The Sysport Boom Arm

In my old shop (pictured above), the height of the ceiling rafters was seven feet. Inconvenient in all but one area – hanging my hose for the Festool CT Midi. I has able to screw in a beefy hose/ladder/etc hanger directly into the rafter and was able to keep my hose out of the way. Well, with eight foot ceilings and a mobile cart, these weren’t solutions anymore. So, I set out to craft a solution.

I debated having solutions that tied into the wall or ceiling, but with my space, cutting longer boards requires me to move the MFT around to get a better location. So, I needed a solution that was self-contained to the MFT and moved with it. I decided on PVC to begin with, attaching the vertical portion to the MFT rails with a T-bolt. Unfortunately, this setup proved to flimsy and bounced around too much for my liking. It would cost more, but I needed to go with a sturdier support.

I used 1/2″ pipe instead. A floor fitting would attach to the rear of the MFT sysport, but it did mean that I had to move the support to the right side of the saw rail. I used a 90 fitting from the floor mount to a 48″ long piece of pipe. Then another 90 degree fitting to a 36″ piece, and that was capped off. I’ll go back later and use thread lock to keep a couple of those fittings from moving, but I do want the top portion to be able to pivot about 180 degrees. I attached the sleeved hose to the pipe assembly at two points with the same heat shrink I used to cap the ends of the sleeve. I’ll come back later and attach the end a bit more securely, and put on a clip so that I can loop the end back out of the way.

This cost about $45, and only took about thirty minutes to put together how I want it, and I figure it needs about another 15 minutes or so of thread locking most of it, attaching the end securely, and attaching a clip. One of the best, and easiest additions to the shop I’ve ever done and I should have done both this and the sysport years ago.


One Two Steps

Earlier in the year I built a stage set, and it was very successful with some novel approaches to the problems we faced. One problem was that the stage itself changed a couple months before the play, and that had to be adjusted for.

The biggest issue was that there wasn’t a way to get up on the stage, it being a temporary setup that has now become permanent. So, I built a set of steps to get up from the front, while we were able to borrow two others. The were simple, two stringers with a total of three steps being 18″ high in total. I learned how to cut stringers, and all the math that comes with it. The stairs were liked and appreciated so much I was commissioned to build the one on the sides, as those had been returned to whence they came.

Again, these aren’t complicated things. 2×12 boards are used for the stringers, and 5/4″ pine with a bullnose for the steps. The stringers are on a 6/10.5 setting, and I used stair gauges to set. I was able to get a set of stringers from one 8 foot board, and three sets from each 8 foot board, so the total width is 32″ wide. I decided not to use toe kicks on the steps, since these are going on the side of the stage. I cut the stringers with a combination of the track saw and the jigsaw, going to the latter for the entire second set of stringers. I was getting some binding on the saw, so while the jigsaw heated up pretty good, it all worked out. I cut the steps on the MFT, being able to take advantage of it being on wheels for the first time to cut the longer board.

They were assembled with 2″ Spax screws and everything was painted an Onyx black, the same paint that I used on the first set of steps. I used some cutoff 2×4 to support the last step and keep the assembly from rocking. It’s very stable, and could conceivably support 300 pounds or more.

Not a terribly complicated project, but a good skill builder, and very practical.  I will have to build something very similar when I build my deck.

E: I did figure out that some how I built one step an inch taller, which will have to be remedied by the track saw.

The New Shop – The Beginning of the End

Writing this post is taking nearly as long as this step of the workshop build has. I haven’t had time to write lately, or I haven’t had the impetus. Both, really. I took the latest step in my career path on Saturday, finally taking and passing my RHIT exam. I’ve had emergencies around the house to deal with, physical and not. The shop hasn’t had much activity since I finished up my son’s table.

That doesn’t mean it has been completely dead. Slowly, three panels at a time, I am covering the Zip System with the exterior panels. I am using an LP product, and while it isn’t branded Smart Side, it is a composite paneling with a redwood texture in a T1-11 style. These are the same panels I have already used for the door and immediate surround.

There are two aspects of putting this up that concerns me. One, is getting the upper panels on the end walls cut correctly and installed twelve feet up. The other is cutting out accurate holes for the windows.  I’d also need to paint what was up on the front wall, plus all the rest. I went with a Behr outdoor satin, in a color called English Channel. This is a color that looks a bit purple when wet, and has different hues of blue if it is in direct light. First up was the front wall.

