Monthly Archives: April 2013

Back in Blacker

OK, the new shop is more or less operational, and I’m tired of working ON the shop and wanted to work IN the shop today.

I’ve been wanting to make a sconce like one I’ve seen from the Blacker House.  I drew it in Sketchup, then re-drew it in Solidworks.  Earlier this morning I scaled it up a little.  Originally I drew it with 1/2″ thick stiles, then in Solidworks I made them 5/8″ square.  This morning I scaled them up again to 3/4″, made the stiles an inch longer and lengthened the rails to match.  Then I spilled half of cup of cold coffee, which went everywhere, and swore loudly.  I guess that’s how I roll.

Out in the shop I milled up some Mahogany I picked up a couple of months ago.  It took no time at all to true it up (it had a whopper twist too) and rip/cross cut all of the parts.  I cut all of the tenons on the table saw.  Now I need to decide how I want to cut the grooves and mortises.  I cut a few extra parts so I have some allowance for errors and experiments.

Time to go practice chopping mortises I think.  Or set up my Dremel tool in a little router table.

Long Rails - Front and Back

Long Rails – Front and Back

Short Rails - Sides

Short Rails – Sides

Stiles

Stiles

Mockup

Mockup – Stiles on Top of Tenons

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Shop Tour

I cleaned up the last pile and dimensioned a few pieces of Mahogany that I bought for the Blacker House sconce I’m going to make.  And the shop stayed clean, no sawdust cloud or debris on the floor.  I now have my power tools operational and ready to go to work.  It’s been a slog, getting everything pulled together, organized, wired and ducted.  And I still have a tool cabinet to build for my hand tools and my roubo bench to finish.  Tomorrow morning I’m going to do a first pass on organizing my metalworking shop, and I’ll probably bring my hand tools over into the new wood shop, so this is the last time this space will look so spacious.

First, the table saw.  I got the sliding extension in place, it was a no-brainer when it came down to it.  I think I was over-thinking it.  The main mount bracket sits on the raised band at the bottom of the cabinet, I marked and drilled four 1/2″ holes and bolted it on, then added the rest of the parts and adjusted it level with the sliding table.  The table is wide enough to support a 48″ wide sheet of plywood against the far fence.  Both fences are adjustable for angled cuts

IMG_0656

Sliding Table Saw with Cross Cut Extension

Hers is the back side of the saw with the duct collector hookup.  I think I have enough space to make an out-feed table about 36″ wide that doubles as a router table.  I’ll build in some storage for router bits and the fence for the router table.  That will also hide the hoses.  I don’t like the flex hose on the top of the saw, I’m going to make a rigid arm to replace that.  I’m still waiting for the dado insert and miter gauge and the pointer for the rip fence, I called General and they were happy to supply the missing parts.

Table Saw

Table Saw

The jointer is a 12″ Grizzly with indexible cutters.  It seems to work well, I’ve jointed a few boards and it leaves a nice finish and has plenty of power.

12" Jointer

12″ Jointer

And the 20″ General planer with straight knives.  I wish I had indexible knives, but I got this and the table saw at an auction even though they were new — for about 1/4 of the best online price I could find for them. – so I can afford to upgrade it to a Bryd cutter head in the future.

20" General Planer

20″ General Planer

I added two floor sweeps and a branch for a 4″ hose so I can use the dust collector to sweep the floor – like a giant shop vac.  I bought some flex hose for this, but it’s too heavy and stiff, I need some lighter, thinner stuff for this part of the setup.

Shop Vac Replacement and Floor Sweep

Shop Vac Replacement and Floor Sweep

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Designing a Tool Cabinet – Initial Rough In

Yesterday I finished hooking up my duct collector and installed the “cross cut extension” on my table saw.  I made some test cuts on the saw, jointed a board and ran it through the planer.  The planer is leaving a funny mark on the board – at first I thought it was a nick in the blade, but it always happens in the same spot on the board regardless of where it’s run through the planer.  I’m going to assume it’s just something weird in the wood for now.  I’ll take some pictures later this morning once I clean up and haul yet another load of junk to the dump.

