Google Chrome, iOS, Mozilla Firefox, Programming, Reenact, Safari

Reenact is back on iOS, baby!

Five years ago, I wrote an iOS/Android/Firefox OS app called Reenact that helped you reenact photos.

Four years ago, I abandoned the apps in favor of a web app that only worked in Chrome and Firefox.

Today (zero years ago), I’m happy to announce that the web-based version of Reenact works in all major browsers on all major platforms, now that Safari on iOS supports camera sharing.

The web app can be pinned to the iOS home screen and works as well as a native app would. It doesn’t require Internet connectivity either; all of the image manipulation is done on the client side, and none of your photos are uploaded to anyone’s server.

Go ahead, give it a try!


She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy Now That It Has a Fresh Coat of Paint

I repainted a toy pedal tractor that we bought off of Facebook Marketplace to give to my son for Christmas. Actually, I repainted a toy pedal tractor TWICE because the cherry red spray paint that I used the first time never dried, so I had to scrub it off with mineral spirits and sand the body of the tractor back down to bare metal before using apple red spray paint the second time around.

To add insult to injury: just as I was finishing up, I tried to spray a little black paint onto the bolt I was about to use to attach the seat, and the top of the spray paint can exploded, sending dots of black paint all over the freshly painted rear wheel. I did the only thing I could do: had an aneurysm and then photoshopped the before-and-after pictures to remove the black speckles (jk LOL!).

Looking at these photos, I see that I also fixed the orientation of the front wheel.

The tractor itself is a AGCO Allis 9815 that was made by Scale Model Toys in Dyersville, Iowa some time in mid-90s, according to my Googling.

Here are some behind-the-scenes shots:

Maker, Woodworking

I made some picture frames (banana for scale)

I made some picture frames for my sister to put her daughters’ school photos in. I’ve included some bananas for scale.

The frames are walnut with red oak inlay and a chamfer around the inside edge. The inlay strips were added after the frames were assembled.

I finished them with a couple coats of clear spray enamel and knocked it down with steel wool in between coats.

The contents are held in with some large plastic washers. I didn’t include a sawtooth hanger on the back because I hang 99% of all of my photos with 3M velcro strips, and any hardware on the back of the frame usually gets in the way.

Christmas, CNC, Maker, Woodworking, X-Carve

COVID Christmas Ornaments

Inspired by a picture my wife sent me of almost this exact same thing, I made some COVID-themed Christmas ornaments for the family members I won’t be seeing at Christmas this year.

You can make your own too, if you have an X-Carve; the Easel project is right here.

CNC, Woodworking, X-Carve

How to use your router to install your router lift for your other router

I bought a JessEm Rout-R-Lift II router lift for my shop. It needs to be recessed into a workbench, but it doesn’t come with a template for cutting an appropriately sized hole. You can buy an MDF template for $27, or you can do as a I did, and make your CNC router carve the hole for you.

I created a project for Easel, the CNC design software used by Inventables’ X-Carve CNC router, that will carve the opening for you. It leaves a ledge for the leveling screws and tabs for the mounting bolts. Here’s what the resulting carve looks like mounted in the wing of my table saw:

I drilled the holes for the mounting bolts afterwards and added threaded inserts.

The router lift fits perfectly in the opening. On my test carve (using a 1/8″ straight cut bit), it was snug on all sides, but I switched to a 1/4″ bit to speed up the final cut, and it left about a millimeter of play in both directions. The snugging bolts take care of that though, so I’m very happy with the fit.

That said, absolutely do a test cut before trying this on any material that you care about.

Inventables Easel Project: JessEm Rout-R-Lift II Template

3D Printing, Maker

Today’s Functional Print: Adjustable Shelving Leg Inserts

In today’s adjustable shelving news, I’ve printed an insert to join two vertical sections of a boltless adustable shelving unit.

The part looks like this, pictured next to an original:

To make it easier to print, I split it into halves and nested the parts, printing four full inserts at a time:

The shelving unit it gets installed into looks something lie this:


The piece gets installed between the vertical sections of the shelving unit, keeping them aligned:

I couldn’t find the brand name of these exact shelves, but it’s similar to this Hirsh model, and I’m pretty sure it came from Costco.

The SketchUp files (full, printable) and STLs (full, printable) are available in my 3D prints GitHub repo.

Apple, JavaScript, PHP, Programming, Software

Turn your Mac OS Photos library into a Web photo album

Six years ago, I released iPhoto Disc Export, a tool for exporting an iPhoto library as a standalone website. Now that iPhoto is no longer supported on the newest versions of Mac OS, I was force to update the software to work with Photos. Enter Photos Disc Export.

