Shop updates – Summer 2018

Since I moved into the new shop, it has really been about starting back on projects and also getting the little things done to get the shop finished. I took a couple afternoons one weekend and made a few adjustments that greatly increase usability.

First up is adding mobility to my drill press. I used four stem casters from Harbor Freight so that I could move the drill press around a bit better. Very useful upgrade, even if it isn’t the most stable thing. This comes from the casters not being double-locking, which I will address once I find a good sale on them from my usual source, Peachtree Woodworking.

Along with the mobility, I finally fixed the drill press table. I rounded the corners at the front, and more securely attached it to the factory table. This was something that was much needed as well.

Multiple years ago, I designed this router table as the final iteration. However, that doesn’t mean it is done. It still needs doors on the router cubby and lower portion. It also never got a miter slot, which I decided to address. I used the Festool OF1400 and a rail, and aligned the slot with the front edge of the plate. Going slowly, this worked great, and I inserted an Incra track to match the fence.

Another big upgrade I wanted to make was to allow the back of the Incra fence to slide under the miter saw. As it stood for awhile, it would make contact with the supports. So, I raised the router table up 3/4″ to better match the table saw, and also raised the miter saw up about 1″. Now, the fence can go all the way back so that I don’t have to do as much moving around for table saw cuts to clear. I then adjusted the miter saw back flush with the cabinets for proper support.

I also finally installed the wood rack upstairs and brought over all the wood on it.

That’s about it for this time out. Here are some fairly clean shop pics to round things out.


Video killed the blogger star

I am attempting to document projects on YouTube, and this is the first spoken video on the channel. I am currently filming progress on my next project, so feel free to subscribe for any videos I might finish.

Sooner than this project will be finished will be a shop tour.

Interruption in service

I’ve been dealing with an issue where pictures would not load to WordPress from Lightroom, and just now have resolved the problem. I also have been struggling with time and incentive to post, whereas I have been making much more use of Instagram. I am phasing out Twitter, as I don’t like the platform.

Hoping to get some new content up on the site soon, however just writing this has taken entirely too much time as it is. I am also considering video work to compliment the Instagram channel. Stay tuned.

I will now figure out where I left off and get some new content up shortly.

Why Festool?

There’s some prominent members of the woodworking community like Marc Spagnuolo and Eric (The Poplar Shop) that have started subbing out their Festool products with other brands. With some good reasons I actually agree with. However, I’m actually going in the opposite direction, and I’ll explain why.

The beginning is a good place to start, and in this case the only place to start. As a hobbyist woodworker, I have no endorsements. I am not popular enough on Instagram, I do not like appearing on camera so YouTube isn’t really an option. So, I either buy all my tools, equipment, and supplies myself or they are gifted to me by family. So, in short, Festool does not sponsor me. Even though I’d love for someone to sponsor me. Message me.

I bought the TS 55 back in early 2014, and it has been a fantastic addition to the shop ever since. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted with my circular saw and a gripping clamp system (which I actually still have). Buying the TS 55 and 1900 rail was no small deal at the time, with it being my first foray into the world of premium-priced tools. What I got out of it though was worth the cost. It worked well, was a delight to use, and I got much better results from it. In truth, it was one of the defining moments of my hobby, understanding that there is a lot of truth in getting what you pay for.

That really set me on my way, and sold me on the concept of a system. It helped that names in the industry were also using and championing them. The Domino continues to be one of the best home-use tools ever invented in my opinion. I bought an MFT, even though I really didn’t have the room, because I wanted a good place to use both the Domino and track saw. Then an auto-start vac. A sander, then another one. A jigsaw. I paid money, took up valuable shop real estate, and replaced other options because I believed in the system, believed that these tools would help me down my path to be a better woodworker.

I still do.

