Spring and Summer without the Shop

It was not supposed to pan out like this.

It has been over eight months since my last post, and there are a few reasons for that. The main reason is that I didn’t feel like writing much. I get much more interaction and reach with Instagram, so I’ll post pics over there on a regular basis. Issues with uploading pictures to the site over this time hasn’t helped my motivation. That issue will likely continue as Adobe has scrubbed the internet of any ability to re-download their non-subscription software. I don’t know how visual this site will be going forward.

Another reason is that other things took more of a priority. The day I posted Working out some details I started a weight loss journey. I’ve lost fifty pounds this year and have kept it off for four months now. Exercise has taken on a bigger role in my life, and I’ve run a few 5Ks and gone to the gym in times I would otherwise have free. I got back into video games pretty hard, and purchased most of the retro systems from my youth. It’s great to share that hobby with my kids. There were weekends where I wanted to spend my free time playing games or watching sports and not dealing with my shop. I went to Europe for the first time, and I have the travel bug pretty hard.

The biggest reason though was burnout. I successfully finished the theater responsibilities, but another show was handed to us as well and it was just too much. We were glad to help out, particularly due to the circumstances, but I needed a break. Days turned into weeks into months. I went into my shop twice in six months, and I wondered if I just needed to hang it up.

The time off did me good, though, because the desire came back around. I started designing some projects, and the desire to get those done eventually got me back in the shop. Let me tell you, some changes have transpired in just the last couple of weeks much less since March.

So, I am back, and I am attempting to post more. The website is renewed through at least the end of next year, and I’ll have to see if I can make 2020 a great year for content.

Bench Shavings – 1/8/17

A little cleaning a day keeps the junk at bay.

I started this day knowing I wouldn’t be appearing in my shop. It started out around 11F, and wasn’t going to get above freezing. So naturally, I made it out there. It was about 21F when I came inside, and where I’d normally leave and let the heaters do work, I stayed and turned on the Steelers game. It took 37 minutes to rise 10 degrees, and about an hour and fifteen to rise 20 degrees. This really isn’t bad for a shop as poorly insulated as mine, with no permanent heating or cooling source. By the time I was done, it was in the mid 40s, and I was fairly comfortable. Of course, I was wearing four shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks and my feet were still a bit cold. But, I made it work.

So, while I was enjoying my Steelers advance to the next round of the playoffs, I followed through on my promise of the other day by continuing to clean and get things organized. Breaking down sheet goods was less of an option than it even was on Saturday, so I went with just finding homes for things. I got the counter cleaned up to where the only thing left on it were my drills, remotes, heater and a keyboard. The counter is clean enough so that I can bring out any of the hardware containers, and did just that to put away a bunch of screws that were hanging out in different places.

That was a fairly easy task, so it was on to the workbench. I took off the two long pieces of plywood, and set them near the door for disposal. I took off all the spring clamps and put them on my router table, while I try and figure out what I’m going to do. In reality I just need a piece of ply sticking out of a wall, but still ideas are going to be looked at. Otherwise I took the drill bit container, sorted out all the loose bits, and mounted it on the wall near the drill press. There is a perfect little area under the parallel clamps and above the F-clamps.

I slightly redid the wall next to the door, making room for the screwdriver holder. I moved the fire extinguisher and thermometer to accommodate.

I ended the day with the workbench not completely clear, but big strides made to getting it ready for work. I have some room on the wall to put a few more flat-ish things, so there’s more opportunity for storage work. I’m one more session like this, plus one really good plywood cutting session away from having the shop be ready for the next project.

Busy Child

Another Crystal Method inspired post.

A bit more time in the shop today, a bit more on the path back to normalcy. All the floor stuff is back home, save for my old hardware cabinet. That went very quickly, and save for popping a hole in my Steelers T-shirt, went well. The big task is to get everything back up on the wall.

Because the chaos wall moved slightly, I had to move my clamp racks, and that set a domino sequence of moves. Still in the process of finding homes for everything. I put the chisels back up, and ended up moving the TV to a temporary home on the window. At least I won’t have wifi troubles for a few days. The Woodpecker rulers moved under the chisels so I can get to them easier. Everything else is pending a location.

Having the drill press up against a wall again is very nice. Have to see how well it works, but it looks promising. I anticipate being back to where I was by this weekend, which will help get the next phase of the LEGOrganization get back on schedule.

Spending an hour or two in the shop today really helped me put a rough work day behind me. I will have to remember that for the next time I need a mental break.

What now?

