Remodeling a House

This is an ongoing post, so it will be updated as progress is made…

So our house was built in 1979. It’s not archaic, but it could definitely use some updating. To start, the terra cotta style tile, that pervades throughout the whole first floor definitely needs to go. Since we bought the house we have been waiting for the day to get rid of it. Well it looks like the time has come!

We really started with wanting to remodel the kitchen, because the cabinets are original and gross. The previous owners painted them, slapped some granite on to spruce them up enough that we could live with them. Now they have to go. Since we are planning on ripping out the kitchen, we wanted to do the same with the floor tile, since it was never tiled under the base cabinets. So now that we have a reason to replace the tile, why not raise the dining room (Who though sinking a room in was a good thing back in those days?). Might as well rip out the useless pony walls and “pulpit” we have too… Here we go!

Here are some “before” pictures. I forgot to take more of them before I just started tearing out the first pony wall.

Here is our main entrance. With the pony wall and the fireplace so close together, there’s not much room once you enter. This made it especially difficult to move any large furniture into the house. This also shows the sunken dining room.

Here is the existing kitchen.  I hate galley kitchens, but it’s what we have to work with.  The entrance wall and soffits will be coming out also!

With the first wall down and the drywall off the second, the ugliness of the tile really shines! The useless pulpit is also visible here. With the sloped ceiling there is about 4 feet of headroom… Who thought this was a good idea?

Wrapping a car roof with vinyl

I’ve always been disappointed that Lexus didn’t make a glass roof available to the 2014 IS350 F-Sport, because I love the look of them. Especially on a white car. I decided to do something about it and wrap the roof myself to give the glass roof look. Rice? Maybe.. but I think it looks cool.

After reading a few tutorials online, I figured it was going to give me at least some trouble, so I tried to prepare as best I could. The first thing I needed was a black antenna cover. I was going to do this the right way and remove the antenna cover, so I didn’t have a seam near it. I also saw some examples of wrapped antenna covers, and they look horrible in my opinion. So I needed a color matched antenna cover. Obsidian Black is Lexus’s plain black, so I ordered the cover from House of Lexus. Fast shipping and great customer service.

Now I did a bit of research on the type of vinyl to use for an auto external wrap. I ended up choosing the 3M Wrap Series 1080. It seemed to review quite well for both durability and installation. I found the size I needed (5ft x 6ft) on amazon, and ordered it up in gloss black.

I also did some research on cutting the vinyl, since the IS350 roof gutters are molded into the panel. This means there is no trim to hide the vinyl seam under, so I needed something that would give me a nice clean, straight cut. Also after a bunch of research, I settled on the 3M Knifeless Tape. Amazon had a kit that included the tape I needed and some vinly applicators, so I just ordered that.

Roof Before starting.

Time to get started.. I needed to remove the antenna cover first. This proved to be a bit difficult, as I didn’t feel like removing most of the interior trim. So I went with the method of unclipping the headliner from the back, and unbolting the antenna from the inside through the hole from the overhead light.

It wasn’t the easiest, but I got it done.

Bare roof

Now I started to lay down the knifeless tape exactly where I wanted the vinyl edges to be. This stuff is a bit difficult to work with and get it to stick properly, but stick with it…

Now start laying out the vinyl to get the correct orientation to cover the entire roof before peeling off the backing.

Once laid out to your satisfaction, peel off the backing. Since I was working alone, this was tough. It was hard to get the vinyl to stay where I wanted it and get the back off smoothly without the vinyl really adhering to the roof. I ended up with creases and bunches, but the 1080 vinyl works well in unsticking itself until you really push it down.

I started working from a front corner, lifting and stretching the vinyl to get good, crease-less adhesion. Using a [heatgun](http://amzn.to/2BS0Bv3) helped to smooth out the creased vinyl along the way. **Beware** A strong heatgun will melt the vinyl quickly. Use short bursts of heat from a distance. I nearly ruined my vinyl near the edge but using the gun too close:

After much swearing, I finally had the roof covered. Half the battle is over.

