Franken-treadmill

Last August I picked up a free treadmill and didn’t use it once because it had a major issue. When I’d get on it and crank up the speed, either the belt was slipping or the motor couldn’t handle the load. I never got around to troubleshooting the problem. A couple of weeks ago I saw another free treadmill which was able to fold up. That was another problem with the first treadmill; it took up way too much space in the garage.

So I picked up this second treadmill and gave it a quick test when I got it home. It worked just fine at speed, but the front end wanted to tip back. I found the manual online and noticed it was missing the support leg extensions and wheels. I grabbed a couple of 1.5″ posts from my scrap wood, hammered them in, and they fit perfectly.

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No more tipping over!

Last weekend I disassembled the first treadmill to salvage a bunch of parts, like the motor and speed controller. The support wheels were part of a framed piece, which I thought I could fit on to the treadmill I was keeping, so I saved them too.

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Today I cut a couple of spacer blocks, chopped the leg posts, drilled some holes, and voila! The bolts I used were also saved from the other treadmill. I love when a plan works out and especially when it involves upcycling parts.

I was a little worried the posts wouldn’t be able to handle the weight of the treadmill when propped up to wheel around, but it works great. I probably won’t move the treadmill around the garage often, but it’s nice that it’ll be easy to do with the wheels instead of having to pick it up or shuffle it across the floor.

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How many times will I use this treadmill in the next year though?

DIY Table Saw Cart

Following up on fixing my table saw crosscut sled, I decided it was time to build a new cart for the saw. The mobile base kit I used from Harbor Freight seemed like a good idea and worked ok in the beginning. Over time, the weight of the saw seemed to bend the base. With only two small swivel castors and the other two wheels being stationary, it became a real bitch to move around the shop, especially as I filled out the space with more tools.

I took a lot of inspiration from the Mobile Table Saw Cart by Woodworking for Mere Mortals. This is actually what pushed me to create the jig for the pocket hole jig, since I’d be using it a lot in this build.

The solid wood came from the cabinets I rebuilt, the plywood (except the one 3/4 piece) is from a truckload I got for free, the drawer is the same as the ones I upcycled for the sanding station, and I think I paid $10 for the casters at a garage sale.

Here are some planning measurements and sketches. Other than trying to keep the same height for my saw, the dimensions were based on the drawer.

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I took those and most of the plan from the mobile table saw cart I linked above to make a model in SketchUp. You can grab the plans off GitHub if you want them.

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Creating a model really helps me find measurement errors and think about the assembly order. The Cut List extension in SketchUp is a huge time saver too.

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Note that the cut list above isn’t the final one in case you want to make this. I made some modifications along the way. The Sketchup model should be pretty close to what I made though.

I really liked the assembly process for this build, which made it easy to square everything up. Makes a huge difference being able to move the saw around the shop better.

Of course I had to add one of the free Harbor Freight magnetic strips. Much better plate to store the tape measure and splitters than with magnets on the fence.

 

While I was at it, I attempted to seal up a bunch of gaps in the saw’s body with spray foam. What a mess! I also made covers for the front and back that’ll stay in place except when I need to make a bevel cut.

I ended painting them black to blend in. Hopefully these little things make a big difference with dust collection.

1994 Black & White TV

This five inch black and white TV from 1994 will make a fun upcycle project. I always wanted a portable TV when I was a kid, so I couldn’t pass this up for $6. A few ideas floating around my head are:

  • Portable retro gaming arcade
  • Monitor for security cameras
  • Picture box that rotates through images

Leave a comment if you have any ideas or have seen any neat projects using an old TV monitor.

Upcycle: Sanding Station

In the summer I snagged an old Craftsman workbench (model 706653800) for $30. I thought it would make a great sanding station for my workshop. Here is a before and after of just the table (near the end is a photo with my sanding machines attached). I’m really happy with how it turned out!

One of the first tasks was to make use of the right side. I started by cutting a couple of plywood panels and screwing them in.

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If you look back at the post where I took out a couple of walls to open up my workshop, you can see a unit with five drawers. When I dismantled it, I saved the drawers and slides. This was the perfect project to use a few.

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The drawers were too wide, deep, and tall, so I had to resize them in every dimension. Thankfully glue wasn’t used in the original assembly, so they were easy to break down.

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It felt like I measured and checked my calculations 10 times before cutting anything to size. I didn’t want to rush it and cut too much from any pieses, so I ook my time and the assembly went well. Putting the drawer slides in was tricky, but I made everything fit.

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I cut a plywood base and attached it to the frame. Then I screwed in some locking casters ($4/each at Harbor Freight). I drilled holes for the drawer handles before taking both sets of drawers out and removing all of the slides. After two coats of a glossy black on the body and base, I was finally able to move it to the basement and free up the space in my garage.

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I sanded the wood drawers, wire brushed the original drawers, and cleaned all of the drawer slides with Brakleen. The faces got two coats of glossy white and the handles were sprayed with metallic aluminum.

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I’m really glad I decided to paint everything. Having this and the lathe stand in more of a finished condition makes the shop feel much nicer. I might have to paint some of my previous shop projects.

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I gave the galvanized metal top a good scrubbing with a soft brush according to what I’d read and it was still in rough shape. So I used a wire brush and a wire wheel on a drill. It ate up the rust, but went through some of the galvanizing. I found a product made by Rust-oleum to resurface the metal that looked promising for less than $5.

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I did 3 good coats, screwed the metal back to the MDF, and attached it to the stand. Looked pretty sweet if you ask me!

