SolidWorks is by far the best CAD packages I’ve ever used. It’s so easy to manipulate 3D models with it and it just makes designing a breeze. I’d probably consider myself a ‘SolidWorks fan-boy’.

Last year there was a 3D printing contest within my Engineering club. The contest was to model/design something you would want 3D printed from Shapeways, but it had to fulfill certain criteria. Some of the criteria was it had to cost under $40 shipped and it had to utilize 3 or four specific SolidWorks modeling tools (I don’t recall what they were anymore).

I wear a tuxedo semi frequently due to the fact that I play in a string quartet for weddings and I occasionally have to wear a tux for other ensembles I’m a part of. This inspired my idea for the contest. My idea ended up being to make SolidWorks logo cuff-links.

I had the cuff-link pendants 3D printed in the material that Shapeways has labeled “Polished Nickel”. When I got the pendants in the mail they were really good-looking, but I ended up polishing them myself which really made them shine.

I then soldered the pendants to the cuff-link studs that I purchased from

If I were to make them again, I would have a little recess modeled into the backside of the pendant so that the cuff-link studs will be mechanically lined up and I wouldn’t have to eye-ball it.

My dad’s CerwinVega AT-15 subwoofers are pretty old and because of this the rubber surround has completely dried out. The surround has broken apart and pieces are missing in some places. This caused the speakers to buzz sometimes when being played.

I ordered a re-surround kit from and followed their great step-by-step how-to video. Fixing the speakers took some patience to make sure everything was centered and correct, but overall it wasn’t too tough. The second speaker I did definitely came out better than the first though.

Anyways, after it was all said and done and they were reinstalled into the cabinet, they sounded great! The subs were definitely restored back to their original sound. The response with the new surround compared to the old ones was night and day difference.

I was bored one day so I decided to see if I could fashion an adjustable fishing rod mount for my kayak out of some scrap PVC I had laying around.

I used about 18″ of some 1.5″ pipe I had to make this rod holder.

To be honest, I wasn’t too sure if this project would turn out well. I was more or less using it as an experiment with PVC material.

If you look through the photos you can see how I got to the finished product.

There was a lot of heating, bending, re-heating, re-bending to get to the end product. It’s fairly difficult to get the PVC to a bending state without burning. The trick is high heat moving quickly. If the heat gun sits still on one single area it will start burning the PVC fairly quickly.

I wanted to paint it, but paint and PVC never really last a long time. But the purple PVC primer lasts forever. So I googled how to dye PVC and I ended up doing this: mixed a pack of black (yes, black. The final product is a dark blue, but I used black dye.) RIT powdered fabric dye with a mixture of acetone and hot water. I put the dye concoction and the PVC parts in a large zip lock bag and let it simmer for a while.

After letting the PVC sit in the dye bath for maybe like 30min, I took it all out and rinsed it off. I did a destruction test with a scrap piece of PVC and the only way I was able to remove the coloring was by actually cutting and removing plastic. There was no noticeable film or covering that could be scratched off like paint would produce. In the future I will definitely be using this method for coloring PVC material.

I used a scrap piece of UHMW plastic to use as a mounting base for the rod mount. I used the tried and true method of trial & error to produce a cardboard template for cutting the UHMW to fit the kayak. I have the UHMW attached to the kayak with stainless eyebolts and wing nuts. That way I can quickly and easily remove the rod mount when necessary.

I am currently on winter break from college so I thought I’d take some time to upload some photos of what I have been working on this past semester at school. For those who are not aware, I am currently a Junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I take quite a few classes at college that aren’t part of the Mechanical Engineering curriculum because I find them interesting. For example, I took an advanced 3D modeling class (i.e. the highest SolidWorks class my university offers) and a machine shop class. Below are some pictures of projects/homework from these classes.

You’ll see in the pictures below a lot of SolidWorks screenshots. Here is a brief description of what they are…

Basic Steel Parts:
The picture with 4 basic modeled parts was an assignment from the beginning of the semester. It was mainly an assignment to get everyone back in the groove of using SolidWorks after the summer break.

Reese Hitch:
This was a test of modeling multiple relatively simple items and then assembling them.

Screw in Hooks:
Again, this was just an assignment to get everyone use to using SolidWorks again. These were also reverse engineering. By that I mean we were not given a technical drawing of these parts. Measurements were taken using various tools. We mainly used calipers.