Now it’s time to trim. I cut the vinyl as close to the knifeless tape edge as I was comfortable with. After watching some tutorial videos, I needed to really secure the vinyl to the roof on *both* sides of the tape in order to get a clean cut. Then you can peel the line off the tape and slowly pull back at a 30 degree angle to the roof to start cutting the vinyl.

This actually went smoother than I thought, and now I had the sides done.

For the front and back, I sliced the vinyl with a razor leaving about 2mm in front of the trim seam. Then I used a thing store rewards card to push teh vinyl down into the seam between the trim and roof panel. It worked out pretty well. The front turned out great, but I got a little too close with the razor on the back, leaving the tiniest amount of white visible near the trim. Oh well.. I am *not* re-doing this for that small sliver. Black antenna cover was also installed

The sunroof was pretty straight forward. Slice out the middle, and tuck up the ends under the sunroof opening. The heatgun helped here around the corners.

After about 3 hours of intense heat, and much yelling, I think the end product turned out pretty good!

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Amazon

Qty Product Price Notes
1 3M 1080 G12 GLOSS BLACK 5ft x 6ft (30 Sq/ft) Car Wrap Vinyl Film $56.85
1 Knifeless Vinyl Wrap Cutting Tape Finishing Line 10M Plus 3M Toolkit $19.99
1 Wagner Power Products 1,200-Watt Heat Gun $21.97

Installing a Whole House Water Filter

We got a notice in the mail that our county was going to be doing maintenance on the water lines which included treating with a chlorine solution. It also said we would be tasting the chlorine. Yuck. I had already been looking into a whole house filtration system, so at this point we decided to just go and get one. One of our friends installed this Whirlpool system and really likes it, so I picked one up at Lowe’s

This is where I’ll be tapping into the water main. Just ahead of the main shutoff, but still behind the tee for the garage hose bib. I just recently installed this valve because the original 1979 gate valve did not instill much confidence in me when opening and closing.

This is my initial design for a 3 valve bypass to hook the filter up to. I was originally going to use the included bypass like our salt water softener uses, but I decided to go with copper valves in the line in case I ever wanted to change this filter out to a multi stage canister filter. I would also install a drain before the main shutoff, so I can completely drain the house lines if needed.

So I started sweating some pipe. As you can see here the valves and drain don’t really line up with my design. That is because I accidentally soldered a valve the wrong way to the drain connection, so I was forced to move that into the middle of the bypass. After looking at these picture again, the middle valve is installed backwards. Oh well.. that will rarely be shut.

Also seen here is my homemade 1 inch pvc to 3/4 inch pvc threaded adapter. You would think they make something similar to this in one fitting, but I couldn’t find anything after lots of time staring at fittings at Home Depot. This is needed to step the filter input/output down to the diameter of the flexible hot water heater lines I will be using to hook everything up.

Mostly done with the bypass valve. I know my copper sweating technique is amazing…

Time to disconnect the water softener. I will only be disconnecting the input, as I will be installing the filter in line before the softener per the filter’s directions. Whoever installed this made some adapter similar the ones I just created, but went straight to copper, and then used some sharkbite lines to connect to the main. I don’t have sharkbite tools, so I just went with threaded connectors.

Main water line is cut. At least I know my Z-Wave flood detector works!

Valve sweated onto the main. Time for the first initial pressure test. I closed the first 2 valves and turned on the main… Who would have guessed.. leaking at the middle valve. Great.

The copper pipe I bought had a little flat spot on it, and it seemed to have lined up right at this valve. So I torched the crap out of this joint to get the old solder to flow out. Then I applied *lots* of flux to the joint and re-soldered. I tried to glob it on in the flat spot. After a few tried it was now leak proof. It ain’t pretty, but I’ll be monitoring this joint for leaks.

Proceed to burn the ever loving shit out of your wrist by touching the hot torch after re-flowing the solder in a stubborn leaking joint. It actually doesn’t look too bad here, and there’s the remnants of some fresh aloe I rubbed into it immediately.

Here the water is turned back on to the house, and using the valves, the filter is bypassed. Everything is still leak proof, so that’s a good sign.