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I gave the galvanizing a full week to cure. I’d read about people having mixed results with it scraping off.

My original plan was to make some kind of hinging platform for the larger belt/disc sander so I could flip it on the side to use the belt for edge sanding. It couldn’t come up with a layout to make it work though, especially making sure I still had access to all of the dust ports. This configuration should work just fine.

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From left to right:

  1. Craftsman 4×36″ belt and 6″ disc (Model 137.215360)
  2. Ryobi oscillating spindle (Model OSS500)
  3. Craftsman 1×30″ belt and 5″ disc (Model 137.215150)

I bought all three of these used and paid $25, $50, and $30. The smaller Craftsman sander was still sealed in its original box. If you buy the Harbor Freight versions of these three machines, the new prices are $70, $145, and $85 respectively or $56, $116, and $68 with 20% off coupons if you make separate trips to the store. I love buying used tools!

All of the power cords run along the back and then over to the right side where there is a power strip (free from Harbor Freight) and an extension cord ($9 at Harbor Freight) so I only have to deal with one plug.

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My shop feels infinitely more organized without the three sanding machines scattered across the floor. All that’s left now is to fill up the drawers with my hand sanders, sand paper, and accessories.

Reclaimed Wood

A few weeks ago I picked up this truckload of old wood someone was giving away.

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I pulled a lot of nails, cleaned up the wood, and cut it down to size. Turned out to be a nice stack, though I’m not sure what I’ll use it for yet. The right projects will speak to me at some point.

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DIY Custom Michigan Rummy Board

Our family always had fun playing our own version of Michigan Rummy (there is also a version called Tripoly) as kids. Then last year we played it almost every night on our family vacation, using a modified board. It gave me an idea to build a custom board for my Mom.

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As soon as I saw this case with two decks of cards at an estate sale several months ago I knew it would be neat for the board. I think I paid $1. The copyright date is 1947!

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I’ve been wanting to build something with pallet wood and thought it would give the board a neat look. You can get free pallets all over by looking on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

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With the help of my pallet buster and some brute force, I broke down the pallets.

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These containers with covers are from Menard’s, free after rebate. Another perfect piece for the project. I laid everything out to get a feel for the size.

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After taking measurements, I mocked up a 3D model of the board’s top layer in SketchUp. It would be about 24×16 inches.

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I also printed out the text using Arial Black for the letters/numbers and Futura for the suit symbols.

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I trimmed, planed, and jointed a bunch of boards.

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Then glued up panels that would make the top and bottom of the board.

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I measured and marked a bunch of lines and then placed everything where it would end up to get a better feel for the size and layout. I liked it.

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I finished drawing in more details and did a rough cut of the outer shape with my band saw.

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The scroll saw got heavy use cutting everything out. I also cleaned up the holes and edges with various sandering. You can see a couple of places where I started to carve in the text. It didn’t take long to scrap that plan though; it was going to take forever and some of the wood was really soft so I wasn’t happy with how it would turn out.

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I decided to use raised letters that I’d glue on. After doing a bunch of work, I realized this would be much better because the containers would be up above the board, so it would have been hard to see the recessed lettering.

I used the band saw to cut all of the letters. More sanding to clean them up and then some spray paint.

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I didn’t get any pictures of the next steps, which probably took the longest. I used a bunch of the cutoffs to build up an outer support ring as well as eight stacks in the middle to prevent something heavy from breaking the top or bottom panel. There was a lot of gluing, clamping, and band saw trimming. Finally I had enough layers and I was able to glue on the bottom panel.

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After the glue dried I did a lot of sanding on every surface. I had tied in a piece of bungie cord earlier that would hold the card case in place. Then I drilled shallow holes so I could glue in (with epoxy) rare Earth magnets to hold the containers in place. I used CA glue to attach all of the lettering.

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It was finally time for some finish. I used three coats of shellac (with light sanding after each coat) and a coat of wax polish. I spray painted the Michigan map on half of the containers and gave them two clear coats. The last thing was to stick some of those felt pad circles to the bottom and it was done. I really like how this turned out.

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The layering you can see from the sides is a neat look.

DIY Overhead Camera Rig v2

Last year I made an overhead camera rig and wasn’t in love with it. It was hard to adjust and unless I was doing a really close shot, the base of the rig was always in the video frame.

When I saw an old swing arm desk lamp at an estate sale I knew I could make something better. Here it is…

It was a very simple build…

Without the base, I’m already in love with how much extra space I have on the desk and how I can move the clamp all the way to the back of the desk with the arm against the wall.

The Draw of Estate Sales

Going to estate sales has quickly become a favorite weekend activity. It’s crazy to think someone’s entire life is on display for anyone to pick through. Some people were collectors, DIYers, or hoarders. Others had few possessions. Often, each room has some kind of theme and organization, which may have only made sense to the owner. I also wonder how many items were moved around by the people who set up the sale. So many thoughts run through my mind as I move through a house.

I enjoy finding deals on things I can restore, repurpose, or just catch my eye. Today I picked up a few things I’ll definitely use around the shop. The find of the day was a cool foot pedal. It’s old so the wire is crumbling and there isn’t a ground connection so I’ll rewire it with a new outlet and plug. I wonder if it’ll work with my bench grinder or scroll saw.

T-shirt Stool Cover

I picked this stool at an estate sale because it’s a good height for sitting at my work bench. The seat cover obviously needed an improvement, so I put an old t-shirt over the top.