Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dirt cheap furniture part 2

I'm on a roll with building furnishings that are cheap, sturdy and more often than not look great.
This time I acquired a veneered table top that was destined for the landfill. The table top plus some industrial shipping crates, a weathered 4x4 from a fence and a piece of scrap 2x4 wall stud, made a wonderful TV stand for my wife.

We had initial constructed it from some wood left at the house by the previous owner. It was unfinished and looked like it was thrown together on a whim. Although it was functional it was nothing to look at and I felt that it needed and update


The second set of shelves I added on after finishing the stand were constructed from the original TV stand and allowed for that cats to look out the window while providing a place to put some of the TV related stuff

The Build as a whole was fairly easy, I cut a total of  5 pieces of wood and the rest was assembly sanding and finishing. the budget was nearly free, I had to buy all of the screws and finish previously for the laundry table build and used the leftover for this with plenty to spare. I used a miter saw, a couple of sanders and a drill/ impact driver to assemble the whole thing. the lumber as I said above was what some would be sending to the landfill but I managed to rescue it and re purpose it. I enjoy doing these kind of things and Save quite a bit of money on furnishings in the long run. the satisfaction of looking at something you built and being able to say that you built it is a wonderful feeling.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Broken appliances

Your appliances are the lifeblood of various aspects of your life. Clean clothes, clean dishes, cooked food, they help to simplify so many aspects compared to years in the past.
The main problem with appliances is they can and will break down eventually. You have options, replacing them is the most expensive option, hiring a repairman is the second most expensive, the final option is conducting the repair yourself.

I have repaired the dryer since moving in and now the washer needs to be repaired. the problem was a noise that I initially thought was a slipping drive belt in the machine but it turned into a complete tear down and replacing the bearings on the drum. this repair may last another 5 years which is probably well past the life cycle of this model of washer. but it gives me a window of time to save enough money to buy another machine that meets the requirements for my small house.

To make this repair I started off at a website that specializes in repairing appliances, Repair clinic. You find the model number of the appliance and it gives you a list of symptoms and the most commonly fault components related to that symptom. from there I will cross reference the parts on amazon to see which is cheaper, this coupled with an amazon prime account will usually yield the best possible price and two day shipping on qualifying orders.  after I find all of the potentially faulty parts I will tear down the appliance using you tube in conjunction with the model number to ensure I don't take anything extra off in the process. after the tear down I can inspect some of the components and replace what is needed
The next problem I encountered was they wanted me to buy the full rear drum section at $250. It was not happening in any way shape or form so I went with plan B: directly referencing the serial numbers on the bearings and seal. This cut the total price down to $40 enabling me to cheaply repair a critical appliance until I can replace it with a unit that meets my criteria. the total cost of the repair thus far is under $100


The downside of most home repairs is that you have to  be confident enough to disassemble you broken appliance. I always say if its already broke you cant break it more, for the most part this is true. the second down side is you have to have at least basic hand tools. I am a mechanic by trade, so I have numerous and various tools at my disposal. If you want to tackle these sort of projects I would recommend buying a medium grade tool kit from craftsman or even harbor freight(anything marked pitsburg pro is usually decent), normally you can get a reasonable set of tools for around $100 bucks that will have 75% of what you need for most repairs, the rest you can piece together as you need it. the best part of owning your own tools is that you can tackle more and more repairs as your confidence grows and possibly make some money off your expertise by tackling repair jobs for friends or selling individual components from curb side appliances on ebay.

This concludes this post, As always if you have questions, comments or suggestions leave them in the comments section. please subscribe, share and +1 this post, I like knowing that people are reading my posts and hopefully enjoying the content I publish. I hope to get on track to continually publish high quality content chock full of helpful references, the science behind why things work, inexpensive ways to repair, rebuild and build a variety of things you would normally spend a bunch of money on for an inferior product.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Honest tool reviews, Ryobi 18 volt chainsaw

I have been running chainsaws since I was right around 12 years old. Back then, it was all gas saws and the cordless tool craze hadn't caught on.

I had quite a few trees on my property when I first moved in. Being in colorado where wild fires are common, I knew I needed to get rid of some of them. I was fresh out of the army, I had mostly my mechanics tools and a hand full of carpentry tools my wife had.

We started out clear the brush by hand with an array of tools we picked up at a low price. The smaller trees and the scrub oak brush was easy to clean this way. After that was taken care of we were left with several massive pines that needed varying degrees of  limbing and one which was standing dead after a beetle infestation.

