Basement Bathroom Upgrades

After putting in a new LED light in the bathroom next to my workshop I figured I’d give the place a “quick” makeover. The biggest need was to do something with the nasty floor. After a tip from Mom I picked up a few boxes of peel and stick floor tiles from Family Dollar.

Not bad for $30! Good enough for a basement bathroom. I also put in a quick release toilet seat and replaced the faucet and it’s supply lines.

Shop Lighting

The lights in my basement were pretty bad. If you’ve watched any of the videos I’ve done in the workshop you’ve probably noticed. The area pictured below was lit by 2 light bulbs.


Time to fix this so I ordered two sets of 4 LED lights off Amazon. At $20/light I didn’t expect much in terms of quality, but the reviews were solid. They are made with really cheap materials, but function fine. I put 3 of the new lights in this area. Incredible difference!


Each light has a plug instead of wiring and the cord has a switch built-in, which is really nice. I won’t be stuck with my lighting placements if I change my mind and it’s easy to turn individual lights on and off as needed.

The other area of the shop was almost as bad, with some dark corners. It was lit with 3 of the typical tube lights you find in drop ceilings. Here are before pictures…



I wanted to remove the drop ceiling while I was at it so I’d get back about 8 inches of vertical space. I made a time-lapse of this part of the project. Over 6 hours of video at 80x speed to get it down to 5 minutes.

I used the other 5 LED lights in this larger area. When I showed pictures to my buddy he said, “Looks like you painted but it’s only lights.” He’s right! I’m really happy with the results.

I’ve already ordered another batch of lights for the laundry room and bathroom, though I’ll be keeping the ceiling in those locations.

HackerBox #0025: Flair Ware

I still need to work through HackerBoxes #23 and #24, but #25 arrived on the 1st. I’ve been spending so much time putting together my workshop that I haven’t sat at my electronics desk much in the last 2 months.

The camera was a little too close for the view angle I had set. I need to build a better camera arm/rig too.

I tried to price things out, but there are a lot of custom things in this box. Prices are from Amazon Prime unless noted. This list was copied from the Instructable for HackerBox #25.

  • HackerBoxes #0025 Collectable Reference Card – $1 (estimate)
  • LED Star Wearable Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Color-Cycling Sign Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • BitHead ATtiny85 Wearable Kit – $5 (estimate)
  • Pluggable Digispark DevBoard – $3.08
  • Extra ATtiny85 8DIP Microcontroller – $1 (estimate)
  • CJMCU LilyTiny Digispark Module – $8.68 (AliExpress)
  • Three LilyPad NeoPixel Modules – $11.85 (SparkFun)
  • LilyPad Coin Cell Module – $1.95 (SparkFun)
  • CR2032 Lithium Coin Cells – $3.19
  • USBasp Atmel AVR USB Programmer – $5.79
  • Green Prototyping Board 4x6cm – $0.25 (estimate)
  • Lapel Pin Backs – $1 (estimate)
  • Shrink Tubing – 100 Piece Variety – $2.36 (AliExpress)
  • Tin Project Box – $1.02 (AliExpress)
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Decal – $1 (estimate)
  • Exclusive HackerBoxes Knit Cap – $10 (estimate)

With a lot of estimates I get a total of $67.17. Since I’ve been pricing these out all but once I’ve come up with a $60-70 value. Consistent.

Clamp Storage Racks

After organizing my hand tools, I wanted to continue with the same ideas to organize the clamps I’ve acquired. Everything should have a place to go with first order retrievability being key. Here are all of the clamps laid out (I actually got some more and replaced the pipes in the 2 on the left) before I started building anything.

As you can see, I’ve acquired a lot of clamps in a short period of time. Almost all of these were bought at estate sales, which I’ve found is a great way to build out a workshop for the first time. Once I could see everything I started looking at different ideas on Google Images and YouTube. Woodworkers love their clamps and there is no shortage of clamp rack designs out there.

The first rack I wanted to build was for all of the F-style bar clamps. I measured various parts of my clamps and scribbled some sketches.


