Product Tank - Kitchen

Hi all, I have finally finished my latest project, a kitchen designed for my Nan who struggles to stand up for any period of time or carry heavy objects. It’s best explained by watching the video below, but more words are also available on my website: product tank - kitchen02 All comments gratefully received.

a) 1:57 … I’m only 60 and already beginning to experience weakened hand strength. Do you think the sink dividers will be easy for Nana to manipulate?

b) How is the water in the “boiler” emptied?

c) Not sure accommodating “visitors” by adjusting counter height is worth the expense. Also wondering if the entire “kitchen” might be packaged as an autonomous “package”… essentially, an appliance unto itself?

d) “Black” is avante … but maybe hard to keep clean. especially for “old” eyes that have difficulty perceiving contrast values.
While white is a pain in the arse to keep clean, it makes identifying “soil” easier.

e) sharp edges are scary. My mum tripped in the kitchen bonked her head on a kitchen stool backrest, which was bad enough. If it had been the sharp edge on a counter it might have been much worse … just a thought.

Great project p.t.!


Hi Lmo
a) The divider should be easy to manipulate, because the arms are only compressing a rubber seal. A design improvement would be to make the cam arms that lock the divider in place longer, so that there is more mechanical advantage and they are easier to grip.
b) There is a plug in the bottom of each boiler dissengaged by lifting the plug lock by the side of the boiler, to let the water out through a trash/garbage eater (Large image below shows the plugs engaged as the plug locks have orange sides).
c) I don’t think the mechanism would be too expensive and having used the prototype, having the option of having it raised to standing height in about 5 seconds is useful. I guess it could be sold as an optional extra or you choose the base that comes with it.
d) I agree, hopefully it could be produced in a range of colours that took this into account.
e) You’re right, the production version would look different, I definitely should have run a 45 degree chamfer around the outside that matches the inside one with small radiuses to eliminate a sharp edge, it would make the whole thing look more interesting and improve the design – can’t believe I missed this. .

I like the chamfer/bevel detail around the sink/boiler recess; would make for easier removal of crumbs and spills, and adds strength to the flat surface; I would add generous radii as well; 3mm.

your prototyping skills are dialed.

Is your Nan’s kitchen typical of most homes in the UK? e.g. it appears much smaller than U.S. kitchens. How old is the house it’s in? Maybe it’s in a flat?

Awesome project! Thanks for sharing. It’s stuff like this that should be in the front page of this site…

My Nan lives in a bungalow built around the 1960’s, there are huge areas in the UK like this with all the houses in a street/area following a similar layout. Typically the kitchens we have in our older post war builds are quite small, this was because land was in short supply and dwellings were built at a high density. I don’t have figures, but depending on the area this is very typical and very different from homes in the US (only from what I’ve seen on TV) our room sizes are generally a lot smaller.

Would it spoil the illusion if I told you the boilers were made from plastic plant pots and the taps etc from plumbers pipe - I don’t have a lathe, so round stuff is a challenge. I’ll up load some process shots soon.

engio - thank you, much appreciated.

Does not spoil the “illusion” in the least. Time is (usually) of the essence. :wink:

The skeleton is made from a mixture of pine and ply. The size in the end was decided on what I could fit in my house, its 1 meter 80cm long, too big for my shed and the maximum size I can store anywhere in my house without throwing out some furniture.

The whole thing is skinned in 3mm MDF, and radii are created by covering any joins with wall filler. The boilers are covered with plastic to stop dust getting in them.

I then painted the top in grey emulsion with a roller, which is then sanded a few times, because the first few coats lift the fibres in the MDF. I find emulsion makes a great filler that if left for a day you can wet’n’dry back to create a really smooth finish that could then be sprayed (much cheaper than using spray primer). The whole thing is as cheap a build as possible as I don’t have a huge materials budget.

The mechanism for lifting the table is a series of pulleys made by hand out of plywood (giving good mechanical advantage in a small space), there is one at each end of the table connected by the bottom pine bar you see in the image showing the whole product. After a bit of fiddling, I got the two ends to match, so that when I twist the bar - out of shot in the video, the two ends raise at the same time and keep the table top level.

Thanks for posting the process shots.

You’re working out of the house? A garage? 3mm MDF is not a material I’ve seen over here… sounds… useful :wink:

You guys don’t have 3mm thick Medium Density Fibreboard in the states? I’d be lost without the stuff, it’s not very nice to work with, being made from wood fibres and resin (I think), but it is cheap and easy to obtain from any DIY store in the UK. I have a small shed, with a bandsaw and a pillar drill, the kitchen wouldn’t fit in it for assembly, so it was put together mainly in my dining room, but painted outside when there was a gap in the weather (a life preserving measure, because if I got paint or filler on the dining room carpet, I would be a dead man :laughing: ).

really compelling project, great job! All your personal projects you post on here seem nicely thought out by the way

Anyway, the model and design is nice work but some of the jitters in the video keep the whole presentation from looking as slick as it could (just to mention it)

Also, what happens if food falls out or through of the wire basket and burns onto the bottom - how do you clean or even see it? In general it might be more difficult to clean a heated recessed water pot built into the counter top.

Anther thought is that the food waster grinder in the bottom might get clogged up or jammed (as they do) and it might be harder to access it at the bottom of a recessed ‘pot’… just mentioning things a consumer might wonder

it’s cool that your Nan has her headphones on in the interview too :wink:

Yep, we have MDF in the US

Trav… where have you seen 1/8" [3mm] MDF, other than “Masonite”?

come to think of it, you might be right that Masonite is all that’s around

Hi Travisimo, thanks for the comments, I’ve viewed the video on friends laptops and I-phones, (everything looks good on an I-phone) and agree that the quality could be a lot better. I have a very low quality camera and even though it was filmed on a tripod, if I move when filming this wobbles the floor and creates the shake. I’m considering borrowing a better camera and remaking the video, making a few changes to the prototype, such as the chamfer all around the top edge and making the film shorter and punchier.

The boilers are non stick and are filled with water, sensors don’t allow them to boil dry, they cut the heat if the level of water drops below 1/2 inch, so there should be little/no burning. Any bits that fall through the mesh, would be small (it can easily hold peas) and should just flush down the plug, or could be scooped out. It might not even need a waste grinder. Once finished I was hoping a wipe around with a cloth would suffice. The boilers could be cast and enamelled, so could be white, I might change this for the next video.

I’d like to tell you my Nan was listening to metal on her ipod, but the headphones go into a hearing aid instead, but she still rocks! :laughing: