After the Counter – Looking ahead


I think building this systainer cabinet/miter saw counter/upper cabinet storage could transform my shop in ways that I had always hoped, but was always afraid to try. The question is, how can I follow this up? Can I keep making great choices?

First off, the counter project will continue to slowly evolve. There are more storage shelves and other solutions to come for the upper part, more drawer slides and drawers for the lower part, and a way to cut consistent parts on the surface. I think I’ll be putting in a T-track again with measurement, but I’ll wait on that for a bit.

The reason why I’ll wait is that I want to put a matching counter to the right side of the miter saw. Haven’t quite worked out how I will support it, but then again I don’t plan on putting that much weight on it. The jointer and air compressor, and possibly the sander will live long term under this counter. Speaking of the air compressor, I did move the hose reel to that corner of the shop. I was putting together the last two drawers for the LEGO project, and it wouldn’t reach in the original spot. It does eliminate rolling the compressor outside to cut down on noise, though. What I could do is make the front of this counter a 2×4, which would give it pretty good strength over the middle.

I’m still kinda working out what I’m going to do under the workbench. Two drawers are junk, one drawer is my socket set and the other drawer is hardware. The socket set could go over in the new upper storage. Hardware could continue to be converted to the blue hardware bins. I could use that storage space for something else, but I’m not sure what. There isn’t a lot of room to bring things out from that space, with the MFT and the router table being so close.

Something I am considering is moving at least the computer monitor to around the miter saw, as that counter makes a perfect standing desk height. I do have concerns about dust getting into the monitor from the saw, etc. It’s why I haven’t done it to this point. I am entertaining putting what is left of the upper chaos wall over between the drill press and bandsaw as a wall cabinet, but really have no idea what I’d put in it.

The biggest challenge I have left is finding spots for all those little things, including scrap. If I can tackle that, I’ll have a seriously awesome shop going on.

Bench Shavings – 10/16/16

I’m surprised I haven’t written anything all week. I’ve been posting regularly to Instagram, so check it out if you haven’t already. I’ve been in the shop most days this week, but only for a very short time. I went to the doctor on Monday and discovered I have Achilles tendinitis. And actually by now it is mostly resolved. I did pick up a nasty head cold on the same day, and it has been impacting me all week. I’m hoping that this week is the one where I’ll get back to normal physical activities

I’ve gotten a few things done this week, and they will be in no particular order. I had exactly a half sheet of 1/2″ ply left over from making drawers for the LEGOrganization project, so I used that to make a couple longer systainer drawers ahead of ordering the slides. I used the table saw to cut a 28″ piece, then cut it down to 15.75″ pieces. This gave me two bottoms, and the rest was cut down into 2″ strips for the fronts and sides. Construction of the drawers was done exactly the same as the previous drawers, but I did add more screws for support. Because the two sets of screw holes I placed are so close to the front, with the weight of a double-length drawer I will need to put in additional screws towards the back, or they have a tendency to tilt back.

The first two drawers to get this treatment were the bottom left, which has the TS55, and had the air tool systainer behind it. This is the one that really tilts back and needs more support on the back of the drawer slide. That is on the to-do list today. I’ll also order 3 or 4 of these longer slides this week. The other drawer to get swapped out was the one with the Domino tenons. I had these directly stacked on top of each other, but with the deeper drawer I can store them in series. This gives me room for an entirely additional drawer in the first column.

That’s the main thing that was taken care of this week, and it was done yesterday. Most of this week was getting used to the new storage and figuring things out. I temporarily installed the drawer that was in the old chaos wall in the new storage, but I don’t particularly like it. It is holding my respirators and filters, but need to find a new solution. I am enjoying using the shop with the new layout, even though I haven’t done a lot of work. I think today I will put together the last two drawers for the LEGOrganization cabinet, and we’ll see what else happens. I’ll have a couple posts this week about this week, and the next few months what my plans are.


Oh no, the puns aren’t done yet.

I pushed myself very hard Saturday, with the knowledge I might be shut down for awhile starting Monday. I woke up this morning feeling awful. Some of that is my foot, some of that is the allergies, some of that was the liquid painkiller I partook in last night. I may or my not get out to the shop today, but if I don’t I feel good about where I stopped.

