Maker, Woodworking

The name’s Bed. Murphy Bed.

Remember that scene from Full House when Jesse gets trapped in a Murphy bed?  Well, I do, and I realized that if John Stamos ever visits my home, I wouldn’t have a Murphy bed for him to get stuck in, so I built one:

I used this hardware kit and set of plans from Rockler. The build process was pretty simple, so I didn’t take any pictures of it, but here’s a photo of John Stamos trapped in the bed after it closed on him while he was visiting my house.

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

I Turned One Desk into Two End Tables

I got this old desk for free. Once I got it home, I realized it was too big to fit anywhere in our house, so I left it under a tarp in my shop.

A year later, I was cleaning up my shop and found a giant desk under a tarp.  I decided to either get rid of it or cut it up and turn it into end tables, and my wife cast the tie-breaking vote for end tables.

I unscrewed the desktop and cut the base of the desk in half. Because there were only two legs on the rear of the desk, each end table needed a new leg on the back corner. I made the legs out of walnut:

Each leg has a quarter-inch mortise cut into two different sides to accept the panels from the back and side of the table.  They are also tapered, about 3/16″ over the bottom seven inches of each side of each leg (taper not yet cut in the picture above).

The bottom panel of the left section of the desk was in rough shape.

I replaced the rail in front by cutting a new one out of maple:

I also made a new tenon for the top stile out of red oak.

I cut up the desktop to fit each table, glued strips of red oak to the cut sides, and then sanded and restained them. I used a mix of Varethane’s Ebony and Kona stains (black and very dark brown), which worked especially well on the new legs, which match the color of the old legs almost exactly.  The oak didn’t stain match as well; I wish I had had some walnut long enough to make veneer out of, but I only had enough to make the legs.

The left section of the desk had a typewriter lift in it. It was neat, but we couldn’t find a reason to keep it.

I replaced it with just a static shelf cut out of the remaining portion of the desktop.  I can still re-attach the typewriter lift if we find a use for it.

Standard
Beekeeping, Life, Maker, Woodworking

I’ve Got Bees!

Previously, I posted about about having hives. Not content to stop there, I have filled the hives with bees!

I bought three nucs from the Oregon Bee Store and moved them into my hives on a dreary Saturday.

(After taking this picture, I added another five empty frames to fill the rest of the space.)

The nucs were positively buzzing. The bees had built some burr comb on the side of the box and had already started filling it with nectar.

The store was out of entrance feeders, so I built three myself, using this Instructable. I used scrap poplar and the same aluminum flashing that I used for the hive lids.

(I’m experimenting with the bucket and some floating hardware cloth for providing water to the hives.)

A week later, during my first hive inspection, the bees had started drawing comb on the new frames I had installed and were bringing lots of yellow and orange pollen back to the hive.  Check out those bees’ knees! I think they are the bees’ knees.

Standard
CNC, Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Custom Closet System

My daughter’s closet was just a 4′ x 5′ space with two hanging bars and a shelf, which was not an efficient use of the space. If I had taken a “before” picture of this project, you would be able to see that, but I didn’t take any pictures until I had ripped out the shelf and started installing the supports for the custom organization system, which you can see here:

I also didn’t take any pictures of the construction process, so you’ll have to trust me that it happened.

The finished system comprises seven separate cabinets: two sets of drawers, two corner units, and three shelving units with adjustable shelves.  Everything is made of melamine with edge banding, except for the drawer faces, which are poplar and plywood.

For the corner units, I made the shelves with a rounded inner edge, which I think is pretty snazzy.

If you think the empty closet looks good, you should see it full! And now you will!

The hanging rod on the right is adjustable, since it is attached to the bottom of the adjustable shelf.

This project took 58 hours of work over about three weeks (plus half an hour two months later to finally install the moulding).

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

Turning Billy Bookcase into William Bookcase

Years ago, when we were young and poor, my wife and I bought a Billy Bookcase from Ikea. It looked like this:

Now that we are sophisticated wealthy adults, we wanted — no, needed — something classier. So, I painted Billy, gave him a face frame, and added moulding to the top and bottom. I made the moulding myself using a roundover bit, a cove bit, and some strategic tablesaw cuts. I also replaced the waxed cardboard that was acting as the back of the bookshelf with some lauan plywood.

Standard
Christmas, CNC, Maker, Woodworking

Secret Santa 2018: Japan in Maple and Walnut

For my workplace Secret Santa gift exchange this Christmas (you know, the one that very recently took place), my recipient was a Japanese citizen who likes to hike, so I made him a 3-D topographic map of Japan out of maple and walnut.

The steps to build it were pretty simple, so I won’t caption all the photos, but basically, I glued up a walnut panel, carved Japan out of maple with my CNC router, and then magically conjoined them. Tada in Japanese!

