Dog’s Toy Box

This was a very simple build I knocked out one night. I used solid wood scraps for the sides and plywood for the bottom, all 3/4″ thick. It’s about 30″ wide and 18″ deep. The height in the back is about 7″ tall and the front is about 2-1/2″.

Since this was getting painted, the quality of the wood wasn’t a concern and I didn’t need to do much sanding. I used a roundover router bit on all of the edges. I like it when I don’t have to do the finishing work. Turned out nice.

Walnut Bandsaw Box

My buddy Kevin told me about a local shop that sells woodworking tools, supplies, and wood so we took a ride out to Barn Door Lumber Company a few weeks ago. While looking through their scrap pile, this butcher block cutoff caught my eye. It was roughly 1.5 x 6 x 23 inches.

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I had bought a 10″ bandsaw (RIKON 10-305) not too long before and hadn’t used it yet.

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I thought it would be a fun project to chop up this piece on the table saw, glue it into a large block, and then create a bandsaw box. That’s when you create a box out of a block of wood by only making cuts with a bandsaw. Seemed like a good project to get my feet wet. My sister’s birthday was coming up so it would also make a good gift.

The first thing I did was square up the edge.

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Then I sliced 5 pieces. I’m still learning a lot and forgot to set a stop block on my sled, which would have helped with getting pieces that were exactly the same size. The order of operations and remembering little tricks like that are what I’m struggling with the most on this woodworking adventure.

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I glued each piece.

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Quickly realized I only needed glue on 4 pieces. I told myself the last two pieces would just get a really good bond. Then I clamped everything together.

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Of course I forgot to flip that last piece around so that 2 glued sides were facing each other. The glue side ended up facing out and I put 3 clamps in place before remembering. So I backed off the clamps and added a piece of parchment paper.

After squaring up an edge on the table saw I was ready for some work on the bandsaw. Or so I thought…

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After another trip to the table saw I finally had my block of wood. I was ready for the bandsaw!

I quickly found out the blade that came with the saw wasn’t up for the job because it couldn’t make the turns I wanted. I got everything cut but there were several mistakes. Learned a lot though and had fun with the project.

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Making a Bluetooth Speaker

It’s been too long since I posted about designing a speaker in SketchUp, but other projects moved up on my priority list between then and now. Well, over the last few days I finally made the speaker. In the end, the delay was worth it, because several of the steps were a lot easier with tools I’ve acquired over the last few months.

Other than the design, the first step was to get a board. I ordered the INSMA TDA7492P Chip 25W+25W Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Audio Receiver Digital Amplifier Board on Amazon after watching 2 otherbuilds with the same board. To make sure it was going to work, I hooked up my speakers for a quick test. I salvaged the speakers out of on old set of computer speakers I had in college.

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I ordered a couple of different button styles from AliExpress, so I tried both types out, ultimately deciding to use the larger buttons which also had a blue LED ring. The smaller buttons were nice but not right for this project.

I did those tests around the same time I was designing the speaker. Several months passed before I touched any of the components again. Since I wanted to use my own buttons, switch, and LEDs I needed to figure out the best ways to connect in to various points on the board. This involved a lot of poking and prodding with a multimeter. I figured everything out and did all of the soldering and wiring prep work to help with assembly once the box was built.

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I had taken some general measurements when iterating on the design, but I thought it would be a good idea to create a cardboard model before cutting any wood. This mockup of the walls was an inch too short, but it let me get an idea of what kind of space would be on the inside. Knowing that the 1/2″ plywood would use up a lot more area, I increased several dimensions and changed the angles on the 3 front pieces.

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After cutting the 3 front pieces and two sides, I measured and marked all of the spots where I needed to drill holes.

Then I spent a lot of time with the drill press. There was a lot of measuring and calculating because pretty much everything going on the front face needed some kind of recess.

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It was looking pretty good!

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Since I hadn’t updated my SketchUp plans for the changes, it was tricky getting the correct sizes for the top, bottom, and back pieces. I ended up screwing some parts together in a step-by-step process and then making small cuts on the new pieces to inch up on the fits. At the end I had to do a bunch of sanding on the front face, which was the last piece I screwed together. It was really cool seeing the design come to life.

