DIY wooden shoe rack (part 2)

Previously I wrote about a shoe rack that I’m making for my wife. The initial design had two flaws. First some shoes tended to slide of the shelf. Secondly there was a space between the stands and some shelfs. As a consequence the whole structure was unstable. Yesterday I disassembled the rack. Then I cut strips out of the same plywood that I used for the shoe rack. I glued the strips on the end of a shelf (see image below) and sanded the edges of the strips to align them with the shelf. Next I marked the points on the stands where I wanted to insert a screw and drilled them with a 3mm (3/32 inch) drill bit. Next I assembled the shoe rack using the dowels and drilled with the same drill bit in the shelfs using the stands as a mock up. I inserted 4x35mm (1/8×1-1/4 inch) screws and sanded the shoe rack. The result is a very stable rack. Gone are the spaces between the stands and the shelfs and shoes no longer slide of the shelfs. Next I’m going to finish the shoe rack with a transparant varnish.

I cut strips (left) and glued one to each shelf.

Inserting screws into the assembled shoe rack eliminates the spaces between the stands and the shelfs.

The nearly finish shoe rack is stable and the shoe won’t slide of the shelf. It only needs a nice varnish.

DIY wooden shoe rack

We are refurbishing the top floor of our house. My wife’s wardrobe is on this floor. She has a lot of shoe’s although she claims that she doesn’t have enough 😉 Anyway the shoes no longer fit in her wardrobe so I promised her to make a nice shoe rack. This shoe rack can free up some space in the wardrobe. I found it hard to find a nice looking DIY design online of a shoe rack. Finally I found one that my wife finds appealing on ourhomefromscratch (BTW a very nice website for all kind of DIY projects varying from decorating to food). The problem is that for this shoe rack pocket holes are needed to connect the shelves to the stands. Well I don’t have a pocket holes jig so I needed another solution. I decided to use dowels instead. I have a dowel jig and have some experience with them.

My wife’s (unfinished) shoe rack made out of plywood.

Here is the plan. I bought two plywood boards of 122x61x1.2cm (4’x2’x0.5″). I cut six shelves out of one board each shelf 40x30cm (roughly 16″x12″). I don’t have a table saw so I used a Dremel DSM20.

Plywood boards that I started with.
With just two plywood boards I made six shelves and two posts. 
First I marked the stands with lines where I want the shelfs. The shelfs will be in a slight angle. This way the shoes will be accessible and nicely presented. Next I drilled 6mm (1/2″) dowel holes in the stands. I drilled the holes in the shelfs.

Marking in the stands and holes drilled. 
Dowels in the shelf. A dowel jig comes in handy for this.

With all the holes drilled and dowels in place To get an idea of the result I fitted all the shelfs in one of the stands and then fitted the other stand onto it (all without glue because in this stage I still want to diassemble the shoe rack). The shoe rack looks nice however there a couple of problems. First some of the shoes tend to slide of the shelf. I will attach a wooden strip at the end of the shelf to prevent the shoes from sliding.  A more serious problem is that at some spots the shelfs and stands have a little space in between them. I’m afraid that just glue isn’t strong enough to solve this however this can be solved with screws that tighten the shelfs and stands together. To be continued.

All shelfs fitted onto one of the stands.

Making a Darth Vader voice changer, part 3

I finally finished the Darth Vader voice changer this weekend. I took a belt with two snap hooks from an old bag. Next I fitted the box with the voice changer with two black screw eyes that were large enough for the snap hooks. The enclosure is now comfortable around the neck of a child. In a local electronics shop I bought a case for a 9V battery that fitted nicely in the box. Finally I taped the mic into the Darth Vader mask and the fun could begin.

My two boys both volunteered and got dressed as Darth Vader.  We still have a dark cloak that goes well with the mask. Unfortunately we sold the lightsabers a couple of years ago. The Darth Vader voice is surprisingly convincing but only if you play around with the settings. Even funnier, you can make Darth Vader sound like a robot or as someone that has just inhaled helium (a very high pitched voice). I can imagine children having a lot of fun with the voice changer at a party or at Halloween.