 

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Bed That Is Also a Playhouse and a Slide and a Dresser and a Bookshelf

My five-year-old daughter saw my wife browsing Pinterest, and long story short, I ended up building this bed/playhouse/slide/dresser/bookcase for her room:

I planned it out in SketchUp. It’s an original design inspired by a number of beds online, and the slide is based on The Wood Whisperer’s bunk bed slide. (My SketchUp file is available here.)

The stairs have built-in drawers, so they double as a dresser.

The bottom three drawers don’t run the full depth of the stairs, so there’s space at the back for books and baskets.

There’s another bookshelf built into the space underneath the slide. One side is accessible from inside the playhouse…

…and the other side is accessible from under the slide.

The slide is made of melamine, the structural portion of the bed is poplar, and most everything else is MDF.  The cedar shingles were left over from my Infinity Wishing Well project.

From start to finish (although not including the time to design it), this project took 107 hours over two months — well worth it, considering my daughter will spend at least 3,000 hours using it every year.

Standard
CNC, Maker, Programming, Woodworking, X-Carve

Generating and Cutting Halftone Images on the X-Carve

Halftone is an app I’ve written for making halftone-style carves with Inventables’s Easel CNC design platform. A halftone image uses different sized dots to represent light and dark areas.

Upload an image, and Halftone will convert it to a grid of holes with each hole sized to reflect the brightness of the image at that point. Darker areas are represented by wider holes; if you’re going to backlight your carve, you can invert it and have lighter areas use wider holes.

Continue reading

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

I Made a Stand for a Daily Photo Calendar

We bought a photo-a-day calendar for 2019, but because it didn’t come with any sort of stand, it was in danger of getting broken apart prematurely.  I made this stand for it that doubles as storage for the used pages so they can be used as a notepad.

Underneath the calendar, there’s a slot where old pages can be inserted or removed. (The wooden divider between the calendar and the old pages is not attached to anything; it just floats up or down depending on how many pages are underneath it.)

I made this stand out of an interesting block of wood that was given to me by a friend. I don’t know what type of wood it was, but its coloring is pretty similar to red oak. For scale, the calendar is about 3″ square, and the sides of the stand are 1/8″ thick.

Standard
Christmas, Life

Our 2018 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas to all of our friends, family, and unindicted co-conspirators,

Why does every Christmas letter have to be about gazing back upon the stale agèd past instead of looking forward to the glorious future? You don’t need to know what we did last January; that was 11 months ago! OLD NEWS! The fact that Gabriel took first place in his Awana Pinewood Derby is so bygone that we should say exactly that to it. “Bye! Gone!” Turn around and face the future: Gabriel is preparing not only for this year’s race, but NEXT year’s race, and is hoping — nay, planning — to be a three-time champion. Now THAT’s what I call Looking Forward to the Glorious Future!

Grayson is not content to live in the past either. (You don’t remember Grayson? Are you still living in a 2017 Christmas Letter-era when he was named Henry and hadn’t been born yet? Get with it!) For most of 2018, all he knew how to do was lay on the ground and roll around a little. However, he abandoned ALL of that — everything he knew from the past! — in favor of crawling, which is the locomotive method of the FUTURE. Grayson is a forward thinker, just like his dear old dad.

Speaking of old, I’m going to be it… in the future!

Christina and I are hoping to go back to Mexico again soon. “Back?” you say? “But whenever did you already GO to Mexico??” In the past! I don’t want to talk about it! We had a great time! We went with our friends! It’s a beautiful country full of wonderful people!

Next year, Christina will be the treasurer for our local foster parents association. I told her that I felt like I found treasure-r when I met her, but she said, “Christopher, that’s the kind of rearward-looking yesteryear-talk that we’re trying to eliminate. It’s also a terrible pun.”  And doggonit if she wasn’t right!

For the rest of their lives, our kids will be able to say that they got to go to LegoLand and Disneyland. I don’t want to write too much about how or when it happened for fear of contradicting the entire theme of this letter, but let’s just put it this way: last month (in the past), we fulfilled my life-long dream of driving four kids ten hours to spend three days at theme parks. But that’s all I’m going to say; you’ll have to connect the dots yourself!

Gideon, under Gabriel’s tutelage, is already deciding which career path he is going to follow after high school: professional football player (multi-million-dollar kicking position contracts only) or high-stakes poker player. His plan is to win big in his first year of either sport, retire immediately, and let us mooch off of him for the rest of our lives. Sounds good to me!

Gloria is looking forward to being the youngest person in our family to graduate from kindergarten, ever! At just five years, nine months, and seven days, she’ll be younger than every single one of her ancestors was at the time that they finished kindergarten. Oh sorry, I have to answer the phone — it’s the Guiness Book of World Records calling!