Long story short we needed a chainsaw. We had little money so a quality gas saw was out of the question. We picked up the ryobi 18 volt electric saw for a bit over $100. It only had a 10 inch bar, but I was confident in my skills with a saw.

It performed flawlessly for an electric saw.  That being said I would like to emphasize that IT IS AN ELECTRIC SAW, you can't compare apples to oranges when it comes to tools. This saw will cut far past it's bar length If you know what you are doing. It operates at constant speed so it will take longer to chew through  larger pieces. If the blade gets pinched the saw will stop until it is freed.

Overall, the value to price is well worth it for small scale limbing operations in the hands of a layman and can work miracles in seasoned hands. It's light weight even with the large batteries ( which I think are essential). A great deal of the time I operated it with one hand while in the top of a 40 foot pine. It hand enough power to gnaw through a 12 inch section off the top of one of the pines. Harder wood presents more of and issue for it but for the price you can't expect it to plow through a huge oak.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cloning update

My cloning project has been an enjoyable one.  The results showed a variety of out comes. For the most part any failures were the result of poor attention on my part and factors such as harmful molds and poor drainage.

With that being said, most of my clones were given away systematically. I have a tomato plant that has been growing slowly over the winter months and is about 1 1/2 feet tall after being pruned back a few times and a clone of the same plant that is still attempting to grow roots. With tomatoes, if you trim off the blossoms before the turn into tomatoes, you can continue to grow the plant as if it had never blossomed. I am experimenting with pruning to add more mass to the plant itself, in conjunction with dropping it lower into the soil as I up plant it.

We are forgoing an official garden this year. We have a great deal of landscaping that needs to be attended to and a tentative plan to put in some fenced in raised beds. We have a ton of wild life that passes through our yard and need to rethink the tactical aspect of our gardening.

That is it for this cloning update, please leave a comment if you have questions. Don't forget to Follow this blog to stay on top of posts, in addition +1 the posts to show me that you like the content

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Adventures in homemade laundry soap

Saving money on everyday household goods is important. The less money you spend the more you will have in the long run. My older sister has already done a write up on this at her blog (insert link). However, multiple verifications of a process will ensure that the process works across a wider spectrum.

The recipe I used was:

One cup washing soda
One cup borax
One cup oxiclean
Two bars fels naptha soap (grated)

Use caution when mixing, washing soda is somewhat caustic and may dry your hands out. Gloves and a dust mask are recommended. But you are you and I am me, do whatever you want.

The process was fairly straight forward. Mix the powders 1 cup at a time until the smaller container is empty. Grate the soap bars into the container and mix all of the ingredients together.

Upon further reading, the oxiclean is redundant, the combination of washing soda and borax create the same reaction as oxiclean which forms hydrogen perioxide.

At one to two tablespoons per load. The price of roughly 18 bucks for roughly 10 lbs and one tablespoon it is 6 cents for a total if 320 loads in a batch at one tablespoon per load.

I will post a review of how effective it is after testing. I do alot of tinkering on machinery so If it can effectively clean my work clothing then it should be able to clean anyones clothing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Appliance cleaning with andy

You spent money on your applicances, so you may as well make them worth every penny. This post will cover the development of my standard operating procedure for cleaning and maintaining a great number of my home appliances.

The first appliance I will cover is the lifeblood of my household, The coffee pot.
Coffee pots by design are simple, water is pumped from a resvoir to a basket and filter assembly that contains coffee grounds. The water passes through into a container with a heating element and your coffee is complete.

The fastest killer of a coffee pot is build up of mineral deposits in the pump and pump related componets. Thus we will remove them by adding the appropriate amount of white vinegar into the water resvoir and running it through a brew cycle. I personally put a filter in the basket so I can continue to run the same vinegar through without any of the particles.

I do this for 2 to 3 cycles and run plain water for another 2 to 3 cycles. After I have cleaned the inteternal passages I will unplug the pot and rinse the resvoir and as many componets as I can to remove any coffee grounds that escaped the filter basket. Once it is sufficiently rinsed and dried you can continue to enjoy coffee for longer without having to replace your coffee pot nearly as often.

The next task to tackle is the microwave. Another often overlooked cleaning project that is simple to do. Combine 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water in a container  (microwave safe) and microwave for 10 minutes.
After the cycle ends carefully remove the container carfully and use a dish rag to wipe away the now loosened grime.

