Woodworking and home improvement plans and tips and Tool reviews

Information on DIY home improvement projects I'm working on or planning as well as reviews for tools and gadgets for the home.

Easy DIY Canned Food Storage Anyone Can Build

Free woodworking plans to build a wall-mounted can organizer for storing, rotating and organizing canned food. Simple and doesn't require a lot of tools.

About the TBS Can Rotator

We're going through some difficult times in the NYC area with the coronavirus pandemic and I want to make sure I have enough food in case the lockdowns get tighter. I've been trying to keep a weeks worth of fresh food, another week's worth of frozen food and then some canned food and dry food to get through a week. My canned food game was pretty weak so I wanted to come up with a new system to be better prepared for emergencies.

I wanted to create a canned food organizer that:
  • Had a FIFO (first in first out) design so that older cans get used first
  • Didn't take up a lot of space and could be hung on a wall if you don't have a pantry
  • Was easy to build without a lot of tools or experience
  • Didn't cost a lot to make
  • Could provide at least one well-balanced meal a day for 1 week for one person
This is what I came up with


It's a 2'x2' wall mounted can dispenser that has 5 compartments, 4 for standard 15oz cans and 1 for 5oz tuna fish sized cans. Each of the 15oz columns can hold 8 cans while the tuna column can hold 7 cans of tuna for a total of 39 cans. When I'd like to use a can I pull it out from the bottom. When I add new cans they go in at the top so I'm rotating the stock. 

With some other pantry items like rice, oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, whole grain crackers, each TBS 2x2 Can Rotator can help provide 3 meals for 16 days to one person, or 8 days to two people. I can achieve over 2,000 calories a day with the following meals.

Breakfast: 1 cup dry oatmeal cooked in water with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Lunch: 1 cup instant brown rice with 1/2 can of tuna fish, hopefully lettuce from garden.

Snacks: 2 whole wheat crackers with peanut butter and jelly, trail mix and canned fruit.

Dinner: 1/2 a can of non-starchy vegetables (green beans/mixed veggies), 1/2 a can of beans (garbanzo beans), 1/2 can of no-bean chili, 

You may want to stock your Can Rotator with other items but this is what works for me and the type of canned items I can work into my regular menus so that I'm keeping the cans fresh.

It can be built without any power saws. Some pieces will need to be cut but they can be cut with a hand saw or have them cut at the store. The only tool power tool necessary is a drill which a lot of people have and if you don't have one I'm sure you can find a friend to borrow one from.

What You'll Need

I chose items that are currently in stock at my local Home Depot.

Materials

  • (1) 1/2" 2'x2' Plywood
  • (2) 1/2x3 4' poplar board cut in half to roughly 24" each
  • (2) 1x4 2' long poplar boards
  • (2) 1/4x3 4' poplar board cut into 4 19" lengths, 1 10" and 1 9" piece
  • (1) 1x2 2' poplar board
  • Kreg 1" screws
  • Kreg 1-1/4" screws
  • Wood Glue

Tools

  • Drill
  • Kreg pocket hole jig, the mini will work and currently costs only $14 but see my post to decide which Kreg Jig to buy for other options
  • Clamp
  • Tape measure
  • Straight Edge
  • Pencil
  • Hand saw with miter box
  • Hammer

Step 1: Attach Lip to Bottom


Drill the holes for the pocket screws on the 1-1/2" side of of the 1x2 board. It's a little tricky to get it since it's a short board but it works. 

If you're using the Kreg Mini, the base of the mini will go flush up against the end of the board. See my Kreg-Mini Cheat Sheet for more info on using the Kreg Mini.

Apply a thin layer of glue on the side of the 1x2 that will press up against the bottom board then position the lip on the bottom so it's flush with the front as shown in the picture. Use 1-1/4" Kreg pocket screws to join the pieces.

Step 2: Attach Back to Bottom

Now drill 5 or 6 evenly spaced pocket holes along the bottom, back edge of the 2'x2' plywood as shown. Use glue along the edge of the plywood and secure it to the bottom board using 1-1/4" screws.

Step 3: Attach Sides


Drill 2 pocket holes on the bottom of each side and 5-6 along the long back edge as shown. Apply wood glue to the back and bottom edges of the plywood and attach each side flush to the back and bottom using 1-1/4" Kreg screws.

Step 4: Attach Center Dividers


The center dividers are 1/2" thick so we'll be using 1" Kreg Screws and using the Kreg Mini Jig it won't be flush with the wood but will stick out 1/4" out from it. (See my post on using a Kreg Mini). You can use a 1/4" spacer if you have one. If you don't have an easy way to set the Kreg Mini to 1/4" overhang you can stack 4 pennies together to use as a spacer which will get you close enough or use one of the 1/4" front boards. Place the holes in a similar fashion to the sides, 2 on the bottom, 5 or 6 on the back.


Space out the dividers to create the columns as shown. The thin column for the 5oz tuna cans will need to have 1-5/8" of space. The other will all be 4-3/4" except for the one next to the thin column since we stole 1-1/8" from there to have a little more room.

Apply a thin layer of wood glue to the back and bottom edges of the 1/2" dividers and screw them into place with the 1" screws.