While I’m having coffee I started figuring out my tool cabinet.  I have an initial mock up, now I need to more closely measure my tools and refine this a little more.  Overall Dimensions are 48″ tall x 52″ wide x 14″ deep.  The depth is completly driven by fitting my Stanley #8 on a 60 degree ramped till. I’d like to have it be a little shallower, I’ll check my till layout to see if I can improve that.  I’d bet I can lose at least an inch in depth and be OK — but I need to make sure I have enough depth for the moulding and joinery planes.  I don’t think any of those are more than about 10″, but I’ll double check.

Ketchup Kabinet Model

Ketchup Kabinet Model

I also need to look at my tools and decide what I can put in the drawers.  Maybe a drawer with my most common layout tools?  Then I can take the whole drawer to the bench as a tool tray?  Maybe a drawer for my auger bits.  Should I store fasteners here?  Cut nails and screws?  Biscuits and dowels?  Lions and tigers and bears?  Oh My.

My thinking right now is that the doors will be about 2″ deep and have hangers to hold chisels, gouges, spokeshaves and larger layout tools.

More research and planning to do, but this looks workable and it should hold all of my hand tools with room to spare.

I need a few other bits of shop furniture too:

First off, I need some kind of out-feed support for the table saw.  I don’t want to waste a lot of floor space there, so probably a fold-down support will be the ticket.  If I can buy one that’s probably the best option.  I don’t want to waste a lot of time on that – I am so busy with work and family that I don’t get much time in the shop as it is.

I also need to build some storage for hand-held power tools and table saw accessories like extra blades and fixtures.  My current thinking is that I’ll put that under the side right side table extension.

Finally, I’ll need to set up some sort of router table.  I used to have a really fancy router cabinet setup based on the Jointech fence and their cabinet design.  It was pretty handy in that it had storage for bits and fixtures, everything had a home.  I bought the Jointech setup because at the time I couldn’t imagine making dovetails by hand.  The cabinet was a fun project, MDF screwed together with red formica and Oak banding (the picture isn’t the one I built, but mine looked just like this).  The problem is that it took up floor space and I was constantly moving it out of the way.  I don’t need (or want) anything this elaborate, but I do want a router table setup of some sort.  Mostly for pattern routing parts, but I’m sure I’ll use it to do some joinery or edge work too.

Router Cabinet

Router Cabinet

Ideally I’ll try to combine a couple of these needs together.  For example, the out-feed table could be on wheels and incorporate a router table and fence.  Or storage cabinet under the table saw extension could be on wheels and double as a router table.  Lots to think about.

Time for another cup of coffee and then I’ll get out to the shop.

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Dreaming About Hand Tool Cabinets

As I’m coming down the home stretch on getting my new shop space operational I’m thinking about projects I want to start, and details I want to improve to make my new space more efficient.

When you could buy a chest with tools

When you could buy a chest with tools

My current “system” for organizing my hand tools is a pair of roll-around utility carts.  It’s not ideal, but is a huge improvement over my previous “system”.  Which was, to have them piled on my welding bench, until I needed to weld something.  Then I would move them all onto my bandsaw, until I needed to cut something, when I would move them back.  Downsides of the roll-around carts are they waste floor space and catch dust.  It’s also just a glorified (albeit mobile) pile.

I had planned to build a Schrawzian tool chest to store my hand tools — and I probably will still build one just for fun.  There are two downsides, for me, to the Anarchist’s Tool Chest:  The first is that it takes up floor space which I never seem to have enough of — and I do have available wall space in the new shop.  The second downside to the traditional tool chest is self-inflicted.  I don’t think it will hold all of my tools.  It’s my fault because I have more tools than is perhaps necessary.  No one needs one of every size Stanley plane, but I like tools and don’t want to get rid of any just to fit everything into a tool chest.  My bad.

