Plant stand DIY

Long weekends are good times to do projects around the house, and at the moment we are trying to grow some stuff. Here is one of the things I made last year during a long weekend. I can’t remember which weekend it was. I need to be more efficient at posting these posts.plant stand

We had this big terracotta pot from our previous trials, and we needed a stand to get it off the ground, to make it easier to get to, and to stop Bella, our dog from digging in it. Even though she has an entire yard that she can dig in, as soon as you give her a nice pot plant to dig in, she will. if there are plants, she’ll have them out of there!

The frame is nothing spectacular, and won’t win any design awards, but it’ll hold for now.

I made the design up as I went along, cutting up a length of construction lumber, and some bits of a pallet to build it, it was all just stuff I had lying around.

Its still holding strong so far, although the lettuce we had growing in the pot has succumbed to the heat of summer. We need to find something new to try and grow in there.Plant stand close up

I think it turned out pretty well. At the very least, it performs its intended task quite well

Sandpaper storage shelf (aka, I got a saw for my birthday, and needed an excuse to cut stuff)

Here is the completed shelf in its current location.

Here is the completed shelf in its current location.

I turned another year older recently, and for my birthday, my wonderful wife bought me a Ryobi One+ battery powered circular saw.

Of course, If you get something like a saw for your birthday, you instantly need to find something to cut.

I had to sit through an entire day of work before I could play with it, so after work, I stopped off at Bunnings on the way home, and bought a couple of sheets of MDF. I had an idea to make a shelf to store my sandpaper neatly.

Every time I make something like this, I always manage to stuff up in my measurements, and this time was no different.

When measuring up the MDF for the sides of the cabinet, I seemingly picked the narrow sides, instead of the long sides.

However, I measured and cut the the top and bottom with clearance for the sides Plus the sandpaper, but the front and back only had a little extra leeway, and the paper wouldn’t fit if I added the sides in the same way.

I didn’t have enough MDF to cut 2 new sides out, so instead, I used the sides, and the bottom, but cut another top that was the width of the bottom, Plus the thickness of 2x sheets of 12mm mdf. this meant I wouldn’t eat into the size of the top shelf.

The bottom was slightly larger than the rest of the compartments, as A: I was lazy and B: I wanted to try and make a little drawer for other bits and pieces, so I got away with using the original bottom.

I cut the slots for the 3mm MDF with the saw as well. If I did something like this again, I’d probably try and get a 3mm bit for my router, as for each slot in the MDF, I had to do 2 overlapping cuts with the circular saw. A lot of people do this kind of work on a table saw, but as I don’t have one of those, and I do have the hand held circular saw, that’s what I used.

As it was, Come assembly time, I discovered I wasn’t quite accurate enough with my slots, and while some were OK, a couple were a little too tight. While trying to tap the shelves into position, I was actually driving the sides apart. with a few knocks from a mallet, and some clamping and extra glue, I managed to get things to fit up well enough again. I’ll have to be a bit more careful next time. Its all a learning experience.

So, its not exactly an action shot, but

So, its not exactly an action shot, but here is the saw after cutting the slots for the shelves

I was impressed with the performance of the saw. After a couple of hours of working with it, not working full time obvously, but working it enought that I thought I might have dropped the battery a bit, the battery was still reading fully charged on its built in meter. I think I’m going to like these 5 amp hour batteries that I bought to go with my Ryobi One+ gear.

Out of glueup, and the shelves fitted.

Out of glueup, and the shelves fitted.

Purple Custom Xbox Controller

Its been a while since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d throw up a quick post of a relatively quick project my wife and I did this last weekend.

wpid-IMG_20140302_143936.jpg

Disassembling the controller was fairly easy, the most difficult part was getting out the security torx screws, without a small enough security torx driver. Here’s a tip: you can just use a flat head driver small enough to fit in one side of the screw. There are 7 screws, the 6 obvious ones, and then one under a small label in the battery compartment. That last one can fool you if you don’t go looking for it.

After getting the controller unscrewed, next step is to pull all the electronics out, and wash the plastic. The controller we were using was by no means a new one, so it got a good scrub in soapy water to make sure there was no grease and oil left on it.

I was too impatient to let the plastic air dry, so I fired up my air-compressor to blow the water off them. It makes a short effort of drying everything off.

