Knowing when to say when

I had to quit in the middle of a project today. I was attempting to create more storage for my sustainer, and things were going okay. Then I realized my middle section was cut incorrectly. It was cut on an angle, and it had to be fixed. Unfortunately it threw alignment off otherwise and I just had to call it a day before things got frustrated.

I was attempting a bit of a shortcut anyway. I was trying to save a bit of money by using existing scrap and combining two different structures. Ultimately, the right thing to do is to buy more plywood and do it the right way. It will be more expensive, but I think it is the right thing to do.

All is not lost for what I’ve already made though. I was making a double section (three vertical pieces), and what I messed up was the middle one. I delete that and just do one section with the good outside pieces and I can use it. For what, long term, I don’t know. But it will work to hold systainers or drawers. I could eventually modify the width (it will not be glued) to serve as drawers to hold my Fastenal boxes. It may work itself out in the end, or I could just set it up like that from the start. I don’t currently have a pressing need to store more systainers, so it may work to do just that.

I’ll have to spend the next shop session cleaning up a bit. Then I’ll decide which immediate direction to go. A fresh supply of plywood will have to wait until payday.

The big decision – no, not that one

This isn’t about a new shop, but the decision about systainer storage. I’m down to two choices, and it’s all thanks to using some analytics and critical thinking.

My first step was to look at the current systainers I had, and what my happen in the near future. I have nine Festool systainers with their tools or accessories, and I have five Tanos grey systainers that I have purposed for my own. One is completely empty, one is for air tools, one is for 18v drills, one is for my multifunction tool, and the other has my belt sander and the old jigsaw. Now, except for the mutifunction tool, those Tanos systainers could stay or go. If I am out of room and a new Festool comes in, it could easily be replaced.

What I have now is the TS55, Domino DF500, ETS 150/3, DTS 400, Trion, two Domino systainers, the OF1400 and OF1010 routers. Now, the routers already have a home in the router table. The Domino systainers could easily be stacked on top of each other on a single drawer, as it would be rare to need both kinds at once. As far as the future, the most probable thing is that I would pick up another sander or two. The big stuff like the bigger track saw, router and Domino are extreme wishlist items and I don’t need to plan for those – if I’ve got the money to grab those, I’ll likely have a bigger space.

So, what all that means is that my initial plans were really more than I truthfully need. I had been planning for a space that would hold 18-24 systainers, when what I really need is room for no more than about 16. That’s a big difference.

The next thing to figure out was what sort of difference that would make to the storage I needed. I used Excel to list out the different sizes of the systainers I had, and those that I would reasonably hope to have. That done, I used the existing storage to figure out exactly how many systainers would fit in one ‘column’ of double-depth storage. I knew my overall height needed to be 43″, and that the height of the systainers and drawers could be measured by counting the shelf pin/drawer holes. 33 of them fit in the 43″ height, if I used no base or legs on the cabinet. The heights ranged from 5-11 holes, so the least amount that would fit would be six Systainer 4s per column. Two columns should get me what I need.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. Do I stick with my single-depth systainer storage or go for double-depth? Single-depth isn’t a very efficient use of space, but is less expensive in terms of construction and all the drawer slides I already have, and can be put really anywhere. Double-depth is much more efficient, but much more expensive in terms of material and all-new slides. It also is more restrictive in where it can go.

What I may end up doing if I go the route of double -depth is to build them as single depth, and combine them. Then they could come apart if needed down the line. It would also work to be able to build them in stages, and use some of the building material I already have and have made.

This one will have to be continued while I keep thinking about it. I’m leaning a certain way, but I need to think about what the ramifications will be and where things will go and problems of that nature.

Lucy removing the football

My revision of the chaos wall – Houston, we have a problem. Fittingly, it’s a problem of space.

As planned, I could not fully open the drawers to a double-depth systainer cabinet in the corner between my miter saw and MFT. As much of a perfect spot that would be, it isn’t going to work without some modification to the plan. There are a few choices.

The first is to stick with the original construction plan and simply move it to the front corner of the shop. Everything else on the floor on that wall would have to be rearranged, but the drawers would fully open thanks to the table saw being further away than the MFT. The big issue would be finding a way to pull the jointer out for use if it ends up in the back corner. The jointer continues to be the most unwieldy thing in the shop. I am leaning towards this currently, even so.

The rest of the ideas involve modifying the original plan. I could have one column of the storage as double-depth, the other two standard. Either forward biased or rear biased. Or go ahead with shelves behind. I could do two different units arranged in an L formation in the same corner.

