Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

Cell phone amplifier

I’ve been wanting to make a wooden cell phone amplifier for awhile. There are a myriad of plans available, some being really cool and some being mundane (but probably just as effective). I had this plan from Woodsmith and figured I’d try it out with some modifications to simplify it and to account for the fact that I only have a benchtop band saw with a 3.5 inch cut depth.

Here’s what the plan had in mind versus what I ended up creating.

Woodsmith Smartphone Amplifier My Smartphone Amplifier

Same idea and (probably) the same functionality, but I didn’t have any fun wood (just pine) and I don’t have a large enough bandsaw to do the size cuts they call for in the plans. Plus, let’s face it, I knew I was going to butcher the thing, so better to do it with scrap 2x4s instead of maple and mahogany as in the plan.

This does not look promisingTo accommodate the diminutive cut depth of my bandsaw, I milled down some 2×4 pieces using the table saw and the planer so they were 3" x 1.25". Then I cut out the patterns individually on each piece and glued them together. The picture on the left is what I ended up with after the glue-up. It’s a bit messy, but I spent some time with the belt sander and spindle sander (and some vigorous hand sanding) to get each piece cleaned up and to get rid of the glue that squeezed out. The sides were some glued-up 1x4s that I cut on the table saw. Super fancy, I know.

If you’ve ever seen any of the other woodworking I’ve posted about (other than shop carts and shop storage), you may have noticed that I always do the woodworking and Lori always does the finishing. I think I’ve stained one piece myself (the top of my couch table), but she’s stained and painted everything else. She’s got a lot of experience with that and, well, I don’t… not since high school.

Glued and stained (for the first time)Since this was, more or less, an experimental piece, I figured I would do the finishing myself… good practice and no risk! I wanted the center dark and the sides light (as indicated by my first picture), so after I sanded all the pieces, I stained the center pieces and glued it all together, leaving me with this beautiful chunk of wood. Looks pretty good, right?

But wait! I forgot that I have to cut this block on the bandsaw to turn it (roughly) circular, which means I’ll have to re-stain all the newly exposed edges that will appear after cutting. Oops. Not that big of a deal. So I made the cut on the band saw and re-stained those edge, staying mostly inside the appropriate lines thanks to some painter’s tape.

It's round and stained (for the next-to-last time)Okay. That’s fine. Everything is re-stained. The edges all look good. The stain is almost all where I intended it to go.

Except I forgot I had to router the edges to round them over, which means that I’m going to have to re-stain the edges yet again!

It all worked out in the end, though. There was just some extra staining due to my not planning ahead. The shellac went on just fine and the final product looks pretty good for a bunch of scrap 2x4s that were lying around the shop.

Plus it works absurdly well. The amplification that it provides is almost shocking, and there’s no need to keep it charged!

Overall, it was a win!

Sunday morning catio

Three of our four cats were out in the catio this morning enjoying the gorgeous weather… and the wheat grass.

Houdini was inside trying to find someone to give him treats.

(click to embiggen the pics)

Catio Cats

Catio CatsCatio CatsCatio Cats

 Catio Cats

Scholastic cat is scholastic

Milo on a notebook

Evidently, I need another one

I filled up the cutoff bin and I still have more to store. Ha!

Full Cutoff Bin

Mobile Cutoff Bin

In an effort to tame all the piles and buckets of "scrap" wood that I have after each project, I made this mobile cutoff bin using a Woodsmith plan that I saw online. It used a sheet and a half of plywood and I happened to have some construction grade plywood on hand.

The front bins allow me to store long and short scraps that are good enough for future use, while the back section can hold plywood cutoffs and related sheet goods.

I figured it was a good use of my time off, especially since it will help declutter my garage shop, which will then allow me to do more fun projects… or at least continue the ones I’m working on without having to navigate through woodworking chaos.

Mobile Cutoff Bin - Woodcraft Plan

Mobile Cutoff Bin - Woodcraft Plan

Post Apocalyptic

Megan and I took a walk this past Friday and I took this shot of her by some abandoned farm stuff.

Post Apocalyptic


Milo in the catio

Aerial shots of the big catio

I got an inexpensive little drone a couple months ago (Holy Stone HS165) just for fun and this weekend was my first chance to fly it, so I figured I’d try to get a few aerial shots of the big catio. It was a success, though the photo quality is mediocre (only 1920×1080 resolution and the lens is questionable). It’s super fun to fly, at any rate!

I got fairly close while Melody was in the catio and she was unfazed. She was curious about the weird, buzzing thing, but wasn’t hesitant at all until I got too close, and even then she just backed off a little bit. She’s kind of fearless!

Melody in the catio

Big CatioBig Catio

Big CatioBig Catio

In response to a post about how words and meanings matter…

"Grammatical pedantry is the righteous passion of royalty."

– me

Really… Our cats are not spoiled… Part 4

Back in 2014, we moved and did a huge renovation on the new house (You can see portions in previous posts). Since we were doing some additions, we had the option to install a dedicated cat door into an exterior wall so that I could eventually add a big catio instead of the small, window units that I had made at the old house.

Fast forward 5 years and ta-dah! We have a big catio!

I sort of skipped to the end with that picture, so here’s a summary of the process, along with some tips and strategies that I used while building it.