That’s not to say the company hasn’t made mistakes. In truth, it seems a lot of poor decisions have come about after the USA rep left, but I don’t know if that’s a chicken or egg scenario. Perhaps he was frustrated and left too. I think the yearly price increases are stupid, and have thought so even before I started buying. I do think they are overpriced by 10-20% in some cases, or closer to 50% in terms of their drills. I will likely never own one of their drills. Their decisions on what to bring and what not to bring to the US market are indefensible. I don’t think they listen at all to user feedback. They don’t make minor revisions to the tools that need them.

All of that said, I do enjoy using them. If I can afford them, and make me happy, there’s no reason for me to stop using them. If they give me good, worry-free results, I should look to add more of them where needed.

With that in mind is why I just added the cordless TS 55. I don’t have a truck, but hope to have the funds for one in about a year. Even with one, with the set building responsibilities that I will have for the next few years, I need a way that I can build on-site (or anywhere). With the last generation batteries on clearance, I thought it might be a good time to jump. I had considered going with Ryobi’s 18v brushless saw, and adapting it to the Festool track, but remembered my poor results with the Pro Grip system. I didn’t want to go to that trouble, even though I am already invested in that 18v battery system, but trying to bodge something together poorly. So, I decided to buy the cordless TS 55 and sell my corded one for about a similar total cost.

It’s a similar story with my regular circular saw. I don’t enjoy using it to cut dimensional lumber, so I’m looking at the cordless HK model with the attached track. It will help on my deck build plus set building. In fact, I have envisioned use for all the Festool I plan to buy in the future, and will be adding them slowly as needs dictate. After the HKC, I don’t know what will be next. It will depend on if I need to strip paint (Rotex), build the bed frame (Domino XL), or what.

And by no means is it Festool or bust for my future plans. I’m very happy with my 12v Bosch drills/drivers, and will be looking into their Flexiclick system with changeable heads. I need a good bandsaw, which Festool obviously doesn’t make. The miter saw upgrade may or may not be Festool, depending on my needs for usage outside of the shop. I buy what I like, and sell what I don’t. I may sell the Pro 5 sander because I otherwise don’t have a use for the 5″ orbital. Can use that money toward a Rotex (6″) or something else.

Anyway, that’s my story.

Working in the New Shop – Upgrades – NSLL #4

I’d love to be able to sit here and say I get to spend other people’s money to outfit my shop, but it’s not true. I am not sponsored, I am not gifted things outside of my family. While this does mean that my wallet takes a hit each time I buy something, I’m also not beholden to use anyone’s products over any others. As such, I always choose what is best for me at the time based on need and price. Sometimes I spend more to get the best, sometimes I have to make do with a cheaper solution. I also am not stuck using something that doesn’t work, unless I can’t afford anything better.

I’ve done lists before where I went through all the tools I have now and talk about them, but this time I am just going to talk about things I have my eye on and why. This is in no particular order again except for how it comes to the top of my head.

Festool TSC 55

Here’s your trigger warning for Festool products if you are afflicted. One of the issues I have for the foreseeable future is the inability to break down sheet goods away from a power source. I was intrigued by Ryobi’s brushless 18v saw, and making an adapter to go on the Festool track, but then I remembered why I bought the TS55 (my first Festool) in the first place: my disappointment using a clamp and guide for the saw I had. I can cheap out and try to make something work, or spend the money and get something I know will do exactly what I need.

The TSC 55 also comes with a dust bag, so I can also use this outside on the table and not get dust all over the workpiece or myself when breaking down large sheet goods at home. This will also come with me to any set work I have to do at the church or theater.

I actually decided in the course of writing this to order one, along with two older clearance batteries. Looking forward to taking advantage. I did miss out on a really good deal that was posted just after I got the ship confirmation. Story of my life.

Festool 2700/3000 FS Rail

This goes along with the above, for being able to rip sheet goods in one pass. This is a bit of a luxury item, for as long as I am good with my marks I can get a pretty straight cut re-positioning the rail. This will also open up the ability to more efficiently use the sheet goods being able to make combination cuts instead of all crosscuts first. This rail will also be good for 5×5 baltic birch. The difference between the two is that the 3000 is better suited for 8′ rip cuts with the TS75, which may or may not eventually make it into the shop.

