2017 Year In Review

Not much happened this year.

So, that’s a lie. This was the most transformative year my workshop and woodworking has ever had.

I started the year talking about a new shop, like I’ve done for so many other years. The difference is this year in July I actually started on one, and it’s nearly complete as it stands today.

I made a spice rack for our kitchen and I started looking at new layouts in January. I made an MFT clamp rack (then replaced it with a new one later, then made a third one). I made parallel guides for my Festool tracks. I made a bunch of stage blocks with those guides and it turned out very well. I had to buy a new TV. I made guitar hangers. I unfortunately had to make a flag case.

I didn’t make a ton of purchases, but I did pick up an air cleaner, a dust extractor, and a new trim router set. Plus all the things necessary to get a new shop up and running. But the second half of the year was all about building the shop and not other projects. I’m hoping that 2018 will see a return to getting some projects for the house taken care of.

The New Shop – Mid-December Update

I am currently in a holding pattern. I am waiting for the roof to be done, which is seemingly just waiting on the weather to have the right combination of temperature and precipitation. Basically, dry and above 50F. We’ve not been able to get that combo lately. If it’s warm, it’s raining. Dry, it’s cold. Last week on Friday it snowed nearly a foot. There is still snow on the ground today, which is an extremely rare thing a week later.

There is a minor amount of insulation to be done on the roof, which will be done after the roof is complete. I still need to build stud walls for the attic sides, which will then take insulation themselves. One wall will have my wood rack installed. I have to buy 2x4s for a stage play project this weekend, I’ll just grab a few more and start on making at least the wall for the wood rack. Then I can put the insulation in. I’ll end up using the 2×6 insulation if I need to. Just something to cut the wind, it doesn’t have to keep the space that warm.

The final thing will be to finish the exterior panels and trim. This will be done in a couple or more stages as I can get the full 4×8 panels home. Figure one side at a time would be a good plan, which is three or four panels depending on the side. The actual sides need three, the back needs four or maybe even five, the front needs three or four. Then, trim, but that will be fairly easy. Then, paint. Or I might paint the panels before I put them up for ease. I’ve picked the color, and I think a gallon will do it.

I don’t have a timeline for any of this to get done. I probably won’t be buying any new panels until after the new year, or at least until after Christmas. I’m hoping to have everything wrapped up in early February though.

The Once and Future Router

Back in 2015, I bought a new router…then I decided that I wanted to go in a different direction. The goal was to replace my Ryobi One+ trim router, and the Dewalt 611 was nice. But I decided to go with the Festool OF1010 instead. Why? Because it offered a slick way to get hardwood trimmed flush, and that’s what I needed to accomplish at the time.  So the Ryobi lived on, because there are some things you just need a smaller, lighter router for.

After using the Ryobi for the last two years and on, and on the new shop itself, it had begun to show signs of wear. The batteries more than the router, but I was having to stop and restart the router frequently to get through a project. The  thicker material was I needing to use it on was just too much for the aging battery system. It was finally time to replace it, and I decided to go with the same Dewalt 611 I had tried before.

I really liked the router when I bought it the first time. LEDs for great visibility, available dust collection attachments for the fixed and plunge base, precision depth control, available edge guides…it really is a premium compact router platform. I had bought the 611PK set, which was the fixed and plunge base. I had also ordered the dust collection for the fixed base, and the edge guide. I returned everything but the dust collection, as Amazon told me just to keep it. So, because of that, and the good impression it made on me before, I ordered it again at nearly the same price I had paid two years earlier. I also ordered the plunge base dust collection, but not the edge guide just yet.

I’m going to be really happy with this, and it should last me a very long time. With the dust collection, the Festool and Bosch 27mm hoses don’t perfectly fit the Dewalt adapter, but that’s where a Bosch vac adapter comes into play, the VAC003. This little adapter works for a ton of tools, including my Craftsman jigsaw and oscillating tool. I should order a couple more of these when they go on sale, and just keep them permanently attached to the tools they fit on.

This will probably be my last tool purchase of the year, this year has been pretty light in that regard if you don’t count tools to actually help me build the shop.

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 – 11/18/17

Sometimes I find Instagram the best way to share something, but then sometimes I don’t have a picture to go along with it. Sometimes I want to share something that really isn’t long enough for a post, and I hate Twitter. Sometimes, the thoughts stew around long enough to combine, and then they become Bench Shavings.

I didn’t get out to the shop much during the week, so Friday afternoon and Saturday were crucial to getting back on track. I set my attention to the left side of the dust collection leg first. I repeated everything I did in the attic that I did before, and again hooked it up to the 45 degree jog just below the ceiling. This time though, it was harder because the attic was already in place. I taped here, and on the entire run on both sides.

The rest was uneventful.