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Time for some finishing work. I sanded edges and cleaned off all of the dust before I did a quick coat of spray paint. I wanted to try a neat technique I’d seen, so I did a bunch of sanding to rough up the paint. Then I coated everything with 2 coats of stain/poly, while doing a light sanding in between. After the first coat of stain, I unscrewed everything to apply the final coat because I wanted to make sure nothing was stuck together on the joints.

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After letting everything dry it was time to work on the guts. I used the time-lapse recording option on my YI 4K Action Camera for the first time, which worked well, so here it is with voice-over to explain what I’m doing during the assembly process.

I wanted to give it a coat of Minwax paste finishing wax when I was done, but with all of the buttons and speakers in the way it would have been too hard to work around them. Should have done it before. I’m pretty thrilled with how the paint and stain combo turned out.

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The dimensions ending up being 5″ tall, 10″ wide, 4.5″ deep at the sides, and 5.75″ deep in the middle. It weighs just under 4 pounds with most of that coming from the 2 speakers. It’s hard to get a sense for the size in the cropped images above, so for scale here is a comparison with a beer bottle.

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I’ve been using an old Jawbone Jambox for music in my garage gym. This is so much more convenient because it plugs in and has a permanent spot. No more worrying about a dead battery or trying to find the Jambox when it’s time for a workout.

Whenever I was using the Airdyne or Ski Erg, it was hard to hear the Jambox. Judging by the test below, I should be able to crank the tunes now. I played 30 seconds of “Welcome to the Jungle” with both speakers, starting at the 1:00 mark, and increasing the volume every 5 seconds.

Designing a Speaker in SketchUp

I’m going to build a bluetooth speaker for my garage gym using an old set of computer speakers. I thought it would be good to plan it out in a 3D model first, so I learned how to use SketchUp by following their great video tutorials. As I’ve learned new tricks and thought of different ideas there have been several design iterations.

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Version 1

This first attempt was a very rough idea using paper-thin walls or basically one solid piece, depending on how you want to think of it.

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Version 2

I was thinking I could build the box out of 1/4″ material. I set the thickness of the walls, properly created each side of the box as a separate piece, and separated the lids.

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Version 3

I realized using 1/4″ material wouldn’t give me much room to drive screws into, so I increased to 1/2″. I added speaker mounting holes and the lids were given holes where screws will hold the pieces together. The holes in the middle front section will be where LEDs and buttons go. The square hole in the back wall (which will probably be changed to a small circle and maybe moved to a side) is for the power cord.

 

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Version 4

I realized if the lids were sitting on the top and bottom of the sides, you’d be able to see the ugly edges if I use something like plywood. So I increased the height of the walls and shrunk the lids to fit inside. There is a row of screw holes all the way around the top and bottom of the side walls, which will attach everything to the lids. I forgot about the on/off switch, so I added another hole on the front.

This is the first time I’ve attempted any 3D modeling and it’s been a lot of fun. Before I start working with wood, I’ll probably create a cardboard model to make sure the components fit inside. The dimensions are roughly 4.25″ deep, 9.5″ wide, and 5″ high.

All of the SketchUp files are in a bluetooth-speaker-design repo on GitHub if you want to use any of them.

Head over to Making a Bluetooth Speaker to see how the build turned out.

Computer Box

This is a true story…

As most of you know, I work for the Help Desk at SVSU. A few weeks ago we were cleaning the Nachi virus off of computers for students who lived on campus. A co-worker of mine told a female student that we only needed her to bring in the box of her computer, we didn’t need the cables, mouse, etc.

Later that day, she showed up at our office with her cardboard computer box in hand. One of our student employees opened the box, expecting to see her computer inside so that he could record the serial number. When all he found was an empty box, he immediately walked into the back room because he was about to burst out laughing.

How she thought we could clean the virus from her computer with just a piece of cardboard is beyond me!!