Posts Tagged ‘Ikea’

Make an airtight diaper pail for less than $5

23 Feb

Homemade, airtight diaper pailsFor me, the benefits of cloth diapers (saving money, avoiding blowouts, and reducing trash output) easily outweigh the inconveniences (washing, stuffing, and storing the diapers). However, storing three days worth of smelly diapers requires several effective diaper pails to keep the house from smelling like a litter box. Diaper pails can be surprisingly expensive, though, so you may want to make your own like I did. Why spend $30 on one bin when you can have a whole fleet of them for less than half that much?

For less than $5, you can make a diaper pail that will easily hold a day’s worth of diapers; I use three of these bins in different locations around the house so we never have to carry a dirty diaper very far. It is a simple matter of buying two identical trash cans and making minor modifications so one trashcan can serve as the lid for the other.

Tools and materials:

  • Two FNISS wastebaskets from IKEA ($1.99 each as of this moment)
  • Cabinet knob
  • Foam pipe insulation
  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • Duct tape or gaffer’s tape

Read the rest of this entry »


Protect your electronics from heat damage by installing a cooling fan in your entertainment center

01 Jun

Entertainment center exhaust fanReach your hand behind your receiver or TV. Do you notice that it’s warmer back there? You’re feeling the residual heat given off by hard-working electronic devices. Unfortunately, high temperatures contribute to the failure of all kinds of small electronic components, from printed circuit boards to resistor, capacitors, and batteries. It’s a conundrum: audio and video electronics produce heat, and yet heat is seriously hazardous to their health. Between the receiver, two video-game consoles, and the TiVo, my entertainment center can get quite hot, especially during the summer. Since the TiVo (and, to a lesser extent, the consoles) is on at all times, it never really cools down inside the cabinet.

Computer designers tackled this problem long ago: most PCs include a rear exhaust fan and one or more open grills near floor level to admit fresh air so the computer does not overheat. Now that we’re putting PC-style devices in our living rooms, we need to treat the entertainment center like a giant PC case.

To keep my equipment cool, I installed an exhaust fan in the back of my entertainment center. Adding an exhaust fan that pushes air out of the case creates an effective negative pressure in the case and draws in new air from every open point. Of course, you need an inlet hole for air to enter the case for this process to work. Hot air rises, so you want an exhaust hole near the top to remove heated air and an inlet hole near the bottom of your container to draw in cooler air.

You spent a lot of money on this stuff! Make sure your equipment keeps working for as long as possible by keeping its critical parts cooled. All you need to do is cut a minor hole in the back of your entertainment center, find a suitable fan, and decide how to power it. I promise to make it simple. Read the rest of this entry »


Customized moving dolly for transporting wine

22 Dec

Wine dolly - assembledMy father uses the crawlspace beneath his house as a wine cellar. The problem with the crawlspace is the crawling part. Between the rough edges, the dust, and the low clearance, the crawlspace leaves every visitor filthy and sore from waddling around in a painful squat. To make delivering and retrieving wine a bit easier, my father kept a creeper (the sort of low, wheeled platform that mechanics use to roll themselves underneath cars) in the crawlspace. You could kneel on it and scoot around, and it made lugging cases of wine a lot simpler. It cracked in half years ago from heavy use, with the obvious demand for a replacement just ignored.

This year, I decided a new solution was in order. For Christmas, I put together this customized moving dolly to replace the broken creeper (I gave it to my father yesterday, so it’s safe to reveal now). The base with the wheels is a moving dolly, which you can find at a hardware store. This one is rated to 1,000 pounds and feels sturdy enough to last for decades. By itself, though, the dolly is not an effective transporter of wine. The opening in the middle is too wide for cases or bottles. The center of gravity is also a bit trickier, since the dolly has a higher ground clearance and can be flipped by leaning too heavily on the front or rear edge.

Wine dolly - two partsTo help with both issues, I built the rig inside the dolly out of familiar-looking scrap wood from Ikea. The slats are spaced close together to prevent wine bottles from slipping through and are bowed downward, preventing wine from rolling off. The additional weight in the middle of the dolly also reduces the chance of tipping it by accident. The rig itself is not nearly as strong as the dolly, of course, but it is completely removable. I made no changes to the original dolly, so you can lift the rig out and use the dolly to move furniture if desired.

You could borrow this concept for all kinds of mobile storage or transportation functions. The whole setup cost less than a creeper would have and yet is more versatile. A dolly can save your back a lot of agony when you’re moving heavy objects. Come to think of it, my cases of cider are just crying out for some wheels.


