piece of the design. The lips that hold the top of each dumbbell aren’t really tall enough for the heavier dumbbells. Here’s a rough video showing the problem.

A 50 pound dumbbell only has to slip once or twice smashing your fingers on the bottom bracket before it’s time to come up with a fix. My solution was to cut a couple strips of plywood, notch them out to mate up with the the current lip, drill some holes, and bolt it together.

Didn’t need much extra height really. Here’s another rough video showing the improvement.

I also added a shelf for the smaller dumbbells because all of my sets don’t fit on the rack. I left space for two remaining pairs; the eights to match everything in my set from five to 40 pounds and some 60s (ordered today).

For a final touch, I created labels similar to what I made for the pulley weight stack.

Modifying/Upgrading a DP Ultra Gympac

On August 15th I bought the DP Ultra Gympac, a piece of fitness equipment from the mid-80s.

It was missing some of the original parts, but it had the weight stack and pulley system, which are what I cared about. I had made my own pulley system, but I’ve been fighting with it for several months. Having something dedicated with it’s own weight stack was going to be a big improvement. Here’s what the equipment looked like when I got it home.

This awesome machine was sold at Sears for $499.99 back in the day!

I paid $100 for this one and it also came with a small barbell and weights, which I’ll sell. The unit did need some work. I moved the bench and curl attachment to storage because I don’t plan to use them. Then I disassembled the unit. Most of the weight stack plates had cracks. By a stroke of luck, I came across a Facebook Marketplace listing for 14 of the same weights and I paid $25.

The base of the Gympac had quite a mess where something nasty had spilled a very long time ago. I got that taken care of and cleaned the pulleys really well. The main top and bottom pieces got fresh black paint. I bought new cotter pins for the pulleys, replaced nuts and bolts, added washers and made a cable. The hardest part of the rebuild was replacing the guide rails with longer ones to allow more travel length for the cable. A couple of eight foot pieces of 1″ aluminum square tubing ran me about $30 and I drilled holes for the various bolts. On my bandsaw I cut the original logo out of the cracked plastic case.

Making room required a big reorganization of my gym space. After that I moved the unit in place, put everything together, and bolted it to the wall. The final touch was labeling the weights. I wasn’t confident in the numbers on the original stickers, so I bought a small luggage scale and sure enough, everything had previously been labeled six pounds too heavy. I made some new labels.

I love it! The great thing is it only uses about two and a half square feet of floor space. Rethinking the entire organization of the gym space ended up making the rest of my equipment a lot more accessible as well. This was a really fun project. If you have a garage gym and some extra space, try to find one of these.