Hot water supply hoses connected to the main waiting to be connected to the filter.

Now we have filtered water! I noticed an immediate difference in taste from the kitchen tap after leaving the water run for a bit. Running the initial media cleaning cycle showed me that my tee solution for the drain wasn’t good enough, as the drain from the water filter was under enough pressure to push water into the water softener’s drain port. Woops. I’ll fix that in a bit.

And here’s a close up of the 3 valve bypass in the filtration setting.

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Lowe’s

Qty Product Price Notes
1 Whirlpool Whole House Complete Filtration System $279.99

Organizing Lawn Tools in the Garage

After installing one the plastic lawn tool racks from home depot in my garage.. I loaded it up with all my shovels, rakes, brooms etc… It held them all, but nothing really felt secure. The little balls that are supposed to apply pressure to keep everything up just didn’t feel good enough. But everything stayed where it should, so I went with it.

Every now and then some tools would fall out of the rack, but then one day our metal gravel rake fell off the rack — right onto my wife’s head. It gave her a nice gash on her hairline. Plus the rack even broke. This thing wasn’t safe, so it was time to come up with a better storage solution.

Here is the broken rack.

Along with the evil rake and other shovels just piled up where they couldn’t hurt anyone.

I started laying everything that needed to be hung up on the wall out on the garage floor. I didn’t realize I had so much stuff that could be organized. I was hoping it would all fit.

I just started hanging tools up where I thought they made sense. I started with the lawn/shrubbery power tools. Using some peg board hooks I was able to get most of the tools hung up. I used a spring loaded clip to hold up my push broom. These actually work quite well for lighter handled tools.

Then I started mounting the heavier tools with some vinyl coated tool hooks. I tried to get most of these screwed into the furring strips located behind the peg board. These were much more secure than the flimsy plastic rack I was using.

After a bit of rearranging, I was able to get everthing I need for the yard hung up in a *safe* manner.

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Home Depot

Qty Product Price Notes
4 Everbilt 7/8 in. White Spring Grip $2.58
6 Everbilt 1/4 in. x 3-1/2 in. Screw-In Tool Hook $0.94

Replacing a Microwave

So our microwave has been on its last leg for a while. Several pieces of plastic are held in place with super glue. Then last night, while making my tea, sparks started shooting out of the top of the microwave (on the inside). After taking a look, it appears this thing was the cause. I have no idea what it’s called, so I’ll call it the microwave deflector. That sounds cool.

I’m not sure why it would just start sparking, but whatever. Time to get a new one. This one was manufactured in 2003 so it had run its course. We have an over the range microwave, so I was limited to that style in my choices. Old Microwave:

I wanted something immediately, so I was limited to the in stock items at the stores nearby. I did a drive by of Home Depot and Lowe’s. I had already had in mind that I wanted this microwave from Lowe’s. It was returned in the “in-stock-at-your-store” search, but the product page showed a 1-3 day wait for ship to store. Someone at Lowe’s needs to work on their product search.

I went to the store anyway to take a look at their stock. Home Depot didn’t show off their stock, but Lowe’s had all the boxes on a rack next to the displays. I didn’t see the one I wanted on display, but way at the top of the rack, I saw the product number written on a GE microwave box. Score.

I started taking apart the cabinet above the microwave. It was just a board screwed in from the side from the surrounding cabinets. What a mess above the microwave…

Everything was sticky. There was dust and dirt on everything. I removed the duct tape from the vent and started unscrewing the load bearing straps. With the microwave being all sticky, it was nasty taking it down, but I managed.

Lucky for me, the mounting bracket on the wall was the same as the one that came with the new microwave. Maybe they’re all the same? I’m not sure but I’m glad if they are. This one was grouted into the tile backsplash and that would have been a real pain.

So I cleaned everything up and propped the new microwave in place with some wood. The load bearing straps wouldn’t fit as is, since the mounting hole are in different spots. I had to re-mount them to the wall where they would hold the microwave level.

