Tag Archive: Kludge

So, I got off my butt and finally got the third section put together. I’ve wrapped everything up into a set of PDFs and uploaded them to my site. There are updated links on the project page, but I’ll also toss them here:

Cut Diagrams

This is the procedure up through section 3, the crank barrel. I’m sure it’s rife was mistakes, poor spelling, and incorrect grammar. I apologize for that, but I’m my only editor. And the truth is: my editor has no idea what he’s doing.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Since it’s been a while since I posted an update on the winder, I figured I’d toss up a small update on it.

Currently the heat wave has chased me away from the garage* so I haven’t had too much an opportunity to work on it of late. Combine that with an unusually busy life, and it doesn’t make for the most productive TacoMagic. With yesterday’s weird hours (I had to be at work at 5am instead of my usual 8am) and my insomnia, now my schedule is all borked as well. Yay! All I’ve been able to make myself do this week is play Gemcraft Labyrinth and develop what I call my “Butt-kicking machine” within the game. I’ve almost perfected the butt-kicking machine, by the way.

Anyway, the current status of the project is as follows: The crank is done, aside from a final sanding and painting. The base is done, aside from sanding, painting, and drilling a 1/4″ hole. And, the primary spindle is now at about 70% complete. The primary spindle just needs me to attach the 135º angle brackets and extension arm to be finished… aside from the usual painting and sanding. However, my work on the spindle is pretty ugly and I’ve got some serious worries about it spinning straight. Should it fail to spin correctly I may need to redo the whole thing; but I won’t know if it’ll work until I assemble it.

After the spindle I still have to build the rotating spool, the tensioning belt, and the yarn guide. All told I figure I’m about 60% done with the project, so it’s all coming together. I also took some time and went over all my receipts to find out just how much I’d spent on the winder. I’d figured I’d spent about $20-22, and was delighted to find that I’ve only actually spent $18. Granted a lot of the hardware in the winder I already had on hand, so if you were to add that into the figure it would hit much closer to $25 (depending on how cheap you can find 1/4×20 hardware). This gives me tons of leeway to buy paint and still come in under my budget of $30 for the winder.

Here’s a quick lo-down on everything that’s gone into the winder; currently this appears to be the complete list, but there may be an addition or two if I run into something unexpected:

