The unexpected month

I posted my 2020 wants and needs on January 4 at 11:19 am EST. I had no idea what would transpire in the next eight hours that would change all my plans for this year and beyond.

To set this all up, this was a rare Saturday my wife had off from work. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this. I had been looking at older models in green, but this was a 2019 with super low miles at a dealer fairly close by. So many of the other ones were nice, but I couldn’t find a feasible way for me to get there via plane even if I could afford it at the time. This one was within a three hour drive and was just over my price range. I knew it wouldn’t happen, but I sent the email anyway. Then I went to the gym. While there, I decided that I would go ahead and pay off my van loan four months early. I still wasn’t expecting to go and buy a truck, much less that one, but I had the money so I just did it.

When I got back to the gym I found out that it was still available, and I fell in love with the color seeing different pictures of that particular color. My wife surprisingly said to the kids to get in the car and off we went. I got to the dealer about 45 minutes before they closed for the day and knew this was my truck. I closed the deal a couple hours later and we were back in Atlanta before midnight.

It’s a 2019 Tacoma TRD Sport, six-speed manual 4×4, in Cavalry Blue. In the just over month I’ve owned it, it has already become a star in the stage world. I’ve been able to make runs to and from storage hauling a trailer, I’ve been able to hit up Home Depot or Lowe’s at a moment’s notice, anything I’ve needed to do for both shop and set building. Hopefully this will be a tool that sticks around for a very long time and onto whatever awaits in the next shop, whenever and wherever that is.

I’ve already done some limited mods to it, things like a new grille, a new radio, and a couple other aesthetic things. When I added the new radio, I bought metal brackets to mount them. But they needed to be modified, and I made the dumb decision to try and cut them on the miter saw. I should have used a cutoff wheel. The first part went well, until one of the blades caught and ripped the bracket out of my grip. Thankfully my hand didn’t follow it. The bracket shot backwards into the saw itself and rebounded off to the side. Again, thankfully, I did not get hit by it. It ended up destroying the bracket, breaking the bottom left fence, the top right fence, and one of the bed inserts. Plus, obviously, the blade. That radio install got a lot more expensive in short order. I ordered a new blade off of Amazon (the old one was purchased in 2013, so not a horrible thing to have to rebuy), and the other parts from

The other aspect to January was the one show we were responsible for this year. Within a couple of days we were already putting the truck to use buying supplies to build with. I figured out real quick that I needed to make some bed rails so that sheet goods wouldn’t slip between the wheel wells. It also did work towing a couple small trailers to ferry set pieces between storage, the house, and the theater. I also built the set pieces as well, and I didn’t have to do a lot for once. I built mobile bases for the previously-built porch, bases and new flats, and a couple other smaller things. The truck came in real handy, but I’m also learning to adapt to not having a trunk. I might have to get a tonneau cover eventually to protect cargo.

It was a very unexpected and fun month, and while it did mean some other changes will have to come along, I will certainly enjoy it.

Wants and Needs – 2020 Edition

I have often written about the material things I hope to have in my shop – wish lists. At times, they have probably come across as ungrateful for what I have, and that has never been the intention. I write posts like these to have some sort of game plan and put my thoughts to paper, as it were. These wish lists don’t always work out, and I’m sure there’s some things on my very first one that I haven’t acquired or addressed.

I addressed quite a bit of wants and needs in 2019, including a reliable bandsaw, fixing up my jointer, and buying a drum sander. There’s little that I actually need in terms of material wishes, but there’s always items or tools that I could use that would make things easier.

Hand tools is certainly where my wish list is the longest. I will always have a soft spot for Veritas hand tools, and while I did add the set of three spokeshaves around Thanksgiving, the list is barely dented. I’d love to have a cabinet absolutely full of them, and I’ll get there eventually. The biggest want currently is a block plane, as my current one is all sorts of messed up from planing plywood. I don’t know if what I see is rust, or what. I will eventually trade out all my other ones, starting with the Groz ones. Perhaps some better card scrapers, another nice saw.