After mounting and releasing my amazing microwave stand, it was close enough to level for me. Re-attach the cabinet panel, and boom: new microwave in under an hour…

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Lowe’s

Qty Product Price Notes
1 GE 1.9 cu ft. Over The Range Microwave with Sensor Cooking Controls $359.99

Creating a New Tinkering Space

For most of my projects involving soldering or putting parts together I have basically been taking over half of our computer desk. I wanted to create my own space so that our desk doesn’t end up looking like this every other weekend…

There’s some space on the other side of our office so I measured, and I’ve got about 6 feet of wall space to work with, so I started looking for desks. Most average computer desks were around 4 feet long, so I tried to find something simple in that dimension. The space I’m going to re-purpose:

Reading reviews and searching on amazon, I came to realize that a lot of the desks out there are crap. I toyed with the idea of a flip top desk, but I couldn’t find a nice one, and really didn’t feel like building one. Finally after a while, I decided to go with a simple table top and 4 legs desk, at 55 inches wide. The Need Computer Desk 55″ Large Size Office Desk Computer Table Writing Desks in the black/brown top, to match most of the other office furniture.

After it arrived, I noticed the top was scratched to hell. WTF. It’s not like the foam packaging was damaged. I came to the conclusion it was like this when it was packed.

Since I’m using this for a hobby desk, I don’t really care. I used some black sharpie and the scratches aren’t too noticeable. Had I been using this for a real computer desk, I would have been forced to repackage it and send it back. That would have been a real hassle.

It was easy to assemble with only 8 screws holding it together and here it is in the space I will take over. The scratches aren’t really noticeable now.

Time to stock the desk. While I was fixing my quadcopter, my soldering iron broke. I’m surprised it lasted this long honestly. I decided to get a real iron and ordered a Hakko soldering station.

Lighting isn’t all that great, so I wanted a cool looking desk lamp too. I decided on the Anker Lumos E2 – Specifically because I could adjust the color temperature. I *hate* flourescent lights, and I could make this lamp emit a warmer light color. I’m very pleased with it.

To go along with my new soldering iron, I also ordered a new Third Hand. My little metal helping hands were getting bent, and one of the alligator clips had fallen off from being bent around too much.

Starting to lay out my swag on the new desk:

I ordered the plastic drawer organizer to be able to store all my electronic and RC parts. I really liked this one after looking at a bunch online.

I ended up mounting it on the wall and it is almost full already. I didn’t realize I had so many parts just laying around in containers…

I started looking for a way to easily organize my smaller hand tools like my strippers, pliers and snips as well as my little hex screwdrivers. After some searching I came across this pliers holder that I think works perfectly. I drilled some holes in a piece of 1×2 and sicky tape mounted it to the pliers rack to have all my small tools in one place. Nevermind the giant scratch I put in the table top trying to secure the desk lamp. Woops. That will be covered in a minute anyway.

I wasn’t concerned about the scratch because I ordered a power strip bar that I planned on mounting to the back of the desk. Because I had more room now, I also ordered a bigger cutting mat. I think the black looks better too.

Here it is all set up.

I stowed a bunch of stuff away in a new accent table with drawers. It fits nicely in the corner, and will make the perfect platform for the home of a future 3D printer.

I decided to be really lazy and in order to not have to roll to the other side of the office I brought my laptop over to this desk from a cubby in the living room where it barely ever came out. It was taking up space on the desk though, so I found this cool articulating arm on amazon that comes with a notebook tray, or can be used for a monitor. I think it turned out pretty good.

Stowed:

In use:

Now I have my own space to work in and won’t encroach on our actual home working space.

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Amazon

Qty Product Price Notes
1 Need Computer Desk 55″ Large Size Office Desk $156.99
1 Hakko FX888D-23BY Soldering Station $138.95
1 Hobby Creek Helping Hands Third Hand Soldering Tool $44.95
1 Akro-Mils 10144 D 20-Inch by 16-Inch by 6-1/2-Inch Hardware and Craft Cabinet $29.22
1 Beadalon Acrylic Pliers Rack $20.12
1 Dahle 10672 Vantage Cutting Mat, 18″ x 24″ $12.00
1 9-Outlet Surge Protector Wall-Mount Power Bar $26.59
1 Winsome Daniel Accent Table with 3-Drawer $63.70
1 2 in 1 FLEXIMOUNTS L01 Full Motion Swivel LCD Arm,Desk Mounts for 11″-15.6″ laptop $69.99

Troubleshooting a Quadcopter

I decided to cut ties with my Mudskipper frame, and move back to my zmr250 frame. I liked the way it flew better, and it was much lighter. I had purchased nicer components for the mudskipper build, so I wanted to migrate some of them back to the zmr. This is where my troubles begin.