  • Scrap ply-wood 3/4″ thick and 1/2″ thick. If you were to buy the wood, you would probably be looking at about 2 2’x4′ pieces, which would run about $20 pre-cut.  Since I used scrap wood, my effective cost is $0. 
    • You can get free construction or shop grade plywood from construction dumpsters pretty easily or on freecycle/craigslist, so hopefully one would be able to acquire it free.
  • Hard-drive motor and platter assembly: $0.
    • If nothing else you could probably snag one from a swap-fest for a dollar or two.
    • You could substitute a Lazy Susan bearing for about $6
  • 1/2″ x 5″ hex bolt with 2 nuts and 3 washers:  $3.50
    • Sadly I bought this hardware about a month before I found exactly what I needed for free in a construction dumpster.  So if you get lucky this is an avoidable cost.
  • 2′ section of 1/4″x20 all-thread:  $1
    • Again, purchased and then found for free in a construction dumpster a number of weeks later.  Avoidable cost, but not a bank breaker by any means.
  • 1/4″x20 hardware.  About a dozen nuts, flat washers of varying diameters, and locking washers:  $0
    • I have a lot of this hardware just laying around because I work with 1/4″x20 a LOT.  However, I priced it out at the hardware store when I was there, for all the nuts, washers, and locking washers you would need to pay $3 or less.  You can also find a lot of 1/4″x20 hardware in construction dumpsters as it is an extremely common thread.
  • 4x 608z 8x8x22mm Skateboard bearings: $9 ($8.57 rounded up).
    • I actually got 8 of these for $8.57, but I always count whole cost against a project so that overstock retains a $0 cost for future projects. 
    • The 608z is a very nice bearing.  It is very quiet and smooth.  The only issue I have with them is that it’s pretty easy to damage them with shock, so don’t drop them from hight or subject them to a lot of perpendicular stress.  As they are going to be light duty (at most 4-5 pounds of perpendicular weight bearing) I foresee no issues using them in the project.
    • You could probably press out a set of bearings from a used skateboard or set of rollerblades; however stock bearings in these items tend to be fairly noisy and you have no guarantee that they will be of the desired size or even in good condition.  Since the project was proceeding far under budget, I think spending the $9 on good bearings is an acceptable cost.
  • 2′ section of 1/2″ schedule C PVC: $1.25
    • Most of the stuff in the construction bin was fairly grungy and I wanted something clean as it is being used as a handle and the yarn spool.  I just broke down and bought a hunk of it from the hardware store.  If I’d taken some time and cleaned up the free piping I could have done this for free.
  • 2x 2″ C-clamps: $3
    • These are for affixing the winder to a table top.  You may need bigger clamps if you have a thick table.
    • I don’t think you can really avoid this cost without adding a lot of extra construction time to the project.  But cheap-o c-clamps are easy to find and don’t really break the bank.  I snagged mine from Harbor-freight on sale for 1.50 each.
  • Wood glue: $0
    • I already have wood glue, so it’s cost was already absorbed in a previous project.  You can get a small bottle of glue for about $1 if you happen to need some.
  • 2x 90º angle brackets.  0.80
    • This cost could be avoided by doing something more complicated for the 135º angle of the spool, but the brackets were cheap and makes the whole thing really easy.
  • Screws: $0.80
    • If there’s one thing I have a lot of, it’s screws.  I only needed to buy one pack of #6×1/2″ sheet metal screws for the 135º brackets.  Otherwise I also used a set of 6 3/4 screws that would probably have cost $0.75 or so for a pack of 12.  There is also a screw that I’ll be using on the spool, which could come from that same pack of 3/4 inch screws.
  • Screw threaded hooks: $0
    • Again, left over hardware from previous projects.  You can usually find these for about $0.15 each.
  • Glue for the tensioning belt $0?
    • This is one of the question marks of the project, as it’s going to be the last step of the project.  I’m thinking I may just be able to use either rubber cement or Shoe Goo, which I have laying around.  Otherwise I’ll need to buy a tube of flex bond or vulcanizing rubber cement, which will range from $3-$6.
  • Paint ?
    • Haven’t purchased the paint yet, so I don’t have a cost here.  Most likely less than $10, and it’s a hugely optional expense.  The end product would be good enough if you just sanded it with a fine enough grit sandpaper to get it smooth.  At most you might need to do a little void filling with either glue or wood fill.

And that’s it.  Total out of pocket spending (ideal) is $19, no more than 30 when I get some paint… though I have a lot of spare house paint laying around that I might be able to use; though it might not look as good as using a spray paint.

Mandatory spending, if you were to buy everything you needed would be around $55; $65 if you paint it. Again, there are a lot of things that can be acquired cheap/free for this project, so utilize your inner scavenger to save over 50% of the cost of this project.

I’ve also had an opportunity to work on the plans some more.  I’ve got most of the writing done for the first two construction sections (base and crank) I just have to insert the figures and add the figure references to the text (Which is a much bigger job than one would think).  After I get some of my Library of the Damned workload finished, I’ll shift back to the yarn ball winder plans and see if I can squeeze out an update sometime next week.  Since it’s getting hot outside, I should have some more opportunities to do writing in the near future.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

*If the temperatures climb above 75ºF or so, I start sweating like crazy and become miserable.  My low tolerance for mildly high temperatures means that the months of July/August don’t often find me out in the shop.  I mow the lawn, do some gardening, and then retreat back indoors for a cold shower.

Scavenging: Kludge and Recycling

I’m a big-time scavenger. Often I’ll see certain trash and think “I can do something with that!”. This is a pretty common mentality of hoarders, so I have to temper it with a few rules. First, I have to have an example off the top of my head on how it will be useful, and second if I scavenge something I try to take only a few of the same thing unless I have a specific project in mind already.

For example: At work we have what are called “Bunny Suits”. These are light, cloth suits made out of that stuff that’s used to make those reusable grocery sacks from. At work you have to put one of these on if you’re going into a sterile area and you don’t have any scrubbs. After you leave the sterile field you throw the suit away. Now, these suits are made from a yard or two of perfectly good fabric. There is also a zipper and a few pieces of elastic. It’s a huge waste to throw them away; especially if they didn’t get dirty (and usually they don’t if I’m just working on a computer). They make great splash suits for painting, or you can rip the seams apart and use the cloth. I’ve collected about a dozen of these with various projects in mind for them. I’ve had to stop collecting them as I still haven’t actually used any of them. But, I have projects in mind so I don’t feel bad in them taking up space. I’ve actually got one project I’m working on right now which will utilize one or two of these suits at the very end, so by the end of the month I’ll have finally used a few.