Is there something left to be desired? Yes, the voice changer has four buttons for robot voice, vibrato, higher or lower pitch. As mentioned before I somehow couldn’t get the external red push buttons functioning that were placed on the enclosure. So I used the pushbuttons on the MK171 board instead. To access the four pushbuttons on the MK171 board I need to open the enclosure. This is far from ideal and something that needs to be fixed in my next version of the voice changer.

Darth Vader complete with mask and cloak. Unfortunately the lightsaber is missing.

A Belt with two snap hooks, screw eyes and battery holder for a 9V battery complete the Darth Vader voice changer.

Enclosure, now with screw eyes.

Inside of the enclosure with battery holder.

Making a Darth Vader voice changer, part 2

About a week ago I wrote about a Darth Vader voice changer that I am making. I finally have finished a prototype but not without problem. I soldered all the external components to the Velleman MK171 kit. When I tested the circuit I discovered that three red pushbuttons (see images below) weren’t functioning. I disconnected all four red pushbuttons and tested them on a breadboard with an LED. They all worked fine. I reconnected the buttons to the kit and again three of them didn’t work. Running out of ideas and time I decided to use the regular mini pushbuttons instead that came with the kit. The voice changer works excellent and the sound is loud (due to the 2 inch speaker and the box) and resembles Darth Vaders however changing the voice requires opening the enclosure which is far from ideal.

There is still a little work left. I have to attach the mic to the inside of the Darth Vader mask and I need something to easily lock and unlock the back of the enclosure.

Image of the Darth Vader voice changer with the mic lying on top. The red pushbuttons are not attached to the pcb.
Back of the voice changer with the microphone wire.
Inside the enclosure of the voice changer. The pcb is mounted on the back of the enclosure.

Making a Darth Vader voice changer, part 1

To be able to mimic Darth Vader during a party or any other occasion is a lot of fun. Unfortunately commercial solutions are costly. The Hasbro Star Wars Darth Vader Voice Changer costs $145 on Amazon. So why not make one myself. My voice changer will consist of the following parts: a cheap Velleman kit (MK171), a wooden enclosure for this kit and a simple plastic Darth Vader mask that we already have.

The MK171 kit consist of a PCB and all necessary electronic components. The most important component in the kit is the HT8950 chip. This 16 pin chip (from Holtek) is designed for voice modulation. The frequency of the input audio signal can be shifted up or down by the chip. Changing the output can be accomplished by four push buttons for: shifting frequency up, shifting frequency down, vibrato effect and robotic effect. For my purpose I’m interested in the frequency down function since this invokes a lower pitch to the listener, exactly what is needed for this Darth Vader type of voice. This way even a kids voice can be changed to Darth Vader’s.

A small microphone is included in the kit to supply the input signal. I intend to integrate the microphone into the simple Darth Vader mask (possibly with velcro), close to the mouth. The sensitivity of the microphone is controlled by a trimmer. The output of the HT8950 is amplified by a LM386 OpAmp chip. With enough amplification and a proper speaker (not included in the kit) the sound effect can be overwhelming even when one speaks softly into the mic. Amplification is controlled by a yet another trimmer that is included in the kit.

The wooden enclosure is made of plywood. Four equal pieces of 15 x 7 x 1.2cm. The front and the back are made of 6mm thick plywood. Besides MK171 kit the enclosure needs to accommodate: control buttons for the  HT8950 chip, speaker, potentiometer to control the volume and an on/off switch.

Next step is to finish the enclosure and fit all external components. Then I need to test the MK171 kit with the external components before fitting it into the enclosure. Lastly complete the set with the mic integrated in the Darth Vader mask.

MK171 kit, wooden enclosure and Darth Vader mask. The three parts needed for the cheap Darth Vader voice changer. 
Work in progress. The enclosure of the voice changer with the external components. The four push buttons at the bottom left to control the HT8950 chip.
Spray painting the wooden enclosure in an improvised card board paint booth.

