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Vermonter Tip #142 – DIY Wood Rack

A Strong Wood Rack For About $12

A Super Strong DIY Wood Rack For About $12

DIY Wood Rack

 

Bitter cold winters can be tough to get through. For those that burn wood, you know that bringing it in from outside can be a real pain. I decided to build these racks for the convenience of storing wood in my garage during the winter, thus reducing the frequency at which I needed to replenish from my outside woodshed.  Simple 2×4 construction makes this wood rack an easy DIY project that can be completed in just a an hour or two.  With removable sides, this rack can be easily broken down for storage during warmer months.

 

What’s In A Cord?

A cord is the amount of wood (when arranged so pieces are aligned, parallel, touching, and compact) that occupies a volume of 128 cubic feet (3.62m). This corresponds to a well stacked woodpile that is 4 feet (122 cm) high, 8 feet (244 cm) long, and 4 feet (122 cm) deep.

A cord of wood is defined as 4' x 8' x 4'
A cord of wood

 

Keeping your wood vendor honest

Two of these DIY racks completely full (and a bit heaping to take into account 6″ lost from side supports) are a good representation of a full cord of wood. It is very easy to determine if that cord of wood you ordered was really 3/4 or even 1/2 cord. Loading wood for delivery is usually done by eye with some type of bucket loader. It is quite possible for you to get less than you are paying for (or more if you are lucky). If you find that you’ve been considerably shorted, most wood suppliers will be happy to make up for the difference after you explain that you have racks like this that make it obvious.

 

Before we get started, I want to note that you can buy pre-made brackets for building similar racks. I have listed a couple options below from Amazon.com. While this would lead to a much faster project, I opted for a manually assembled version for several reasons:

  • I needed something right away
  • I enjoy building things. This was a simple afternoon project
  • When I first looked, I couldn’t find brackets under $20. I wanted to build four racks and didn’t want to spend that much on brackets alone.
  • Some of the cheaper  brackets available are made of plastic. Others are steel but look like they are pretty thin gauge. Having used such brackets on my first rack, I’m confident that they are not nearly as strong or durable as my all-wood construction.

The brackets from Amazon can be found here:

On With The Build

Materials For This Wood Rack

QTY Item
5 8' 2×4's (these go on sale occasionally, and you don't need the best grade available)
4 5/16-in-18 x 3-1/2-in Hex Bolts (Lowe's P/N 59065)
4 5/16-in x 1-1/4-in Fender Washers (Lowe's P/N 136623)
4 5/16-in Split Lock Washers (Lowe's P/N 63409)
4 5/16-in-18 Wing Nuts (Lowe's P/N 882029)
Box 3.5" Deck Screws

Printable Materials Listing

Note: The Lowe’s part numbers above are provided for convenience only. You don’t need these exact parts as long as the item type is similar

Tools For This Project

  • Tape Measure
  • Carpenter’s Square
  • Hammer
  • Saw (ideally, a Miter saw, but you could even cut by hand if needed)
  • Drill
  • Drill-bit (5/16″)

Step 1 – Cut The 2×4’s

  1. Set two of your 8′ 2×4’s aside. These will be used for the overall length of the rack.
  2. Cut two of the 2×4’s exactly in half, resulting in four 4′ pieces. These will become the “arms” of the rack.
  3. Cut six 1′ pieces from the remaining 2×4. These hold it all together.

Step 2 – Assemble The Base

  1. Lay your 8′ 2×4’s on edge on a flat surface
  2. Place a 1′ section of wood between the two sides flush with the end
  3. Pre-drill holes for the screws on one side of the base
  4. Attach side to the 1′ piece using two deck screws
  5. Now attach the other side of the base using the same process
  6. Repeat for the opposite side of the base, effectively creating a large rectangle frame such as shown in the following diagram:

 DIY Wood Rack - Diagram 1

Step 3 – Add Arm Braces

Now we are going to assemble the are brace slot on each side of the frame.

  1. Place a 1′ section of 2×4 inside the rack on edge
  2. Use two 1′ pieces of 2×4 temporarily to determine the exact spacing required for the brace (as shown below).  Use a hammer to gently tap the brace against the wood to ensure a tight fit.
    DIY Wood Rack - Building Braces
  3. Pre-drill holes for the screws on one side of the brace
  4. Attach side to the 1′ piece using two deck screws
  5. Now attach the other side of the brace using the same process
  6. Repeat for the opposite side of the base, effectively creating a large rectangle frame with brace supports such as shown in the following diagram:

DIY Wood Rack - Diagram 2

 

DIY Wood Rack - Arm Brace - Critical For A Sturdy Rack!
Arm Brace – Critical For A Sturdy Rack!