Now a lot of people salvage/scavenge out of a desire to be green. They recycle, reuse, or “upcycle” (I hate that term) things in order to be kinder to the environment. For me that’s just a bonus. The real reason I scavenge/recycle is because it’s either cheap, or better yet, free. If I can make something that works really well, I don’t often care how ugly it is; especially if it’s something that I’m going to be using outside or in my shop where it will get all munged up anyway. Free is the best price for something like this.

Anyway, in my scavenging I’ve found some great places to get various bits in order to work on kludge projects. But the holy grail of scavenging is the Construction Dumpster:

Oh Baby!

These things can have just about anything in them, and better yet if you find out who’s filling it they often don’t care if you dig through it for stuff. Often these construction dumpsters require the company using them to pay a fee based on how much junk is being hauled away, so many of them are more than happy to have you dig through it and haul some away for free.  Both sides win, so everyone is happy (well maybe not the disposal service, but they don’t have to know).

This isn’t always the case, though, some companies can actually recover disposal costs by recycling some of the more salvagable items. These bins are put through a sorting center where the recoverable materials are credited back to the company, so it’s always best to ask a manager before digging through their bins in case you’re actually costing them more money by taking their salvable goods.

But, provided you have the go-ahead to dive them, these bins can have a wonderland of useful stuff in them that would otherwise be going to a landfill. Short pieces of new PVC pipe, electrical conduit, wood, wire, bricks, plastic buckets, etc. The kludger’s gold mine. With some inventiveness and a few decent bins to dive into, you can build quite a few things for almost nothing.

There are three really good places to find these bins, and you’ll have various results from each of these:

1) New construction. These are the best bins, but hardest to get to. Everything in a new-construction bin will be good, new stuff; generally the bits and pieces left over that they can’t use.  Don’t let that fool you though, sometimes the piece left over can be huge; such as a 5′ section of PVC pipe or a 3×6 foot piece of plywood. However, these dumpsters are often behind construction fences in a hard-hat zone. These bins are also the most likely to be handled through a salvaging company and therefore be off-limits to you. The only real way to go about getting access to one of these bins is to find the site manager of the construction and get buddy-buddy with him/her. They’re busy people, so this is easier said than done.  But if you do get to be friends with a construction manager, you’ll have all the construction refuse you could possibly hope for.  Heck, if you get to be really good friends you might even be able to have him set aside the really good stuff for you, such as long lengths of conduit or big pieces of wood.  Just don’t press your luck too quickly.

2) Demolition. These are ok bins, but depending on the demolition, the quality can be all over the map. If it’s demolition of a very old building then it probably won’t be worth going through it. Most of the stuff you’ll find will be damaged, rotten, or otherwise unusable.  Pipeing will be rusty and full of gunk; conduit will be bent and mangled, and wood will be crushed and rotten. Further, some demolition companies work on salvaging contracts, so all the stuff they’re pulling out of the demolition is going to be sorted and sold anyway. Once again, getting your hands on a manager and asking him is the best way to find out what the deal it.

3) Large companies and large hospitals. Most big companies and hospitals that have been in the same building/campas for a few decades are constantly doing renovations and repairs to their fascilities. This means they will have a permanent construction dumpster parked somewhere, usually near the loading dock. These are rarely salvaging bins, and access to the junk is pretty wide open. Managers are generally more than happy to let you dig through the stuff, which is everything from mangled demolition to random odds and ends from facility repairs. You can find almost anything in these bins, and the contents change on a weekly or even daily basis. If you get friendly with the management of the dock you’ll have free reign to scavenge to your heart’s content. By far these are my favorite because they are easy to get access to, and have such a wide variety of stuff.

