Tag Archives: DIY

Cupboard Storage Conversion

This is a job I did a few months ago. I wrote about on my Erik The Ready FaceBook page but I felt it deserved to be on this site too.

This kitchen cupboard was like a low, deep cave and getting into it was difficult. Things at the back became forgotten and one could not use the full depth. Now, with big box drawers behind the doors one can effectively store more – and GET AT it.

It can be argued that some space was sacrificed but that space was wasted anyway because of the difficulty of accessing it. Effectively, more can now be stored in the same space because everything that is stored can be seen simply by pulling open the drawers.

In picture one can be seen a view of the island counter (bench) in the kitchen area with the cupboards closed and hiding what is behind them.

Picture two shows a view of the inside of the cupboard and the jumble of things on the shelves. Notice how deep and low the cupboard is and how awkward it would be to neatly store and access things ESPECIALLY towards the rear of the space. As a result things are forgotten (effectively lost) in the depths of the space.

In pictures three and four one can see views of the box drawers after they had been made and installed on slides in the cupboard space. The top drawer is filled with frequent-use items while the bottom drawer contains things that are used less often but are easily found in this spacious drawer. Note that in this view the drawer handles have not yet been fitted and the screw holes can be seen in the front of the drawers.

Picture five is another view of the drawers partly closed without the handles.

In picture six there is a view of both drawers closed, handles fitted showing that the screw holes have been neatly filled and smoothed.

The final picture, number seven, is the AFTER picture – to be contrasted with the first picture. Note that the original appearance of the counter and cupboards has not been compromised.

Concept, build and installation by Erik The Ready!

Fixes – another vacuum cleaner

This Kogan vacuum cleaner was brought to me with the complaint that, when it was new, it worked fine. However, now that it is a few months old it will not pick up anything.

Even though the dust container had been emptied and the machine appeared clear with no obstructions in any of the flexible tubes, still it did not work. The machine had been bought online and the owner was disappointed and considering getting a replacement.

Would I have a look at it first though?

I took the machine and examined the more obvious things such as the flexi tubes before I switched it on. As soon as the motor came on I heard a sort of POP sound and the motor sounded a bit laboured. After listening to this once or twice I determined that there is a blockage and the POP is either something being sucked into, and closing, an airway or a safety by-pass feature to stop the machine from overheating too quickly.

After removing the dust container I looked into the blue uptake tube and found it was blocked. I removed the filter assembly from the container and took the fine dust filter off the top of that.

Looking down into the filter unit I could see that the filter head was also very blocked.

After picking out a lot of the material blocking the pipe and the head of the assembly I could see the latches that hold the top of the assembly to the uptake pipe. It works like a bayonet light bulb fitting and with a gentle twist I separated the two parts of the filter assembly.

It was fairly easy to then clear the tube but the head was a bit more work using long-nose pliers and a wire hook I gently worked the blockage loose until I could shake all the rubbish out.

I tipped all the material that was trapped in the two parts of the filter assembly out onto a sheet of newspaper. An explanation of what was found is in the captions on the photographs but, to reiterate:

Small sections of what appear to be some kind of rigid plastic straw were found in the vortex assembly (the filter assembly head). Some of these had become trapped ACROSS the airflow path. Once that happened any slightly large dirt – such as cotton cleaning pads and bits of paper lodged against them then larger bits of dust and debris (and hair) also packed onto this until, rather like a beaver dam, the air stream through the filter was completely blocked and no more suction could take place.

What is more commonly found, rather than these STRAWS is hair pins and paper clips – they perform the same blocking function in a vacuum cleaner. It is better to pick up any such items BEFORE vacuuming. This includes balled up pieces of paper and larger lumps of cotton wool.

I then opened the sweeper brush compartment and removed bits of thread and hair from the brushes themselves and from the ends where they could impede the rotation of the brushes.

Once cleaned and reassembled the vacuum worked AS NEW.

If YOUR vacuum cleaner is giving problems – and you are on the Sunshine Coast – let me have a look before you dispose of it and buy a new one. It could save you $$$$!

Fix – knife repairs

A few weeks ago a lady brought me two knives that her father had made for her many years ago. She really liked them because they are really nice knives to use. They are similar to cleavers although not as heavy as a traditional cleaver. The problem was that the handles kept coming loose.

It turns out that the handles were fitted by heating the pointed tang of the knives (the bit that goes into the handle) and then forcing the hot steel into the wooden handle. 