Make a cheap tool board

I have a lot of tools laying around in a big tool box. The problem is that whenever I need a tool I always end up searching for it. I decided it was time to make a proper tool board. I bought some cheap board (61 x 123 cm). I had some pine wood (9 cm wide and 18 mm thick) and scaffolding wood (3 x 3 cm) from previous projects that could be used for this project. First I reinforced the board with scaffolding wood on the back. I cut the pine wood with a regular handsaw.

I made four different tool holders to accommodate for the different tools.  The top tool holder was made of a piece of pine wood along the width of the board and two pine wood spacers placed on both ends. The spacers are connected to the front row with 8mm dowels. One toolholder (second from the top) was made with three pieces of pine wood connected with 6mm dowels. A piece of an old broomstick of 23mm thick proved very used useful as a place where my pliers can rest on. The two bottom tool holders are made of two pieces of pine wood connected with 6mm dowels. I drilled holes of different sizes from big to small evenly spaced the wood. The bottom three tool holders were connected to the board with 8mm bolts and nuts. The top tool holder was connected to the board chipboard screws from the back.

A large portion of my tools from my tool box were transferred to the tool board making my live easier.
All wood connections were made with dowels and then glued with regular wood glue. I finished the wood with an oil based varnish of IKEA.
Board, scaffolding wood, dowel and pine wood. Together with some screws, bolts and nuts that’s all I needed for this project.

DIY planter for tiny kitchen garden

My wife asked me to build two wooden boxes and a planter for her vegetables and herbs. She has become serious about having her own tiny kitchen garden. So I bought some cheap 14 cm wide and 15 mm thick pinewood. I cut the wood at the desired length and connected it with 4 x 40 mm chipboard screws. The inside of the boxes were covered with anti-root fabric. The planter was made of the same wood as the boxes. I got the idea of the planter on the YouTube channel of Steve Ramsey at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8-IlmLA27g. I simplified his version since I only needed two tiers instead of three. It’s easy to build, cheap and transportable. Now I just have to wait until these delicious radish are finding there way to my plate.

A more recent image of the kitchen garden. The vegetables are all doing well (we’ve already eaten the radish).
Two tier kitchen garden without the boxes. Easy to build and transportable.

Wooden box for kitchen garden 60 by 27 cm (length x width). The inside is covered with anti-root fabric.

DIY bar stool as part of the bar table

A couple of weeks ago I built a bar table out of scaffolding wood. Today I had the time to build a stool of the same material. I used a drawing of Cando (a Belgium based DIY shop). You can find the link of the drawing on their website here together with the bill of material. Cando has a series of drawings of scaffolding wood furniture even of a complete outdoor kitchen (as long as you don’t mind deciphering the Dutch instructions). I got the scaffolding wood cut at the desired length at our local DIY shop. It just needed a little sanding. As with the bar table building was straight forward using 5 x 50 mm chipboard screws. I’m happy with the result. The stool is sturdy and has a nice rough look. Given the low price of the scaffolding wood it is also cheap.

Stool happily together with the bar table

DIY bar table

I finished a bar table for our kitchen today. I found a design for a table made of scaffolding wood. This wood is probably the cheapest that one can get but it is sturdy and it looks nice (at least that’s what I think). The local DIY shop where the wood was bought also cut it at the desired length. Building it was easy. Just build the table top B, by attaching the 62mm stave lath (D) to the table top and attach it to the table leg A with the 30mm width stave (G). The planks of leg (A) were connected with the stave (E). Some of the 195mm wood was slightly curved but the staves straightened it nicely.
The bill of material was:

  • 6 pc scaffolding wood 2500 x 195 x 30mm
  • 2 pc scaffolding wood 2500 x 62 x 30mm
  • 2 pc scaffolding wood 2500 x 30 x 30mm
  • 1box (100pc) clipboard screws.
The parts list  for the 195mm width wood was:
  • 8 pc scaffolding wood 1070 x 195 x 30mm
  • 4 pc scaffolding wood 780 x 195 x 30mm
Drawing of the table.
Image of the finished bar table.

Image of the finished bar table.
Image of the table top’s bottom side.