Giving Thanks – 2017

I’ve written a few posts like this before, 2014 and 2013 immediately come to mind. I am thankful for my family, for the job I have that allows me to spend on my hobbies, and I’m thankful I have the ability to build things like my new shop.

Something else caught my eye when looking at old posts around Thanksgiving, and that’s one from last year that was a five year plan for 2021. It was interesting seeing the goals there and what I have accomplished already in right at one year.

I hoped to be in a new shop, even if it was the same size. I said I could add an attic and a porch. Well, except for the porch that is already current status. I’ll be building a deck at some point in front of the shop that will accomplish the porch thought. I wanted to upgrade my router table to a new top and plate, and that’s still the plan at some point. I wanted to work on miter saw dust collection, and I have a couple of thoughts on that. It doesn’t involve a new saw at this point, though. I thought I might upgrade my bandsaw, and downgrade my lathe. Well, I do want to buy a new bandsaw, and I might be getting rid of my lathe entirely. I hoped for true dust extraction and I’ve accomplished that. I do still want to upgrade my hand tools.

My new shop is phenomenal. It is exceeding my expectations with how much I love it. It’s not big, but it is bigger. Being able to move dust collection, air compressor, and even the scrap wood has changed things. Not quite as much as eliminating the lathe, though. Once I got over that hangup the layout just came together. I have the best layout I’ve ever had. Having the ceiling one foot higher also has benefit.

I’ve spent the last few late afternoons and evenings getting some of the last things over from the old shop and finding them a home in the new shop. I’m straightening up, getting gaps sealed, putting things away. I’m still waiting on a roof and the last bit of insulation, but the inside is almost done. I got my workbench completely clear for the first time since the day it came into the new shop, and even sanded it a bit.

I hope soon to do a detailed tour when I either find a home or find a plan for all the little things.  Perhaps even this weekend should things turn out well.

Bench Shavings – 11/5/17

It’s been a very light week for shop activity, at least during the week. Halloween, work, family activities has precluded getting out there most days. I was able to finally address water coming in through the door by using some of the Zip system tape at the Z channel. We got a massive downpour Saturday afternoon and I didn’t see a drop of water in any of the previous problem areas.

Some I think came in through the very minor roof leak, and if I can get up there and pinpoint where it is coming in I will try to in the next week or so. I did solicit a roof estimate, but haven’t heard anything back. There is a reason for the delay, so it’s no big deal. I still don’t have a good idea of exactly how much it will be though. I’m hoping under $1000.

In a previous post I did mention the want to upgrade a few of my power tools. I think I’ve decided on the Laguna 1412 bandsaw. I looked at the 1412 and 14BX side by side at Rockler on Saturday, and did finally realize that the BX was 220v and not an option anyway. Other than that, the two saws are extremely similar except for a second dust port at the bottom. They are extremely nice saws, and I think I will just put that bit of money I was going to spend on a mobile base for the HF toward the Laguna. Only about $1050 to go then.

I don’t have a good idea about a jointer yet. In all honesty, what I could get probably isn’t much better than what I have outside of a better stand and dust collection. I should see about what I can do for both, it would save me some cash. Quite a lot, in fact. I want to replace my miter saw, but there again I need to verify that I would be gaining something from getting a new one. I think I want the Bosch glide, Makita new slider, or the Kapex. Quite a range in price there, in fact I could almost buy the 1412 for the difference between the Kapex and Makita. I need to be patient, though. The roof could cost a lot, and is way more important.

Status update for the shop: the exterior wall panels, roof, trim, attic insulation, ceiling, and attic ladder are left to go. I used the last of my leftover R-13 batts from the walls in the attic on Saturday, and it filled four spots on one side. The rolls are next, and I’ll use as much as I need to. Once the roof is done, I’ll get the end panels in as well. I am taking a calculated risk not putting an air gap in the rafters, I might add. We still may move in a year or two, so I’m just looking to keep things warm for that amount of time. The insulation will be left exposed, so it would be easy to take out and check for moisture. If I see any after this winter I’ll re-do. I wouldn’t insulate the attic at all if I wasn’t concerned about the compressor and extractor getting too cold to operate at times – the compressor was really hard to get going at the coldest this past winter in the old shop. I have a ton of R-19 insulation batts that I need to dispose of.

