Upcycle Old Air and Gas Tanks

I have mentioned the usefulness of old air and gas tanks several times in previous posts and today I wanted to briefly discuss and give a few ideas where these often undervalued and discarded pieces of scrap metal can become useful tools and interesting art.  Below are five uses and ideas that I have seen or tried to complete fun and useful projects.

#1 Homemade Charcoal Forge

DSCF6004

Several times throughout the years I have been mid-project when I found the need to reshape or form a piece of metal to specifically fit the project at hand.  Eventually I built this little charcoal forge in order to heat and shape metal for many different projects.  I cut an old air compressor tank in half in order to make the bowl of the forge and cut a hole in the bottom of the tank to allow for air flow.  The pipe coming from the bottom and bending toward the camera is where I insert a hair dryer or small leaf blower to increase the heat of the fire by forcing more air into it.  I have no experience with using other forges to compare it to, but it works very well for me.

DSCF6118

#2 BBQ Pit

This is the only use in this post that although I have come close, I have not actually attempted this project.  Similar to the way I cut my air tank in half to make the forge pictured above, tanks can be cut both horizontally and vertically and hinges added to both sides in order to create a bbq pit that can be completely like many commercial pits that can be bought at big box stores.  Technically my homemade forge is nothing more than a bbq pit with no hinged top like those seen in public parks and campgrounds.  I guess the only thing standing in the way of my forge being a bbq is a grated surface for foods to be cooked on.  I have seen quite a few very well done tank bbq pit projects on Pinterest for those of you interested.

 

#3 Rollers

Though I have no pictures for this use either, I like to think it is pretty self-explanatory.  I once had to remove a boat from its trailer in order to use the trailer to transport another boat on it.  I was pretty stumped on how I would be able to easily re-trailer the original boat from the ground without a winch.  Thankfully a light bulb went off and I decided to try to use three old propane tanks that I had previously removed the valves an contents from as rollers to get the boat on and off of the trailer.  It worked great.  I actually left the boat on the tanks the entire time it was off of the trailer and just stabilized it with some scrap 2×4 lumber that I had around.  I would employ this method of moving heavy objects around again a few years later when I had to move some 4×8 sheets of thick metal plate from one location to another.

#4 Yard Art

flying pig 2

This flying pig has received some pretty good pub on my site already so I will not go on and on about it too long.  I really enjoyed making this because it was a gift for my mom who collects flying pigs.  Although I had not seen them at the time when I made this pig, I have since seen not only other flying pig builds online, but animals that span from sharks to elephants and other homemade forms that have turned out awesome.  For more info on this flying pig check out this link when pigs fly.

#5 Portable Wood-Burning Stove

DSCF6021

I completed this heater/stove project after a run of very cold weather made working in my shop a pain.  At 1500 sq. feet my shop is far too big for this little heater to warm it entirely, but it works very well for keeping the most frequented part of it comfortable when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.  The beauty of old tanks is that they are easy to come across and come in a variety of sizes.  I could have used one of the bigger tanks that I have to complete this project and that would have produced considerably more heat, but I preferred to save the larger one for a later project.

The construction of this stove/heater can be a little more complicated than the other projects mentioned but is still quite simple.  In a nut shell, cut off one end of the tank with an angle grinder and cutting wheel and hinge it back on to the tank, cut a hole in the top for the vent pipe, and somewhere on the front or bottom cut a hole and weld on some pipe or tubing to allow for the flow and regulation of air needed to maintain a fire.  I welded on a hinged piece of round stock to the front of the heater and a hook on the side to keep the front of the tank firm against the rest of it so that heat loss is somewhat minimized.  I also cut a piece of the tank out of the top and welded on a flat piece of plate so that I would have an even surface to rest a small pot on.  I do not cook on this stove but I do like to boil water to make coffee.  I have been very please with this little wood stove and intend to make a larger one in the future.  Below is an action shot.

DSCF6024

As shown in the photos I am often more concerned with function over aesthetics with my projects.  Many of my projects could stand a coat of paint or make up but I enjoy the build more than the beautification of projects so they often miss the final step due to impatience.

For anyone wanting to complete a project involving old air or gas tanks I would strongly suggest checking out these safety tips prior to beginning your project.

Below are links to the tools that I use to complete my propane tank projects.  They definitely make the projects a lot easier to complete.

Angle Grinder

Plasma Cutter

Welding Machine

Pipe Wrench

Heavy Duty Ratchet Straps

Chop Saw

 

If you found this post to be informative or entertaining I would greatly appreciate if you would like, comment, and follow, and share tool-school.com on social media.  Thanks for reading!

