Sunday, April 5, 2020

Puncha Buncha Buttons

 For those that have been following this blog, you are aware that I have a robotic lawn mower cutting the grass in my yard. You may also know that I sell, install and maintain these units at work. When Husqvarna announced a new all wheel drive model I was pretty excited and after a long wait I finally have one to scrutinize.
 The video doesn't cover many of the basics like the three small razor blades that do the actual cutting or the wires that are buried around the yard. If the covid-19 threat keeps me at home long enough I may get into that in more detail but for now this is just a first look at the new Husqvarna 435x Automower and a bit of a comparison to my 450x model named Mowby Dick.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Are Emergency Room Visits Up?

 Right now there are a lot of people laid off from work and I'm sure DIY home improvement is happening more so than usual. It is here. That got me thinking, I wonder how the emergency rooms are holding up when there has to be a bunch of knuckleheads showing up needing stitches, crap removed from eyes and even casts.

 I know all of you out there run all the proper guards on your equipment. Some of my old equipment was built before anyone thought about guards or Grandpa removed them decades ago. Actually they were built before everyone got sue-happy.

 Then you have other things like ladders where it just takes one wrong step to screw up your day.  I'm happy to report I didn't have any issues with my ladder yesterday.
 Today I have a plumbing project but really whats the worst plumbing accident I could have? I touch something icky or have to deal with foul odors from a rogue turd? I'm replacing a garbage disposal so the turd thing is unlikely. If I do see a turd then an intervention with the cats is probably in order. The most likely problem that would land me in the ER is if my project leaks and I slip and fall in the puddle, cracking my head open.
 The other day I wired a new light in my garage. I've had the light here for so long that I have to guesstimate its been 5-8 years waiting to be installed. I don't like to rush into things I guess. Anyway, the install went fine but I just want to say make sure you shut the power off on the circuit you're working on. Yes the power was off and yes I tested it at the light. Turns out I didn't know what circuit I was on but again, the power was off at the light. It just shows that you can't be too careful. Getting a shock, falling off a ladder then slipping in a puddle of your own piss does not sound like a good time.
 And finally you just have screwballs putting their fingers where they don't belong.

 Despite all the efforts to stay out of the E-room, I did manage to get an owie. It was not while I was performing any type of task except walking. I ran my elbow across a sharp edge on my shop furnace and got a pretty good cut. Maybe only a half inch long but kinda deep. The good news is that it created another small project to keep busy with...fixing the sharp edge on the shop furnace. Can't blame the furnace. Its claimed a few shirts over the years but never flesh. It should have been fixed long ago.

 No visit to the E-room for a scratch like that but its what got me thinking that I need to be careful so I don't have to make a visit to the germ factory.
 So if you've found yourself with time on your hands for DIY projects then please be careful.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Hades Over My Shoulder

 Last time I told you that I was keeping busy playing with my nuts...and bolts and all kinds of other hardware that needed to be sorted. I got a lot done with that and decided it was time to start making the storage system for the trays themselves. I had a few ideas and saw a few on pinterest and youtube but nothing was jumping out at me and saying "build this style." Finally I just looked around my shop area to see what would actually work. I have this weird file cabinet that was actually the donor for the roll up door on the tool box hutch. I only keep it around because its a nice little rolling work area. A lot of stupid little projects are done on this thing when all the other flat surfaces are covered in crap.

 I decided to harvest the running gear and scrap the thing. My new cabinet could be built to replace it and also hold the trays.
 To get started with the build I would need to get a 4 x 8 sheet of 5/8 particle board up onto a pair of four foot high saw bucks. Sounds simple enough but if you have to do it without damaging any corners on tender particle board then its a bit more of a challenge. If it were even a pound heavier I wouldn't have been able to muscle it up there, at least not without a backache.

