Anvil Stand

I haven’t done any armor creation or blacksmithing in a long time. That said, I still have the anvil and other tools for it. I have the anvil strapped to a piece of 2×12 that usually gets put either on the ground, or screwed to a bench for temporary use. It comes in handy for trying to tap something back together, or for banging out something. I felt after all these years it needed a proper stand at the right height.

I measured the distance from the ground to my hand while wearing my shop boots and designed a basic box structure to hold the anvil. I made the base the width and depth of the already existing wood it was attached to. No reason to re-do that, it has been very successful.

I added a foot to the base. It sticks out the front so that if I am hammering away on the front of the horn, the whole thing won’t want to tip forward. Weight and stability are what we are after. I attached it with screws and construction adhesive to make sure no sand leaks out.

When the glue from the sides and the base all dried up I filled the center cavity with sand. It is cheap, adds weight, and helps deaden vibrations. I put in a whole 50lb bag, plus some extra.

I estimate it is about 30 pounds of wood, 60+ pounds of sand, and the anvil is 55 pounds. At roughly 150 pounds, this thing ought to stay put when you smack on it. I attached the top and had a usable anvil stand.

Last but not least I added my favorite shop finish, boiled linseed oil. Cheap, effective, and pine looks great after a few years of aging with it on. This thing will look really aged by the time Ira is old enough to ask about it. Maybe I will make up some story about it being rescued from some ancient site. That should work till he notices the epoxy coated torx head screws I used to assemble it.

Early 2021 Prints

I haven’t done a print grab bag in ages and realized I had a pile of fun and useful prints bouncing around. Let a montage of 3D printed goodness begin!

Plant Labels

Not super original, you can find a zillion of these online, but I wanted my own. First up, they are nice and big for me to read, and secondly, there is always something you have that isn’t in the list given online. The first set were just white with black paint marker coloring. I later started doing batches and swapping to black on the right Z layer to make the lettering pop.


Tool Holder

I always keep a big exacto blade and a few deburring tools around in my shop. They tended to float on my messy table top and get lost (part of the reason I have two deburring tools). In an effort to keep that area clean I made a tool holder that screws to the underside of the shelf. Previously unused space now keeps me better organized. It tilts back 10 degrees to keep them from vibrating out when I slam the door on that wall. No unexpected falling knives please!


Dispenser Bins

Sticking with the shop theme, I have a supply of semi-disposable items I always keep around. Popsicle sticks of various sizes and acid brushes are really useful for mixing, spreading or applying different substances. I used to keep them in loose piles or cups, but now I have a custom dispenser for each.

The basic design is the same in all, but with some modification to dimensions depending on what was being dispensed. The front wall slides in and has custom text for each one. A lid keeps the dust out and allows stacking. I printed them with 5% gyroidal infill and a hole in the bottom. That let me use sand to add weight, capping with epoxy. I have been using this trick a lot lately and love doing it. I used hot glue on the bottoms of each, then smashed it down on a silicone mat to make quick non-skid bottoms. The weight from the sand and the non-skid bottoms keep them from moving around easily. You wouldn’t want them to fall off the high shelf they are on.

Cross section of dispenser

Shark Bite Remover

Shark bite fittings are a great plumbing invention. They fit over the 1/2″ cpvc plumbing in my house and mean the fittings can be replaced without cutting the pipe. I had a supply valve go bad in one location, and wanted to switch orientations in another location. No cutting required! The trick is, getting them off is a beast. You have to push in on the release sleeve, twist and pull. All while being gentle and not stressing the pipes too much. They sell little C clips to make it easier, but I lose them and they aren’t comfortable on your fingers. Enter some printed ones.

I printed LOTS of these and sprinkled them throughout my plumbing supplies. They have more finger surface than the store bought ones, so you can get a better grip. Plus they are thinner. I found myself having to replace a fitting that didn’t have much pipe sticking out. These thin ones got in there, the store bought wouldn’t fit.


Chess Set

Moving from the shop into the house, my wife has been playing chess a lot recently. She wanted a chess set so I made one out of sparkly galaxy black filament and marble filament. I printed each one hollow, filled with sand, and capped with epoxy. The board is a set of 4 tiles printed with a color change from black to white. I put it all on a piece of MDF. That part wasn’t brilliant. I started with black polyurethane then tried to move on to spray paint. I still don’t have a good MDF painting technique apparently. The edges endlessly suck up what ever you put down. That part will probably get remade at a later date.

To hold all the chess pieces I made a box with sliding lid. The fit is good enough that it kind of blends in when fully assembled. Embossed along the sides are a symbol of each chess piece type.


Moon Lamp

This moon lamp design comes in many flavors online. Thingiverse My implementation isn’t that unique. I did copy the spline shape used to attach the moon, and made my own base to hold the bulb. The base was once again filled with sand and capped. Now the lamp is quite hefty. The main challenge of this job was that the moon print took about 3 days. I accidentally interrupted one attempt when it was 90% complete… oops. The base is 6.5″ in diameter and the moon a little over 8″.


Monitor Picture Holder

Last but certainly not least, I got this cool frame for fathers day. I wanted to keep it close by, and for some reason the top of my monitor jumped out at me as the perfect location. A simple print later, and there was a perfect space for the frame to sit. The little guy is always on my mind, and now always on my monitor.

Hydralisk Skull

I have been working on this project slowly in the background since probably October. Early on, I was unable to finish printing the parts because of a mysterious heat creep issue. After a few months I had that sorted, and went on to figuring out how to smooth my prints. That went through a few iterations, then it was on to painting. Lots of trial and error, but with really good final results. Over this project I learned a lot about the hot end of my printer, came up with a new-to-me smoothing technique, and picked up an airbrush and taught myself to use it.

My first challenge was to smooth out the prints. The head came in 3 parts and I decided to smooth each one individually, then glue them together. Probably would have gone better the other way as we shall see. I spent a lot of time with sanding sponges, power tools and air erasers. Nothing worked well to bring down the surface roughness. My printer issues were really starting to bite me. I hit upon an idea with epoxy coating. They make special two part epoxies for over-coating FDM prints. I figured a slow two part I already had available was probably good enough. Below is one of my tests. Left side bare, right side coated.

Two part epoxy works well, but has a few draw backs. You tend to have to mix big batches, then really get working once they are cooking. It adheres well and is thick enough to hide most layer lines. Drips are an issue and once you have it in place, it can run and sag till the stuff starts to kick off. It was way better than endlessly sanding and priming, but still had some issues. Another test piece below.

I did some more research and found that printer resin is another possible option. I picked up a small bottle and a 405nm light and got to work. The results are great. It a good thickness as is, but can be thinned with IPA if desired. The trick is that you want to completely coat an area, then cure. Painting on more resin will make it hard to blend as the new stuff stays on top of the cured stuff. The resin has as much working time as you want, so you can take your time, go thin, then cure when you are ready. The part should be wiped down with a bit of IPA afterwards to clean up the sticky residue. The resin used below is black, but is transparent enough it is hard to see the effect.

With the major parts coated and smooth, I glued everything together. There was some bed warp, so I had major gaps to fill. I used bondo spot putty. It is hard to apply smoothly, and takes a bit of sanding to get flush. It sands much faster than the resin parts, so if you get too aggressive, you make valleys. Plus, resin doesn’t stick to it, so this part was pretty tricky. I need to find a better gap filling solution. UV resin won’t cure deep enough and is too thin.

I sanded and thought it all looked good, but the bondo still wasn’t smooth in spots.

You can’t hide anything once the primer goes down. That flat color shows all. After countless rounds of filling, sanding and re-priming I got it good enough. Next came the paint.

