The Beginning of the End

As with all things in life, things change. Your passions wax and wane, your circumstances go from positive to negative and vice-versa. What lights one’s particular fire can be totally different in just a short time. For me, what is coming is something that has been many years in the making.

I have long been something of a materialist. I’m not a hoarder, but I typically don’t get rid of things and tend to fill whatever spaces I have available to me. This can be seen in the workshop and my home. I have more tools than really efficiently fit in my space. I have more video games than I will ever play, and have computer parts that are years obsolete. I have lamented my lack of space in both areas while continuing to pile up physical things.

I started to have thoughts that this might not be a sustainable path when we went to London and Paris in 2019. We spent almost two weeks in much smaller spaces, however we did spent quite a bit of time outside of the apartments in a wider world. A return trip to London and Edinburgh earlier this month has really set up the concept that I want to do a few things with my life as it pertains to sights and experiences on these two trips.

One, I think I have too much stuff, too much clutter, and would love to live in a bit smaller space that fits our future needs better. Or, stay in a similar size space and have plenty of room for kids to return on visits when they move out.

Two, I really want to live in Europe, possibly for the rest of my life.

Obviously, the first one is way easier to do than the second one, but also the first one would be a prerequisite to the second. Housing costs are significantly higher on the places we would want to be, and the salaries a lot less. It’s not an idea situation, even with the fact that one or both of us would qualify to emigrate with our professions.

One of the aspects of downsizing, at least in some part, is that it opens up more options for us in the future. Both of us want a better quality of life in our immediate surroundings, such as the ability to walk to destinations more, and be less reliant on vehicles to do absolutely everything.

So, what does that mean for the 144 Workshop? I am not giving up on woodworking in the immediate future, but I am reevaluating what I have, and what I want to do. Soon, I will be selling my lathe and turning tools. I never turn anything, and if for some reason I want to in the future, I would buy a smaller unit. This seems like a smart decision. I also will probably sell some of my accessory tools, such as the second oscillating sander, the corded drill I have, etc. I don’t really need duplicates, especially if selling the tool will make a difference in the space available or go toward other funds. As long as we have this house, I won’t give up the entirety of my arsenal. However, should we decide to move into an apartment or a townhouse, wherever that may be, the likelihood is strong that I will retire in some form.

This website will transition back to a free hosting site in 2023, when this hosting package ends. I don’t need to be spending money on my own site when I don’t have any plans to sell furniture, or invent cool things.

As for non-shop related stuff, I have already started a bit of the downsizing process inside the house. I recently donated quite a bit of clothes I had no use for or didn’t fit into the way I want. I am likely to start selling some of my video game collection, starting with duplicate titles I have. This will reduce some of my physical footprint as well as add some funds back to future plans. I have changed some of my work processes, switching from Windows to Mac. I got a couple good deals on some refurbished items, allowing me to reduce my energy usage, and be more mobile should my circumstances dictate. I have redesigned my dream office to fit in a smaller space, as I realized my 43″ TV that serves as a monitor should easily also work as the actual TV when needed. Put a couch behind where I sit now, and it’s an instant change of pace. This would allow me to move into another room easily should I need to.

Next up is starting to cull down the excess tech parts and accessories I have that I will never use again. Meaning, as soon as I get rid of it I will, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I have pretty much stopped buying trinkets and shelf decorations like LEGO. I’m not getting rid of any at this point, but I’m not adding. Some of these boxes and stuff I’ve kept will be going, like old tech stuff. I wonder if people still buy old Apple boxes?

Basically, I’m asking myself if these things make me happy, or can I use my money and time to get myself to a better state of living. I’m fine with digital copies of games now, where I was so adamant to have physical copies of things. I’m fine with not having every single mini console hooked up at the same time, allowing me to better cable manage my desk. Last year we gave away a good bit of our CDs, and I’ve largely stopped buying DVDs/Blu-rays.

Through all of this, even if our circumstances in our lives don’t change, perhaps I can use this time to declutter our lives, have more money to do things vs have things, and improve our quality of life where we have the ability to.

