Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Tool Cabinet Upgrade

 I'm still not quite done with the mods to the tool cabinet. Huh, I gotta call it something besides a tool cabinet because there ain't a darn tool in there. The cabinet makes room for tools in the 72 and locker by creating space for non-tool crap that loaded up those boxes. Mini fridge, parts bins, clothes and a printer take up the bulk of the space. In the morning my lunch box and cooler go in there and that still leaves a couple cubic feet of storage space for more crap. Thats fine, gotta have room for expansion.
 At the beginning of the day the cabinet looked like this with the exception of that upright support in front of the shelf, to the right of the printer.

 That support is for a bracket that will hold a computer monitor. Remember, this is "gear head on a budget" and I didn't go out and buy a monitor for my tool box. One of my daughters (and Tyler) upgraded their tv and gave us the old one, freeing up this one for me.

 So now when I open the cabinet door it also reveals a monitor. That bracket allows it to swing out for better viewing when I'm sitting in front of my pull out work table.

 The monitor will also swing all the way to the right and tuck back allowing access to the printer.
 Is this needed? No but a lot of things aren't "needed". It will be useful and practical in many ways but there is also a "cool" factor that plays into this too. I like it.
 I think my toolbox has morphed into a work center. I have an office upstairs but I found myself running up and down the steps all the time to help customers or whatever. Now if someone has a
"chainsaw emergency", I'll already be at my work bench to help. Also moving the laptop between the office and my box was a drag. Then running back upstairs to print something and back down with the report. Chainsaws and automowers now get connected to laptops for testing, updates and warranty reports, hence the need for a laptop. Thats why I originally made the hutch, to hold the laptop and printer. Its easiest to have the laptop and printer right at the box and now having the monitor will mean when someone wants to see the screen they won't be looking over my shoulder and rubbing their nuts on my back. I won't miss that.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Tool Box Running Board

 My last post was about the step that I added to the front of my tool box that allows me to reach up into my new tool cabinet. This post is also about that step, this time in a video version. I wanted to do these back to back using the tradition format and the video format just to get some feel for which works best. Also, if I would have added a video to that last post then it would have eaten up a lot of your time with the long post and then a video. I know that after watching some of my videos you're already thinking "there went five minutes I'll never get back".
 I kinda like the idea of a video showing the completed project and a separate blog post showing details. I like doing the videos but I'm not willing to give up the traditional blog in favor of just a YouTube channel. Bottom line is that I'm setting myself up to use either format should the other become unavailable or boring and this hybrid form of "The Greasy Shop Rag" is what you'll see for a while till I figure out if there is a better way to do this or if this is as good as it gets.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Step In The Right Direction

 During much of the build of the 3rd level tool cabinet the big joke has been that its too high and I can't even reach in there decent. The other joke has been that if my tool box was still sitting on the other wall there would be space for a 4th and 5th level and I'd need one of those librarian ladders that slide back and forth to gain access. Thats all very funny but also true. I needed a step and hinted about it on this blog. I told a few people what I had in mind when I was trying to source parts and as it turns out was lucky enough to score a brand new running board from a body shop dumpster. They are only sold in pairs and only needed to replace one so they tossed the other away. I just got really lucky on that one and many thanks to those that contributed and made it happen.
 Here is the running board. Its the same length as the US General 72" box. Those factory brackets have to go.

 Here it is mocked up:

 I spent a lot of time deciding how to best do this. The way these boxes are built I couldn't just bolt it to the sheet metal bottom. Even the cross supports were questionable. I figured the strongest spot was where the casters were mounted so I decided to measure and sandwich a plate between the wheels and the bottom of the box.

 This is one of the 9" x 21" x 1/4" plates that I sandwiched between the box and casters. Nobody will ever see it except in this pic so I just used the plasma cutter to make the 16 total holes in the two plates. Believe it or not all the bolts fit without having to adjust any of the holes.

 Now that I had a sturdy place to attach a mount it was time to see how close the factory mounting holes in the running board lined up with my new plate. As it turned out I would be able to use a 3" wide by 1/2" thick scrap of steel to make the bracket that runs from my plate directly to the mounting hole under the step.

