Posts Tagged ‘lawn mower’

Work Around the Garage

March 30th, 2010 No comments

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I wouldn’t consider myself to be especially handy.  I can change my own oil, and know how to run a few power tools.  But, these are not indications of how handy I am, but rather point out just how cheap I am.  I refuse to take my car to the shop if it something I think I can figure out on my own (and after 10+ hours, with plenty of busted knuckles, I either get it figured out, or I have screwed it up so bad that I have no choice but to take it in).

Case in point: I broke the steering arm on my riding lawn mower, which effectively meant my wheels were falling off and I could only change directions by kicking the tires while they were moving.  Did I take it to the shop to get fixed?  No.  Did I get someone to weld me a new support arm? No.  Instead, I decided to fashion a replacement out a 2×4, metal brackets, cut washers and .some furniture sliders.

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After a few adjustment, it works like a charm.  Now lets just see if I can get it to last through the summer.

Suspended Shelving and Fold-down Workbench

My most recent project has involved building some shelving and a work bench in the garage.  I needed to be able to get our outdoor gear out of the way, store my tools and have a workbench to complete projects on (the top of the deep freeze just wasn’t cutting it anymore.)

The first piece I completed was the suspended shelving.  I knew I wanted to build it out of plywood and 2x4s (for easy of construction and cost) and I did not want to have massive supports jutting out.  So I came up with a design that utilizes 2×4 cleats screwed to the studs and then a 3/8" threaded rod supporting one corner

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I started by marking the height I wanted the shelf and then screwing in two perpendicular 2x4s.  For my garage, it made sense to hang the shelf 48" from the ceiling.  [NOTE: I should have attached the shorter cleat first to maximize the number of studs it could screw in to.]

I then constructed the shelf itself.  I screwed 2x4s along two sides of 1/4" (2′ x 8′) plywood.  [NOTE: Be sure to leave room for the cleats you previously installed.  I forgot to do this on the short side and had to notch the cleat.]  With someone’s help, hoist the shelf up onto the cleats.  One or two strategic screws should hold it in place while you complete the project.  I waited to install the final screws until I had the rod installed to help support the weight.

Next I installed a 90 degree bracket to help hold things together and to spread the weight distribution.  By drilling a hole through the apex and using a large washer, I was able to provide a good support for the connecting rod.

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I passed the threaded rod through this support and secured it with a large washer and two bolts.  I left roughly six inches below the bolts in case I needed to adjust things.  The rod then passed through the drywall in the ceiling where it was secured to a 2×4 passing over multiple joists.

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Besides being less obtrusive, the main advantage to using a threaded rod to support the shelf is that you can adjust it after installation.  Once the rod was secured on both ends, I was able to use the bolts to ensure everything was perfectly level.  I then cut off the excess bolt.

The only thing remaining to complete the project was to include supports.  I added 3 by tapering a 2×4 down to 1.5" and securing from the top.  These were then affixed to the cleat.  [NOTE: If I had planned ahead, I could have attached these to the cleat before I installed it and it would have resulted in a much more stable design.]

Once I had the suspended shelving complete (and the resulting clutter out of the way), I could turn my attention to building a work bench.  One thing I had to consider was the depth of my garage.  Because things can get cramped, I wanted to be able to have get the workbench out of the way if I needed to.  I decided on a two part design with a permanent section and a folding section.  I built the surface out of the other half of the plywood from the shelving project.

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The permanent section was relatively straightforward.  I built a one-legged frame out of 2×4’s and then attached it to the studs in the wall.  I used brackets to attach the support to the leg.  I then screwed the work surface onto the frame (there is a center support to help distribute weight that is built into the frame).

The drop-down section took a bit more thinking.  I began by attaching a 2×4 cleat flush with the permanent section of the workbench.  Then, along the furthest-most stud, I attached a perpendicular 2×4 to anchor a hinged support.

I built the drop down section out of the remaining plywood with a 2×4 frame.  This time I did not use center supports because the whole section is not designed to support a lot of weight.

I used heavy duty door hinges to support the whole apparatus.  I notched the support cleat as well as the work surface so that it could remain flush with the other work bench. 

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The hardest part was trying to align the hinges when attaching the workbench to the wall.  To do this, I attached a 2×2 on the permanent section to help support things then held the fold away bench against the cleat while trying to get it level.  I had someone else go under the bench and mark where the bottom of the hinges were.  I then took a spare hinge and used it as a guide to pre-dill the holes.  From there it was relatively easy to screw the hinges into place. 

The hinges were strong enough to support the workbench temporarily, but I needed to build something more sturdy.  For that, I used the same style hinges and fashioned a simple support out of 2x4s that secured into place with a basic latch.

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When not it use, the support and table top can fold flat against the wall.  I used another latch to secure it in the up position.

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The whole project took about $60 in materials and 10 hours in labor.  I probably could have done it much less time if my miter saw had been working and I had thought through my final design a bit more.

If I value my time at even minimum wage, I doubt I saved much.  But, just like with the home made diaper sprayer we installed, there is just something rewarding about completing a project on your own.