A virtual return to the shop

I needed a bit of a spark to get back into woodworking, and ultimately the shop layout did the trick. I have always spent way more time and energy on the shop than actually building things, so where else would I turn to get off the schneid?

But to what end? I built the shop based on the layout I’ve had for the last four years now. How much could I change? Would it really make a difference? Would I have to give up anything? The last thing I wanted to do was to make things worse, or have this be a waste of time.

Why change? Well, I was tired of having to deal with a few shortcomings. One is that I have to move my MFT any time I want to get into the loft. I was up there the other day searching for a dead animal (under the shop, thankfully or not thankfully), and I brought down a massively overfilled dust bag. The MFT is a bit hard to spin to the side to gain enough clearance. Another aspect is that I will often run into clearance issues with my router fence and outfeed from the table saw. Another is having to be trapped temporarily while I use the drum sander. But the biggest annoyance by far is the new lathe cabinet I built, and the drawer storage that I started on. I have to move the table saw to get to any of it, and that was a massive oversight on my part.

Addressing really any of these took some thinking outside of the box. There’s only so much room in the shop, and some of these things don’t play well with others, particularly since most of it is right at the same working height. The jointer tables are going to interfere with the table saw, and the MFT, and…well, everything. So I had to start thinking about deletion possibilities. What could I live without? Or, more appropriately, try to live without?

There were four options that I settled on after thinking about it some. I could get rid of the miter saw. I could spend a ton of money on a combo planer/jointer. I could get rid of the table saw. I could get rid of the workbench. All have their upsides and a lot of downsides.

Getting rid of the miter saw is fairly doable, considering that I am limited in length that I can crosscut. My Festool HKC can handle crosscuts anywhere, after all. But there’s something to be said for repeatability of cuts, and getting rid of the miter saw would really only get rid of the tool – I’ve paired the footprint need down to almost just the tool at this point. I can certainly revisit this option in the future, but I actually think I’ll go in the opposite direction and upgrade to the Kapex at some point.

The planer/jointer combo is something that has intrigued me for some time, but it is an absolute fortune. I also don’t think it will save that much room, to be honest. I’ll still have to have at least the same amount of floor space dedicated, and with the planer being separate it allows for a little more leeway in placing things around. The planer/jointer would also likely require 220v, which I cannot do.

The table saw is an intriguing prospect, because I could do a lot of the tool’s task with a track saw and guide. The only thing that would be an issue is narrow rip cuts. However, unless I replace it with more horizontal surface I have no way to do full sheet breakdowns inside the shop. An idea that I could maybe hold onto.

The workbench. I built this early on in the life of the shop, and has done well for me since then. It is super solid for planing and chopping tasks. Getting rid of it would mean not having these things, and a place for my hardware bins and scrap storage underneath. But it would get rid of a weird-shaped item and allow for some different layouts that the workbench is the main reason I can’t use.

It’s a big decision to undertake, but one I’ll need to follow through on to make my shop work.

A Slow Burn

A few years back, when I was first getting into the Festooliverse, I watched a lot of Paul-Marcel’s tutorial and review videos. I thought they were direct, well made, and engaging. Then he stopped making videos, because he took up another hobby and got really involved in it.

Sometimes you either grow out of hobbies or the spark does not burn for some time. It has been like that for me for a good year, now. Just different life priorities, and a bit of burnout. I at times thought about selling off my tool collection, but resisted, thinking the desire would one day return.

That’s where I am at today, that desire starting to come back around. Working on projects around the house again, with a massive investment to get things fixed to where they need to be. I’m also looking to finally make my new desk, perhaps a couple of other things I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

What I need to address first, though, is the shop. It has straight up not worked very well for my needs and it is time to address it in ways I had resisted until now. I’m currently designing a new layout that should finally make the best use of my space. I’m going through old pictures to catalog everything I need to account for before I begin, and that will be the next entry here on the site.

2020 Shop Makeover

This is a follow-up to my post-project evaluation from the printer cabinet. I made some decisions and already got started on making some changes to help streamline the shop and make projects more enjoyable. Even in the course of making these changes I have had other issues highlighted for me.