 I did have to make a bend in the mounting strap to match the angled underside of the step and except for a good smack on one of them with a sledge hammer, they turned out just right on the first try. The two holes in the bracket match the factory bolt holes under the running board.

I was liking the way this project was turning out but there was a lot of bullshit involved. I had to jack up the tool box, mock things up, let it down, measure, jack it up, remove clamped pieces then go back to the welding booth. Lather, rinse, repeat. A lot of monkeying around.

 I had been thinking about this running board step ever since I started thinking about the height of the cabinet. Actually my first vision included a nerf bar and bumper rail that protected the bottom of the side locker too. I can always add locker protection later but I really like the way this step turned out. It doesn't even flex when I bounce on it and has been weight tested with two dudes on it. I'm sure it would tip the box before it broke.

 The side benefit of this step is a footrest for when I'm sitting in front of the laptop that resides in the hutch. A few people mentioned that they thought a permanent step would get in the way. I payed attention in the weeks preceding this build and the only time I ever get my feet and body even close to where the step would be is when I'm locking and unlocking the box. Never during the work day.

 So here it is.

 And another shot showing off those leds. Based on the shadow the step is casting you can imagine how well they actually light up the open drawers.

 Thats a wrap on the tool box running board, or is it? That black plastic step material mimics the four door cab of a chevy and isn't symmetrical. I know the whole ensemble is pieced together and may look a little ratty but the potential is there to replace those plastic inserts with something of my own design. I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, January 5, 2020

Slide Out Parts Rack

 Below is the description of the storage case rack I built for my tool cabinet. If that doesn't sound interesting then go ahead and scroll down to the video link. I know, right. A written post AND a video. How spoiled are you?

 This project is a continuation of the 3rd level tool cabinet build that has been the focus of this blog for quite a while now. I had a bunch of these storage boxes that I bought from Harbor Freight and they seem durable enough that building a rack for them is justified. They had been taking up valuable real estate in my side locker and I felt they would be better in the cabinet. The trays could then be stored flat rather than on their ends like in the locker.

 The above pic is the trays I want to build a rack for. If you squint just right you can see that there is no floor under these trays. This is to allow access into the top of the 26" box directly below it. Putting a cabinet above that box meant the lid would no longer open and I didn't want to completely abandon the space.

 The other thing you'll eventually notice is that the trays won't be oriented this way after the rack is done. I was just testing what configuration of big and small trays fit in this space.

 The above pic is how the day started out with just the slide rails in place. Below I'm fastening slide rails to pieces of wood that will be the side of the sliding rack. Thanks to uncle Tommy for the big ass jar of screws.

 More of the rack being built. I'm no carpenter so this thing just got screwed together the best I could using another big ass jar of screws from uncle Tommy.

 If you would have asked me to draw a sketch at the start of this project, this box would not have looked anything like that sketch. I really gave very little thought to placement of slides or the size of the trays except to leave enough room for the mini fridge.

 Those angle iron tray holders were originally gonna be 1/4" panels dado cut into the sides. Again, the carpenter in me got pushed to the side by the guy that would rather deal in steel, although I must have watched just enough of Bob Vila to cut that notch in the front to serve as a pull handle.

 So there it is. The rack slides out allowing easy access the the trays and also exposing the void in the floor for gaining access to the top of the 26" box. Yes I could have just stacked these things in the cabinet but they fit better in this space being sideways.

 I hate waiting for paint to dry and its still wet in this pic. Thats why I only have one tray in it for the pic but I've since loaded it down with heavy trays and the rack works well. So to sum it up I feel good about the way this turned out. It meets the goals I set and it also offers some other possibilities like hanging clip boards on the side next to the fridge or using the space created under the rack. I'm thinking magnetic rails on the bottom of the rack for holding tools or maybe something else. I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Year Resolution

 Last night I wrote this post about how I was gonna be less of a dick head this year and try to improve my interactions with others. It went on and on in detail about how I would accomplish that goal. Lets be honest here, I made that same resolution back in 2017 and according to coworkers it lasted about fifteen minutes. Maybe this time if I try really hard and people aren't doing stupid shit all around me, I can be less of a dick head for the whole month of January.