I’ve been doing my homework on designing a wall-mounted chest for storing my hand tools.  There are loads of designs floating around, here are the things that I need to think about to come up with a good solution:

First, I need to fit any design into my available wall space.  In particular, the cabinets need to be located near my workbench, which is going to be along the back wall where the generator and blacksmithing power hammer currently live.  I also need to build a doghouse for the generator so it can live outside, but that’s another story.  I have a good 50″ width to the right of the window — even allowing for trimming out the window — by 48″ tall (or more).  Just guessing, that’s way more space than I need for my planes.  In fact, I could probably fit my planes, saws and chisels all in that space.  I also have room to the left of the window for a 24″ wide cabinet, with space to spare, between the outlet and the dust collector.

Back Wall, The Workbench WIll Go Under The Window

Back Wall, The Workbench WIll Go Under The Window

Second, I need to make the design fit the tools I need to store.  I’ve looked at a number of tool cabinets that are beautiful, but when you open them the tools don’t really fit nicely.  Either it’s crammed, or sparsely filled or just inefficiently used.  To my eye a tool cabinet needs to look full and make good use of space.  The tools need to fit in neatly.  Here are the planes I’ve accumulated, I also have a dozen or so moulding planes.  And, this will surprise you, I plan to add more.  I’ve got a few odd hollow and round planes that I’ve picked up piecemeal.  They need to be sharpened (some need to be re-ground because the blade doesn’t match the profile).  I’d like to get a proper set (well, matched and ready to go half set).

Pile-o-planes

Pile-o-planes

Stack-o-Saws

Stack-o-Saws

Just eyeballing this, it looks like the planes and saws will fit comfortably in the space to the right of the window, even if all I do is a simple open till.  I need to als fit in my chisels, layout tools and other odds and ends.

Which brings me to design and construction.  Designs can range from (relatively) simple open tills like this.

Open TIll Example

Open TIll Example

To Fancy cabinets, which is my inclination.

Fancy Tool Cabinet c1900

Fancy Tool Cabinet c1900

I like the style on this one, but the way it’s set up for storage isn’t adequate.  I’m not sure having a lot of drawers is the right thing for me either.  Drawers tend to accumulate junk.

Fine Woodworking Tool Cabinet

Fine Woodworking Tool Cabinet

I like the “ramped” plane till in this one, as well as the galley for smaller planes below.  But look on top — tools that don’t fit.

Michael Pekovich' Tool Cabinet

Michael Pekovich’ Tool Cabinet

The last consideration is material and construction techniques.  I like the idea of a case with lots of nice had work details made out of solid wood.  But at the same time, I want to move on to other projects beyond setting up the shop.  Planks or Plywood?  I need to think on that one some more.

 

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Tool Sale

My brother sent me a PDF flyer for a new “Hazard Fraught” tool sale.  It made me laugh.  I probably need some of these items.  I mean, I know I’m going to be anomorgling my deck shims soon.  I think.

Another Essential Tool for the Shop

Another Essential Tool for the Shop

The complete flyer is here: hf_tool_sale

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Where the Heck Does This Thing Go?

I’d hoped to install the cross cut table extension on my table saw yesterday, but when I unpacked the parts the only paperwork in the box was an exploded diagram.  I can see how this bit goes together easily enough, but no indication how how it should attach to the saw cabinet.  I emailed General in Canada and they sent me the same diagram back again. Merci Infiniment.

My main concern was getting this properly lined up with the sliding table.  I think what I’ll need to do is assemble the entire thing on the floor and then lift it into place while marking and drilling four holes in the cabinet.  THAT should be a hoot.  I think it will be really handy once it’s installed, it will make it pretty easy to cross cut sheets of plywood, just what the doctor ordered for making kitchen cabinets.

Parts List

Parts List

I made some decent progress on my shop this weekend.  Paint and air compressor hook ups done.  I re-located the timer for the outdoor lights.  And I roughed in the ducting for the dust collector.  I can’t do any more on the ducting until the blast gates and flex hose arrives later this week.  I’m still missing a few odds and ends — like a dado insert for the table saw.  It’s a peculiar size and shape so I’m having to order it from General.  And I need to make some cabinets to store my planes and saws.  They had “cabinet grade Birch’Maple” plywod on sale at Home Despot for $40 a sheet.  It’s probably just the ticket for some inexpensive storage cabinets.  I really wanted to use some nice hardwood plywood, but $130 a sheet is a bit spendy for shop storage.

