Southern Illinois Heart Walk

Help me to help others!

Memorial Day weekend of 2019 I suffered a “heart attack like” event which sent me to the Emergency Room. After a couple of days at Heartland Regional in Marion it was determined that I had 4 blockages in one of my main arteries that totaled 75% blocked. These could not be stetted, so I was immediately transferred up to St Louis University Hospital and within a few days I had a Cardiac Artery Bypass Graft 1 (CABG1). I am now several weeks past this major, life-changing surgery and recovering one day at a time. If it wasn’t for the awesome doctors and nurses I wouldn’t be here today.

To give back, I’m walking in the next event and I need your help! Any donation can help!

So let’s kick heart disease’s ass!

I urge everyone that reads this to do your heart some good and please make a donation today!

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My #RyobiNation Story

Many people have asked me why I chose to use Ryobi tools and some have even questioned it. Well, let me tell you how I joined the #RyobiNation and why I still love that community.

I had always been a woodworker.Back in high school, it was one of my favorite classes. I was always tinkering with something, taking something apart, modifying things. That’s just how I was, and still am.

Back in the mid 90’s, when my wife and I were first starting our life together, we managed to live paycheck to paycheck. We didn’t have much, but we had one another. After moving into one of our first apartments, I needed some basic tools to do some of the “fixes” around the place.

Back in the day, Home Depot was the only real hardware store in town. We went in and I found a blue Ryobi Drill as well as one of their powered screwdrivers, similar to the ones pictured below.

Between these two and my very old hand tools, I proceeded to fix all the little issues in the apartment: hanging pictures, fixing cabinets & shelves. Pretty much anything I could tinker with, I did.

After leaving our first apartment, we moved into a rental house. This property was run by an older gentleman. After the first month, I made a deal with him that if I fixed issues with the rental house he would take it off of my rent.

Before you know it, he was asking me to help fix other houses on his property. I then started to acquire a few more Ryobi tools as I needed them. A circular saw, a jig saw, etc.. The list just kept growing..

After about a year or so, we moved into another, larger, house. This one had a shed attached to the garage. I was in heaven. I had a workshop.

In reality, it was a dark, dirty, and very small “hole in the wall” but it was “my shop” and I was damn proud of it. I made the same deal with the owner of this house. I built shelves, installed cabinets, painted, and even installed a swimming pool.

After a few years here, we decided to buy our own place. We picked a nice little house that had an attached garage. Guess what? My shop got an upgrade! I was able to get even more tools! I finally got a table saw and a drill press! Oh was it awesome!

As I outgrew that, the next project was to add on a room to the back of the garage so I could have even more of a workshop. The game was on then; this was the first major renovation I had ever done. And guess what? Every power tool that I owned was still a Ryobi tool. They had never let me down. They were affordable and they always had my back.

We moved yet again into a larger house. This one had a shed outside that was larger than my old garage, by a long shot. I immediately set up shop in there and started tinkering with things.

This was about the time that my wife started taking notes of all the things that I wished I had in my shop. My birthday presents were all Ryobi tools. Christmas came and there was more Ryobi blue! She had a list and had been buying them all for months, hiding them so I wouldn’t know.

I spent all my time out in that shop. Building things, teaching my son to build things. He had his own little workbench out by mine.

Then came the big change…

I took a job in California and we had to move. I had to sell everything.. Well, almost. I kept the blue Ryobi Drill and that little screwdriver that started it all.

Once out in California, we moved into a couple of apartments. Which didn’t give me a chance to build anything but store bought furniture. After a few years, we finally moved into a house. And it had a garage!!

This garage quickly became my new shop. We worked on my Jeep, my Harley and anything else that I could get into that garage was worked on. I started to slowly build back up my tools. Not too many as it was still a small shop, but you know what? I went straight to Home Depot and bought more blue Ryobi tools.

Then came the move back to Illinois, we found a nice house and it had a massive two car garage.. Shortly after moving in, I started adding work benches and started collecting more tools. At this point, I could have gone with any tool brand that I wanted. But you know what? I went straight to Home Depot and was surprised to see all that green!

Gotta love that color!