Then I mocked up a rough prototype on a scrap of 2×4.


I felt good about the design, so I moved over to some 1/2″ plywood. I cut a piece to 48″ by 2 5/8″. Then I drew a line 1 9/64″ from the long edge and marked every 1 5/16″. Let me explain some of those weird measurements. Maybe you can read from the prototype, but I wanted the slots to be 9/32″ wide since the widest bar on any of the clamps was about 1/4″. Drawing the long line at 1 9/64″ came from a 1″ gap from the edge and half of the 9/32″ hole. I wanted about 1″ between each slot, but it was quicker to mark every 1 5/16″ because I had almost 40 marks to make. This also give me a little fraction of extra space between clamps. It probably makes more sense when you see how I drilled the holes.


Then I drew lines to the edges of each hole, stood it up on the table saw, and cut out each slot.

You’ll notice the end of the slots aren’t rounded anymore. This is because I worked it across the blade after cutting to the second side of each hole. I took it to the router table and did a quick rounding of each slot’s opening so it will funnel the clamp in.

Most of this designs for this type of clamp use slots like this. Some people store these clamps with the bar at the back of the rack though and the pads facing out towards you. I decided on the opposite with the bars facing out because it makes it easier to grab a clamp.

I did do something I hadn’t seen by mounting this piece with a 1 5/8″ gap between it and other piece of plywood screwed to the wall. This allows the clamps to hang over the edge instead of having the top pad of each clamp sitting on top of the wood. Each clamp is a lot more secure like this and shouldn’t accidentally pop off. You can see this better in the video at the end.

The second rack I built was for miscellaneous clamps. There isn’t much to explain about this. For the C clamps I cut a bunch of 1″ inch holes and then sliced down the middle on the table saw. By the way, get a set of Forstner bits if you don’t have them; they work infinitely better than spade bits.

The 3rd rack would be for the wider bar clamps and pipe clamps. It was built similar to the first rack, but I wanted the bars/pipes along the wall because they’re heavy and would have more support this way. The holes I drilled for these slots were with a 1 1/4″ Forstner bit and 2.5″ from one hole center to the next. This little sketch shows I wanted the edge of the hole to be an inch from the back and each slot would be 3 inches deep. I left the rounded back side of each slot since it’ll mostly be used for pipe clamps. I once again used the router table on the slot openings and finished it off on the spindle sander since everything was a bit rougher with the thicker 3/4″ plywood and wider slots.

It’s hard to get a good picture since this is basically a hallway area, but here’s the finished project.


Check out the video below for a walk through of how it all ended up.

Upgrading a Used Table Saw – Part 3

Following up on part 2 of upgrading the used Craftsman table saw (model 113.298032).

I found a couple of push blocks for $1/each at an estate sale. These will probably come in handy more for a router table when I build one and if I ever get a jointer.

After organizing all of my hand tools, I had floor space back and was able to spend some time building this weekend. I made a cross-cut sled, following most of the instructions from a build by The Wood Whisperer.


Since I had extra pieces of the oak runners already cut to size I made a mini sled too.

The sleds will make it easier and safer to use the saw. I already used the large sled to cut the pieces for the mini sled and then during the mini build I used it to cut the block that covers the blade when it goes through the back. Really handy accessories!

I gave a good coat of paste finishing wax to the table saw surface, miter slots, fence, rails, and the bottom of both sleds. Everything slides really well now.

I didn’t like how sketchy it was cutting the long thin runners, so I moved this push stick up in priority on my project list so I’ll have it the next time I need it. Figured I might as well make two because they’ll get chewed up over time.

Made some adjustments to the side storage to put the push sticks in each reach at the front.

Added a platform underneath and felt dumb pretty dumb doing it. At first I cut a sized piece before realizing there is no way to get it in there without removing the saw from the rolling base, which I definitely was not going to do. I ended up ripping the piece in half and screwing in a couple of supports down the middle to connect the two sides. I may store my circular and jig saws here too.

