Belt Sander Fix

Another quick 3D print project to fix the dust collection bag on the belt sander, the plastic holder for this had broken off a while back. I also took the opportunity to make an adapter to connect the dust port to the shop vacuum.

Dust Bag Vacuum Adapter
Download Download
       Leave a comment

Bandsaw Insert

Quick 3D printing project to make a new insert for the bandsaw. This fits Craftsman model 119.214000 and possibly others with similar dimensions. I made two versions, one solid and one with holes that allow for airflow from dust collection.

Dust Collection Solid
Download Download
       Leave a comment

Planer Dust Collection

Quick fabrication project to add a dust collector connection to the planer. The planer generates by far the most chips/dust of any tool, so this will be a welcome addition.

       Leave a comment

Chainsaw Sawmill v3.0

With the general success of the prototype chainsaw sawmill, I decided to make a more permanent/cleaner version. The idea is basically the same, but for easier installation/removal I decided to have this version clamp onto the bar rather then tie into the handle geometry. This version also allows for finer adjustment of thickness of cut via a sliding fence. (the previous version was only adjustable by adding/removing shims)


       Leave a comment

Piano Automation – Valve Control Board Build and Test

Last weekend I got around to populating and testing the piano valve control board. Unfortunately it did not work when initially powered on, I was able to track this down with a scope to problems with the level shift circuit between the pi and the shift registers. Rather than troubleshoot this farther I ended up re-designing and re-etching the board to replace my transistor array level shifter with an off-the-shelf level shifter sub-board. I also took this opportunity to #1 redesign the solenoid wire connections so that a pin header connection could be used rather than having the wires directly soldered to the board and #2 add a connector to the edge of the board to use the pi’s pin header connection.

In the mean time I had also created a 3d printed enclosure to hold the board on the back of the valve bank. This was important as it allowed the final solenoid wire lengths to be determined and I soldered all the solenoid wires onto a pin header. I also 3d printed a support ring to stabilize the pin header and hot glued it all together to act as a single strain relieved connector.

This weekend I was able to finish and test the re-design. All channels seem to be working OK and I’m able to control the piano keys individually from a tablet using a python script. I have some python scripts working that successfully decode the MIDI files, but I haven’t connected the dots between this and the hardware yet, that’ll be the next step along with hopefully adding a web interface.

         Leave a comment

Trailer Light Upgrade

The utility trailer frequently gets used off-road around the yard and woods for moving downed trees/branches, compost, rock, tools, etc. As a result, the standard plastic lights have taken a beating and I’ve had to replace them at least once. Since one of the lights was broken again recently I decided to upgrade them to use a standard all-metal semi trailer style light enclosure. This style of light fits better vertically than horizontally on this trailer, so I modified the enclosure to move the circular side light from the end of the light to the side. I then welded the light enclosure onto the trailer; the size of the light worked out perfectly to connect it to the old light mount and also the top rail of the trailer on each side, making it very strong. At the same time I replaced the side running lights with a low profile LED version and added a guard/deflector made from a small section of scrap rebar.

    Leave a comment

Custom Desk – Complete

I cut the trap door in the desktop, secured it back with some neat invisible hinges, and got it all assembled.


    Leave a comment

Custom Desk – Desktop

Continuing with the desk project, this weekend I built the desktop. I first planed down a few more pieces of the oak tree I cut down and dried last winter. This was supplemented with a few pieces of oak from a local hardwood store. I ran every piece through the table saw to get the edges straight, and then I laid the pieces together and perfected the joints with a hand plane. Once all the joints aligned perfectly I glued and clamped the pieces together with pipe clamps. Once the glue dried I cut the ends to length and added ends, making sure that the two outer attachments were slotted to allow for expansion/contraction.

There was some unavoidable variation in the joints across the top surface from the glue-up and this was leveled out with a hand power planer. The planer marks were then leveled with a belt sander and the belt sander scratches were removed with a orbital sander. I finished it off with stain and then applied polyurethane with a roller while using a torch to pop bubbles. The planing steps created a ton of dust so I didn’t get any in-progress pictures, here’s the result:


Next I’ll cut the trap door for the monitors and give it a final sanding and 2nd coat of polyurethane before attaching it to the desk.

    Leave a comment

Custom Desk – Monitor Lift Mechanism

I got the idea for the monitor lift from an example online using all-thread as lead screws to drive a platform. Essentially I’m just replicating this idea but with a few tweaks that take advantage of having the lathe to make it better/stronger, easier to build, and to take advantage of spare parts I already had.

First I cut the all-thread rod to length and then I turned down one end of each to fit the inside diameter of some spare bearings. I left an extra bit on the end and turned it down to fit the inside diameter of a timing belt drive sprocket – this was later replaced with a chain sprocket due to slipping.  I repeated the same on the top side of each rod (without the extra bit for the drive sprocket) and then I cut some metal brackets to hold the outer bearings. I then cut a small platform and attached two nuts to it that would connect it to the threaded rods.

1 2

These parts were all assembled into the desk; a few small shims were needed to get the rods exactly parallel. I then connected the threaded rods together with a small #25 chain drive. To power the lift I tried a few different test motors and eventually settled on the guts from a small/cheap electric screwdriver – this provided enough torque while not requiring a huge power supply. It could be a bit faster and I need to add some sound damping, but it’s working very well for an initial attempt.

3 4 5

I also made some mounting plates to adapt the monitors to a fixed mounting since the regular bases were too wide. The monitors were then mounted to a 2×4 that acts as a spacer and also adds strength to the platform. Once the tabletop is in place the 2×4 and the rest of the mechanism will not be visible since the monitors will rise so that their bases are just flush with the top – I’ll likely add a trim piece to block this off. The monitors also drop low enough that the table top will clear with no problems.

6 7 8 9 10

The last step was adding limit switches and rewiring – moving the toggle switch up runs the lift up until the positive switch is tripped, and moving the switch down runs the lift down until the lower limit switch is tripped.


Next up will be making the tabletop…

         Leave a comment

Custom Desk – Design & Build Start

The office project is coming along well and the last major missing piece is a desk to replace the table we’ve been using.

Before starting this project we planned that the cabinets would cover the room’s exterior walls between the windows and we also left space on the interior wall for misc stuff (file cabinet, chair, etc). This left the center of the room largely open and it made sense to have the desk there. This arrangement provides some advantages: #1 sitting at the desk in the center allows facing out towards a window with a view up the driveway instead of just looking directly at an interior wall and #2 any screens on the desk will face an interior wall instead of the windows, minimizing glare.

Unfortunately the desk-in-the-center arrangement has one big drawback in that having monitors placed on the desk essentially forms a ‘wall’ of sorts in the room. Normally I wouldn’t care about this so much, but the office is directly adjacent to the foyer with a double-width door opening between the two – so it needed to look as good as it functions. The solution to this problem is to hide the monitors in the desk with a motorized lift mechanism.

We found a desk at goodwill to use as the starting point – the base is good quality hardwood but the top is/was a laminate slab that I’ll replace. We’ve also had a large gear waiting for the right project to come along. The plan is to remove one of the desk’s towers, replace it with the gear, and then make use of the existing back panel of the desk to enclose some space for the monitors.

1 2 3

I started with disassembly of the desk, and then I copied two corner pieces and added some 1/4″ plywood to form the monitor compartment. The new parts are made from Cherry which seems to be an OK match for the existing wood.

4 6 5

Next up I need to add some more internal structure to the monitor compartment then strip/sand the desk exterior and begin on the lift mechanism.

       Leave a comment