Sheet goods are a pain point for me, and it has been that way since the beginning. I’ve tried several solutions: a Centipede work support, rigid foam, a small table with foam, etc. In all of these situations one of the things that has hindered me the most is the fact I have exactly one level spot on my property. This is a thin patio attached to my house, which is down the hill from my shop. It is convenient for unloading sheets from my truck, but it also means I have to bring everything I need to break them down to the patio. Surface, foam, saw, rails, etc. So I decided to build up the area in front of the shop and make a patio there.

The original idea was to build a deck, but there is a lot of red tape with that. Retaining walls under two feet require no government oversight, so I went that route. It is a U-shaped wall that is situated at a perpendicular approach to the front of the shop. At the moment I write this, the front (including steps) plus the wall that runs along the front of the shop is done. What is left to do is the run farthest away from the shop, including removal of the old shop ramp to facilitate that. Then I need to order dirt to be delivered, then finishing touches on top such as pavers and tall toppers. It will be mostly level (drainage), and it will eliminate the large step up into my shop (good for when we eventually move and have to remove these large stationary tools). Included here are some in-progress pictures.

Also on the sheet goods front, I’ve picked up a couple of accessories and have had the opportunity to try them out. I mentioned in the previous post about buying some TSO Products, including the GRS-16 rail square, and guide rail connectors. I also picked up one of their parallel guide kits since then. I’ve had the opportunity to run them through the paces and have had some mixed results. The guide rail connectors are pretty obvious what they do, but they allow me to connect two rails together to achieve one long rail that is capable of rip cutting a full sheet of plywood. These worked pretty well and aligned the rails nice and straight.

The rail square and parallel guide however have had some teething problems. The guide square is intended to make a nice 90° cut based on the front edge of the sheet. The guide securely attaches to the rail, and the front edge mates with the plywood. I never had issues with the square attaching to the rail, but I was rarely able to get my marks to line up with where the rail was placed. I did a massive amount of troubleshooting on this, and eventually figured out that I was placing the absolutely smallest amount of pressure on the end of the rail shifting it off where it needed to be. I think I’ve fixed this and will need to make more sheet good cuts on following projects to make sure. I think this could be improved in design to make a better registration on the plywood, something that could be addressed with another of their accessories. However for the price these things are, this small amount of aluminum L-stock with a couple holes and two machine screws could be included. What’s more is that this accessory isn’t compatible with the parallel guide, because they use the same mounting holes on the square. I didn’t have any issues with the parallel guide per-se, because I think all the issues I had were with registering the square itself. That is to be determined, though. Thanks to some market research I did, I was able to get the parallel guide at no cost to me. To be completely honest though, these are very expensive products and not having great results off the bat were disappointing. Thankfully the small errors did not impact my projects that much and were overcome. (I also after I initially wrote this picked up the official systainer, and will eventually pick up the other square).

Time to finally get around to said projects in this post. After much thought and consideration I decided to overhaul much of the interior of my shop. The main goal was to provide more storage so that horizontal surface accumulation would be reduced to allow for a calmer building experience. I decided that I needed more shelves and drawers, but I had nowhere to put them. The solution that I came up with will hopefully solve these issues plus give me additional and improved systainer storage.

It turned out I already had a blueprint for this in Timothy Wilmots’s shop plans which I purchased with his MFTC cart plan. I already had two banks of double-depth systainer storage, but I had considered modifying it because a couple of them rubbed on each other. His plans called for more efficient use of the space by reducing the width and height of the systainer drawers. By using his dimensions instead of mine, I was able to have the same amount of storage for the double-depth banks in less horizontal space. I did end up increasing the height by a half inch as well just to ensure I could fit what I wanted.

The biggest actual change here is that I replaced the lathe stand. It was designed and built in the old shop when I didn’t have so much of a premium on space. I replaced it with drawer and systainer storage that is exactly the same height as the systainer banks, just single-depth. This does raise the lathe up quite a bit, but based on how little I use it I am not concerned. This is why they make stools. This has proved to be the most useful change to this point because it gives me space for a handful of drawers, and a bit more systainer storage if the time comes. It also gives me space to store and easily access my portable air compressor and oscillating spindle sander. Since I don’t need access to these very often, I put them in the bank behind my drill press.

