Saturday, February 23, 2019

A couple of (kinda) cheap shop ideas put to use

As our new shed was being built, I was tickled pink with anticipation (a strange sight, indeed), and since I am a huge fan of Pinterest, I incessantly poked around there for shop ideas.

Being as absolutely cheap-skate as I am, I particularly focused on things I could make or repurpose from what I've already got, or from dirt-cheap basic materials.  One idea I'd had in mind was using cedar fence boards for wood paneling, cupboards, and the like.  I already had a jug of boiled linseed oil and some paints, and I went to town.

I'd seen some pretty cool leather workshops put together with tools hung on wood panels.  I didn't want the dark painted wood I'd seen, but I figured that if I sanded down some cedar boards and treated them, they'd look quite nice.  And at $2.50 per five-foot board, the price would be something I could live with.

The result:

My leather workshop corner made from cedar fence boards treated with boiled linseed oil.

The cedar boards worked like a charm.  Cedar is easy to work with, cheap, and took on a pretty honey look with the linseed oil.  The odor was quite strong, both from the wood and from the oil, so if you are sensitive to that kind of stuff, I'd go with something less volatile.  I love the smell of those things, and after a few days (even in the fairly cold Winter), it had dissipated. 

One great, cheap trick I discovered was the variety of uses of brass mug hooks.  I used them to hang tools, bending them to the shape I needed for weird-shaped ones like this leather stitching punch:

I also used them to hang my electrical cords, and of course, some of my leather projects.

As a person who rarely paints or stains anything, I've always been flummoxed by people's ability to dry their project without leaning it against something and making a mess and leaving unsightly marks.  Well, it dawned on me that I could temporarily screw in the mug hooks to the project I was drying, and voila!  No visible marks, and nice, even application:

One project I discovered down the Pinterest rabbit-hole was a DIY cyclone shop-vac.  Now, I'd been given a gift card by my lovely wife to the local Big Box store, and I'd purchased a vacuum cleaner... I know, it sounds stupid, until I call it a Shop-Vac -- then, it sounds manly and cool.  I'm dumber than I thought.

Anyhow, I'd seen folks do some elaborate woodworking, gluing, drilling with fancy bits, etc., to make a "cheap" cyclone vacuum.  A cyclone vacuum will separate the bigger chunks and thicker wood dust, allowing your bags and filters to last a lot longer.  But, cyclones are expensive, and I'm not.

After thinking that the amount of time it would take to make one would make it more expensive than just buying one, I found a guy who said, basically, to just cut a hole in a bucket at an angle, glue in a hose, cut another hole in the lid, jam a pvc pipe into it so that it drops a bit below the bucket-hole, and jam the hose to your vacuum into that pvc.

I found out that you don't even have to glue it, you can... what's the term? Ah!  "Pressure-fit".  I just cut the holes a little bit smaller than I was supposed to (don't ask if I did that on purpose, just go with it), and jammed the fittings in out of sheer frustratio... genius.

The result:
Behold the considerably cheaper, but still not cheap, cyclone vacuum.
One word of caution to the truly cheap-skates among us.  The dad-gum extra hose was twenty bucks!  I don't know about you, but if my project runs into double digits, then it can't really be "cheap."

Anyway, the thing works like a charm, and I expect my filter and bag will last quite a while.  It was worth it.

If you have any cheap shop ideas, do tell!


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