3D Printing: 13 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Getting Started

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Jan 17, 2018
13 Things I Wish I Knew About 3D Printing When I First Started

Several years ago I read a book called Makers, by Chris Anderson and he talked about how, in the future, we could all have 3D printers of our own and our homes would be like little manufacturing factories. Today, we’re seeing that happen around the world. It’s pretty incredible. A couple of years ago I got my first 3D Printer and it cost me about $650 and could print just about anything I wanted up to 150mm squared. I was pretty stoked but it was a real labor of love. Things broke, prints got messed up and I spent more time trying to get a successful print than I did actually making cool stuff.

Building a Wood Shop from Scratch – Framing Progress

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Aug 10, 2017
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!

An Organized Garage in 4 Steps, plus Overhead Storage Review

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May 4, 2017
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

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Apr 14, 2017
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! ^^

 

            

 

 

How to Hide Your TV Wires in 30 Minutes

by , on
Mar 15, 2017

We all love our flat screen TV’s, don’t we? Such a nice, low profile up on the wall! What we don’t love, however, are those ugly wires that hang down and create an eye sore. Hiding those ugly wires is easy, so fear not.

This post is sponsored by DataComm Electronics. They provided me with a professional installation kit, all other equipment is my own.

DISCLAIMER: This installation process is for drywall only. If you have brick, concrete, or otherwise solid walls, this process will not work. I suggest using a piece of cable channeling instead to hide those wires.

The first thing you need to do is remove your TV from the wall, as well as any wires or plugs. Make sure you have a clean space to work with. Figure out where your studs are using a stud finder. Typically, studs are 16” apart, and you’ll want to work within the empty space (called a bay) between studs.

After you’ve marked where your studs are, mark with the template included in the kit where you want your top and bottom receptacles to go. The receptacles need to be in the open bay between studs, because the wings/tabs on them attach to the drywall, and the stud will get in the way of them. Also, the top and bottom receptacle should be in the same bay as one another. Use a level to make sure the template is straight.

In the middle of the piece you have marked to cut out, attach a screw and use it as a handle, so when you’ve cut all the way around the piece, it doesn’t fall into the wall. Use a jab saw to cut out the square. You can also use a utility knife; score around the square until you get all the way through. Make sure to hold onto the handle as you cut the last side of drywall!

Optional: Some people are concerned about critters getting in the walls and chewing through the wires, or you may want to just make it easier to pass new wires between the top and bottom receptacles later on. I used a 6 ft bilge and pump discharge hose for this. It’s sealed all the way around, and has sections to cut it to size with regular scissors. You can run the low voltage wires through the hose. Connect the hose to the top receptacle using white electrical tape if you’d like.

Make sure the tabs/wings are in first so the receptacle fits in the hold. Drop the electrical wire down as well as the AV tube.I would recommend feeding your A/V wires through the tube at this point. Put the bottom portion of the receptacle in first. It may be a little tight, but will swing in. Once it’s in, use a screwdriver to tighten the wings and attach to the drywall. Pull everything through the bottom hole.

Bottom receptacle: Coil the wires, and push them through the box to keep them contained; then push them with push in connectors, matching each wire with its counterpart (white/white, black/black, green/ground). Push the wires into the box, and use screws to fasten the box to the bottom receptacle. Attach pipe onto the bottom piece with tape.

To install into the wall, put the electrical side of the box into the wall first. Make sure the wings/tabs are in. Push the left side in first to make the right side fit nicely. Tighten with a screwdriver. Drop A/V cables down the tube (if you haven’t already), and plug power into outlet.

PRO TIP: The hose may get jammed when trying to fish the wires through. To help with this, just pop out the top receptacle. Even a flimsy wire will go through the tube.

When you’re done, you should end up with an outlet up top (behind the TV) and you A/V cables spanning between the top and bottom receptacles, ready to plug into the TV and you components!

It should be noted that you can perform this install in an insulated wall as well, just as easily. At a friend’s house, I used the single outlet installation kit from DataComm to do their install in an insulated wall.

 

The trick to pulling your wires through the insulated wall is to use a measuring tape and feed it from the bottom opening through to the top. Once it’s through, you can either tape your wires to the end of it and pull it back through or tape a hose/pipe to it and pull that through, which will make future wire pulling much easier.

When you’re done, you should have a sweet, clutter-free wall under your TV. W00t W00t!

I’ve done a similar install in another room in my house using simple open ended face plates and then manually installing an additional outlet. I have to say, using the kit was way easier and faster. The installation at my friend’s house took 30 minutes, including the time it took to shove one of those humungoid original XBOX A/V plugs through the receptacle (it barely fit).