I still desire more Festools, for the simple fact is that they are so good and make working enjoyable.I certainly still want a Rotex 150 to aggressively sand more than my 150/3 is probably safe to do. I’ve been staring at a dresser that needs a refinish for years, but I won’t do it without the Rotex. I desire the TS75 to rip large pieces of hardwood, it has more power and a deeper cut than my other saws. The Domino 700 is probably at the top of the list for making bigger projects like shop doors. If the smallest or biggest routers made their way into my shop, I wouldn’t complain, but they’re the lowest want.

For the first time, I think I’m pretty much set for large tools. I could use some enhancements, like a new insert for the router table, things like that. Enhancement, not replacement. If you could call a welder a big tool, that. It’s not strictly woodworking, but would benefit some woodworking projects down the road.

Systainer upgrades

Back in March, I finally upgraded my air tool systainer to make things more organized and easier to find. With a fantastic Christmas gift and a great deal, it was time to get a couple more upgraded as well.

For Christmas, my wife bought me something that was on my wishlist for quite some time, the Bosch FlexiClick set. This is a 12v driver that has four attachments – right angle, compact bit driver, drill, and offset. This set joined my other three Bosch 12v drill/drivers, and it also brought my battery total up to five. I needed to have all these things together and easy to find. The prior situation was throwing the Bosch drivers in with my Ryobi 18v drivers in a systainer and letting things bounce around. I picked up a sheet of thick kaizen foam to see how easy it was to manipulate.

The idea is all over the internet, keeping things neat and separated. I decided to make one systainer for the Bosch 12v tools and batteries, and another would be for the Ryobi 18v tools. The systainers really only required one layer of the thick kaizen, so installation was pretty easy. I used the template I made of the systainer for the air tools, and it lined up pretty closely for the foam. Only I didn’t need to quite follow it because the indentations that exist at the very bottom of the systainer weren’t there at the level of the foam top.

The foam is pretty easy to work with, easily cutting with a breakable razor blade. There is a bit of a learning curve to shape the indentations and holes to fit your needs, and you can tell I started with the driver on the left that has the battery installed because the hole is too big. The reason for this partially is because I tried to stand it up and it was a bit too tall without adjusting. Otherwise, things went as expected. All my drivers, attachments, and batteries fit without issue in the Bosch systainer. I even used the special edition one to closely match the Bosch colors.

The Ryobi one has room to take a bunch of batteries if I absolutely have to.

The reason for this is because Home Depot was running a deal where I could get four batteries and a charger for $80. The last time I bought batteries was a few years ago, so it was time for a refresh. I have some other 18v tools that I use for yard work and etc, so they are handy to have around.

While systainers are by no means the most space efficient means of storing things, there is that just pleasurable feeling with everything having a place and finding it easily. I’m hoping that I can use some more kaizen in some drawers to better find things in the future.

2020 Vision

New Year’s brings yet another in a series of posts about my goals and plans for the new year. 2020 makes a decade that I’ve had my shop as a going concern, and it’s also the same anniversary for writing about it. I’m hoping it is one of my most ambitious years in terms of projects. Here I’ll talk about goals, not plans, because plans always seem to change.

I’d like to get the shop finished. I said this last year, and I hope this year I don’t suffer from the same burnout I did last year. I have a plan for flashing and trim on the outside, trim the interior windows, trim the ceiling, finish out the fiberglass in the attic, and put the last piece of the attic floor in. Then I can truly call the building finished, and anything further are improvements.

I’m hoping 2020 is a productive one for furniture. I have some office/entertainment furniture planned and lined up, and hopefully with my recent run of upgrades allows me to not only get started on these, but build them to a high standard.

I have a separate thread I do from time to time for wants and needs, but I do hope to add a welder to my arsenal, and at least a couple of woodworking tools that will fill some gaps – a Rotex for aggressive sanding, a big Domino for furniture making, a long Festool track for plywood ripping. Things of that nature. As stated, there will be another post about this coming up.

The old shop needs to be dismantled, but I don’t know if this will occur in 2020. I could probably get it taken down with a couple day lead notice, as there isn’t much more than scrap plywood, OSB, and siding left inside. It does require renting a dumpster, but more importantly I do need a follow-up plan to build something new in its place. I simply don’t have room for scrap storage in the shop outside of a few boards upstairs. There needs to be a cohesive plan, and I wouldn’t mind having a deck already in place or started before I do so.

