Time off

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Had a lot going on, including the opportunity to pick up some extra hours at work. Unfortunately, Georgia gives you the nice birthday present of paying for your car registration, so the OT hours were nice. But enough of that.

Since I basically finished the planer cart, I’ve been doing some thinking and some planning. I’ve got a pretty good setup as it is now, but it could use some improvement. I live my miter saw station, but it’s very unwieldy. I like my planer cart, but it’s not fantastic. I like my router table, but…actually, I don’t. I didn’t do it properly at all and it’s not worth trying to fix.

So, I’ve figured out what I’d like to call the ‘Grand Plan.’ Or, as close to it as one could call it. The interior walls and ceiling need to be replaced, and in the course of doing so, more electrical boxes need to be added. I figure three will do, and the lighting will be run on a completely separate circuit. I’d like to add an inlet inside the door to receive the extension cord, thereby making anything hooked into the wall immediately accessible. All of this, however, is of no pressing need. Further, the outside of the shop needs to be cleared of debris on the front and side, something that should start progressing slowly beginning at the end of August.

Of more immediate concern is the working space of the shop. There’s not a ton in there now, and usability remains a concern. This is why a long-term plan needs to be in place and I need to stop making items that I’m just going to redo later. I wanted the planer cart, the table saw and the drill press cart to all interact, but that’s problematic. For one, I need to get multiple things to be exactly the same height. And with the planer revolving, it’s not. I also have to make my tables very tall to have the carts fit underneath. While that’s great for the back, it’s probably not practical.

So, the plan is to incorporate a few features of one neat workstation into the plans, and avail myself to its advantages while increasing my floor space. The workstation is called the Ultimate Tool Stand, and can be found here.

As for how I’m going to adapt that plan, and what I’ve done to the router table, I guess that will be the next entry.

Untitled rambling

Wow, what a busy weekend for me. I’ll try to run it down from the last time I posted, and hopefully I won’t miss anything. Chronologically may be another issue.

I bought the casters from Harbor Freight and installed them on the bottom of the cart Friday. It may have been Saturday, I can’t remember. I used an additional piece of ¾” ply for two reasons: one, I wanted a bit of additional height. Two, my screws were too long and would have protruded on the bottom. The casters work excellently, and if I put a piece of ¾” ply on top, it makes for a most excellent outfeed table for my saw. I then cut out a space for the drill column, and I can say that while it’s functional, it certainly doesn’t look fantastic. Trying to cut with a jigsaw isn’t the most fabulous or exact process. But, save for making a drawer and some cosmetic things like banding, the drill press cart is functional and complete.

Here’s a pictorial recap of the process. I still am trying to remind myself to take more pictures.

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The next bit of my attention was to work on a bit of inspiration I had for the kitchen. Some time back, we added a blackboard and a corkboard to a blank wall in the kitchen for a ‘parent area’: a place where we could hang a calendar, projects the girls did at school, and a place where they could practice drawing and letters/numbers. I did a basic 3’x5’ section of painted blackboard (with magnetic paint underneath), and Corey put together a same size section of double-depth cork tiles over that. Unfortunately, while the cork stuck to each other well, to the wall it didn’t go so well. So, a replacement had been mused upon for some time.

With us finally deciding to paint the kitchen after the roof leak and ant debacle, the time was neigh. After the paint was dry, I went to work on my already acquired materials – MDF prepainted trim. I did a bulky block on the bottom border, and did standard trim on the remaining three sides. All that remains to do is add a ply backer to the top portion and install new cork to that, instead of directly to the wall. I think that will hold this time. Also, I need to add a divider between the two boards to hold some chalk. Befores and ‘afters’:

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And of the rest of the kitchen…
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Once I got that done, I could turn my attention to the most pressing need in the shop currently: making a home for my new planer. With it, and the stand that was given to me along with it, it was making room in the shop scarce. And because of that very reason, making a simple stand just wasn’t going to cut it. With that in mind, I set out to design a flip-top cart. Most people who have done this have put a tool on both sides of a rotating top, thus making room for one stand become room for two. With my line of thinking though, I needed the finished cart to roll up under a table.

I started out making a simple box, with two sides and a bottom. For the top, though, I made it a little shorter on the width side and went with double thickness. I used the table saw and made a dado to hold the piece of steel rod I picked up from the BORG. I thought I had bought ½”, but it turned out to be 5/8” diameter instead. Not a big deal, and better for me. Once I got the width and depth of the dado correct, I used my angle grinder to reduce the length of the rod to about 2.5” longer than the ply. Once done, I sandwiched the rod between the two top pieces, and that dado I did on both pieces of ply became a box around the rod. I used a stupid amount of screws to secure the pieces to each other, concentrating my efforts along the rod, and the sides where the most force would eventually be exerted.

