Building a Woodshop from Scratch – Electrical Wiring

If you’ve been following my other posts about this wood shop, you’ve seen the framing and then the siding, trim and roofing and broken rib come along over the last little while. By that point I only had two big projects left to do outside the shop: running electricity to the shop and building the front doors. I’ve started on the front doors and have come a long way but at this point in the year, it’s starting to get colder and darker so I figured I’d better hold off on the doors (I have temporary doors in place – they’re super ghetto but they do the job) and focus on getting power and lighting into the shop so I could hook up the heating/AC unit and stop running 100ft extension cords from the house for power. This will allow me to build the doors inside the shop and put them up as soon as they’re ready; hopefully in the next few weeks or so. I haven’t yet finished wiring the inside of the shop but I have started, and the shop now has its own power. Here’s how that all went down. Continue reading “Building a Woodshop from Scratch – Electrical Wiring”

Building a Woodshop – Sheathing, Roofing, Trim and a Broken Rib

Holy Schneikes! It’s been months since I blogged about the shop and it’s come a long way since my last post. Since finishing the framing, I’ve worked on the next steps, which are many:

  1. Wrapping the structure in OSB
  2. Roofing: Applying OSB Sheathing to the roof, then tar paper, drip edge and shingles
  3. Wrapping the structure in moisture-resistant house wrap
  4. Installing all of the windows
  5. Putting up the LP SmartSide Panel Siding
  6. Installing trim around windows, doors and panel joints
  7. Installing soffits and fascia
  8. Installing gutters

Continue reading “Building a Woodshop – Sheathing, Roofing, Trim and a Broken Rib”

My dreams have come true!

There are 12,000 reason why we love our house. We feel very lucky in many ways, considering we went into this whole purchase pretty blind and went off of a gut feeling that it was right. We truly had no clue what we were in for project-wise when we moved in. It’s been non-stop projects galore, but it’s okay because it keeps us out of trouble, and it keeps us from saving any of that pesky money. Who needs a savings account, anyway? Continue reading “My dreams have come true!”

How to Fix Your Car’s A/C in 5 Minutes

how-to-fix-your-cars-ac-in-5-minutes
It’s August. It’s been averaging 102 degrees Fahrenheit where I live. Not having some good air conditioning in your vehicle can be pretty rough. When my A/C stopped working on the left side of my car, I knew it was time to recharge it. Recharging your A/C is a really easy process and only takes five or ten minutes. Here’s how it’s done.

1. Turn Your A/C on High for 3-4 Minutes

Put your A/C on all the way cold, recirculating and the highest setting. Let it run for 3-4 minutes at least before proceeding to the next step. This ensures that your system will be attempting to draw the refrigerant through the pipes, which is what we want.

2. Locate Your Low Pressure Service Port

Every vehicle that has air conditioning should also have a high and a low pressure a/c service port. They’re typically aluminum tubes, one thicker and one thinner. They also have removable caps on them labeled with an ‘H’ and an ‘L’ respectively. Locate the low pressure service port and remove the cap. It should either thread off or just pop off. Be sure to put it somewhere safe.

3. Use the A/C Gauge to Determine Your Current Pressure

The refrigerant you purchased should have come with a pressure gauge. The adapter on the end is identical to that of an air compressor hose. Pull up the collet and attach the adapter to the low pressure port. You should get a reading on your gauge. If you’re pretty much out of refrigerant, or very low, you’ll likely get a reading between 0 and 15 PSI. That means it’s definitely time for a recharge. If, however, your reading is in the blue zone (typically above 30 PSI) you might not need refrigerant and may have a different issue altogether. Be aware that over filling your refrigerant can be harmful to your system and may cause the same lack of cold air as an under-pressured system.

4. Shake it up!

Once you’ve determined that you need more refrigerant, start shaking the can. Its contents need to be well agitated to mix up the settled contents. Keep shaking throughout the next steps as well.

5. Fill It to the Appropriate Level

Check the included chart to determine what PSI you need to be at, which is determined by the outside/surrounding temperature. If you’re in a room temperature garage, for example (70 deg. F), then you’ll need your low pressure to be at 35-40 PSI. If it’s 100 degrees out, you’ll need to be up at 50-55 PSI. Keep moving the can horizontally and vertically as you squeeze the trigger to pressurize the system. Be sure to stop from time to time to check the pressure level so as to not over-fill it.

refrigerant pressure temperature chart
Refrigerant Air Conditioner Pressure to Temperature Chart

That’s it! You should have functioning A/C again – woohoo! If you’ve been without it on a scorching hot day and then get it fixed, you know what a joyous occasion this can be. In this case, I was working on my Dad’s old truck and he actually has never had A/C in it since he bought it a couple of years ago so you can imagine how pleased he was to feel the ice-cold air blowing out of the vents. Summers are suddenly much more bearable!