In reality, if I could fit four columns in an L formation in the corner, it might be a really good solution. This will need some thought.

Dusting off the miter saw

Intermixed with these phased improvements to the shop, I had hoped to improve the miter saw’s dust collection from somewhere around zero to something more than that. I had a small diameter hose hooked to the saw, but to nothing else. In the past I had attempted to hook up both the regular vac and the CT Midi. Because I have to manually do it, I almost never do it.

So for now, I bought a little shop vac that hangs on the wall and can be dedicated to just the miter saw. It was only $30, so not that big of an expense. The plug is right at the saw, so while I will probably eventually buy an automatic trigger outlet if I keep the vac, I can simply unplug when done.

It really wasn’t picking up a ton of debris from the saw, mostly because it doesn’t kick a lot up the chute. I tested out a piece of scrap paper to make a larger funnel and it worked reasonably well. I’m thinking about a longer rubber funnel piece or the Fastcap Saw Stache to at least cut down on where the dust goes. Pretty easy to unhook the vac and do a bit of cleanup daily as long as the dust isn’t getting thrown everywhere.

The vac could really be mounted anywhere around the saw, above it just works best for now. Really easy, just two screws (opted to use my own instead of the supplied ones) on the little base and the whole vac slips on. Have to see if I can continue modifying the saw and see how effective the whole setup is.

Where does this stuff go?

There’s one house project and two shop projects I have immediately on my radar. My son wants a side table for his sofa under the loft bed, and I’m looking to redo my chaos wall and finally build a tool cabinet. Something that has to be done before the tool cabinet gets started is I have to clean up considerably. Perhaps before any project starts.

Some of this stuff is from the half of the wall cabinet I destroyed. Some is spare plywood. Some are things that have never had a home. I took some pictures this afternoon in order to help me catalog just all the stuff that needs to find a permanent home – either in the shop or in the landfill.

First up is the bench. This is where all the stuff from the cabinet is, plus a couple of things that have never had a home.

There’s a few things I’ve had out to play around with and teach my son how they work, like the holdfast and that small piece of maple. The green bag is an old camera I need to decide if I’m going to keep in the shop. It’s low resolution, and the batteries don’t really take a charge anymore. I need a simple point and shoot if I replace it, so I can take better and more frequent pictures. A remote would be sweet, like I can do with my D5100. There’s quite a few things that need storage solutions, like the stack of cutoff discs, the drill bits (which I just bought a whole new set of), the digital depth gauge, the iron and the many rolls of tape product. Some can temporarily go back in the top of the chaos wall.

There are the blue hardware bins that have to be addressed, which I have a decision to make on – buy one of the solutions that Fastenal sell for them, or do something on my own. Both are a matter of where. There’s also the Incra rules, which I have an idea on but I should really scout around the internet and see what other ideas pop up. I’ll probably do some simple holders with magnets, but will they go in a tool cabinet or elsewhere? There’s quite a few things under the bench top as well, which interferes with use of the holdfasts.

Moving on to next to the bench is even more junk.

The bucket I keep around to see if I’m going to use one of Home Depot’s little vacs on, for the miter saw. If not, it would make for a decent little scrap bin. That’s what the Ryobi bag is, hardwood scrap that will be going in a fire pit this fall. Behind that is the old hardware cabinet filled with the plastic bins. I like the blue metal bins from Fastenal better, and will need to figure out what I do with the bins themselves if I decide to completely move on from them. Also in this cabinet is some sharpening accessories, an old bench grinder, and some miscellaneous stuff. The HCM also sits on top right now, and I’ll need to find a home for it if the cabinet turns to trash. The drawers to the right are the ones under the bench, which are just miscellaneous things. I need a better idea for what I’ll be storing here, if anything different. Perhaps the oscillating sander could fit…

Over between the miter saw and the current chaos wall is this:

I disassembled the big sawblade till, plus some other scrap. The small stuff needs to be cut up and disposed. Perhaps that will be the first order of business, because this is what is to the left of the miter saw:

Sheet scrap of all three thicknesses from the last project. I certainly am not going to waste it if at all possible. The sheet of 3/4″ could be one wall of the new chaos wall, and the 1/2″ can serve as shelves.

The black circle in the picture before that is my shop stool, which is falling apart. I’d like to make something that can also double as storage, but I don’t want to make it too large. It would need to scoot away somewhere out of the way. What would go in there, though? Would it be on wheels?