With the lathe being raised up, it caused some follow-on issues. I had to relocate the hollow chisel mortiser shelf higher, and in doing so I made a bit more effort to secure it to the wall. Feels much more secure now, and I can still get to it on the rare occasion I need to, and it isn’t too heavy to lift up there and get down. I also had to redo part of my dust collection, which was the more difficult and time consuming portion. The head stock was going to interfere with the main hose for that side of the shop, so everything up to the ceiling had to be redone to clear various tool operations. This took the better part of three hours to sort out, and the lower two blast gates are now harder to get to, but I think it will work.

I also completely remade the upper miter saw storage based on the same dimensions as everything else. This allows me to make drawers to the same dimensions for ease, allows for even more systainer storage if needed, and brings a third full column of shelves. A side benefit of the same width used is that will better transfer weight to the floor, but the cabinets are also attached to the wall. More shelves, a few drawers, and doors are in the plans. In reality, the only thing left from the old right side of the shop is the miter station surface and the two supports that are situated under the miter saw.

When I reduced the width of the upper storage, I lost my spots for the Fastenal hardware bins. I knew this when I looked at the plans, so I had to figure an alternate solution out. I considered having them stored under a miter saw support wing, but settled on purchasing a metal cabinet for them with drawers. This is the perfect height to go under my workbench, but that also means everything under the workbench needs to be redone. So I emptied the drawers and ripped the old cabinet out. The hardware rack was installed on the left side, and I cut the old cabinet down to what fit beside it. Unfortunately, it is about 1/2″ too narrow for the socket set to fit like it did. To be determined about any drawers or shelves.

I also have done some rearranging of smaller things on the walls. I moved the hand tool cabinet closer to the corner and rearranged most of that wall from there. Battery chargers relocated to the TV wall, and I moved the computer down to where I could get to it easier. The Festool rails moved over next to the systainers, because something flat needed to be behind where the drawers open. Just a lot of small rearranging based on use and need. In the place where the rails used to be, I put up a couple of hooks to store my tall auxiliary fence. I also cut down the blade storage to only fit the full side blades and fit it under the hose reel. The dado stack has now found a home inside my drill press cabinet.

I also am testing out reusing the old systainer drawers as regular drawers in my MFT, small flat items that don’t have a great home elsewhere – remotes, small measuring tools, etc. These will eventually get remade into actual drawers, but maybe not before the entire MFT sysport gets remade…eventually.

All of this has taken place over the course of a month, and is still ongoing. At some point I need to finish this post up and get it published or I never will. On deck are even more drawers, and a couple neat tricks.

Post Project Evaluation – May 2020

While I was making my printer cabinet, I noted several things I wanted to address when I was done. From storage in the workshop to holes in my arsenal or skills lacking, this is going to be a lengthy post talking about all of it. Perhaps this will be a series going forward, which is why I added the date to the title. I have done tool wish lists and shop goals in the past, this is meant to be a complete comprehensive review of myself and my shop after a major project.

By far the biggest problem during this build was the amount of junk on any and every horizontal surface. Some of this was cutoffs from either the walnut hardwood or the walnut veneer plywood. Some of it was tools that I was between uses. Some of it was things in the shop that didn’t have a great home or no home at all. The first thing that I had to do was address this problem, as going forward I would have even bigger projects and more potential for clutter.

The cutoffs during a project should be addressed as they happen. I need to do a better job of identifying what is usable to keep, and what simply needs to be discarded. In particular, unless the plywood is of a certain size, toss it. Hardwood or softwood should be sorted and stashed away if there is room. If not, or the piece isn’t usable, into the scrap bin for burning or trashing. Don’t let it pile up on a surface. This was egregiously bad on my workbench to the point it was unusable. You can see it in the pic below.

Find homes for things. I can do a better job of making homes for things so that they have places to sit not on horizontal surfaces. I was moving some things around from tool to tool because they were constantly in the way. Things need to not be too good for their home.

Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate layout, processes, anything if it comes up. If a problem prevents you from accomplishing a goal, that problem needs to be addressed in some form. These are all general things, it’s time to dive into specifics I saw, and either addressed or in the process of doing so. I’ll do this in a clockwise fashion from the door.

The table saw’s function was mostly fine, although I did find two problems with dust collection. One, I wasn’t getting a lot of suction from the bottom. I filled some additional gaps with duct tape and seemed to get a bit of suction effect on the zero clearance insert. What’s left is to address dust collection at the guard – the hose is too long and bulky for most cuts and shifts the splitter to the fence side trapping the outfeed. I want to come up with something similar to what I had with my old table saw that is a fixed overarm dust collection tube. I’m still evaluating my options here. I also found that I have never made a dado cut on this table saw, and when I went to do this for the panels, I could not because I had no appropriate insert. I ended up ordering a metal insert from Lowe’s made for this saw. Eventually I will make a bunch of insert blanks.

The drum sander is one of the newest additions, along with the bandsaw. It worked well, but I did notice next time I go to use it I need to adjust the tables a bit upward. Trying to use the oscillating sander stored underneath, it became quickly clear that this had to change. The sander had to come completely out to use, and there was some contortion involved. After the project I found a home for it under the lathe, and now the large grinder sits there, temporarily.

The bandsaw is just fine, but I do need to make more dust inserts, because each time I forget to set tension one breaks. The dust collection hose is a bit bulky between the saw and the MFT, but that’s a low problem. No issues with the parallel clamp storage, but perhaps I could improve the spring clamp storage.

The MFT sysport can be a bit of a pain to get to the air tools, and I’m considering relocating that systainer. Not sure where yet, because it isn’t something I need very often, but when I need it I shouldn’t have to move a bunch of other stuff. The rail also tends to hand on the bottom of the TV when moving, so I need to consider moving the TV up, if not also over a bit to cut down on glare from the light directly in front of it.

There are a couple of issues I found with working at my MFT sysport, and they involve the Festool CT vac mounted underneath. One is that I need to improve the boom arm by making the hose both better attached to the arm and able to easily be removed. One is that I want a better way of activating the vac without having a tool attached. One is that I want to directly attach non-Festools to a power source supplied by the vac (which would also address the second point). I did order two conversion kits, which one I will use on my Dewalt 611 palm router. I’ll post up about that when/if they arrive. That would reduce a lot of need for having the vac come on without a tool, except for the TSC 55.

The workbench area will be greatly improved just by keeping it clear during a project and available for hand tool work. I am planning on moving the hand tool cabinet over closer to the corner. What this will do is allow for taller pieces and better access to my end vice. I am worried a bit about being able to access it well, and it may be that I have to rethink that. The under-bench cabinet should be redone at some point, as whenever I access my socket set it is gouging the MFT sysport with the drawer slide. Also, the drawers were not specifically made for this and often fall off track. This storage can be better used.

The miter saw/systainer cabinets suffered greatly from junk. My spare batteries and the Bosch chargers littered the surface. These have all now found a home, including wall mounting the Bosch charger (and I’ll mount the other one exactly the same way). The charging location may move based on need and convenience. I need to do a better job keeping the systainer area clear of larger boards and ply pieces, as I was continually moving items to get to different tools. This will be critical as I continue to add more and make all the drawers double depth. The upper cabinets need to be used more efficiently, and I’ve started this process by moving over all my finishing supplies out of the previous cabinet. Two part epoxy, glue, and other finishing items were adding to the clutter. I will be considering adding to or redesigning the cabinets to fulfill more needs as conditions warrant. The miter saw is awful at capturing dust, and may or may not be completely accurate at times. I am going to try to resolve some of the dust issues first before I follow through with a replacement. If I do replace it, the Kapex will be the choice. It is expensive, and it comes with a couple of other drawbacks, but it is the only thing I’m considering that actually takes dust collection seriously.