A Few Tips

  • The symptoms for low refrigerant pressure are varied and can include:
    • Warm Air coming out of the vents when the A/C is on
    • Cool air but not as cold as it should be
    • A/C only working on one side of the vehicle or certain vents
    • Pressing the A/C button doesn’t seem to have any impact on the air temperature
  • If there’s a bit of refrigerant still left in the can, you cannot remove the nozzle and use the can again. You must use it all in one shot, or at least without disconnecting the hose, or else the remainder of the refrigerant will leak out.
  • The hose and gauge of the refrigerant can be reused. The hose and gauge seen in this video is the one I bought for my car and then used on my Dad’s car, so he just has to buy the bottle, not the bottle, hose and gauge.

Happy recharging!

Ready to watch the video to see it in action? Check it out.

https://youtu.be/C_IhGe0Kip8

Building a Wood Shop from Scratch – Framing Progress

Roof Trusses in Place on Wood Shop

When we were looking for a new house a few years back, we really hoped to find one with a good amount of space and a three car garage, so that we could park both cars in the garage and then have some room for me to do woodworking and my many projects. We ended up buying our current home, which we love for a hundred reasons, but it didn’t have a three car garage. Katrina, knowing that I really wanted a work space, allowed me to pour a concrete pad for a wood shop as a sort of down payment on a future shop. Well, now that we have put the yard in, finished the basement and we’re finally getting a rock wall to replace our massive, weed-infested hill, it’s time to start on the shop. I got started a couple of weeks ago and it’s going well so far.

To begin, I designed the shop in Google Sketchup, which allows me to get a feel for size, color, space in relation to the house, etc. After that, I mocked it up in Photoshop using our existing garage as a starting point and then bringing in some color and texture to make it fairly realistic. The second image below is my Photoshop job of what the shop may look like, though we’re definitely not 100% decided as of yet on colors, textures, etc. The size and shape are pretty accurate, though.

Wood shop design
This is the design for the new shop, rendered in Google Sketchup.
New Wood Shop Photoshop Render
This is my Photoshop job of what the new wood shop might look like.

I decided to do 2×6 framing instead of 2×4 since I’ll be insulating it and adding a heating and A/C unit. The shop is 15′ x 15′, so it’s not a big shop, but I’m excited about it. I decided to do 9′ ceilings, with a loft for wood storage. I’m putting several windows in it, including a row of windows above the door, a 3’x5′ window on two of the walls and a smaller window on the fourth wall. Let there be light. The best part about that is that I bought all of the windows already, including several extra, for a grand total of $100 from a person in our area. Thanks, local online classifieds! They’re all used double pane, insulated windows and most of them are either sliders or crank-openers. I’m looking forward to putting those in. It’s amazing what you can get for cheap when someone is remodeling their home.

I bought a framing nailer (should have done that years ago) and have been building the walls one at a time and then getting some help from neighbors to stand them up and put them on the lag bolts in the concrete then tight them down. I have to say – 15′ x 10′ walls made out of 2x6s are extremely heavy. Definitely not a one-person job. My poor wife had her feet under one of the walls when it fell into place so she’s got quite a pair of bruises on her feet but luckily it looks worse than it is.

16 foot lumber, Toyota Tacoma
Turns out this is way illegal. Apparently you can’t have 10′ of board hanging out of your truck bed. 🙁 Lesson learned!

 

The first wall of the wood shop
I did the first wall framing in the driveway.

 

Raising the first wall
Raising the first wall

 

The first wall of the wood shop
Two walls up!

 

Woodshop Walls framed
The four walls are up!

With the four walls up, I started on the ceiling / loft floor. I used 2x10s and mounting brackets and it’s quite sturdy. Those 15′ long 2x10s are some heavy suckers. I finished putting those up and then, with Katrina’s help, put the 3/4″ OSB up for flooring. That made it way easier to work on the roof trusses (stick framing) without having to use a ladder to do it all.

Wood Shop Loft Framing
Wood Shop Loft Framing

For the roof cuts, I used a great little truss calculator to get the angles, distances and other cuts, which was super helpful. Me no do math good, so that was kinda fantastic. It gives you the angles, the birdsmouth cuts, the distances where to cut them and everything.

One thing that helped a lot on cutting the rafters was to create a template to make the marks faster. I created these small templates to slide onto each end of the 2x6s to make it really easy to mark every board in a hurry. It took me about 11 minutes to mark 24 boards, which is great. The templates took about 20 minutes to make.

Framing Templates for Roof Trusses
Framing Templates for Roof Trusses

As of right now, the rafters are up and nailed to the ridge board, so now I’m ready to finish the framing of the gable faces and then I can put the OSB up on the roof. Yay!