The new counter was installed and the old chaos wall upper portion went on top for storage. Saturday morning I spent the time before soccer adjusting the height of the miter saw. I removed the saw from the stand, dropped it the amount I thought I needed, then reattached it to the wall and checked the height. Still about 1/2″ too tall. Dang. So I used the four mounting points for the saw platform to bring it down. These are carriage bolts with two lock nuts and a wing nut  that attach to the stand base. By making the lower nut travel up the bolt, I was able to lower the saw deck to just the right height.

Before I reinstalled the miter saw I needed to trim up the edge of the counter on the short side, and cut out clearance for the saw to hit 45° to the right. Thinking about it now, I neglected to account for the 50° setting, or a beveled cut. The first isn’t that big of a deal, but I’ll need to consider a wider clearance. I used the jigsaw to cut a notch and it worked perfectly. Right on the line, a super clean cut. I used the router and a hand saw to get it nice and straight before that. The miter saw was reinstalled.

It was now the turn of the front edge. I used the track saw to cut the majority off, and finished with the router and a flush trim bit. Again had to use the hand saw to finish the cut right at the wall, but it worked well. Except for locking down the hardboard with screws, and trimming the front edge, the counter on this side is pretty much done. Have to decide if I will use a t-track for a stop block or I’ll just use an inlaid tape and clamp stops down.

Now, up to this point I was using the top of the chaos wall for storage and moving the lower portion in and out of the shop to make room. It was time to reverse that. I disassembled the lower portion in stages, and proceeded to modify it. I cut the sides down to 41″, and made new horizontal sections at 18.5″ to allow the Fastenal boxes to fit. I did a permanent shelf right at the top, and the bottom one is about 3.5″ from the bottom. Just the right height for one of those boxes. Another can sit on that permanent shelf and the rest of the shelves can be adjustable. I had thought about 42″ for the height (had measured 43″ to the rafters), but I’m glad I did 41″.

This portion was written before I did work in the shop today, and what follows are the results.

I took some more powerful ibuprofen and my foot started feeling significantly better. So much so that while I am not canceling my appointment on Monday, I should avoid an extended downtime. So when I started today, I relocated my miter saw vac to behind the single systainer cabinet, above the HCM. It works okay here, but I need to route the hose a little better. It’s very quiet here, which is awesome. It will be even quieter when I make more systainer drawers.

Next it was time to pull some scrap and make more shelves. Really easy on the table saw, particularly when things are nice and clean. It wouldn’t be a 144 project without screwing something up, so I cut one shelf too short. I got a bit more organized, but I still have some work to do. I installed the other complete systainer drawer I have, but unfortunately I have misplaced by Kreg bit and can’t make any more at the moment. I could, but I don’t really want to in a different manner.

I reinstalled the power strip on a ceiling joist, really the best place I could think of. It works okay, but not fantastic. Unless I come up with something better, it will stay.  I reinstalled the bottom shelf supports on the wall rack and am using that for plywood at the moment. If I have to use one, so be it. It cleans up the mess of scrap I have for now.

A decent amount of stuff got put away on the shelves, at least temporarily – fine-tuning might still have to take place. I made a little place for my Incra rules to sit, which is a really simple but appreciated thing. I feel like I did so much more than what I wrote for Sunday, but it’s all hard to quantify. A lot of moving things around to fit well. My BIL brought over the new Fastenal box Saturday, and I’ve yet to even start on it. Emptying the bench drawers is still a bit off.

By the end of the day, most of the shop is in better shape than it has ever been. A bit more work to do, but I feel like I have a reasonably organized shop for perhaps the first time. Tons of storage available, and plenty if I make some harder choices. I loved my shop time this weekend.

Counter Intelligence

I am really hurting at this point, and will be visiting the doctor on Monday. Even so, I was able to get about an hour in the shop between work and family responsibilities this afternoon.

I stopped by Home Depot on my lunch break and bought a sheet of fairly cheap sanded pine 3/4″ ply and a sheet of 1/8″ hardboard. I had the employee there cut each into three pieces: a crosscut at around 60″, and then rip cutting that large piece at around 30″. I used the small rip piece as a bottom layer in back, and filled in with other scrap up front. Then that bigger piece got laid down on top, and the bigger hardboard piece on top of that. I had to do some trimming to get it to fit, and the cuts weren’t exactly perfect, but they’ll work.

The two layers of ply right now are minimally secured, but the hardboard is not. I’ll need to get things trimmed up with the track saw and the router. The jigsaw might come into play as well. I get that done and the miter saw can be dropped into position.