I found the problem with both knives was that the tang was not anchored in any way in the handles. In both cases the tangs were very short and unsubstantial – only extending about two centimetres or less into the handles. The leverage effect of using them eventually caused the handles to come loose and they had to continually be forced back into the handles. This went on until they were only good for a minute or two of use before the handles parted company with the blades.

With the first one, the larger of the two, I took the approach of extending the tang with a length of eight millimetre threaded rod that I welded onto it. I then carefully drilled through the length of the handle and slid the handle down over the now extended tang until the threaded rod protruded out of the back of the handle.

The threaded rod was then cut to allow about ten millimetres to protrude through the end of the handle after which a washer was fitted and a domed nut was screwed onto the thread.

The original, handmade, handle was now firmly attached to the blade with no chance of it coming loose.

After sharpening the blade I sprayed the handle with a couple of coats of varnish.

…and then:

The smaller of the two knives was next and I took a slightly different approach with this knife. Instead of extending the tang I cut the blade back about a centimetre effectively giving it a longer tang and a slightly shorter blade. I then made a cut across the width of the handle where the blade was to fit and, after heating the tang I forced it into the handle so that the width of the blade would also extend inside the handle for about a centimetre.

The next step was to drill two five millimetre holes through the handle and the part of the blade seated inside the handle and fit two brass machine screws and nuts. This did not turn out to be as neat an operation as I had hoped but it was a workmanlike solution.

Once again I sharpened the blade (another service that I offer) and varnished the handle.

The owner was very pleased with the results and that she could now use both her knives.

Knowing where…

There is an anecdote about a HUGE SHIP worth perhaps 50 million dollars or more that developed a problem with starting its engines.

After every technician had looked at the engine and much money had been spent on consultants someone suggested a man they had heard of who had an uncanny ability with matters of this kind.

The man was summoned and when he turned up he was seen to be a rather elderly, small man with an old-fashioned tool bag. He reminded the suits of one of those cartoons we see of an old railway engineer in the late 1800s.

He walked around the enormous engines and listened with an old stethoscope.

Eventually he took out a small ballpein hammer and tapped gently in several places, all the while listening intently with his stethoscope.

Finally, as the big bosses were becoming fidgety, he took out a slightly larger hammer and gave a sharp rap with the ball of the hammer.

“Try now,” he suggested.

The engines turned over and ran smoothly even after several tests.

The man packed his tool bag, took out an invoice book and wrote an invoice which he placed in an envelope and handed to the senior manager present and left.

When they opened the invoice they were surprised to find it was for $10,000.00 – ten thousand dollars!

They wrote to the man and asked for an itemised invoice for they had only observed him tap on the engine with a hammer.

In due course the invoice arrived. It had two lines:

Tapping with hammers – $2.00
KNOWING where to tap – $9,998.00

Even at my level – that is nowhere near such desirable numbers – it is my knowledge, my time and my readiness to get my hands dirty that I am charging a very reasonable rate for…

Fixes – vacuum cleaner

I was asked if it was worth keeping an LG vacuum cleaner. It was a good machine so I said I would check it out.

The owner said she had cleaned it and when I opened the machine to check the filters were clean and the machine was empty of dust and rubbish.

I then dismantled the hose ends where they clip into the machine and also the end where the attachments are connected.

I found an interesting mix of hair pins, paper clips, hair, dust, sweet wrappers and post-it notes all mixed up with floor sweepings and food crumbs near the ends of the flexible tube and trapped in the end attachments. The floor/carpet cleaning accessory (sweeper head) was similarly clogged.

Some of the plastic clips and rubber seals that hold the sweeper head together had been broken and lost. When I reassembled this item I sealed the places where the rubbers were missing with duct tape so that air leakage would not affect the vacuum suction.

 I removed all the debris and cleaned the hose and its connections and the sweeping accessory. After reassembly the machine worked like new.

On the subject of vacuum cleaners…
I was asked to attend to a very good Hoover. The owner said it just did not switch on and wanted to know if it was repairable or if a new one might be in order.

I disassembled it and found the fault to be the on / off switch inside the machine (it is activated by the large knob on the top of the machine).

I found HOOVER to be rather unhelpful but was able to source the correct switch in Maroochydore (for those not familiar with the area that is a larger town near where I live in Palmwoods and about 20 kms away) where I had to take the sample for comparison. The switch itself was not expensive but, because of the travelling I was not keen to go home, write a quote and, if it was accepted, have to go BACK to town for the part.