Ducting for the other side

Ducting for the other side

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My Shop Sucks (Almost)

I started hooking up the ductwork for the dust collector this morning.  I looked at all of the obvious options for materials to do this — PVC, HVAC supplies from Home Despot, Nordfab tubing, spiral tube.  I was pretty stunned at the cost for ducting, you could easily spend as much or more on the ducting than you spent on the dust collector itself.

After I priced out the different options I discovered that the HVAC ducting from the local big box store was the cheapest alternative.  As much as I hate spending money there I braced myself and took the plunge.  The downsides of this setup are that the bends are a little too tight, and the crimped ends could cause resistance in the flow.  Or maybe a disturbance in the Force, I forget.

I’m using 6″ tube and fittings everywhere, including 6″ flex hose for the the last few feet to connect to the machines, with a reducer right on the machine.  The flex tube, blast gates and floor sweeps are all on order from Penn State.  They should be here by Friday, so next weekend I should have everything hooked up and working.

I started out by just dry assembling parts according to my layout.

Roughing in the First Stretch

Roughing in the First Stretch

After I got the first few parts test fit it was obvious that I needed to start locking things down because everything was on teh verge of falling apart.  I ran some sheet metal screws into the joints and got the first bit mocked up, then added some strap hangers and duct taped the duct.  This is the first time I’ve ever used duct tape on ducts, kind of a novel feeling.  Usually I put in on hot rods and welding fixtures.

First Run Locked In

First Run Locked In

I need to pick up 2 more “wyes’ and maybe one more length of straight tube to get the second run roughed in along the wall where the dust collector and table saw are.  The opposite wall where the jointer and planer live is ready to add the blast gates and hook ups.  All of the junctions are screwed and then everything is sealed with duct tape.

This side is roughed in, waiting for more parts to finish

This side is roughed in, waiting for more parts to finish

I’m taking a short break, then I’ll probably make a run to the store for supplies and finish the rough in.  Tomorrow I’ll try to assemble the extension for the table saw and do a little cleaning and organizing.  I need to design two or three wall cabinets to hold my planes, saws and other hand tools.  And finish my workbench.  The end is in sight, I can’t wait!

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Shop Update: Almost Done!

I’ve been plugging away setting up my new wood shop between emergencies at work that conspire to steal my weekends.

I finally called it quits on fixing up the drywall.  I’ve never seen such a poor job of drywall as this.  I’m sure there are worse, and I hope to never see them.  I patched the holes that I created to run the new outlets for the tools, and tried to float out the worst of the seams, but in the end there are too many problem spots and it’s a workshop after all.

Ode To Drywall: How I Hate You

Ode To Drywall: How I Hate You

After rolling out a coat of white paint (it really needs a second coat) the walls look OK.  The problems will be less noticeable once I put in some window trim, make some tool cabinets and have a few piles of wood stacked everywhere.

The Walls are Passable

The Walls are Passable

I also mounted my air compressor to the concrete floor (it was still on the shipping pallet) and moved it as close to the garage door as possible to make more room for other junk.

Compressor Mounted

Compressor Mounted

And I re-attached the air lines to the metal shop, and added a two stage filter and regulator, and a pair of quick connects.  In an ideal world this wouldn’t be so close to the compression, in my reality it’s finished and checked off the to-do list.

Air Drop for the Woodshop

Air Drop for the Woodshop

Tomorrow I will start running the ducting for the dust collector and install the slider extension on the table saw.  The rest of the duct parts won’t come until next week, so I won’t be operational this weekend…but I’ll be really close.

Then I need to clean up and organize the metal shop.  A lot of my hot rod parts and extra tools were stored in what is now my woodworking shop, so as this space has gotten progressively neater the other space has gotten a little out of control.  I really want to get back to making stuff instead of setting up my workspace.  This is fun, to a point, but it’s really just a means to an end.

