Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I made a pallet chair and a fence deck

Myself and a few friends have been getting interested in pallet furniture lately and I've been wanting to try my hand at it.

 Pallet chair, surfboard table, and my snazzy new deck.

I figured I need something better than just a pallet out of my back door, so I was thinking of making a deck with pallet slats for decking. Then I realized that I had a whole panel and a half of privacy fence leftover from working around the house as well as some 4x4s scrounged up from work, so I made myself a quick and dirty back deck by levelling up four 4x4s and laying the fence panel over it. Saved a lot of time and effort vs breaking down several pallets for decking and it's pretty much the same wood only it's pressure treated too.

As one project begets another though, As soon as I was done with the deck, I realized I don't have any good outdoor chairs for it, so I went to and used Matt Wandel's lawn chair plan with some minor modifications to use pallet wood for it's construction. Unfortunately when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, and when all you have (at the house) is a reciprocating saw (harbor freight Sawzall) every board looks like a ragged mess when you cut it. Oh well, it was pallet wood before anyway. After adapting the plans and converting everything to inches (don't have a metric tape measure, keep meaning to get one) I got to work. A couple hours, a few broken boards, and some minor wood shaping with an axe and here's the result:

Next I took it up to JaxHax and sanded and stained it. Now I just need one or two more to set on the deck and wait for the heat to subside. In the meantime here's my suggestions for breaking down pallets:
It can also be a hat.

* Newer looking pallets are easier to break down, and generally split less.
* Lots of knots in the wood usually mean the wood's very weak and easy to break, or at least very dense and hard to pull nails from.
* You can break down pallets for either denailed runners or slats and runners with nails in them, not both.
*If you're wanting nail-free runners, pull up the slats with a crowbar. Chances are they'll break but occasionally you'll get lucky, then pull any nails that are stuck in the runners.
* Use a sawzall or similar tool to cut the nails off between the slats and runner beams. That's how professional pallet builders do it, and with good reason, you get the most lumber out of the pallet with the least chance of splitting the wood. Use a blade rated for steel and wood.
* Pallets are like thumbs, they don't like being hit with hammers and it hurts them when you do.
* Use a scrap block of wood to spread the blow if you're trying to knock slats off the pallet

* Learn to identify the kind of wood in your pallet. If the pallet weighs a ton and the sawing hasn't left a lot of furry looking wood sticking up it's probably hardwood like oak. If so this pallet's gonna be hell to pull nails out of, best to use a sawzall.
* Use a nail or punch to knock cutoff nails out of their holes in the slats, learn to live with the nail shanks stuck in the runners.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ricky's DVD Player Part 2

In my last post I introduced the problem my brother Ricky has with watching his favorite TV shows and movies and how I planned to build him essentially an arcade game system to play his shows that can stand up to his unique needs and unintentional abuse of equipment. Now I've built the player and it's been working pretty well the last couple months for Ricky. Here's the basic rundown:


1x  5 disc DVD player
1x  CRT TV (LCD would be too easily broken, Ricky likes to tap the screen sometimes.)
1x  Composite to RF video adapter for TV
1x  Power strip
10x Arcade control buttons, (5 white, 3 black, 1 green, 1 red)
1x  Sheet of lexan for control panel
~2x  sheets of 1/2" plywood (Might be more, need to get exact dimensions)
1x  Ratchet strap
1x  6-8ft cat-5 cable, solid strand prefered
1x  RCA video cable
~16ft of 2x2 lumber
~50-100 drywall screws (didn't keep count)
zip ties for cable management
2x small cabinet hinges
1x hasp latch and padlock
2x right angle shelf brackets to hold cabinet to wall

This is just what I used, and it's by no means definitive. Feel free to work with what you have. The general design plan was to build a cabinet similar to an arcade cabinet scaled for sitting height with a flat top for ricky to be able to keep his DVD cases on and not have them fall behind the unit. The control panel's buttons are set back to give him room for a snack or drink, and the whole unit is screwed to the wall to discourage him from moving it around or trying to get into the back (it's been a problem before.)

The back panel is a door that can be locked shut, and like many arcade cabinets it's construction is basically one of sandwiching everything between the two side panels, having a shelf for the screen, and keeping the electronics down low. I don't have a photo of the back with the door on, but that also has a bunch of vent holes for air circulation.

Oh, and I built this all start to finish at the local hackerspace/makerspace I helped found a little over a year ago JaxHax in Jacksonville, so if you're in the area and happened to stumble across this page come check us out!

Here's some construction photos:

 Drilling out the holes in the lexan and control panel.

Installed in Ricky's House

 The painted cabinet without front panels

 Cables and buttons mounted and wired into the DVD player's button panel. As you can see the green button's different than the rest. HAPP didn't ship part of the green switch I ordered, but luckily I had one leftover from my arcade cabinet still around. They never did answer phone calls or emails trying to get the missing parts....

 Everything mounted but the screen.

 Beta tester (one of JaxHax's members' son)

 Inside the back panel.

 Wiring up the control panel. Common ground and signal wires made from CAT-5 cable.

Backside of the panel just after painting.

 The happy new owner. Only took a couple minutes for him to figure out the controls.
 The look I was hoping for.

The whole thing ready to deliver.