Gas station without pumps

2014 August 17

New bedroom furniture

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:58
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I’ve added some new furniture to the bedroom:

My new 42" rolling cabinet tool box.

My new 42″ rolling cabinet tool box. The plastic tool box on the top is my son’s.

For several years I’ve been planning to clean up the garage, put up shelving, and get all the “stuff” in the garage organized. It has been a firm commitment each summer, and each summer nothing happens (well, one year I got some nasty old shelving taken down and everything put into boxes, but that was sort of negative progress, as I never got new shelves put up).

Part of the plan was to get all (or most) of my tools into a rolling tool box, so that I could have easier access to them. I’ve often ended up buying a new hand tool because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the garage. This summer I finally bought a 42″ rolling tool box from Harbor Freight for $370, after giving up on finding anything locally. The shipping from southern California added another $97 to the price (shipping weight is 289 pounds). Because most of the tools get used in the house, not the garage, I decided to keep the toolbox in the house. I’m planning to clear my son’s stuff out of the living room and into his bedroom when he leaves for college (so the robotics table, scroll saw, and drill press would move out of the living room, restoring it to a more livable space), so I didn’t want to put the tool box in the living room. Since I want the tools to be readily available when I’m working on electronics stuff, I ended up putting the tool box in my bedroom, which has gradually been becoming my workshop for computer and electronics stuff.

My wife has been patient with the gradual conversion of our bedroom into a workshop, but I think that we could make the room more comfortable by rearranging the furniture. I hope to get the floor of the bedroom mostly cleared of junk before school starts, though that may require getting some shelving that fits under the window to tidy up the junk that has accumulated while still leaving it mostly accessible. I’ll probably have to buy the new bed she wants, though this will require some careful selection, as there won’t be room for bedside tables and our current bedside lamps are not tall enough to work with a conventional bed.

I spent some time yesterday getting the tool box into the house—the delivery service wouldn’t even put it on the porch, so I had to uncrate it on the driveway, remove all the drawers, then get my son and my wife to help me put it up the front steps. While I had all the drawers out, I lubricated the slides with paraffin (the T9 lubricant I use on my bike chain). I then spent most of the afternoon unearthing tools in my garage and organizing them in the tool box. I couldn’t get all the hand tools into the toolbox, but most of them fit.

At the end of the day, I had my son go through his tool box and mine, selecting what he would take to college. He ended up with a somewhat smaller set of tools than the rather large list I had put together, rejecting the socket wrench set and the screwdriver security bit set as too big.

  • metric Allen wrenches (from a set from Harbor Freight, I’ll keep the English and star bits)
  • screwdrivers (he already had a handle and bit set)
  • claw hammer (he already had one)
  • mini hammer with screwdrivers
  • mini level (which comes with a warning for people with pacemakers, which is pretty silly considering how weak the magnet on it is)
  • adjustable wrench (an 8″ one with a 1″ jaw opening, the second smallest of the set of laser-marked ones from Harbor Freight)
  • measuring tape (he’s only taking one of the two 25′ ones he already had)
  • razor knives
  • Leatherman pocket tool (which he already had)
  • zip ties
  • velcro cable straps
  • needle nose pliers (2, which he already had)
  • diagonal cutters (which he already had)
  • end nippers (which he already had)
  • self-adjusting wire strippers
  • electrical tape
  • multimeter (from his chemistry lab kit)

There were also several leftovers from my first prototype run of the circuits course:

We still have some things not added to his tool box, which is already full:

  • bike patch kit
  • stainless steel bike tire levers
  • needles and thread
  • tweezers
  • Arduino and Freedom KL25Z boards
  • power supply for Arduino boards?
  • Ethernet cable
  • USB cables
  • soldering iron and stand (my old Unger iron, or perhaps he’ll take the one bought for his company)
  • Power strip with surge protector
  • solder
  • 22-gauge wire for breadboarding
  • first aid kit: band aids, larger gauze pads, antibacterial ointment, paper tape, medic scissors, thermometer, ibuprofen, antacid, simethicone

We’ll have to go over the previous list to check for other things he might need, but I think this list has most of the things I’m responsible for.  We might make a trip to Home Depot on move-in day to pick up a few other things.



2011 July 21

My son put away his clothes

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:15
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The new dresser under the new loft bed.

As with my earlier post, My son made his bed today, this post is not about lax parenting standards (though having him put away his clothes is a somewhat unusual event).  It is, instead about putting together a new dresser to go under his new loft bed.

We bought the dresser from Ikea, as they had a size that worked for a reasonable price.  The model is their “Vallvik” model, named after a tiny town in Sweden, 242 km north of Stockholm. It arrived in two boxes, each about 45 pounds.  I’m a little annoyed with Ikea for their lousy shipping policy.  They go to a lot of work to pack the dresser into tiny boxes for shipping, then don’t use FedEx or UPS like any other business, but send it conventional freight for about 4 times the price ($100).  I was told that the box would arrive between 1 p.m.and 5 p.m., and of course they did not arrive until 6 p.m.  Slow delivery, missing the promised window, and very high shipping price means that I won’t be ordering from Ikea on the internet any time soon.  Since the nearest Ikea store is about 43 miles away (2.5 hours or more by public transit), I’m unlikely to be buying anything from them again (unless they fix their knee-jerk policy of shipping everything by the most expensive option).