As for any shop projects, I largely hope to continue to fine tune and find permanent homes for all the things that tend to get left out and piled up. I will be revisiting the Festool/miter saw counter, in that I will be remaking all the drawers for them, and will have enough to fit everything planned. I don’t know if this means the cabinets on bottom will be remade, if I’ll need another inch or so upwards. I hope not, because they are in really good condition and sturdy. The counter will be remade, to allow for the miter saw to be cantilevered off (and supported from underneath) to allow for the jointer to slide under without adjusting the fence. To make up the difference in height from the miter saw surface to the counter, I was thinking about putting in drawers to hold my screws.

There’s a decent chance I will rebuild my lathe stand to allow for my oscillating sander to fit underneath. It is really the perfect spot for it considering the dust collection, and workflow. I also don’t use it that much, so having to move the table saw out of the way wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s either that or it goes up on the wall or on the floor in front of the lathe, which then needs to be moved to use the lathe. I will also explore rebuilding the cabinet under my workbench, in particular making the socket set easier to pull out and not interfering with the MFT sysport. I’ll also see what needs to live in those drawers.

Above all, I hope that anything that comes out of my shop does so with an accuracy and quality above what I’ve done before. And I hope when I take a look at this post in a year’s time, that I’ve at least come close to meeting all my goals.

The Jointer Upgrade

With the lathe back in the shop, the bandsaw upgraded, the drum sander purchased, I could not ask for much more. Except for a reliable, accurate jointer. I purchased the 1996 Craftsman profesional series 6 1/8″ jointer back in late 2011, and never really trusted it. Sure, it would give me a flat surface, but the fence I could never quite get to 90 degrees and it showed up in some of my work. So much so that often I just left it out of my workflow.

With the other aspects upgraded, this was really the last frontier for my shop to get accurate. It was to be one of my last big investments, at least in terms of big tools at big prices. I was looking at the Jet, Powermatic, and Laguna 6″ jointers. I could not go up to 8″ due to space and power requirements, so really this purchase would only be about getting a usable, reliable machine. I might get the added benefit of a spiral cutterhead, but I would gain no capacity.

$700 (if I could sell mine for what I wanted, plus grab what I wanted on sale) was a lot to spend on something that was just newer. I had been given the advice to go to 8″, which I couldn’t, but what if I could wait until I was in a new space to make the investment? Could my jointer be salvaged? I was going to find out. Why? Because after I sold my bandsaw I tuned it up before the buyer arrived and it turned out well. If I had to deal with it for financial reasons, I could have. As it was, the budget for the new saw was there, so I tuned it up simply because I wanted to see if I could, and to cement the sale.

There were three big problems that I needed to address. The most minor was chip collection, the setup I had didn’t work that well and didn’t get everything. Second was that I hadn’t touched the knives in eight years, you could really feel the board bounce a bit because the blades were dull. Third, and most important, was the fact the fence wasn’t square to the table and it felt like the tables were out of being coplanar.

It was finally time to dig into this machine to decide once and for all. The first thing to check was that the tables were coplanar. I recalled previously that the ends of the tables were lower, but when I went to confirm this with my straight edge, I pleasantly found that they were good to go. No shimming required, which is a great result out of the gate. Next I checked the fence, which I was sure was twisted. Same result here, the fence was flat in both planes all the way across the face. There were some extremely slight variations away from the straight edge in a couple spots (valleys), but nothing that would impact a piece long enough to safely joint. So why did the fence lock to 90° on one table but not the other?

I started really investigating the fence. If it was all in the same plane, and the tables were in the same plane, everything should meet at a 90° angle, but it wasn’t. It had to be something to do with the locking mechanism or the stops. I backed the stops off, and re-set the fence. Still not accurate. So I played around with forcefully using a square to set the angle and I finally got the fence to be a true 90°. However, if I tried to do so right at the pivot point for the fence, it wouldn’t work. I had to be a couple inches toward the infeed side. OK, that’s a quirk I can live with. I set the stops back up, and it went out of square again. Fine, I can live without stops, particularly when I’ll need to re-verify a true 90° each time I set the machine up.