 I got to use Grandpas table saw for a few cuts so thats bonus. The rest of the semi completed project can be found on the video. Oh, the little paper mache puppet is something one of my daughters made a few decades ago. I had to contact her and ask who it was supposed to be. My wife thought Zeus but its his brother Hades. I'm just glad it wasn't supposed to be me. He's been sitting right about in that same spot all these years and I had forgotten about him until he showed up over my shoulder. I picked the phone up to take a pic, it was in selfie mode, and there he was.
 Check out the video:


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Keeping Busy

 I don't have a job thats critical to the welfare of people during this threat of the covid-19 virus so I'm laid off and doing my part not to make the situation worse. The governor has asked us in Wisconsin to stay home for a month. A lot of us get stir crazy after spending a whole weekend at home so I'm not sure how this is gonna pan out. Anyway, with a month of time on my hands I figure my garage and shop better be clean and organized by the time we get to the other side. Theres really no excuse not to get some of this around the house stuff done although I must admit that I'm pacing myself.
 I might have mentioned that every time I go to Harbor Freight and have a coupon for them, I pick up some of these storage totes.

 The picture isn't accurate because some of those totes ended up in the upper tool cabinet at work but then after that I bought some more. I think I have 12 smalls and 3 large here at home. The last couple days I've been gathering small items from around the shop and filling these up.

 Eventually when I get through everything it will be so nice to go to one place to look for something. I found a lot of stuff I kinda knew I had but could never find when needed. An example would be pop-rivets. I found them in three different locations so depending on what size I needed and what pile I stumbled across first, I may have thought I didn't have the size I needed even though they were cleverly hidden in the bottom of a box of plumbing parts that was jammed behind a chainsaw case. The weird part is that as soon as I saw them I remembered how they got there. I guess the old mental filing cabinet is getting rusty because there was a time when I could set something down in my garage and remember its location for a long time as long as nobody messed with it.
 The best two bucks I ever spent at Harbor Freight my have been on this parts funnel. It was an impulse buy and sat unused for months. 

   If you run into a project like this where you have to do a lot of sorting I highly recommend getting something like this. Actually you should make one from crap sitting around the house. You'd think I'd be a little pissed for not making one myself but it works so good that I'm ok with the $2 investment.
 Part of organizing is knowing which pieces belong in file 13. Now at one time I had a rule that if something sat around for more than a year I would let it sit one more year and then throw it out next time it got in the way. Theres a lot of fudge factor built into that rule that allows me to interpret if something is actually "in the way." Take this box of hardware for example.

 Thats all good stuff in there. No reason to throw it out, I'll just sort it, at least thats what I first thought. That pic isn't upside down and this wasn't some anti-gravity trick. Something got in there. Something with glue-like characteristics and sealed that whole mess into one glob of unusable scrap.
 If I stumble across that box of scrap next year I'll certainly consider throwing it out. Wish me luck in my cleaning adventures.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Rat Turd

 In an effort to practice social distancing I decided to stay home Saturday and dink around in the house. It was 20 degrees when I woke up so going for an actual bike ride was never on my radar. Ya it got warmer later on but I didn't have any of the bikes prepped yet so I just stayed home dreaming about a bike ride.
 The video is about the bike I call The Rat Turd. Its a 1984 Kawasaki KZ550ltd that has been lightly modified. In the video I describe the crest on the back fender. I forgot to add that the shape and outline color of the crest represent the US interstate symbol, Anyway, here ya go:


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tool Box Transformation

 I was thinking about what the next phase of my work toolbox might involve and that got me thinking about where it started.
 The following two pics are of "the train" as it was called by coworkers. The two stacks are each 42" wide along with a 16" locker making it 100" long total. These are 18" deep series one boxes and as you already know the hutch with roll up door is something I built myself. Including an electronic locking mechanism solved the problem of having to carry keys for unlocking the treasures within. The second pic shows the computer drawer I also made.

 The size of the box was borderline and what I really wanted was deeper drawers. When coworkers offered to purchase the individual boxes of the train, I decided it was time to upgrade to a 72" roll cab.

 I didn't sell the hutch and that was quickly set on top of the 72. At this point I was worse off from a cubic inch standpoint than before the new box purchase. Not a problem, I had a plan. When the 72 incher went on sale a week or two after my purchase of it, I went in to Harbor Freight with my receipt and the amount they refunded me was the same price as the 26" top chest. 

 Of course I needed a locker. Yes I sold one off the train but that one was not the same 22" depth as these series two boxes.

