Category Archives: projects

Typical Saturday Projects

This morning started with the Build and Grow program at our local Lowe’s hardware store. My wife smartly brought ear plugs; the kid sized hammers are louder than they look. Our oldest child is becoming more self sufficient with each Build and Grow activity. Our youngest child is started to hold the hammer correctly.

The project was a wheel of love in celebration of Valentine’s day. My son built the project with the wheel backwards, so he could write in his own messages. He wants to use the wheel to make his own board game, perhaps about robots. He always wants to do his own thing.

4 year old with wheel of love

7 year old with generic wheel

Then after a princess party and some 1980s Transformers cartoons, I started my own project. We want to move our wi-fi router to the middle of our basement, but the middle of our basement is an unfinished space with no electrical outlets. So we added one. Consulting a home improvement book, I mapped out a plan in Penultimate.

wiring plan


The source wires were 4 wires: one black, one red, one white, and a ground. The wire I had on hand was regular 3 wire: one black, one white, and a ground. I called my Dad and he said that I could cap off the extra red wire and use only the remaining three. When I opened up the old box, I saw the black wire from the source and the next outlet had already been tied off with a wire nut. I ran connected the source to the new outlet in parallel, as shown in the diagram.

Shoving 4 wires into a wire nut is hard. I estimate at least an hour of my time was spent trying to twist wires together. The 4 sets of wire nuts also take up as much space as an entire outlet, so I replaced the source outlet box with a double sized gang box. Thank goodness for unfinished spaces.

The next project is moving the modem and connecting the AirPort Extreme over ethernet to run as a wireless extender. Maybe we’ll tackle that next Saturday.


Cat Door

2 grey cats

My Only Cat Picture

This Saturday’s project was installation of a cat door. We had an old cat door kit, complete with VHS video tape instructions. This project was a long time coming.

The cat door is made for installation into a full sized human door. Our problem was the size and shape of our fancy doors. The cat door works better with plain slab doors. Then my wife had a eureka moment: install the cat door into the wall. This created a new problem: how to install a 2 inch deep cat door into a 5 inch deep wall. The solution involved a lot of sawing.

how to cut with a table saw

A simple plan.

The easiest task was sawing into the dry wall. The hard part was making an insert for the cat door. I settled on an extra piece of shelving from our basement. It comes pre-laminated in white. The catch is how to set the pieces in the wall between the the drywall. I used an old trick, running the pieces along my table saw over and over until I gouge out enough of the piece to set it inside the wall along the dry wall. You can buy special blades for this very purpose, but why spend money when you can do something over and over again for free.

Fitting the pieces into the wall spaces was a bit of trial and error. For the bottom piece, I stacked some scrap wood from the sill plate and mixed and matched pieces until I came to the right height. For the side piece, I used a friction fit and then screwed the piece in with the cat door frame. The top piece was challenging. I had to hold it up while I screwed it in with the cat door frame. One side of the cat door is a stud (the 2″ x 4″ framing). There was no room to use a shelf piece, so I covered it with the adhesive strips that came with the cat door. The results were better than I had expected. Most importantly, the cats love it.

cat door in a wall

The Finished Door