Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saving Energy Bills with a Fireplace Cover

As with many homes, I have an older wood burning fireplace in my family room. The fireplace has a chain-metal curtain but does not have any other covering, such as glass doors, to seal it when it's not in use. Every winter, the area around the fireplace is noticeably cold and that is because, even though the flue is closed, warm air still escapes or cold wind still blows into the fireplace.

So, to counteract that problem, I decided to build a fireplace seal that would fit over the opening of the fireplace to stop that air from moving either way. I have to say, ever since I put it in there, I can physically see the material moving in and out as it does exactly what it was meant to do. I also put metal handles at either side to make it easy to pull out or remove as the seal is pretty tight.

Obviously, the seal is not fireproof so it would never be recommended to put it back in it's location for at least a week after you have a fire if you don't clean the fireplace out right away. Even a fire that has been out for 4 days can still have the potential to flare up again under the right circumstances. The cover has a wood frame with plastic and cloth pulled over it. Plenty of chances for a spark to reignite. But, since I hardly use the fireplace other than the winter holidays, I'm not worried about it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MDF Laptop Stands

These aren't a new idea by any means. However, I had some scrap wood laying around and decided to try my hand at building easy to carry laptop stands. The cool part is that they work exactly as I had anticipated. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a demand for this type of thing as I have seen better ideas online and in computer stores. They make a nice craft for kids, especially in school, to give mom or dad on a special occasion. Especially if they are already cut out and the kids just decorate them. I am posting the plans online in case any teachers or day camp instructors are interested.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Film Reel Clock

A few years ago, I ordered some empty 16mm film reels online with the intent to one day make them into something cool. Even though they sat around for a little while, I eventually figured out that I could make a clock out of one of them. I still have a couple more reels and a few more clock mechanisms I have salvaged out of other old clocks that I intend to make a few more.

Turning a Telephone Table into a Record Stand

I had this old telephone table kicking around in the workshop for a while. The wood was very dry and cracked with what appeared to be mold marks in some places on tiny areas. I found it extremely easy to take this apart and had set forward to convert it into a magazine rack. I was going to put a fabric hammock sort of thing inside and let the magazines hang in the fabric.

I had actually put the project aside again because I wasn't completely satisfied with how it was coming along. About 3 months later, I decided to pull out my old record 45's from their plastic totes and listen to a few. What I noticed from all of this is that I actually missed the days when I used to have these out to be played whenever I felt like it.

I sat down in the workshop to see if I could come up with a little stand or storage cabinet that I could put them all in so they could be alphabetized and easily accessible. I happen to look at my old magazine rack project, and after some measurements, realized that it was the perfect fit for all my old 45's. So, a few adjustments to the design and some paint to hide the mold staining (wouldn't sand out because it was deep in the wood), I now have a nice, and portable, record stand.

Recycling an Old Bedside Table

I have had this old bedside table sitting in my garage for a few years now. I originally had tools in the drawers and my miter saw screwed to the top of it. The problem was, it was too short to be practical as a saw table and it didn't have an easy way to move it around the workshop.

So, I built myself a better bench for the saw and set out to fix up the old table. I wanted a new table for the telephone and a place to put the phone books and such. The drawers were too small and flimsy to hold the weight and size of the phone books so I decided to completely remove the drawers, put in shelves and a new door on the front. I also painted it to match my refurbished coffee table.

Old Stereo into a Digital Stereo

I picked up an old stereo console in a yard sale for about $2 a few months ago. I have been looking for that exact thing for quite some time, but as common as they were in the 70's, they are very hard to find anymore.

The first thing I did when I got it home is turned it on to see what was working. It did power up but the radio was buggy and the turntable wouldn't do anything. So, I pulled out the old electronics and set to work on refinishing it. Since it was a combination of wood and plastic parts, refinishing the wood was not really an option as I couldn't also refinish the plastic. There was also a bit of water damage on the top. So, I decided to sand it down and completely repaint it in brighter colours. I wanted it to have more of an old arcade or calliope type of appearance to it.

Well, I succeeded in doing that. I then set to work installing the new electronics which consisted of an older computer running a simple jukebox interface. So now, when you lift the lid of the cabinet, you are greeted with a flat-screen monitor displaying selection cards and selection buttons. You can flip through the songs and play them just like you would with a real jukebox.

It works fantastic and it sounds authentic. It is completely hack proof and the kids love to listen to it. I hope to eventually get a chance to build another one, but I have completely different ideas as to how this one will look.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coffee Table Refurbish

I was given a coffee table a while back by my business partner over at RC Wood Creations. I don't have a before picture which is usually a must for me. I only have a work in progress picture. The original table was a blond wood colour and a mix of paper laminate on press-board and real pine. The squares in the center consisted of smaller panels of wood and rose coloured glass. I ripped the center pieces out and repainted the table (as paper laminate and press-board could not be sanded and re-stained). Then I replaced the center panels with MDF board with a flat back finish and a layered plastic resin on top of that to give the surface a good durable finish.

All in all, I think it turned out pretty good. It is currently sitting in my living-room.