Fabulous Synth Workstation organized in an IKEA PAX wardrobe

I make experimental electronic music with modular synthesizers and other quirky instruments. This means that there is a lot of cabling and rearranging of gear involved and the place can become really messy during a jam session. So I came up with a solution to keep things tidy (looking), by hacking an IKEA PAX wardrobe.

The configuration of the PAX was easily done at the local IKEA store. I chose the 236x100x60cm version with four drawers, a slide-out tray and two shelves:

IKEA Pax plan for synth workstation

As an electronic musician I sometimes need standard 19 rack gear and I also wanted another standard Eurorack Modular Synth system. Both of these nicely fit into the width of the wardrobe, by adding a wooden DIY frame (just some wood, screws and glue, not from IKEA).

PAx music station 19

I needed to install some power supply boards as well:

PAX Synth workstation Modular Synth Busboards

and then I mounted it inside the PAX wardrobe and added all other gear. Now all the gear is connected without the need to rearrange stuff frequently and I can just close the doors to hide the mess :D . Photo below shows left: closed and tidy, right: open and ready to rock.

PAX synth workstation - open and closed

The middle portion with the slide out tray is at waist’s height, so I can jam comfortably standing up:

PAX synth workstation shelf slide out tray

The audio mixer and recorder is mounted on the inside of the right door:

PAX synth workstation mixer

and there’s a cable holder on the other door:

PAX synth workstation Cable holder

Of course the also need to be LED strips and disco lights (see mp4 video below)

I installed a green screen at the back by the way, because I frequently film jam session videos for my YouTube channel, and using the screen I can insert funky visuals there, just like Hollywood. :P

To see and hear everything in action, check out my channel’s jam session playlist (the latest videos are at the top).

To see disco lights in action, play video below or clickhereto view on YT.

~ by Felix of The Tuesday Night Machines.

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Concrete Stain DIY

DEAR TIM: I’ve got an in-ground swimming pool at my home and my wife is not too happy about the concrete deck around the pool. The concrete was poured at different times and it’s cured to three different shades. She’s asked me what can be done to make the color uniform. Are there any affordable options? Is this something I can do myself? What are the pitfalls? Mike D., Cincinnati, OH

DEAR MIKE: What’s that old saying? A happy wife means a happy life. Guess what, I’m about to crank up the happiness machine for you and her at the same time. You’re going to have to do a little work, but the end result is going to be stunning and long lasting.

You’ve got several options to transform your concrete’s appearance. The good news is one of the methods is very DIY friendly. This DIY method even allows you to drastically change the color of the concrete around your pool. My guess is your wife may not have thought about that, but it adds a dimension to the project that could make it the talk of the neighborhood.

Depending on how concrete is finished, it can have different levels of porosity. Based on the photos you sent me, and because the concrete’s around your pool, you have a somewhat sandy finish that prevents slipping when the concrete is wet.

The concrete around this swimming pool is two different shades. There are several ways to make it look much better and change the color at the same time. (C) Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

This sandy texture will work to your benefit if you decide to go with the easiest DIY solution I’ll talk about in a moment. But first, let’s talk about staining your concrete. Believe it or not, you can purchase special color stains that are made to soak into concrete. I’ve walked on stained concrete that looks like leather. Any imaginable color is possible. The look and appearance is surreal when it’s done by pros.

The issue with staining sandy porous concrete like you have is that the colors can become very deep and it’s harder to achieve a multi-toned appearance that you’d get with concrete that’s got a surface texture that’s more like glass.

I only mention this to you because you may discover that applying the colored stains solves the problem immediately. Because you have distinct joints between the different slabs of concrete surrounding the pool, you can introduce different colors that compliment one another. For example, the inner ring of concrete that touches up against the edge of the pool may be a tropical green color and the outer ring you may want to do in a medium blue. You’re only limited by your imagination.

The concrete stains are tricky to work with and they require you to follow instructions to the letter. If you decide to try this, it’s imperative you do a test on some concrete in another location to see if you like the color. This may require you pouring a new small pad of concrete that has the same texture as what’s around your pool.

My guess is you’re going to love your second option. There are concrete resurfacing products you can buy that you mix with water. Once mixed they’re the consistency of applesauce. You simply spread the material on the existing concrete with a large squeegee and then apply a broom finish after waiting a few minutes.

These resurfacing products add a very thin layer of material onto the existing concrete, perhaps just one sixteenth of an inch. The best part is you can add dry pigments to the mix to create a new colored surface. Reds, browns, greens, blues, golds, oranges, etc. are all possible. You can even create patterns with different colored mixes.

