3D Printing, Maker, Woodworking

Look at what I did in the bathroom!

My wife requested a cabinet to hang above the toilet in our downstairs bathroom, and she sent me a link to this Shanty 2 Chic design as an example of what she wanted. Usually, I would draw up my own plans, customizing them based on the materials I have and the space I’m filling. This time, I decided to just follow the S2C plans exactly since the size was just right for our bathroom.

I don’t have a lot of build pictures, but apart from using half-inch plywood for the carcass instead of 1x dimensional lumber, my build looked the same as the Shanty 2 Chic tutorial.

All of the non-plywood wood is 3/4″ pine.

Instead of buying the same custom hardware kit that Shanty 2 Chic used ($125), I bought this set of barn door rollers on Amazon for $28.

The rollers didn’t come with a rail to roll on, so I made my own by resawing a 1×2 down to a little less than 3/8″ wide and painting it with an oil-rubbed bronze paint that matched the rollers’ finish pretty closely.

The door is five 1x4s joined together with biscuits and glue. The stain is Varethane’s Kona, and the paint is Glidden’s Creamy, the same scheme as our kitchen table and garbage cabinet.

To prevent the rollers from slipping off the end of the rail, I 3D-printed some endcaps for the rail:

You can also see one of the spacers I printed to hold the rail away from the cabinet since the roller needs about an inch of clearance from the face of the cabinet. The spacers were just cubes with a void for the bolt to pass through.

I could have cut them out of wood, but it was handy to be able to print the exact right size without any fuss.

After taking the bathroom door off so I could get the cabinet inside, I hung it above the toilet with care, in hopes that extra toilet paper rolls soon would be there.

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Backyard Chickens, Maker, Woodworking

There ain’t nobody here but us chicken coops

My wife texted me this about six weeks ago. She had ended up in a farm supply store with her mom and our kids, and they had baby chicks for sale:

We ended up skipping the duck, but six weeks later, we have two six chickens and a very sturdy coop.

I began buying coop materials as soon as the chicks came home, but I only really started building in earnest when they first escaped their cardboard brooder in the laundry room.

I bought plans for a 6’x10′ coop from The Garden Coop.  At their request, I’m not including any in-progress construction shots, but I will say that the $30 for the plans was money well-spent. The hardware kit they sell was also worth the money, if only to avoid a couple dozen trips to Home Depot.

The six chicks are now pullets — three Bantams and three Gold Sex Links. (Gold Sex Links? I think I saw that advertised in a spam email once.) We moved them into the coop full-time once they reached six weeks, and they seem very happy. Chickens lack the ability to smile or otherwise describe their feelings, so their happiness is a subjective judgment on my part.

They won’t start laying eggs for another few months, at which point we can begin the long journey towards breaking even against the tens of dollars we would have spent each month on grocery store eggs.

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CNC, Maker, Woodworking

Artisanal CNC-Carved Growth Chart

My kids have been requesting a growth chart, so I made one with my X-Carve. I used red oak left over from when I built our dining room table.

It took three separate carves to get all six feet of numbers and inch delimiters carved since the X-Carve’s workable area is only about 30 inches long. The trickiest part was ensuring that the board was positioned exactly right for each new carve so that all of the measurement marks would remain accurate.

I spray-painted and then sanded the front of the board, leaving the recessed numbers and inch markers a glossy black.

For a finish, I abstained from stain but applied a couple coats of polyurethane so that any pencil or Sharpie markings we make will still be easily readable.

I put an eye hook in each end of the board and then drilled a screw through them to attach the chart to the wall. This seemed like the simplest way to secure the board to the wall but also have very precise control over its position. This ensured that the height markings are accurate, since the chart doesn’t start at 0’0″ because the baseboard moulding would interfere.

I’m happy to report that I am still the same height as I was in high school.

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Maker, Woodworking

Get yer laundry! Piping hot laundry!

A recent project I tackled was adding a spot in our laundry room to hang up clothes to dry.  I attached iron pipe to the wall studs via some flanges and for the shelf, I used some barn wood that I’ve been hoarding for a few years.

The total planning time for this project was about two months, and the total time to build it was one hour.  It’s just like my pappy used to say: “Build once, but plan it in your head three hundred times.”

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CNC, Maker, Woodworking, X-Carve

CNC-ing a Stepstool out of a 1×12

My wife requested that I make matching stepstools for our hall bathroom so that the smaller children could reach the faucets. I used the opportunity to design a stepstool that could be carved out of a 1×12 and assembled in minutes.

I used Inventables’s Easel software to design a stool that would be 12″ tall and 14 1/2″ deep.  Everything except the step treads can be cut out of a 30″ long 1×12, which is the longest board that can be carved on the 1000mm X-Carve. (You can make a copy of my plans at the Inventables project page I made for this stool.)

Here’s the X-Carve in action, cutting out the third stretcher. Clamp placement was tricky, but in the end, there were no issues.

Here’s the finished carve of the bottom of the first stool.  Each piece is only held in place by small tabs that snap off and then disappear during finish sanding.

