Category Archives: Projects

Machine Embroidery

Those who follow this blog know that I love patches - my daily-carry backpack is covered with dozens of them. Because of that, I've always been interested in machine embroidery - as I'd love to have some personal, custom patches to put on my stuff. Make Magazine recently reviewed an entry-level hobbyist embroidery machine and that was basically all it took to convince me to give this a shot. I'm really just getting started and learning, but I've already made the Millennium Falcon patch you see in the bottom right photo. Pretty cool!

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Wiring Up The Garage

In every garage workshop I've ever had (this one is the third), I've always just used extension cords to get power from the one lone outlet that is in most garages over to the various tools. It's kind a pain in the butt (and you wear out extension cords faster than you'd think), but I've never bothered to do anything about it. This time I decided to use some conduit and run a bunch of outlets along the walls to each of my tools, so everything is ready all the time. I still need to use an extension cord to get to the table saw (because it is in the middle of the room), but for everything else this has been working out great! It wasn't that hard or expensive - I should have done this years ago.

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Concrete Coffee Table

My sister is thinking about doing some DIY concrete countertops at her new house. As an experiment, I wanted to try and make a coffee table with a cast concrete top to see how hard it was. I built a mold out of melamine, then filled it with Quickcrete 5000 and steel reinforcing mesh. After it had cured, I sanded the show side smooth and sealed it with an acrylic concrete sealer. The base is red oak, and a simple (but sturdy) design. Even that relatively small table top weighed a ton, and Lori and I had to work pretty hard to get it up the stairs. All in all, I'd say it was a success. I learned a few things that my sister should be able to leverage when doing her countertops, which will hopefully help her avoid a few (minor) problems I ran into.

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Bathroom Makeover

As part of the ongoing sprucing up we've been doing to the house, we painted all three bathrooms and replaced their towel rods, TP holders, mirrors, light fixtures, etc. This photo is off the downstairs bathroom, which I though came out especially nice. We painted in a rich grey color, swapped out the "hollywood" style light fixture for one a little more classy, and put up the mirror I built at the old house (from lumber I milled from a tree that fell on the property).

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Laundry Room Makeover

All the work we did in Carter's room inspired us to keep going with some of the other rooms in the new house that we'd been procrastinating about. For the laundry room, Lori picked a nice rich blue - which was a whole lot better that the unpainted, lumpy drywall that was in the there before! She also found that cool laundry sign at a shop up north. I added a milk crate to the wall to hold her supplies, and put up a long clothes rod for hanging things as they come out of the dryer.

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Garden 2018

It's been years since I tried a vegetable garden, but this year we have a better spot (the yard at the new house already had some raised planting beds built in a good location). Also,, Carter was interested too, which always helps motivate me. We planted lots of stuff - cucumbers, sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, butternut squash, zucchini, green beans, sweet peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, lettuce, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and herbs. Whew! Things are starting to ripen and be ready for harvest, so the kitchen is full of fresh veggies these days.

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Carter’s Room Makeover

Carter has been working on making over her room over the summer. We've already painted, and this corner is one of the other (many) things she's done. What I wanted to highlight is how much of this me made ourselves - the wood cookie side table was a project I mentioned a few posts ago, but Carter also made the two throw pillows on the chair, and the pouf-style ottoman in front of the chair. She's getting pretty handy! The photo at the bottom is another wood cookie side table we made for the living room, because we liked the one in her room so much.

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Wood Cookie Side Table

Carter saw a side table at the store that she wanted to buy for her room, and I told her we could probably make one for next to nothing. And on top of saving the money, she'd have something her dad made with his own two hands - which someday might be important to her, or something. :) Anyway, here's the start of it. I cut the top today from an old downed log in the backyard, leveled it, sanded it, and put the first coat of polyurethane on it. It still needs several more coats, but it looks nice enough already that I wanted to get a photo out there for everyone to see.

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Lixie Clock

A friend showed me a project online where somebody made an edge-lit acrylic clock inspired by Nixie tubes. Once I saw it, the seed was essentially embedded in my skull and I knew I was going to have to make one of my own. The acrylic panels were cut on my home-built CNC machine, the LEDs are neopixels driven by an Adafruit Trinket, and the case is walnut.

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Nixie Tube Clock

I've been wanting to build a Nixie tube clock for many years now, but the high voltage required always scared me off. Recently I was looking online for a step-up power supply to try to finally build it, and found a site that sold a pre-built Nixie clock board for less than the parts would have cost me. So I ordered one, and built an enclosure for it. The outer enclosure is painted pine, and the 'face' is bubinga that I CNC cut around the Nixie tubes.

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