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The Joy of Upcycling (into a Dust Sniper)

One of the best things ever is when you can change the context of an object and make it live again.  There is something special about thinking up a new use for something other people have deemed worthless, and having it not just become useful, but actually excel at performing its new function.  The ongoing process of making the Dust Sniper (a silent cyclonic dust extraction system – the cyclonic part of which has just been added to the project pages), has had a load of moments like that.  The sound attenuation hardware is all devised from reclaimed materials, even one of the vacuums inside was a throw away job.  Let me just share one of the latest gems of this process.

This is an old science worktop, slung out – none to gently – from a university in favour of the fashionable new vinyl covered chipboard affairs.  My best estimation is that it is solid Teak wood, which fits, as my Handbook of Hardwoods (1972) informs me it has good resistance to a wide variety of chemicals.

My feeling is that it will make a fantastic top surface for the Dust Sniper (DS) which was always going to function as a roll-able worktop, as well as a dust extraction system.  After a quick measure up we see that the old tap mount is in the way and will need to go.  It was set in some kind of ‘super putty’ and required a surprising amount of brutality to remove (angle grinder and blowtorch win again).

removing tap

Below you can see a sneak peek of how the Dust Sniper is shaping up (mouse over for details).  As you can see, what was a sink cut-out in the worktop, is going to need some filling,  and the two end bits want sawing off, but width wise it is a nice fit.

Lets clean up the surface a bit and remove that thick peeling varnish.  This shows the contrast after one pass with the plane on the lowest .25mm depth setting.

Teak wood after plane pass

I must admit part of me regretted seeing all those marks being planed off: so much history, science lesson tom-foolery, acid spills and exciting gas-burner experiments, all wiped away.  But on the plus side, the true beauty of the wood underneath was just yearning to revealed.   Sections of the Teak have delightfully swirly grain and the photos just don’t do justice to the colour – I certainly will not be slapping thick varnish on this!

teak wood grain

After thinking about the sink-hole problem for some time, I came to the conclusion that I should actually use this as a cool feature.  Rather than try and make as seamless as possible ‘wooden plug’ (which was always going to be difficult considering I want to have the grain shown off to its best),  I decided that if I flipped the whole thing around, I could use the gap to allow light into the cyclone cabinet area of the DS. After all, what’s the use of having those see-through cyclones if there is no light in there?

I use some of the super thick (15mm) translucent acrylic that I salvaged some time ago for the lathe project, to form the ‘sink-plug’. Here I am arranging a template for the router, so I can finish the grove it will sit in.

routing a rebate for window

After some careful cutting and routing we have a nice snug fit.  I just need to use a chisel to sharpen up those corners…

cyclone window fitting process

So yeah, it is progressing nicely.  And although I have some work still to do on the innards (Like the automatic extractor switch, control panel and outlet ducting), putting the top on really has transformed the whole thing.  I will keep you updated here and on twitter, and a full build guide and evaluation of the Dust Sniper should be on the way soon…

teak top is on

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