 

Step 4 – Adding Arms

  1. Place two 4′ sections of wood into the arm brace slot as shown below.
    DIY Wood Rack - Adding Arms
  2. Place a 1′ section of 2×4 on the top of the arms and draw a line at the center of each arm 2×4
    DIY Wood Rack - Pre-Drilling Arm Connector
  3. Pre-drill holes for the arm tops and attach to the arms using four deck screws
  4. Pre-drill holes at the base of each arm going all the way through the base and arm.
  5. Attach arms using Hex Bolts, Fender Washers, Lock Washers, and Wing Nuts as shown below:

    DIY Wood Rack - Making Arms RemovableDIY Wood Rack - Wing Nut To Quickly Disassemble
  6. Repeat the arm assembly process on opposite side of rack

 

Step 5 – Admire Your New DIY Wood Rack (s)

DIY Wood Rack - Finished Racks

DIY Wood Rack - Finished Rack!
Finished Rack!

Build A BassMaster Carnival Game

BassMaster 3000
The BassMaster 3000

The BassMaster 3000

Want to build your own carnival game? This is a great project to build for birthdays, work parties, or just for the fun of it!

The electronics really bring it to life.  An Arduino Yun was used to monitor the sensors, host a web slideshow with candid pictures of the winners (shown on nearby monitor), and trigger the lights and sound.  The video below shows how it works:

If you want to build your own, the full detail (including Arduino source code) can be found on Instructables here.

Shameless Plug For Votes!

I  entered this tutorial into three “Instructables” contests listed below (Sensors, Epilog Challenge, and Summer #mikehacks).  I would really appreciate it if you would take a minute and vote for my Instructable for each of these contests.  Note that voting does require an account on Instructables.com. Sign-up only takes a minute and my experience has been that they are very good about not sending SPAM your way or selling your email address.

By winning or placing in these contests, I could potentially get some great tools and supplies to build bigger and better things!

To vote, simply visit each contest using the links provided below.  You should see my BassMaster entry listed on the page. Thanks in advance for helping me out!

Sensors Contest (Vote For Me HERE!) UPDATE – I’m a finalist in the Sensors Contest! Thanks for your votes!
Epilog Challenge VI (Vote For Me HERE!)
Summer #mikehacks (Vote for Me HERE!)

Arduino Unplugged – Wireless Sensors

This weekend I started playing around with the nRF24L01 RF modules.  These things are a fantastic low-cost option for creating wireless communications between two Arduino micro-controllers.

nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz Wireless Modules
nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz Wireless Modules

These are multi-node modules where many modules can transmit back to the same “master” node.  You can also find long distance versions of the same module online that claim to achieve 800-1K meters (2624 – 3280 ft)  in distance!

This example shows a simple LED being controlled wirelessly.  You can get about 300ft of distance between the two devices. Possibly more in clear view.  I was able to walk around my entire house and still trigger the LED remotely. The options are endless for what you could do with this when it comes to wireless sensors and remote monitoring.

My next step – Shrink the transmitting side down to a ATTiny85 version of the Arduino, bringing the cost of each transmitter down to about $5.

attiny85
ATTiny85 – At about $1 each, these are perfect for dedicating to a project in place of an Arduino

Stay tuned for more details and an update on the project as it gets closer to completion.

Digital RGB LED Strips Using Arduino!

Get started on RGB LED strips using Arduino

Check out this awesome Arduino controlled Digital RGB LED Strip.  There are 32 LEDs per meter of the strip and they can be shortened or extended quite easily.

With this I can programmatically set the color of each LED’s red, green and blue component with 7-bit PWM precision (so 21-bit color per pixel).  Below you can see my demo of it running through a test script with several different effects going on.

This is much easier to do than one might expect thanks to the libraries that have been already written by others to do the grunt work.  You can easily have your own RGB LED strips using Arduino for control in no time! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

 

Warning, once you start playing with these and realize how easy they are to control, you will be hooked!

RGB LED strips using Arduino

Below you will find several options for buying your own LED strips from Amazon

Special thanks to John Cohn for hooking me up with these! (John, you can borrow my Arduino stuff anytime!)  You can see John wearing a headband made of the same type of LEDs on his Wikipedia page and possibly spot his nearly famous LED hula hoop in one of his many blog posts. The project opportunities are endless.  I’m hooked.

Find Schematics On Everyday Products

Did you know that detailed technical schematics and product documentation is available for most common electronic devices?  Phones, remote controls, games, etc. Anything that has to be registered with the FCC can be found here, and it is not widely advertised.

This little known tip should come in quite handy for your next DIY project.  Here is a 30 second video overview:

To get started simply visit the FCC ID website shown below:

http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/

Easily Remove Dried Hot Glue

I’m sure almost everyone has encountered “Hot Glue” or “Hot Melt” at some point in their lives.  It’s a very handy substance used to quickly glue things together with reasonably good strength and flexibility.  No doubt a staple in every Maker’s toolbox.

Hot Glue Gun - Easily Remove Dried Hot Glue

You may have also struggled with trying to remove Hot Glue from various objects.  It seems like no matter how harsh of a remover you try (acetone, mineral spirits, turpentine, etc.), nothing is effective at removing it cleanly and quickly.

