How well would a new shop work?

Money has obviously played a role in the new shop delay. Heat and effort a bit less so. As I reach the almost pinnacle of my current shop, I became interested in thinking about what a new shop would actually mean for me.

The most obvious thing would be a better seal. Window that doesn’t leak, doors that open and close properly, etc. Should help keep things much cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. A better installation of insulation will also help; I just need to decide if the floor gets some insulation too.

There would be two main benefits to a new shop being built – one, I would have more storage space in the ceiling. It would be built to my specifications and may have enough room to store all the dust extraction and air compressor up there. That would save a small amount of space. The other thing is that, if I go through with it, a bigger footprint. I’d build 16×12, and hope for the best.

With eight foot walls (perhaps 8.5′) and 48 more square feet of floor space, I get some opportunities handed to me. I can make a sheet goods storage center that will take up about 18-24″ on one side of the door. I should be able to keep three or four full sheets plus cutoffs. This would be absolutely massive for my ability to create. One of my biggest downfalls is not having what I need, and having to rent a truck or try and deal with the van.

Of course, with a new shop and not tearing down the current one, I could do some of this and have all of that additional space to call my own. I have options. As for a potential layout, I have no idea. It seems like I’ve hit on a very efficient layout, and aside from gaining a small amount of space around the tools I’m not sure there is any room for improvement.

If I had room to add them, I would add a CNC and a welder. A welder might be doable. I want to get back into working with metals, and if I get into furniture making working on my welding skills could be beneficial. Or making shop storage. What I would love would be to add a small CNC table, but I would have to get mighty creative in how to add it. If the old workshop still stood, not having the lathe take up room might be able to get it done. I don’t know. I need room in the old shop for a riding and push mower, plus yard equipment.

Something I really need to do in my future renders of a new shop is to account for the small things as well as the big things.

Loss and Found

So, today had some ups and downs.

I ordered a WiFi extended Saturday and it really hasn’t worked out. I honestly don’t know why. Be it located in the shop or the closest part in the house, I can’t get good connection on the Chrome desktop. Maybe it just sucks, I don’t know. I tried my Win10 laptop in the shop and I was watching YouTube in HD. Perhaps there is some more troubleshooting I can do.

Well, I was tired of the glare I was getting on the TV being mounted above the window, so I proceeded to move it to the other side of the shop. Something happened when I plugged it back in, and my TV is no more. No power whatsoever. Perhaps a third part plug would get it working again, but I think I’ll have to move on. I did figure out that I could use both the Chromebox and the Fire TV Stick with Bluetooth audio, which the Ryobi radio has. So, I’ve got a spare 20″ monitor that I am using in the bedroom as a TV that should work pretty good. The best part is that it is matte. I just need to resolve the WiFi issue and a HDCP issue with getting the Fire to work. The HDMI to DVI connector is causing an issue. 

I did go ahead and make up a new mount for this monitor, it is 100x100mm VESA and super easy to fab something up. Took about five minutes. Just four holes with a small drill bit meticulously measured.

I did get some work done as well. I hauled the sheet of 3/4″ ply up near the shop and started breaking it down on the Centipede table. Cut one end off at 27.5″, the height of my LEGO storage cabinet. The next section was at 23.5″, which is the depth and what I then cut the first piece into. That second sheet piece was crosscut at 16″, which should be the width I need between the two sides.

I also marked where the bottom piece will need to be attached, and I lined that up with a 4″ square toekick. What will be left to do is to use the LR32 system to create mounting holes for the drawers, cut Domino holes for attachment, and cut out the toekick. Then it’s figuring out what will cover the exposed ply, then paint. Not too much more left, and chances are likely that I will assemble and test drive before painting. Makes it a bit harder on the inside, but whatever. Oh, I do have to also make the rabbet for, and cut 1/4″ ply for the back. Still not a whole lot. Depending on how the week goes it could be at least working by Friday.

Signal loss

I was very fortunate to receive a free Chrome OS desktop from Acer. I ordered it, it was canceled, then sent to me anyway. I appreciate good customer service like that. The intent was to use it in the shop, so I can have something current to post updates on, stuff like that. The old tablet wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Unfortunately, I do suffer a bit from poor, unreliable internet. Using the Fire TV Stick on the TV, occasionally I get stutters and slowdowns. This is imporant to note that because of this, I have to keep the TV right at the window – it’s the best way for WiFi to enter the shop. Problem is, I’d rather have the TV and PC over on the other side. It’s not an absolute reuirement, but it would be nice.

