Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rolltop Desk Scanner Drawer

My HP Scanjet scanner has a pretty large footprint. As a result, my rolltop desktop was kind of crowded. My wife, a devoted minimalist has been muttering darkly about my junky desk for some time. Seems it is difficult to dust - a minor, but serious crime in the household of She-Who-Must-Dust-Daily. So as a Christmas present, as much to myself as to her, I decided it was time to get her off my.....I mean, reduce the clutter on my desk.

Despite opinions to the contrary, I do need a scanner that will handle 8-1/2 by 14 documents, so the problem is how do I find a place for the scanner and make more room on the desktop?

The solution I hit upon involves the following materials:

  • 1 - 24 x 17.5 inch 3/4 inch plywood piece
  • 8 - half inch wood screws
  • 8 - 5/8 inch wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • 2 - 22 inch drawer slides
  • An iron
  • A 5/8 inch band of oak veneer

The lower right of my rolltop contains a couple of wooden modules with drawers and compartments for computers, miscellaneous junk, my power center and a handful of CDs.  I measured the space above the top of the lower drawer module and above the top of the computer and found there was room for the scanner with a couple of inches to spare.

I removed the upper module with the CD rack and the shelf above the CPU as shown.

I moved the CD rack and drawer to the top of the desk beside the vertical stack of drawers as shown on the right.

I test fit the drawer guides, making sure the space above the slide out shelf would give the scanner a good inch of clearance. I measured and marked where the outside rails would go.

I screwed the rail guides to the sides of the inside of the compartment. I used the 5/8 screws where the sides were thicker and the 1/2 inch screws where the sides were only 3/8 inches thick. With the thickness of the rail guide, the half inch screws didn't puncture the sides of the desk.

I test fit the rails that screw to the shelf and measured the distance from inside to inside to get the proper width for the shelf (17.5 inches).

I cut the shelf 24 inches long to accommodate the full length of the scanner and 17.5 inches wide to fit between the rail guides with the shelf guide rails attached.

I screwed the rails in place on the sides of the shelf with the 5/8 inch screws for a secure fit. Make sure the guide wheels are oriented properly. Different rail guides may line up different ways, so test fit everything before screwing things together.

I screwed the guide rails to the sides of the board with the poorer side of the plywood down where the wheels hang down.

Before installing the shelf, I applied a strip of white oak veneer to the front edge of the shelf.

It comes with glue on the back already and is applied with a hot iron. Later, I'll come back and lay oak veneer across the top of the shelf, stain and varnish it to look like the rest of the desk. One day when I'm fully recovered from our move to Washington, I'm going to buy a solid oak shelf and replace the plywood one, but till then, Mama is happy.

All that's left is to slide the shelf onto the side drawer guide rails and slide it into the cabinet. I did have to drive a screw into the inside of the rail attached to the rail the very front of the rail guide. This prevents the assembly from sliding all the way through and whacking the back of the cabinet. Some of the more expensive guide rails come with such a stopper installed.

And Voila!  The desk is less cluttered and she can dust it daily if she wishes.

I still have my scanner which is a highly useful device.

I figure everything I can repair, organize, make prettier or any thing that irritates my Sweet Baboo that I can eliminate is one more bit o incense in my life, spreading the fragrance of peace and harmony in our happy home.

AND I get to show off my clever bit of furniture modification to visiting males of the species.

It is a little know fact that modern man marks their territory with power tools!

Urh, Urh....

Tom King
(c) 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homemade Doggie Treats for Christmas

(c) 2011 by Tom King

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

If you’re wondering what to give the family dog for Christmas, have I got a fun holiday cooking project for you – peanut butter puppy biscuits. These things are great. My dog loves these better than any dog biscuits I’ve ever bought and I know what’s in ‘em.

Here are the ingredients: 
  • ½ cup hot water 
  • 2 beef bullion cube 
  • ½ cup oil 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1 cup white flour 
  • 1 cup wheat flour 
  • ½ cup cornmeal 
  • ½ cup oats 

Here’s how to make them:
1. Drop two bouillon cubes into the ½ cup of hot water and let it dissolve.

2. Pour all the dry ingredients together in your trusty Kitchen-Aid mixing bowl and whisk them up to mix thoroughly.

3.  Add all the wet ingredients together and mix with the dough hook to form a ball of dough. Add a little extra water to achieve the consistency shown in the picture.

4.  Wrap the dough up in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. The dough rolls flat better when chilled.

5.  When the dough is chilled, roll about a third or a quarter of it out on a flat surface. Flatten it till it’s about the thickness of a cracker – I like it about the thickness of Wheat Thins. They cook faster and crisper, though you can make them sugar cookie thick. They come out chewier that way. My sister-in-law’s toothless Chihuahua loves the soft ones. Daisy, my sharp-toothed border collie/lab mix likes the cracker crisp ones.

6.  Cut out the dough with cookie cutters. We used Christmas cookie cutters for Daisy’s Christmas stocking stuffers. They were appropriate. One was a tree, the other was a bow, but if you cut off the dangly part of the ribbon, it makes a little bone. The snowman becomes a postman or UPS guy. Daisy loves a man in uniform. You can also buy dog bone cookie cutters and all sorts of other shapes.
Lay the cutouts on a non-stick cookie tray or lightly greased one.

7.  Cook for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After they look done, turn off the oven. Allow the biscuits to cool in the oven and harden.

8. When they’re hard, store them in a zip type freezer bag to keep them fresh.  Makes a nice gallon freezer bag full.

These tasty treats won’t last long. Our dog, Daisy, is always very careful to take them gently from my hand so she doesn’t break them. She eats them slowly, picks up every crumb she drops, and then licks her paws (check the video).

Then she smacks her lips, licks them and gives me the pitiful sad-eyed puppy look till she gets another one. These biscuits are a healthy dog snack with ingredients you can feel good about feeding your pup. My wife says they are delicious (she sampled them). Actually, I like them with a slice of cheese.

They’re a snack the whole family can enjoy! And Daisy’s never been more regular!

Got to go. Mooch is chewing on my hand to tell me she wants a treat