Fast shelf brackets for maximum strength

My wife’s sewing room is running out of storage space, so it’s time to go vertical. Looking around the garage, I can’t seem to find any shelf brackets, so I’m opting to make my own. In designing these, I think I may have inadvertently found a very efficient way of manufacturing them. With this design, the brackets can be made from inexpensive food and still be quite strong. Additionally, they can be glued up in long sections and cut into pieces. For instance, it would not be unreasonable to glue up 6’x7″ lumber with the 45 degree panel dadoed in, then cut them apart with a crosscut sled on the table saw.

The joinery is designed to maximize glue surface and minimize time. The dadoes for the angled slots triple surface area for glue, and the rabbet at the 90 degree joint doubles glue surface and allows for a mechanical fastener through the back that’s hidden and not just going into endgrain for extra strength. angle bracket iso

HTML instruments!

We no longer need a VCR, camera, camcorder, voice recorder, or typewriter anymore; that’s a given. Did you know that there are several instruments that you can use right now inside of your web browser? Here are a few of the coolest ones I’ve found.

HTML 909 

HTML 909 

Web Modular

Web Modular

HTML5 Drum Machine

HTML5 Drum Machine

True Grid

True Grid

Pattern Sketch

Pattern Sketch

Sympathetic Synthesizer System Mk 1

Sympathetic Synthesizer System Mk 1

Audiotool

Audiotool

Web Sid

Web Sid

Smarter Business: Vetting Contractors

In the skilled trades, we often accept work from people we know little to nothing about, often with some form of contract, but especially for small jobs this can be a simple as a verbal agreement. When collecting payment, we’re often taking these people at their word. With communities become more populous and alienated, the social pressures that once existed to enforce these contracts have all but vanished. There are luckily a few things that a tradesman can check before doing business to minimize risk. Granted, this is not a fail-proof approach; I’ve been burned by people I’ve vetted this way. However, you can at least minimize the risks.

Business Filings

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Check that their trade name is registered and in good standing. The state secretary’s office manages this records and most states’ records are online now. Try searching for “your state”, SOS. This will provide several valuable pieces of information.

  • How long they’ve been in business
    • Do you see numerous DBA changes? Has the business owner told you they’ve been in business for decades, but is working under a new trade name?
  • Their business address or registered agent
    • Many legitimate businesses use registered agents for a number of reasons, but it could be an attempt to obscure the primary stakeholder’s identity.
  • Legal name
    • Does their legal name match the name they’ve given you?
    • Are there other businesses filed by the same person?
  • Filing status
    • If they haven’t kept up with their tax filings, they will be in delinquent status. If they don’t pay the state promptly, will they pay you?

If their address listed is a home address, check the property records. Do they own their home? While there’s nothing wrong with renting, it’s not exactly normal for a successful contractor to still be renting, especially when they have the tools and income to buy an affordable home and remodel. Do they have poor credit? Is it their real address? I wouldn’t necessarily rule out doing business someone based on this alone, but it is the beginning of a trend.

Residential Records

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These records are held by the respective county in which the person resides. Many property assessors records are now online and searchable by multiple criteria.

  • Chain of Title
    • Has the home in foreclosure?
    • Is the contractor still the current owner?
    • Is the property owned by a landlord or other party?
  • Spouse
    • Another name to vet for business entities
  • Former HUD
    • There are very specific criteria that must be met to qualify for a HUD home, most of which would disqualify a successful businessman.

Contractors Licensing Office

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Many cities are beginning to make their contractor databases publicly searchable. Is this licensed contractor active for the county and building classification you’re supposed to be working on?

Google

Check permutations of the contractor’s full legal name, nicknames, maiden names, etc. Have they had businesses in other states recently? Are they still active? In good standing? How is their rating with the Better Business Bureau? Are they members? Check contractor review and lead generation sites for their names and trade names. What are customers saying? Are there any reviews from former employees or subcontractors? Tip: Use quotation marks to tell google exactly what you want. 

Cabinet making without a cabinet saw

It’s easy to approach a task, see that you don’t have the proper tool for the job, and write it off as an impossible task. It takes creativity and some persistence, but you can actually build custom cabinets without a cabinet saw.

I was tasked with making a custom cabinet 16 1/2″ deep and 28″ wide at standard base cabinet height. To achieve maximum strength, I needed to cut two dados in two panels: one for the backing, and one for the bottom shelf. I set about accomplishing the task using factory edges on sacrificial plywood pin nailed to the work to create a straight guide for my circular saw. To cut the first shoulder of the dado, measure the distance from your blade to edge of fence over and tack your guide piece in place. Set your depth to 1/4″ or so. Cut your first groove. For the second, use a scrap of the shelf material to sit between your circular saw fence and your guide to manage a perfect spacing for your dado. Once cut, pry the waste out with a wide timber framing chisel.

For your backing, space the dado in enough to allow for a cross piece from the panel material. In my case, 3/4″. With dado cut, pin nail together, patch any imperfections, and the cabinet is finished. Budget 3-4 hours labor and 1 sheet of ply for a single cabinet at $35-45 per sheet.