With the machine proven salvageable, I ordered a set of high speed steel knives from Amazon for $17, and it took a couple days to arrive. I began by removing the jointer from the stand to address the chip collection issue. I bought a new 8″x 8″ jointer hood from Rockler for $8, and bolted it to the top of the stand. This would be a replacement for a heavily modified and broken one I had put there some time ago. I decided on this vs going with a custom sheetmetal HVAC solution. It won’t be perfect, and I’ll likely follow up with some taping. I’ll do some testing on this before I fab up a replacement side panel on the base that will incorporate a port. I want to make sure that there isn’t any large kinks in the flexible 4″ duct.

To further reduce kinks, I relocated the motor slightly. It was already at the maximum range for the factory mounting points, so I drilled two new holes further back so that the dust hose would have a gentler bend. With the link belt I already had installed, there was a little bit of slack that allowed for this to work. The belt is now pretty tight, and hopefully is still within spec to not put too much stress on the pulleys. A lot of sheet metal stands are flimsy, but this one has some thicker gauge to it and didn’t drill through easily. A good sign.

With the dust collection situation partially addressed, it was time to put the jointer back on the stand. I cleaned it up quite a bit from years of dust and grime with IPA and dry lube. IPA, to help protect the motor as the liquid will evaporate with time. Lube, because it also dries fairly quickly and was what I had on hand. I attempted mineral spirits, but abandoned that. I also shortened up the mobile base platform, as there was too much gap. I took just a little too much off, but made it work. This will make the jointer much less wobbly when I lock the wheels for operation.

The jointer was reinstalled to the base, and thankfully cleared the bolts for the dust hood. With the new knives in hand, I could try and tackle the last question as to whether I would indeed keep it. The nuts were fused in place, a consequence of probably being tightened too much by the last owner, and not addressing them myself in the previous eight years. This is the exact reason why I never tried before, the fear that I couldn’t get them undone. And the uncertainty of how to set new ones. I had to purchase a thin set of wrenches from the auto parts store, and even then the wrench started to round. Dry lube didn’t work, 3n1 oil didn’t work, fire didn’t work. Eventually, I came to a solution using needle nose locking pliers on some, and a nail set and hammer on others. I used the jointer knife jig I had purchased many, many years ago, and was able to set the knives to the right height on the first try. Again, I found something that I should have done several years ago.

With the machine put back together, it was time for the final verdict. I took a scrap piece of mahogany and ran it through. A perfect joint and pretty smooth to boot. The operation was a success. I took a piece of scrap 2×4, what I had used to mount my monitor, to try through as well. A great finish, and again a perfect 90° joint.

There’s a feeling that some people get when they purchase new things, it’s a feeling of euphoria almost. I got that feeling when I purchased my new bandsaw and realized what I could do. Same thing with my drum sander. Here, the realization that I didn’t have to spend several hundred dollars and I could accomplish the same task gave me this feeling as well. I’m so excited, and so wish I had the confidence to tackle this years ago.

Unfortunately, Byrd as it stands does not make a spiral cutterhead for this machine. It’s possible it shares dimensions with another, existing one, but they don’t know unless I get them the exact specs. To be honest, I’d rather spend the money on a spiral head for the planer if I had to choose one. I may pay a bit more for straight carbide knives, but the ones I got from Amazon are really cheap and can be here in two days. We’ll see how long they last, but so far so good.

Addition and Subtraction – Part Three

The first thing to take care of with the lathe coming over was the dust collection point on that side. The solution was fairly simple, I removed the gate, removed the PVC pipe below the wye, and reinstalled the gate. This gave me enough room to hook up the flex hose again, although I reserve the right to come back to this arrangement at some point. I might find it annoying to turn with it hanging right there.

Next up was a bit of rearranging some minor things. With the drill press over next to the wall, the handles were hitting the table saw blades on the wall. These had to go, but I really could not figure out a great storage spot. Temporarily, they went up on the wall under the TV. I do not like them here at all, but could not think of a better spot. If I can finish off the doors they might go there. I did relocate the parallel guides to the door I don’t use that much, at least temporarily. The big grinder moved from the router table to the lathe, where it lived before. Joining it is the portable air compressor, lacking a better spot for the time being.