One project I did get to tackle in the shop this week is putting some hinge mortises on a closet door. This was the thing that got me started in woodworking, and it’s funny, but this was the next door on the list seven years later. Maybe more than anything else I’ve done thus far in the new shop, this showed me just what an improvement this is. I wouldn’t have done this in the old shop. I would have brought the router inside and cleaned up afterward. The issue would be that I didn’t have an easy way to secure the door vertically. To use the workbench, I would have had to move the router table and I still may have not had the room due to the bandsaw and MFT. In the new shop, this was not an issue at all. Right in the shop and on the side of the workbench and secured within seconds. It was almost surreal. I got the mortises routed out with the Ryobi cordless with ease. I do need a vacuum attachment for my next trim router though. I was in and out of the shop in minutes, even with a tiny bit of cleanup with the chisel. Job done, no fuss.

Looking beyond the new shop

I am loving my new shop already, even though it isn’t quite done yet. It has been a significant expense to take care of this year though. It has seriously delayed the purchase of a new vehicle that I will need soon. Fifteen years old and some mechanical issues doesn’t bode well long term.

It also means that there have been some tool upgrades that haven’t happened either. I’m very happy with what I have, but there are some tools that were never meant to be permanent pieces that I have been considering replacements for. There are tools to be replaced, and some small holes in my arsenal that I hope to fill. I’ve done this sort of thing before on other occasions when content is low, and with the attic insulation on hold while I take care of a couple household chores, I figure I’d fill some space again while I watch the World Series.

Table Saw. I have a Delta 36-725 that I’m very happy with, outside of dust collection. The saw isn’t closed up, so there’s quite a bit that falls out the bottom thanks to the shroud around the blade. I’m hoping to modify the base so that I can close off the rear port and collect dust closer to the floor. I have no plans to upgrade to another 110v saw. I will save my upgrade for a 220v SawStop if I am ever in that position. I suppose at some point I could buy the 100v SawStop, but I’d rather not.

Routers. I am pleased with my two Festool handheld routers, and my Triton 3.25HP in the table. I do hope for a bit of an upgrade to the table, with a new top and an insert upgrade to Incra. If that includes an upgrade to a lift as well, so be it. I do need to replace my Ryobi battery-operated trim router. Or at least relegate that to needs that don’t have a power supply. Looking at getting the 611PK Dewalt that I briefly had before I returned. Long story. And while I’d like to grab a OF2200 for those beast mode handheld needs, I really don’t need it.

Bandsaw. My Harbor Freight version, even with the riser, is not a serious tool. It works well enough to keep its place, but no more. I see the Laguna 14 series bandsaws in the shops from time to time and they look really nice. I want something that can handle resawing, for as much as 110v will allow. Something with quick release tension, a better dust collection port, and much better QA. This is my priority as far as major tools go.

Planer. I love my Dewalt 735. I may upgrade to a spiral head at some point, but that’s it. I don’t see me getting anything else unless this breaks or I move to more of a production-style shop where I need 15″ capacity.

Jointer. I’m not real pleased with the jointer, mainly for how much room it takes up. I also will need to dial it in very well before I use it next, to make sure the tables aren’t warped. I kept having just a little bit of issue getting boards straight before, but it could be that things moved on me. If the tool itself is solid, then it can stick around. I would like more capacity, but I’m sure that will have to wait for a bigger shop. I’ll try to make this work.

Miter Saw. I do like my Hitachi C12RSH, but can’t help but feel it is not doing me any favors. Dust collection is horrific, and I’m not convinced of the accuracy. This is another tool that needs to make sure is dialed in, and if it’s something where I have to dial it in each time I switch angles I will replace it. Likely with a Festool Kapex, even though I’m aware of the motor issues.

WorkbenchI will be upgrading my bench at some point in the next few years, to one with a harder, more durable wood. I will also incorporate storage features and finally get a face vise in the deal.

Drill Press. I have no complaints about my floor model Ridgid DP1500. I see no real reason to upgrade.

Dust Collection. This is my big upgrade for 2017. I went from the vac and a separator to a 2HP (claimed) extractor upstairs. I will make some mods to it over time, but this is what I wanted.

Air Compressor. I may upgrade this to a larger unit, I may not. Now that the compressor is upstairs and I’ve addressed almost all the leak points, the unit doesn’t cut on near as much. I may need more capacity if I go with a cheap HVLP instead of a turbine, but for most of what I do it should be fine. Will know more once the ceiling is closed up and I see how loud it still is.

