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.

DIY Trash Bin Wheel

Back in April, a wheel fell off my trash bin and someone ran it over. Without the wheel, the bin easily tips over and it’s been a pain in the ass getting it out to the road on trash day. So I finally made time to make a new wheel.


I glued and screwed two pieces of 3/4″ plywood together. Then I found the center of the block, center punched it to make drilling easy later, and drew a circle to match the size of the working wheel.


On the band saw I cut close to the line.


Then I took it over to the disc sander and sanded right up to the line.


On the drill press I made a hole the center with a bit slightly larger than the trash bin’s shaft.


Time for a test fit. It was perfect!


Back over to the sander, where I added a chamfer to the edges.


Sprayed a couple of coats of paint.


Then I used epoxy to attach a washer to each side of my wheel, which would sort of act as bearings.


The final step was to find something to hold the wheel on the shaft. In one of my junk boxes I found a plastic piece, which fit on the shaft after using a file to make the hole a little larger. I used more epoxy to attach this to the shaft.


I’m not sure how the plywood will hold up to the rain and snow, but I’m sure I’ll find out over the next few months.

Rewired MacBook Pro Charger

One end of the cable on this cheap charger had worn out to the point where it would only work if held in the exact right position. Or so I thought. After a little rewiring and heat-shrink tubing I found out that it’s actually something on the inside portion of the connector. I’ll have to see if I can open up the case.

DIY Dust Collector Chute for a Craftsman 351.233831 Planer

My Dad got an old Craftsman 351.233831 Planer (manual) from one of his friends for $75 after it stopped working.

When turning it on the motor would hum for a second and then the breaker (or power strip) would trip. He left the machine with me to fix. The motor shaft wouldn’t turn at all so I had to take a bunch of the machine apart (and cut the belt off) to get the motor out. I ended up using a screwdriver and hammer against the fan to free up the motor. It didn’t want to move, but slowly some hardened gunk broke up and the shaft was spinning. Since I had it in pieces I cleaned out the gear box and applied new grease to the gears.

That’s not what the title of this post is about. Since I had the machine I thought it would be nice to build some dust collection for it; these machines create one hell of a mess. Here’s a step by step of the dust collection build.

Murdered Out!

I think it turned out pretty good and the paint is a nice touch. I might have to paint the one on my Delta dust collector.

After putting the new belt on and testing it out I noticed the feed rollers were in really bad shape so ordered a new set. The machine is an absolute beast, so I mounted it on one of the Harbor Freight stands, made a plywood base for the bottom, and put on some castors.


I still need to figure out how to replace the feed rollers and will swap out some of the knives that are nicked up. Then it should be running like a brand new planer! It’s cool to see my Dad getting excited about a new hobby; he already has a bunch of pallets collected to tear apart.

Lamp Repair: Replace Touch Control with a Switch

My Mom’s bedroom lamp was malfunctioning so I told her to send it down with my Dad and I’d take a look at it.

The lamp uses a very common TA-306A touch control unit and the BT134 thyristor on the board often gets fried. I think this might have been my bedroom lamp when I lived with my parents 20 years ago, so there is no sense buying parts for it. I replaced the touch controls with a switch I salvaged from a different lamp.

WordPress Date Change Redirects

WordPress has properly redirected posts when you change the slug for a long time. For example, earlier this month I published a post a day earlier than planned. I forgot to change the date I was using in the post’s title though, so the original URL was:

Notice link-dump-2018-01-05 there, but the publish date was 2018/01/04. When I corrected the post’s title and updated the post slug, WordPress saved the info and properly redirected that URL to the new one:

Now imagine the date a post is published is important to your site though or some scenario where you change the date of a post after it’s already out there on the Internet. My example above is a little confusing for this since I’m also using a date in the post title. Continuing with it though, what if I really wanted the post to be associated with January 5th as the publish date (and I had left the title the same as it was originally)? The post’s new URL would be:

Which is fine right? Not quite. All of the links already pointing to the original URL that had /2018/01/04/ would be broken and 404. There was a WordPress bug ticket opened about this 7 years ago! Well, as of yesterday, with the WordPress 4.9.3 Maintenance Release, this issue finally has a fix. When you change the date of a published post, WordPress will save meta data so it can properly redirect the old date’s URL to the new one. 💥💥

Big thanks to Gary for helping me with this fix. It’s been years since I received props in a WordPress release and I need to make sure the next isn’t so far away.

Making Things in 2017

It was late in 2016 when I started getting into electronics and this summer I started buying more tools and converted most of my basement into a workshop. Here’s a recap of my 2017 posts related to making or fixing things.













Wow, I did a lot of experimenting, failing, learning, and accomplishing in my “free time” last year! 2018 should be even better when I combine the new skills I’m acquiring with my list of project ideas.

Empty School Bus

Sometimes a simple solution solves a problem. I’m usually pretty good at not over-engineering things, but a reminder like this is always good.

Home Fixes

Yesterday I set out to fix a couple of things around the house.

Garbage Disposal

It stopped working several weeks ago when the cleaning lady was using it. I was out golfing at the time so have no idea what happened. There was no sound or anything when the switch was flipped. My first step was to make sure the outlet worked.


So then I moved everything out from under the sink, got a bucket to catch the water, and removed the unit. I noticed a red button on the bottom.


It responded like the button on a GFI outlet. Then I plugged the disposal back in. There was a humming sound for a few seconds and then it stopped. The red button had popped out. Must be some kind of safety mechanism so the unit doesn’t burn up the motor. While cleaning out the cupboard I had come across an allen wrench.


There was also a hole in the bottom of the disposal where this fit. Gave it a bunch of turns and it started to feel pretty smooth. Pushed in the button, started plugging it in, and holy shit! The torque on that thing nearly sent it flying across the room. Glad I had barely touched the plug to power because my hand was able to jerk it away from the outlet.

I put the garbage disposal back in place, reconnected all the pipes, and I was back in business. No leaks either. Something must have been jammed inside.

As a bonus it turned out to be a good reason to clean the cupboards under the sink, which had accumulated a bunch of junk.

Garage Door Opener Light

It’s been flaky for several years. I had tried replacing bulbs and sometimes they would work for a bit or flicker here and there, but eventually stop working. With my new knowledge and confidence with electricity and circuits I figured there had to be something going on with the connection. After unplugging the garage door opener, I took off the face plate and disconnected the wires from the back of the light socket.


Looking at this socket, 2 things stood out to me: 1) seems like both contact points were corroded and 2) unlike a lot of light bulb sockets where the sides are metal, this only had the contact pad which is at about 1:00 if this were a clock face. I grabbed my favorite tool, the digital multimeter…

I may have been able to clean up the contacts on the socket, but I figured it was better to replace it. The only thing at Home Depot that looked like it would work was this waterproof light socket for $3.47.


I carved off some of the rubber with an X-ACTO knife for a better angled fit and applied a bunch of hot glue. Here are views of the front and back…


It ended up working much better than expected. I reassembled everything, plugged in the garage door opener, and voila!


I also replaced a 3-way light switch I could hear shorting out, but it was an ordinary replacement job.