Other great resources for scavenging are:
•Your local Freecycle
•Your local cabnetry makers (often enough they’ll have a free wood bin, or just a dumpster with lots of wood pieces in it)
•Second hand stores
•Scrap and junk yards (Industrial junk yards are awesome)
•Yard/garage/rummage sales
•The local dump collection center. Seriously. Just walk around and look at the stuff people are throwing away. Often you can just walk up to somebody and ask for their garbage, they don’t want it anyway so what do they care who gets it? And some dumps are structured so that it’s pretty easy to snag a nice piece of junk.
•The curb. A lot of interesting stuff gets dumped on the curb for disposal. Wood furniture specifically can be easily rebuilt into something useful.
•College campuses during move-out. Lots of stuff to be had.
•Big Appartment complexes. You can find lots of stuff sitting by the dumpsters; usually furniture.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

I had the opportunity the weekend before last to work on the yarn ball winder project enough to finish the base of the unit.  Since then I’ve finished the first draft of this part of the project which I’ll be linking here for those who want to take a gander at what I’ve got thus far.  It’s not much, and it took way longer to document everything than I anticipated (for every 1 hour of work I’ll need to plan on 5 hours for the first draft write up… ew).

There are two PDFs of this project.  The first PDF is the instructions while the second is the pictures referenced by the first document.  I had originally put both pictures and the instructions in one PDF, but it looked rather bad and with two PDFs it’s easier to look at the pictures and read the documents without having to scroll around a ton.

You may also notice that the instructions start with Section 2.  I’ll actually be doing Section 1 last, as that will be the introduction to the project and will include the full required/optional tools and parts lists… which won’t be finalized until the very end of the project.  There are also a couple areas within section 2 that I’ll probably expand upon, like the drilling portion.

Anyway, without further noodling, here they are:

Yarn Ball Winder Plans

Yarn Ball Winder Figures

Constructive criticism, corrections, etc would be welcome in the comments section.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Another non-geeky post; sorry about that.

A project that I’ve been kicking around for a while (and annoying TacoMa’am with endless talk about) is to create my own yarn ball winder (or yarn cake winder as they are often called).

You know, one of these.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to make my own for various reasons.  First, because the inexpensive (about $40, generally) plastic winders like the one pictured above tend to have an unfortunate reputation of not being very strong or durable.  Plastic gearing combined with cheap parts and design mean that the product life is pretty short and that there isn’t much strength to the winder when trying to pull heavier yarns.

Of course, you could go this rout:
Stauch brand yarn ball winder.

Wooden, sturdy, and big.  You can wind upwards of a 1 pound ball with this baby.  It’s perfect, and fairly simple.  It’s also fairly expensive; $130 plus $30 shipping.  You can go even nicer if you’re willing to pay more than $200.

Daunted by the duality of either lack of quality or lack of economy, I searched around for plans.  I found one set on the entirety of the internet.  It cost $30 and the link to buy the plans was broken.  Wonderful.  The only other thing that came close was a loose idea of how to put together a Lego Technik winder.  Not actual plans, just a picture of what they did.  Not very helpful other than for research on how it’s done.

Ok, so there WAS one set of free plans. But I'm thinking something a bit less... duct-tapey. I'm thinking I can do better.