I started by tearing down both of my quads. I purchased a new FPV camera, because my old Sony 1117 is definitely showing signs of wear. I went with the RunCam Owl Plus due its wide FOV and low light sensing. Plus it was orange!

I also wanted a new FPV transmitter, since I was thinking I might maintain 2 quads at some point, and wanted 2 full sets of FPV components. For this I went with the Foxeer FPV TM25 Transmitter, because it was completely adjustable in output power.

And last, but not least, I ordered a new receiver – since I had destroyed my 2nd FrSky X4R-SB during a crash. I decided to try the new FrSky XSB, because it was smaller, and only had one connector on it. The only downside I see to this receiver is the inability to *easily* replace antennas. With the X4R, I could snap on a new one, but these are soldered on.

So here is my latest instantiation of my ZMR 250. So far I’m digging flying 4S batteries. Much more power!

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Amazon

Qty Product Price Notes
1 RunCam Mini FPV Camera OWLPLUS 700TVL 5-22V $50.94
1 FrSky XSR 2.4GHz 16CH ACCST Receiver S-Bus $30.64
1 Crazepony Foxeer FPV TM25 Transmitter 5.8G 40CH $34.99
1 RJX RROSD Distribution Board with BEC $23.98
1 Crazepony 4pcs EMAX RS2205 2300KV Brushless Motor $72.99

Heli Nation

Qty Product Price Notes
1 REDROTOR RROSD PRO V2 PDB $30.00

2012 Nissan Maxima Brake Pads and Rotor Replacement

Even though our 2012 Nissan Maxima only has around 36K miles on it, the brakes have been horrid. Vibrating, squeaking and making all kinds of noises. Rather than do the back and forth with the dealer I decided to just replace all the rotors and pads myself. I found a reasonably priced kit on Rock Auto that contained all 4 rotors, all pads and hardware. I had it shipped to my house and it took a few days.

Starting on the fronts. I jacked up the car from the front on a cross member. I put some jackstands on the jacking points on the frame rails. Please *Never* work under your car without properly setting jack stands. Jacks fail all the time. Breaking loose the lugnuts before jacking may be a good idea here if you don’t have an impact gun.

Front wheel off. I removed the caliper slide pin bolts (19mm for front). These came out relatively easy and will release the caliper from the wheel. Do *not* let the caliper hang from the brake lines. That’s a good way to get yourself into a real mess. I used a wire coat hanger wrapper around the front spring, and through the slide mounting holes. Maybe some day I’ll learn to take clear pictures.

With the caliper removed, I removed the pads from the caliper bracket. I can now work on removing that caliper bracket. This is secured with 22mm bolts on the front. These needed some time to soak in the glory that is PB blaster. After a while the impact gun got them loose. You can not replace the rotor without getting this bracket off.

With a few smacks of a small sledge, the rotor should just pop off now.

Now to be able to fit the caliper back over new brakes, the piston needs to be compressed back into the caliper. Remove the brake fluid reservoir cap in the engine bay to make this easier. Using one of the old pads and a C clamp, screw the piston back into the caliper. At this point I would normall say spray everything in the caliper down with brake parts cleaner, but I didn’t check to make sure I had any before starting… whoops.

Time to prep the new pads. If the new pads came with a wear spacer, put that on the new pads (Usually on the lower end of the inside pad). Use the included grease to coat the backing plate of the pads (Some new pads say not to do this). Also lube up the tabs that hold the pad into the caliper bracket allowing it to slide.