 If you follow this blog then you know I've started to post videos on Sundays. One of my daughters caught on to that and decided a good Christmas gift would be a wireless mic. If you've seen (or heard) those videos then you know she was right. I like to pic up the camera and shoot free hand video and there is a lot of noise created by doing that. Also the volume of my voice changes a lot when speaking to the camera vs speaking from behind the camera. I'm not trying to win any awards here with my film making abilities but I do know how hard it is to suffer through a piss poor video no matter how interested I am in the subject matter. Here is the setup.

 What I have is a GoPro mounted in an aluminum case. That case has a compartment under it for the special adapter GoPro makes you buy to connect an outside audio source to the camera. I can then plug the wireless mic into that adapter. The phone on the tripod is an old one that I kept as a spare. It has the GoPro app on it and allows me to see what the camera sees or even control the camera. Really it just allows me to center the frame. In some of the videos I've noticed things were a bit wonky so this helps with setup and will show me if I'm about to step out of the shot. As far as controlling the GoPro, it has voice commands for that and works great when you remember the commands. I should have saved the video where I'm yelling at the camera telling it to stop filming.
 Maybe today I can get over to the shop and test this rig out and get you a video for Sunday. I wish everyone a happy new year and hope you can stick to your resolutions better than I have in the past.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Greasy Shop Rat

 Christmas day was just a day off of work for me. We celebrated with family on the previous Sunday because it was the only day we all could get together. This meant I had some time to experiment with making a big version of my Greasy Shop Rag rat for the front of my new tool cabinet. I was lucky enough to have been loaned a digital projector for this project and I figured I'd spend much of the day trying to figure that thing out. Actually nothing could have been easier. I saw it had a usb port on the back so I loaded an image on a thumb drive, followed the on screen prompts and voila, there was my rat.

 It never dawned on me when I was building the spray booth that some day I would be projecting an image through the glass door while painting inside and protecting the projector. I did, and it worked and its just sweet when simple things work out the way they do.
 That was the easy part. Set aside the fact that my artistic skills suck, I was having issues with my air brush. First it seemed to be a bit dirty from the last time I used it and then after it was clean I had mixed up a batch of paint that was too thin and I also had the pressure too high. This made an interesting and fairly consistent effect that I decided to run with for the lettering.

 From a distance its not really noticeable but the way my box is set up in relationship to the work bench behind it, there isn't much viewing that can be done from a distance.

 A rat dropping a deuce. Pretty much sums up what this blog is about. FYI, I'm not happy how this thing turned out but doing it over won't produce better results so I'll just run with it.
Check out the video:


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

 I just wanna take a moment to wish all my friends and readers of this blog a very Merry Christmas. For my wife and I things are a bit different than other years. We had family here on Sunday because that was the only day everyone could get together. That was our Christmas and today will be just like any other day off. I'll probably tinker in the shop or whatever and just be lazy. Thursday and Friday are work days again and then I might have the weekend off. Its all jacked up and will take some time to get back on schedule. Add to that the fact that there is no snow on the ground and temps were in the forties yesterday. It just doesn't feel like a normal Christmas.
 My wife and I collect gifts throughout the year and then have an auction with the kids. They don't get gifts specifically for them, they buy auction gifts they win with play money. When you've spent all your money then you're all done getting gifts. It always works out pretty decent and at the end there is a lot of trading. Gifts are usually of a household nature like cookware, candles, bedding, towels, tools, first aid kit and even ass wipe to name a few. A lot of it is stuff they need but don't want to spend money on. We try not to include any whammies but once in a while one will make its way in there. We've asked them if they want to do something more traditional in the future and they all say no.
 This year my wife came up with a genius idea to stack the gifts in the shape of a tree. Once the gifts were sold at auction the tree was gone. No mess, no fuss. By far it was our most eco-friendly "tree" to date.