 I didn't like the way the tops of the boxes lined up in the above pic so put a lift kit on the 26 in the form of a slide out work surface. BTW, that slide out surface is working out great and I use it every day.

 I converted the deep drawer of the 72 into a "power drawer"in an effort to keep from cluttering up the hutch with more wires and chargers. It too is working out great.

 I wanted to incorporate a mini fridge into the new rig and decided bolting it on top of the locker would make me happy. 

 It didn't make me happy. At the time of the fridge addition I thought it just wouldn't matter if it looked a bit unsymmetrical but it really looked like ass sitting up there. I had some other storage issues including clothing taking up a big drawer and a printer in the hutch that was taking up valuable space. The obvious answer to me was an upper cabinet. This was a really fun build for me and in this pic its still not complete.

 Reaching all the way to the top of the upper cabinet was a challenge so I added a permanent step in the form of a truck running board. At first glance it looks a bit odd or out of place but this step is wonderful. Because I use this "work center" kinda like an office, I sit in front of the slide out table, put my feet on the running board and work on the computer. It works well for me. Oh, because I know some are thinking it, that running board will hold two grown ass men without issue.

 A fun detail was making this coat rack from some old Craftsman nut drivers.

 The five pieces stand 88" high and are the same length. I obviously have much more storage area than I did with "the train" even though I have a 12" shorter foot print. That 100" length fit ok in this space so I made a plan to stretch this box that extra foot, which ended up being 20".

 At first my plan was to use this locker as a side locker to the 72" box. While working on the design I came up with the idea to add a slide out panel along side this locker. The "gearhead on a budget" inside me really wanted to make this work but eventually I realized that what I really wanted were multiple panels and no locker at all. Enter the triple rack.

 The triple rack is 3 two sided panels and one solo panel on the back of a pocket door. The hutch was fun to build and challenged me with its roll up door and electronic lock. The upper cabinet was pretty straight forward and went fast. This side locker with pull out panels and pocket door wasn't difficult to build but required a lot of planning. By far it was more involved with all its slides, wood working, and that pocket door. The payoff is getting rid of layers of stacked tools in the main box and also having a place to hang some odd shaped tools. Its nice to secure tools that would normally hang on a wall for everyone to "borrow".

 Whats next? This tool box will not get any longer. There is space on top of the triple rack for another project but there isn't a plan in place for it yet. I do have a bunch of micro project improvements I still want to make and honestly I never finished the upper cabinet. Stay tuned for updates.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

3/4" Socket Rack

 When I started thinking about what tools were going to hang on the triple rack, I knew I'd have extra space in the 72" box for some of the tools I had taken home. My 3/4" socket set was one of those tools. Its a cheap set from probably 30 years ago but has saved my butt a few times and I haven't broken a socket yet but I did replace the ratchet after it broke under the persuasion of a long cheater bar. You'll get that.
 The metal box this set came in is pretty durable but moving the whole set at once is clumsy. Grabbing the size I think I need and one socket on each side of it (just in case) will work out just fine. By this I mean I'm gonna put the sockets in a rack in the big drawer of the 72 with the rest of the socket sets. This will require a socket rail or rack and when I went online to investigate for such a device what I was seeing were fairly high priced racks with the wrong number of pegs for my set. I decided to make one.
 I had some wood left over from the triple rack project but did have to buy $3 worth of wooden dowel. That didn't break the bank and certainly falls within the guidelines of "gearhead on a budget".
 First I had to cut the wood to width and then lay the sockets on it for spacing.

 Once I knew where the pegs would go I got to use my forstner bits again. I should have bought these years ago.

 For the pegs I decided to put an angle on the top so I could label them and easily see those labels. After the angles were cut on the compound miter saw, I used Grandpas table saw to cut them to length.

A little sanding...

 Here is what the rack will look like before paint.

 It turned out pretty good from a visual standpoint but once I tried to put the sockets on I found I had a problem. They fit good before the dowels were painted but now many of them required multiple f-bombs to be removed. I ended up sanding all the dowels down till the sockets slid on with ease.
 Its all in the video: