Sunday, February 7, 2016

DIY Bar Stools

We needed new bar stools for our new kitchen and in typical "I can build that" fashion I said I could make bar stools like the Pottery Barn Tibetan bar stool seen here:

2x 96" 2x4 per stool (really about 1.5)

My Cut list:
3x 19" pieces (final seat pan = 18", we will trim them after glue-up to get down to that)
2x 26" pieces (cut these in to 4x 1.5x1.5x24" legs wit a 5 degree miter and bevel)
1x 16" piece (cut in to 2x .75x1.5x16.25" and 2x .75x1.5x9.25" for the rails)

I started out with the seat pan because I knew it would be a challenge.  I read a bit and people mentioned making jigs for their router.  To make the jig I used a string on a pivot point a few feet away to draw an arc I liked on the sides of the jig (1x6).  Then I cut it with a jig saw and sanded it down with a belt sander.  I used some scrap 4x4 to connect the sides and then that became the platform the seat pans would rest on (I used scrap/shims to hold the seat pan snug).  Then I made a quick sled for the router and attached rails on the underside so that the sled only slid on one axis.  A friend operating the jig:

This worked pretty well, it was built on a whim without much of a plan, but it worked out pretty well.

Once the jig was figured out I ripped and glued 3x 18" pieces of 2x4 together to make the seat pan, waited for the glue to dry and then ran it through the router sled.

Then it was time to make the legs.  I had never done a through tenon before so this was new to me, and my first few stools are not as good as the last one.  I figured out that I needed a 5 degree angle on my legs to get what I wanted so I set the miter saw to a 5 degree miter and a 5 degree bevel.  Then I drew out the locations for each tenon (using a board with a 5 degree angle cut on the end to figure out the "through") and drilled out the center with a forstner bit using a hand drill (during this project I acquired a drill press which made the last stool easier), and then chiseled out the rest.  A complete tenon:

Once I had everything put together I glued the legs together.  Once they were dry I set the seat pan on top, sanded the legs until the seat pan sat nicely proceeded to glue and nail (23ga pin nailer), and then set a bunch of weight on top to hold it down while the glue dried.

Legs attached to the seat pan:

For finishing I used the vinegar + steel wool method, and then applied 3 coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats.

The final product (each one is a little different, they are hand made after all :p):

Lessons learned:
* Glue the legs first, then attach the seat pan.  Don't try and do it all at once.
* Tenon's take a while.  It's also much easier if you have a drill press and sharp chisels
* Stools take a lot of time to make.  $100 from pottery barn is pretty cheap!
* I built each of the 3 stools from start to finish, one at a time.  I should have done it manufacturing line style building the stools in parallel rather than series.

Z-Wave Controlled Kitchen Cabinet LED Lighting

We recently remodeled our kitchen and as part of the process needed new under cabinet lighting.  Our house already has quite a bit of Z-Wave automation so I wanted it to be controllable from Z-Wave which also made it so I didn't need to figure out how to install a new light switch to control it.  Finally, the cabinet above the microwave has a power outlet in it where I could plug the lighting in.

What I used:
1x 12v waterproof LED Lighting Strip from Amazon
1x 12v DC Power Supply (15ft uses 2amp, so I got a 5amp) from Amazon
1x Fibaro RGBW LED Controller (I'm not going to use the RGB functionality) from Amazon
1x 10 pack of pigtails from Amazon
1x 66ft of electrical wire from Amazon

Note: I used waterproof strips because I wanted to be able to wipe them down if they got greasy, the non-waterproof strips wouldn't make that easy.

First, a picture of the complete kitchen w/ the undercabinet LED lights turned on:

The first thing I did was remove the microwave and verify that I could squeeze electrical wire in the gap between the cabinet and the microwave.  Then I proceeded to drill holes in the bottom of the cabinet above the microwave, and in the bottom of the cabinets where the lights would go, as well as the sides (to sneak behind the microwave) and fish the electrical wire from the lower cabinet up behind the microwave and in to the upper cabinet.  I soldered pigtails on to each end of the electrical wire making the cords the right length.

With the wire run (the piece of missing drywall was removed by a previous owner or the builder).

 Finally, I had to mount the LED lighting to the cabinetry.  The first time I relied on the double sided sticky tape on the lighting but that started falling off within a day.  I settled on using silicon caulk to attach the LED strips.  In the places the lighting was falling down I applied caulk to the bottom of the cabinet and then pressed the LED strips in to it, and finally used packing tape to hold it tight until the caulk dried.  It didn't all stick 100% but nothing has fallen in the last 3 months so I'd say it's probably good enough, but it's not perfect.  I'm not really sure what I would do different next time.  Probably use more tape while the caulk dries.  I didn't take any pictures while I was installing it, this is what it looks like today (several months later).

Wiring the lighting to the Fibaro was very simple.  I connected two pigtails to the W screw, 3 pigtails to the 12v screw, and one pigtail to the GND screw.  I did all of this directly to the terminals on the Fibaro so no soldering was required here.  Crude wiring diagram:

And what it looks like installed:

Then I got to the Z-Wave / SmartThings side of things.  Originally I wanted to control the lights by a remote so I purchased an Aeon Labs Minimote and set button 1 to 100%, 2 to 75%, 3 to 0%, and 4 to 40%.  This worked well but I quickly realized I could have them turn on/off automatically when the kitchen lights turn on/off (there's a 30-60 second delay which is manageable).   So I used the Smart Lighting app to set the cabinet lights to 100% when the kitchen lights turn on, and 40% when the lights are off because we've fond it's nice to have them on a low level as a "night light" so to speak, so we rarely turn them off.  This has worked very well and we no longer use the remote (we've yet to find the 30-60s delay a problem).