Festool HKC 55

More Festool. This one will be a luxury as well, but on the last set of stairs I did, I wasn’t happy with either my regular circular saw nor the TS55. As such, I’ll be upgrading at some point. This could be more of a long term prospect, depending on needs. Since I’ll already have a cordless TSC, I’ll be going with the cordless version of the HK as well. These can use the same rails as the TS, but getting the rails suited for this will be a necessity if this saw finds a home in the shop. If dealers are still doing it, I may pay the difference to get the next longest rail.

Laguna 14|12

I desperately need a new bandsaw, and this is as nice and in my theoretical price range as any. I need one that will actually resaw straight up and down so I don’t waste a ton of wood resawing. The Harbor Freight bandsaw has served it’s purpose, it’s time to upgrade. I might get $100 for the old one with the 6″ height extension. I need to stick with a 110v motor, and this is the best one I know of.

The Veritas Catalog

Going to replace pretty much the entire collection of what I have now with upgraded units from Lee Valley. I like when things match. Low angle block, low angle jack, bevel up jointer are all on the menu among others. I have to seriously upgrade my hand tool game to advance my skills and my abilities, and a lot of that has to do with better quality irons that hold an edge better. I have seen better results already with the router plane and shoulder plane I’ve purchased.

Festool Domino XL

Another in the “down the line” pickups. Will need this for the larger projects I have had on my to-do list forever, like a King bed frame. Luxury purchase. This could also play a role in the workbench build, but I’m not far along in my planning for that. This would also work for making doors, if ever I get into that situation.

New Jointer

My Craftsman 6-1/8″ jointer might need to be replaced due to the fence, and I can’t guarantee really any complete flatness of the tables either. I would like to increase capacity to 8″, but that will depend on if I am still in this shop due to both space and power requirements. The European combination machines look really sweet, but I would need permanent 220/240v power.

The other option is to just make do until I get a new shop by getting a really nice #7 Veritas and using it to follow up anything on the jointer. Or try and grind out the issue with the fence, but that could be expensive.

Festool Rotex 150

I need an aggressive sander, and using my 150/3 as one will eventually wear it out. Pretty simple, perhaps I can pick up a refurb one at some point. This uses the same paper I have, so no huge expense at least with consumables.

Disc/Belt Sander

Dead useful, and hopefully I can make a spot for a small one.

Likely next shop additions

New table saw/new miter saw

These are the lowest priority for me. The table saw will wait until I have a 220v hookup, as the next saw I buy I want to be my last. It will be a 3 or 5HP SawStop. I don’t know if I want a new miter saw or not. I’d like one with better dust collection, but I also know that I should see how something like the HKC works to see if I even need a miter saw in the future. The responsible thing for me to do is to be patient and see how everything plays out. It may be that I either keep what I have or not use one at all.

Wide Belt Sander

Sadly, will have to wait for the new shop, but I desperately want one.


Another one for the next shop file, I’ve seen quite a bit of intriguing stuff made with it, and it seems like it would be a great addition to the shop for truly custom stuff.

Working in the New Shop – Projects – NSLL #3

These are only projects related to the shop, but not related to structure completion. Some of these are just general ideas at this point, and is just the order they fall out of my brain.

Fine Woodworking Tool Cabinet

I’m largely sticking to the script on this one, and focusing on getting the details right. The internals can be massaged a bit to fit my needs, I just need to lay out what my eventual inventory will be to make sure things will fit. Once that’s done, I can start stocking the lumber. Could be cherry or walnut, depending on what’s on sale. I’m looking forward to this one testing my hand tool skills, particularly with dovetails. This will replace my plane till, and perhaps the thousand chisels I have will fit – that’s been my biggest deterrent to starting. Once complete, the back wall will be markedly different.