I am not much of an artist, and this is where I got out way over my skis. I had some basic craft paints, so I tried to make a bone color. The first was way too dark, and the second went on looking like streaky junk. My paint strokes were adding up and looking really awful.

Some peas for help on the internet got me the idea that I needed to try airbrushing. I had never done it before, but a basic cheap airbrush was about 40 bucks, and I already had the compressor. Plus, the cheap paints I was using had very little pigment. I went to slightly better craft paints that came in the color I wanted. The results were becoming much better.

Airbrush puts down a soft subtle amount of paint that you can easily add to. The acrylics were very matte, and that matched the bone look perfectly. After getting a base layer of everything down I went ahead and mixed a darker color for shadows.

After that I mixed white with a glossing agent and made the teeth whiter and shiner. It didn’t show as well as I had hoped, but the effect is still there a little in the end.

Lastly, I mixed up a really thin dirt color and started doing a weather/wash coat. I got a little carried away and the thing ended up being more dirty than I had originally set out to use. It was hard to stop though, it looked so cool. I spent extra time cleaning off the high spots and ridges so they looked a little polished, while the valleys were dirty.

I had the head and mouth parts complete, but needed a mounting plaque. I found a design on thingiverse someone made, but needed it a lot bigger. I cut the print into multiple parts. Instead of trying to glue them together and hide the seams, I taped them down to MDF, and used the print as a router template.

I used the slicer to cut off those raised bits, with a few alterations, and printed them separately to glue on later. They need to be smoothed, but I already had a plan for that. To keep them from getting to saggy or organic looking I used my airbrush to spray on the resin. It could be very thin and juuuuuust fill in the lines without breaking up any crisp edges. You have to make sure the fill job is good, once the primer goes on, resin won’t stick, so you have to fill and sand the rest of the way.

The MDF took paint like a thirsty beast. I eventually had to use bondo filler on the edges to seal them up.

Finally it got some silver spray paint with a few black brushes and accents. I am getting better at this whole painting thing! The head was glued down and hanging hardware added.

Total length is about 18 inches from back of head to the tip of mandible and looks quite smart on my shop wall. The original files are located here https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4622672 and the base plaque that I upsized is here https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4768350

New Kitchen Sink

A small story to start: I moved into my previous house, and it had a large white enameled kitchen sink. It was really scratched up and always yellowing. I hated it. It took years, but I finally redid the kitchen and got a nice under-mount stainless sink. It was wonderful. Always looks clean, scratches don’t show, easy to take care of. Fast forward to the new house. The kitchen sink is molded as part of the counter. It is a beige off white, is kind of scratched up and always looks dingy. Plus it is a 3 sink unit and not very efficiently laid out. I hate it.

It will be a lot of years before we get around to completely redoing the kitchen, so time to get cutting and install a new sink. There aren’t many options at this width, but I found a company that makes a big double sink large enough to fit inside the opening the old sink will leave behind. A jigsaw, a circ caw, a grinder, and a pile of dust later I had the old stuff removed. I would have taken a picture, but as I was cleaning my little portable vacuum fell through the hole and hit the hot water supply.

Goosh! It made a crazy geyser! That was unexpected. I drilled big holes in the baseboard and set a massive fan going to try and dry it all out. I always keep extra CPVC fittings around for this kind of thing, but my pvc cement was completely gelled. A trip to the hardware store later I got the supply repaired and had the water back on. The rest of the install was pretty straight forward till I got to the garbage disposal.

Really hard to capture in this photo, but there is water dripping from the bottom of the motor housing. I guess my garbage disposal was on the verge of death, and the move pushed it over the edge. OK, time for a new garbage disposal. This whole project was more than I bargained for.

I left it all open for an extra day or two to make sure no new leaks showed up, but by the end of the weekend I was confident everything was working well.


The top looks great, but the toe kick is trashed from where I ripped it out to get everything dry underneath. Lowes has some plastic trim that is finished in a way that matches my cabinets really well. It is molded base board instead of flat toe kick, but you have to get down really far to tell the difference.