So enter in my creative side.  I did a bunch of reasearch and found that there are a few ways to wind a ball of yarn.  By hand you can use a rod (called a Nostepinne by those who want to be fancy) or your thumb for hand winding, but since I wanted something more… automated, that’s just trivia at this point.  Mechanically there are two primary methods I’ve found.  You can either create a mechanism that spins a spindle while a yarn guide oscellates in a 45º-90º arc around the spindle; or more commonly (easier) you can have a spindle that is rotated at a 45º angle while the spindle itself spins at a much slower rate (see the picture of the Stauch winder).  The vast majority of the winders I looked at use the second method.  In fact most of them do it in the very same way.
The basic mechanism is that you have a fixed axis that passes through your center of primary rotation.  This primary rotation is supplied with either a belt driven mechanism affixed to the outter, moving portion of the axis, or it is geared to a crank offset at 90º.  The spinning portion of the axis has a 45º arm and a counterweight mounted to it, and the fixed axis terminates with either a nipple or a gear.  On the 45º arm the yarn spindle is mounted to a wheel, which in turn is mated to the nipple or gear of the fixed axis.  The end result is that the spindle arm rotates at 45º across the fixed axis while spinning much more slowly along it’s own axis.  A somewhat complex mechanism to pull off, actually.
Using the Stauch (and the 4 or 5 others I found that were extremely similar to it) as a base model I started designing my own.  Several messy drafts and a fair amount of trigonometry later I had my first primary draft.  After going over it with my father, it became apparent that I needed a re-draft.  I had, unwittingly, created the need for two seperate plans in order to meet two seperage goals I had set for myself.  I’d tried to accomplish both in one plan and was failing.
So, two projects were born:
Project 1(this project): Kludge Build 
Build a, cheap, easily assembled, and highly functional yarn ball winder.  The focus will be on simplicity of design and use of inexpensive or free parts.  Aesthetics will be considered but are ultimately a tertiary consideration to the other design metrics.  Construction should be with as small and cheap an assortment of tools as is possible.  Recycled parts will be used wherever possible, and inexpensive alternatives will be provided in cases where recycled parts may be difficult to find.  Existing shop scrap will also be used for the design; consisting mainly of plywood extras from previous projects.  The goal is to assemble with a total out of pocket cost of $30.  Shop scrap and tools will not be considered part of the budget as these have already been purchased for other projects and are thus sunk costs.
Project 1 will be fully documented with photos, directions, and plans.  These will be provided free on my blog to fill the void I found for free yarn ball winder plans.  I’ll also include some of my planning phase in case somebody else wants to design their own version.
I may or may not include directions to build a yarn swift, as that is somewhat outside the bounds of the project.  Plans for these are readily available online so they would only be included for completion sake.
Project 2 (Future project): Aesthetic Build
Build a highly functional, very attractive yarn ball winder.  Assembly will require more advanced tools, methods, and specialty parts not readily available in hardware stores.  The plans will be catered to the more advanced builder who has a wider selection of tools available to him.  Further, the build will be using hardwoods rather than shop scrap.  The project will be geared rather than belt driven and feature a 90º offset crank drive.  The attempt will be to complete the build on a budget of under $100; however, over-runs in price will be entirely acceptable as the focus will be on completing the project rather than economy.
Like project 1, project 2 will be documented with photos, methods, and plans.   This project may or may not be made available free.  Since there is such a lack in plans of any type for yarn ball winders I may try to sell the plans either online or as a published piece in a woodworking magazine.  It may all come down to how much work I end up putting into the plans and how much of a market there appears to be for the plans.
Again, the a yarn swift is an optional inclusion to this project that may be included only for completion sake.
So that’s what I’m working on in my garage right now.  I’ve already drafted a good portion of the designs and have built the base.  I’ll likely be posting my directions and plan progress as I complete each section.  Once I’m entirely done, I’ll fold it all into a giant PDF which I’ll try to host here on my blog.  I’ll try to create some mirrors for it out in the crafting world as well.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?


Ok, this really isn’t about anything geeky or gaming related, but tough cookies I’m gonna blog it anyway.

As I mentioned in my “about” section, I like to craft (I think I mentioned it anyway… hold on a second *goes to update his “about” page*).  I have done a wide variety of crafts in my day: basket weaving, pine needle basket weaving, drawing, wood working, wood turning, plaster molding, perler beads, electronic tinkering (Yay robots), computer programming (it’s a craft, damn it!), crochet, origami, pop-up card making, model building, rocket building, etc.  Yeah, I sample a lot of crafts.

Anyway, one of my more recent endevors has been Crochet.  I mostly started it because I wanted to crochet some Pokémon for myself.  However, I also started because I had stumbled upon a plarn blog run by RecycleCindy: My Recycled Bags.

While I have issues with recycling as it exists right now (an issue for later), the idea of reusing and repurposing things that have been spent and are no longer needed has always appealed to me. Probably because I’m a scavenger and hoarder by nature (seriously, I have to make my wife make me throw things away if I don’t actually need them). I look at things and think “That thing is still good! It can be used for something!” One of those things is plastic grocery bags. I collect them as if they’re going to be a kind of currancy after the appocolypse.

I now have an outlett for these bags, Plarn!


 Basically you take your plastic bags, cut them into rings, and then join them into a long double-stranded yarn for use in crocheting (directions for doing this are on RecycleCindy’s blog).  This material actually helped me learn to crochet.  Since the stitches are so big when using plarn it makes a great learning material.  You can see the anatomy of exactly what you are doing.  Plus it helps get rid of those few hundred plastic bags you’ve got piled up waiting for an appocolypse.

Since I started using plarn I’ve both produced a handfull of goods, and used up just about every bag I’d saved.  In fact, I ran out of bags during my latest plarn project, so have had to procure more.  Thus far I’ve produced two water bottle holders, and one snowman. 

Cute as a little bag... er... whatever.