I purchased an extender to try and combat this problem, and it works well in the sterile environment of my house, but for some reason I get poor reception in the shop. It’s puzzling, because it’s right about the same distance. Have to wonder if there is something in the shop causing interference. It could be the iron, but I’m thinking more of an electrical source is.

I know there are some who don’t believe in having so many distractions in the shop, and I do admit they do distract me plenty. But I also enjoy them. I would have enjoyed using Sketchup, however it is not compatible with Chrome OS. I will have to look for some sort of alternative to at least view projects. I could do something perhaps with the Windows tablet I have lying around.

No matter what happens the TV will need an adjustment, because there’s too much glare from the lights. Need to modify the angle to reduce glare. I also have to figure out just how the computer will connect and be displayed. It could hook up to the TV via HDMI, but there’s only one port and the Fire TV Stick does as well. The TV has a VGA port, but the desktop doesn’t. I have an old 19″ VGA monitor that I could put up as well, same issue. At minimum I need to source a HDMI-VGA adapter. I have one for DVI, but not VGA. I could use my old 20″ monitor, but it does not have a VESA mount. Always an issue, it seems. First thing I need to figure out is the wifi connectivity, then everything else will fall in place. Just the one TV in the shop is ideal.

I’ll keep working on it, but I can’t allow it to waste entire days like it did today. Tomorrow, I make some major progress on the LEGOrganization – unless something else comes up.

End of the Detour

The shop is back in action, officially.

I finished up, for the most part, the task of redoing the electrical. Everything is pretty much how I want it now with some small wire management tasks ahead. I’ll try to summarize.

For the smaller gauge line, I unwound it from the reel and brought it over to the left side of the door above the rafters. There, it is split into three outlets – a short outlet strip that controls the lights and 6-port charger, a longer strip that controls other chargers and the tablet charger and phone, and a newly-bought extension cord for the air conditioner. This is a very good solution for now, and pretty much everything is out of the way. Just have to decide if I want the Ryobi and Bosch battery chargers to be on the longer strip on a timer, to charge more evenly and often.

On the larger gauge line I split it after a 2-foot extension, it runs the other large strip, another extension that goes above the rafters to the miter saw/drill press and an open spot that will be used for the table saw. Since I unplug the saw for blade changes, it is nice to not have to reach too far for that. What it will also do is provide an outlet to use outside – I’ll unplug the strip and MS extension, swing it under the door, and it’s good to go.

I did switch the two long strips, as one was 10 outlets and one was 12. The 10 worked better above the lathe, and it could now be mounted upside down under the cabinet, helping to keep dust from getting in. The lathe, bandsaw, router table, Festool CT are plugged in there, as well as the TV and Zune. The only real place to put them with adequate WiFi signal was near the window. Oh well, they don’t use much amperage at all and shouldn’t impact table saw use on tough rips.

Yes, it’s a ton of things plugged into a ton of outlets on a large length of extension cords. It’s what I have to deal with, and I’m smart enough to only run one big tool at a time, plus the vacuum on the smaller line. Should be fine for the next few years, and I’ll keep an eye on the cords wearing out or pulling too much power.

I did make some other small adjustments to things while I was doing it. The TV is now mounted high up above the window, and it does need an angle adjustment but the location works. I modified the shelf the Zune sits on to sit underneath. Since both are remote controlled exclusively, no issues there. I played around with the hand tool storage on the wall above the workbench, and think I’m in a better spot. The Woodpecker rules being on the other wall work better. I took both reel hooks off the right door and used them more efficiently – one is holding the 12ga Tri-Tap in a convenient spot for easy access behind the bandsaw, the other now holds the face shields above the lathe. Nice to get those off the hooks above the door.

There will be small adjustments still to come as I fine tune things. I’m not sure how many I’ll even post about, these are very minor things, even more minor than what they used to entail. Even with the 1/4″ and 1/2″ ply large cutoffs in the shop due to rain, there is still plenty of room to move about. I even had room and the desire to do a bit of cleanup on the LEGOrganization drawers, which I’ll post later on.

Getting back to normal feels real nice. That was a week-long detour that was crappy, but it worked out in the end. Now to order my new Steelers shirt…


It’s Electric!

Time to finally and completely tackle the power situation in the shop – at least how it will be in the near future.

To paint the complete picture, I’ll regurgitate some facts about the shop. I have one 12ga extension cord and one 16ga. The 12ga is intended for the stationary tools and the 16ga for everything else. It doesn’t really function that way in reality. The tools and small electronics really are mixed across the two cords. The miter saw, CT (all the Festools) and the compressor run off the small cord while the TV and Sunday are on the main line. It’s time to get this sorted out, even if I have plans to replace the smaller cord with another 12ga.