Walls Be Gone

Yesterday I started cleaning up this weird wraparound area of the basement to prepare for moving my tool bench down and starting to put together the workshop.

Initially I was only going to remove the small wall, shelf, and hanging rod. The plan was to put my tool bench against the blue wall.

I loved how those small changes opened up the area. Then I noticed the other walls weren’t load-bearing, so I started demolishing.

What a difference! My mind is racing with so many new ideas on how to utilize the space.

As a bonus I ended up with a pile of nice 2x4s I can use for making shit.

Homier Distributing Company BDM 5 Drill Press Restoration

My Dad gave me an old drill press that was sitting unused in his garage. Homier Distributing Company (HDC) made this BDM 5 model back in 1991. Over the years the machine accumulated a lot of rust, so I wanted to give it some new life.

It was a fun project and I really love how it turned out. It looks like a brand new tool.

I recorded a lot of video while working on this and tried to trim down to the important parts so I could explain the process I used.

If you have any questions or anything here helps you with a project of your own, leave a comment to let me know.


DIY Cyclone Dust Separator

With the plans to turn an area of my basement into a workshop, I wanted to have some type of dust collection system in place. Here’s the video of what I built and then I’ll go into some details.

Originally I had some grand ideas, but I did more searching and came across a neat mobile dust station. It seemed like a good solution for me since the area I’ll be using isn’t very large and there is a pole in the middle of the room. I’ll probably have most of the larger tools and work table on wheels, so I scrapped the initial idea to have dust collection feeds going to several different places around the room.

I ordered a knock-off cyclone unit for about $25 on Amazon. I noticed it was going to take several weeks to be back in stock, so I wondered if I could make my own. Sure enough there are countless examples of people building their own. I cancelled the order and had my next project. Most of the builds shared online are based on the Thien Baffle Cyclone Separator, which is one guy’s improved version of the Cyclone. I found a video where someone used polycarbonate to create a clear cylinder, which I thought looked really cool when dust was whipping around inside. I ended up using many of his methods to construct my own cylinder.

Here are some sketches I did before and through the build process.


The final build ended up pretty close to this sketch.


Dimensions of my baffle and the other parts at the bottom of the cylinder.


Pieces to support the seam of the cylinder and house the infeed hose.

Cutting the outer hole, an inside circle, and forming the cylinder were easily the most difficult parts of this build. I used straps to help keep the polycarbonate shape, because it wants to go right back to being a flat sheet. If I were to do this again, I’d use a wider sheet than 24″ or find some thinner than the 0.093″ I got from Home Depot in the hopes it would be easier to form the cylinder.

Once formed and screwed in, the 2 screws at each end of the sheet pulled right out of the top circle after a few minutes. It needed some support down the seam, so I learned how to cut a cove with a table saw that would allow a piece of wood to fit up nicely against the curve of the cylinder. Don’t get me started on how many circles and curves there were during this build.

I didn’t take any pictures during the frame/stand build but there isn’t anything exciting to say there. To get the rainbow effect on the LEDs I’m using a cheap Arduino Nano clone with some pretty simple code, which is available at my rgb-led-rainbow repo on GitHub.

I’m happy with how the project turned out, but it took much longer than I expected. I probably should have started out my shop with something easier to get more comfortable with woodworking. I did learn a lot and used so many different tools throughout the process.

If you have any specific questions about my build, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer. I decided not to do a detailed description or video because there are a lot of examples out there, including the two YouTube videos and the Thien baffle design I linked to above. I took most of my ideas from others and gave things my own twist.

Cutting a Cove With a Table Saw

I needed to fit a piece of wood up against the seam of a cylinder I created by rolling a sheet of polycarbonate. Remembered seeing of video of someone cutting coves with a table saw, so I found some simple instructions.

I didn’t need to be very precise for my use so wasn’t concerned with my guides having a little wiggle room. Worked great for what I needed. I love learning new stuff! New skill in the toolbox.