I bought the part and installed it and reassembled the Hoover. I tested it and it worked perfectly.

When I contacted the owner and quoted $45.00 she was a bit miffed suggesting she could have bought a new one for not much more. The equivalent new machine would, of course, have cost over $100.00, perhaps closer to $150.00 so I was a bit aback taken. After a bit of dickering the vacuum was collected and I was paid. If it had not been for the travel and time spent finding the part the cost would have been less but I felt it was not unreasonable under the circumstances.

Reminiscent of the story about KNOWING where to tap? See http://eriktheready.com/knowing-where/

Perhaps I should have suggested that I keep the machine instead of being paid?

Fixes – shelf install

I did a number of repair jobs in the last year and did not post many of them to this site so here goes.

First was a shelving project for a client in Coes Creek.

The garage area under the house was becoming very cluttered and every time something was needed all the plastic boxes had to be lifted down to get to the one that was needed.

Also, the boxes at the bottom of the pile were becoming damaged. They contained business documents that had to be kept for a time in good order so broken boxes would be a problem.

I worked out the materials and the client arranged for all the wood to be brought to site (I do not have a large enough vehicle).

The shelves are attached to the stub wall at the bottom and to the floor beams at the top. Each shelf is 450mm deep by 3.1m long and, including the floor at the bottom, roughly 6.7 square metres of storage space has been created. The floor to ceiling height is just over 2 metres.

It is now possible to get at one box at a time. Boxes are not being crushed by being on top of each other and it is possible to also store a number of other items on the new shelves.

Workmate table top

I wrote about this little workbench before at   http://eriktheready.com/refurbish-workmate-copy/.

However, I needed a flat work surface to do small work on because my big workbench is so crowded with all manner of stuff.

I scrounged a piece of board and cut it to a reasonable size – in this case just under 600 x 800mm.

I attached two pieces of wood  with screws to form a lip front and back of the board.

 

The back of these LIPS is just under 350mm apart.

By using the cranks on the bench I close the sides of the bench, place the board with the lips down then crank the bench open again so that the edges of the surfaces latch into the lips.

This now gives me a surface I can work on without worrying about it tipping if I put something near the edges.

When the top is on and the bench is being used as a table I needed to keep the dogs and pegs that I made before, somewhere they will not be misplaced when I DO want to use them.

I then drilled holes in the pegs and threaded a cord through them and did the same with the dogs that fit over them – threaded a piece of string through them.

I screwed cup hooks in under the bench and the dogs and pegs can hang there out of the way and where they will not be separated from the bench itself.

 

 

This turned out rather well – very satisfying and a great boon when I first used it.

 

 

 

 

Pop-up toaster that doesn’t

This toaster was working. BUT…when you inserted bread if you did not jam the lever down REALLY hard it did not engage and stay down. What this meant was that the toaster elements did not come on and no toasting was happening although the lever appeared to be down.

The pilot light did not light if the mechanism did not actually engage but this was not always noticed – very frustrating.

Once bread was in the toaster and being toasted the end of the toasting would happen but the lever would not come up. One had to hold the toaster cover and pull the lever up to get the toast to emerge from the slots.

If one wanted to STOP the toasting for any reason you similarly had to press the cancel button and push the lever up to disengage it.

I removed the cover from the toaster and examined the electro-mechanical part that controlled the POP-UP part of the device. I found that the shaft on which the mechanical and spring-loaded part of it rode up and down was gummy with quite a lot of old crumbs attached.

I cleaned the shaft and the lock mechanism and put a dab of lubrication in the cam that controls the hold and release of the mechanism.

After re-assembly the toaster latches into the ON state without effort and pressing the eject button works at once whereas it had to be pressed and the lever physically lifted before.

Although toasters are comparatively inexpensive they are often repairable at little cost.

Repurposing 1

A lot is said about finding new uses for things we usually throw away and the buzzword for this is REPURPOSING.

Years ago I started saving plastic bottles such as shampoo and similar. I would cut the top and bottom off and clean them then use the “tubes” so formed to hold my cables together. Depending on the thickness of the cables, I would use larger or smaller tubes as my tidies.

Toilet roll centre tubes, wrapped in packing tape, also make good cable tidies – cheap and easy to replace when they wear out.

 

 

 

I have always hated the fact that people wrap electric cables around appliances (hair dryers for example) or tools (such as electric drills). One reason is that the constant twisting can damage the inner cores of the 

cables as well as the cables outer insulation. The other reason is that often the cables come unwrapped and various other cables tangle with them and people start tugging at this cable bundle – that does none of the cables any good.