The bottle holders required about 40 bags each, and the snowman used up about 120.  My current project has about 200 bags in it so far and is roughly 2/3 of the way done.  The projects have been a great way to use up those plastic bags without the guilt that invariably comes with getting rid of them into the garbage or recycling hoppers.

If you’re one of those “There has got to be a use for this!” hoarders, Plarn might be something to try your hand at.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled geek.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Dismantling a Hard Drive

I’m an unabashed scavenger and kludger; and as such I have many little pet projects that I plan to do but rarely get around to.  However for one of my more likely projects, I suddenly found a need to create a cheap lazy Susan bearing.

Granted, Lazy Susan bearings aren’t that expensive to begin with.  You can snag one for about $5.  However, those things are pretty noisy so the other criteria of my bearing was that it should be quiet as well as cheap/free.

Enter in the hard-drive.  My wife’s grandparents had a pretty sizable computer crash a few months ago; and after fixing the computer and recycling what parts I could, I ended up with a spare, bad hard drive.

I kept it thinking that maybe I’d use it as a door-stop or something; or at least steal the magnets out of it.  Anyway, once I had the need for a Lazy Susan bearing, I decided to open up the hard-drive to see what I could find.  There are a wealth of little handy parts in a hard-drive, but for my uses the important part is the spindle motor.  Below is my tutorial on how to dismantle a hard drive and harvest the useful parts.

Tutorial: Salvaging Hard-Drive Parts

What you will need:  A set of precision screw drivers/bits that include TorX (star) bits.  You can purchase one of these from HomeDepot for $5-10 last I checked.  Otherwise there is a very affordable and very comprehensive set available at Harbor Freight for $8.  You might also need a pair of circlip pliers.  A good pair of those run about $8.  You may also be able to bum one off of a friend.  The pliers, even when the circlip is present, are optional as they are only really needed to salvage a small bearing and get the bottom of the two magnets.

The first thing you want to do is determine whether or not the hard-drive is worth trying to scavenge from; particularly if you’re looking to snag the motor.  In general the manufacturer of the drive is fairly important in determining what parts you can salvage from it.

All hard-drives (HDD) will have removable rare-earth magnets which are fun but don’t generally serve much purpose unless you’re going to try to build your own speaker.  They also make rockin’ fridge magnets.  There is also a small bearing on the read/write head arm that may either be threaded or have a smooth bore and generally has a flange.  It’s a nice little bearing that, as of yet, I haven’t found a use for.  Also, the platters themselves can sometimes be salvaged.  There are two primary types of platter: Silicone Glass or Aluminum.  The aluminum ones are very useful, the glass not so much.  I’ll mention how to tell the difference below.

Thus far, from hard drives I’ve opened up and salvaged, only two brands (out of a whopping 3!) have had a removable spindle motor.  I opened on Samsung and was able to remove the motor.  I’ve opened 3 Western Digital and found them all with removable motors.  The one Seagate I opened had the motor integrated into the HDD chassis, and was unremovable (at least without going at it with a Saws-All).  There is a tell-tale sign as to whether the HDD will have a removable spindle motor.  If you look on the bottom of the drive you may be able to see where the motor is or it might be covered by a controller circuit board which you can take off to see the base of the motor.  As below, removable motors will have 3 posts surrounding it:

Arrows are pointing to two of the posts where there are screws. The third is hidden by the circuit board. The motor base is also a vastly different color than the surrounding chassis, which is a good sign.

These may be fully enclosed, or you might be able to see the base of a screw.  Sometimes the motor base is also made from a significantly different material than the HDD housing.  If you see this then it’s pretty certain that the motor comes out.  Looking through my HDD collection at work, I noticed that all the Western Digital drives I have show signs of a removable motor, and all Seagate show signs of a built-in motor.  I don’t have drives from any other manufacturer at work, sadly, so I can’t say much about any other companies, such as Maxtor.

First, you’ll need to check out the top (side without the circuit board) and figure out what bit you’ll need.  For Western Digital you’ll need a Torx size 8, for Samsung a Phillips #0 driver (you could probably do it with a 1 if you’re careful).  There will be several screws around the edge of the plate and one or two in the center, generally covered by the manufacturer’s sticker and/or a “warranty void if opened” sticker.  You’ll need to strip away the stickers over these screws before you proceed.

Top of the Samsung drive with the stickers peeled back from the middle screws. My precision driver is there too, armed with a Philips #0 driver bit.