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: regardless of how much time you spent watching Japanese chefs make omelets on YouTube this year, don’t let that control your future.  You can watch as little or as much Japanese omelet footage as you want in 2019!

Forever forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom,

Chris, Christina, Gabriel, Gideon, Gloria, and Grayson Henry Finke

Standard
Clockback, PHP, Programming, Web Applications

Run Your Own Open-Source Timehop

I like the idea of Timehop: seeing all of the photos I took on this day in years past. I don’t like the idea of sharing all of my photos with a third party, so I built an open-source replacement for Timehop that runs on my own computer and server; it’s called Clockback.

Clockback is two things:

  • a BASH script that uploads all of the photos I took this week in previous years
  • a single-page web app that displays the photos from this day:

To use Clockback, you only need two things:

  1. Your photos organized so that their filename begins with the date on which they were taken, e.g. “1969-07-20 – Moon landing.jpg”. (I use iPhoto Disc Export to do this.)
  2. A Web server to upload them to.

As long as you can run the script included in Clockback once per week from your computer, the Clockback webpage will have photos to show, and it will remove old photos, so it doesn’t use a lot of disk space.

To get the code and all of the details on how to run Clockback, check out the README in the GitHub repo.

Standard
3D Printing, Maker, Woodworking

Shaker-Style Jewelry Cabinet

I built this Shaker-style jewelry cabinet for my wife. You’ll never guess what’s inside…

The cabinet box itself is only 1 3/4″ deep. These are the four sides; the top is shorter because it won’t be mitered, since the top of this box will be hidden in the final product.

I cut a rabbet into the back of the sides so that they could accept a quarter-inch piece of plywood for the back of the cabinet.

I love my 90º clamps.

I would love to have more clamps too.

Here’s the main box after being glued up.

I added this half-inch pine board so the hooks (for hanging necklaces) would have something to screw into and to keep the hanging jewelry away from the back of the cabinet.

I painted the interior of the box at this point because it would be very hard to reach with a brush or sprayer after installing the face frame.

I’m not sure why I didn’t install the top board before doing these coats of paint, but I guess I did it at this point.

Here’s the assembled face frame, made of 3/4″ poplar.

I don’t normally fill any of my pocket holes, but I had four plugs that came with my Kreg jig forever ago, and these holes might have been accessible to dust and lint inside the cabinet if I left them open.

I glued and nailed on the face frame and then filled the nail holes:

I then gave it another three coats of white semi-gloss.

I installed the hooks in two rows, with each hook an inch from its neighbor.

And I hung it up in the bathroom while I worked on the door.

The door was built using cope and stick joinery. These are the four sides; I cut the groove and tenons with a dado stack on my table saw. The groove is a half-inch deep and a quarter inch wide, and the tenons are sized to fit perfectly in the groove.

This is how they go together. Pretend that I also took a photo of the door after inserting the plywood panel and gluing it all up and painting it, because I forgot to do that.

This is a jig I 3D printed to help install the hinges. You drill a hole in the hole, and then the hinge fits in there.

I added a handle to the door, and boom: a door with a handle.

See how easily the jewelry hangs from the hooks?

We decided that the cabinet could use a second row of hooks about halfway down, so I made a second row of hooks about halfway down.

Tada!

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

I’ve Been Framed!

In a picture frame, that is! I made this 30″x20″ frame for my wife, who wanted one for our wedding picture in the same style as this smaller frame she found:

The new frame is constructed of 3/4″ Baltic birch plywood. I started by making the sides (each 3″ wide) and cutting a rabbet into the back of each to accept the glass, photo, and backer board, and then I mitered the ends and glued them together into a basic rectangular frame. (There are no photos of this process, so you will have to believe me. You MUST believe me.)

Then I drew the scalloped shape, cut it out with a bandsaw, cut a cove into the edge, and stained it with Varethane’s Kona stain.

This is so the stain can show through on the edges, which I will weather after painting. Speaking of painting:

I gave the frame three coats of semi-gloss white and then roughed up the edges to match the frame it was modeled after:

I used window glazing points to secure the backer board.

And then I hung it on a wall. The end!

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Kitchen Cabinet to Replace Our Pantry

Come along with me on a journey; a journey of craftsmanship, cabinets, and canned goods. Observe as I detail the steps I took to build this new cabinet in our kitchen so that we could move all of our food out of the cramped pantry and into the light where it belongs (the light where it belongs).