The big issue with a shop of this size is not having places for things to go, so it always seems like I am cleaning up. I kept doing that right up until the lights went out this weekend, and I’m still not done. I don’t have a spot for a few cutoffs on my bench, the systainer that holds my belt sander and other jigsaw, an extension cord reel, the old computer monitor, some assorted electrical cords, and it goes on and on. Given a long enough timeline, I would think I would eventually find homes for everything, but I get to a certain point and it just gets worse again. Perhaps I should get some plastic containers that store well for some of this stuff, or just finally let it go – like the cords, I don’t really have a use for those anymore. One of the points of emphasis for this coming year is to make my limited storage space work more efficiently.

Addition and Subtraction – Part Two

With the addition of the drum sander, with the minor remodel of the planer cart, with raising the miter saw a bit, I pretty much had everything I had hoped for. I still wanted to replace my jointer in 2020, but I was well on my way to being more efficient AND being more accurate. However, there was something missing.

I had the thought about a month ago to get rid of, or largely get rid of, the right side counter to my miter saw. Yes, it would be less supporting when I made a cut, but I would get more room for the drill press or give me the option to move things around further down the road. For instance, the counter wasn’t high enough to fit the drum sander under if I wanted. Not that it made sense to, but it still generated the thought.

So, I took the entire right side counter out. That meant I had to find a new home for the oscillating sander, and for right now it is sitting under the drum sander. It will have to be relocated, because it is completely not usable there. However, the deed was done, and the counter removed and discarded. Now I had height to do what I pleased, and the thought was struck – I still had one tool that never made it to the new shop. Could it possibly work? I checked the measurements, I checked the plans in Sketchup. It looked like it would work, so there was only one thing left to do.

I brought the lathe over to the new shop.

It wasn’t easy, particularly with two bolts breaking getting the lathe off the stand, I did succeed, and my wife helped me get the stand over even when the top came off. I got the stand in position, and realized that this indeed could work. I reinstalled the top, cut and ground the old bolts off (including a broken drill bit still there), and reinstalled the lathe. I could turn again, if I wished.

This was exciting, but I had some things left to do to turn this back into a working situation. The dust collection point I used for the table saw, router table, and jointer was now blocked by the lathe motor. I still needed a home for the oscillating sander, the mortiser, and I had some other minor details to sort out. This included the decision on which jointer would fit in the space I had carved out for it.

Addition and Subtraction – Part One

Nearly ten years of woodworking. I and my shop have come a long way, and it was time to take another step on my journey. Little did I know how much I would gain by removing one minor thing.

With the bandsaw replaced, and the addition of the drum sander, things were getting tight. Everything fit, but I had concerns about actually making things. I already have to move half the shop around to use tools and machines at times, and I was now having to orient the sander between the table saw and the corner wall and hope my pieces were short enough to clear. I had to think about how I was going to function properly.

I tried to put the planer under the drum sander, but it just didn’t work that well. It was awkward with the extended sander tables to see, and with the small area I was working in, difficult to maneuver boards. I may revisit this at some point, but for now it was a no go. When I did this, I shoved my flip-top cart out the door, but brought it back. I eventually cut the sides all the way down to the height of the shelf and put the planer back on. Things were as tight as they had ever been.

I had been thinking for awhile about removing the third section of systainers. This was a single depth section that wasn’t integral like the other two ones. In other words, an add-on. If I rebuilt my double-depth drawers and utilized them all, and utilized my MFT sysport more efficiently, I possibly could eliminate that section and not fare too badly. I was only using three spots there, and those could go elsewhere. I looked at my future plans for purchases, and even there I could get by with two.

The biggest reason for getting rid of it was that it would allow a bit more flexibility with getting the jointer and planer tucked up under the counter. If this were to happen, I could get back to about where I was with room and space and at least function again. So, it was time to get to work.

First up was relocating the three systainers to new homes. The big one was the TSC55, which is the biggest systainer at I have at a Sys 5. It would go in the front of the MFT where I could easily get to it. That meant the air tool systainer would need to go around to the back. I also made space below my drill systainer for another drawer. So within a few minutes I had the MFT loaded up, and I simply had to remove the now-empty column. There were a couple of hidden screws under the countertop, but a little bit of muscle and the help of a 90 degree bit did the trick. The pieces were discarded.