I used the jointer and planer pretty significantly during this project, and am thankful I addressed the jointer and tuned it up. The only issue I have with it is one of capacity, and I don’t think I can upgrade to an 8″ jointer in this shop. The planer needs to be upgraded with a helical head, but more importantly the height needs to be addressed if possible. Using the planer at the height it is was very uncomfortable, but I’m not sure I can fix that effectively. It is as high as it is to accommodate everything else in the shop. I will be looking to see if the cart can be higher and sit under the right side of the table saw, or if I can try again to combine the drum sander and it into one stand. That would be the ultimate space saver if it is possible.

No issues with the lathe, it really hasn’t been used since it came into this shop. I do need to adjust the dust hose there as it comes out right where the headstock is. Move the blast gate up is the most likely outcome, or it is possible I could actually move it down and to the left of the headstock. To allow the osciallting sander to live under the lathe, I had to remove and disassemble the drawer holding the turning tools. They are now just sitting on the lathe table, which is fine for now. Above the tailstock I made a short shelf to hold the hollow chisel mortiser. It was getting in the way on the floor and falling off the drill press base when it was there. It is situated behind the drill press head and think will be a great spot if the shelf holds. May need to make it slightly bigger.

With the drill press base clear, I made a small cabinet to store drill bits. My forstner sets were floating around a bunch and getting in the way, and making a spot for them. I’ll be adding a bit more storage in this spot as needs come about. This would be a great spot to add some light storage on the side for table saw accessories, because that’s something I neglected to mention above.

As far as upgrades or needs go, specifically evaluated during this project and a very small one after. I don’t have a great way to address full sheets of ply. I have to crosscut everything first, unless it is some 1/8″ material. Then I can rip it on the table saw but it flops around everywhere and doesn’t want to clear my workbench. It also isn’t that accurate.

So I need to find a solution for rip cuts, and I’m starting out by purchasing some guide rail connectors. This is a trivial expense compared to a long rail, and much easier to store. These will be here this week, and I can’t wait to test them out. The first project with them may be a new workbench cabinet. If they don’t work as well as I’d like, I’ll sell them and buy a 118″ rail and figure out a way to store it. If they do work, I may buy one more 55″ holy rail so that I can swap between crosscuts and rip cuts easily. The other aspect to this is that I need to have a wider surface to do these outside the shop cuts on, the 4×2 table I have outside is simply not big enough for this purpose. I was thinking about getting some nice sawhorses to set up occasionally, but the price shot up before I could pull the trigger. I’m hoping to work on the area outside of the shop in the next few weeks to have a level surface behind a retaining wall. Unknown when a finish date on this might be, it depends on how hot it gets and how difficult it is to dig the trench for the bricks. I also purchased a TSO rail square so that I can ensure my sheet goods come out square. I will be attempting to redo my parallel guides, as I will need those when I make the tall bookases.

I desperately want to upgrade my miter saw, but $1500 is a lot of money for some marginal difference and some better dust collection. I’m going to attempt to address the dust collection first with some scrap. If that doesn’t work, then I might address this need.

I have a few holes in my arsenal at the moment, and the struggle is determining which ones to address first. My block plane is just about destroyed from rust from dried glue on a previous project. I am going to try and fix it for continued use on plywood, but I finally ordered a Veritas one and a couple of accessories for it. It would have been very handy to use for chamfers on the printer cabinet. I discovered I did not have a 1/4″ shank roundover bit for my palm router, I addressed this yesterday by grabbing one from Rockler. I also replaced my broken router collet wrench last weekend. I’ll be ordering a new chuck for the old Triton router and perhaps it can be a second router table somewhere.

There are other holes that I want to address soon, but I honestly don’t know what the importance and order should be. I want the larger Domino to make larger projects, but I don’t have anything on deck that needs it. Down the road, yes, which makes me think it can wait. I don’t have a way to strip finish or paint, which is where a Rotex 150 would come in. Again, though, not immediately needed. What would be nice about this though is that I already have most of the paper I need for it. I also cannot spray any finishes or paint without a sprayer, and I actually might be leaning toward filling that hole soon. I am debating making our new kitchen cabinets, and being able to spray them would be a huge time saver. Not sure I want to be building them, though. I could also theoretically get a similar finish with a cheaper paint gun.

It’s a bit tough because I think I’m too the point where I don’t have too many pressing needs, and it’s all about strategy right now.


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.