Outdoor Table

Mentioned in the Technique post, I need an outdoor table that I can break sheet goods down on, do some light assembly and/or finishing on. Nothing fancy, but it needs to be flat, stable, level, and stand up to the elements.

Redo Chaos Wall

This is a maybe, but something I’d like to do if the funds are there. The entire right side of the shop needs some help, and what better way to do it than to do it all over again with a cohesive plan. I love the systainer storage, but everything else could use some work.

New Workbench

This is going to be inevitable at some point. I built my workbench as my first one, never my last. I used cheaper materials to help get my feet wet and build my skills. At some point the soft Douglas fir would have to be replaced by a denser, more expensive material. I don’t have a final design for this, nor a time frame. The Roubo and Shaker designs are leading the way, and perhaps I should focus on getting the rest of the shop’s storage capabilities sorted out to see if I need all the drawers a Shaker-style workbench would bring. Marc Spagnuolo did a really great version of the Roubo, and I’ve seen several good versions of the Shaker.


This technically isn’t completely shop related, but it will play a big part. The area in front of the shop is very uneven, mostly involving some slope down to the house. This means that everything outside is not level, there’s a nice step down out of the shop, and generally the backyard is a mess. Well, I plan to build a freestanding deck just outside of the shop that I can wheel projects or tools out on, set up level outdoor cutting (like a table mentioned above), and relax and perhaps have a fire pit with. It will go a long way to helping the resale value of the house as well, which is a nice benefit. With a shiny new deck of course I will likely have to build deck furniture.


Finally, I’ll need to build something tidy for my yard equipment to go in. This is going to be small enough to not piss the neighbors off, but big enough where a push mower can go in. This is pretty low on the list right now, but it could be a place where the lathe can go temporarily as well.

Working in the New Shop – Technique – NSLL #2

I have a 12×12 shop, a touch less than 144 square feet (a touch over 41 square meters). Obviously, there’s quite a few challenges I have faced working in that small of a space. Some have thought my attempts foolish, some have thought it inspirational. I wanted to share the things I’ve learned over the course of now two shops, and what still could use some work.

Being in this small of a space, breaking down sheet goods is a very big challenge. In fact, it’s the biggest challenge I have. This was a much bigger issue before I bought my Festool track saw. I had to use another solution that involved a guide, and an attachment to my circular saw. The problem was it wasn’t accurate, and it was frustrating to use. So, I bought the Festool TS55, the 1900 (75″) guide rail, and I was on my way. I would set up my Centipede work table with some foam on top, and do my cross cuts first, then my rip cuts either inside or out, depending on how big they were. I have moved on to a cheap and quick outdoor table made of 2x4s for stability, but otherwise this is the setup I use to this day.

Well, let me talk about the challenges this presents. First, the table I’m using isn’t put together well, so it is in danger of falling apart. Worse, it is on the slope of the same hill I had to deal with when I was building my shop. The top is slick, so things tend to slide and fall off constantly. I either need to account for the slope or fix the slope. I’ll be fixing the slope, even though it’s the harder thing to do. I’d love to rent a skid steer (and I may), but likely I will be doing this by hand. I dread that, but I can’t afford the rental. With the slope level, I can build some sort of outdoor cutting/assembly solution. I will work out either a tacky solution to keep things from sliding, or use the rigid foam. I would also like a shelf where I can sit the tool I’m using, either the track saw or the jigsaw. A couple of nail holes to sit the level, straight edge, or square that I need for the job so they don’t get set on the ground or fall off.

I did not account for two things with my outdoor work, though. One is a power outlet. I did not think that using an extension cord into the shop, then another extension cord via an outdoor outlet was a good idea, so I didn’t plan for that. As for right now, power still comes from an extension cord from my shop to what I’m doing through the door. I can also pull the original cord providing power to the shop, but that then cuts off power to things that might be running in the background like the air conditioner or compressor. It is something I will have to think on. The other issue is dust collection. For the tracksaw, this is a big issue, as the dust is thrown all over the guide rail, the workpiece, and me. It creates a big mess, and while there is a conversion kit, it’s nearly $60. The cordless version, of course, comes with one. Buying the cordless one is a big consideration at this point due to the ability it would give to breaking down sheet goods at the point of purchase. Not having a truck, this is a big deal. I’ll be discussing purchases in depth on another day.