Not sure what else I’ll get done this weekend, but standing and shuffling around the shop isn’t that painful. It’s the actual walking that is killing me at this point. If I had a goal for this weekend, it would be to get the top done, secured, and the miter saw in place.

Road to Recovery?

I posted a few days ago about an injury to my foot, then you saw a bunch of updates over the weekend. My foot healed up to normal, and I was able to live normally.

Until Monday.

I believe I have plantar fascitis, and it came back hard on Monday. By Wednesday I could barely walk, so my time out in the shop has been limited. I can stand and sit and shuffle around fine, it’s regular walking and carrying things that have really been thrown for a loop. I started to feel just a bit better today, but based on what happened this weekend I’m only partially optimistic. I’ve been stretching as much as possible and following all the advice I can find. Have to see what comes tomorrow with it.

I was going to pick up the ply and hardboard I needed for my miter bench counter, but decided to hold off until at least Friday. I think one sheet of each will take care of the left side, and I will eventually get the right side done as well. I’ll take my cordless saw and a rip guide with me, but I’m hoping the panel saw can make quicker work of it. Get it close, and trim to fit. I’m using the cheap ply this time from Home Depot, which lowers costs significantly. It will be two layers with the hardboard on top, and this time I’m going to cap the edge with some hardwood.

The counter unfortunately can’t be splint into two equal pieces with a sheet of ply, because it’s at least 29″ deep. So I’ll use the bigger piece as the top layer, smaller piece as the bottom and fill in behind with scrap from it, likely from the bit left over from the length. Then the hardboard gets attached, and I’ll likely screw that down. Once in a mostly permanent state (after cutting out clearance for the back of the miter saw), then I’ll lower the miter saw and fine-adjust it to hit the mark as best I can.

The plan for after that is to modify the old chaos wall, lower portion. I’m going to make new pieces to go between to accommodate storing the Fastenal boxes, 18.5″ wide. Then I’ll cut the sides down so that it will fit in the new location, where the top portion is now. I think I need to cut about 5″ off, but will verify after the counter is made. The old section might find a home somewhere else, but I’ll likely just scrap it – the sides could be cut up and make excellent shelves.

At that point I can make the other side of the miter saw counter, and be well on my way to a more organized shop. I’m hoping that maybe I can clear out most of the drawers under the workbench, potentially to store some hand tools. We’ll see. Still a ton of scrap plywood under the MFT and some smaller 1/2″ and 3/4″ pieces sitting on the table saw.

On a different note I ordered another new Festool. You may have heard or seen the obscene discount on the new ETS 125, and I couldn’t pass it up. I’m not sure how much I’ll use it, but I could sell it and easily make money.  I think I’ll find uses for it though, particularly at the higher grits. It has a shorter stroke than even the 150/3. Festool has some Granat papers all the way up to 1500 grit. Platin to 4000. Have to ask around and see how well it works with this, my plan before had been to polish with the RO150, when the need arose and I had that on hand.

As far as non-shop projects go, I still need to make the two remaining drawers for the LEGOrganization project, although the fronts will probably wait a bit. I found all the pieces while I was cleaning up a few days ago, so I’ll just need to fire the compressor up, assemble, and cut the rest of the 1/4″ sheet for drawer bottoms. My son wants a bedside table, and I’ll be making it a bit nicer than I’d usually do, on the same level as the sideboard bookcase I made. I have a sheet of ply and a section of hard maple ready to go for the top. Just will have to purchase some more maple for the legs.

This turned into something much longer than just an injury update, but it works for me. Hopefully tomorrow evening I can get some new pictures up here and on the ‘Gram.

Bench Shavings – 10/3/16

A good Monday evening to you. A small update, so I thought I’d bring this series back.

I got to spend about an hour or so in the shop this afternoon and was able to accomplish a few things on the to-do list. I started out by getting the air compressor to its new home, which involved rotating the jointer base 90° so it could pull out how I want. It may be difficult to get to in normal practice, so I may have to explore leaving it switched on and using the plug. This would also mean extending the drain, not a huge deal. Getting it into position was likely harder. The end of the jointer bed barely fits under the MFT fence, so that’s a relief. Got a little bit of room on the floor I could use on a temporary basis.

The MFT did have to move over a couple inches to fit the jointer, so I had to swap the bin that was under it with the old hardware cabinet. Temporary, as that is being dealt with in the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get another Fastenal box soon and all those plastic ones can be tossed.