Not pictured is the transition to a flex 2.5″ hose that connects to either the bandsaw, drill press, or for general cleanup on this side. With that, dust collection is complete. Here is the right side all taped up and neat.

Then I started working more on the attic insulation. I didn’t want to totally complete this until the roof was complete, due to a couple of very small leaks, but I did want to get it right up to that point. Nothing exciting here, just exacerbating my elbow bursitis with the hammer stapler. I’m probably about 75% done with the insulation at this point.

So, at this point this is the remaining to-do list for the shop:

  • finish roof insulation
  • have roof shingled
  • insulate attic walls and create at least one “wall”
  • remaining exterior panels and trim
  • exterior paint

There’s also the possibility of trimming out the ceiling and ladder, plus of course bringing over the remaining items out of the old shop and finding them homes. It’s November 18, and that small list contains all that’s left? That’s outstanding. I’m happy. I think I’ve also picked a paint color, too.

The New Shop – Ducting Awesome

I’m at the stage now, so close to the end, where there isn’t really any big leaps of progress. Things move slow, but it is important work.

The past few days, when I’ve been in the shop, is about getting the dust collection system up and running. I had to shove the flex hose back into the attic when I installed the last bit of insulation and the ceiling. I talked about using PVC sewer pipe, and I picked up two ten foot sections, plus some fittings and went about making the extractor usable again.

I started on the right side, the main side, so that I could get the majority of the tools up and running the fastest. Plus I figured I could pull the hose over to the bandsaw should I need it. The hardest part was making a round hole in the ceiling that wouldn’t look awful, mostly because I didn’t want to spend $35 on the requisite hole saw. So I used the hole saw to mark the outline, and used a drywall saw and the recip saw to cut the ceiling and the insulation. Because this section did not have an attic floor over it, I was saved that hassle.

I used a long sweep 90 degree fitting, plus a section of pipe long enough to come through the ceiling. This section and sweep were glued together for structural integrity. All other fittings and sections were secured with 5mm Euro drawer screws, and foil tape will take care of any leaks. Once the long sweep was in and wouldn’t fall through the ceiling, I could install the jog.

The jog is two 45 degree fittings installed opposite of each other so that the vertical section can both clear the ceiling joist but not block the window. I cut a short section of the pipe just so it would mate the two fittings together, then it was installed to the section already in the ceiling.

After some trial and error, I decided on two wyes for this side. The first wye is just below the jog, and provides a 2.5″ spur to the miter saw. A metal blast gate and anchor is installed to the wall, and a flex hose goes directly to the saw. This doesn’t get all the dust coming off the saw, but it does help. Below the wye is another section of pipe and then another wye. This one goes in the opposite direction of the miter saw branch, this one intended to be used with the oscillating sander. Perhaps on the table saw guard, too. This also has a blast gate. Attached to the bottom of this wye is a 4″ metal blast gate.

Now, under this main blast gate temporarily is the entire 4″ flex hose that attaches to the tools. This is way too long, and is way too inefficient. I’ll at some point go buy a fitting from Rockler, add another length of pipe, and have the flex hose connect near the floor. I’ll then cut the flex to a length I need, because air moves more efficiently with a smooth inner wall as opposed to the ridges inside the flex hose. This runs through the right side of the miter saw station, and cutting that hole was a huge pain in the butt.

For now, though, attention will be given to setting up the left side pipe run. This will be exactly similar to the right side except there will be no wyes. The attic floor on this side is in though, so that could make it more difficult. I unfortunately haven’t been out to the shop in a couple of days, so I’ll go ahead and publish this and update it when I can get the other side done.

The New Shop – The Floor is the Ceiling

Something I really want to take care of soon is the attic ladder, but the prerequisite to do so is to have the ceiling in place. So, on Sunday, that’s just what I started on.

I had been trying to decide what material to use for the ceiling for a few days, and on my errand trip on Saturday came across an unexpected contender: 5mm underlayment. It looked really nice, was cheaper than any other option besides drywall, and was really light. The only disadvantage it had would be that I really couldn’t secure anything to it. After thinking about it and comparing it to 7/16″ OSB, I realized that my air cleaner would have to be secured to studs anyway. The lights could be secured partially to studs, so the concern was no longer an issue.

With that decided, my parents were nice enough to meet me at Home Depot to get the five sheets I needed. For some reason, I bought six. I’ll have to get that one back to the store when I buy the ladder. I thought about different ideas to cut them and get them up easier, but what seemed the best idea to me was to cut them in half and have nine panels covering the ceiling. I would work from the back of the shop to the front and do the outside sections and fit the middle panels to exactly what I needed.