Last but certainly not least is the area under the MFT.

CT Midi, trash can, bin of drawer slides and other things. This might be the easiest area to take care of, except for the plywood scrap. Also there are two systainers to the other side of the trash can. One empty, one for drills and driver bits.

Late 2016 goals/wishes

Every so often I do this, and I don’t always know why. Sometimes I do it to keep me focused, sometimes I do it for retrospective purposes down the line. Sometimes I just do it to share what I’m thinking and what I feel I need to do next. This isn’t a shopping list or anything like that.

I’m still evaluating the Festool Trion, so I’ll have to decide if that ultimately stays. If it does, I’m good on my ability to crosscut rough stock. Between hand tools, a couple of jigsaws, the miter saw, the miter gauge on the table saw, and the track saw, I have to figure I’m good on all sorts of crosscuts. An additional hand saw or two wouldn’t be out of the question.

For rip cuts though I am deficient. For narrow stock the table saw can be a good option. For wider stock like sheet goods, it becomes a scarier prospect. What I could really use is one of the long rails that Festool sells. It is rather pricey at $300+, and you have to be creative in where you store it.I’d need to figure out storage before I even thought about it, but it is going to be a necessity at some point. I can’t always do crosscuts first on sheet goods.

I’d love helical heads on both the jointer and planer, but they aren’t necessary at this time.  It is on the radar though. The drill press could use a table and some storage. When the workbench gets redone, that will be my opportunity to add a face vise and redo the end vise. The hand tool cabinet really needs to be made, and I do have on my wishlist several Veritas planes.

There’s always a call for more parallel clamps, and I’d like to get at least one more set of Festool quick release clamps. The Ridgid sander needs some replacement parts. I need to whip up a homemade boom arm solution for the Festool vac, perhaps including a longer hose. There are a few lathe tools that I want to add, particularly of the carbide tip variety. Keep meaning to make my own. I want to add one of the Rotex sanders, perhaps two. A few different router bits are needed. More wet sharpening supplies.

This is really not a big list, appearances aside. I’m very happy with what I have, and feel like I can keep fine tuning things. There is some stuff that can only happen with a new shop though, and that’s when the list really expands and gets exponentially more expensive.

Looking ahead to Phase Three

Well, that escalated quickly.

I can’t exactly tell you when phase three would start. It could be any minute considering the roll I’m on, but work does beckon during the week. Phase Two was an outstanding success. I couldn’t have imagined that I could move the miter saw over and still have room under the left side support for the air compressor, jointer and sander, with the planer under the saw itself.

So, what’s next? I’ll break it down.

The miter saw support on the left side, that also serves as a general catch-all, needs to be fixed. The two layers of plywood don’t do enough to eliminate waviness and flex, not with the amount of supports I have and where they are at. I need something laminated up like my workbench or lathe stand. The question will be if I buy a cheap Ikea countertop or make my own. Cost vs convenience. It would be about $100 to buy that. I could do it out of pine for about $20. I could also see about doing a torsion box out of plywood, might give me room for a couple of drawers.

The miter saw itself needs to still move over about an inch to fit the expanded chaos wall, which is easy enough to do. Also have to settle on a height. As for the chaos wall itself, once I decide on the height of the miter saw, I can finalize my plans for the chaos wall and set about building it. Add a column, be a little shorter, but eventually be able to do double depth. Up to 24 systainers, although in reality it will be a bit less due to some larger ones.

Have to figure out exactly what will go on top of that. In line with the miter saw deck will be room for outfeed support, but behind that is some room to play with. Hardware drawers? Hollow chisel mortiser? Just a repeat of the chaos wall? Some decisions to be made there.

The MFT does not have to store the planer or sander underneath at this point, so I can look for other ways to maximize storage. It will have to have the Festool vac at least until a new shop comes about. Other than that things are flexible. The hardware could go in a drawer underneath there and it would work.

The last big thing to sort out is the workbench. Eventually I will build a new one, but the situation here is sorting out what to do underneath. Rebuild the drawer unit, use it for scrap, store my chisels and stuff there…possibilities abound.

There are some little things to do as well, like sorting out blade storage again. Those are minor. Things are certainly looking up in the shop, and it will be soon time to do a new shop tour.

Phase Two – Let’s just start now

Umm, I sincerely didn’t expect to be writing this the day or two after the last post. My Saturday morning and early afternoon were taken up with family activities, but I did get to Lowe’s for a piece of 1×2 poplar for the LEGOrganization cabinet trim. That was to be my intended project for that afternoon.