With that repaired I turned my attention to the inside of the cabinet. Our previous organizer didn’t quite fit because of the new drain layout. I picked up some PVC trim wood to make a shelving system out of. I clamped the two uprights together and ran a matched pair of dados to align and support the shelves. The shelves were held in with PVC cement like you use on piping and a few exterior grade screws. Very sturdy, and it will never rot!

To finish it off, I 3D printed a number of little cubby boxes designed to hold stuff like sponges, glasstop cleaning stuff, and other common under sink items. I have plenty of room for more storage and everything is easy to get to. Kitchen happiness!

NASA Worm Logo

I have been watching this guy on youtube recently called Jigsaw Nation. He makes a lot of cool big signs out of plywood. Mostly car stuff, video games, and whatnot. I got inspired and decided to make a pair of NASA logos for my dad and I for Father’s day.

The jigsaw dude I follow projects onto the plywood and traces his designs out. I wanted to produce two of the same thing, so I opted to print a template and route instead. The AS was too big to print, so I cut it up into two parts with an alignment stitch between them. I doubled up the plywood and used my bandsaw to remove most of the waste. These letters are around 6 inches tall.

I went to the router table and ran into an issue. My pattern bit only has about an inch of cutting depth. Oops. I’ll have to split these up and do one set at a time.

I wanted these to look really clean and crisp, so I proceeded to use filler to make the edges solid and smooth. I tried mixing up goodfillas, plasticwood, and bondo spot filler. They each are kind of OK I guess. I didn’t end up taking pictures of that process because… can I still use the dad brain excuse? Same excuse for the background. It is a 2ft wide piece of plywood with the edges rounded and filled. For paint I did a number of coats of primer/filler to get it all as smooth as possible with sanding in between where needed.

I still need to work on my spray painting skills. I think I get going too thick and it leaves little puckers and attracts dust. When I go super light though I don’t see the gloss I want. Practice I suppose. To get the kerning right I printed the space between the N and A, and another between the S and A.

Once the glue was try I was all set. Dad was visiting at mother’s day and already has his hung up outside his rocket building control room. Mine is up high in my shop where the paint imperfections are hard to see!

Side Table Organization

My side table is a mess. It kind of always has been, but now I have a small one crawling around and yanking on every cable he finds. I can see a job as an electrician in his future. He loves wires! Here is the horror.

I can’t even bare to show the top side, it is not safe for the internet. In order to cleanup and keep my little guy safe from random power cords I started moving things to the underside of the table. The first step would be to anchor the power strip. Everything else would revolve around that. I measured the mounting hole spacing and made a drill template on the 3D printer.

Now I could start putting down wire anchors. Some of these are closed loops you can use with zip ties or velcro, others are open, and you can slip loops of wire into them. I designed my own, but lots of printed options are available online. I made a set of brackets to strap down my USB power brick. I will leave it under the table, and run the needed free lines around to the top.

As I was going, I realized I didn’t have anything for my laptop’s power brick. I found that velcro straps can make a quick flexible hold down if need be. Much faster and cheaper than printing something custom.


With the underside of the table taken care of I moved on to the top. General cleanup was in order. I wanted to consolidate as many things as possible into a single unit. This block will hold my weather station screen, has space for pens, roku remote, fan remote and echo dot. I printed it with 5% gyroid infill, filled everything with sand, and capped it with epoxy. Hot glue makes for thin grippy feet. Just squirt on the hot glue once it has gotten fully up to temp, smash the block down on a silicone glue mat. After a few when it is all cold the glue mat should peel off easily.


To help with all the speaker cables I made a box that slides around the backside of the sub-woofer. I screwed the speakers to the sides so they couldn’t be pulled out. The rear left and right speakers sit on the far side of our couches. Their wires are getting covers to keep them safe from small hands.