The planer cart (now a whole lot shorter) and the jointer now fit a bit better under the counter. I now had some space to work with. However, I got something I wasn’t expectiong – an idea. It was an idea that had been on the periphery for the last two years, a thought that wouldn’t go away even when it wasn’t possible. The possibility now, though, felt closer than it had ever been. It was time to get the tape measure and the Sketchup plan back out.


2019 In Review

Welcome again to one of my favorite things, to revisit a post from a year prior and see how wrong my predictions and plans were.

The 2019 Outlook can be seen at the link, but I’ll largely recap it here.

First up is talking about the theater sets, I had two to do but that turned into four, which in turn led to an extended sabbatical.

I wanted to finish up the shop with insulation, trim, etc. Exactly none of that happened because of the sabbatical. I did make the air nailer systainer insert, which can be seen in detail in this post. I also did follow through with closing off the table saw cabinet, making dust collection a good bit better. I’ve started to explore how to effectively capture the dust above the table. I finally enclosed the router table cabinet and installed dust collection there as well. The plan is still to change out the insert to an Incra one, but that got put on hold.

I decided to purchase plans from Timothy Wilmots for his MFTC mobile cart, and I’ll likely store it when empty in the old shop. I made a huge investment in the shop with a new bandsaw and a drum sander, and am still dealing with a bit of the space issues that came with that. Nothing serious, just sorting out some workflow, some efficiency, and some future plans.

I still need to address the door, but I did seriously cut down the water entry by installing a drip edge above, and it isn’t 100% effective but around 95%. I also can’t say that the other 5% I see is from backspash from the ground. Still hope to soon install rubber around the doorframe for air sealing.

With a purchase of some spokeshaves, I did have a push to make more progress on the hanging tool cabinet. I should make a bit more progress in the first part of next year. I started to tweak my storage after the drum sander, so I am making good on some of my goals.

So, in summary, this year did not work out like I expected at all for around eight full months. It has picked up considerably in the last month, and hopefully I can keep that momentum into 2020. The 2020 Outlook will be posted around the first of the year.

We’re back in hardware mode

“Get ready for a major remodel fellas.”

That was the case with Tony Stark at his mansion, but not so much with me. There’s only so much I can do and change in my shop, and I’m here to make improvements both big and small.

Let’s start with some small stuff first. The last big update I had was that I purchased a new bandsaw (replacement), and a drum sander (addition). Now, I have talked ad naseum about how small my shop is and the inability to move around a ton. I tried to mitigate this a bit by putting the planer under the drum sander. Unfortunately, while the footprint is about the same, it didn’t really work. The fold down tables on the sander really interfere with operation of the planer, even when up. A new stand would fix some of it, but not enough to make it work. The drum sander tables would have to stay open all the time, and that’s 45 inches long and almost as wide. So, I have to find something else to sit under the drum sander. The planer went back to the flip cart, except this time I cut it nearly in half by height and it is just sitting on it for now.

At this point, I decided to look around the shop and see what my options were. I had a couple smaller projects on my to do list, so I took the opportunity. First up was finding a new home for my Kreg jig. I had entertained getting one of their cases, but this was extremely bulky. Instead of hanging it on the wall behind my miter saw, I thought that one of the small shelves I was building for the MFT would work. Then I thought, why not make the jig a shelf? I made some for my sandpaper anyway, so it was easy to reproduce.

I cut the shelf to size, then marked for 20mm holes to secure to the MFT. I messed up a bit on one side by drilling skewed, so I chucked the bit in the drill press and did again. This time, the fit was great. If I ever get the systainer with the MFT top, this will work there as well.

I also picked up a set of Veritas spokeshaves, something I’ve been wanting for a very long time. As such, I had to make more progress on my hanging tool cabinet for a safe parking spot.

I need to make the inner door and shelves for the left outer door,  make tool holders, finish the plane till, and fill out the bottom portion. Getting closer.

All of this is an attempt to be more efficient and be bigger and better. I still have more things I want to take care of, and I think what I’ll do here is save this for a later post, perhaps the next one.