Got any questions, comments or suggestions? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Check out the video of the install here:

 

$100 DIY HD Projector Screen

by , on
Jan 18, 2017

 

After finishing my basement recently, we were ready to put the projector up and a screen for a little theater area. I started researching projector screens and all of the screens I saw were either smaller than what I wanted or super expensive. My projector could handle an image just over twelve feet diagonally. The total measurement was 147” so I needed a pretty big screen and wanted one with a good material.

I called a friend of mine who I had worked with in the past who runs a very successful home theater installation business. I explained to him that I needed a large screen and that I was hoping to get a motorized screen so that when I turned the projector on, the screen came down on its own. He quickly talked me out of the motorized version explaining that I’d get a lot more bang for the buck using a mounted screen and also telling me about the expense of replacing parts on a motorized screen down the road, which made sense. He then told me about using a grey material rather than white, which I had never seen. This guy knows his stuff so I took his advice and got some material on Amazon called Carl’s FlexiGray and I have to say – he was totally right. All I needed was a frame for it, which I built in a few hours and then mounted on the wall. The results? Pure awesome. The picture looks sharp, the material looks good even when the projector is off and family movie night is a regular occurrence at our house.

For the project in this article, I’m working at my buddy’s house where he’s got a projector all ready to go and he just needs a screen for it. Here are the steps we went through to build the frame with a screen.

Measure

Start out by projecting the full size of the image onto the wall where the screen is going. Make sure everything is plumb and straight so that you get a nice rectangle and then get the horizontal and the vertical measurements.

Cut

For this project all you really need as far as material are one by fours. They’ll typically come either pre-primed or unfinished but it doesn’t really matter which you get. You can usually pick these up at your local big box hardware store. Here’s how to figure out how much material you’re going to need. You’re going to have a top and bottom rail, each of which will be at the full width. Then your sides and your two supports will be at the full height minus the board width of the top and the bottom, which would be 7 inches if you’re using 1×4 material (1×4 is actually 3 ½” wide). Once you have your measurements, measure out and cut each piece.

 

Assemble

You can use either Pocket Holes or ‘L’ Braces to assemble the frame.

As far as assembly goes, you’ve got several options. The two I want to show here are using corner braces with metal braces and using a pocket hole system, which is what I’m using to build this frame. We’re going to add two pocket holes to each of the ends of the vertical pieces. We don’t need any in the top or bottom rail. Pocket hole systems start at about $40 for the simplest version. The system you see in these images is the K4 Pocket Hole system and that one runs about $95. They have a deluxe version for about $155. You’ll find links for all products below. Next take your boards to the room that you’re going to be mounting the screen in so that you don’t have to carry a fully assembled screen through the doors, which may or may not fit. Lay out each of the pieces on the floor then mark the ⅓ and ⅔ points of your top and bottom rails so that you can put your support rails in place. These don’t have to be super accurate.



The most important part on this next step is making sure the face is nice and flat. Check to be sure that the pieces you’re lining up are flush with one another so that you don’t end up with a lip where you don’t want it. Here I’m using a Kreg right angle clamp but that’s totally optional. If you’re assembling your frame with braces, make sure you’re using countersink screws and make sure they’re short enough that they don’t pierce through the other side of the material. Once the frame is assembled move it out of the way and lay out your screen material, face down. I’m using Carl’s FlexiGray projector screen material, as I mentioned before. It’s got a nice flexible backing like rubber so that when you stretch the material over the frame it’s actually pretty difficult to end up with any creases or wrinkles in the material. Lay the frame face down on the material for the next step.


To finish up the screen, use a staple gun to place staples about every 2” or so. I like to use a lot of staples so that I’m not putting a lot of tension on any one spot. There are several schools of thought on where to start and how to proceed on this part but I’ve found that it doesn’t much matter whether you start on the corner or in the middle of one of the sides, so long as you’re aware of how things are going and you make certain to keep the material taut. Choose a starting point and then work your way around the screen. When you get to the corners, just fold the material in on itself and staple it under. That way you don’t end up with any material sticking out on the side of the screen. When you get to the last section, check again to make sure the material is stretched evenly across the screen and you’re good to go.

 

Mount

Once you’ve finished assembling the screen it’s time to get ready to hang it. You can make the marks for where the corners of the projector screen ought to go to make sure that the actual image is centered on the screen. Next, use a stud finder to mark where the studs are and drive at least two screws into the top about 3 ½” down from where it needs to go. That way, when you hang the screen, it’ll sit exactly where you want it to be. Leave the screws protruding about a ½” from the wall, which is less than the thickness of the frame. Finally, hang the screen and check out what an awesome picture you’ve got!

I hope you found this info helpful. If you’ve got any tips, tricks or suggestions, leave a comment below. Thanks so much and be sure to check out my YouTube video as well!

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