Once the top was done, I drilled holes in the sides for the rod to be inserted through. I placed the top in these holes, then reinforced the sides with a hardwood to help keep the sides from bowing. I guess, I’m just making shit up at this point. The next step will be to dado the sides and insert a shelf to help with lateral stability, then add casters and see what my height looks like. I want this to be able to interact with both the table saw and the drill press cart. And since it’s fairly hard to lift up right now, perhaps some weight to the opposite side of the top in the form of heavy MDF and also bring the height up. Some pics:

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So, in the last week I’ve worked on the drill press cart and the planer cart, the message board center, painted two rooms, helped plant a tree and I guess that’s about it. Not a bad ten days or so.

Recap and review

Wow, what a busy weekend for me. I’ll try to run it down from the last time I posted, and hopefully I won’t miss anything. Chronologically may be another issue.

I bought the casters from Harbor Freight and installed them on the bottom of the cart Friday. It may have been Saturday, I can’t remember. I used an additional piece of ¾” ply for two reasons: one, I wanted a bit of additional height. Two, my screws were too long and would have protruded on the bottom. The casters work excellently, and if I put a piece of ¾” ply on top, it makes for a most excellent outfeed table for my saw. I then cut out a space for the drill column, and I can say that while it’s functional, it certainly doesn’t look fantastic. Trying to cut with a jigsaw isn’t the most fabulous or exact process. But, save for making a drawer and some cosmetic things like banding, the drill press cart is functional and complete.

Here’s a pictorial recap of the process. I still am trying to remind myself to take more pictures.

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The next bit of my attention was to work on a bit of inspiration I had for the kitchen. Some time back, we added a blackboard and a corkboard to a blank wall in the kitchen for a ‘parent area’: a place where we could hang a calendar, projects the girls did at school, and a place where they could practice drawing and letters/numbers. I did a basic 3’x5’ section of painted blackboard (with magnetic paint underneath), and Corey put together a same size section of double-depth cork tiles over that. Unfortunately, while the cork stuck to each other well, to the wall it didn’t go so well. So, a replacement had been mused upon for some time.

With us finally deciding to paint the kitchen after the roof leak and ant debacle, the time was neigh. After the paint was dry, I went to work on my already acquired materials – MDF prepainted trim. I did a bulky block on the bottom border, and did standard trim on the remaining three sides. All that remains to do is add a ply backer to the top portion and install new cork to that, instead of directly to the wall. I think that will hold this time. Also, I need to add a divider between the two boards to hold some chalk. Befores and ‘afters’:

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And of the rest of the kitchen…
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Once I got that done, I could turn my attention to the most pressing need in the shop currently: making a home for my new planer. With it, and the stand that was given to me along with it, it was making room in the shop scarce. And because of that very reason, making a simple stand just wasn’t going to cut it. With that in mind, I set out to design a flip-top cart. Most people who have done this have put a tool on both sides of a rotating top, thus making room for one stand become room for two. With my line of thinking though, I needed the finished cart to roll up under a table.

I started out making a simple box, with two sides and a bottom. For the top, though, I made it a little shorter on the width side and went with double thickness. I used the table saw and made a dado to hold the piece of steel rod I picked up from the BORG. I thought I had bought ½”, but it turned out to be 5/8” diameter instead. Not a big deal, and better for me. Once I got the width and depth of the dado correct, I used my angle grinder to reduce the length of the rod to about 2.5” longer than the ply. Once done, I sandwiched the rod between the two top pieces, and that dado I did on both pieces of ply became a box around the rod. I used a stupid amount of screws to secure the pieces to each other, concentrating my efforts along the rod, and the sides where the most force would eventually be exerted.

Once the top was done, I drilled holes in the sides for the rod to be inserted through. I placed the top in these holes, then reinforced the sides with a hardwood to help keep the sides from bowing. I guess, I’m just making shit up at this point. The next step will be to dado the sides and insert a shelf to help with lateral stability, then add casters and see what my height looks like. I want this to be able to interact with both the table saw and the drill press cart. And since it’s fairly hard to lift up right now, perhaps some weight to the opposite side of the top in the form of heavy MDF and also bring the height up. Some pics:

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So, in the last week I’ve worked on the drill press cart and the planer cart, the message board center, painted two rooms, helped plant a tree and I guess that’s about it. Not a bad ten days or so.

Drill press cart, pt 2

Some people like to break things when they are frustrated. I used to. Now I build. Or build then break it out of frustration. Whatever works.
 
After a couple of frustrating days, I finally got back into the shop for an hour last night and was able to give my attention to the drill press cart. I had made the basic structure over the weekend, and dry fit it to make sure everything fit. Yesterday’s task was to pre-drill the holes necessary for the screws along the major panels. Seeing as how I’m also planning for this to double as an outfeed table for the planer or table saw, I need it to be nice and secure. The screws and some glue will take care of that. But for now, just screws.
 
I could have gotten more done by doing the screws with just my cordless drill. But I haven’t had the opportunity to give my new drill press a good workout, so it got the call this time. I love this thing, I’m going to use it so much. Especially to hog out mortises.
 
It was a pretty straightforward process, but unfortunately you’ll just have to rely on words. I keep forgetting to take in-progress pics. Perhaps I’ll get better as I get the shop a little more squared away. It’s very tight in there right now. I started out my drilling from the insides of the panels out; doing it this way ensures I have the screws centered on the dado, and thus the perpendicular panel. Being ply, it would be disastrous to have a screw be too close to an edge and crack the ply. Once all the screw holes were done from the back, I changed to a countersink bit, flipped the pieces over and drilled out for the screw heads. Nothing very special about that process.
 
