Saturday, March 24, 2012

Exposed Drawers!

I've been patiently waiting to add some organization to our drawerless TV stand for several weeks now.  I wanted to give me (and my co-worker, who is letting me borrow his workshop) a bit of a break.  It can be a little tough trying to fit building something around work and family, so the break was well needed.

In the meantime I picked myself up a little something :)  The drawer slides from amazon were $34.01 for 4 pairs.  This was the best price I could find for full extension slides, including shipping (they are heavy!).  Jon talked me into upgrading to full extension for the extra $12, and I'm so glad we did, they're great quality and getting the back of the drawers is awesome.

I also picked up a cordless drill which we have wanted for a long time.  Our cheap-o Black & Decker couldn't hold a charge for an entire project, in addition to other things.  I used this same drill in Dan's workshop and fell in love.  I like to buy one tool per project, to build up my workshop workbench.  Isaac agrees.  It's a good drill (and has that cool 'fast sneaker' look to it).  I also had to pick up a sheet of 1/2" AC plywood and the drawer handles.

Back to the drawers.  First Dan cut the boards out to size using a table saw for me.  I'm was little nervous to use the table saw myself, since the boards were big, and I can occasionally be absent minded and it was after work and I was pretty darn tired.  I did do the routering myself, which only proved that it was a good decision to avoid the table saw.  At one point I heard Dan gasp, and then inform me I had my hand about an inch from the spinning router blade.  heh heh...  I [very stupidly] had assumed that once I turned it off and stopped hearing the blade spin it meant it wasn't spinning.  Oh well. This is why I'm not buying a table saw until I can afford a Saw Stop.

Again, back to the drawers.  The dovetails were made with a katie jig and router bit set from Sommerfield tools.  The step-up wasn't hard at all, and the only hitch was the thin plywood would constantly chip out, as seen by our little test box above.  Sticking a cut piece of MDF the width of the board clamped to the front of the board worked great and there wasn't anymore chipping out.

It took about an hour to do all the dovetails, but it was super easy to do.  Dan had labeled all of the sides for me and that was probably the most difficult part of the job.  At least, I would have probably messed it up (stupid dyslexic brain).  We cut the slot for the bottom with the table saw instead of a 1/4" router bit ,as the luon wasn't quite 1/4" wide.  After that, I headed home to get some rest.

Doesn't that dovetail look dang sexy?  (yeah, never imagined I'd say that).  A few days later I had some time to assemble the boxes.  That too was easy. 

You pretty much slather in a little glue and hammer the joints together.  I used a block to hammer on, as the hammer left marks (probably wouldn't have with hardwood) and because there was one easily repairable chip (ditto).

Then I slid the bottom of the drawer in it's slot, which isn't supposed to be glued, to leave room for the sides to expand... but I forgot for the first 2 1/2 drawers.  I'm not worried though.  Plywood doesn't really expand much.

Then I hammered on the other side, and that could be a pain because the bottom of some of the drawers were so warped.  One gave me a ton(!) of trouble, and one slipped in with complete ease, so I guess it really depends on how warped your board is. Such a pain to try to hammer and support the thing in several places to try to get everything lined up perfectly.  Next time I'll probably store the wood flat under some books, instead up on it's side.  You can see I couldn't resist trying out a couple DVD's in their future home.

Overall though.  These things were quick to assemble, taking only about an hour or two, all the sides were naturally square and the dimensions spot on.

I was hoping I wouldn't have to visit Dan's shop again to rip down some spacers to size, and I was in luck!  The space was very close to 1" and the drawer exactly 1/2" beyond that.  So I made a quick trip to the store to grab a couple stock 1/4" boards and 3/4" maple boards.

Next time I would probably use two 1/2" boards, as I did split the 1/4" twice, even with pre-drilling.

Although it doesn't seem like it would take that long, I spent about 6 hours  screwing in the spacers and slides.  Crazy long time.  I was trying to be precise, and the sides did line up well, but I don't think I have the drawers far enough forward.  We'll see, I guess.

After quite the long day, I loaded up the drawers and called it quits.  They're not completely organized, so I'll hold of on showing the inside pics for now, but even in this state, I think this thing is shaping up nicely.  All I have to do is finish the faces and make a few other changes, and I'll be done... for now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This week has been pretty good for us.  On Sunday my husband found this Kindle at the recycling center/dump (Which means we actually took the 3 weeks of recycling out.  That is great in itself.).  I gave him specific instructions not to bring any more old electronics home, as he was already returning several failed repair attempts on this trip, but he said I would want this one.