With the plastics dry, it was painting time. I sprayed a primer on all the parts and then left it out in the sun while we went to the shop to get the colours for the project. Diana chose the colours for her controlelr, a nice purple, and a complimenting pink for highlights. The paints we chose in the end didn’t actually need a primer coat, but It was already done, and shouldn’t hurt things. When choosing your paint, its usually a good idea to get a good quality paint. Its a bit thicker than the cheapo stuff, and covers better usually. You can make do with cheap paint, but you will really want to do use a primer, and you’ll probably need to do more coats.

The paint went on pretty well, if not a bit fast. There were a few bubbles that formed in places, but they were fixed after a quick sand and a second coat.

After letting the controller dry for a couple of hours, it was time to put it back together. Everything just slots back where it came from, and screwed back down, and hey presto! a purple and pink Xbox controller!

Completed Controller

And that’s it. I didn’t think to get any more photos of the process, sorry. Its not too difficult though.

Cat Climbing Tower

Recently, my wife and I embarked on a project to build a climbing tower for our cat Dizzy. After watching a show about troubled cats, we learnt that cats like to sit in high places, and overlook their domain, so we were aiming for a fairly high tower, that you just can’t buy (not without spending a lot of money anyway).

Inspired by the design at http://www.meow-cat.com/2013/02/how-to-make-cat-tree-with-solid-wood.html, I fired up Sketchup, and began working out what would fit best for our needs, and that resulted in a nice set of plans to guide us in construction.

The sketchup design

The sketchup design

we had an idea of what we needed, so off we went to the hardware store to get the timber and some other bits and pieces needed. It was getting late in the afternoon, so we had to hurry to get in before they closed. Returning with a car load of wood and MDF, it was time to get started.

The key to any successful project is good plans

The key to any successful project is good plans

Insert building montage here….

So we didn’t get many pictures between starting, and finished construction, so you’ll need to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. I think I need to work out a way to take time-lapses for projects like this.

From recollection, we went to the hardware store at about 3pm on sunday, and managed to have a standing cat tower by dinner time. I think we did well.

In no time, we're finished

In no time, we’re finished

As we ran out of time for the weekend, we bought the tower inside, and Dizzy got an opportunity to try out the tower unfinished for the week. She likes the 2nd highest shelf the best.

Dizzy trying out the uncovered tower

Dizzy trying out the uncovered tower

The following weekend, we had some more time, so off to the craft store to get everything to finish painting. The wood is painted with acrylic artist paint, and the shelves covered in purple fuzzy fabric. In the picture below you can see Dizzy trying out her new favourite place. We have since sat a pillow on the shelf to make it a little more comfy for her, and its now her place to sit.

Painted, covered, inside. Dizzy approves.

Painted, covered, inside. Dizzy approves.

All in all, I think we spent under $100 for everything we needed to make the tower, it was a fun project to make, and Dizzy loves it. I’d call that a success.

3D animation Assignment

Over the last semester, I’ve been doing an introduction to 3D animation unit as part of my university degree, and it went pretty well.

The course revolves around blender, the free 3d modelling and animation software. I’ve tried to play with blender in the past, but always got swamped with its way of doing things.

But this course, even though it was mostly just tutorial videos, has given me a fairly solid grasp on the basics, and can hopefully utilize its power in other projects I might attempt in the future.

My final assignment was a 30 second video, which you will see below The resolution is a bit low, I’ve been meaning on rendering out a higher res one. If i do, I’ll edit this post so you all can see it in great detail.

And here it is:

DIY Camera Slider

Here is the complete slider. I originally had a different head on it, but this one is much more flexible than the first.

Here is the complete slider. I originally had a different head on it, but this one is much more flexible than the first.

Video sliders are handy little things. I probably first became aware of them on Philip Bloom’s blog (which is great, if you’re into video production). They are quite effective at adding some interesting movement, and dramatic effect to shots that my otherwise be fairly static. This last week I attempted to make myself a mini camera dolly / slider with bits and pieces I had kicking around.

I began with the rails. They are made from 2 pieces of Aluminium extruded angle, maybe 2cm square. The length length was whatever they were already ( i guess about 50 – 60cm). They are screwed down to two pieces of wood, one on each end. The rails are basically done at this point. I thought it would be handy to put some sticky rubber feet on the bottom to help hold the slider in position. (The feet didn’t work the greatest, but they are better than nothing)

The ends are terribly complex things to make. A chunk of wood, and some screws, and you're done.

The ends are terribly complex things to make. A chunk of wood, and some screws, and you’re done.