This is where I started replacing my blue tools with new greens ones. Over the course of the next few years, every time I needed a new tool the first thought in my head was Does Ryobi make one? And if they did, it was mine.

My collection has grown but, up until two weeks ago, I still owned a couple of the blue tools. A couple of older sanders were still in my shop.

I saw that Home Depot was having some sales and Ryobi has released the new Brushless line of One+ tools. So, I replaced a few of the ones that had given me several good years and replaced the last of the blue ones.

I then tossed them all into a blue and a green Ryobi bag that I had gotten with a tool combo purchase and gave them to a friend. That way I am passing my Ryobi love on to another garage.

To sum up this very long post, I’ve stuck with Ryobi for more than 20 years because they have always had my back. Their tools have never let me down and have always been there when they were needed.

And that’s my “Ryobi Nation Story”. Thanks for reading.

Building my Ryobi Nation Tool Station

I’ve got quite a Ryobi tool collection going on and storing them in a convenient place was becoming a necessity. I decided that I should build a wall-mounted rack to store the ones that I use the most frequently.

The first thing I did was come up with the size of the “hooks” the tools will hang from. For this, I whipped up a quick prototype with my BeamBox laser.

The initial prototype was a 2″ circle and a 5″ inset. This worked out pretty well, but I eventually decided it was too long and went with a 4″ inset to the center of the 2″ circle. This gave me a nice profile and allowed me to store a variety of tools. For the larger tools, I went with a 2 3/4″ circle with the same 4″ inset.

I had a bunch of scrap 1/2″ plywood lying around the shop so I spent a few minutes and mocked up the design so that I could see it and get a feel for it.

For this prototype, I spaced the lower tool holders at about 2″ apart starting at 2″ from the end. This gave me a total width of about 28″, which I was happy with. After placing the tools into the prototype, I realized that if I moved them to start at 1″ from the edge I could get another holder in the bottom. Then all 7 of my same sized tools are on the same shelf. This also allowed me to have 4 of the larger ones at the top.

Now that I had a working design, I started to make the real thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of this process because I was “in the zone” just getting it done as I didn’t have a lot of time that evening.

I started with 3 pieces of scrap 5/8″ MDF that I had lying around the shop as leftovers from other table builds I had done. I cut them into 3 12″ wide by 28″ long pieces. This would be the top & bottom shelf as well as the back.

I then readjusted my tool hole placement and marked them all out on one piece. Using my trusty Ryobi jigsaw, I started cutting out all of the holders.

This part is a little tedious as there are a lot of curves and straight lines to get right. Making them a little too large will mean the tools will fall. Making them too small means they won’t slide into their slots correctly. So, take your time and get them right!

Once all these were cut, I pulled out my Kregjig K5 system and started making some pocket holes in both sides of the back to secure the top and bottom shelf together.

Then, it was just attaching the top and bottom shelf to the back with the Kreg screws and a bit of Gorilla Glue. Now that I had the top and bottom secured together, I took a couple of the cutoff scraps and trimmed them to be a little more uniform. After that, I glued and nailed them to the top and bottom shelves at the front with my Ryobi AirStrike brad nailer.

This was to give the front of the shelves more support. You could choose to enclose the entire sides. I left them open as I planned on storing my bit collection on the lower shelf and I wanted access to them. I added a couple of scrap 2″x4″‘s in the top left corner as a place to rest my Ryobi Brushless Circular saw. Together, they are the right height to clear the blade and let the saw rest nicely.

Clamped it to the table and loaded up the tools to make sure it was going to do what I wanted.

Next, I took my Ryobi Orbital sander and cleaned up all the edges, beveling them all and rounding off all the sharp corners. This was just so I didn’t cut or scrap my hands when reaching for my tools.

After that, it was time to get it hung on the wall. I called in some assistance on this as it’s a bit heavy and a little too large to hang by myself. I secured it to the garage wall with about 12 Spax screws just to make sure my tool collection won’t end up on the floor in a nasty crash.

Previously, I had made a bunch of “garage badges” with my laser. It has my garage logo on it and the “#ryobination” hash tag that I use on Instagram when I post. I tossed up a few of the extras into this build to show more of my Ryobi love.

Now that it was on the wall, it was time to place the tools into their new home.