Replace the old metal clips on the caliper bracket with the new ones provided. Reassemble everything and then you get to do everything all over again on the other side! The new rotor will feel lose if you don’t have the screw that holds the rotor to the hub. This car’s old rotors didn’t have any. Once the wheel is on, this will tighten the rotor up.

I decided to bed in the front pads first before working on the rears. Follow the instructions that should have come with your pads, but it usually involves a few quick stops from 60-15, 45-15 and 30-15, making sure to never come to a complete stop. You should be able to smell the brakes. Then drive around for ~5 minutes to let them cool off, again avoiding coming to a complete stop. After the bedding process you should see your new rotors change color from the heat dissipation.

On to the rears…

I’ve read that are some gotchas with the rear brakes online. Apparently one of the caliper slide bolts is really hard to get out. But if you take off the bracket to replace the rotor, you don’t really need to remove the lower slide bolt. So I figured I’d give it a shot and see how it goes.

Rear wheel off. The parking brake assembly is inside the rotors here, so I don’t have the parking brake on. I couldn’t really find any information on if the parking brake would fly out everywhere when I took off the rotor, but no one really mentioned anything about so I figured I was safe.

Trying to get a picture of the “impossible” bolt. There is not a lot of clearance behind this bolt to get an impact gun on, and big sockets can’t even fit.

Now I get to move into the garage. Check the forecast before you start some auto maintenance outside. You don’t want to have to put brakes back together and the wheel back on in the middle of a Florida downpour!

Back to work…

I used my tiny 1/4″ ratchet with a 14mm socket that barely fit onto the bolts and was able to crack it free with a sledge hammer. I’m actually suprised the ratchet didn’t break apart. Well I loosened the bolt, but definitely couldn’t get it out. You can see a tiny clean spot here where the bolt hits the suspension arm. This caliper is staying on the bracket. At this point you could just change the brake pads.

Now I got to work on the 19mm caliper bracket bolts. And kept working on them… I tried a ratchet and hammer. I tried letting my impact gun sit on the bolt for minutes at a time. Multiple applications of PB blaster.

You know what? The rear rotors are still looking pretty good here. I think I’m going to just go with replacing the rear pads…. Anyone want to buy some new 7th gen Maxima rear rotors?

Following the same steps from the front, I pushed the caliper piston back in using the C clamp and one of the old pads. Replaced the hardware on the bracket, and lubed up the new pads making sure not to get any lube on the braking surfaces.

Loaded up the brake pads into the bracket and reattached the caliper. Rear brakes done! I followed the same break in procedure as the front. The rotors didn’t need it this time, but the new pads did.

Braking is now much smoother and feels better all around. Good day to save some money!

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Rock Auto

Qty Product Price Notes
1 POWER STOP KOE6075 Autospecialty By Power Stop 1-Click Daily Driver Brake Kits Front And Rear $175.79 Info

Disclosure

Disclosure

In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission released their new rules for Disclosure Compliance. These rules are set in place to ensure that readers or viewers of web media (blogs, Youtube videos, etc.) know if the blogger/presenter is sponsored, endorsed, or partnered with a different company. In blog terms, the readers need to know if the blogger is making money by sharing a link or product.

In compliance with the FTC guidelines, please assume the following about links and posts on this site:
Any of the links on AlwaysTinkering.com are affiliate links of which I receive a small compensation from sales of certain items.

What are affiliate links?
Purchases are made on external affiliate company websites: When a reader clicks on an affiliate link located on AuNaturaleNutrition.com to purchase an item, the reader buys the item from the seller directly (not from Au Naturale Nutrition). Amazon and/or other companies pay Au Naturale Nutrition a small commission or other compensation for promoting their website or products through their affiliate program.

Prices are exactly the same for you if your purchase is through an affiliate link or a non-affiliate link.
​You will not pay more by clicking through to the link.
*

I use one main type of affiliate programs:

1. Amazon affiliate links.
Always Tinkering is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links. Each of your purchases via our Amazon affiliation links supports our cause at no additional cost to you.
If a blogger links to an Amazon product (with a special code for affiliates embedded in the link), and a reader places an item in their “shopping cart” through that link within 24 hours of clicking the link, the blogger gets a small percentage of the sale. Amazon links are not “pay per click.” If you click on the product link and stay around Amazon and purchase something else, however, I will get commission on that sale.

