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!

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.

DIY Rack/Band Pegs

Titan Fitness hasn’t had their band pegs in stock for months. This is what they look like.

I got sick of waiting, so I bought a four foot length of 5/8″ steel round rod from Home Depot for $15 and made my own.

  1. Cut the rod down to four 12″ pieces with a cutoff wheel on an angle grinder
  2. Taper an end of each piece and clean up the other end on a belt sander
  3. Drill a hole near the non-tapered end, using a drill press and vise
  4. Insert a nail and cut it so about 1/4″ is left sticking out
  5. Flatten and/or bend the piece of nail so it can’t escape
  6. Soften any remaining sharp edges on the sander
  7. Spray one coat of primer, two coats of black, and two coats of matte clear

They turned out great and I really like how the matte clear finish feels. It’s already getting scuffed up from moving the pegs around a few times though, which I figured would happen. In reality they’re too long and buying a three foot rod would have been better.

So what are these used for? Pegs are the proper way to use bands and things like Crossover Symmetry on a rack/rig. People tend to wrap bands around the J-cups, but that ends up cutting through the bands over time. Nobody like taking a snapped band in the groin! Pegs are round, so they play nice with bands.

Moving a Thermostat

As I’m preparing my new office, I realized it didn’t make sense to keep the thermostat for the front heating zone in the old/current office anymore. In the winter I’ll probably keep the doors closed and the register shut in that room unless I’m using it. So today I wanted to move the thermostat to the new office.

Disconnecting the thermostat and pulling wire through the basement was a walk in the park. Getting wire up the wall and through a small hole is no easy task though. I was playing around with some ideas in my head when I remembered I had an endoscope. I bought it 3 years ago, to the day, on Woot, knowing it would come in handy one day. Which reminds me of this quote from Adam Savage.

Today was that day! A couple of friends even made fun of me at the time, asking what in the world I’d ever need it for. I love proving people wrong when they doubt me. 😉

Ok, so what did I do? First, I found a hole in the basement that led up to a light switch on the back of the wall where I wanted to put the thermostat. Then I drilled some holes where I’d mount the thermostat. I tied a washer to a piece of string, for some weight, and fed it through the hole and down the wall. I uncoiled a wire coat hanger and made a small hook on the end. I fed the endoscope and wire hook up through the hole, found the string, and pulled it down through the hole. Success!

The hard part was done. I looped my thermostat wire around the washer.

I fed that back up through the hole. Then I went upstairs and pulled the string and wire up through my hole in the wall.

From there it was just a matter of mounting the thermostat and connecting wires.