Roof Trusses in Place on Wood Shop
Roof Trusses in Place on Wood Shop

No injuries or accidents (other than my poor wife’s foot bruises) so far, so knock on wood. That’s it for now! More pictures coming soon and, of course, I’m videoing the whole thing for a complete how-to series on it from start to finish. If you want to learn about framing walls, windows, soffits, doors and closets, I already have some videos on those!

$23 DIY Planter Box

$23 DIY Planter Box

This year for Mother’s Day, I told NilsyNils that I wanted a couple of planter boxes for our front walk area. I think they add a lot of charm and dimension to any area, and had pinned quite a few pictures of ones I liked. Nils and I looked at a lot of different tutorials, and naturally, he decided they were all crap and designed a new one. We spent a Saturday in the garage building these cute boxes and bonding via power tools. This is an inexpensive yet outdoor-ready planter box that can hold about 3 full bags of potting soil and has about 3 square feet of surface area.

Each box consists of 9 cedar fence pickets and one 2 x 4. You’ll also need 1 1/4″ screws, 3″ screws, an optional brad nailer, and 18 gauge brads.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THE PLANS

Planter-Box-Plans

 

Check out the full video at https://youtu.be/WUnFAgj_7ps

DIY Outdoor Projector Screen

DIY Outdoor Projector Screen

The projector screen we’re going to be building is made of PVC and will hold steady in windy areas like where we live. It provides a great picture and is perfect for outdoor movie nights with family and friends.

 

For this project I used a good quality screen material that I purchased from Amazon. This is Carl’s Blackout Cloth, which you can pick up for about $35. Links are in the description. While you can use a bed sheet or other material, this cloth is designed for projector screens. There is a finished side and a back – you can hear the difference. Lie the screen on your carpet, scratchy side up, and folder over each side about 3-4 inches (8-10cm). To make the pockets for the PVC you can either use StitchWitchery, which is an adhesive strip for fabric, or just sew it. I tried both and the Stitch Witchery stuff, while a great option if you don’t have access to a sewing machine, is kind of a pain. It requires you to lay it down between the fabric, put a towel under it so as not to melt your carpet, put a damp cloth over it and then iron each side for about ten seconds each, all the way along the length of it. I tried this for one side and it took a while so I headed over to the sewing machine and sewed the other three sides. Both held up equally well but the sewing machine was much faster. You don’t need to be an expert tailor or seamstress – this is what I call “functional sewing” – it just needs to get the job done.

 

When you’re done with each side, cut a square in each of the four corners so that you can push the PVC pipes through. When you’re done, you should have a screen that is approximately 16:9 ratio – it should look roughly like this.

 

Next I did a bit of man sweeping in the garage to keep my screen from getting too dirty, then laid it out and started getting my measurements. Be sure to take multiple measurements in case your sides aren’t perfectly straight.

 

For my screen, the measurements were 102” wide by 58” high. I’m using 1 ½” PVC for this bhild. Take your width measurement and start by subtracting 2” to accommodate for the 1” depth of the elbows. For the top and bottom rails, I’m going to break it into two sections so that the kit is more portable. You’ll lose about a ¼” because of the coupling, so you’ll need to subtract that as well. Lastly, divide the result by 2. You’ll need four pieces (two for the top and two for the bottom). The sides are much simpler – just subtract 2” from the height and you’re all set. You should end up with four identically sized pieces (for the top and bottom rails), and 2 slightly longer identical sized pieces for the sides.

 

You’ve got several options for cutting the PVC. The first is to use a PVC Pipe Cutter. These are pretty inexpensive (links are in the description) and super easy to use. They’re also the cleanest option. If you have a hacksaw, you can use that too, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of mess, plus you’ll have to sand every cut because it leaves them pretty rough. If you have access to a mitre saw, that’s definitely the easiest and quickest way to go. That’s what I chose to use for this project.

 

Once you’ve got your six pieces cut, lay them out for a quick test fit to make sure everything lines up and then try to fit them into the screen and see how it goes. If it’s too big, that’s ok. We want to cut the pipes down until they barely fit. That’s what keeps the tension on the screen and stretches it tight to get rid of the wrinkles and creases. Keep adjusting until you get it to fit nice and tight.

 

Once that’s squared away (see what I did there?) you can make the cuts for the legs and feet. The stand is just two feet and a leg for each side. I made my feet about 18” each and then the legs were 2 feet but feel free to adjust as needed. Put these together with one tee and two end caps each, then attach them to the screen to stand it up. Tadah! The screen is almost done!

 

Now if you want to add some tie downs for windy conditions, one way to do that is to drill a hole into each side of the vertical poles about half way up. Drill through the outside of the PVC and then slightly into the other side, but not through. You can then drive a 3” screw into each side. These act as the connector for the tie downs. Drive some stakes into the ground (or you can just use some heavy objects, like your kids) and then use paracord to tie the screen to the stakes (or the kids). Be sure to have a helper if you’re setting the screen up in very windy conditions, like you see here. You can then use a lighter to melt the ends of the paracord to prevent fraying.