Naturally we hoped it was thrown out for something simple, so he plugged it in to our old charger, and we got a critical battery screen error that didn't go away despite being plugged in for a while.  We found that a little concerning, but soon realized that the charging light had turned off and that E Ink stays where it is, even with no battery in.  He did a little googling and found that the Kindle wouldn't take a charge unless the charger had just the right amperage, often only working off a USB port.  So there was still hope for it.  We tried a few chargers at our house, our friend's house and finally my Mom's house.... and one finally worked!  We played around with it and everything else about it seemed just fine.

We learned it is a Kindle II International version (free 3G!), which is very similar to the current Kindle Keyboard 3G, selling now for $189.  Here's the creepy part.  Within seconds we had the previous owner's email, full name, and complete access to her Amazon account.  Probably more, had we dug around on it.  We could have easily bought whatever we wanted on amazon on her account (however once she realized it, she could have severed our access to it, but still have had to foot the bill).  We reset the account, synced it with ours and started adding on free public domain books.  It's instant!  It's crazy!  We also bought a copy of our favorite Bible translation to have on there, since I'd want that on a Kindle Fire anyway if we ever get around to buying that.  It's original name was "Wendy's 2nd Kindle" so we assumed she wasn't too attached to it and just tossed it without a second thought.  Her loss, our gain! 

She's borrowing my helmet.  I have such a small head.
Second project this weekend and another dump find - fixing up bikes!  I had previously found a bike for Eve at the aforementioned recycling center in November.  One side was really rusty, including the chain and sprockets, and the other side completely clean.  I thought I had taken pictures of the before, clean up pictures, but I guess not.  Anyway, in November I used WD-40 and crumpled up aluminum foil to clean off the rust.  Using WD-40 on a bike chains is not typically recommend, except for initial cleaning of the rust.  It worked well and got the rust out of the really tiny places.  I also disassembled the back coaster brake and cleaned that out.  I didn't have any chain lube or hub grease, so once it was all cleaned up I re-assembled it dry and left it for later.  I used this site for help, but it still took me over an hour to get the back hub brake reassembled.  One of the problems was that I had to take the entire thing apart to clean it, not just one side, and that site doesn't show all ways of reassembling it.

March???  In New England?
Anyway, this weekend had unseasonably warm weather so I brought the kids bikes (and helmets) out to parents house, since they had both the grease and lube the bike needed.  I did a quick disassembly & dry reassembly and was ready to go.  The final reassembly was super fast, even with the grease mudding everything up.  That hour+ last time really helped me to understand these things, I guess.  After that I did all the normal stuff; lubing the chain, putting on the chain guard and inflating the tires.  Everything went really smoothly and I personally was even able to ride it around just fine.  Success! 

We still need to get better training wheels, as we salvaged those from the smaller free bike that we stole wheels from for the balance bike.  Plus we'll need to accessorize with all her 6-year-old bike bling (ding-ding).

Real men wear pink.

I decided to buy a bike for Eli's birthday back in December.  It was a hard decision to pay for a new one, but it was either spray paint Eve's old bike or buy one.  It's not that I'm opposed to a boy with a pink bike (really, Eli even wore pink boots one winter because he liked them so much, see above), but I really wanted Eli to feel like this bike is his, not just his sister's hand-me-down.  Painting sounded okay, but I really didn't want to take on another unnecessary project.  And since I know that it's really hard to find a used 12" bike around here cheaper than $25 (from looking around for Eve's 1st bike), I bit the bullet and decided to buy a new one. 

It was $25 at Walmart on Black Friday and I thought it was a good deal, as it has both real brakes and inflatable wheels... but when I assembled it, I found it would have probably been easier to overhaul Eve's old one.  The chain guard hits the chain, so I had to cut a notch out of it (more repair to that to come, for sure), and then I found the back wheel skipped really bad.  If you tried to crank it, it would frequently loose it's footing somewhere in back hub and skip out of place.  I was so bummed.  It was supposed to be the easy answer.