The bookcases are purchased, assembled, and filled. With no immediate needs, what do I do now? There is so little needs right now in the house and shop it’s hard to even think about the next project. 

My daughter is requesting a loft bed, taller than she has now, with room for a desk. The one she has now is made from pine 2×6 or so, and it is a good design, what I might do is copy the leg design and just make it taller. It wouldn’t be that difficult. Or I could design something a bit more modern and start from scratch. I’ll have to see what the other one wants, but it will be an improvement over what my son sleeps in. That thing was built to withstand a lot, and cheaply.

Everything else is long term for the house. Some stuff in mind isn’t going to be started this year. As for the shop, it’s quite apparent a new shop will not be started this year. I will keep surviving in what I have, and I may make some modest effort at some fixes. Mainly, the two rotted areas of plywood need attention badly.

On the inside, I’ll continue to tweak the power situation and run wiring how I’d like. I’d like to do some thinking on any additional storage tweaks, but it is so hard wrapping my mind around anything outside the house lately. A trip out to the shop in the afternoon should jog some feelings. I’m keen to do some better storage for my Bosch drivers, perhaps in a drawer. I still haven’t settled on a good comprehensive hardware solution either. Good bit of room in the Fastest bin, and I wouldn’t mind consolidating the rest of my stuff in more. But where would I put something like a four-bin unit? Something for me to consider.

There is always Sketchup to play around with while it is hot.

Bench shavings – 3/2/16

Well, I did get back out to my shop yesterday for about fifteen minutes, and it was an extremely efficient fifteen minutes. I cut the old cart down to even sides, and made up a new back (the old one was 1/2″) and a new top and screwed it all together. It’s fairly short, but I’m thinking the planer would go on it. At least temporarily. I may eventually make a taller stand that will just fit under something so it is a bit higher.

I’m 99% sure the Delta 36-725 will enter the shop this spring. The other 1% is considering the Sawstop contractor model. At $1000 more, the Sawstop isn’t very tempting at this point. I’d love the safety feature (because my fingers pay the bills), but I think a grand is a bridge too far. $500? Sold. It’s not that I’m valuing my fingers at $500, either. I’m pretty safe with the saw, I almost always leave the guard on too. Extra insurance doesn’t hurt, though. I do think it will be the Delta unless some windfall comes along – and even then, it would go to other things first.

There was quite a lot of other things that went on today, much more than I ever thought would. So much that I’ll be posting about it as a project post.

The timing could be better

I have today off. Normally, that would be a great invitation to do woodworking, and I still yet might get out to the shop today. However, it won’t be to start the router table project. Nor the bookcase. Nor pretty much anything else. Why?


It’s raining pretty good right now, which means an inability to go pick up plywood, because I don’t have a covered (or any) trailer. I could go visit Highland Woodworking, but a snow event is headed in shortly. I think the world knows by now Atlanta and snow don’t get along.

I could have just kept working today. I probably should have. I guess I’ll work on some school stuff and perhaps do a little shop daydreaming.

Shop time increasing

Things are pretty decent right now, shop-wise. I’m getting more time in as school winds down for the semester, and I’m about ready to take on a couple of projects potentially over the winter break.

Something I’m working on right now is helping my daughter make a Christmas present for my wife. It’s a way for her to enjoy some shop time with me and make something for her mom. Win-win. I won’t say what it is on the rare chance she actually reads this site. Probably not, but you never know. All I can say is that there is purpleheart absolutely everywhere.

For the upcoming router table redo and the bookcase(s) I want to do for the house, I wanted to keep going with the hardwood edging that I did with the finish cabinet, but further refine the task and look. To achieve that, I crossed off one of my long-term wishes by ordering a set of MLCS 60° edge banding bits. They arrived late today, and I know I’m going to enjoy using them. The trick will be deciding which wood I want to use for everything. I do have some soft maple that I could use up…

The clamps I ordered on Black Friday arrived this week, but I haven’t removed them from the packages. Why? Because before I even ordered them I was already over capacity in my clamp rack. I have to make a decision about if I want to go buy another metal clamp rack, or get into the business of making them. It’s one of those projects that for some reason I don’t feel like doing. I can’t explain why. It would be super simple to make up a batch of three or four at a time. I think if I do build my own they would only be four or six wide, to better fit in and around the shop. This would also increase the amount of scrap I could use up, needing less wide material. I could also make something that looked similar for the other clamps. I suppose I’m leaning that way, aren’t I?