 

With that, you’re all done. Exxxxcept for that you’re not. I thought I was finished but then I noticed the horizontal folds. I came up with a solution for this that works pretty well. I created a stretcher bar to fit between the top and bottom poles. I had to make a small cut in the sleeves and then I put a 3” screw in the top and bottom of a pole and spaced them just far enough apart that they stretched the two apart. With the stretcher bar in place, the wrinkles were mostly gone, and the one that was left didn’t show up when the screen was in use.

 

NOW, it’s done – and back yard movie night is on. Oh – and check out that tiny projector in the corner!

 

DIY Outdoor Projector Screen
DIY Outdoor Projector Screen

An Organized Garage in 4 Steps, plus Overhead Storage Review

Organize Your Garage in 4 Simple Steps

Everybody’s garage gets messy – especially if you do any work out there. We’re going to look at four ways to get and keep your garage organized.

Check Fleximounts overhead storage rack at: https://goo.gl/hQhuwx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Get Shelves or Cabinets

Buy some used cabinets from Craigslist or other local used good sites and mount them to your walls and/or floors. You can use a label maker to keep things organized and take full advantage of the wall space in your garage. There are tons of great shelving solutions available too.

Step 2: Put It On Wheels

I like to add caster wheels to all of my larger machinery so that I can wheel it out when in use and stash it away when I’m done. This has helped me to create somewhat of a mobile workshop that I can tidy up after a project so we can still park in the garage.

Step 3: Garage Hooks FTW!

Garage hooks are seriously great. You can hang just about anything you’d store in a garage: bikes, tools, yard equipment, saws, toys, sleds, heaters, ropes, cables… you get the gist. Just be sure to drive them into a stud, not just bare drywall.

Step 4: Leverage the Overhead Space!

This is the big one. Almost everyone has storage space up on or near the ceiling. I used Fleximounts Overhead Storage racks to add tons of usable space to my garage. It’s a great way to keep things out of the way and free up valuable floor and wall space. I also built a set of simple wall mounted shelves out of 2x4s and plywood for putting up against the upper walls.

 

DIY Kitchen / Dining Table – Pottery Barn Inspired

DIY Pottery Barn Inspired Dining Farmhouse Table

Ready to learn to make a gorgeous and sturdy farmhouse table from scratch? Use the plans below to build your own.

The Triangles: I’d recommend doing the triangles however you think looks best. If you want to know what size the triangles on my table feet are, they measure 9 3/4″ on the diagonal side (the longest side) x 3 1/2″ at the bottom x 9″ tall. I used 4×6 lumber to make these.

A quick note on the end caps. I’m not sure I’d honestly recommend them. The problem is that the wood will shrink and expand more in one direction than the other, which means that while the table top may move a bit in one direction, the end cap, by virtue of being perpendicular to the rest of the top, will move in the other direction. On my table this has resulted in a bit of a lip. Nothing huge, but not what I hoped for. I’d recommend leaving the wood out for several weeks first, or possibly omitting the end cap altogether. Another option is to create an end cap (for the lip) by cutting off 1.5″ from the table top and then attaching that to the bottom of the ends – to help match up the skirts. I attached the end caps with glue and brads at first, followed up with some pocket hole screws from the bottom side. If you’re just doing the skirt method, then I’d recommend screwing them in from the bottom using 2.5″ countersunk screws. The end cap dimensions (as shown in the plans) are 3’6″ W x 3″ H x 1.5″ D.

As for the side skirts, it’s just a 2×4 ripped in half and then glued, tacked and screwed onto the table top. I countersunk all of the screws and that one worked out pretty well. The side skirts are 7’9″ W x 1.5″ H x 1.5″ D.

Several people have asked about how I attached the base of the table to the tabletop, so I wanted to address that. I used 4 1/2″ lag bolts with washers and put them in six locations under the table – one on each corner of the two main legs, plus one in the center of the 2x4s that run the length of the base. To predrill, I started with a 7/8″ forstner bit, drilling just as deep as was necessary to hide the head of the bolt. From there, I used a 7/16″ bit to drill through about two inches in, then a 9/32″ bit to drill the rest of the 4 inches or so. Be careful not to drill too deep – you don’t want to drill right through the table top.

Drive the lag bolt in and let the washer stop you when it bottoms out. I think the six heavy duty bolts are enough but if you want to put more in, it couldn’t hurt.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table Woodworking Plans
Download your free woodworking plans for this rustic farmhouse dining table

DIY Pottery Barn Inspired Dining Table Video

Watch the video to see how it’s made! ^^