The tricky part was always going to be the sliding platform. Most pro ones use bearing to roll smoothly, and effortlessly across the track. I don’t really have any bearings suitable, and while I did contemplate buying some for the task, I decided simple is best. Digging through my piles of bits and pieces, I came across some small nylon sticks. I have no idea what they are from, but they were the right size, and right price. I drilled two holes through all 8 of them in pairs (a top, and bottom piece for 4 corners), so the holes would line up properly. Then I grabbed a piece of aluminium plate which I had kicking around, and marked out holes that would match the holes drilled in the sliders. I managed to get the holes pretty spot on, and the small bolts I used just dropped right through. I tightened the bolts up until everything was held in place, but there was still enough movement of everything to slide.  At this point, I drilled a hole through the center of the aluminium base, and bolted on the tripod head (which was later swapped out for the ball head, which is pictured, and is mounted in a different spot)

Here is a close up of th sliding platform, giving a general view of how its constructed

Here is a close up of th sliding platform, giving a general view of how its constructed

Here you can see the bottom nylon sliders

Here you can see the bottom nylon sliders

The grand total of this build was $0 for me, but if you have to buy parts, obviously it will cost you more.

Below you can see a very boring, and short demo video I made last night with the slider. Not at all interesting, and as I just chucked the camera on, lighting and colour balance isn’t the greatest, so forgive me.

Is it any good?

So, do I call this project a success? well, it works, kind of. It might be fun to play with round the house, but I’m not sure I’d want to take it out in public. It certainly has its issues, and I suspect, at the very least, will need a few revisions.

There is slack in the sliding platform which lets it slop around a bit too much. I can avoid some of this by tightening the nylon sliders, but that creates too much friction and then the slider doesn’t slide very well. I am contemplating fashioning a different one, made from one or two large pieces of nylon cutting board which are grooved to fit the rails in exactly.

Also, the small bolts that I’ve used have a tendency of coming loose. The addition of a lock nut on each would probably fix. I just need to find some.

General stability is lacking, and with the DSLR mounted, its impossible to let go of  it without it falling over sideways, and smacking the camera lens into the ground, which we all can agree that that is a bad idea. The slider could definitely do with some wider legs, and I’ll be looking into that shortly too.

Recycled Wood Coffee Table

After replacing some of the fence palings with new ones at our house, I had some old ones left over, some of which were OK enough to warrant possible re-use.

At the same time, we were in need of a bigger and better coffee table for the lounge room, so an idea for a project was born. I will build a coffee table!

I began by sorting the boards, picking usable ones. There was lots of rough ones, split ones and rotten ones. Eventually, I found enough lengths that were good enough. At that point I got to work cutting them all to length.

At this point, I used a belt sander to try to remove as many of the splinters and rough surface as possible. If pieces weren’t fitting beside each other very well, I would plane them down with a hand plane, until they fitted better.

The boards, cut to size were then screwed to a couple of thicker pieces of timber, sourced from an old shipping pallet that was kicking around at home. Skirting boards were also screwed to the pallet timber.

There was a bit more planing and de-splintering done at this point, getting ready to apply a finish to the timber. Once everything was satisfactory, It was time to apply several coats of varnish. I think I applied 3 fairly thick coats over the course of a couple of days. I figure that should help hold the timber together a bit, and stop it from splintering.

With the table top sorted at this point, it was time to work on the legs. I used a length of 25mm square RHS steel. The joints were mitered by hand with an angle grinder, then tidied up the old-fashioned way, with a hand file. It would be nice to have a better method to cut things like this, but I can’t justify a bigger cutting method. A horizontal band saw, or a drop saw of some description would be really handy here.

Of course, the old-fashioned way requires lots of checking. Getting close, but still needs a little more work.

Here we can see the rough little welders square I made to hold the legs square. It wasn’t perfect, but was close enough for this task. I think I’ll have to try again for future projects. By allowing me to clamp the pieces together, it made it so much easier than it would have been if I had to take the pieces while they were loose.

It’s a little of a jump step again, but once I had the legs welded up as square as possible, and ground flush, I joined them together with a couple of pieces of 30mm angle iron. Tacking, and measuring  and adjusting , re-tacking, measuring .. etc…. I eventually got it pretty good. The legs weren’t exactly square, but it’s visually un-noticeable in the assembled product.

And then the legs were screwed to the pieces of timber at each end, holding it all together. Now, all I need to do is pull the legs off it, and paint them black. The paint has been purchased, so it shouldn’t be too long before I can call this one 100% complete.

And that’s it for this post. Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, things get busy, and this year has really flown.  I hope you’ve enjoyed.

Bye for now.