Anyway, I got over my loss and fixed it this weekend.  I did the same disassembly, cleaning and reassembly I did to Eve's bike, and it worked just fine.  I didn't see anything wrong with it when it was taken apart, so perhaps it was just the tightness of the screws on the back.  Either way, I could tell right away it was better, as the back wheel didn't clamp to a stop anymore. 

On a more boring note (yep, it's possible), we also used our new DVD/VHS recorder to move over old home videos to DVD this weekend.  We pretty much bought the thing for that purpose (and normal use, as our old DVD/VHS player broke several months ago).  We'll be sending each member of Jon's family a copy of the videos, and I know they'll love it.  I'm so glad to have that project nearly done, as it also means we can give back the 10 VHS tapes that have been cluttering my closets for 6 years.  It wasn't that hard, we just let it do its thing whether we were home or not, and switched the tapes when we remembered.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick Fix

Eli's Bed has a problem.  Spot it?  Yeah, that's the one. 

At least once a month we hear a crash and run in and find that he's fallen off the bed.  Most of the time it's to the side...and those falls aren't so bad; he's even slept completely through a fall before.  But when it's through that big hole, it's usually on his head, often flipped over.  Those, I gather, are not fun.

It wasn't a particular fall recently that prompted me to get this done or anything like that.  It was a combination of things.  I actually remembered to look for and buy some wood for it while I was lumber store Sunday.  Plus it was gorgeous outside today and I wanted to do something outside and the kids were all gone for the afternoon.  So an open breezy house with no gates or doors or kids asking me what I was doing while running back and forth cutting the wood seemed like a perfect time.

Why the hole you ask?  Well it's the bottom part of a bunk bed.  I'm pretty sure they expected that side to be against a wall... since the ladder is on the other side.  And probably expecteed the kid to sleep the opposite way.  In our last place we had it against the wall, so it wasn't a big deal.  I tried flipping him around so the ladder had a chance of stopping him, but he has very stubborn sleeping habits (he must have 3 blankets in a particular order on him, even in the summer) and we just didn't push it.

Eve has the top bunk and it's much cozier.  She even has a side rail.  Someday I might morph the two beds together to give each kid both a headboard and a footboard... but we'll see if I ever get around to that.

The wood is firing strips I bought at Lowes.  They're fairly bad quality, but I needed boards at widths of 5/8" so I hunted around in the pile until I found acceptable ones.  I sanded them down the best I could and ran my fingers all over them to pick up the rest of the splinters (you can see how much I love me kids), but I still won't trust them until they're sealed or painted. 

It wasn't that hard to figure what to do, just cut the boards to size and put them in between the U shaped sides.  I cut the first one just a little shorter than the top one and angled it in, but the rest are just barely bigger than the gap so I could slide them in without angling them much.  It was a pain to get those boards in right.  Hammering and shimmying was my main strategy. The kids came home when I was doing this part, which was actually nice, as Eli was encouraging while I muscled those boards in.  Sometimes I do like having them around while I work...  I put a runner up the back that I screwed every board to, because some were warped one way, some the other, so that made it nice and flat.

Awesome Bluedino's T-shirt!

...Sigh...  Pictures always look worse when taken with a flash...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Proud Mama!

Yep.  Evie's well on her way to baby wearing.  She can officially tie her own little Mei Tai by herself with Daisy in it.  In fact, I found it so mesmerizing to watch her, I had her redo it several times just for my own enjoyment.  It's awesome to see her feel exactly where her straps are, knowingly pulling them to the front, forming a perfect little X in the back.

Funny thing is, this is where I was planning on ending the post, but in writing this I realize I've seen that reaction a ton of times when I put mine on!  People often pause and watch me tie my Mei Tai, slightly dazed with mouths dangling.  It's not a bad thing either.  The people who do stop to comment usually say how they wish they had that when their kids were little, or that I should sell them (I wish), and the people who don't, usually just continue on their merry way, smiling slightly.  I always hope the smile is because little baby looks so snug and content, and not because my mei tai looks funny on me - sometimes it distorts my shirt all over when I'm in a hurry.

So here's my word of advice, if you're worried using a mei tai might be too difficult, try it! I've gotten super quick now and it just feels like second nature (that happens when you have to take your coat off in freezing winter to put it on in a parking lot).  And I'm proud to say my little mama is starting to learn the gentle art of babywearing as well.  If she can do it, you can too :)