Another thing I have noticed is that people coiling up cables that do not have built in storage, start doing so at the END of the cable furthest from the appliance. This also causes twisting and bulging in the cable because the appliance does not let it unwind. Rather, lay the cable out and with the appliance or tool close to you, start to gather the cable in as if coiling a lasso – as seen in western movies…? That way, all the twists are unwound as the cable is gathered; then squash the loops and slip one of your cable tidying tubes over it.

Store awkward items neatly in old plastic bottles that you have washed out.

For my camera cables and the cables for my multimeter, I  use various sizes of toothpaste tubes.

 

 

 

Refurbish workmate copy

Refurbish old WorkMate-type portable workbench

I was given this old piece of equipment and have found it very useful but difficult to use.

It only had two plastic dogs for clamping and one of the cranks for opening and closing the clamping action of the top was broken off.

I first fixed the broken crank handle with a piece of scrap aluminium tubing, an M6 bolt, some washers and spacers and a nylok nut. It looks odd but it does what is required, and the opening and closing of the table is smooth and effortless. (See pic V1)

I then found that the two plastic dogs were not satisfactory (see pic V2) and obviously would not hold a work piece firmly and squarely on the table.

I decided to make some new clamping dogs.

I first cut some pieces of 25mm hardwood dowel in 50mm lengths and got a friend to turn them on his lathe so that I had 20mm at the original 25mm diameter, the next 20mm at just under 20mm in diameter and he last 10mm tapered down to about 18.5mm. (also see pic V3).

After some sanding these PEG-type dogs fitted just fine (see pic V4) and held a work piece really well BUT…

I felt that if I clamped soft wood with the round hardwood pegs they could dent or bruise the wood unacceptably.

Only having some pine lying around, I made four dogs to slip over the pegs so that the clamping surfaces will be flat (see pics V5 & V6). The notches enable odd shaped pieces to be clamped and held too. I think I may have to scrounge around and find some harder, finer-grained wood and remake these because the pine might be a bit TOO soft – not at all hard wearing.

Overall, though, I am pleased with the result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clamping for drill press

Clamping a workpiece squarely for benchtop drill press

I was making some clamp dogs for a portable workbench and needed to drill 25mm holes in the prepared squares of wood.

After drilling a small pilot hole I then had to clamp each piece in my press vice and was concerned about getting them clamped so that they would be square (90°) to the drill. If my holes were not accurate then the dogs would not sit flat when slipped over the 25mm pegs.

I suddenly had the thought that I should look at the problem differently.

I lightly clamped the wood block then turned the vice upside down on the drill table. I loosened the vice and, by pressing on the body of the vice and, at the same time using a finger to press the wood down, re-tightened the vice.

Now when I presented the vice with the work clamped in it I could be confident that the work was SQUARE to the hole saw.

 

 

 

Tent pegs and storms

I used to do a lot of camping.

One year when it was very stormy and several people were putting storm straps on their tents I decided I had better try to do something or run the risk of my tent and belongings being scattered around the camp and the adjacent areas of the Kruger National Park.

Not having a storm strap I became aware that the wind was acting like air flow across a wing – when the airflow creates an area of low pressure above the wing there is lift and it is this lifting effect that was causing the tentage – read fly sheet and shade net – to billow out and snatch at the tent pegs.

I had to find a way to stop the tent pegs from being pulled out and came up with the idea that I have shown in the (rather amateurish) sketches.

I had spare tent pegs and a lot of rope so I drove in extra pegs between the tent and the pegs already in place and faced to take the strain in the opposite direction. I then made up loops that I could adjust the tension on and looped them over the outside pegs and the inner (new) pegs.

The result was that as the wind BELLED the tent up and out and the ropes tried to pull “their” pegs out the INNER pegs attached to them with the short rope loops would not let them move outwards.

I found that I needed to go around a few times and re-tension my opposing loops but we survived the storm and I noticed a tent that HAD had a storm strap had been blown away.

When I camped after that if there was the slightest sign of a storm I would put in my innovation and have few, if any, problems.

Another wheeze that someone came up with was a drill and, using an 8 or 6 mm extra long masonry bit, when the ground is like iron – pre-drill the tent peg holes. Saved me some broken pegs, some sore arms from rebounding hammers and the neighbours’ ears from the blue language that resulted!!!