Anytime you see a link that looks like http://amzn.to/…… or http://www.amazon.com/…. ​it is an Amazon affiliate link.

Organize the Closet

So I have a closet where I throw most of my junk (Read: networking equipment rack, boxes, wires, cables etc…) This closet also happens to be the closet with the attic access in the house. So whenever I need to get up in the attic to run another cable, I’ve got to clear out the entire closet to get my ladder in there.

I need to build something that organizes the closet, but also allows me to get into the attic without clearing everything away.

So I started measuring and jumped into sketchup to start designing. After quite a bit of contemplating, I decided to build a ladder into the closet organizer.

The black box is my network rack.

The shelves are spaced around 18 inches apart and I felt like this design gave me a good bit of storage and the ability to access the attic if I needed to. If you can make out from the picture, there are no studs behind the side walls, so I’m going to use pocket holes to secure the side cleats front and back. This will be my first foray into pocket holes, so it should be interesting.

Time to start gathering supplies. Off to home depot to buy some wood. I purchased 3 premium studs with the least amount of knots that I could find. 4 1x2x6ft select pine boards for the shelf cleats and some 3/4 x 16 inch by 3 foot melamine shelves (5 total).

Where to start? I wanted to first clean up my mess of a network rack with wires running everywhere. The UPS for it was powered by an extension cord that was run out of the closet to an outlet in the room. I didn’t like this. I had to run a new outlet into the closet.

The closest power source I found was the switch box for the fan/light in the room. After taking the switch out to see how easy it would be to feed a new line into the box, I decided that wasn’t possible. The box was old and broken, and the switch was held to it by drywall screws! Time to replace the whole box… That’s for another post. Removing the old box made fishing the new outlet line much easier, and it was then tied to the source power for the fan light. Viola! New outlet in the closet.

While I was up there reorganizing I decided to install a high isolation rg6 switch for my cable. Last year we “cut the cord” and I installed a Mohu Sky HD antenna on the outside of the house. The land line cable still provides us with most network channels in HD, but not CBS. So in order to watch CBS Sunday Morning, we needed the antenna. Well sometimes reception isn’t that great on normal channels, so I want to switch back to the land line cable for the network channels. This is where the switch comes in. I pulled the antenna source cable, and the land line source cable through the ceiling, and then ran the output up into the attic as the source for my main splitter. Cable/Antenna switch works great, and it’s hidden in an upper corner, so not noticeable at all. Just have to remember to switch the TVs to either cable or antenna source, or it will seem like it isn’t working at all.

Now I can get on to building the organizer. Taking measurements from sketchup for the ladder angles, I cut the 2x4s at a 14.5 degree foot angle with the mitre saw. I needed to use a straight edge and circular saw to make the top tight-angled cuts, and then used my belt sander clean up the cuts and make the 2 legs as identical as possible. I kind of forgot to take pictures of this step. After cutting the ladder rungs and building the ladder, I went into the closet for placement.

Once I figured out where the ladder needed to go, I drilled pilot holes for the lag screws that were going to hold the ladder to the wall. I chose to go with Spax 4 inch powerlag t star screws. Holy cow these things are beasts. Such a huge improvement over my supply of grip tite screws from home depot, I decided to restock all my supply of screws with the Spax wafer head T star screws. I ordered 1 pound boxes of 1 1/4, 2, 2 1/2 and 3 inch. All of which were used on this project. Time to relegate the grip tite screws for jobs I don’t care about.

Anyway, the ladder is now up in the closet.

I started filling in the noticeable knots and abrasions from milling the 2x4s to sand down later. Since I wanted to keep the shelves and the ladder rungs at the same height, I now had my reference. To make this easier I ordered a laser level. I had never had one of these before and wow, it sure made life easier

With my reference lines projected, I could now start measuring the cleats for the shelves. Measuring 3/4 inch down from the line to account for the actual shelves of course. The rears were easy to attach to all the studs in the wall. The side were not. I ordered a Kreg pocket hole kit from amazon since I had never worked with them before and didn’t have any supplies. I would come to find out the 2 1/2 inch screws still weren’t enough to secure the side cleats front and back.