Hand Tools. Easily the category that can land me in big trouble, there is so much of what I have that I want to upgrade. I want to replace all my planes with Veritas ones. I need a couple of spokeshaves and cabinet scrapers. I could write a whole article about this one, and might. So, to be continued elsewhere…

Power Hand Tools. Thankfully this list isn’t as long as the one above, but it’s pretty expensive for the things I do want to fill in. My oscillating tool could use an upgrade at some point, perhaps to a Fein. I need a rotary sander, and that will likely be the Rotex RO150. The cordless TS55 would be great to have if a truck isn’t an option soon, but otherwise I’m good there. I think at some point the bigger Domino will have to join the DF500 in my collection, because I want to build stuff like bed frames. The Festool rails aren’t really in this section, but I do need the long one to rip sheet goods with. I’d like to upgrade my rough cut circular saw to something better, perhaps cordless, to replace the two I have now. Perhaps that’s a job for the Festool dealer as well. One other sander is on my radar, the RTS. So perhaps five more systainers at the outside most to account for.

Workshop. You may have heard this is being taken care of already.



Bench Shavings – 10/27/17

In Memoriam – Steven Michael Leonard – 1948-2017

My wife lost her dad last weekend. It wasn’t something completely unexpected with his health issues, but it was a sudden turn for the worse and it happened rather quickly. He was a good man, and we had a good relationship. I will have to do something in his memory soon, and I have something in mind. It will be something I put quite a bit of thought and love into, and will work to minimize my mistakes on as much as humanly possible. I’ll have something on that project after it is done.

All I can do for my wife, kids, and mother-in-law right now is be there for them, and that has included some little things around her house. I replaced a couple outlet boxes and outlets in the kitchen right before it was tiled. I replaced another outlet in a hallway. I also replaced a light sensor, and tidied up the fit of an overhead light. Just little things off lists, things I’m very happy to help out with regardless, but even more so now.

As for the shop, it isn’t so much of old shop and new shop anymore, but the shop. I am completely up and running as a functional workspace, and it is mostly about getting the last little things out of the old space so that we can do something with it and the other construction debris. A rack of hammers and Kreg face clamps, some mallets, some odds and ends in a wall cabinet, and a few other miscellaneous things and we’re all set. The scrap wood is going upstairs as well, but not until I get attic stairs in place. I don’t feel like carting hardwood up a ladder multiple times.

It’s scheduled to rain tomorrow, which means I tried to take some precautions today for what is now the worst leak source – the doors. I installed a PVC trim board above the doors as the first part of the planned trim. I installed with construction adhesive and 18ga 1″ nails. I also used caulk on the upper edge to try and keep too much water from getting behind it. I also bought a smaller piece, that I put a 1/8″ kerf in the bottom with the table saw. I then cut the parallel sides to that kerf at 15 degrees to make a parallelogram. I installed this on top of the original trim piece to serve as a drip cap, in exactly the same manner. The theory is that any water that comes down the side of the building will hit the top of the wide trim, and come over the front of it and hit this drip cap. It will then come over the front of that and dribble down to the point I created with the angled rip cut. Any water that doesn’t want to drip off at the lowest point will be intercepted about 3/8″ back with that kerf cut I made. If I did my adhesive and caulking correctly, no water should run down the side of the building and wick back into the doorway now. I will of course evaluate that statement with tomorrow’s rainfall. I will also have pictures on the next post.

I bought a rubber work floor mat, designed to alleviate pain, to put under my air compressor to dull vibrations a bit. I also bought a swivel connector for the drain hole so I didn’t have to prop it up higher to clear the straight fitting. These two things took my compressor from the loudest thing on the planet to something a bit more manageable. I think I can quiet it down even further by adding insulation and a cover to the ceiling, which may get started this weekend. I also need to put attic stairs in to close that massive hole in the ceiling.

The insulation should also help close up the gap between the exterior sides and the roof, at least until I can actually close it up with trim of some sort. The ceiling insulation will help close it up, and the roof insulation will do that too. Lowes has a sale on the latter that I may go after a bit early to save some cash on. The real big expense coming up is the roof, but there’s no avoiding that. I’ll be making a list soon of every single thing there is left to do to call this project complete, plus some upgrades and such I hope to make with tools and etc. Look for that perhaps as soon as this weekend.

It’s been a long week, that’s all I have for today. Hopefully I can be around and in good health to share more tomorrow. That’s all anyone can ask for, because nothing in this life is a given. Every day is a blessing.