I liked building this project as it’s not only an awesome way to show off my Ryobi tool collection but it’s very functional. What used to take up 2 full walls in my shop now only takes up a few square feet.

You know what that means right? You bet, I need more new tools!!

Laser etching stainless steel with a 40w CO2 laser

In my shop I have the Flux Beambox 40w CO2 laser. Up until today I had used it to laser etch and cut wood & acrylic. The only metal work I had ever done with it was removing painted coating from aluminum.

These are laser etched business cards I made for an event HackSI was attending.

Recently I learned that if you coat stainless steel with a chemical compound you could laser etch onto it and it would stay. Specifically the chemical is “molybdenum disulfide”. This can be found in “CRC Dry Moly Lube“. Of course I had to give this a try.

I ordered the CRC from Amazon and a batch of stainless steel drinking flasks. I then picked up some “Denatured Alcohol” at Walmart and I was ready to go.

The green painters tape was used to tape the top of the flask so that I wouldn’t get any of the Dry Moly on it.

The first step is to tape up the areas that you don’t want the Dry Moly to get on the material. For the flasks this was around the lid area. Then I sprayed a very thick coat of the lube onto the front of the flask. Making sure it was nice and thick as well as evenly coated.

I let this dry for about 10-15 minutes before dropping it into the laser. Now comes the fun part. For my first run, I set the laser to run at 50mm per second at 55% power. This actually turned out to work very well.

As you can see, some of the darker area at the bottom are a little light on the etching, I think this was because I didn’t put enough of the lube on. So I tried another design but changed up the settings. I went with 95% power at 50mm per second.

That didn’t work as I had expected, the darker areas at the top turned out super light and it created pretty large dents in the stainless. I think the metal is just too thin for that power of the laser.

Next up, I went back to using the 50% power at 55mm per second but this time I used 2-3 really good coats of the lube; making sure to cover it really well.

Starfleet Logo for a friend.

Now this one turned out absolutely beautiful. I’m really happy with how this one pops on the metal. At this setting I just need to dial in the proper amount of lube to apply. So I tried a few more times.

As the day went on I think I finally got the hang of the proper amount of lube to apply and the results show for themselves.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Adding Kreg Bench Dogs to an existing workbench

In my shop I have the Performax shop system from Menards. In this set up, I have 3 of their workbenches. These benches are pretty nice; they are about 5 1/2 feet long and 2 feet wide and have a 1″ thick MDF top, which makes for a very nice work environment.

What I always ended up doing was just using some bar clamps and clamping my work pieces to the table. This is simply just a pain in the ass.

That’s where the Kreg bench dogs and clamps come in.

These bench dogs and clamps all fit inside of a standard 3/4″ hole, which makes things easier for us. The hardest part of this is picking the distance between the holes. For this I decided to do 8″ in each direction. This gives me plenty of space to work and allows me to add more later, if I find that I need them.

First I started in the lower left hand corner of the table and marked out the first hole at 4″ from the table ends. This became my starting point; from here I used a square, a 24″ straight edge and a 48″ straight edge to start making marks every 8″ in each direction.

Once I had the holes all marked and squared, I picked out a 3/4″ spade bore bit from my Irwin bit collection.

Now comes the scary part, drilling a bunch of holes into a perfectly good workbench. Before I did, I double-checked all of my marks to make sure they are square and are all in line with one another. Now, it’s time to drill out 24 holes.

Be sure to use a face mask if you are drilling into MDF, the dust is toxic and can make you sick if you inhale it. I used a dust mask, gloves and had my ShopFox air filter running while I did this.

This only took me about 10 minutes to do, the key is to take your time and make sure that your drill is level when you make the holes. Once done, I just used my shop vac to clean up all the excess dust.

Look at those perfectly aligned holes. Isn’t that awesome?

After I cleaned up the table, I took my Ryobi orbital sander with some 220 grit sandpaper and gave the holes a light sanding to remove any of the excess wood left from the bore bit. MDF tends to leave some large spirals of wood after it’s drilled out.

The next step was to test my new clamps and bench dogs to see if they worked!

And they did, they worked perfectly! In fact, I think I may have to add bench dog holes to my other two tables.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what you think in the comments below!