Breaking down dimensional lumber is another pain, with my cheap circular saw, and not always enough room with my miter saw. Purchasing the Festool HKC is also a consideration, but it is more of a convenience thing at this point, something I can live without for a bit longer. The FSK rails with the preset angles seems nice, though.

Moving to the inside of the shop itself, I did touch on a few issues in the previous entry. If I want to cut longer pieces on the table saw, I have to make sure the router table fence is out of the way. If I can adjust the miter saw mount, I can get this fence out of the way no problem. Keeping the tables clean is a bigger challenge. I do need to raise the router table up slightly, or figure out some way that the pieces I use on the table don’t interfere with the table saw. They need to be virtually equal in height for this to work, or for whichever one I work on to be higher at that moment. Haven’t quite figured out how to bend time and space like that. The router table does move, so it hasn’t been a deal breaker to this point.

Putting wheels on the MFT really freed up the ability to cut longer stock, but my ability to cut wider stock is still hampered by the fence and attachment points for the track. I plan on solving this by buying Parf Dogs as demonstrated by their creator, Peter Parfitt on his YouTube channel. He’s English, which means I already like him, but he’s a great study on how to make really nice stuff and explained in a clear manner. Hopefully one day we can meet up, perhaps I can take a visit to his shop.

I will at some point end up upgrading my workbench, but for now the biggest help I can do for it is to try and keep it cleaner. Same thing for the miter saw, except I do need to fix the outfeed side of the shelf to be even with the saw. The jointer has some issues, but I can move things around enough to use it, and the planer too.

Otherwise, for technique and the ability to do things, I’m in pretty good shape. Of course, I don’t have a drum sander or anything like that, so I have to do the best I can. There are some tweaks to where I store things, which ties back into the layout post, but overall I’m very happy with my shop to this point. I do realize that some of my posts in this series might overlap, but they are all interconnected.

Working in the New Shop – Layout – NSLL #1

New Shop Lessons Learned

Being limited to the same footprint as the old shop left me with a challenge – how do I justify building a new shop in the same footprint but be able to make it actually work for me? I had the ability, working from scratch, of designing a floor layout plus building up and adding storage ability. These are the lessons I took from the old shop, how I applied them to the new shop, and the improvements I think I can make after about seven months of working in it fully.

The layout in my old shop was an absolute mess. It looked like it might work when rendered, but in actuality small details really just made it too cramped.

The space on the left was very, very close to the most accurate representation of my last setup in the old shop. The space on the right is an early thought process of how things might be in a new shop (I made this before the new shop was begun). The obvious thing that makes a difference is that the lathe isn’t involved, which is true to this day – it’s still in the old shop, awaiting a resolution. But there are things not obvious in these renders. The small things.

In the old shop, I had a dust extraction setup of a vac and a separator, and these were on the floor under things. The old shop had a low pitch roof with very little space above the rafters (such as the were). As such, I had no other choice, and these were the biggest things you can’t see on the render. One was under the end of the workbench, the other the end of the table saw. But neither went under completely, and made moving things around very hard. So, the first design decision I made for the new shop was to have a true attic space so that I could install a true dust extractor – I was pretty sure the vac suction wouldn’t work.

Indeed, in October I bought the extractor and plumbed pipe in November. I also figured the air compressor that peeks out in the upper left corner in the left shop could go upstairs as well, and that has saved even more room.

The other thing to this point that I’ve done differently with the setup is not have any (or much, at least) scrap hanging around. The wood rack is also going to be installed upstairs, so that clears a good bit of wall real estate. But in the old shop there was entirely too much plywood scrap that I had no other resolution for – all that is still in the old shop and needs to be dealt with. In the new shop, I will need to be much better about getting rid of scrap plywood and not letting it pile up. You can see it even in the picture below.