If you have an artist in the family, this talented person can create a mural on the pool deck using the resurfacing products and multiple colors. The possibilities are endless.

Your third option is to combine these resurfacing products with stencils. Using stencils and colored pigments in the mix, it’s possible to transform your bland concrete pool deck into a red brick look or even granite cobblestone. You can even get stencils that would transform the pool deck into a rich brown and gold flagstone.

Stenciled concrete is not DIY friendly, but the look is stunning. You may decide this is the best alternative for your pool area and it just requires you to locate a local professional that has lots of experience using stencils.

If you decide to go with the stenciled look, be sure to take the time to visit other jobs the professional has completed. Looking at photographs is not the same as seeing the finished job in person.

You asked about the pitfalls of the job. If you decide to do the concrete resurfacing yourself, I want you to test this process on a concrete slab other than your pool. You want to get the hang of how to use the product to get perfect results.

Don’t do the resurfacing on hot sunny breezy days. These are the worst possible conditions because the resurfacing compound dries too fast. It’s best to do this work on an overcast day with the temperatures around 60 F. This gives you plenty of time to work with the product and you’ll get the best bond to the existing concrete. Be sure to read all the instructions and follow them with great diligence.

Column 1201

Matching Mortar

DEAR TIM: The mortar between my brick needs to be repaired. I want the patchwork to blend as closely as possible with the existing mortar. Should I use regular pre-mixed mortars that I see on construction sites? What is the best way to assure a color match? Kate, Sarasota, FL

DEAR KATE: Matching mortar color and texture requires patience and persistence. Detective work combined with a little experimentation will yield excellent results. The key to success lies in taking your time. Do not rush into this task.

Believe it or not, the key to a successful color and texture match lies in matching the sand used when mixing the mortar. The sand in mortar accounts for well over 70 percent of the matrix that you see. Brand new brick joints often have a film of lime or cement produced by tooling the joint. This very thin film is eroded with time. Water, wind and pollution constantly work to expose the sand that was used to create the mortar. Take a close look at an older brick wall and you will see what I mean.

The color of the grains of sand makes a huge difference in mortar color once the actual cement paste wears away.

The color of the grains of sand makes a huge difference in mortar color once the actual cement paste wears away.

To determine the color and particle size of the sand used in your mortar you must do a little destructive work. Try to obtain a cubic inch of mortar from several of your brick joints which require repair. Use a piece of wood to gently grind the mortar pieces into a coarse dust. Avoid the use of a hammer. You do not want to pulverize any of the sand particles. Mix 1 ounce of muriatic acid with 10 ounces of water. Stir in your mortar dust. Within 2 days any and all lime or cement in the mix will have dissolved. The sand will be at the bottom of the container. Use white vinegar instead of acid if your mortar contains crushed sea shells. Do not add water to the vinegar. Use straight from the bottle.

Carefully pour off a majority of the acid bath into a toilet or laundry tub. Be careful not to loose any sand. Add water to your container to dilute the remaining acid. Pour the sand and water mixture slowly into several folded paper towels to capture the sand. Allow the sand to dry. Store it in a closed, clear glass jar.

Visit several gravel and sand pits until you find a sand that matches yours in color and particle size. Be sure to look at dry sand samples! Moisture changes the color of sand. If your house is older, try to ask old bricklayers where sand was purchased and/or mined in your area. Trust me, the older the house, the closer the source of sand. Once you have found a sand or a blend that is close in color and texture, you are ready for further experimentation.


You can clearly see the individual pieces of colored sand in the mortar. Remember, sand particles are just tiny pieces of actual rock. See the white, black, orange, pink and buff pieces of sand? Photo credit: Tim Carter

You can clearly see the colored sand grains in this high-resolution photo. Note how the mortar in this photo is a much darker gray than the white brick photo above. Photo credit: Richard K.

You can clearly see the colored sand grains in this high-resolution photo. Note how the mortar in this photo is a much darker gray than the white brick photo above. Photo credit: Richard K.

Older mortars often had a much greater amount of lime content than today’s pre-mixed mortars. You need to locate a building supply house that sells lime, white cement and grey cement. You will need all three components. Old mortar (70 years older or more ) may require 6 measures of lime to one measure of cement. Lighter mortars probably require the use of white cement instead of grey cement. You may find that you have to blend both cements to get a perfect color match.

Need to repair your masonry? Find a good contractor and learn the secrets of the trade with my Masonry Repair (Chimneys, Stucco & Brickwork) Contractor Hiring Guide and Checklist. I offer a 100% Money Back Guarantee.