Hinge and Latches:
These were all part of the same reverse engineering assignment. Equipped with my calipers I gathered measurements and then modeled each part of each item. These are all SolidWorks assemblies.

This was another reverse engineering project which included gathering measurements, modeling items, and assembling.

Sterling Engine:
This was also another reverse engineering project. I ended up creating an animation of the sterling engine within SolidWorks.

The clamp was also a reverse engineering project. I posted a picture without the cover plate on the clamp so you can see the inner workings of the clamp.

Bike Phone Mount:
The yellow thing below was my idea for a simple phone mount for a bike. This assignment was a very specialized design project. The parameters were it had to fit somewhere on my professor’s bike so that it could be viewed while biking, it had to fit his Samsung Galaxy S5 with his specific case on it, and the goal was for the majority of it to be 3D printed.

My idea was pretty simple. My plan was for the phone mount to bolt to the piece of metal that goes from the horizontal handle bars to the vertical steering stem. I also designed it so that the phone mount could be tilted by means of a pivot point and a thumbscrew so that you could adjust the viewing angle.

Bocce Ball Box:
This was another assignment for the SolidWorks class. The assignment was to design a box to house a Bocce Ball set (a lawn game that consists of 8 ~5″ balls and one ~2″ ball). The box had to be practical, cost efficient, but most of all, easy to build. Not only did the assignment entail designing and modeling the box, I had to produce technical drawings for each part, a Bill of Materials with Lowes part numbers and prices, and written (and illustrated) instructions on exactly how to build the box. This project was cool because it involved a lot of ‘real world’ stuff like producing a B.O.M. and writing instructions.

Noise Maker:
As part of the SolidWorks class, we visited a local kindergarten class where each engineering student was paired up with a kindergarten to design them a toy to be 3D printed. After talking with Owen, the kindergarten student I was paired with, he decided he would enjoy it if I could make him a noise maker toy.

I modeled the toy after the noise makers I have seen percussionists use in orchestra. The toy ended up being a hollow handle (with Owen’s name cut in the side) with a long piece of plastic on the inside that got flicked by a gear that was attached to a crank handle. I designed this toy with a child in mind. And by that I mean I tried to make it as robust as possible knowing that it will be cranked fast. I made the shaft of the gear crank very large (.75″ in diameter) to make sure it would not snap under use. I wasn’t for sure exactly how this toy would turn out. I did not know if the 3D printed ABS would be flexible enough to be flicked without breaking. I was happy to see that the toy worked well when it was fully assembled and that it did in fact make noise.


In the machine shop class I took I learned machining theory and practices.

The final project was a group project and the task was to follow technical drawings to machine parts to build a pneumatic engine. Me and a fellow engineering student used a lathe, a mill, drill press, etc. to machine the engine. We were very pleased when we hooked up the air supply to the engine and saw all of our hard work paying off with a nicely running engine.

So at the beginning of this past school semester my roommate and I weren’t sure how we wanted to arrange our dorm room. Instead of taking hours of moving furniture and belongings, I decided to model our dorm room and furniture in 3D modeling software.

I am studying Mechanical Engineering at my university and have access to SolidWorks software there. I was able to use this software to model our room and then re-arrange our room many times in virtual space all from the luxury of our couch. We looked at multiple options for our room and finally found an arrangement we liked.

For fun, I decided to use PhotoView 360 to render out a walk-through of the dorm room so we could have a better idea of what it would look like. The video is a little ‘jumpy’ because it is a little difficult to do a SolidWorks walk through using arrow keys and such.

I rendered every frame with PhotoView 360, but compiled the frames into a single video file using Adobe Premiere.


I’m gonna try and be a tad better about posting the stuff I do on here. Things may be a tad different than they used to tho. I do a lot of work while at college, but a lot of it is more 3D modeling and such. There may be more short, quickly written posts but hopefully a lot more. Also they may just be screenshots or renderings of 3D models I am working on. I’d like to keep this website more active, but some of the ‘production value’ may decrease due to time. (yes, I realize my production value is not amazing, but hey, I try….sometimes)

I haven’t been able to post things in a while because I have been getting ready for college, moving into college, and starting classes. Now that I am at college, my postings (like recently) will probably be far apart. Although I won’t be able to post a new project every week, I hope to post on the Backroom Workdesk Facebook page things I am doing . I am majoring in Engineering Graphics and Design so I’ll probably post things that I have done in class or similar.


With that being said, here’s what my roommate and I built the other night….