The table saw, router table, lathe, bandsaw, miter saw, compressor, jointer, CT and drill press need to be on the main line. The air conditioner, vacuum, lights, chargers and small electrics need to run off the small line. I also need an easy hookup for outdoor work on the main line for the compressor or circular saw.

The issue is how to accomplish this. Both lines enter at the bandsaw, and cords are scattered around the shop. Half the things I need to hook up to either line are on the opposite side of the shop. Thankfully I don’t have anything on the back wall except the CT, which has a long enough cord to go either direction.

One solution would to put in actual outlets along both walls, but conduit and wiring could get expensive. It is my goal in the new shop, but run the wiring inside the walls. I would have to buy conduit and external boxes that I wouldn’t be able to use later. The other option is to keep daisy-chaining outlet strips, which isn’t a great solution either. Strips are probably needed both ways.

Both lines come into the shop on the right side of the door, and terminate in a 4-outlet reel. On either side of the door is a 10 or 12 outlet strip. The 12ga reel has the one on the right side plugged in, plus direct plugging of the table saw (because the cord is so short and on the left side of the saw). In the massive power strip I have the lathe, bandsaw, router table, TV, Zune and tablet charger. The drill press used to be plugged in here as well.

The 16ga cord is a longer story. The A/C is plugged into the reel, and a 6-outlet strip. That has the lights, chargers, and the other massive strip plugged into that. The massive strip has another battery charger, compressor, jointer (when needed), miter saw and CT.

I’ve already stated what I need to do, I just need to figure out how to do it. The bigger tools are easy: keep the big stuff in the right corner plugged into the power strip there, and pull a 15′ cord over to the other tools. Have to see if the cord will go that far. The stuff on the 16ga cord is more complicated, mainly due to how many plugs I need, and the fact that the A/C can’t go anywhere. The small electrics and lights can keep on keeping on, but the A/C is tough. I should mention that I want to get rid of the reels, because they take up space. A small tap should take care of that, but it would have been nice just to route the smaller, longer cord up and over the door to reduce clutter.

I had to sit down and write this out, because I was in Lowe’s today attempting to sort it out and I just couldn’t concentrate. I put back the timer I had in my hand because I just wasn’t sure what I needed to accomplish. I have some things scheduled for Saturday morning, but provided I get out to the shop with a little bit of time, working on better electrical management is going to be the priority. Once done, we can work on the LEGO project again.

Trip Like I Do (over stuff)

A little play on the title of the song here.

WordPress/My Host limits files to 2MB, so it’s a pain trying to do a header image anymore. I never used to have this issue, but for some reason I do lately. If you want to be first to see pictures, and in a bit better format, hit up one of the icons to the top right.

Here is the current state of the shop:

Almost back to normal. As you can see, the back wall had to be almost entirely redone. I’m still sorting things out, and there are still LEGO drawers sitting on my table saw, under that slab of mahogany. Two slabs, actually.

All in all, not much damage occurred. Just lost a few hours worth of work, and a Steelers T-shirt. It looks like I made a new home for the drill press, so once I replace my T-shirt I can call this a net win. Just like with the general state of the shop though, it still has issues. I can’t really make a drill press table like I had hoped to one day. Not one that would stay on the drill, anyway. All of the other issues about being in a small shop also persist.

Not entirely sure what the plan for today is. (EDIT – it is now Friday, so I did absolutely nothing) I bought a short extension cord with a three outlet tap from Home Depot this morning. The plan would be to hook the drill press, miter saw and jointer/air compressor up to it to run on the main extension cord. I would then use the entirety of the now-empty power strip and run all the electronics on it on the smaller line.

There are some details to work out, like being able to put the battery chargers on a timer or something, so if there are days I don’t get out there, the batteries stay topped up. I also just bought a refurbished Chrome OS desktop, that I have plans for going into the shop. Have to see how big it is, but it would be nice to get the tablet out. It’s old, and I’m not sure exactly how useful it is. Perhaps let the kids mess around with it. (That is, if it doesn’t get canceled)


Busy Child

Another Crystal Method inspired post.

A bit more time in the shop today, a bit more on the path back to normalcy. All the floor stuff is back home, save for my old hardware cabinet. That went very quickly, and save for popping a hole in my Steelers T-shirt, went well. The big task is to get everything back up on the wall.

Because the chaos wall moved slightly, I had to move my clamp racks, and that set a domino sequence of moves. Still in the process of finding homes for everything. I put the chisels back up, and ended up moving the TV to a temporary home on the window. At least I won’t have wifi troubles for a few days. The Woodpecker rulers moved under the chisels so I can get to them easier. Everything else is pending a location.