The Old Shop – Getting things tidy

The transition is coming, and sooner than I would have thought. When I had a need for a sander in the new shop, I knew I had to bring the Festool CT Midi over for good dust collection. I also thought I might as well bring the MFT over to give me a work surface. It was difficult to get it out of the old shop with how messy things were, particularly with the large amount of scrap under the MFT. I was able to take the legs down and eventually remove it over to the new shop.

The experience really reminded me that there are two ways to do this move: my usual way, a huge mess and disorganization, or to get things tidy and in order and do it logically. So, I started cleaning up the place to make the number two option a reality.

Really it’s just stuff that isn’t out of the norm and was long overdue. I took the two remaining 2×6 insulation bags over and put them in the attic until I have a use for them. Same thing with my bin of drawer slides and some miscellaneous stuff. That made a difference right there. Then I swapped all the plywood scrap that was under the MFT with the jointer. I figure that I’ll start swapping tools in the old shop with the Zip scrap in the new shop as I go along.

This is a real opportunity for me to make this transition as smooth as possible, and not to lose anything in the process. I put back together the socket case, did some sweeping, and some general organizing. This should continue over the next few weeks as the dynamic shifts between shops. It’s important to do this right, or important things will get lost. Maybe I’ll even find my missing pieces for the sander.

Getting the shop clean, which it is now, is also vital to the transition in another way: on the fly projects. One of the first things I’ll need to do is to build the new clamp rack to make sure I have enough room for all the other things in the shop. I’ll likely build it out of existing material to save money and space. As soon as the wall is up where it’s going, I’ll be building it.

Bench Shavings – 6/05/17

Hey, how’s it going? Yeah, had some time in the shop over the last week or so. Not a ton, but enough to kind of kick start things back in that direction. I’ll have a project post going up very shortly, and it’s been a bucket-list item. Not a huge project, but one I’ve been wanting to do very badly. As soon as this posts I’ll start on that. All the pics are ready to go and everything.

So, I have some actual news concerning future shop plans. Wife and I have finally come to an agreement, and we will be looking to move in the next couple of years. We hope to find a house that is larger, will give each of the kids their own room (potentially), myself a dedicated office, and hopefully a shop that is connected to the house in one way or another. I won’t be too picky about it, as long as it is at least a little bit larger. What that means for this shop will depend on what it will take to repair the house to a sell-able state. We have to do the water heater, really should do windows, plus some repair tasks. Depending on if there is money left over will determine if I repair the exterior of the current shop or build one in it’s place.

What it does mean is that I’m basically in a holding pattern from here on out. The new shop layout for this size space still interests me, but I’m not likely to build dedicated storage or deviate from what I have now too much. I was thinking about a hybrid workbench to replace my bench, MFT, and router table, but that is now going to stay in the planning phase. I have no idea what a new shop would look like in terms of size, so I’m not going to either commit myself or spend too much time thinking about it. When we have a house and the keys are in our hands, only then will I even think about what a new shop will look like. What I have now should work just fine for a little while in a bigger space. I’m looking forward to the challenge of designing something new.

That said, there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to sell the house for what we need to, so I’ll plan to be in this size shop for awhile longer. Be it this one or a replacement. I was able to get some stuff cleaned up and things more put away over the last two afternoons after my project was completed. I got the spindle sander up on the wall (precariously I think), and was able to push the saw and router table even further toward that wall and give more room going toward the door and between the RT and MFT. I got the workbench cleaned up, and aside from working more on scrap things are pretty nice in there right now. Aside from the flying carpenter ants. Nightmare fuel, I tell you. Will be looking forward to never seeing those again at some point.

The pic up top was meant to be a panorama, but for some reason didn’t work. So, coming up…the long-delayed Android Auto entry, the just-completed project, perhaps a follow-up post to the latter, and…I dunno. I really do need to get back to being consistent in my posts. I so do like to write.


The TV is dead. Long live the TV.

For some, it’s a distraction. For me, though, it’s essential. TV. I haven’t had a traditional TV arrangement for years, but then again these days what is traditional? I stream whatever I need, be it YouTube, other video sources, or digital TV services.