I didn’t get any scrap culled to this point, but I did get some sorting done. One potential use of the scrap may be to fill in the counter top. Might be a decent use, or I just toss. I have so much and I never use it.

That’s about it for today, but a little bit each day will get me there soon enough. The next few days might be getting the scrap all out and deciding what can come back in. It will also involve deciding storage needs for the new front corner unit. All that scrap could go to drawers, temporary or otherwise…

Today’s progress pic is also on Instagram, so give a follow there.

Phase Three – The Syscab

It really didn’t make sense to call this a sysport, because it isn’t portable. So, it’s a systainer cabinet or syscab for short. To recap in brief, it’s a double-depth systainer cabinet at the entrance to the shop. The miter saw infeed will sit on top, and the replacement to the upper part of the chaos wall will sit on top of that.

On Saturday morning I bought a new sheet of ply from Lowe’s, all I would need for the cabinet itself. I had them cut into three parts on the panel saw so it would fit in my SUV. At home, I set up the Centipede and cut all pieces to the correct size with the TS55 and the 1900 rail outside. With all three pieces cut to 43″*29″, the operation moved inside.

I set up the LR32 to rout all the drawer mounting holes at 37mm from the front, then had to set up another row 102mm from the front (I think it really should have been 101mm). Why? I don’t have the longer drawer slides and the limit for the LR32 is 110mm, so I couldn’t register off the back with my small drawer slides. I probably could have, but it was late and math is hard. The two holes will be enough to get the slides perpendicular, and that’s all that matters. The middle section got holes from both sides, and they were dead-on. I love this system.

I then put in 5mm mortises with the Domino on the outside panels. That concluded the Saturday festivities, which isn’t too bad because I did all that in just over two hours. Sunday is when things got really hot and heavy, and the pictures follow. I post a ton of stuff to Instagram lately, including all the pictures I took during the process on Saturday. Give it a look.

So on Sunday it was time to rock out. I cut a notch at each corner of the middle section to allow the stringer (stretcher, tie, etc) to run from the outside panels. I was curious as to how good of a cut I could get with my new saw (as it pertained to cutting on a line) and it did very well. Not perfect, but really close. Some practice will help.

Then it was time for assembly. The Domino joints were glued, and secured with a screw. The middle section just got screws.

As you can see, this thing is big, but it’s also big for my shop. Here it is on its side right before I put it down on the floor. Then it was time to move stuff outside so it could go to its final resting place.

Here we have the old counter top attached as temporary. I’ll have to come up with something deeper so things don’t keep falling down behind. Once this was done, it was time to disassemble the old chaos wall. I first took out the systainers and drawers and installed them in the new setup. I also took the thing I made last week, and decided to put it in next to it to give me more temporary storage. You’ll see what I’m referring to in a picture below. This may stay, this may go. All depends on what I need.

The chaos wall now empty, it went outside temporarily. I put the top portion on top of the counter (again temporarily) to regain storage. This may be rebuilt to a more exacting specification down the road, but for now it is needed as-is. The first task will be redoing the counter, and you see that little add-on with the dark grey Tanos systainers in it.

This project isn’t complete by any stretch, but for now will do so that I can focus on getting the shop cleaned back up.

I was too tired last night to do anything but leave at this point.

Lots of things left to do: clean up, particularly the massive amount of scrap ply that is lying around now, because I removed it all from my wood rack (that also got moved down the wall, and I neglected to mention). I need to find homes for things, including the F-clamps that are sitting at the end of the router table. The air compressor needs to be wheeled to the new corner, and then the MFT can slide back into place. Then I need to turn my planer 180° on the stand so that it will slide back under the miter saw.

Once those things are done, and things are fairly clean, then it will be time to assess my storage needs. I’ll make or buy a solid counter to be on both sides of the miter saw, drop the saw deck to match, and build new storage to replace the top half of the chaos wall. At that point I can completely disassemble stuff like the old hardware bin cabinet…or use it as my new stool, who knows.

I’m going to make an effort to get out to the shop for a bit every day, although on some days it just might not happen. There’s too much to do to leave it for just the weekends, and my son is wondering when we will start on his table I promised.


The Chaos Wall replacement

This can’t really be a version 2.0, because it is changing a little bit. There are now two distinct sections serving two distinct purposes. The project will hopefully start Saturday, but I reserve the right to delay based on outside scheduling conflicts. I am also doing things a bit differently by laying out the plan in detail in this overview, and then sharing how it meets expectations on a daily basis.

