Friday, March 29, 2013

This Air Is Free

In 2007 I had my friend Dave Jackman build me a new desktop computer. Dave owns a computer service business in Dubuque called Tech @ Your Door. He does all kinds of computer maintenance and has excellent customer service. The computer he built me in 2007 is still running like a champ and works perfectly for what I use it for. About a year ago I started having random shutdowns and Dave suggested using cans of compressed air to dust the interior of the tower occasionally. Sure enough, this solved the issue. This is one of the things I like about doing business with Dave. He's honest in his advice and service and always explores lower cost alternatives before resorting to replacing a part completely. I now dust out my tower once every four months and have not experienced a random shut down since starting this practice.

So why compressed air and not a vacuum? Apparently a vacuum will create static which can be harmful to electronics. I had been buying cans of compressed air like the one pictured below for about $4 to $5 per can. 

For my computer to get a thorough dusting, it takes about 3 cans. So being the cheapskate I am, I've discovered a way to clean the inside of my computer tower without spending $15 on compressed air. 

I got this "spot spray" container which is normally used for paint thinners and lubricants. It was $30 on Amazon after shipping. Apparently people buy WD40 and paint thinner by the gallon, load it into this container and then pressurize it so it's contents can be sprayed. I had the idea to just pump it full of air and use it for cleaning out my computer. It's working great. It can hold up to 200 psi, but my bike pump can only handle pumping it up to 110. I could take it to a gas station if I really wanted to get the full 200 psi into it, but I've found using the bike pump goes pretty quickly and it only takes a couple fills for a complete cleaning. So I would say my new found dusting method is a success. It's more environmentally friendly and best of all, this air is FREE! Thanks for reading.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

This past Winter I saved a few pallets from futon shipments. Normally I toss these on a burn pile in the Spring, but this year I decided to put some time into reclaiming the lumbar and turning it into something useful. The hardest part of the whole process was breaking the pallets down and getting the lumbar cleaned up to the point it could be worked with. I just got done making a wine rack with the lumbar I salvaged from these pallets. Once the wood was clean, it was a lot of fun to work with. It was gratifying to know I was building something with material that was being re-purposed. These pictures tell it all.

At first I underestimated how much work would be involved in braking a pallet down. There are SO many nails and they all have to be pulled to be able to work with the wood.

Once free of nails, I cleaned each board up with my stationary belt sander. As I started working with the wood I discovered there was a fair amount of oak and pine. 

Building the legs.

As the frame of the wine rack started to take shape I couldn't resist building in a couple neat features. This drawer was kind of an impulsive decision, but I think it turned out nicely.

Glass storage! It will fit 6 average sized wine glasses.

Here it is complete. It's just waiting for a clear coat of finish. The bottom shelf was necessary to square the legs. It would have been nice to have a third and fourth row of bottle storage, but the lumbar had to be forced square and the hardy shelf on the bottom was the easiest way to do it. All things considered, I'm happy with how it turned out. Pretty amazing this material would have just ended up in a dump or fire pit. Now it's a wine rack!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Treadmill Follow-up

In honor of it being the first day of Spring tomorrow, I thought I would follow up on the treadmill purchase I made this past Winter. Also, as you may have noticed, above I've added a page about being thrifty. I also updated my music page with downloadable mp3s of my home recorded album, "Mimosa". Please check out these updates and see what you think.

Now for the treadmill follow-up. I wanted to avoid running in the cold this past Winter so I found an old cheap treadmill on Craigslist for $50. I'm please to report that I am still using it and it has served me well. I've used it a little more than 30 times so I'm down to about $1.50 per use. That seems like a pretty darn good deal to me!