In the dorm I live in I share a bathroom with one other guy: my roommate. We were discussing that we needed some type of shelves in the bathroom to keep towels on. Our original plan was to go to WalMart one night and buy a cheap shelving unit, but as we were sitting there discussing, my roommate said that we should build our own shelves out of a cardboard box that was left over from moving in. I thought it was a great idea so we went to work.

We took the cardboard box and cut off the lid flaps. We then started getting an idea of how we wanted the end product to be. We decided to have one main shelf about 1/3 of the way up and have a little divider that separates the 1/3 lower shelf into two sections. The vertical divider would also double as a support for the main shelf. Once we got a game plan, we began construction.

We started this build at around 1am so everything was done with a TLAR (That Looks About Right) building style. We measured (roughly) somethings, but the rest was just eyeballed. For the main shelf we hot-glued two of the lid flaps together side-by-side and then added another flap to the bottom of the main shelf for extra thickness/strength. The vertical divider was made out of the fourth lid flap. We then started gluing things in place. The vertical divider was glued in first followed by the main shelf. I believe when it was all said and done three extra long glues sticks were consumed in this build. I got a little carried away with the hotglue haha.

Our original plan was to have the unit to sit on the floor in the bathroom, but then we thought it would be way better to hang it on the wall. My roommate had some of those hooks that mount on the wall so we used those to hang the shelf. The hooks are similar to the Command strip hooks, but the ones he had had foam mounting tape on them so they stuck really well to the wall. We would mount it with a more robust mounting method, but we are not allowed to screw into the walls in our dorm. We mounted the shelf to the wall so that one of the corners rested upon the towel rack. This way not all of the weight is on the two hooks. We also zip tied the cardboard shelf to the towel rack.

The shelf has been in use now for over a week and has been doing fine. We only have a few towels, wash cloths, and some cleaning supplies so it is not too much weight. So far we don’t see any problem of it falling, but if it does we can always mount it better.

We are pretty happy with it and it has helped out a lot!

I changed my guitar strings a couple weeks ago and instead of throwing the old strings away I saved them for future projects. Acoustic guitar strings are steel wires that can be used in various projects, the only problem is I can never find an old guitar string when I need one. So with this old set of guitar strings I made a little set that I can use in the future.

All I did to make this set of wire is cut ~6″ off the end of the guitar string that has the brass ring on it. I then took each wire and put them on a keyring in order of thickness. Actually, I didn’t have a keyring at the time so I just bent my own out of music wire. I would recommend using a thin keyring if you have one though.

I have had this set laying on my desk for the past week or two and it has come in handy multiple times. I used it once for cleaning out a small hole on an RC engine, the guitar strings work great for cleaning out the fuel jets on a carburetor, and a few other really random things. The thing about this set is it works great for the most random of things! Since it has 6 different thicknesses of wire, if you need a wire to poke through a small hole it is likely that one of the 6 wires will work.

I don’t know if ya’ll will find this helpful, but I like using it and it seems handy to me. Anyways, here are some photos….

I’m back!! I realize I’ve taken an unplanned 2 month hiatus from posting anything worthwhile, but unless something major comes up I should be back on a regular weekly basis of posting. Between graduating highschool, work, and doing stuff around the house I haven’t had much time for my own projects, let alone posting about them. Anyway…….

I picked up a glass bottle at a yardsale the other day for 50 cents for one purpose: making a glass bottle neck slide for my guitar. A bottle neck slide is a glass tube that slips over your finger and you use it to make the note on the guitar instead of pressing the string like you normally would. Using a slide makes it so you can, well, slide real easy up and down the neck. It also gives a cool, distinct sound to the guitar.

The part of the bottle I used to make the slide was the neck of the bottle (I’m sure you already knew that though based on the name of this post). To make the slide I had to cut the glass at the start of the neck where the bottle tapers and right after the lip of the bottle. To do this I used a glass cutter to first score where I wanted to break the glass at, and then I used heat and ice water to shock the glass along the score lines to crack, and essentially cut, the bottle.

When scoring the bottle, I needed to have the score line go perfectly around the bottle in the same plane so I made a real simple and quick rig to hold the bottle in place for scoring. All the rig consists of is two boards screwed together to make a 90* angle with a wooden dowel attached an inch or so up one of the boards so that the bottle can slip over it. With the dowel stuck into the mouth of the bottle, I could spin the bottle around the dowel while pressing the bottle against a glass scoring tool. This simple rig worked just fine for my needs.