I bought a small TV back in February 2015 (Lights! Camera! Action!), and have really enjoyed having it available. It went out once before, but it turned out it was just the wrong power supply after moving things around. Unfortunately yesterday, all on it’s own, it died for real. Because I enjoy having it so much, an immediate search was launched for a replacement. While it was no slouch, particularly for what I paid for it, it was a bit small and didn’t have great viewing angles. My replacement search consisted of one requirement: cheap. I found an open-box 19″ model from Best Buy for $58, and that size would approximately match my monitor. I thought about going to 24″ and combining uses, but I didn’t feel like swapping inputs each time I wanted to look at the computer.

I did take the opportunity to move it closer to the WiFi source, and moved the computer to the same spot. That will keep the monitor alive longer versus having it right above the miter saw. I’ll need to find a permanent spot if this one doesn’t work as well. Directly above the workbench might work one day.

I also finally switched out the keyboard for one that was much nicer to use and a touchpad.

Clearing more air

The air cleaner was the first step in getting a better handle on the dust. It’s working well, I think, but it’s so hard to tell with all the dust that gets generated by the major tools in the shop. So, the natural companion to buying the air cleaner is upgrading my dust collection.

I’ve long wondered if I could fit the HF dust collector in my shop in some form or another, but space restrictions have said no. Now, after seeing a modification on YouTube, I think I might be able to fit it in.

It’s a modification that makes it work similarly to much more expensive models. I don’t know if I’ll incorporate the Dust Deputy or my own Thien baffle, but it’s early in this decision process. I’ll also have to consider how to route a couple of 4″ lines for the table saw and miter saw.

This will be important in the remaining time in this shop and the next one. I don’t think I need more than 4″ duct for my limited needs here or there, and figuring out how it just might work will benefit detail planning of the new shop – orientation of the ceiling joists, etc. I should be able to put the DC in the ceiling of the new shop, but what if I can’t? What if a gambrel roof doesn’t work? I certainly hope it does, but I need to be prepared to go with alternatives. What I do in this shop could translate to the interior or exterior of the new shop. I could certainly build a little nook on the outside to house a dust collector and even a vertical air compressor.

I just hope it doesn’t constantly trip breakers. We’ll see. Just more things to think about in planning and cleaning.

Bench Shavings – 3/12/17

Occasionally there are weeks where I just can’t get out to the shop as much as I would like. This was one of those weeks where it just didn’t happen. I posted on the 7th, but in actuality I can’t remember being in the shop since at least last weekend if not before. Looking back at my photo history, it had been since last Saturday. With sports, weather, etc taking up time, sometimes the shop gets put on the back burner.

I did get out there today though, even just for a short while. My main accomplishment was getting the air hose reel fixed. I had heard the spring slip a few weeks ago, and the last six feet or so of the hose would not stay wound on the reel. In spite of the warning on the side, I did undo four of the six screws and peeked inside. Seeing a flat coiled spring, I decided to do a YouTube search to see if there was another way to get the whole hose wound up. It turns out that if you get some slack and wind it around manually, it does the trick. I wasted a bit of time taking it down and et cetera, but the end result was worth it. I have again a fully functioning air hose reel again.

I also mounted the snips and wrenches on the wall under the computer monitor. I don’t know if that’s where it will stay, but it works for now. It’s also one more thing taken care of and towards the goal of starting my next project. I think after next weekend I’ll review the plans for the table again in preparation of starting it.

Clearing the air

One of the last big improvements to the current shop I planned to make was to try and improve my dust collection issue. There’s two parts to this, one is upgrading the actual dust collection. The other is addressing air filtration, which is what I pulled the trigger on a week ago. I ordered an inexpensive Wen unit off of Amazon and it came a few days ago.

The unit came basically ready to use out of the box, I only had to swap four screw bolts on the top for hooks and through nuts. That’s it. The hard part was trying to hang it from my roof joists and getting it to hang level. Thankfully it is a pretty light unit.

It is also a quiet unit. I could easily have a conversation with someone, if that someone could squeeze into my shop, on the low setting. It comes with an about six foot three-prong cord. I need to look closer at the amp rating to see if it needs the heavier gauge extension cord, but for now I have it hooked up to it. I figure after I make a series of cuts I’ll turn it on and run it for 15 minutes or more to try and cycle the air.

I found a spot for it above my MFT and drill press, really one of the only options I had. It will be interesting to see where I would put it in a new shop, because I plan to close up the ceiling for storage. Might have to size at least one joist wide enough for it to fit sideways.

I’ll be cleaning the shop thoroughly for dust over the next few weeks, and be running the cleaner after operations to see if it makes a difference in how much accumulates on surfaces. I’m sure my lungs will appreciate it though.