It’s really light here in direct light. I did a combination of painting before I put the panels up and after. The first three panels I painted on the ground, the rest I did on the building.

I carefully measured the opening on the first window and cut it with the Festool track saw. I did a test fit and it came out basically perfect.

With my methods sound, paint went on the first three panels and they were installed. I cut out the second window after I had painted, which left a lot of dust on the panel. I had to use regular nails for this, as I forgot to buy exterior finish. On the last panel I also carefully measured where the power wires came through, and successfully made the holes in the right spot.

There’s a decent amount of difference between in the sun and shade.

Next up was the small spaces next to the door, which were taken care of by cutting a panel roughly in half.

By this point I had picked up exterior nails. I also decided that I would just paint on the building to speed things up, as I didn’t have to wait for it to dry before painting another panel or installing it. Getting the right side on was a little tricky, as I had to slide it under the shiplap edge. I didn’t nail close to the edge, but it was still very tight to the wall. This was painted, then I moved to the back wall. This lower portion is easy, as there is no cutting.

Again, installed, then painted.

This is where it stands today, with rain, funds, and other tasks forcing me to take a short break. Likely on next paycheck I will buy the next three panels to install. Nine are installed, Nine remain. One gallon of pain expended, hopefully only one more to go, but there are spots in need of more. I wish I had a paint sprayer. The upper panels will obviously have to be painted before they are installed. When I have the right panels installed, then trim will go up.

Also, obviously you can see the roof is done. This was hired out with the help of my MIL who supplied the money in exchange for some yard work favors. Many thanks.

Getting closer. Almost done.



The MFT Sysport

Occasionally there are projects you wish you had done sooner. This is such a project, but I couldn’t do it in the confines of my old shop. Under my MFT was a huge pile of scrap that I couldn’t easily do something with, so I needed the MFT to remain on it’s own legs. In my new shop though, I didn’t have that restriction. On a whim Saturday morning, I set out designing this project.

An MFT Sysport is something that has been done many times over. I knew about what I wanted out of the project, and knew that existing designs would accomplish those goals. The main goal was to get the MFT more mobile so that I could pull the attic ladder down easier. I was dragging the MFT a bit out and toward the door to clear the swing of the ladder, and it wasn’t fun. The MFT being put on any sort of wheels would make that easier. Another goal was to create more storage space for systainers and anything else I needed.

As I was indeed cribbing established designs, that part of the process went quickly. I knew that I wanted side small storage closest to my workbench, so it was really about drawing up exactly what sizes the panels were and where they fit together. I stole the measurements as well, as this was to be my first entirely metric project.

The 3/4″ plywood was bought from Lowes, which frankly offered much better quality for a similar price to what my local lumbar yard is selling for. It’s ridiculous that shop grade ply is nearly $50 a sheet. I paid exactly $50 a sheet for much nicer looking top ply and few voids. I had all the pieces cut within an hour, even one piece too many for some reason. I decided that it would all come together in a hybrid of styles – the bottom sheet would attach to the vertical end piece, and two side end pieces with Dominos and that went easily enough. The spine was also done with Dominos, in field. This was my first successful implementation of non-edge mortise making with that. I then switched to screws to further attach the spine to the bottom, the end to the spine, and a couple of my inner vertical pieces to the side end pieces. I also then used pocket screws where necessary, and attached the top with more face screws. I’m being a bit lazy in my description here, but none of this is really complicated stuff.

I had used my LR32 system to give some drawer holes to the outside on 16mm spacing. Doubling up like this gives more options to hang the drawers. I only did the front holes because I was a bit lazy, plus they really aren’t needed in this application. Pick which front hole I want to put the drawer slide in, get it square to the front edge with a drawer slide tool, and just drill the back hole with a screw. On something that is better than shop furniture I’d do two full columns. I also made mistakes on getting everything set up somehow, and it must be how I attached the end stops. I can’t figure out exactly how, but I did it at least three times unfortunately. That also played a role in not doing a second column for each.