Take all the screws out on this plate, and if you’re not putting the drive back together you can discard the screws.  The plate should come off, though you might need to lever it off with a flat bladed screwdriver.  If it won’t come off, double-check that you found all the screws, every so often there will be a sneaky one that I’ll miss during the first pass.

Magnets are lower left, the read/write arm is the silvery wedge thing pointing up to the right, and the platters are the big silver round thing. Technical terms, all of those.

Once you have the top off, you’ll see something similar to that above.  There are several components visible here.  You have the magnets, the read/write head arm, the spindle, and platters.  The first thing to do is get the magnets out.  Some magnets are screwed in place, others are just held together by a combination of magnetic force and the case itself.  Most of the time I find that they’re just held the second way.  Check for screws (you may also need to look at the bottom of the HDD chassis, as sometimes they’ll screw it in from the underside) and if you don’t see any, wedge the top magnet out.  In this case there were two screws (you can see them flanking the magnet).  After I removed those the top magnet came out easily and I was able to slide the bottom magnet out as well.

Both magnets came out without having to remove the arm. Most of the time removing the arm is an optional step anyway.

At this point you can remove the read/write head arm if you want,.  I’ve seen this arm attached in a few ways.  In some drives I’ve seen a weird screw combo that has to be unscrewed from both the top and the bottom at the same time to remove the arm.  However, the most common in Western Digital drives is with a circlip.  You’ll need that pair of circlip pliers to remove this.  If you’re not interested in saving the arm bearing, you can skip this part and instead snap off the part of the arm that’s over the bottom magnet if it’s preventing you from removing that bottom magnet.  In most of the drives I’ve opened, you can move the arm out of the way for removing the platters and spindle motor, so removing the arm isn’t crucial.

I moved the arm all the way over here, as you can see I'll be able to get the platters out without any trouble.

In this case the arm had both a circlamp and a weird tap screw thing that had to be unscrewed from both the top and bottom simultaneously. The bearing wasn't even that good in this case, so it was more trouble than it was worth to remove it.

Once all that is out of the way, you can begin disassembling the platter spindle.  There will be a ring with 4 or 6 small screws.  In a Western Digital drive these are usually a Torx 6 or 7, on the Samsung it’s a Philips #00 or slightly smaller, and on a Seagate most likely a Torx 6.  Be EXTREMELY careful with these screws, as they can be very soft (Samsung) and stripping out the head is fairly easy if it isn’t Torx.

On this Samsung I stripped out the head of one of the screws and ended up having to drill it; not good.  You’ll want to keep the screws and the ring from this as the screws can be very difficult to replace.  Once you’ve got the screws and the ring off, you can now remove the platters and any spacers between them.  Keep all of these things.  Once you have all the platters off, if the motor can be removed, you should see 3 screws around the base of the motor.

The spindle emptied of the platters and rings. Keep it all. You can see the three screws holding the motor onto the base around the spindle here

Now that you have the platters out, you can test them.  Aside from the aluminum platters having a rather distinct metallic ring, and the silicone ones being slightly amber-colored, there is a pretty easy test to tell them apart.  Place the disc on something like a plastic bag, now strike it quite hard with the tip of a screwdriver you don’t care about so much.  Or, alternatively, tap a screwdriver with a hammer with its point on the platter. If the platter shatters, it was silicone glass, if the screwdriver tip makes a dent, it’s aluminum.  Save aluminum platters and discard glass shards from the silicone ones. Now, take the three screws around the spindle motor out with whatever bit you need.  Generally these three screws will the same as the screws on the top casing that you took off first.  You generally don’t need to keep those 3 screws as you’ll be using wood screws to secure the motor to something anyway.

The spindle motor in all its glory!

And there you go, you’ve now processed and salvaged a hard drive.  To use it as a Lazy Susan bearing what you’ll need to do is attach the platters to whatever you’ll be using as your top and attach the motor to whatever is going to be your bottom.  Then attach the platters back to the motor with the ring and screws like you just took off, using the spacers to make sure everything is tight.  I’ll be showing how this is accomplished in a future project.  Feasibly you could instead use small bolts to attach to the bottom for a more polished look, but it would require some more specialized drilling that I’d rather avoid for Kludge projects anyway.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

EDIT: Fixed the formatting issue with the images.  Thanks wordpress for making a thuroughly useless UI for determining if my pictures will or will not get clipped!  *Thumbsup*