Author Archives: Jeremy Cook

Make a Simple Dust Collection Box

preview-imageRecently I saw a downdraft suction box used to collect fine dust sanding somewhere online and thought I could make it very simply with 2x4s and plywood. Using some scraps of each that I had around my garage, here’s what I came up with:

Though after production, this came out to be a 7:00 video, you can probably figure out the basics from the picture above. A few details that might not be especially evident come at around 2:00, where I cut two offset holes to allow my Rigid vacuum nozzle to fit properly, and around 3:00, where screws are used in a sort of non-traditional way to retain the top.

Results are shown at the end, and it appears to be somewhat effective, if not “vortex-like.” I should note that this could also likely be used for vacuum forming, where thin material is heated, then sucked around another part. I haven’t tried the process myself, but it definitely seems to have its uses.

For another take on this design, here’s a suction box that looks slightly more complicated to build, but features an angle on the inside to help channel the vortex. Perhaps the results would have been better with that inside. It wouldn’t have been too hard to add to my build, but I was trying to make the simplest build possible (OK, I perhaps the machine screws weren’t that simple) so this is “left as an exercise to the reader.”

I put a lot of work into producing this video, so hopefully you like the results. I started putting things on YouTube to simply host it for this site, but I’ve been trying to put quite a bit more effort into production etc. I’d encourage you to subscribe there to see what other videos come out of “JCP!”

On another note, I’m thinking of changing around my YouTube playlist format to hopefully make things easier to find and play. Please let me know what you think about the video in the comments below, or perhaps via Twitter here! As always, thanks for reading and watching!

Dog Clippers, a Phenomenal Payback

Evie Before Being Cut

Evie Before Being Cut

I recently moved to Florida from the also-not-that-cool state of South Carolina. Although it was the right thing for our family for several reasons, one member that was perhaps inconvenienced was our furriest child, “Evie.” Because of her long dog-hair, she’s not naturally that well-suited to 100 degree days with very high humidity. Her hair isn’t nearly as long as it eventually gets, but how would you like to have to wear a sweater around in that kind of temperature?

Even in cooler South Carolina, we had her professionally cut and groomed, but at around $60 each time, it’s not cheap. In order not to put this off now that we are in Florida, and potentially save some money, I bought a pair of clippers for under $30 on Amazon. A few days for shipping and something like a half-hour of work later, it looked like I had sheared a sheep and I could at least wait another month or so to take our first daughter to the groomer.


Evie happily resting on the cool tile floor after a haircut!

Literally, an instant 200% payback. If I were to save 12 visits to the groomer a year, that would represent a savings of $720, or a yearly payback of 2400%! Add to that the fact that I get to spend some quality dog-time with her, and I’d say its been well worth it.

Now, in reality, we will probably still take her to the groomer every couple of months to get her nails trimmed and other “stuff,” done, and she seems to need cutting only every 1.5 months. Also, the job I do is not as good as a professional groomer, but Evie seems to be cooler, and isn’t self conscious about her somewhat slipshod haircut. All that being said, even if we cut that payback in half, the clipper was a great investment!


After shearing our sheep dog the second time

Evie, or course, is a valuable member of the production team, shown below helping test out the StrandMaus:

For another cost-saving idea, here’s a post I wrote on the economics of fixing things yourself. I’m all about things like this that save money on a monthly basis, and much prefer to choose how money gets spent on an individual purchase basis.

I should note that you might be thinking, “Why not cut your own hair with this as well.” The thought has obviously crossed my mind, but given that my haircuts are much cheaper than Evie’s and that I have to interact with the public at least every few days, it seems worth it. It’s tough trying to keep yourself in the zone between “frugal” and “cheap,” and in my case, it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

Keyboard Switch for Pocket CHIP

pocket-chipNext Thing Co. was nice enough to send me one of their Pocket CHIP units to check out. I’ll likely do a full review, later, but one of the first things I noticed is that the keyboard, though functional for the size constraint, would be much easier to use if, well, full-sized. I think it’s possible to use a Bluetooth keyboard with it, but since I had a normal USB model hooked up to my computer, I tried that out.

It was pretty easy, actually. I simply plugged it into the USB port, and after a few seconds of initialization, it worked as a keyboard should. At that point, however, I didn’t have a keyboard for my computer, and had to unplug it from the Pocket CHIP and plug it back into the computer. If only there was a way to do this automatically…

switchWell, I’m happy to report that there is. I used this USB switch purchased from Amazon to keep both my computer and the CHIP plugged in. I can then switch between both with the press of a button. I think the switch is generally meant to share a printer between two computers, but it works well for this application, and could probably have some other interesting functions as well. Check out the video after the “Read more” link to see how this works, though it could be summarized as: buy the switch, plug it in, and press the button to swap. Read more »