bmink’s shop notes

People who see my work often tell me I should sell on Etsy. I finally put in the work to develop and release a product, my Greyhound Ear Language Wall art series. My goal was to develop a product that is small enough to be easily shipped so I settled on smaller format artwork.

I love these designs (if I can say so myself) and it was/is a lot of fun to “productize” a physical item, ie. to develop and refine the steps and methods to manufacture it and even setting up the store was interesting.

I am not currently putting much effort into promoting my store. I had some vague (naive) notion that these products — being truly handmade and original — would stand out, but the maker / seller world is just too saturated to get noticed even a little bit without putting serious work into a social media following etc.

Recently I made a few wall mounted tool holders for the shop. This was my first time using the French cleat wall mounting method. I have been thinking of utilizing it for some upcoming furniture and cabinet builds and I've learned it's a great idea to try new concepts out with shop builds first.

I have the SketchUp files up on GitHub.

Clamp rack

I recently got rid of most of my ragtag set of clamps that I have collected over the years and standardized on these DeWalt trigger clamps / spreaders. I have four 6 in., four 12 in. and two 24 in. ones in this rack and these are the ones I use by far the most. (I also have a pair of 36 in. and a pair of 50 in. of these that I use when assembling larger furniture, those will get a similar rack and go elsewhere on the wall.)

Drill, driver and pencil sharpener holder

Finally a place to neatly store my trusty old drill & driver duo. Having an electric pencil sharpener in arm's reach is one of those “luxuries” I waited too long to pull the trigger on, but I never want to be be without again.

Sandpaper roll and rotary/pen sander rack

Originally I got these rolls of 1 in. wide sandpaper for a specific purpose — to be used in my sanding bow. However, it turned out to be amazingly practical to have these out and within reach constantly. I didn't realize how often I need just a little piece of sandpaper. Similarly, my Proxxon rotary tool (that I use as a rotary sander 99% of the time) and pen sander are tools I reach for very often.

For Valentine's Day I made this scroll saw box out of red oak plywood. On the top, I added a rose intarsia made from maple and walnut. Then I filled it with chocolates :)

The box is my own design, like always, I used SketchUp for it.

The rose design is part of a pack I got on Etsy, though I modified it a bit to make it practical for cutting & intarsia.

The modular dog enclosure with wooden hinges that I have been working on for our senior rescue Yorkie Cameron is done and it turned out great. Here are a few pictures to get started; rationale for the build and details/plans follow below.

Cameron came to us from Muttville, a senior dog rescue in SF. Due to his age, he can be wobbly on his feet, particularly on hardwood floors and when not supervised constantly, he can fall badly and/or get himself in trouble in other ways.

We had a generic plastic enclosure from the pet store from him which, like most animal furniture, looked pretty ugly in the middle of our living space, but primarily I was bothered by how small it was. Despite being wobbly, Cameron at times has quite a bit of energy to burn. So I had the idea of a modular panel based system that can be extended as needed by adding more panels, and that can be laid out in different configurations for him to bounce about safely.

I planned everything out in SketchUp, and the whole plan is up on GitHub.

If you click on the different scenes of the SketchUp model, you will find the various measurement and cutting guides that I'm showing here.

To lay out and cut the panels, I used this guide:

This guide is for a 17 in. panel, but as the note at the top says, these can be made longer or shorter in 2 in. increments. I used an entire sheet of ¾ in. plywood for the build, so I made a bunch of 17 in. panels as well as a handful of 11 in. ones. Overall, the 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of plywood yielded about 25 linear feet of enclosure. I can, of course, build more whenever the need arises.

This system uses wooden hinges that I cut on the scroll saw.

This is the guide I made for cutting these:

Notches were cut on the panels as well, using another guide, so the hinges could be tapped in place with a mallet (no glue or screws were used):

This is the guide for the panel notches:

Obviously, the width of the notches in both the hinges and the panels has to be adjusted to the actual thickness of the plywood you are working with. The guides have a few lines you can use to cut, in 1/32 in. increments.

The male hinges are made by gluing 1 ¾ in. long, 5/16 in. diameter dowels into the holes.

The male hinges go in the notches that are higher up on the panel. A fully finished panel looks like this:

And the hinges are operated like this:

It is amazing what a difference this system makes in Cameron's and our lives. When we can't supervise him, he now has much larger space to roam in safely. And, yes, these panels look MUCH better than the rickety plastic eyesore we had to put up with previously.

One of the things that's been increasingly bothering me about the LED clock setup is a constant high-pitched noise emanating from the LEDs. It's something I can hear from the other side of the room if there's no music playing. A bit of googling quickly pinpointed that this is commonly due to the driver chip doing PWM to the LEDs (PWM is the way the brightness of LEDs is controlled). I experimented with different brightness settings and found one that has very little audible noise (at least to my ears), so all good for now, but something to keep in mind.

Cut the materials for a new batch of feeders for Palomacy.

I love the defects I come across in simple pine boards. While they are unsuitable for anything structural, I tend to save sections like this one for smaller projects.

Made this holder for my scroll saw blades. I designed the fretwork pattern with SketchUp.

I love Pi-hole, it's the kind of good software that just runs and does its thing and you tend to forget that you're even running it. But I just had a laugh as I figured out that it's the reason for a problem that has annoyed me for quite some time — though I suppose not enough to really try to debug it: the fact that my YouTube history seemed to update only intermittently.

As I just realized, by default Pi-hole blocks updates to the YouTube history (makes sense I guess), so the history was being updated when I was watching YouTube while not on my home network (eg. on cellular) — and was not being updated when I was on my home network, or away from home but VPNing home (which I often do).

Cutting some Christmas ornaments on the scroll saw.

The patterns come from FEINSCHNITTkreativ, as part of an advent contest. They published a few dozen great patterns in this style; they are free during the contest and will cost a few bucks after that. The original size was a bit big for my taste so I printed & cut these at 75% scale. This made them more challenging but I’m pleased with how they came out.

I used cheap 1/8” underlayment plywood, cutting stacks of 3 or 4.