Having the drill press up against a wall again is very nice. Have to see how well it works, but it looks promising. I anticipate being back to where I was by this weekend, which will help get the next phase of the LEGOrganization get back on schedule.

Spending an hour or two in the shop today really helped me put a rough work day behind me. I will have to remember that for the next time I need a mental break.

Comin’ Back

I used this title as an excuse to share one of my favorite artists.

However, I am coming back by a bit. I got about thirty minutes this afternoon following work to put the shop back right. Not a lot of time, but it was a decent start. I quickly surveyed the shop to make sure I couldn’t salvage my mistake, and when I realized I couldn’t, started the recovery process. It looks like having the drill press near the chaos wall might work, so my first step was to push the back wall to the right while I moved the drill press in the left corner. Then I emptied the lower portion of the chaos wall and got it nearly back to where it was – same corner, adjacent wall. Hopefully this will work.

I got it filled back about halfway with the systainers before it was time to go. I didn’t break anything today, so that was nice. No precarious situations, either. The next step will be to see if I can get the workbench back in the corner without having to fold up the MFT. Probably not. Room is pretty tight right now with the top of the chaos wall detached.

If this all works out, it will be great. If not, I’ll move the drill press back to where it was two days ago and I’ll be no worse for wear. Something I did a week or two ago that I think got lost in the shuffle was that I finally addressed the router table top. I haven’t replaced it yet, but I did put a roundover on the top edge and it is a huge improvement.

When the world is put back straight I will probably have to adjust some of the wall storage to match. I don’t anticipate anything too drastic though.

Mistakes are OK

Mistakes are how you learn. The trick is only making mistakes you can handle, or recover from. Yeah, I lost a few hours and said a few swear words, but I didn’t lose any fingers or ruin an expensive project. It’s all relative.

Now that I’m a bit more calm, rational, and have more time, I’ll rehash a bit more completely why I did an impromptu remodel: I don’t know. I don’t know why it was impromptu, that is. I can adequately explain my need to remodel.

  • I hadn’t done it in awhile. Sometimes you get that itch.
  • There were a few minor issues with the layout I have had for what seems like ages. Because the table saw fence and the router table fence both overhang their surfaces, these were coming into contact a good bit. Not a deal-breaker, but I often had to move the RT around slightly to do wider routs.
  • The router table is slightly lower than the table saw, which works for sawing, but not for routing. I have to angle the table at times.
  • The router table drawers keep coming open. This is completely due to the shop being unlevel, but I could fix them with a few magnets if I really wanted to.
  • One corner of the shop is basically unusable. I can’t get to the large cabinet above the lathe due to the location of the bandsaw and drill press.
  • The drill press isn’t usable where it is, and restricts access to the cabinet plus the  power strip that runs quite a few tools and accessories.

This is what it was:

shop before

This is what I tried to do:

shop now

Renders using the 12×16 shop structure, so ignore that blank space to the bottom.

If not for the drill press, it might have worked. I may turn the MFT to see if would still, but I seriously doubt it. In fact, it probably won’t. I will most likely go back to how it was, perhaps with a slight change to put the chaos wall on the back wall and see if the drill press will fit next to the miter saw. I can sort that out immediately. That would solve a few problems and make the whole ordeal worthwhile.

I have made a few mistakes in my tool purchases. I bought too big of a lathe. I bought a bandsaw that I really don’t use all that much. I could have gotten away with a bench-mounted drill press. I should have seen the light of these Festools I own sooner. I wish I had built a new workshop sooner.

I wouldn’t do much else differently though. It’s been pretty good for the most part. Now if I can get the shop back in a working state things will be pretty good again.

I made a huge mistake

Don’t try to outsmart yourself. You’ll either make the earlier version of yourself look dumb or the current version. I just did the latter. I had the bright idea in the middle of a project to move some things around. What I ended up with is a mess that will likely have to go back just like it was, and a waste of several hours.

I wanted my workbench to stick out from the wall again. I thought it could be the outfeed table to my saw, and I’d move the back half of the shop around to compensate. It failed. I ended up almost breaking my chaos wall (it is purposely in two pieces right now), and the layout I ended up with is much worse. I thought that moving the router table would solve some inconveniences, like the two fences hitting each other and the drawers keep falling open, but what I got was much, much worse.

I’ll spend the next few days putting things back right, and this time I’ll move some stuff out of the shop to make that happen. Next time I think about moving things around I should go have a beer or something. The LEGOrganization part two post is obviously delayed.

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