Otherwise, the layout involves the same things and is as below, generally. Not everything is rendered.

So, what have I learned?

The first thing I’ve learned is that I love the flexibility. I can move my router table, MFT sysport, and table saw however I need to work. Things aren’t perfect, though. The bandsaw and drill press need to be more mobile, so I need to add casters in some way.  For the bandsaw, this will easily allow cutting of long or wide stock. Similar story for the drill press. Otherwise, the location of these is pretty much perfect. Building the MFT Sysport and Boom Arm has really taken the mobility of the MFT to where it has always needed to be.  The clamp rack I built has been a game changer, and again something I wish I had done a long time ago. There’s little about the left side of the shop that I would change.

The rear of the shop needs a minor bit of improvement. There’s the hand tool cabinet that is still on my to-do list, plus the drawers underneath my workbench aren’t the absolute best. There’s some poorly organized wall space there. There’s no real lessons here except that I could do a better job organizing my space. Particularly if on my next workbench it doesn’t have drawers or anything like that.

The real lessons can be taken from the remainder of the space. The right side of the shop was moved in it’s entirety over from the old shop like it was in Sketchup, with it formerly being on the left side of the shop. Nothing changed. The systainer cabinet, the upper cabinet, the miter saw station, the part above the jointer…it all came right over as it was. There have been some issues with that. The third systainer rack, the one closest to the miter saw, is only single depth. This was because I had to store the mortiser back there. Speaking of which, it’s just sitting on the shelf above the jointer. The shelf isn’t level or even with the miter saw, at all. The systainer racks could use a redo, to put more mounting holes in there as well – that could be something I could do in-place, and add a full depth unit on the end. That would certainly save money considering how expensive plywood is these days. The upper cabinets aren’t very efficient. The finishing cabinet, situated above the miter saw, is not in a good spot.

The miter saw where it attaches to the wall is also about an inch too high – if it were to be lowered, I could slide the Incra fence rail under it so I can rip items on the table saw easier.

In other words, that entire half of the shop could do with a comprehensive redo. A full design from scratch, that allows elements to work together, is the best way forward, even if it does mean more money, time, and materials wasted.

In reality though, the tweaks that absolutely have to be done are minor, but the concept of how to do them well is difficult. It just might be easier long term to do things the right way, which is something that is pretty consistently true.



Year Two And Beyond – A short series

Currently working on what could be considered a to-do list, a to-buy list, and a general summary of what has gone right and what I need to improve upon after a year in the new shop. I’ve done to-do lists, I’ve done potential purchases, but I kinda feel like getting into the weeds of really explaining things if possible.

I haven’t quite nailed down how it will be broken out, but it’s going to be in depth and long. I haven’t had much time to write lately, but I’m going to try and make the time and it be more of a long-form blog entry.

The New Shop – Fifty Weeks

In two weeks will be the one year anniversary of breaking ground. As such, I’m trying to be done by this arbitrary deadline. The last couple of weekends involved getting the upper wall siding installed. I bought new Z-channel that fits the siding thickness a bit better, and installed it on the front and back, removing the old stuff from the front. It went up with some spare off white bathroom caulk – really just needed some sort of adhesive that could stand up to water.

I really had to guess on the angles at the roof, as I did some massaging to the width of the roof rafters to not have so much overhang. It did not go well, with a couple inch gap in places. The grooves in the siding do match up pretty well to the ones at the bottom, though. Thankfully, the plan is to use trim up around the roof, so it will be pretty well covered if I can get the angles to be right.

I don’t know how much will be done by the time the one year anniversary comes around, because I know it won’t be completely done. But the attempt will be made. PVC trim on the outside, a bit more insulation and a fake wall on the inside. Only expense needed is the trim. Thanks to my dad for letting me borrow the ridiculously tall 24′ ladder. It’s almost too tall for this.