 

Advertisements

My pride, the never-failing vise of tools.

DSCF6003

 

When I first began tinkering with metal and wood I quickly found that I had a strong need for a bench vise. I also found that I had a strong need for more money in order to buy a bench vise large enough for my projects. As I researched prices and reviews of multiple large vises I found that they ranged between $200 and $3000 dollars and were well out of my price range. Fortunately I was dumb enough to avoid discourage with my lack of funds and felt that I could probably come up with something that would work for the time being. I ended up welding a flat piece of metal to a car jack to act as the moving jaw and then welded that to the flat side of a piece of channel iron. I then welded a thick piece of plate and braced it to the same piece of channel to act as the stationary jaw. I used an old trailer rim as the base of the vise and welded some angle iron for the upright support and braces. The final product (as seen in the pictures) could possibly be the ugliest, dumbest, and most useful thing that I have ever made. I used this contraption for years before I finally bought a bench vise and still opt to use it over a bench vise at times these days. Though ugly, I love this thing and I am extremely proud of how well it works and how it is still as functional today as it was ten years ago, hence the knocked-off Alexander Pope Title.

DSCF5996

DSCF5999

P.s. For the left-brained readers Alexander Pope was a late 17th, early 18th century English poet. One of his famous quotes is “Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.” Thanks for reading, please like, comment, and follow!

$20 Podium Build

 

I have never been excited about nor proficient in the art of sitting still.  My inability to master this skill as a student would at times lead to issues in the classroom, my inability to master this skill as a teacher would lead to the construction of the podium displayed in the photo.  My first year of teaching I was constantly running to my desk to reference a textbook or source during classes when I finally had enough of the back-and-fourth and walking around with open books in my hand.  I knew what had to be done so I went home, got on amazon, and quickly realized that I would be building my own podium instead of spending between $80 and $1000 dollars for one.  I had no experience, examples, or instruction on podium construction so I came up with a design that was simple to execute and made sense to me.  The podium pictured is the exact podium that I built my first year of teaching.  It was very effective in the classroom but now resides in my shop were I still use it daily (hence the dirt, dust, and chipped paint).  Listed below are the materials needed and their approximate cost (not including paint and fasteners) as well as some close ups of how the podium is constructed.

Materials needed:

1 – 2″x4″x8′ untreated ($3.50)

1 – 4″x4″x6′ untreated ($7)

1 – 2’x2’x1/2″ plywood sheet ($6.50)

1 – 1″x2″x2′ wood strip ($2.50)

You will need to cut the 2×4 into four 16″ lengths and three 10″ lengths.

 

DSCF6014
Cut the 4x4x6 to 40 inches in length straight on one side and at a 45 degree angle on the other.

 

DSCF6012
You will arrange the four 16″ pieces of 2×4 as shown in the picture and screw them to both the straight end of the 4×4 as well as each other where they contact.

 

 

DSCF6015
Keeping the top of the boards flush with the top of the 4×4 on the angled end, screw a 10″ long board into each side of the 4×4 as they will support your podium platform. Then screw the third 10″ board to the ends of the other two 10″ boards to reinforce them and give you even more support for your platform.

 

DSCF6011
Next, align and justify the plywood on the supports and angled end of your 4×4 to your liking and screw it to all three 10″ supports as well as the angled surface of the 4×4 upright.

Lastly, align the 1″x2″ strip flush with the bottom edge of the plywood and screw it to the plywood platform. All that is left to do is paint or stain and your podium is complete.

DSCF6009

Stuffed Animal Control (Kind of)

DSCF5976DSCF5976

A few years ago my wife showed me a picture of one of these bad boys online and professed her love for it.  As I looked up from her phone after reviewing the picture I waded toward the front door in our living room knee deep in stuffed animals and went straight to my shop to begin the build.  I knew that I had some scrap 2×4’s and screws so the majority of the materials list was free.  My stuffed animal pen differs from the original that I saw in a few ways, but is very similar to it and others that I would eventually see.  I happened to have four stair rail spindles on hand so I used those for the uprights because I thought it would give it a unique look, but 2×4’s will do and look just as good.  The only material that I purchased for this project was the bungee cord and paint, which can be bought on amazon for around ten bucks (the links below will take you directly to the exact paracord and paint that I used).