The three stretchers fit into the mortices on each side of the stool, so in just a few minutes, the base of the stool can be assembled:

You could carve the treads out of another 30″ length of 1×12, but it’s easier to just cut them at the tablesaw.  Each tread is 14.25″ long; the top tread is 6.5″ deep, and the bottom tread is 7.5″ deep.

While I was assembling the stool, I clamped too hard and cracked it along a pre-existing check in the board. Just as the Chinese use the same word for “crisis” as they do for “opportunity,” I used this crisitunity to make my first butterfly key inlay.  It’s a method of inlaying a piece of wood with the grain going in the opposite direction to strengthen the cracked wood.

After a couple of coats of paint, you can’t see the butterfly anyway, but I know it’s there.

Here are the finished stools, just waiting for some little kids to stomp all over them.

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Woodworking

Refinishing is Better Than Restarting

I’ve been busy with projects lately, but most of them are just cleaning up furniture that my wife Christina found at garage sales. Here’s a summary of all of my refinishings over the last few months.

Christina found this rolling wooden cart at a garage sale, and I refreshed the finish on the top and bottom shelves.

This cradle was given to us by the previous owners of our home. They used it when their children were born ~35 years ago, and we plan to use it for very young foster children. I replaced some of the mismatched hardware and the insert for the bed, and I painted it a glossy white.

This desk came from a garage sale and was in rough shape. Christina wanted it to look like it was in rough shape, but in a slightly different color.

My son found this machete in our yard, so we cleaned up the blade, sharpened it, and made a wooden handle for it.

For this phone chair from the 1960s (also known as a gossip chair), I repainted it, reupholstered the seat, and then weathered the edges.  Underneath the coral-colored fabric shown in the photo, there was another layer of seafoam green fabric.

We bought this playset on Craigslist and moved it across town. Before reassembling, I powerwashed and restained it.

I coated this rocking chair with enamel paint to match another enameled rocking chair we already have.

I don’t have a before picture of this, but it looked basically the same but in a dark brown finish. I painted and weathered it to match the other painted and weathered furniture my wife has asked for.

I repainted this bookshelf for a friend but not before adding a flat solid top in place of the moulding that probably used to hold up some sort of granite or decorative top.

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3D Printing, CNC, Maker, Woodworking

I Built a Set of Cabinets with CNC-Carved Doors

The area above our washer and dryer (not pictured) was mostly wasted space, so my wife asked me to build some custom cabinets. (Actually, she said, “Can you just buy some cabinets for above the washer and dryer? You really don’t have to build custom ones. I just want something better than this shelf. Anything. “) I designed some cabinets that would use up all of the available space, resulting in a rectangular box about 57″ long, 37″ tall, and 18” deep.

I originally built a single MDF box, but when I realized how heavy it would be, I split it into two boxes so that we could lift it into place without a crane.  Pro-tip: Don’t build something that will weigh a hundred pounds if you’ll have to hold it above your head while you’re screwing it to the wall.

I added boards to the top and bottom of the back of each box to increase stability as well as provide a place to screw the cabinet to the wall.

I saw a tip online about covering the edges of MDF with drywall joint compound to achieve a smoother edge after painting, so I tried that. It seemed to work ok, but it was kind of a hassle.

After painting, I drilled a series of quarter-inch holes two inches apart to allow for adjustable shelves. I originally meant to cut all of these with my CNC router to ensure that they were precisely spaced, but I forgot until after I had assembled the boxes.

We hung the cabinets without any trouble. There would have been trouble if we had had to lift the entire thing up there all at once.

I built the face frame out of thin MDF strips and pocket screws and attached them to the cabinet boxes with wood glue and a brad nailer.

In order to make the doors, I wrote a program that reads a cross-section profile of a cabinet rail and panel, like this:

and tells my CNC router to carve that style of cabinet door in 3D (more on that in a future post). Unfortunately, my wife only wants Shaker-style cabinet doors.  I still carved them on the X-Carve as a proof of concept for more complicated future doors.

The doors are 35″ tall, which meant that I couldn’t cut the recessed panel in a single session, so I had to carve out the bottom half, carefully move the door without losing the x-axis alignment, and then carve the rest.  It worked out pretty well:

FYI, if you’re going to be pulverizing five liters of MDF, empty your ShopVac regularly.

I chose hidden European-style hinges with a half-inch offset. These require drilling 35mm holes in very specific locations, so I 3D-printed a jig to guide my drill press…

…and then promptly drilled all the way through one of the doors. Thank you Bondo for sponsoring this portion of my build:

After I finished repainting, you couldn’t tell at all, and as long as I don’t tell anyone else, no one will ever know. It will be our little secret!

Now that the cabinets and doors are in place, the useable space above our washer and dryer has increased by 480%. Buying finished cabinets with this much storage space from Home Depot would cost about $430; I spent $100 in materials and 11.5 hours of my time (mostly painting, since my paint sprayer was acting up).

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