I had a dream the other night that I had a real table saw, one with a wider cast iron table and all the trimmings. I don’t know why, I never dream about woodworking or my shop at all. It got me thinking about adding something like a PM1000 with a 30″ table. It sure would be nice. I think I would even give up something to get it, like the lathe. Maybe something else, too.

Since that night, I’ve been doing some thinking about my shop on occasion. About adding a hybrid table saw. About building a new shop, about buying a new shop. I checked out a Tuff Shed 12×16 at Home Depot yesterday, I was fairly impressed. It would be $4000 plus tax, and it had a 12×4 loft area as well – perfect for sheet goods storage and perhaps something else. It wouldn’t meet code where I could put it, though. I’d have to apply for a variance, and I’ve already established just applying for one would be about $1000. I don’t really have $5000 to spend on this, and if I did, I would probably build something even bigger. I could just try to get away with it, I suppose. I could just build another 12×12 shop like was my plan. I have no idea what the supply costs would be. I had some serious thoughts about building a 12×16 platform where I had planned to build the shop, on concrete pillars. I wouldn’t bother trying to dig into the ground except where I would spot the pillars. Build the platform, cover it with a tarp, and come back to it when I could/when finances catch up. Until I could transform it into the new shop I would use it as a sitting area for the fire pit I planned to put out there. I hate my yard, I hate the way it slopes. If we had my in-laws yard, I’d have a new shop already. Huge, flat.

I may continue to look at my options, particularly the ones that involve having two buildings. One would be better, but I can only do so much with my property, and moving isn’t an option for at least a few years.

Anyway, today gives another opportunity to get some shop time in, mostly because I’m down to only two finals and a piece of homework to do for the semester. I’m sure my daughter will join me out there at some point to do more work on the gift, which I did some work on myself yesterday to help her out. I also think I may design the clamp rack. Other possibilities are that the big cabinet might come down and the finish cabinet gain a spot on the wall. I’ll also do a bit more cleanup to get ready for the router table build. I’m embarrassed to say I also have some stuff outside that needs to be disposed of as well.

It’s noon, I suppose the shop has warmed up enough to start this day.

Router table base – the details

The fine print is always what gets you. Have to read those terms and conditions as well. You also have to take into account the small details when it comes to designing a storage project.

The completed base won’t quite fit within the scope of one sheet of plywood. Not all the pieces, anyway. There’s two sides, the central support/divider, the bottom, and the back. Those are all the big pieces, and I could get all of them except one from one sheet of ply. With central fixed shelves, I could get away with doing the back out of thinner material, even 1/4″ ply. However, I do have a piece of 29×35 3/4″ ply that would serve as one of the sides or middle divider. That, and I have plenty of smaller 3/4″ ply that will serve to make up the two fixed shelves. So, boom! One sheet of ply will do pretty much what I need it to.

While I was out in the shop, I did a rough area dimension of what the drawers will be, and let’s just say I was way overthinking things. My Kreg setup bars, Ridgid bushing kit, wrenches, Incra driver, two push blocks, two bit guards and a cope/stick setup block all fit in the space. I don’t really have much more that needs to be stored besides the router bits. There is a router mat, and some featherboards that fit on the old router fence, and the cross-rout support block that came with the positioner. So, my plan will work just fine, and I should have some drawer storage to spare, enough to keep another router or two in a deep drawer and a systainer. Perfect. I should even have room to make a small little drawer that sits behind the systainer to help store some of the OF1400 accessories.

I’d really like the full extension slides, but I believe I still have quite a few 22″ 3/4 cheap slides that I may use temporarily. Because I’ll be using the LR32 system, I can switch them out within minutes. An extra hole or two in the side of the drawer shouldn’t be an issue, and I think the 1/32″ extra that the drawer needs I think I could get away with not doing. Either way, I am making the drawers to fit full extension slides, and if they don’t fit the 3/4 slides, I’ll order the others. I won’t compromise my vision and long-term happiness my making them one way and then having to modify or live with.

Depending on how I make the drawer fronts, and if they overlap will determine how I make the door for the router. It may overlap, it may be flush. I’d also like to edge the exposed plywood with hardwood like I did for the finish cabinet, but we’ll see. I’d do a face frame, but am not comfortable doing that with drawer slides. In fact, I just ordered a 60° edge banding bit set for this and all future projects. It will be interesting to give it a shot on this project.

I think I could have the base done in about an eight hour day, if everything went as planned, not including picking up the material. When that will be will depend on if I want to combine runs for this and the bookcase I want to build for the house.