Bungee Cord on Amazon

Chalk Paint on Amazon

 

The project was very simple and straightforward (basically assemble two wooden frames then attach them to upright supports, one at the top of each upright, and one at the bottom of each upright), and my girls loved their new animal pen.  Having a fun place to store their stuffed animals encouraged them to pick them up and put them where they belong.  The dimensions of my animal pen are 36″long x 24″ wide and 36″ tall, but I have seen them built both larger and smaller.  Apart from using different uprights I also deviated from the way most people build these by using a different method to secure the bungee cord.  Most builds include eye hooks that are screwed into the inside of the 2×4’s and have the bungee cord tied to them.  I found it easier and less of an eye sore to just drill countersunk holes through horizontal 2×4’s and tie a knot at each end of each piece of bungee cord.  This keeps anything from protruding out of the lumber and potentially poking or scratching a kid.  The best things about this project are that it is so easy to customize and so hard to mess up.  The build was fun and the final product is practical and appreciated.  Below are a few more pictures as well as a generic materials/rough price list to build this yourself.

5- 2x4x8 untreated lumber – $15

50ft Bungee Cord – $12

2lbs Wood Screws – $10

Paint – $12

If you have none of these materials lying around your house you can still build this animal pen for around $50.  Depending on what you have around your house or shop you could build this animal pen for $0-$50.  My build cost me about $25 but I could have cut the cost by over half had I used some of the paints that I already had.

DSCF5982
Top of animal pen where 2×4’s are screwed to vertical support (upright)
DSCF5980
Holes for the bungee cord. I drilled all the way through the 2×4 with a 1/4″ drill bit then went back with a 1/2″ bit about half way through the 2×4 to widen the hole enough for the knot on the bungee to be some what concealed.

 

 

DSCF5975
That thing is packed.

 

DSCF5977
This is a view of one of the shorter sides, and also of a few stuffed animal butts.

 

If you enjoyed this post please be sure to like, comment, and follow my site.  Thank You!

 

 

 

Repurpose Old Windows

DSCF5969

 

I was at a little hole-in-the-wall flea market a few years ago and came across three or four old house windows that I thought were awesome.  These old windows are not particularly difficult to find here in South Louisiana but asking prices for them can vary quite a bit.  I was fortunate enough to buy the windows for just five bucks a piece. These windows are not hard to find but a use for them can be.  With so much character I could not pass them up knowing a fun use would come shortly with just a little thought.  When I got home and showed them to my wife it became clear that these windows would live a beautiful second life as canvases for my wife’s paintings.  I really enjoy this painting in particular and love the symbolism it displays.  If you are an outdoor lover like me all you have to do is hang it on the wall and imagine that you have the ability to look out of your window into the beautiful Louisiana swamp.

When Pigs Fly….

flying pig 1flying pig 5

 

At some point in my life my mom fell in love with, and began to collect, flying pigs.  My entire life she has been ultra creative, crafty and quite handy.  As a serial diy’er she also has a great appreciation for the creativity and craftiness of others.  I do not know if I got this trait from her genetically or if it was a product of environmental learning, but I do know exactly who my passion to make, build, craft, and create came from.  The greatest benefit of sharing this quality with my mom is that it often affords me the opportunity to have a lot of fun creating, opposed to buying gifts for her come birthday and Christmas time.  Some years back I began to learn a little welding and with my mom’s birthday a few months away I saw a good opportunity to put my developing skills to use.  I made this flying pig for her out of some old metal that I had around my shop and had a lot of fun doing it.  It is not perfect, but I did not want it to be.  I wanted it to look hand-made and somewhat crude and it does indeed.  My mom loved this gift and has it proudly displayed in the foyer of her house as shown in the picture above.  With a little creative thinking, time, and effort anyone can make gift giving more enjoyable for not only the recipient, but themselves as well.  Below are a few more pictures of the porky present.

flying pig 3

flying pig 2

flying pig 4

 

I will have a post coming soon to describe the materials and tools that I used to construct this flying pig.  If you enjoyed this post I would greatly appreciate it if you would like, comment and subscribe to my site.  Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

Subfloor Stress Saving Tools.

In my previous post I talked about my summer adventure ripping out and replacing the subflooring in my house.  In this post I will list and briefly discuss ten tools that I feel are absolute necessities to accomplish any subflooring repair or replacement job on the planet.    Though some tools on the list are probably more useful than others on the list, they are not listed in any particular order of importance.  This list is primarily discussing the tools that were most important in the removal of old subflooring, however I did use/need each one of these tools in the installation of the new subflooring as well.  Each tool listed in this post can be bought or researched by following the link provided below each picture.

#1 – The oscillating multi-tool

DSCF5833

Purchase Here

I did not own this tool when I started the job, but I do not think that I could have done/finished the job without it.  Oscillating multi-tools have many different functions and are compatible with many different attachments from sanding to cutting wood and metals.  These tools allow you to cut subflooring flush with walls and thresholds.  Demolition blades that cut both wood and metal allow you to move nail infested boards with relative ease.  This is the exact tool that I used for my project and although it was one of the cheapest oscillating multi-tools that I could find, it was worth its weight in gold.