The jig is easy enough to use. Set your material depth on the jig and bit, clamp the jig and drill away.

Like I said above, after getting my side pieces ready, and drilling the pocket holes, I used some of the 2 1/2 inch screws from the kit to secure them to the front and back of the closet. They just weren’t biting enough to be secure. I did just get my fancy Spax 3 inch screws, but the wafer head is 1/2 inch diamter, and won’t fit into the pocket holes. Time for some alterations… Using my half inch drill bit, I widened the pocket holes to accept the wafer head screws. I also made the holes a tad deeper, so the screws would have more length to bite into the stud.

Not that pretty, but the holes are on the underside of the supports, and I don’t really care that much.

Installed

Now it’s time for the actual shelves. I went with melamine because it was prefinished, pre-egded and I was lazy. I know cutting it nicely will be a pain, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I bought 5 3 foot wide, 16 inch deep shelves. I bought 5 because I couldn’t make more than 1 shelf out of a 3 foot section, and the 4 foot sections were heavier and I didn’t feel like carrying them out of the store.

To cut melamine and leave a nice edge, be sure you have a sharp saw blade (I don’t). You will also need to tape the edge that you want to be clean. I taped the top edge so I could get a nice cut on the visible portion of the shelf. Since the circular saw spins so that the teeth cut from the bottom, the shelf will need to be flipped so the top is down while cutting. Be sure to keep your orientation straight so you’re left with the edge banding still on the front!

Taped and ready to cut with my not so sharp anymore finishing blade.

After cutting, if the picture weren’t so blurry, you might be able to see it is still a nice clean cut!

Once all the shelves were cut to size, I dry fitted everything before taking the ladder out for paint. I was going to paint the shelf cleats too, but once they were in and level, I didn’t really feel like touching them.

Time to take the ladder out and paint. I used a satin finish white spray paint. I think it turned out decent, plus the grass got some nifty new white stripes in the process.

Before reassembling the ladder I wanted to make it a bit safe to climb up so I applied some clear grip tape to each rung.

Now the ladder is complete and assembled. I just replaced it and re-drove the lags back into the wall. One last thing to do for more support is add some cleats to the ladder to support the weak side of the shelves. This will at least give me a little more peace of mind that the shelves won’t collapse.

Now I am finished! I really don’t care about the cleats not being painted. The aesthetic aggravation is much less than the grief I would have been caused removing and reinstalling them.

Sketchup/Real Life Comparison. Not bad if I do say so myself.

And of course filled with the junk I needed to organize.

——–

List of purchases for this project:

Amazon

Qty Product Price Notes
1 Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System with Face Clamp and 5 Size Screw Kit $84.77
1 AFFINITY Anti-Slip Tape, Clear Textured Slip Resistant Safety Tread, 25 ft. Roll $12.99
1 C2G / Cables To Go 41015 High Isolation AB Switch $17.22
1 Spax 4″ T-Star Drive Washer Head Yellow Zinc Powerlag Screw $15.54
1 Firecore Self-Leveling Horizontal/Vertical Cross-Line Laser Level with Magnetic Bracket $49.99
1 Spax 1-1/4″ T-Star Yellow Zinc Wafer Head Cabinet Screw $7.98
1 Spax 2″ T-Star Yellow Zinc Wafer Head Cabinet Screw $7.98
1 Spax 2-1/2″ T-Star Yellow Zinc Wafer Head Cabinet Screw $7.98
1 Spax 3″ T-Star Yellow Zinc Wafer Head Cabinet Screw $12.98

Home Depot

Qty Product Price Notes
3 2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Premium Kiln-Dried Whitewood Stud $3.05
4 1 in. x 2 in. x 6 ft. Select Pine Board $3.52
5 Melamine White Shelf Board (Common: 3/4 in. x 15-3/4 in. x 3 ft.) $3.05