Assembly of the dresser was a lot more complicated and time-consuming than the loft bed.  There were 116 screws, 36 knock-down connectors, 30 wooden pegs, 28 unremovable plastic pegs, and 32 brads.  I bent two of the brads hammering them in, so I had to get my staple gun and use a couple of staples to replace them.

The 21 pages of pictorial instructions were fairly clear, including the advice on the first page to have two people to assemble the dresser, and not try to do it alone.  For most of the assembly, one person would do, but rotating the dresser when it is partially assembled, as the instructions call for, would have been hard to do alone.  My son and I worked together on it as team, and got it assembled in about 2 hours.  It probably would have gone faster with a power screwdriver, but the best I could manage was a ratchet handle for my screwdriver.

I did do one extra step not in the instructions, rubbing on a paste wax finish on the top of the dresser, to make the stained pine a little better protected from spills.

After building the dresser, my son transferred all his clothes from his old dresser and night stand to the new one, and still had enough room in it to add the spare sheets for his bed.  We’re definitely going to have to have a garage sale soon, as we have his old futon frame, the dresser, the night stand, and an old bookcase to get rid of (not to mention piles of no-longer-needed books and toys and outgrown clothes).  We have nowhere to store all this excess furniture and so moving around in the house is getting difficult—especially since we are having some construction work done on the house (insulating another of the concrete walls and replacing single-pane windows).

2011 July 12

My son made his bed today

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 00:08
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The loft bed assembled

Although parents of other teens might think that the title of this post indicates really lax parenting, what it really means is that my son and I assembled a new loft bed for him.  He decided a week or two ago that he wanted his bed off the floor with room for storage underneath.  He and I discussed various furniture choices, took a 10-mile round-trip bike trip out to the local unfinished-furniture store (Sweet’s in the Nude), and came up with a low-cost plan to redo his bedroom.  Since he has had most of the furniture in his room for at least 10 years, I figured it was reasonable to get him some more now that he had some specific requests.

We bought

The extra 33′ of book shelf space added to the approximately 83 shelf feet he currently has should get all his books off the floor. At least it will if he continues the aggressive thinning of his book collection that he started earlier this summer.  (He’s decided to sell or store in the attic about 10 shelf-feet so far.)  Storing or selling at a garage sale toys that he hasn’t played with in 10 years should also clear up space in his room. (Now, if only I could do that for my garage and bedroom!)

Since no one in our household drives, we needed delivery on all the furniture  (the closest Walmart or Ikea is 50 to 100 miles away, I think).  The book cases will be delivered in 2–3 weeks, after the guy who makes them in Oakland gets back from vacation—delivery was cheap, but the bookcases themselves were fairly expensive. The Ikea dresser cost almost as much for delivery as the price of unit ($100 delivery charge).  The bed from Walmart came in just a few days via Fed Ex for a very small shipping cost, in a box that is 7′ long, 1′ wide, and about 8″ deep. That’s a pretty small box for a twin-size bed that stands 4′ tall.

My son and I spent about an hour today clearing enough floor space in his bedroom to assemble the bed, then another hour assembling the bed.  It was fun putting it together with him, and the instructions that came with the bed were quite clear.  They provided all the tools needed except a phillips-head screwdriver. Most of the assembly consisted of bolting together steel tubes that had the nuts already built into the tubes.  It might be a pain for one person to assemble, but it went very smoothly with two people.

The steel-frame loft bed is not as pretty as most of the wooden loft beds on the market, but at a quarter to tenth the price, I’m not complaining.  My son likes that the loft bed is high enough to put some serious storage underneath, but low enough that he can sit up in bed without bumping his head on the ceiling (not true of most of the loft beds on the market, which are too high to sit on if you have 8′ ceilings). His only objection so far is that the small round rungs of the ladder are hard on the feet—a problem we knew about from customer comments on the web site before we bought.  If it turns out to be a major problem, we’ll replace the metal ladder with a wooden one (probably made by cutting down a cheap wooden ladder from the hardware store).  The ladder just bolts on, so should be easy to replace if needed.

Note for college students: this bed has a weight limit of 225 pounds, so is probably not suitable for college students if you ever plan to share your bed with someone else.  If you weigh a lot, it may not be suitable even for sleeping alone. For kids or skinny teens at home, it seems like good value for the money.

We found a desk lamp we weren’t using that can sit on top of the bookcase next to his bed as a reading light, and he’s already planning how to make a shelf beside the bed for his books using a scroll saw, after he’s practiced a bit more with the scroll saw (making switch plates).

If he can get enough floor space cleared in his bedroom this summer, we’ll move the lego/robotics/craft table in from the living room.  It’ll be good to get the drill press and scroll saw out of the living room, not to mention the pile of PVC pipes, motors, and cables of the underwater vehicle.

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