Making Things in 2020

I got burnt out in 2019, but 2020 relit my fire for making stuff.

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Once I found the spark, the rest of the year felt balanced, in terms of not doing too much and varying the types of projects. My favorites were the new home office, the Gympac, and the picnic table / benches. 2021 is off to a great start with several posts already published and others being planned. The hobby room updates will allow me to get back to electronics projects.

A New Hobby Desk and Organization

When I was doing the wiring for the cabinet LED lighting, I remembered how much I hated the tall desk for that kind of work.

I woke up the next day and decided to get a new desk. I wanted something similar and I basically found the little brother; it’s almost identical. The old one was 4″ deeper, which I think I’ll miss.

When I was desk shopping I saw these storage bins and they sparked ideas for decluttering the area.

I had to make a modification to the desk, because the adjustable shelf couldn’t be placed in the middle. After measuring everything about five times, I made two risers to get the shelf where I wanted. You wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t point them out.

I was in the zone and decided to tackle another problem. A couple of years ago I made an overhead camera rig out of a swing arm desk lamp. The mount it came with was someone else’s mod and one wrong bump knocked it off the desk. This is what it looked like.

I made a mount to match the profile of my new desk, which hooks up and over the metal bar. This isn’t going anywhere!

Back to those storage bins. My goal was to get the hobby tools out of sight, while making them easy to access. On the bookshelf they were always piled up and I had to get off the chair to reach them. All I needed was some cardboard (from the desk’s box) and hot glue.

The second bin didn’t get dividers because everything in there is pretty big and doesn’t need dedicated space. I can always update it later if necessary. In fact I probably don’t even need the cardboard liner, but it was already made. The small bookshelf, where my tools had been, moved inside the closet. I love the cleaner look the room has.

Learning From a Retractable Extension Cord Reel Restoration

My brother gave me this reel, which I think he got from an estate sale.

My garage only has an outlet on the wall by the house and one in the ceiling by the garage door opener, so this will come in handy as a quick way to get power anywhere in the garage. There really wasn’t much to restoring it. I cleaned it up, gave it some paint, and put a new grounding cord outlet on it.

PIC

I love bringing things like this back to life because we’ve become too quick to discard things. Taking stuff apart also allows me to learn. I’ve often wondered how the wiring worked in a retractable mechanism like this. It’s pretty cool. I bet if I took apart my small wet/dry floor vacuum, the retractable cord in there would be built similar to this. Now I’m curious how retractable air hoses work!

There’s always a risk of breaking something when taking it apart though and that’s exactly what happened to me. The spring snapped when I would it up in the wrong direction. I was able to fix it by cutting the spring, drilling a new hole, and using a nail as a rivet. Hopefully it lasts.

I put everything back together and hung it in the garage.

IKEA BILLY / OXBERG with Custom LED Lighting

I made a recent roadtrip to IKEA for two BILLY bookcases with OXBERG doors.

Perfect fit in the Tesla Model 3

These are for my hobby room to help organize as well as display things I make or collect. That’s why I went with the half panel half glass doors.

I added some LED tape strip lights I picked up at Home Depot. Two boxes of 16′ lengths left me with several feet left over. There was a fair amount of time spent cutting, stripping, splitting off from the power source, etc. It was good to get back in to some electronics work though.

Mini Convertible Picnic Table and Benches

My nieces have a bunch of American Girl dolls and play with them a lot. I thought it would be cool to make a picnic table for them as a Christmas gift. Then I remembered some convertible benches which joined to make a picnic table I’d seen a few years ago. I found a set of plans and made everything at 1/3 scale since the dolls are 18 inches tall. I asked each girl what color they wanted, not telling them what I was making. Sophie (7 on the 30th) picked purple and Kennedy (10) picked pink. I really love how these turned out and as a bonus they also work as desks. It was definitely one of the funnest projects I’ve done.

Bath Tub Tray/Caddy

My friend Casey asked if I could make his vision come to lift as a gift for his wife Maggie. Here’s his sketch.

He picked up a nice piece of maple, which I cut and glued up. I’d never made recessed cuts in wood before, so that was a fun challenge to tackle. I bought a piece of acrylic and made a large base for my palm router.

Then I made a 4″ circle template in some scrap plywood by cutting a large hole with a forstner bit, getting close to the line with the router, and finishing up on the oscillating spindle sander.

I attaching the template to the maple by using blue tape on each surface and then some CA glue with activator in between the taped surfaces. I used a flush trim bit with a top bearing in the router to copy the template. It was much easier than I expected.

To cut a slot for an iPad I clamped down some scrap wood to create a border for the palm router and it’s original base. I didn’t have the iPad so I cut thin plywood to a similar size for testing, while also making sure the slot would work for future iPad sizes.

I cut and attached runners, rounded all of the corners and edges, and gave everything a thorough sanding.

My work was done at this point, since Casey was taking care of the finish to match their bathroom cabinets. It turned out great and we had a happy recipient!

New Air Tools and More Storage

Yesterday I picked up a used 23 gauge pin nailer. I also used a mini die grinder for the first time, which had been sitting on a shelf in the package. Both tools needed places to live, so I made spots on my air tool wall.

I stopped at Harbor Freight and bought 3 sizes of pins for the new nailer. I also had some unopened boxes of various brad nails sitting around. I took the opportunity to reorganize my bins and more than doubled capacity. Seemed like a good place to move all of the regular nails too.

I love when everything in the workshop has a home.

Hobby Room

This used to be my home office, before I created the new one.

I wanted to make it in to a hobby room, where I could organize all of my electronics stuff and any future projects. My woodworking shop is still obviously in the basement though.

Notice anything odd with the lighting? Yeah, one ceiling light and it was in the corner of the room. I’ll never understand that placement. Luckily the joists ran the correct direction (no attic above), so I was able to feed wire across the ceiling for a second light to the left of the window. It was time for the carpet to go as well and I liked the flooring I installed in my new office so much I went with the same stuff.

Look how much brighter it is when the lamp is off and it’s dark outside.

I still have to organize the closet and all of my electronics parts, but the room is already a lot more functional.

Gym Shelf Improvement

When I rearranged a bunch of stuff in my garage gym a free months ago I moved this shelf from an old spot.

It’s bugged me ever since because it was too close to the barbells and didn’t fit the new location. This morning a made a new shelf.

Much better!

Table Saw: Fence and Wings

It took me several more weeks to get to it, but the table saw upgrade I mentioned in my previous post is complete. I installed a new fence and built custom wings. These are huge improvements to the saw!

The road to get here was a bumpy one though. The fence is the 30″ 36-T30T3 made by Delta and it goes for $200. I ordered one from Amazon, which came banged up with holes in the box and missing parts. They sent a replacement and it was the same problem, so I returned both. Lowes sells the fence for the same price, so I ordered one and had it shipped to the store, hoping their delivery system would take better care of the box than UPS. It worked out and I received a complete box of parts.

I’m not going to go in to detail on the installation because it’s different depending on the type of saw you have and there are several YouTube videos and articles out there. My saw is a Craftsman 113.298032, which required some new mounting holes. Some people drilled in to the cast iron top, but I went the other way and drilled new holes in the fence rails, which I think is a much better way to go.

I made my wings using oak flooring for the sub frame (1 1/2″ tall) and 1/2″ laminate finished panels from Menards. Here are some pictures I took through the process.