I think I may just do one project at a time, so I’m not tripping over stuff. Besides, I may need a sheet of 1/2″ to start making drawers.

A wild Ryobi appears!

IMG_20151118_173052347I tend to like the budget brands more than other woodworkers do, and I’m not sure why. Why they aren’t liked otherwise, that is. They are better than their price would suggest, as long as you don’t treat them like a subcontractor borrowing your tools would do. They are homeowner grade, which I would posit that also makes them hobbyist woodworker grade. There is absolutely nothing wrong with their drills and drivers, for sure.

Ryobi is where I started out, with their 18v One+ lineup. While I don’t use many of the tools outside of the yard tools and drills much, there are a couple I use almost all the time – the radio and the fan. I think I mentioned the fan a while back, in that it finally got a hybrid update where it could be used with a battery or a plug. I thought that was an innovation well worth the purchase of a third version of the fan, although that hasn’t happened yet.

The other product, the radio, also has received it’s third iteration. This time, it joins the other tools in the lineup with the now-standard lime green paint job they switched over to a few years ago. What caught my eye though was the inclusion of Bluetooth.

The display and buttons are but the slightest bit different, and the batteries for both play (18v) and memory (2 AAA) are the same, as is most of the functionality. Adding Bluetooth though is a game-changer for me. My area is served by a radio station that losing signal about when the sun goes down, so late evening woodworking prospects mean I have to change channels, or use my phone. With BT, I can stream whatever I want to from my phone, or probably even house over to the radio for streaming. It also has a 3.5mm port and a USB port, which can also charge stuff like my phone. I’d have to see if I could hook up my Zune to the USB port and play through that as well. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do with the old radio, perhaps I’ll keep it around for awhile. I don’t really need it now, though.

The Ryobi 18v One+ radio with Bluetooth can be found at Home Depot for $39.99. This is not a paid-for or otherwise promotional post.

The finish cabinet – day three and four

With Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that’s four out of five straight days with shop time. That run might equal a month or two over the summer. Tonight was probably a night to skip shop time with the pouring rain, but who cares? The inside is nice and dry, and pretty pleasant. In this season of giving thanks, that’s worth being thankful for.

Back to the cabinet. On Tuesday, I removed the cabinet from the clamps and decided I would work on getting the cherry edges all cleaned up. I started with a cabinet scraper, then quickly decided that was going to take forever. I went with the block plane, which did a really good job. I rounded it out with the sander and scraper and got a very nice finish. Nice straight grains on the cherry as well.

I used the DTS and ETS 150/3 for my sanding task, really just doing a 120 grit before applying Arm-R-Seal. I may go back later and add more coats/sand between coats, particularly when I need to finish the shelves and back. I left the cabinet to dry overnight Tuesday.

Wednesday, I planned on getting all this written, but I went back into the shop and decided I could cut some shelves. I had quite a few pieces of 1/2″ ply left over from the sysport project, and decided they were just the right size for donating to the cabinet. I cut the shelves down to 340x355mm for a perfect fit. I left the shelves a bit short because I am not sure exactly what I’m going to do with them – leave them be, or put an edge on them.


I had to pop over to Home Depot to get more shelf standoffs, and found something neat while I was there – that will be in another post. To finish this one off, I was fairly satisfied with how everything was, so I loaded it up. All my finishes, brushes, glue, glue applicators, the lot. Only things left I’d like to see in there as well would be the rags and the steel wool. The box for the rags isn’t a good fit for the cabinet, but I could perhaps do something with another shape, and it could fit on the bottom with the thin quart canisters. If not, it’s not a huge deal, but I would like a different storage medium for them. Perhaps if I find a plastic bin with the right shape, that would work.

I need to make some new French cleats, as I’ve used all mine. I’ll make one that exactly fits the back of this cabinet, as I want mounting deep into the sides to help distribute the weight. I need to finish the shelves (the most important bits to finish), and probably put another coat of ARS over everything. Then comes the door, which I’ve already cut some 4/4 cherry for, and am just debating the panel. A raised panel would be awesome, but I have nothing on hand to use. Perhaps another trip to the store to see if they have a pre-glued panel, because to be honest another bit of 1/2″ ply as a flat panel would work for me as well. After all, this is supposed to be a scrap project. I also need to source a couple of hinges.

I may or may not be able to work on this project again until perhaps Tuesday of next week or even later, due to the holiday and other commitments. If not, I’ve arrived at a good place on my own time and I’m really happy with how it came out. It may just be a cabinet, but I needed proof I could do something that came out well.