I screwed down some wire cover to the legs of the table. This gave me a place to run up and down the various power and connection cables I needed. The only free thing now is the audio cable between the echo dot and the speaker controller. I might either get a longer cable, or mount that to the underside of the table at some point in the future. The top looks pretty good now, and I have managed to keep it tidy for the last month. On to the next baby-proofing project!

Paint Cabinet Organization

After my spray paint crates got my paints organized, I got to taking a harder look at my cabinet. I 3D printed a series of holders for the different calking tubes I have, then I went through and got rid of some old glues that were past their prime. Next thing I knew I was re-organizing the whole cabinet. This isn’t quite a before shot (Wish I had one of the beginning), but about half way through.

This cabinet has really deep shelves. That is great, but small stuff gets lost and even medium stuff gets hidden. I started making stadium seating for all my cans jars and bottles. I taped together two or three sheets of plywood, then laid out the stair step cuts. Glue bottles are smaller and got more layers that go taller. The wood finishing stuff tends to be bigger, so fewer wider shelves. 1/2″ plywood across the top makes a sturdy mini shelf.

I had a pile of tapes rolling around one of the lower shelves, so I looked for how to store them. I had recently picked up some harbor freight magnetic hooks. Turns out the hook is just a M4 stud, so if you unscrew it you can put in your own screw. I picked up a bunch more hooks and combined them with a stash of M4s I already had. Now I can flexibly store tape all along the inside of the doors.

I put more like things together. The spray paint was up top, but is now down low with the solvents, the glue and calking are together, the wood stains and finish have their own shelf, etc. I cleared up enough room to bring my hot glue out of a packed drawer and in with the other glue stuff. Magnetic bars and plywood gave me a wooden surface on top to attach my printed calking gun holder and a pvc hot glue gun holster. I printed a kimwipe box holder and stuck it to the roof too. Got to think in 3D when maximizing storage here! Use every surface possible.

To summarize, when organizing something like this:

  • Store like with like
  • Get creative about typically unused space (backs of doors, top of cabinet)
  • Make sure you have elevated seating for all shapes and sizes so you can see what you have

Prusa Mk2.5 Bed Flattening

My beloved Prusa is about to turn 4 years old. It has given me lots of years of good service with only a bit of maintenance and some minor upgrades. It is time to show it a little more love. While re-greasing all the bearings I decided to flatten the bed. Normally the bed warp is compensated for by the bed level probe. That is great, but it means the bottoms of your prints can be warped. The Mk3 printers have some simple upgrade using nylon lock nuts. The older printers are designed differently, so that isn’t an option. I do precision alignment professionally, so this should be easy.

First up, I used an octoprint plugin to see how flat my bed really is.

Gross. It is over 1.5mm off on the one corner. To fix this I am going to shim. The situation looks like this. Removable bed on top, heated bed under that, a standoff, then the metal frame. The heated bed and standoff are really tightly screwed together, the standoff was assembled to the metal frame when I built it.

I have brass washers from the hardware store. They turned out to be quite flat and 0.5mm thick. I will be slipping these in between the metal frame and the standoff one corner at a time, then re-testing my flatness.

I can’t drop my high spot, so I have to raise up the low spot to meet it. After adding shims one at a time to the low spots I got really confused. 1 washer added to the front left, made it go down. Also, the back looks flatter than before. I added a washer to the front right because I thought the scale was maybe reversed. It made the back worse!?! I am so confused.

I kept adding and removing washers and not understanding what was happening. I don’t know how it does these calculations and builds the maps, but I am completely confused. After an hour I found another plugin that is designed for the Mk3 nylock upgrade. I don’t have as many adjustment points, but it was still helpful.

According to this I was high on the right, ok in the center and front left, and low in the back left. I started adding shims to the whole setup based on this. Instead of slipping one in at a time I had to take the bed off to get to the center. I used super glue to hold the washers in place so they wouldn’t fall out during assembly.