Photos Disc Export is a a PHP script that exports a Mac OS Photos library into folders of image files (one folder per day) and builds a minimalist JavaScript-powered website that provides a simple photo viewing experience. The website can be put online, or it can be run entirely offline (like from a burned DVD). The code is all open source and the usage instructions are in the README.

Here’s a screenshot of the main page of the website it generates:


And here’s an example of a single photo’s page:

I know it’s a pretty niche project, but hopefully it will come in handy for anyone looking to make their Photos library more shareable and accessible.

Photos Disc Export

Maker, Woodworking

Box with a Vengeance

My son needed to bring a box to school earlier this year for holding valentines, and he asked if I would make him one, so I made him one.  It’s walnut with a maple inlay, and it has a slot in front so that valentines can be put in without opening it.

This was my first time trying a wipe-on polyurethane, and I have to say that after putting on four coats and barely getting the same effect as a single coat of brush-on poly, I’m not impressed.

See also Box, the Sequel, and My First Time Boxing.

David Tewes, Publicity

TPT (Twin Cities Public Television, also known locally as channel 2) did a story on David Tewes and his museum exhibit, which grew out of the website that I created in 2017.

Amateur photographer David Tewes captured scenes in Minnesota and out west after World War II until 1955. About 800 Kodachrome slides were found by a distant relative, who uploaded the images to a website in Tewes’ honor. The images were found by Minnesota Marine Art Museum curators in Winona, Minn., and they decided to show the work.

“Distant Relative: The Chris Finke Story.”

Minnesota, Publicity

This happened last summer, but I forgot to mention it: Minnesota Public Radio ran a story about my research from 2013 on which state has the most shoreline.

“Chris Finke is a software programmer who is originally from Minnesota. He remembered watching an advertisement in 2013 from “Explore Minnesota” that claims there’s “More to explore in Minnesota,” including more shoreline than California. […] Finke decided to use an open-source mapping resource called OpenStreetMap and write a program to calculate the total shoreline for each state.”

It just goes to show you that genius is not understood in its own time, nor until it moves out of state.

David Tewes, Minnesota

A website I made is now a museum exhibit

A photo of the New England Furniture Company building in downtown Minneapolis in 1950 by David Tewes Three years ago, I wrote about how I found old Kodachrome slides in my father-in-law’s attic, scanned them, and put them online at  In an unexpected turn of events, photos from that website are now on display at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

Jon Swanson, the curator of collections and exhibits at the museum, reached out to me early last year. He serendipitously came across the site and felt that David had taken a number of photographs that fit in with the museum’s mission of exhibiting art inspired by water. I sent him the slides, and after what I’m sure was a significant amount of work on his and the museum staff’s part, the exhibit launched on January 10: Shutterbug: The Mid-Century Photography of David Tewes.

Minnesota Public Radio covered the news:

“Dave Casey, assistant curator of education and exhibitions at the museum, said the images carry both artistic and historic value that merit an exhibition. In addition to documenting that era, they also serve as a lesson of what photography was like and how it was experienced in the 1940s and 1950s. And Tewes’ unique eye and experimentation created visually interesting work.”

Their story generated almost 15,000 pageviews on and surprised my sister-in-law’s husband when he heard my voice on the radio on his way to work.

KSTP, the Minneapolis/St. Paul ABC affiliate, did a segment about David and his photos as well on the evening news:

If you’re in or near Winona, Minnesota (yes, the same Winona from the Super Bowl commercial), the exhibit of David’s photographs runs through May 3.

Maker, Woodworking

Whoever named the fireplace, good job

This was the fireplace in our living room.

It never worked properly since we moved in, since the previous owners didn’t use it once in twenty years. Fixing it would have cost as much as replacing it, and in order to replace it, we would have had to tear out the surround, and in order to tear out the surround, we would have had have to remove the bookshelves… Long story short:

We planned on replacing it all with a setup that looked like this:

We hired a professional to install the new fireplace and run a new vent line, but I did the rest myself.

We bumped the fireplace out into the room so that it would be more of a focal point, and we replaced the side bookshelves with different shelves on the top and a drawer/cabinet combo on the top.

The panels next to the fireplace open up to reveal storage with adjustable shelves — a good spot for video game consoles.

The panel above the fireplace opens up to allow access to the area above and behind the fireplace, just for good measure.

Because the fireplace was no longer embedded in the wall, it opened up a space between the living room and the utility closet behind it, so I built a shelving unit to use that space.


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.

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.

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 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.

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).