Saturday, September 14, 2013

Refresh that old plastic cutting board

Plastic (polyethylene) cutting boards tend to get worn with use, eventually leading to an unsightly (and often unsanitary) surface. Between cut marks, foods, and cleaners can leave a plastic board looking pretty ragged.

But not all is lost - a quick attack with some sandpaper can refresh that cutting board, making it as good as new and saving the time and money of replacing them! This tried and true food service industry trick can help clean up even the worst of boards and prolong the life of your boards and boost the cleanliness of your kitchen.

Materials in addition to your old cutting boards
dropcloth/newspaper/garbage bagclampssanderSandpaper (ideally 25 grit through 80 grit)metal scrubber or rough steel woolscraper/hand plane/razor blade (not pictured)gloveseye protectiondust maskdish soapsponge
For the sander, I'm using a Dremel contour sander. Any sander will do the job, and one with more horsepower will do the job faster. A belt sander or orbital sander would work nicely. I just didn't happen to have one handy at the moment.

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Elastic Band Flinging Helicopter

Materials you need are:

*some fairly stiff plastic (I used the packaging from a roller blind)
*a big thick elastic band (I used one about 200mm long)
*a picture hook
*a piece of dowel (I used the adjuster from a venetian blind, which already had the hook screwed in the end)

Tools you need are:

*some extra strong glue
*a hacksaw to cut the wood (I used a dremel)
*scissors or knife to cut the plastic

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DIY Roll-Out Pantry Saves Space in Your Kitchen

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Disable Windows' Aero Shake with a Registry Tweak

Aero Shake is a lesser-known, but interesting Windows feature that lets you "shake" a window back and forth to minimize all other windows. If you find you invoke this accidentally more often than not, you can turn it off with a registry tweak.

Of course, you can always re-shake a window to restore the other windows, but like some other features, it can get annoying (StickyKeys, anyone?). All you need to do is:

Disable Windows' Aero Shake with a Registry Tweak

Open the Start menu or screen and type regedit. Press enter to open the Registry Editor.Navigate to this registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\WindowsRight-click on the "Windows" key in the sidebar and choose New > Key.Name the new key "Explorer" (no quotes).Click on your new Explorer key and right-click on the right-hand pane. Choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value and call it NoWindowMinimizingShortcuts. Give it a value of 1.Exit out of the registry editor and restart your computer (or log out and back in).Now, you should find that shaking windows doesn't do anything special, perfect if you've got jittery hands. Don't like other Aero features? There are ways to turn them off too. Hit the link below to read more.

Disable Aero Shake in Windows 7 | How-To Geek

Animal Tracks for Plaster Casting.

DSCF9902-1.jpgFor a recent Cub camp, a leader wanted to run an activity (or "base") making plaster casts of animal tracks.

Unfortunately, the camp site is so well-used that the few animal tracks we get on the site tend to be quickly trampled down by hundreds of size three trainers, so I decided to provide some predictable tracks for the Cubs to cast. 

DSCF9885.JPGI made these from scrap wood (pine, about 21mm thick), using a scroll saw, glue, a sharp knife and a rotary tool with a sanding bit and the "dentist burr" bit.

To actually leave tracks, you need a mallet or a firm footstep.

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3d Printed Merlin Style Steadicam: MO-FLO 1.0

Let me introduce the MO-FLO 1.0, another one of my entries into the world of DIY camera stabilization equipment. The MO-FLO, short for MOVIE and FLOW, is a 3d printed Merlin style steadicam.

In case you're new to the subject, Steadicam is a trademarked name for a company that produces camera stabilization equipment. When you search for DIY steadicam stuff on the internet, you'll find tons of resources. You can also search "steadycam" with a "y" and find more of the same stuff. Some people will cause a fuss about using the word steadicam, but when it really comes down to it, it's like asking for a kleenex when all you really need is a tissue.


Many DIY designs on the internet are based on the simple elements of the Merlin Steadicam. What tends to shock people about the Merlin, is its outrageous price tag. At first glance, you might guess that the unit would retail for a couple hundred bucks at the most. You're actually looking at shelling out close to $800!

Don't get me wrong..... it is a nice piece of equipment, but it's a huge investment. Let's look at the bright side though. With such a high retail price, this fancy gadget has merely inspired a nation of makers to fashion their own rigs out of simple and some not so simple materials. I'll show you some great examples shortly.

The interesting thing that I've learned from reviewing countless testimonials, and youtube vids, is that the steadicam is not a simple, easy to operate, magic, movie making machine. It demands time and patience, not only to balance it correctly, but to use it effectively for your film shots. Right now as I write this, there are many sad and lonely Merlins sitting in their fancy cases, while their frustrated owners try to sell them on ebay for fifty dollars less than retail.

My adventure begins.......

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