I installed the panels with 3/4″ 18ga nails from the air nailer. This was another advantage of going with the 5mm ply. The first panel in the back right went up without issue after cutting to make sure the edge aligned with a rafter. The next one was the back left, which was complicated by needing a hole for the ceiling outlet. I placed the panel up to mark the edges on two sides to coordinate exactly where I needed the hole. It was extremely close to being perfect, I just had to extend one side. Then I measured carefully and cut the third panel to fit in the back middle. All three of these panels overlapped the attic hole by a bit.

The second row went exactly like the first. Albeit with one issue: I had this strange bowing in the middle panel and I tried to fix it with more nails. Even after making a huge mess of it with so many nails, it still bowed. I took the panel down and discovered I forgot to remove two of the light hangers. Those removed, the panel went up fine. It just looks real ugly. Thankfully, when I reinstall the lights they should cover most of it.

I did install one light right above the workbench, and I may go ahead and order another set. Or move it back now that the middle section is installed, the two lights in the middle do seem to do a very good job of providing almost all the light I need. I did find one issue with the lights, the mounting pattern isn’t very intelligent – it requires the screws to be slightly in toward each other, so that one set will go in the holes, and you push to seat them. Only then can the other set enter. In other words, all four screw heads can’t go into the mounting holes at the same time. Annoying, but only slightly. Six panels and one light were done when I called it an early (due to DST ending) night Sunday.

Monday afternoon I took my extra sheet of ply back to the store and picked up my ladder. I followed the instructions to make sure there were no issues, and the first thing I figured out was that I could have done this without the ceiling being in. The way I did it will end up being easier, but the cover for the ladder will end up sticking down slightly, probably about 1/4″.

I placed my son in the attic before I put the ladder in to do the initial screw driving. He did a fine job, and the rest of the frame installation went without too big of a hitch, aside from returning to the store to pick up more shims. The only thing that is disappointing is the cover, which seems to be misaligned. One day I might have to fix that. I followed the instructions again and cut the aluminum legs to the indicated length and applied the leg ends with rubber feet. I sheared a bolt by overtightening, but it was easily replaced with yet another trip to the store. The ladder is solid against the floor and the lag bolts give me comfort at the top.

I had expected that the outswing for the ladder might hit either the systainer storage or the MFT, and I chose for it to hit the latter if so. It does, but at least I can move the MFT to swing it down – I can’t move the systainer cabinet.

I used the window and trim spray foam to seal up three sides, I will have to use a piece of wood or something along the other short side, opposite the hinge. The specs given for the opening is too generous. Other than that though, the ladder is done, and that is where the ceiling was on Tuesday night.

There were three panels left to install and one small batt of insulation, right where the hose comes down for the dust extractor. I need through-wall connections here and on the opposite wall to cleanly collect dust on all my power tools.

I got the fourth side of the ladder opening sealed Thursday evening, and on Friday I finished up the ceiling install. I shoved the dust hose into the attic, and finalized the insulation install. Then the last three plywood panels went up to give me a completed plywood ceiling. I should trim out the outside edges and perhaps the panel edges, but otherwise it’s done for now. I cut out access holes for the air feed and discharge lines, plus the mounting point for the air reel.

The back light is attached flush to the ceiling, but the lights will have to be hung like the one in front here, just really close to the ceiling. The screws will not hold in the 5mm ply adequately enough to flush mount. A minor inconvenience.

The New Shop – Duct Hunt

I am finishing up the ceiling install this week, and I’ll have a blog entry about it once it’s done. Something I have to figure out first though is routing the dust collection pipes I need.

The plan is to use both inlets on the dust extractor, a HF special, to come down on either side of the shop toward the front. The run on the left will take care of the bandsaw and drill press, currently both needing 2.5″. On the right will cover everything else – the miter saw, jointer, planer, router table, sander, and table saw. Both lines will be 4″ down to about halfway up the wall, then hit a blast gate. After that the BS/DP line will taper to a 2.5″ flex hose that can be used on either tool. On the right, after the blast gate there will be a wye – the branch will go to the miter saw. There will be another wye to branch off a 2.5″ flex to use with the sander or overarm for the table saw. It will then go to the floor where it will hit a 4″ flex to hook up to any of the floor machines. Since I have to move so many things to use my tools, I have to use a decent amount of the flex hose.

The choice for the duct was to use metal or PVC. I examined the pros and cons, and decided on PVC. It is slightly cheaper, the risk of static buildup is minimal (and honestly a bit overstated), and it’s easy to work with and requires no special tools. It was not an easy decision, because working with metal was appealing. I could only find 30 gauge duct though, and there were some reports of it collapsing if the lines became blocked in some manner. The sewer PVC is light, fairly cheap, and Lowe’s sells all the fittings I need at a reasonable price. I figure I’ll need two 10′ lengths of 4″ pipe, four 45 degree elbows, and two 90 degree long sweep elbows. Probably some foil tape, a few screws, and a hole saw. And at least two 4″ blast gates.

The decision is made, look for updates on this after the ceiling gets finished.


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.