Since this is the very first time for me to cut glass I did a test cut on the bottle right where the bottle began to taper for the bottle neck. After I did this test cut, I began scoring and shocking the glass to make the bottle neck slide. I first scored right at the base of the bottle neck right before it started flaring out bigger. I then poured boiling water over the score line, and then I poured ice water over the score line. This sudden change in temperature shocks the glass and cracks it along the score line. I had to repeat the hot water, then cold water process two or three times to completely ‘cut’ the glass. The break along the score line was surprisingly smooth, but it still needed to be sanded though.

I just used standard 220 grit sandpaper to smooth the glass where it had been cut. I was very surprised that the sandpaper smoothed the glass, but it actually worked quite well.  Using the sandpaper I got the edge nice and rounded to where it can’t cut me if I tried.

After one end was cut, it was time to cut the bottle’s lip off the slide. I didn’t have to use my rig this time to hold the glass, I just used the lip as a guide to hold the glass scorer. After it was scored I began the shocking process… I did the hot and cold water like a dozen times and never fully cracked the glass. I had to ramp up the temperature difference to get it to crack. I ended up using a small butane torch/lighter to heat up the glass along the score line and then dunking it into ice water to get the lip off. After the lip was off, I realized why it was so hard to crack. It was because the glass was much thicker there than the previous area. Anyway, since I had to go to the extreme way of cracking it, it didn’t come out as smooth. I had to use some 100 grit emery cloth followed by some 220 grit sandpaper to get it nice and smooth. Also, since I went to the extreme it ended up cracking 3/4″ the slide  longways :(.  It’s not a problem as I can’t feel it or anything, but it does bother me.


When I was done sanding it all, I tried it out. It worked well except for one thing. As you can see in one of the photos, the sides aren’t perfectly straight. The sides kinda curve in a little which means I have to press down a little on it to stop buzzing. But hey, you can’t beat it for 50 cents!

I know I’m running late this week on a post, but I have an excuse! It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve got a lot done, but nothing is finished…. I’ve been working on my boat and it is 95% finished. All that really needs to be done are all of the finishing touches. You know, the little things that make it look good.

I’ve also bought some canvas material and have been designing a carrying case for the boat. Since I have the canvas I have been toying with the idea of making a Bimini top for the boat.

I’ve pretty much completed the gun I’m building (I don’t know if I’ve ever posted photos of that here but I have on my Facebook page a couple of times)

I have also done just a little work on the beginning of a steam engine. I’ve cast the piston, but I didn’t add enough oil so it won’t come out of the mold so I will I have to recast it. The material I’m casting with is epoxy. It’s worked well for me in the past when I built a sterling engine.

And lastly, whenever I have had free time I have been writing a detailed step-by-step instructable on how to build the boat. That way you can build one for yourself!

So here are a couple of photos from various projects…(one of the photos is a scale model of the boat)





I bought this Abu Garcia fishing reel at a yardsale for like three bucks. When I got it, it was kinda dirty and it had some issues with it. It would go into cast mode okay, but when I spun the reel it wouldn’t kick back into reel mode. The reel handles just spun freely. After spinning the reel handles for a while it would finally ‘catch’ on something and kick back in to reel mode. It was also hard to push the cast button at times. So I knew it would need some work and that’s why I bought it. I wanted to fix it and learn how it worked inside….and because it looked cool 😛


So I’m not going to go into great details of disassembly and reassembly, but I have included a few pictures of the process. What I found was the problem with the going from cast mode to reel mode was there was a spacer that had been worn down so it wasn’t thick enough. Since the spacer was too thin, it made it to where the reel spindle couldn’t catch on the cast-release-mechanism. To fix this, I substituted the old spacer with a flat washer and it just happen to be the right thickness. The other issues were resolved by cleaning and re-lubing with White Lithium Grease.


I was going to clean the outside more, but when as I cleaned it the green paint started coming off. I wanted to keep the green paint, so I just lightly cleaned the outside so it would still look old-ish. I feel like, and I may be wrong, that the reel used to be red. The inside of the reel housing is this really nice red color, and as I cleaned a little I could see some red here and there. I also see quite a bit of red on the drag setting wheel.


I really don’t know much about this reel at all, except for that it says Abu Garcia Sweden on one side. So if anyone has any info on the reel  (model name or number, year they were made, anything really) I would love to know.