It all started with a SketchUp drawing:

My wife and I designed this cabinet to take up an entire wall in our kitchen that had previously only been home to a smaller more decorative cabinet that was more suited for display:

A very nice cabinet to be sure, but it was not meeting our needs. The room directly behind the wall the cabinet is on is our pantry, although it also holds the water heater and furnace air handler, so it is awkward to get in and out of. Once the new cabinet is built, we’ll move all of the food into it and use the old pantry for storage that won’t need to be accessed so frequently.

I started by building the box for the drawers. Plywood and pocket holes, nothing unusual here.

The corner cabinets are triangular in order to match the layout of the kitchen; I made them separate from the drawer box so that I’d be able to carry it into the house myself.

The intersection between the corner cabinets and the center drawer box is a 135º angle, so I glued up these pieces for the face frame so it could all be one piece to avoid having seams in the finished piece where the different cabinet boxes meet.

This worked better than I expected it to:

Here you can see the full face frame before I painted it.

I used full extension ball-bearing slides for all the drawers.  They’re installed on spacers so that they will clear the edges of the face frame.

Each drawer is just a box held together with lock rabbet joints and a piece of quarter-inch plywood fit into a groove in the bottom.  I’m glad I bought a strap clamp for this, although I should have bought more of them so I could glue up more than one drawer at a time.

At this point, all of the drawer boxes are built and installed and are ready for their fronts.

I cut all of the rails and stiles for the drawer faces and cabinet doors at the same time (sixty-eight pieces). They are all 2 1/4″ wide. (Ripping these pieces from larger S3S boards I bought from a lumberyard allowed me to both get the custom size I wanted and saved me about 65% of what I would have paid to buy poplar 1x3s from a big box store.)

I used cope and stick joinery for all of the drawer faces and doors. Here they are all dry-fit before I cut the panels…

…and after being glued together with the panels, which are made of quarter-inch plywood.

I moved the three base cabinets into the house.  By this point, I had also painted the insides of the corner cabinets and drilled holes for adjustable shelving. You can also see an outlet that I would later extend into the corner cabinet.

I painted the face frame and all of the drawers before installing them in the house. And it only took forever!  I should have used melamine for the drawer boxes; it would have cut way down on painting time, and I would have gotten a better finish.

The base cabinet has an oak countertop to match our kitchen table, garbage cabinet, and shoe cabinet. I made this the usual way.

Time to install the lower cabinet doors!

Oops. It isn’t very useful to have a handle six inches from the ground.  I used a very strong magnet and dragged it up to the top of the door.

The upper section of the cabinet is made up of four parts: two corner cabinets, a lower shelving unit, and an upper display cabinet.

The face frame for the upper section was constructed in the same manner as the lower cabinet frame.

After painting and drilling more adjustable shelving holes, I learned how important it is to leave yourself an inch or two of wiggle room. I had designed this cabinet to come within half an inch of the ceiling, but when I began installing it, I found that our ceiling is 3/4″ closer to the floor on one end of the room than it is on the end that I measured on.

Luckily, I was able to make some adjustments and just barely get everything to fit.

I had originally been painting everything in my 8′ x 8′ spray booth, but with so many drawers and shelves to spray, I masked off the front of my shop instead.  I used semi-gloss paint and did all of the painting with an HVLP sprayer. By the time I finished this project, I was consistently getting a really nice smooth finish.

The corner cabinet shelves are amputated triangles.

Haha, look at all those triangles.

The very top section of the cabinet is meant to have glass-front doors so we can display some of our very fancy things. This necessitated a different door construction so that I could easily paint the door before inserting the glass. I went with mitered half lap joints, my first time trying them.

I installed the glass doors, and the cabinet was almost done. (There are a lot of 3/4 views of this cabinet because the kitchen light fixture prevents me from taking a full shot from the front.)

 

After a week-long wait for my moulding order to come in, I added 3 1/2″ baseboard moulding and a 3/4″ cove moulding around the top.

Show ’em what you got, cabinet!

Standard
Maker, Woodworking

I’ve Been Busy in the Bathroom Again

Not content to live in a house with only one barn-style sliding door, I’ve built another over-toilet cabinet

I made a few changes since the last time I made one of these:

  • I made the rail out of poplar instead of pine, as the pine rail on the old cabinet is beginning to splinter a little where it contacts the wheels.
  • I shaped the top of the rail to match the profile of the inside of the wheels instead of planing the entire board to be thin enough to fit inside the tapered openings in the wheels.
  • I finished the door with tinted wax to get a graywashed look that matches our master bath.
  • Instead of using pocket holes to build the cabinet box, I glued the shelves into dadoes in the sides.
  • I hung it using a French cleat instead of using a ledger board.
  • I cut the spacers behind the rail out of wood instead of printing them on my 3D printer, mainly to save time.
  • I glued stops onto the back of the rail instead of printing endcaps.

Stay tuned for more updates on my bathroom activities!

Standard