But…something happened when I got in the shop. I just started doing things before I recognized what I was actually accomplishing. It started out by putting a few things away, and measuring the space needed for an expanded chaos wall. Four hours later, somehow I had accomplished most of the things needed to do to tackle the left side wall.

As I said, it all started with the measurements necessary for a new chaos wall. To have three columns, I would need 53.25″ between the edge of the miter saw and the opposing wall. I needed to move the miter saw right at about 11 inches toward the middle. Then I set about seeing what I could fit on the left side, briefly thinking about putting the chaos wall there instead. I moved the jointer to the front of the shop on that wall, with the air compressor sitting under the left table. To do that I had to switch out one of the miter saw bench supports.

That done, I thought about what I would do with the old flip top cart that previously held the planer and now just had the sander on it. Long story short, I thought that perhaps I could put the planer back on the flip cart by itself, and store it upside down under the miter saw. That would work, but the bolts that adjust fine height of the miter stand came down too far for that. The miter saw would have to rise up a bit, and if I was going to do that, I might as well cut the miter saw bench to the length needed, and accomplish that at the same time.

So that’s exactly what I did. I cut down the table with the jigsaw, which didn’t go quite as well as I would have hoped, but is good enough for now. My intent is to eventually replace it with something more solid and rigid. That allowed me to move the miter saw up and over. It’s honestly a little too far up and about an inch not far enough over. I’ll have to fine tune it, first with the distance and then with the height. The shelf need to come up now to match the deck of the miter saw as well.

What’s fantastic about this is that by putting the sander on the short cart where the planer had temporarily been sitting, it now fits under the bench as well. Somehow I had taken 11 inches of storage space away and actually came out ahead. I have no idea how I did that.

That poplar is still in my car, but it was a great afternoon anyway. On Sunday, I did some more cleaning and did a little project for my Dad I hope to have pictures of soon. The shop is looking better than it has in a very long time.

I also, right before my parents came by to test out the project, I figured out that I could slide my toolbox up under the side of my lathe stand. Unfortunately, while the body of the box was a perfect fit, the latches wouldn’t let it work. So I took a saw and a chisel and made it perfect.


Shop Tricks – Phase Two Preview

There wouldn’t be a phase two without a phase one. A new approach to moving things around has been very beneficial, and I’ll share my thoughts heading into the next step. I don’t honestly know when or exactly what will happen next, so a preview vs results is in order.

One corner of the shop is really looking well. I think the bandsaw and drill press are going to do just fine there. I have some plans for storage over there, but that will be discussed later. The focus now is on a combination of the left and rear walls.

There’s two main goals I want to accomplish, and I’ll have to sort out exactly how it will go down. The first main goal is to create more systainer storage. I am already exceeding capacity of my chaos wall if you count the grey Tanos systainers. I have nine Festool systainers (seven tools, two Domino tenons), five Tanos. The Festool routers are in the router table, and it’s fine if they stay there, but it’s also possible the planer or sander could fit in that spot. That would be a very interesting scenario if you could simply pull it out and use either one. It’s something to think about down the line.

Getting back to the systainer storage, I’d really like to do something similar to what I already have, just more. I’d like to go a bit shorter and use the top as outfeed for the miter saw, but I think that only works if I can make them double-depth. Fully extending those 28″ slides would be problematic though. It’s something I really need to look at in Sketchup, and take some very detailed measurements. If the double-depth works, that’s an absolute ton of storage room for all my Festool stuff, and anything that would work well in a systainer.

If I can make it as tall as the miter saw, I can use the area behind the saw much like I do now with the top half of the chaos wall. I’d try to make the part that is the height of the miter saw hold my Fastenal hardware bins. Maybe. I haven’t quite figured that part out yet. The Festool storage really does impact everything down the line, which is why the plans are very fluid at this point.

The miter saw will probably move a bit toward the exact middle of that wall. Now that I have a good jigsaw, rough cutting longer stock isn’t that big of a deal. That means the jointer moves more towards the door on that wall, and either the planer, sander, or both have to find new homes. I haven’t really addressed permanent solutions for either since I made the left side miter saw table. A long term plan for both need to be made.

Speaking of the left side miter table, I’ll be redoing that in some capacity. It’s entirely not straight and level, and that’s mostly due to how it’s attached to the wall. That gets fixed, and it will depend on what the right side looks like as to what it looks like.