This worked a lot better. My back right is still a little high, but I don’t have enough shims to continue. I might pick this up later and I can sand down the washers to be thinner if needed. For now though, this is pretty flat. I will avoid the far corner if possible. The other program shows it as being all high. I guess I don’t understand how it calculates 0. Maybe that was my main problem.

Did that do anything, or did I waste 2 hours of time? After all I have been printing for 4 years without it, and that is what a bed level sensor is for. I think it helped. Large prints come out flatter, and I can see that the z stages aren’t doing much compensation as they put down the first layer. For a little time and a modest cost in shims, this was an upgrade I wish I had done ages ago.

By the way, if you do this, 1ea 0.5mm washer was ok with the 8mm screw normally used. If you put in 2, you need a 10mm long screw. The fronts can be socket head cap screws, but the backs have to be button heads to clear the frame. Might want to pick some of those up if you plan on doing this job. I used brass washers for number 4 screws. Your mileage may vary.

Spray Paint Crate

I picked up a few extra cans of spray paint for different things I have in the works. Those added to my modest collection of paints meant I was way over capacity in my limited storage arrangement. I tossed out the old setup (which I forgot to take pictures of), and built myself a set of spray paint crates. This was a nice small project, but probably the biggest woodworking thing I have done since Ira came along. It is good to make sawdust again.

Every good shop project starts with some plywood. I had a lot of 1/2″ lying around from the toy and baby furniture days. The front, back and bottom are 1/2″ ply glued and nailed together with 1/4″ glued and nailed to the sides. It made for a pretty stout box without being too bulky or heavy. With 18 fullish cans, this thing was heavy enough.

For the front and back handles, I could have just drilled out the sides and used a jigsaw, but I wanted something repeatable and re-usable. I 3D printed a jig with a sized cutout for my hand and with a reasonable offset. There is a notch in the center so I can line it up with a mark. Not sure how often I will use this jig, but it was cheap to print, worked like a charm, and should last a long time.

With the handle cut out I rounded the corners with my corner radius template and then used my trim router to round everything over. Some quick sanding later and the handle area was smooth and comfortable.

The assembly was as mentioned before. Glue and brad nails. I eventually let that dry and put a coat of boiled linseed oil on these to make sure they stay together for a long time. They are just the right size for fitting in the bottom shelf of my paints cabinet. It need more cleanup and rearranging to get the second one in there. That calls for more shop organization!

Mini Dixie Cup Support

First up, having a kid is not good for your project blog life. Good thing it is just a hobby and not a source of revenue! I got this one done during a few nap times.

I use these little 3 and 5oz dixie cups a lot around the shop. Uses include: holding screws/parts, mixing paints and epoxies, holding glue, filling and funneling stuff, etc. A lot of the time there are pop-sickle sticks and acid brushes sticking out of the cups, and they fall over. I was trying to paint 3d printer resin (cool post coming, eventually, about this) and my cup kept falling over. I finished my resin job and got to measuring the cups and making a solution.

The cups are different enough that each required its own holder. One turned out to be snugger than the other, but they both fit well enough to prevent tipping. I probably could have left it there, but went the extra mile. I printed two sets of each with no infill. I used the slicer to make a hole in the bottom to allow filling the hollow cavity.

I always keep a big bucket of sand around for filling objects to make them heavier and damp vibrations. These all got a fill of sand until there was only a small bit of space left. Next I mixed up a little slow cure epoxy and injected just enough to flow out of the hole. I wiped the entrance, tapped the hole with painters tape, then let them cure upright.

With the epoxy cured they make for really stable dependable holders. Next time I do one of these I will try one of the open infill patterns like gyroid. The gaps might be big enough for the sand to trickle through and infiltrate all the infill areas. It will likely take a lot of shaking, but it would make for a lot stronger part. Using pure epoxy would be easier, but the sand is such a cheap way to weight things like this down.