Here is the render of it as it stands today.

You can see the systainer storage at the bottom of the wall, which comprises part one of this project. Part two will be the counter surface that makes up the miter saw infeed and outfeed, and part three is the upper storage.

Part one should just be systainer storage, but depending on my needs I may put in a drawer or two. It will be deep enough to store two systainers in series, and be able to open both. I have room to the side of it to store a few different things, including another column of systainers should my collection grow that much.

Part two is probably going to be a laminated countertop that spans the entire wall. That’s the goal, anyway. More surface area is going to be appreciated. Part three is storage for hardware boxes, supplies, sharpening, personal protection equipment, and anything else that will fit. It needs to be a bit wider than the lower portion because my hardware boxes are wider than the systainers. I could do something a bit skinnier if I turn the boxes sideways, which I will consider.

The bottom portion, part one, should be taken care of with a purchase of a single 3/4″ sheet of plywood. After my previous attempt at making this failed the wrong way, this project has a real cost of two sheets. The back will be taken care of with 1/4″ ply which I have on hand. I have shorter drawer slides on hand than I will eventually need, but will be fine as a temporary solution. Once the project looks successful, I’ll order the longer slides and bring the project to completion.

I will cut the sheet of ply into 29″ wide sections on the crosscut, then trim to 43″ long. I’ll get three of those out of the sheet, then use the leftover amount to create stretchers that will span the three vertical sections and tie them together. The middle section will be trimmed for the stretchers to slip fit. I will be putting shelf pins/drawer mounting holes with the LR32 system per usual. I will likely attach the stringers with Dominos on the outer sections and screws for the middle one. The back will be squared and stabilized with the 1/4″ ply, most likely in a rabbet. I do have enough of the 3/4″ scrap in my plans where I could have the back open and stabilized as well. I suppose it depends on if the 1/4″ is taking up too much space and I want to finally use it. I do not plan on covering the ply edges this time. It’s shop furniture, I can handle it. It will get a coat of ARS most likely, but that also depends on space and time.

There is also a space consideration while building this as well. The plan is to get the shop to a clean state (accomplished before I wrote this), build phase one and then install. Install will encompass also moving the air compressor and jointer to near final position in the back corner. Then the systainers will be transfered to the new unit, the old unit will be dealt with, then the jointer and air compressor will then take up residence in the corner.

I don’t think I’ll get to starting the countertop this weekend, although I will see if the double 3/4″ version I have now can be used temporarily. It’s not well supported now, but it could be in the new usage.

Man down

I picked up an injury late last week, something in my left heel. It could be fascitis, tendonitis, or even a tear. I’ve been walking with a heavy limp, and it has curtailed my physical activity. I did get some shop time in on the weekend, but not a ton. It feels like I might be getting better though, so I’m hoping I’ll be back out in the shop this weekend working on more of the shop revamp.

I have spent this time writing a few entries in this blog, as you may have noticed. I’ve also worked more on meticulously rendering the new storage in Sketchup. I plan on going out to the shop tomorrow for a few minutes and catalog all the storage I need up on the wall above the systainers. The more I include the specifics the better chance of getting exactly what I need out of it. I think I have room right now for most of the systainers, three Fastenal hardware bins, and potentially the hollow chisel mortiser.

The more this comes together, at least digitally, the more excited I am for it to happen. I really do hope I’ve planned correctly and it all fits as it should.

More than meets the eye

I can’t sit here and say my shop is a Transformer, and now I’ll be fighting Decepticons with a robot that has a table saw for a foot. What I can say is that 2016 has been transformative.

It’s really all been about making things better, in any way I can. I’ve fought for more room, better ways to get things done. Better spots to get to things easier. I’ve been looking at different solutions that I may have had to delay before, but finding ways to fit them in now.

The key is to really take my time and think things through, which is why I wasn’t that upset about pausing my project on Sunday. Time is a luxury for me, and plywood isn’t that expensive. I’ll continue to think about my plan and make sure I haven’t overlooked any disqualifying attributes. I think things will work, but ideas keep popping up and I need to properly vet them. For instance, I was thinking about making a full cabinet that was wide enough for my Fastenal bins, but I only have two of them. I might eventually have four or five. I don’t need a space that will hold 10. I need more drawers, but not necessarily that size.

If I can pull off my plan, my shop should be in very good shape. And everything can be transposed over to a larger shop and not be wasted. Let’s see if I can get it all drilled down in Sketchup this week.

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