Adding an Aux In and an USB Charger Into the Dash

For a long time I have compromised with terrible sound quality in my 2003 VW Golf by using an FM transmitter to listen to music and books through my car’s stereo. Not only did the audio sound bad, but I had phone charging and transmitter audio cables hanging around everywhere. I finally decided to clean up this mess and get better audio quality by installing an inline FM modulator.

The biggest part of this project was removing the dash from my car. Fortunately, a great guy on YouTube, BMAC VAGS, has a detailed video on how to remove the dash from an MK4 VW.

With the dash panel on my dining room table, I drilled some holes and installed the iSimple IS32 TranzIt USB Universal Car FM Radio Modulator

After the inputs were installed in the dash, I just reversed the process to put everything back together!

Originally published at on October 25, 2014.

Building An Under Cabinet Paper Towel Holder

Anyone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen knows that having free counter space is essential to keeping themselves sane while cooking. Our apartment kitchen has very little counter space to begin with and it seems like we always run out room to cut vegetables or roll out dough when we are preparing a meal. Although we couldn’t clean everything off of our counters, I thought getting the paper towels up in the air would free up a significant amount of space next to the sink.

I based my design on a paper towel holder that Frank Howarth, one of my favorite YouTube woodworkers made. To start, I cut out my two rails and two sides out of some cherry and oak that I had.

Next, I used some paint cans to trace some half circles onto one of the side boards. After roughly cutting out the half circles, I sanded the edges down smooth.

I stacked the cut side piece on top of the uncut piece and traced the half circle shapes to try to get the two pieces to mirror each other as close as possible. After that I cut and sanded the second side piece to match the first.

With the side pieces shaped, I needed a way to attach the overhead rails. Since I had recently finished building a dove tail cutting guide, I decided to get some dovetail making practice in. I knew ahead of time that these dovetails wouldn’t be visible in the finished product since the cabinet would block their view, so this was the perfect place to get some practice in.

If I were to make this again, I would definitely leave more space in between the tails and the curved piece.

Next up was drawing out the pins on the pieces of cherry.

…And then chopping the pins out with a chisel

I would prefer to have cut these out with a nice fret saw, but I didn’t have one at the time. Eventually though, chopping will get you what you need.

After repeating this process for all four pins, I dry fitted the pieces together.

Next up was drilling out some openings for the dowel that would hold the paper towel roll in the holder.

With the body of the paper towel holder all done, it was time to glue it all together.

While the holder was clamped and the glue was drying, I put the dowel in to mark where I would be cutting dados.

After many passes on the table saw sled, I had cut dados into the round dowel.

Once the glue dried, the last step was to plane, sand, and finish the piece in Danish oil. After a few coats had dried, it was ready to mount under a cabinet!

Originally published at on October 21, 2014.