Well that is until now…

I’m going to show you how to easily remove dried hot glue.

I literally stumbled on this trick while working with hot glue over 20 years ago at a previous job. It ended up being a major discovery for how we conducted re-work on defective PCB parts.

After a bit of research I was surprised to find that as of 2010, nobody else seemed to be aware of this solution. Most people were attempting to use harsh chemicals such as those mentioned above, and without much luck. “So this is what it’s like to discover that new species of insect or new star that was never noticed before” I thought. Well, not quite, but it’s still pretty cool being one of (if not THE) first person to discover this trick. Several people have since created similar videos or articles demonstrating the technique but hey, they say imitation is the greatest form for flattery!

Long story short – use Isopropyl Alcohol

Easily Remove Dried Hot Glue

This little video continues to be extremely popular. The feedback received has been tremendous and very rewarding. Helping others is exactly why I enjoy doing this stuff. Here is a sampling of the feedback:

“yrusam2 – Thank you. I just tried it on a vintage wicker basket that had been decorated 25 years ago. I had pulled most of the hot glue off, but there was still much that remained & in little nooks of the basket. Old glue really stuck on there!! The rubbing alcohol method worked! thank you so much.”

“DanMan9871 – Worked perfectly! +1 internets to u”

“GTC1958 – Thanks Siliconghost, it worked just like you showed it would. Blessings to you.”

“TheAnonymousRaccoon – Ok, 1. That video helps alot. Many thanks. 2. You have excellent taste in 8Bit Music! :)”

“kmpjayhawks – We used the alcohol on the painted walls and brick to remove the hot glue, it worked great. It did remove a little paint which was fine because we are repainting. I work at a school and we had to remove alot of it. We were chipping away, we tried heating it and that made it worse. There were 5-6 of us working on it while racking are brains on an easier way. I googled it, found your tip. After that it just took 2 girls to finish up and got it done in the time it took 5 of us that worked on it all day. Wanted to say thanks!! Now we can go home and ice are sore arms from all the chipping we were doing before I found your tip”

“billfarr – May you be Blessed by all and/or any Diety that watch over you. And may you never become unable to hold onto a single blade of grass to keep from falling off the earth.”

“tiggerlick – Okay, I bought an antique reproduction Victorian couch for a song because repairs had been attempted with hot glue and resulted in a fairly hideous mess. I’m pretty confident and fairly clever, so I went after it with paint thinner. No luck. I tried paint remover. Nope. Windex. Nix. I broke out the big stuff; Methyl Ethyl Ketone-negative. KleanStrip solvent, which will damn near dissolve human bone (I don’t know this for a fact). Nah. I would have used a small thermonuclear device if the internet instructions had actually worked properly but someone somewhere has clearly altered them. Then I found your video. In 15 minutes I’d picked enough hot glue off of the pink velvet to get the result I needed and continue the repair. Thank you. Not only from me, but from all the inhabitants of my fair city who were saved from atomic incineration by your timely and instructive video.”

For those interested, the awesome retro background music in my video is by 8bitpeoples
http://www.8bitpeoples.com/
Album: Claps and Leads
Song: Funktify

The Universal Gift Card

Gift card sales are once again on the rise.  I don’t know about you, but it drives me crazy that when I trade my cash for a plastic card or certificate, it often expires, adds service fees, and slowly devalues itself over time if not used. The receiving party can easily lose out if they don’t promptly use it. The unnecessary service fees and expiration dates have gotten so out of control that many states are now rushing to put laws in place to prevent companies from taking advantage of consumers.

So here we arrive at my idea of a “Universal Gift Card“. Simply put, this is a fun little gag gift taking a stab back at those companies that take advantage of us (and not ALL gift cards fall into this category, but most of the ones that I’ve received do).

This simple idea includes a printable template to give the ultimate gift card that never expires, has no maintenance fees or service charges, and everyone loves – CASH!

For more details including a template to print your own “Gift Card” see my Instructable article here.

P.S. – I’m looking for a graphic designer to help create a few more templates to be given away with this article.  If you have a bit of time to spare and are interest in helping out then please contact me!

Project Time!

Today I got home late from work, but right after dinner Josh and I started on his school project.  He has to make a poster with 3D elements incorporated so we decided to start with headlights added to a car.

Three button cells make LEDs super bright!
Three button cells make LEDs super bright!

Josh was a big help with the soldering. He was in charge of stripping insulation off the wires and dispensing the solder as I operated the iron.  I keep forgetting how long it takes to wire up even the most simple circuit.  I’m guessing we spent about an hour getting things all wired up.  It even has a nice little button switch on the front for people to press.  We finished just in time for bed. Luckily it all worked on the first try!

 

Here are the results:

Car with lights off
Car with lights off

 

Cool headlight effect!
Cool headlight effect!

Josh still has some work to do incorporating his essay onto the poster as well as adding a few more (less technical) 3D elements. Those will come tomorrow night.

Night all!