 

#2 – Reciprocating Saw

DSCF5835

Purchase Here

Reciprocating saws perform similarly to oscillating multi-tools with the exception of having considerably more power and not being able to cut flush with walls or thresholds due to the blade not being offset like that of the multi-tool.  Like the multi-tool, demolition blades made for cutting through wood and metal can be purchased for this tool which make cutting through nailed and screwed lumber a much easier task.  When cutting along walls and thresholds I would typically cut as close as I could to the threshold with the more powerful, quicker cutting reciprocating saw and then come back with the multi-tool for a flush, more precise result.

 

#3 – Circular Saw

DSCF5839

Purchase Here

A circular saw is the way to go to remove subflooring when working in an open area away from walls, thresholds, and other tight areas.  They cut faster than a reciprocating saw and more accurately than a multi-tool.  Typically circular saws have guide plates that adjust for different depths of cut.  This is a very handy feature when you know the thickness of your subflooring.  For example, if you know that your subfloor is 3/4″ thick, you can set the depth of cut on your circular saw to 3/4″ and cut our a lot of material quickly without having to waste time being cautious not to cut through any of your floor joists.

 

#4 – Pry Bars

DSCF5836

Purchase Here

When both removing and replacing subflooring it is often required to remove any baseboards and floor trim in the area in order to cut the old subflooring flush with the wall.  You will likely need more than one pry bar in order to do this without ruining your trim and baseboards.  Pry bars are also needed to pry up old subflooring, move new subflooring into place, and removing protruding nails that will not allow new subflooring to lay flush.

 

#5 – Tape MeasureDSCF5843

Purchase Here

I like to think that this one is pretty obvious, so I will not insult anyone’s intelligence with an explanation.

 

#6 – Hammers/Maul

DSCF5837

Purchase Here

In some areas of my house the subfloor was so rotted that I just knocked it off with a hammer.  Hammers also come into play in positioning new subflooring into place, removing nails, and believe it or not hammering nails in.

 

#7 – Chisel

DSCF5845

Purchase Here

This chisel came in very handy when working in tight corners and places where the subfloor terminated under a wall where I could not get to it with the reciprocating saw or the multi-tool.  When that was the case I would just cut flush with the wall then use a hammer and chisel to remove the remainder of the board that lay between the wall and the floor joists.

 

#8 – Impact Driver

DSCF5842

Purchase Here

Impact drivers are great because they eliminate the need for predrilling a pilot hole before you screw into wood in most situations, which speeds up the building process greatly.  For subfloor removal purposes any type of drill (not specifically an impact drill/driver) will likely be needed in order to remove wood that is screwed to the floor joists.  Prying screws up with a pry bar can damage and split the joists, compromising their integrity.  I would specifically recommend an impact drill/driver for the installation of subflooring due to the fact that it will save you tons of time on drilling pilot holes and will not split your wood without them.

 

#9 – Headlight

DSCF5846

Purchase Here

This may seem a little off of the wall, but my house is not the best lit place in the world and although I did use a work light, I was often working in several rooms at a time and climbing up and down from below the house to back inside the house and the light refused to follow.  It is not practical to carry a flashlight around and I often found myself praying to grow a second, third, fourth, ad fifth arm out of necessity for holding boards and other tools anyway.  A headlight was invaluable to me on this project due to the amount of hands-free portable light that it provided.

 

#10 – Wet/Dry Vac

DSCF5841

Purchase Here

Installing a subfloor on a new construction home would likely eliminate the need for this tool to be on the list of necessities.  I was not installing a subfloor on a new construction home.  I was sawing, cutting, throwing, flinging, hammering, nailing, and screwing all in my one and only home, the place where I live, the place where my wife lives, and the place where my three kids live.  Needless to say if I worked in a dirt and dust production factory I would have been employee of the month.  This wet/dry vac made life a lot easier than it would have been without it.  I still used the old faithful broom and dust pan quite a bit, but the vac not only eliminated the need for them often, it did the job much quicker and more efficiently.

 

I would not attempt to tackle any subfloor replacement job without any one of these tools listed above.  The job could be done without them, but the time and effort that they will save you make it highly impractical.  Should you find yourself facing the task of replacing subflooring I hope that you do not find the need for these tools the hard way as I did.  If you found this post useful or simply liked the read I would appreciate it if you would like, comment, and subscribe below.  Should you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thank you!