Furthermore, if your brick and mortar are old and dirty, you may want to wash the brick before you begin the repair job. If this is not feasible, you may have to age or stain the repair job after it dries to make it appear dirty. The trick to matching color while you are mixing is to get the existing mortar wet. If the wet mixture in your wheelbarrow looks close or identical to the wet old mortar in between the brick, you may have a perfect match when it dries. Do a test batch and let it dry for two weeks to see if your recipe is right. If not, keep trying.

If you are building a new home, save 2 or 3 five gallon buckets of the sand used to mix your mortar. In addition, save a bag of mortar if possible. Wrap and tape it tightly with 2 or 3 plastic garbage bags to seal out water vapor. This pack rat mentality will come in handy if a storm damages your chimney or someone bumps a wall with a car.

The 10 Best Cities in the U.S. for Newlywed Couples

Best Cities for Newlywed

It must be wedding season when we see a bunch of starry-eyed newlyweds is looking to move into a new home, making a fresh start together. Even if couples have been living together for a while already, there’s nothing that symbolizes the beginning of this new chapter like a new

Continue Reading

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Crib bunk bed hacked from IKEA GULLIVER cots

We have 4 kids and live in a tiny house, we have 3 bedrooms but my 3 year old daughter’s room is only 6ft x 6ft and her baby sister will be moving in with her soon.

We thought of many ideas to fit 2 children in this tiny space but the only viable option was an IKEA hack.of course!

I had seen the Gulliver toddler bunk bed hack but we need a cot, so had to come up with another hack.

We already had one Gulliver crib which had been converted to a toddler bed. We bought another Gulliver crib and got to work.


Photo: IKEA.com

  • IKEA item: Gulliver Cribs x 2
  • Tools used: Table saw, electric saw, impact drill
  • Non Ikea Materials:Pine boards, screws and handrails for children’s play equipment.

1. We shortened the side of the top cot by cutting the cot bars and removed the leftover bars from the bottom rung and reattached it. We set the base of the bed at the newborn height and reattached the altered side. This gave the top cot bed a higher side for safety as well as giving us extra head room to get baby in and out below (700mm).We also cut a section at the end of the top cot to allow access in and out of the bed.

DIY a crib bunk bed

2. We added extended legs in between the top and bottom cots and on the outside we attached 700350 pine legs (1.9meters high) this gave it extra stability and strength.

Extending the legs

3. Another bit of pine was run along the side of the top cot under the base and rail to ensure the base was strong. And another along the end under the exit point.

A platform for the ladder

4. We built a platform (from yellow tongue) with 2 steps allowing a step down of 250mm from the top cot to the top platform and 200mm from the top platform to the bottom. We also made 3 shelves under this for toy storage.

5. We then made a ladder out of 700x250mm pine for the sides and the leftover leg extender wood (140mmX19mm). This is only 350mm wide.

A ladder for the GULLIVER crib bunk bed

After some paint we moved 2 TRYSIL drawers in love IKEA!

Ladder can be stowed when not in use

We drilled holes in the bottom platform and attached brackets to the ladder so it can be anchored there. During the day we will move it up on the platform so the kids can’t get up there except to sleep.

Crib bunk bed hacked from IKEA GULLIVER cots

Ladder with rails

Crib bunk bed hacked from IKEA GULLIVER cots

Exit point

We then painted it all white added some children’s safety handles to the ladder and some sensor LED lights for when she gets up in the night.

Crib bunk bed hacked from IKEA GULLIVER cots

Big girl up top

Crib bunk bed hacked from IKEA GULLIVER cots

Cot below

It may have been my idea but major credit goes to my lovely dad, Peter for actually implementing it. We had to build it in the room as the cots don’t fit through the doorway but we got there in the end!

~ by Courtney, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For more DIY bunk bed ideas, take a look at these:

– This one is hacked from MALM beds.

– The KRITTER children’s bed can be hacked into a bunk bed too.

– And of course, the ever popular KURA loft bed conversion.

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DIY dog window perch with steps

DIY dog window perch with steps

I needed something in my grandkids playroom that my small dogs could easily climb up on to sit and look out the window to the street. Came up with this idea that took zero carpentry skills and works perfectly.

I just purchased two Trofast frames and the bins that fit inside, pushed them together and covered the steps with three Toftbo bath mats. It works perfectly! The dogs can easily climb to the top to lay down, the bins hold lots of toys, and the bath mats are colorful and fun.

~ by Harleysgma55

Looking for more IKEA ideas for your dog?

DIY dog window perch

Here’s adog window seatyou may like and you can use any old shelf.

Check out this modern dog bed, hacked from the IKEA KALLAX shelving unit. Sleeps one big dog.

And don’t forget to browse our Pet Furniture Dog Hacks page.

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