The CT Midi just barely fits in one of the spots for drawers, and I may need to drill some vent holes. But it fits. The MFTis just sitting on top for right now, I need to cut up some 1/2″ ply so that it has a cleat to sit in. Just four pieces to sit inside the MFT corners is fine. I bet glue would work, then a pin or two after it dries.

The pic up top shows my Trion mounted as an example, but I really have no idea what I’ll actually store here. My drills would be a very good choice. I will also have at least a couple regular drawers for stuff like pliers. Perhaps a drawer or two for MFT accessories, I have no idea. I spent $60 on four 5″ locking casters from Rockler, and about $7 to mount them with 5/16″ carriage bolts, washers and nuts. I may need to buy more short drawer slides, but I am converting my entire chaos wall from single to double systainer depth, so I’m not sure.

Really happy with this, it feels rock solid, it was simple to make (about six hours total build time), fairly inexpensive for the benefit, and greatly increases my storage capability. Everything I would want out of a shop project. Plus, it makes getting upstairs easy. And, when I have the ability to move it outside on a deck, I can free up assembly space inside or work with much bigger pieces. I could also eventually buy or make an extension so that in a new shop I have even more surface to work with.


The New Shop – Six months in

Although I hadn’t had a ton of time in the shop over the winter, it is right about six months since the interior of the shop has become useful. I covered what is left to be done for the structure, but there are a number of observations I can share with the time I’ve had.

First up are tool observations. I have noticed that the fence on my jointer might be slightly warped toward the end. I honestly don’t know how big of an issue this is, but it’s something to be aware of. I don’t know if this is something that can be fixed, needs to be fixed, or if I will have to replace. I had wanted to upgrade to an 8″ helical jointer in a new shop, as that requires 220v and a bit more room. If I absolutely have to upgrade before then, I will. The shop layout is pretty set at this point, so I have a finite space for it to go and that spot isn’t going to change. I have no idea what brand I would buy at any rate.

My table saw is working great, although the dust collection isn’t ideal even with a collector. I need to seal up the carcass if possible, or something. Can’t do a whole lot about overarm dust collection at the moment, but it might be possible to do something with the line that is branched above the right side miter saw support. My biggest upgrades here lie in making jigs. I made a tall fence support when I made the flag case, but that could be improved upon. I need to make a taper/line jig, and a crosscut sled might not be a bad idea either. Storing these things could present an issue though. I do have some storage space along the front wall or on the doors if I put a cover on them. I could explore extending the table on it with something DIY if I so chose.

My router situation is just fine, including the table. I do want to replace the top with an Incra unit, so that I can put in an Incra plate with their downdraft insert system. The carcass of the table is doing exceptionally well, but it could stand to be raised up a bit to match the table saw. I have plenty of plywood scrap to do this. I also need a door on the router cavity, plus either a drawer or a door on the lower storage section.

My bandsaw absolutely needs to be replaced at this point. It doesn’t resaw at 90 degrees to the table, which means I am wasting a ton of material having to plane down to even. A 2″ thick board will only yield two 5/8″ boards, which is nearly 33% wasted board. I am looking at the Laguna 14|12 as a replacement and hoping to sell this one for a little bit to offset cost. It’s a good bandsaw for curving cuts and etc, just not for tall stuff. Perhaps I can sell it with the lathe as a package.

The drill press is fine. The miter saw is okay. I’d like to replace it, but other costs are way more important. The Makita saw is very nice looking, and that would probably be my choice. Or perhaps a Kapex if I had a bit more confidence in it.

I’m pretty happy with my small tools, but I would like to add. The big Domino, a Rotex 150 are at the top of the list. Another smaller sander like the RTS or Rotex 90 might be options down the line. Otherwise, my small tool outlay is on point. I would like to upgrade my multifunction tool to a Fein or something at some point, but I use it so little it isn’t a big deal.

The main point of focus over the next few months are sorting out some storage opportunities. My miter saw wall needs to be rebuilt, and I’ve gotten a few good tips on how to make it more efficient. There will be more spots for systainers or drawers on bottom, and more cohesive storage up top. The right side will be better built as well. I will be building a MFT sysport so that I can get some more storage and it can move out of the way of the attic ladder.

I will also start to think about how I will replace my workbench. If I need under storage, what it will be, what it will be made of, etc. Early stages on this, and it needs to be after the other main projects.