Step 5: Attach Front Slats

At first I was going to use a clear sheet of 18"x24" acrylic for the front to hold the cans in place which I thought would look nice and allow a full view of the cans but then I realized it wasn't ideal. When a column is empty and you're adding cans, the can is going to have a long way to drop which could damage the can organizer over time or even damage the can. By putting slats int the front the way I did it holds the cans in place, allows you to see the cans and you can also gently guide the can down when filling it up. It also wound up being cheaper.
The 1/4" thick boards are 19" long, except for the last one which is 2 10" left over pieces from cutting the other pieces.

They'are attached to the sides or dividers using wood glue and 1-1/4" nails. Drill pilot holes before hammering in the nails to prevent splitting the wood.

My Pantry Can Organizer

The above plans are for a self-contained, FIFO, canned food storage system. I couldn't actually fit that easily into my own pantry but I used the basic components and layouts to come up with something that fit my space better. Well almost the same components. I made a mistake ordering the 1/4" boards and got 1/4 x 4 boards instead of 1/4 by 3 :(

It's also a little deeper since I used existing shelf slats to screw the dividers into. It still works as intended but the cans don't stack as neatly inside. On the plus side I was able to fit in an extra can. 

It still needs some cleaning up, sanding, hole filling and painting but for now it's serving it's purpose. At least once a month I will pull one can from the bottom and use it in a recipe and replace it with a new can in the top. This way my can's are never more than 9 months old.


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Hand Washing On-The-Go Without Sanitizer

In this post I share tips on how I wash my hands away from home without hand sanitizer.

The Corona Virus Pandemic has created a shortage on certain items including hand sanitizer. Even hand soap is difficult to find sometimes. At home I use some foaming hand soap dispensers because they make a significant savings in the amount of soap I use. I use a similar concept when away from home.

Disclaimer

I use this method when I don't have access to running water like if I'm out hiking or camping. Hand sanitizer is good for some things but not great for getting dirt off my hands if I want to clean my hands before eating. I don't have any way to verify how effective this is but it has worked well on dirt and the principles seem sound. With the shortage of hand sanitizer and gloves we need options. This is mine. If this is your only option to wash your hands continue to try to keep your hands away from your face to be safe.

What You'll Need

Step 1: Prepare Soap Solution

If you're using the foaming dispensers follow the instructions. If you're using a spray bottle, I use about a 1 to 4 or 5 ratio of liquid hand soap to water. After mixing I'll test it by spraying it on my hands. I'm looking for a small amount of thin lather. If there isn't enough slipperiness or lather I'll add a little more soap. If my hands get too foamed up I'll add more water.

Step 2: Prepare the Bleach Rinse Solution

I like to add some bleach to the rinse water to help it stay sanitary as well as for it to have some sanitizing effect. Since the FDA recommends a bleach dilution of 50-200 ppm for food contact surfaces including utensils, it seemed like a safe concentration to use on your hands. I wouldn't recommend going above 200ppm but during the ebola virus the CDC put out a document on how to create a bleach hand sanitizing solution that was about 500 ppm bleach.

Try to get bleach that has the concentration of bleach (sodium hypochlorate) listed on the label. If it's not on the label it's at most 3% but I'm not sure if it could be less than that. Use this bleach concentration calculator to help you determine the amount of your bleach you need to add to your bottle. Make a new solution every day. Try not to make too much more than you need. Use the calculator below to determine how much bleach you need.

Bleach Concentration Calculator

Enter the concentration of bleach found on the bottle, the concentration of finished solution you'd like in parts per million (ppm) and the total amount of sanitizer solution you'd like to end up with in ounces.

% bleach concentration
Desired concentration in ppm (50 to 100)
Total volume in ounces
Bleach Needed (use most appropriate measure)
ounces of bleach or
milliliters of bleach or
teaspoons of bleach

Step 3: Spray your hands

Spray your hands or pump out enough foam to start washing your hands. You should have a nice thin lather all over your hands. Rub them strongly together making sure you cover all areas thoroughly. Scrape your nails on your palms, scrub the back of your hands and fingers. Really scrub good.

Step 4: Rinse away soap

If you have access to clean running water use that to rinse your hands. If not use the spray bottle with bleach solution in it. Set the stream to a strong stream and spray the soap off your hands. Aim the spray so it doesn't splash back at you or anyone else.

Step 5: Dry your hands

Let the bleach solution stay on your hands for about a minute to sanitize them. You can let your hands air dry if that's your only choice but it's best to use a clean, dry, paper towel to dry your hands, especially since this method of rinsing isn't as effective as using running water.

How are you washing your hands?

This is what I'm doing. Let me know in the comments what you're doing or if you have any thoughts on my method. What else are you doing to keep safe?
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Freestanding Closet DIY Plans

Free woodworking plans to build a freestanding or walk-in closet organizer.

About the Freestanding Closet Organizer

There are a lot of situations where you need additional closet space in a room. Older homes don't have large closets and some bedrooms may not have any closets at all if you're converting a den or study into a bedroom. This freestanding closet organizer provides ample room for hanging clothing, shelf space as well as 2 large drawers. It only needs 3 full sheets of 3/4" plywood and partial sheets of 1/2" and 1/4" to construct making it very affordable for the amount of storage you get.