There’s a decent chance one of those two tools, or both, end up under the MFT. If so, I’ll have to figure that out later on. Also, the old hardware storage between the MFT and bench will most likely have to go with the systainer drawers sticking out more. Right now the HCM is on top, and of course that will need somewhere to go as well. So many little things in my shop that need addressing and room.

Doing the double-depth drawers would be a pretty big investment, considering I still have the shorter length drawer slides on hand as extras, the longer ones are nearly $10 each, and it would be a significant amount of plywood in order to build. It’s something that I will have to think about for more than a few days.

Festool Trion PS 300 EQ – Initial thoughts

After an extremely poor experience last week with my jigsaw, I decided that I either needed another way to accomplish the tasks normally reserved for one, or I needed an upgrade. In the world of jigsaws, there are many options, but only a select few seem to consistently rise above the rest.

I have a few jigsaws, or at least I did. I leave room for maneuvering because I honestly don’t remember which ones I’ve sold and which ones I still have. A Ryobi 18v, a B&D corded model were at least in the arsenal at one point, but the one I’ve turned to for the past year or more is the Craftsman 28223.

This is a unique item on the market, as it does two things I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a jig. The first is that it is a convertible – The red and black button on the back of the handle unlocks the D-handle for removal, making it a barrel grip. This was particularly appealing at the time of purchase because I wasn’t sure what I wanted, with the previous jigs all being a D-handle. It turns out I much prefer the barrel configuration. It’s really rather innovated, though, with the only issue of barrel mode being that the red power switch on the side of the barrel can be sticky to operate. Otherwise, the experience is the same in either configuration.

The other thing it does is function as a scroll saw – somewhat. In scroll mode, you can turn the knob at the very top of the saw 90° in either direction to control the blade. With short (depth) blades, you can make some impressive turns in material that you can’t afford to waste.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason this saw suffers from blade drift and deflection.

The deflection is off by a few degrees, and wouldn’t be too bad of a deal for simple rough cutting of stock down to length. However, it’s totally unacceptable for finish cuts, like I did with the toe kick. The drift is even worse if you don’t account for it. I had been trusting the laser line to keep everything lined up, and it resulted in some very crooked cuts.

I had a choice between the Bosch 470 and the Trion, after eliminating everything else. The difference was about $90, what other jigsaws retail for. After weight Festool’s return policy and the convenience of the Plug-It system, I decided to try out the Trion first. When it arrived Thursday I set up some comparison cuts between the Craftsman and the Festool.

Unfortunately, I did get a bit too wrapped up in random cut tests to take pictures for this. I did find that the Craftsman left a rougher cut than the Festool, which had the benefit of the zero clearance insert. The Festool cuts were dead-on perpendicular, but the Craftsman had a slight deviation. It was noticeable in plain sight. I did use the exact same Bosch blade and switched back and forth between the two, so there was a good basis for comparison. I was starting to doubt my purchase, even with the deviation.

So, I decided to replicate the cut that gave me issues the other day: the toe kick cutout. This has to be dead-on perfect if I’m going to use this tool and this technique. I cut with the Festool then the Craftsman.

Here is the Festool

It was a very clean cut, perpindicular, and most importantly the tool followed the cut lines perfectly. That would be a finish-ready cut.

Here is the Craftsman

That’s a big deviation/drift from the line right at the start. I noticed when I was really working hard to keep the blade on the line, the laser was nowhere near it. That answers my question on what happened on the project last week, and why it looks so bad. The deflection wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t awful. If I could have stayed on the line it might have been acceptable for something in the shop. The cut was also rougher and would require some sanding, although you can see on the surface there wasn’t a lot of fuzz or breakout.

This was a piece for the house, though. The ease of use, cleanliness of cut and ability to get dead on where I needed it to be means the Festool is going to stay. What to do with the Craftsman though? I could sell it, or give it to someone, but I may just keep it around for rough cut or scroll saw use. It doesn’t really cost me a lot of room, and I doubt I would get more than $30 for it anyway. If I still have any of those other jigsaws around I would probably get rid of, except for maybe the cordless – it has to be better for breaking down stock than the crappy 18v circular saw.


Oh, one last pic. The other day I needed to cut a piece of my large sheet of 1/4″ ply and couldn’t access any other tool except for the jig, and I couldn’t take it outside. I cut it right where it was and got awful tearout. I tried that same cut with the Trion, and you can see the results below.

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