Chalkboard drawing: “Reservations”

30 Sep

ReservationsIt didn’t take long for this reminder to make dinner reservations to turn into unkind social commentary. Enjoy the mid-week palate cleanser.

Context: I’m a fan of having a “landing strip” near the front door for storing keys, wallet, mail, and similar things that people need to grab before leaving the house. I recommend Ikea’s LUNS chalkboard/magnetboard as a great, cost-effective option. Besides hooks for keys and a storage space for everything else, it also provides a place to leave messages, shopping lists, or anything else that you can hang up with a magnet or draw with chalk. In my house, the chalkboard oscillates between simple reminders and a venue for the macabre. It’s like Pictionary (or “Eat Poo, You Cat”) based on a to-do list.

See more chalkboard drawings

No Comments

Posted in Art?


Friendly oven mitts

30 Aug

Happy oven mittsMost oven mitts are either utilitarian (functional but undecorated) or are decorated in some bizarre country farmhouse motif. I took plain oven mitts and made the kitchen a little friendlier by giving them an easy makeover with buttons for eyes. If you’ve ever made a sock puppet, you should be smacking yourself for not having thought of this one.

A cutesy, childish craft? Of course. Effective in producing smiles and chuckles from folk of all ages? You bet. Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted in Art?, Kitchen


Eat your own cereal, not Kellogg’s

10 Aug

Bowl of cerealEveryone I know has breakfast cereal in their house. I can’t assume this is a universal trait, but there’s something wholesome and American about a bowl of cornflakes, not to mention great pleasures in Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs and the like. It’s more fun to eat a breakfast cereal you invented than one someone else invented. I’ll tell you a secret, too: it’s easy.

Having been a near-connoisseur on the breakfast cereal scene in the late 1990s (I’m surprised you haven’t heard of me), my gluten-free diet put shocking limitations on my cereal options. After all, tasty gluten-free cereals are few and far between…and never cheap. It also stinks to buy a $5 box of cereal only to dislike it on the first bite. Desperate, I went the organic-health route and found making my own blend was easy, delicious, and cost-effective. That’s a rare win-win-win. You don’t even have to go gluten-free to see the benefits of mixing your own cereal. Read the rest of this entry »


Aesthetic upgrade to Ikea Bekväm stool

12 Jul

Stool after finishingWe have a very simple Ikea step stool that we use to reach high shelves in the kitchen. I believe it’s an old single-step version of the Bekväm stool (the current model has two steps and costs a bit more than ours did). It came in unfinished pine, which was fine for utilitarian use but not all that handsome to look at.

It turned out to be very easy to give the stool a makeover without even taking it apart. I used a small butane torch to scorch the surface of the step, including the visible edges of the underside of the step. A little masking tape and spray paint later and we had a classy piece that wouldn’t gather so many grimy footprints. I applied three coats of spray finish to protect the wood and called it a day.  Why spend more time or effort on a $10 stool?

You could apply the same techniques to any kind of unfinished wood. This already matches all of my furniture — I like the contrast of a rich wood texture with flat black (a popular Ikea combo, too).

Burning the woodStool masked for paintingStool being paintedFinishing the stool


Converting a desk into a computer workstation

24 May

Older desks — mine included — make uncomfortable computer stations. With a few quick changes, though, many desks can turn into customized pieces that are much more comfortable to work on. All you need is a saw, a drill, and a few pieces from the hardware store.

I have an ancient institutional desk — the sort of thing you’d find in a low-rent office in 1965. It’s solid like a Ukraine bull, and it matches my décor, but it’s been awful to use as a computer station. The desktop is uncomfortably high for a keyboard or mouse, and I’d rather sit farther back from the screen, too. In the end, I turned the widest drawer into a keyboard tray and the topmost remaining drawer into a mouse surface (they’re at similar heights, which is much better ergonomics than the desk provided before).

Read the rest of this entry »


Wooden crate from Ikea parts

19 May

I went to the Ikea “As-Is” department in search of boards to turn into a crate for storing my terrifying (and growing) collection of cider bottles. I don’t know what I’d expected to find, but when I saw this bundle of nearly two dozen bed slats, I came up with a design for an open-sided structure that would be strong and lightweight. You could adapt the design for many kinds of scrap wood or for different sizes of boxes.

Read the rest of this entry »