Many years ago I decided to build a motorcycle style rocking horse for my grandson. Unfortunately it took much longer than I had anticipated to build it.
I had seen several different kinds online, many folks were selling plans or kits for ones they had designed. I wanted to style mine differently from all of them, and make it much bigger. Designing it from scratch was no small task. I made several mistakes along the way. Finding a safe way to attach the handlebar to the motorcycle, and then the motorcycle to the base was much more difficult than I had originally planned.
I also wanted to make it more functional than just a simple rocking horse. I wanted things like the saddlebags to be usable, the engine’s heads and crank case covers and other items to be removable using regular mechanics tools.
The biggest problem I had with the whole build was actually the very first part of the build. Or rather, what I made it out of. I wanted to use as much re-claimed material as possible. I had a ton of 1/2″ and 5/8″ pressed board in my scrap pile so that was my primary material for the chassis , wheels, and engine parts. Pressed board is just too porous, brittle and susceptible to tear out. I had to stop and re-design so much of this project because I used particle board A combination of hardboard and MDF would have been a much better choice the project would have gone much more smoothly and quickly.
I was actually stuck at this stage for way too long. I was too indecisive.
I finally got around to stage two of the vacuum system for the CNC machine.
First I built an articulating arm for the vac exhaust. I used nothing but scrap wood. Well, except for the knobs and bolts of course.
Unfortunately the exhaust is a bit too powerful, the suction doesn’t quite keep up and some dust is being blown back out the front.
I had been thinking about building a baffle for the vacuum’s exhaust anyway with the hope that it would cut the noise level more. Perhaps it will also cut the exhaust speed enough to create a negative airflow from the front to the back.
I have never been happy with the switch configuration on my table saw. I was always fumbling around trying to find the off switch after making a cut on it while trying to make sure my cut pieces didn’t drift back into the blade or fall off of the table.
I finally decided to make a switch paddle so I could easily shut the saw off without fumbling around blindly or taking my eyes off of the blade and materials.
I had seen several prototypes for them on on YouTube but none for the particular Jet saw I have so I had to design my own.
It’s not fancy, well it is made from some scrap Walnut I had, but it is a pretty simple device.
Before I had begun unpacking my tools I wanted to put my phone in a safe, out of the way spot that would also be easy to access and would allow me to see notifications on the screen from pretty much anywhere in the shop. I needed a phone stand on top of my refrigerator.
The only tools I had easy access to at the time was my chop saw and some basic hand tools like screwdrivers and hammers. I had a very limited pile of scrap wood as well.
I’m almost embarrassed to show this but I made a very rudimentary phone stand. Come to think of it, I had never made one before that day.
It’s been sitting on the fridge since that day more than a year and a half ago. While it’s ugly as sin it really was very functional. The stereo I have in the cabinet next to it is not BlueTooth compatible but does have a USB port and a 3.5 mm audio input jack so I can my phone charged while listening to good music. Pandora is my platform of choice for now.
Anyway, over this last weekend I decided it was time to retire this clunky old thing. I did not take any pictures of the process, it was pretty straightforward.
Finished with just some mineral oil and clear satin poly
Several months ago, in order to reduce the footprint of my tools, I decided to build a router table into my table saw.
I had a Skill 1820 2hp plunge router I rarely used since I had purchased my Porter cable router with dual bases (fixed and plunge).
I also had a scissor jack that I had bought more than a decade ago. It was still in its original unopened box. I’m not even sure now why I bought it in the first place but I figured it would work well as a lift mechanism for this project.
I hadn’t even really begun to unpack my tools when I felt the overwhelming need to make something. We were out shopping for containers to replace all of the rotting cardboard boxes my shop was packed up in when I came across this cheesy plastic coated aluminum coat tree:
I realized at that moment that I wanted a coat tree, but I wanted to make it myself. This one was maybe five feet tall and very wobbly. Still, I liked the style of the hooks (branches) and the fact that the top two sections were able to rotate. The ability to rotate was key because I knew I wanted to put it in a rather tight corner of a room.
I knew I could do much better than this and probably for less money. Goal 1: I wanted to make it it taller, at least six feet tall. Goal 2: I wanted more hooks (branches) which could be accomplished by making it taller but I wanted a lot more hooks so the branches would have to start lower on the tree and I would put them on all four sides rather than just two. Goal 3: Because their would be more branches it would need to be much sturdier with a more stable base.
TBH, I did roughly sketch out some ideas but really, beyond those goals, I didn’t have a plan as to how I was going to make this thing. I kind of just made it up as I went along. There is at least one major change I would make to the build process that I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t think of in the first place but I’ll go into that later.
I decided to go with 3/4″ MDF and some 1/2″ metal rod for the trunk of the tree. MDF is heavy and is relatively easy to route out. After some rough calculations I realized I could get all three section out from a single 2’x4′ sheet of the stuff. I cut it into 2-1/4″ strips then laminated the three sections together.
This is where putting a little more thought into planning this build would have helped. I really should have laminated these section around the steel rod, rather than trying to drill holes for the rods.
It turned out that no matter how well I set up my drill press I was unable to drill the shafts for the rods straight enough to keep the section perfectly aligned.
Next I created some patterns for the branches/coat hooks. I wanted three different sizes and at least different two shapes for the two larger sizes. The smallest one, which was for hats would only work with a single hook.
Now on to the base. I was tempted to laminated a bunch of 2″ thick stuff to make a thick base around 12″-14″ in diameter but I didn’t think it fit with the overall design of the project. I also don’t like the round shape for a stand base they topple too easily. to be honest I’m not sure how I came up with the idea but I decided to make a base with double interlocking dado joints (a total of four joints) that fit snugly around the “trunk” of the coat tree.
I realized this wasn’t enough tho. I was pretty sure these cheap studs would twist and bow if I didn’t reinforce them.
I have been using it for several months now. I am really happy with how it turned out. Being able to rotate the top sections makes it really easy to access all of the hooks while it’s in a tight corner.