From the microwave move to the oven. Heat a small pan of water and vinegar for 20 to 30 minute and 350 degrees (I reused what was left over from the microwave to save money). Allow to cool to a safe tempature and wipe down with a disposable cloth or paper towels. It may take more than one cleaning session to clean the whole oven but if you are consistent then it will simplify the process

Your clothes washer is another overlooked cleaning chore. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the drum and 2 cups of baking soda to the soap dispenser. Running through a partial Cycle and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before completing the cycle.

Your dishwasher is another overlooked cleaning project. It is another pump based appliance that doesn't like mineral build up.  On an empty dishwasher put a container of vinegar in the top rack and run through a cycle to break down deposits.
Run a second cycle with baking soda (a mild abrasive) and it's reactive component vinegar for an extra through cleaning. For a more in depth cleaning you can search for the filter locations in your machine and remove debris from them.

This concludes the first post on maintain your appliances. Feel free to comment and share this post.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dirt cheap furniture that looks great

Having nice furniture doesn't have to cost you a bunch of money. Some construction grade lumber, sand paper, screws and some finish will produce some fairly good furniture.

The tools are what usually scare people away.  But generally you only buy a tool once and it will pay for itself over and over again. You can make furniture with a hand saw and a screwdriver, although somewhat more difficult than with a well stocked garage.

I've built a fair few pieces of furniture since moving into my house two years ago. Most of it out of wood that was stashed under my garage by the previous owners. Mostly I built it on the fly and didn't finish it 100%. The pieces I did take the time to sand and apply finish to looked a whole lot better then cheap Walmart furnishings.

Another little utilized fact is most home improvement stores will cut lumber for you. Making the project more or less just measure, sand, screw and finish.  For under $100 you can buy a reasonable drill/driver.

The project I tackled over the last few days was a laundry table we had quickly built when we moved in. It was constructed from 2x6 construction lumber we collected from somewhere and a piece of furniture grade plywood. I don't have the before pictures, but if you are interested in seeing the progression from a stack of miscellaneous lumber bits to the final product then I will document the process a bit better

I started by disassembling it and moving it outside where it was sanded down to 400 grit and stained. I added some 2x4 braces to stabilize the legs and a shelf  for detergent. I finished it with wipe on poly urathane and left it in a garage for a few days to get rid of some of the fumes.

Most of the lumber here was left overs or throw away lumber. The only things I paid money for where stain, poly urathane, sand paper and screws/glue. The best part about what I did pay money for is I have enough left over to do more projects

Orange cleaner update

Well, after many months I have finally come to a verdict. This stuff is stupid strong. It ate the foam head off of my mop, use caution when applying it to things that may be sensitive to solvents. It will destroy toilet rings and any number of heavily soiled areas.

But again proceed with caution when using it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Operation advanced compost

  Composting is hard. Turning, watering and moving the finished compost.
That being said, I have come up with a design from mostly materials I have on hand for a tumbling composter.
The material list is as follows
2x4 lumber, various lengths (recycled)
wood screws (mostly salvaged)
1 55 gallon plastic barrel (free acquisition)
Casters (salvaged)
A hasp and latch ( salvaged)
Hinges ( salvaged)

The basic design is simple, a plastic barrel turned on its side, a way to roll the barrel and a place to put the compostable material in.

The basic frame is a box with one brace missing so that a wheel barrow can be put under for emptying the finished compost. As with most things I build it is over built (mostly free materials let's you max out the durability of a build).

The rolling system is made from 4 casters that I acquired with some steel shelving. Rather than spending a ton of time drilling a hole to bolt them in, I drilled a hole that was undersized and threaded the wood with the caster studs. This isn't the best method but it will work until it's time to upgrade the unit.
The hole was cut by drilling holes in a line until the blade on my reciprocating saw would fit then, cutting the hole to its finished size. 

The hinges were off of a standard household door, blocks of wood were screwed to the inside of the barrel to support the hinges and latch.

I live in a dry climate thus ventilation was made by drilling out the caps on the top of the barrel to 1/2 inch until I could determine if additional vents were needed.

The final steps are simple, once you finish building fill up the composter with a 25-1 blend of carbon  to nitrogen material. the definition of carbon material and nitrogen material will be covered in another post that I have Back logged for quite some time as my computer crashed and I lost the all inclusive compostable material list I had been working on whittling down.