Four of these Amazon Basics Fabric Storage Bins fit nicely on the top.

You can choose the plywood veneer and finishing option that best fits your decor.

Dimensions

When fully assembled the freestanding closet will be 74-1/4" wide by 23-15/16" deep by 85" high. If you'd like to make it narrower you can cut the shelves smaller.

What You'll Need

Materials

Tools

Cut List

  • (4) 85” 23-15/16” 3/4” Plywood Sides
  • (7) 23-3/4” 23-3/16” 3/4” Plywood Shelf
  • (8) 4-1/2” 23-3/4” 3/4” Plywood Stretcher
  • (2) 3-1/2” 23-3/4” 3/4” Plywood Toe Kick
  • (2) 10-7/8” 23-5/8” 3/4” Plywood Drawer Front
  • (4) 20” 10” 1/2” Plywood Drawer Box Side
  • (4) 21-3/4” 10” 1/2” Plywood Drawer Box F/B
  • (2) 22-1/4” 19” 1/4” Plywood Drawer Bottom

Cut Plan

3/4" Plywood

1/2" Plywood

1/4" Plywood

Step 1

Start by drilling all the pocket holes in the shelf, stretcher and toe kick plywood pieces as shown.

Step 2

Use wood glue and 1-1/4" Kreg pocket screws to attach the shelves to the stretchers. There will be 1 left over stretcher so don't worry. 2 of the shelves should have the pocket holes facing up while the others have the pocket holes facing down as shown.

Step 3

Apply edgebanding to the fronts of the shelves, fronts of sides, drawer fronts.

Step 4

Attach the shelves and toe kick to 2 of the side pieces to form the first freestanding closet cabinet using wood glue and 1-1/4" Kreg screws

Step 5

Attach the shelves to the 2 remaining side pieces to form the other fresstanding closet cabinet using wood glue and 1-1/4" Kreg screws.

Step 6

Build the 2 drawer boxes for the closet system as shown using wood glue and 1" Kreg Pocket Screws. For detailed instructions please read my post on how to build drawer boxes

Step 7

Mount the drawer boxes into the closet frame using the drawer glides.

Step 8

Attach the drawer fronts to the drawer boxes. There should be a 1/16" gap. I start by removing the bottom drawer box from the cabinet. I'll place the drawer front on the drawer box and position it where it looks good. You can use shims but eyeballing it is usually good enough. Then I'll pull out the drawerbox while pressing the front tight against the drawer box so it doesn't move as I pull it out. Now I can reach in and screw it in place temporarily using 1" screws. Then I'll drill holes for the drawer pulls and attach them.

Step 9

Notch out the back to fit around your baseboards. If your baseboards are taller than 3-1/2" you may need to make the toe kick higher.

Step 10

To finish things off place one of the cabinets on the wall where you want your freestanding closet system. Shim it so it's level and screw it through the stretchers into the wall framing to secure it.

Attach the middle shelves to the first cabinet using glue 1-1/4" pocket screws making sure everything is level and screw into the wall framing through the stretchers as well.

Place and attach the last cabinet attaching it to the middle shelves using pocket screws and glue. Use screws to attach the cabinet to the wall using screws into the wall framing.

Finally install the closet rod hardware so it's 2" down from the top shelf. 


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Camping Kitchen Chuck Box Plans

Free woodworking plans to build a portable kitchen you can take camping.

About the TBS Chuck Box

A Chuck Box, also known as a Camp Kitchen or in the Boy Scouts as a Patrol Box is a cabinet that is used to hold and transport your camping cooking equipment to and from your campsite as well as to serve as a cooking station. So far I've just been using a large tote but everything needs to fit in the tote a certain way for it to fit but it usually means I have to take everything out to get the stove out and that was very inconvenient and wasted a lot of time I could have spent in the hammock instead!
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Camp Kitchen Equipment

What equipment I use in my Chuck Box.

I'm very happy with how my chuck box turned out. I designed it mostly around my existing camp cooking gear but I also picked up a few new things that would fit inside and provide me with the comforts of home while out camping. In this post I'll go over the items I use and show in the video and where you can get them.

There are also some things I'd like add. If you're looking for a way to say thanks for the information and the plans you can pick something up from my Chuck Box Amazon Wish List.

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Crescent Moon Crystal Display Shelf Plans


Free woodworking plans to build a Crescent Moon shaped shelf to display Crystal Healing Wands.

I let a friend of mine for Christmas. She's into a bunch of things I don't know much about healing and crystals and stuff. She send me a link to a picture of crescent moon shaped display shelf for crystals. It looked really nice but only limited amounts are hand made and I guess they went fast because I couldn't order one. The reasonable option was to make one myself.  Below you'll find plans and a video to make one too if you want.
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How To Test And Locate Coax Cables

My Residential Structured Wiring Project is coming along nicely but I haven't posted much in a while. I made a video showing how I test and locate/identify the coaxial cables I'm running for video throughout my home. In this video I show you how I use a tool that can identify and test the cables.

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