Thursday, October 23, 2014

Make a Set of Progressive Locks

First off, a definition: a set of progressive locks is a set of locks with an increasing number of pins. They are a great way to gain confidence and learn to pick locks. A full set typically consists of five locks with 1 pin, 2 pins, 3 pins, 4 pins, and 5 pins, respectively.  

The 1 pin lock can be opened with just a stern look, but the 5 pin lock will take a bit of effort, and the ones in between... well, you get the idea.

Over this past weekend, we changed the locks in our new house and I was faced with discarding 5 locks. Hmmm... 5 locks... 5 pins in a lock... waitaminute, let's make a set of progressive locks!

Here's how to turn Kwikset locks into progressives:

Ingredients:
  • Small flat head screwdriver for prying
  • Tweezers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • A set of lock picks (for testing!)
  • A bunch of spare locks that you own

1. Take off the outer ring and discard.

Monday, October 13, 2014

3D Printing Upgraded Chair Feet

Earlier, I designed and printed some replacement feet for my Ikea Gilbert chairs (see that earlier project here).

We recently moved to a new home and we have gorgeous pine wood floors from 1925, and we obviously don't want to scratch them up with chair feet, so I tried putting stick-on felt pads to the chair feet, but they slid off with use, leaving scratches AND sticky messes on our floors.

So, I pulled up my old design files and came up with a chair foot that is:

  • slightly larger diameter (~25mm versus ~19mm), to distribute weight over a larger area
  • has a lip on the bottom to prevent the felt pads from slipping off
  • still compatible with IKEA Gilbert chairs

New feet shown with and without the felt pads
You can download the file and print it yourself I recommend black ABS plastic, 30% infill, and orient the feet with the smaller diameter facing down.

If you don't have a 3D printer handy, I've set up a store for my replacement chair feet over here (I sell them with the appropriately sized felt pads included).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mini Project: Headphone Modification


I recently acquired a pair of Sony MDR-ZX100 headphones as a door prize at a conference. When I took them home, I decided that I really like their rotating earcup design and I was surprised to discover that their sound is noticeably better than my ancient, beat up Sony MDR-V150 headphones. However, I have two complaints with the ZX100's:
  1. The cord. It's too short (1 meter vs 2 meters), feels cheap and plasticky, and has a 90 degree plug. In short, I want my old cord installed on my new headphones.
  2. For some unfathomable reason, Sony has added large plastic nubs to the ZX100 headphones on the surface of the drivers. They can easily be felt through the ear pads. In my testing, I found that these nubs create pressure, fatigue, and even pain after wearing them for a while. I need headphones I can wear all day long - these nubs are unacceptable!
My old headphones are falling apart, but the cord is in great shape. Instead of creating my own cord (a project in itself), I'll use my old headphone cord to replace the cruddy cord on the MRD-ZX100's. A little disassembly and soldering does the trick. Just be careful to not switch right and left, or reverse the polarity on the drivers. Since I replaced a Sony cable with another Sony cable, the color scheme and wiring was the same, which made soldering easier.
Disassembling the ZX100 headphones

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Webber Charcoal Grill Rescue

I recently moved to Texas from Illinois, leaving my trusty grill behind.  Living in the land of BBQ without a grill, I pined to grill meat over burning wood.

As luck would have it, my brother's fiancee (sister-in-law-to-be?) was discarding a weathered 22 1/2" Webber charcoal grill she was unhappy with.  I leapt at the chance to restore an iconic, made in Palatine, IL, mid-century design, charcoal grill.

Step 1: Disassembly
The one-touch cleaning assembly had rusted solid and was removed with a Dremel and cut-off wheel.
The wood handles had weathered poorly and were dangerously loose, so everything was taken apart for cleaning and painting.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

12 Things Destroyed Whilst Remodeling My House


  1. Wall, due to hammering & pry bar
  2. Ugly tile counter top, due to awesome power of the almighty team of sawzall & pry bar
  3. Ugly tile back splash, due to pry bar
  4. Huge and unwieldly kitchen island, due to screw driver-ing & pry bar
  5. Ugliest little closet in Texas, due to pry bar
  6. Filthiest pantry in Texas, due to pry bar
  7. (borrowed) Palm Sander, due to concrete dust
  8. Vacuum cleaner, due to concrete dust (which it turns out is a real pain in the *** to clean up)
  9. (borrowed) Dremel tool, due to being a piece of worthless ****
  10. Reciprocating saw blades (3), due to concrete
  11. Masonry bit, due to concrete (seriously? that's what you're designed for, your only job is to drill through concrete)
  12. Screw extraction bits, due to screw (again, that's your ONLY JOB)
The hero so far is the pry bar. I love that thing.

And the villain? Clearly concrete and concrete dust. The concrete counter top looks amazing now, but it's a tool killer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

House Rehab 2: Demolition

Ahh, demolition, just saying that out loud makes my inner 10-year-old smile.

We needed to remove:

  • tile counter top
  • tile back splash
  • breakfast bar
  • half wall
  • kitchen sink + plumbing
  • kitchen cabinets
  • granite counter top
  • kitchen island
  • carpets
  • vinyl tile


Disassembling the island

More island disassembly

Wall demolition


Sawzall + counter top = no more counter top

Cabinets with doors removed, ready for the sink to come out

Cabinets, free from counter top and plumbing

Ready for large item pickup

One closet, free from carpet

Friday, August 15, 2014

New House Rehab 1: The Planning

We just purchased a new house in the south side of San Antonio, built in 1925 it has gorgeous bones, but that's been muddled by years of deferred maintenance and ...interesting... remodeling choices.


Original kitchen design

Original kitchen design - note the island, and bar mounted on half wall
Black paint over longleaf pine floors? A tragedy!

The way timing worked was this:
A two week period where the previous owners rented the property from us while they moved out
Followed by a two week period for us to do work on the interior of the house before our furniture arrives (and we get kicked out of our temporary housing situation)

Which translates into a two week planning period followed by a two week work-our-rears-off period, followed by move into the house.

Planning Stage
Of all the things we want to eventually do to this house, we prioritized these three projects to be done in our two weeks of work:

  1. The (largely original) wood floors need to be refinished, if only to remove the black paint on the main living areas.
  2. The kitchen needs to be reorganized and rebuilt.
  3. The master bedroom needs to be inhabitable
Floors:
Given our time frame and the extent of the damage to the floors, we decided to pay for professionals to take care of them for us.

Kitchen:
After some reading and pricing out our options we decided that in the kitchen, we will remove:
  • Tile counter top
  • Tile back splash
  • Breakfast bar
  • Lights that used to illuminate the breakfast bar
  • Half wall supporting the breakfast bar
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Kitchen sink
  • Kitchen island


We will install:
  • Refurbished cabinets (in a straight line instead of L-shaped)
  • A concrete countertop
  • White paint on the cabinets
  • A dishwasher (in the new dishwasher -sized mounting spot we will create)
  • A new undermount-style stainless steel sink and chrome faucet
  • Paint the walls and trim
  • New appliances (white) - the house came with exactly zero appliances.
Master bedroom: mostly just cleanup and repainting. Perhaps new doors on the closet (though we're thinking of eventually removing the closet altogether to create room for the (currently cramped) bathroom.