This weekend, and this coming week, I’ll start designing and laying out the things I need to do in both the house and the shop.

The New Shop – The Punch List

A few weeks ago the roof finally got completed. I hired out the process and it cost just under $1500. My MIL graciously offered to pay for it in exchange for some yard and exterior house work that will be coming up soon. The crew was a two-man operation and they had it done in about three hours and it looks great.

With that completed, it’s time to look at the punch list and see what all needs to be done to consider the building portion of this project finished. I will then make a separate entry with some things I would like to accomplish as far as functionality goes.

The most obvious thing that needs to be done is button up the exterior. I need a dozen or so more panels to completely cover the exterior, in addition to more Z-channel flashing on the tall sides. I don’t think any of it will be particularly easy, but getting a proper cutout for the windows and installing the upper walls will be a challenge.

After the panels is all the trim pieces. Corners, transitions, etc. These are fairly simple and won’t take a lot of time. Then I’ll need to caulk/fill the nail head holes on everything and paint. I already have my color picked out.

Moving inside, the windows need trim to cover the foam insulation. I also need some trim around the edge of the ceiling, and perhaps around the attic door. I need to replace a couple of the ceiling outlet covers with wider ones.

That’s really all that comes to mind at the moment. I may add small tasks to the list, but I’m hoping that construction will be complete within a month or so. Depending on finances to buy the exterior panels. It will be a shame whenever we move, as I am completely loving working in my new space.

Matthew’s Table – Overview

I’ve been promising a table for my son since approximately a year ago. Then I got sidetracked building my new shop. I eventually bought the material to build it late last year, and it has been sitting in the old shop waiting for the right time. Now that the set build for this year is complete (and I’ll be posting about that coming up), and is actually about to be struck, it’s finally time to get started.

Here is the render again.

It’s a simple design: approximately 20″ tall, wide, and deep. The legs are tapered to the skirt (I think that is what those rails are called), and I’ll have to go back and measure that in the render. The top will likely be plywood with a hardwood banding. It will go together with Dominos for expediency and accuracy, and the whole thing will be stained GF Java, and topped with Arm-R-Seal. There’s also going to be one hidden feature that I may or may not be able to share. That will depend on how public my son would like it to be.

This is going to be an interesting project as it may determine if I need to substantially fix my jointer or buy a new one. The fence is a bit twisted, as far as I can tell. It might be something I have to invest in, but I’m actually hoping I can hold off to see if I can fit an 8″ jointer in a new shop when we buy a new house.

Bench Shavings – 01/25/18

Today, by complete coincidence, is one calendar month past Christmas. (Well, yesterday; it takes me awhile to write these days) It’s also basically one calendar month since I’ve been in the shop for more than two minutes. It’s been less on purpose than just a matter of circumstance. Very cold weather, weekend activities, and other things have pretty much kept me indoors since I finished up my Christmas gifts.

One of which is a flag case I made for my in-laws after my FIL passed in December. It didn’t turn out 100% great, but such is my skill set at this point. I did make a couple of jigs to get me through the project, and they helped out so much that I will make new ones and pay a bit more attention to detail this time. I also made a very simple necklace holder for my wife.

Since then, it’s been all quiet. I didn’t even get a roof installed, for some reason. The roofing company took too long on the house, and flaked out. Guess I’ll need to start shopping around to get it done. I haven’t even cleaned up from the flag and jewelry projects.

There are things on the horizon, though. I have yet another stage build to do, which I will be starting on probably late February or early March. This time, it should be fairly simple and rudimentary. I still have my son’s side table build, which I will have to sort out if I can do with a warped jointer fence. I am also finally seriously going to do an entertainment center, but in a different plan than before. The reason being is that we want to move, and this needs to fit into the new home when we find the one we want.

I also need to sort out a couple things in the shop, primary of which is a MFT sysport so I can easily get into the attic. If after that we haven’t made plans to move, I’ll work on redesigning the miter station wall to better fit the space and be more portable to whatever new shop awaits.

It’s really hard to concentrate lately to make a coherent post. I’m wondering if I have ADD, because I’m noticing a lack of concentration in other aspects of my life as well. Some of it may also be I’m trying to write this on my desktop and not my usual laptop. I hope to have a couple more detailed posts soon, and hopefully with more content and more cohesion.


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.