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I Hate Drywall

Thank god this blog isn’t “McGlynn on Drywalling”.

If setting up a new shop space is a bell curve, with the peak of the curve being at one end being choosing and ordering new tools representing, and the peak on the other end being walking out into a well-organized shop, then drywall repair is the the big, ugly valley in between.

I hate doing drywall.

Even worse is repairing drywall that was badly installed in the first place.  The seams in the drywall aren’t level, and the joints aren’t centered over a stud.  How is a joint with no support supposed to not crack?  Where “Dick”, the previous homeowner did put joint compound on the wall it’s just a big lump with no effort to smooth it out.  None of the electrical boxes are level or fit the drywall.  Frankly, it really should be striped out and done over.  But it’s just a garage workshop, and I’m eager to get it back in operation.

Holey Drywall

Holey Drywall

I trimmed back the drywall so I’d have part of the stud to screw it to, then cut and fit pieces of drywall into the holes.  Where patches would be unsupported I screwed wood strips to the back of the existing drywall to support the patch.  Then I put down some self-adhesive fiberglass tape over all the seams and slathered on a coat of joint compound.  This stuff is pink when it goes on, and it turns white as it drys.

After 5 hours there are still pink spots.  I’ll need to put on another two or three coats to “float” out the seams and get things in reasonable shape.  I have a couple of more holes to patch on another wall, but I’d had my fill of drywall for the days after this wall.

Better, But Still Ugly

Better, But Still Ugly

I have another day’s work in smoothing out the walls, at least.  Maybe the drywall elves will come while I’m asleep tonight.  Once this is done I just need to paint the walls and run the ducting for the dust collection and I should be in business.  Woot!

While I was waiting for the joint compound to dry I started making another pepper mill, this one for my folks, so I did get a little woodworking in.  I used Black Acacia for this one.  It needs a few more coats of finish and then I’ll install the grinder mechanism.

Black Acacia Pepper Mill

Black Acacia Pepper Mill

 

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Microwave Your Wood

In addition to putting in several outlets and bashing holes in the drywall in my new shop I also spent some time microwaving a piece of wood.  Really.

I’m late finishing a birthday present for my brother.  I turned a pepper grinder for him almost two weeks ago, and realized the exotic wood blank I’d picked up at the local woodcraft store was soaking wet.  I mean, it turned really nicely, but there was no way I could fill it with peppercorns and expect anything other than mold.  Not cool.

I let it sit for a week, thinking it would dry pretty quickly, but I was deluding myself.  So this weekend I googled “microwave wood drying” and found several articles claiming it worked pretty well.  Shoot, if it’s on the internet, it has to be true.

Microwave on High, Season to Taste

Microwave on High, Season to Taste

I started by putting both parts of the pepper grinder (already turned to shape) in a large ziploc bag and zapped them for two minutes on high.  At 1:30 the bag was puffing up with steam, so I stopped the timer.  I took the parts out of the bag, dried them off and let them cool for 15 minutes.  I checked them, no cracks or problems.  So I repeated the process in the bag for 1:30, then let it cool outside of the bag for 15 minutes.  After a few cycles I ditched the bag, it was a good crutch to get a sense of how much to cook the parts at a time, but I don’t think it helped after that.

I probably cycled the parts like this 20 times over the weekend.  By the last cycle the part was noticeably lighter, and no visible steam was coming off.  A scale and or moisture meter would help to know where you were in the process, but my only goal was to get the part dry so I could finish it.

Tonight after work I chucked it up in the lathe again and re-turned it.  There was enough warping that the junction between the top and the body wasn’t smooth anymore.  It was probably 1/16 out of round too from drying.  And I got dust from turning instead of big wet curls.

Re-Turning

Re-Turning

I sanded from 150 to 600 on the lathe, then hand sanded with 1,000 off the lathe, with the grain.  One coat of oil-wax finish and it’s set aside to dry.  I expect I’ll put the hardware in tomorrow and then apply another couple of coats of finish.  The wood was labeled “Orange Agate”, it has a nice color and I think it will take a nice finish.

Nearly Finished

Nearly Finished

 

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