Projects Update: It’s been crazy

CrazyWell, it’s been a rather crazy and chaotic few weeks.

First, I want to say thank you to everyone that has visited my blog.  I don’t make money from this.  I do it to share the knowledge that I accumulate.  For the 2012 calendar year, I had a total of 333 hits… for the entire year!  I must say that wasn’t really trying for an audience.  Rather, I started blogging just to document some things that I wanted maintain in a way that I could share with others.  However, in 2013, I actually gathered somewhat of a following and logged over 6000 hits, the lion share of those came after August.  It is humbling and an honor to have not only so many visitors but regulars that come back and reference my posts.  Thank you.

Now, I want to quickly let you know what I am working on and some of the projects I will be documenting in the near future.

  • Beaglebone Black Santa-CAM (after-magic report) – I had some issues with this but things worked out in the end
  • Beaglebone Black Santa-CAM upgrade – adding motion detection on it so it will fire when there’s something happening
  • Hand-made Wood Bench Plane – I will be finishing that up soon
  • Bunk Bed Underbed Storage (IKEA Kura bunk bed hack)
  • SteamOS beta Virtual Machine Install (on Oracle Virtual Box – this is going to be a hoot!)

So, check back often because the updates will be coming fast and furious!


Workbench-Nearing Completion

03534 ATonight, I made a push to finish the workbench but things happen and I wasn’t able to put the bow on it.  However, I did get a lot done.

We left off with the untrimmed legs laying on the workbench surface waiting to be mated to the tabletop.  I began by assigning each leg to a corner then marking of the center of where the leg would be from the outside rail of the frame.  The plan was to secure the leg to the table top with a hex bolt. I didn’t get very far when I was interrupted and had to assume other duties.  While otherwise occupied (probably doing the dishes or folding laundry… some household chore), I started thinking about stability.  If I only use one hex bolt, over time, that will become an axle for the legs to pivot on.  Not good.  I rushed to my nearest big box hardware

Where we left off

Where we left off

store and picked up four more hex bolts, eight lock-washers, and 8 locking nuts.

The next day I measured out (from my center marks) the center for each bolt.  Once satisfied, I used my 1/2″ auger bit to drill out the holes.  I had a little trouble with this in that my 7.2V DeWalt and 12V Ryobi cordless drills didn’t have enough juice to get the job done.  I was afraid that they just didn’t have the muscle.  I did as much as I could then when the batteries gave up the ghost, I switch to cutting the legs to size.  Since I want the bench to be 36″ tall, I cut the legs to 34 1/2″ (tabletop is 1 1/2″ thick”).  This is cake using a miter/chop saw.  But it’s 11:30PM and I have children sleeping so this would have invoked an ass-beating of epic scale.  Since I want my wife’s encouragement and support, I opted for the hand saw.

wb-06-outside-leg-attachmentI really haven’t used a handsaw where it counts.  I’ve used them in the past to cut stuff up but not with the level of precision that I “needed” from the miter saw.  I found out, like with everything, practice is important.  My cuts on the leg are not square and just off.  Since its on the end grain, the plane doesn’t want any part in that.  I will need to use my palm sander to get this fixed.  Learning is living, aye?

The next day, I had fully charged batteries and a new attitude.  This bench was going down (or up?)!  I finished up drilling the holes into the rails (Yay! The drills still have some life left) and then marked each leg’s bolt hole location and then drilled all the legs separately.  I thought this was going to give me trouble because I can measure twice or a hundred times and still jack up a simple hole.  Well, I can tell you that I did NOT this time.  However, there were some minor variations in the alignment.  I think this is good since it helped lock in the legs once the bolts were fastened.

Now that the legs are drilled, I began by attaching the bolt closest to the tabletop firstwb-05-ahh-nuts then moving the the upper (lower? … the table is upside down at this point) bolt.  The first bolt is much easier then the second and I discovered how far my drill holes were off.  I didn’t have to alter any holes but I did have to use my BF Hammer to get some of them in.  Once I locked the first leg down, I pushed and pulled on it to see how stable it really was… <insert evil laugh>  It was gloriously solid and whatever stability issues I might have, it won’t be due to wobbly leg joints.

wb-08-wiggle-testI proceeded to attached the other three  legs and then went around and gave each bolt a final snugging up.  I still have to install the braces on the legs but I wanted to see the workbench on it’s feet.  I flipped it over and set it up (this was not the easiest one-man job).  I was surprised at how high it was.  Yup.  36″ is pretty high.  I also needed to see if it was going to be stable.  Meh!  This workbench design has a basic flaw in that it is long, narrow and tall.  If I chopped 10 inches off the legs, that would probably help but that means it’s back to the crinkle-back, all hunched over my work.  I want it this height.  The other thought would be that I could add one or two more 2x10s and widen it.  I think this would allow me to keep the height and give me more stability.  Space is limited so I am going to stick with this design for now and try the leg braces.  I can do my planing on the ends of the table which will prevent the tippiness.  Since I attached the legs to the long rails of the frame, I can simply pull out the short rails and put in longer ones.  I will have to do some serious disassembly but it’s something I could finish in an afternoon.  Something to consider.

wb-10-workbench-functionalSo, I threw my shooting board on the bench and started planing a scrap piece of wood.  I definitely need to work from the ends when doing planing or chisling (where permitted).  It’s a little wobbly but I still haven’t attached the braces or flattened out the feet.  I am planning to surface the feet with bicycle tire tread (I saw this done while making a dog sled on “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel).  Once flat, the tread should give a solid non-slip surface to keep the bench from sliding.  I don’t want to permanently mount the workbench to the floor.

Tomorrow night, I plan to add the leg braces then flatten and surface the feet.  If I have time, I will start planing the surface and get the MDF for top.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I had to make some alterations to the dimensions.  Here is the cut list.  Keep in mind the following:

  • 2×10 = 1 1/2″ x 9
  • 2×4   = 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
  • 1×4   = 3/4″ x 3 1/2″

Cut list:

  • (3) 2x10x54 (table top)
  • (2) 2x4x50 (long rails)
  • (3) 2x4x20 3/4″ (short rails and center brace)
  • (8) 2x4x34 1/2″ (legs 2 laminated together to make a 3×3 1/2 post)
  • (1) 1x4x51 1/2″ (long leg brace)
  • (2) 1x4x20 3/4″ (short leg brace)

I have also listed below, the hardware and tools I used:

  • (8) 1/2″ x 6″ Hex Bolts
  • (8) Disk Washers
  • (8) Lock Washers
  • (8) Lock Nuts
  • 1/2″ Wrench
  • 1/2″ Socket and Ratchet Wrench (long is leverage)
  • 1/2″ Auger bit
  • Tons of screws (I forget the specs… I’ll come back to those)
  • Countersink bit
  • Powerful Drill (or in my case…)
    • (2) Weak-ass Drills
  • BF Hammer
  • Swanson 12″ Combo Carpenter’s Square (these are da BOMB!)
  • Tape Measure
  • Titebond Glue
  • Sandpaper (60 and 120 grit)
  • Sharpened Pencil
  • Plenty of Diet Coke
  • Plenty of Sam Adams (for after the job)

Here is the gallery of images taken since my last post.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Workbench – My Continued Adventures in Woodworking

This weekend, while cleaning out the garage, I decided that I needed a new workbench.  For the past two years, I have been working off a banquet table that up until now has been adequate.  Some of the issues that I have with the banquet table is that it’s pretty damn wobbly. When I am planing or scraping or sawing, I must first clear everything off the table or my violent actions will take care of that in a negative way.  I crippled my twenty pound tool box as it went crashing to the floor.  Oops…  Also, the table is too low.  At a height of 29″, I find myself stooping over my work and ending my day with a crinkled back (yeah, I said ‘crinkled.’  It’s a medical term… look it up).  The one nice thing about the table is that when I need extra space, I can find a home for all my stuff and just fold it up and put it away.  However, that’s a compelling reason to not make the upgrade (and probably a contributing attribute to the instability of the table for the task of woodworking).

So, I set out to build something that was easy and cheap.  I am not the master woodworker.  I need a functional, sturdy workbench that is big enough to accommodate my guitar, electronic, and other handyman duties.  To the Depot!

My plan was simple.  Make the bench dimensions the same as the table approximately 28″ x 50″.  I needed only to raise the work surface to about 36″ which seems to be a height that works both sitting and standing.  I plan to use 2x4s for the structure and 2x8s for the work surface.  I don’t really have the tools to mill lumber, but I’m not too concerned with that.  The 2x10s will have the divots between the timbers but I’m fine with that too.  I plan to top the bench with 1/4″ MDF.  It’s strong enough to give me a nice, flat surface and easy to replace when I drop a piano on it.

Here’s roughly the dimensions of the parts (I was kind of winging it):

8, 36″ 2x4s for the legs – Cut to 34″ after laminating
2, 50″ 2x4s for the long sides of the table top – cut to 50 inc
2, 23″ 2x4s for the short sides – the actual width of the 2×10 is 9 & 1/16″ wide
3, 54″ 2x10s for the top


  • Add MDF top to surface
  • Shelf under bench
  • locking wheels so everything can move around

I planned to have a 2″ lip on the tabletop so the bench frame is is 4″ shorter than the top.

I started off with cutting the 2x4s on the miter saw.  This took about 10 minutes after measuring off 36″ from my 4, 96″ 2x4s. Next, I cut the two 50″ inch frame lengths and finished off with the frame widths.  The widths, I cut long in case I had bad math in my wingy dingy plan.

Next, I pulled out the 8 leg halves and began laminating them.  I matched the best looking faces for the exterior (like it matters with this project) and applied ample amounts of Titebond to both surfaces, then clamped them and let them sit for 24 hours.  Rinse and repeat 3x.

So, this is where I’m at right now.  I’ll post more pictures as I start getting this together.

Local Electronics Surplus for the Win

Orange DropsI posted a couple of days ago about my newest project, the noisy cricket.  Well, I started sourcing the parts at Radio Shack, but I honestly didn’t feel much love there.  You see, Radio Shack really wants to be the cell phone shack and their stock of electronics components pales to what they used to carry.  So, I paid more than sourcing from but I found a couple of things I needed to get started.

Yesterday, I made my way over to my local electronic s component surplus store, Skycraft, and had a field day.  If you’re a builder/maker, these kinds of stores are perfect for you.  I was able to find most of my missing parts but I came across this.  First, I noticed that sells Sprague Orange Drop capacitors for $2.99.  I know lots of guys that like these caps and would gladly pay that or more for them.  Skycraft had a bucket of them for $.50.  Guess what I’m doing tonight?

Dont get me wrong, I love Stewmac and Radio Shack has pulled my bum out of the fire a few times but neither Stewmac nor Radio Shack are geared up to source electronic components.  I did a comparison to what I spent at the shack and the equivalent with  Mouser was easily half the cost, had a better selection, and aside from one part (2N5951 FET), had everything I needed.

I think I need to head back to the shack to do some returns.