I then fit the back panel to the sides, and drilled the holes in the back panel with the cordless; doing it with the drill press would have been close to impossible without a table. That got screwed up, and then I fit the top and bottom pieces in the same manner. Here’s the cabinet as I was leaving the shop at about 9pm last night:
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The next step is to purchase the casters for it and make sure I’ll be at exactly 36”, or perhaps a 1/8” below. It’s more important to be shorter than the source than taller as an outfeed table. Or, I may make it even shorter and design something to go on to of it. I’m really not sure at this point. But after the casters go on and I figure out what I want to do, then I’ll make the indentations for the drill press column, fit the ply for the base of the drill press, and get started on the drawer for the cabinet. I guess I should also drill the holes for the adjustable shelf before I glue it all up, too.
 
I’m also planning to work on the kitchen side project; perhaps if I use my time wisely I can have both done before I go back to work.

Misc

Went out today because I was missing three things from my press: a wrench, a key and a switch. Took care of the switch by going to Home Depot and stealing it.

Okay, I didn’t steal it. The nice employee let me have one of the display switches after I explained my situation. It’s actually not a switch, but a key that inserts into the switch to allow it to work. The one from my saw wasn’t a good fit. The key took a little more work. Home Depot didn’t have the right size, neither did Harbor Freight. Ace had one, luckily. The wrench is going to have to come from Ridgid directly. I’ll ask for all three, just to have an extra.

The drill works great and is super quiet. It has a space for a light bulb, which I had to grind down a piece of metal to fit in. Something that I knew might be a possibility. Just a leftover of casting. Nice and bright. It drills pretty damn straight, although I need to measure and see exactly how straight. Still working on learning how. I’m so excited to have it.

The drill press cart I started on Saturday has sadly been neglected since. I was hoping to work on it some today, but I took on two other things. The first thing to do today was to hang the doors on the pantry. Got that done. No pictures, because it doesn’t look quite right, and I need to figure out how I can fix it. More details later this week.

The other project, undertaken with the LOML was to paint the kitchen. It’s mostly done, just some trim work. It’s a nice Caribbean-esque blue.

So, workshop projects got put on hold today. But for good reason. I will need to make a table with a fence for the drill press, but that’s so easy it will take 30 minutes.

The new additions

I made two huge acquisitions today to nearly complete the shop. Really, I have three things left that I really want for the shop: a bandsaw, a planer and a drill press. A bandsaw would let me resaw wood and make tight cuts. After today, I don’t think this will ever happen in this shop. I simply don’t have the room. A planer takes rough cut wood and makes the surfaces smooth, can reduce the depth, and also joint the edges. A very useful tool, one that actually saves money the more you use it. The drill press is essential for accurate holes, and especially useful for series of holes. Perfect for making the holes for adjustable shelves, as well as being a great tool for starting mortises.

Well, I can cross the drill press and planer off the list.

I’ve been scanning Craigslist for planers, and almost lucked into a AP1300.(Ryobi) a couple of weeks ago. It went within four hours. Well, I saw another ad for a Ryobi planer for a little bit cheaper. I called, and made arrangements to check it out today. If it was the newer AP1301 model, I wouldn’t have bought it. The newer one is a cost-cutter model, eliminating the cutterhead lock and extension tables, two things that help to reduce snipe. Snipe is uneven cutting of the wood and makes part of the piece basically unusable. I took a look, and it was indeed the better, older model. Dusty, one piece broken, but it made a beautiful cut on the wood I tested. Perfect, no snipe whatsoever. The blades made a very nice cut, so I shouldn’t have to replace them immediately. Great buy, and he threw in a stand.

Before I picked that up, I made a trip to a Home Depot near there. I got a tip about a huge floor drill press on clearance. I had been thinking about getting one from Harbor Freight, a bench model that would have served the purpose. The main purpose being helping me make mortises for the big birthday present I’m starting soon. Well, this drill press blows the HF ones out of the water. A Ridgid DP1550, it’s a 1/2hp model that may be my first and last. Even though I bought the floor model, it should still retain the lifetime warranty. Being the floor model,
it’s unfortunately missing some pieces. The key for the chuck, the lightbulb (which may not come in the box), the safety key are all not there. I’ll give Ridgid a call tomorrow and see if I can’t get those parts, and register the machine. This thing is almost as tall as I am. It’s quite impressive, and see why they charge what they do. But better for me, because I got it for half price! For the last drill press I may ever need? Damn fine deal. Thanks to Tommy for helping me grab it. I’ll be testing the accuracy of it this week, but it seems rock solid and made a great hole with the one bit I tried.

Damn good day for the shop, even though there’s less room. Getting some more tubs out of there will help.

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Drill Press stand

Have a few minutes, so I’ll expand a bit on my post from last night.

It’s a drill press stand. More appropriately, it’s a drill press cart. The press doesn’t sit on top, because it’s a floor model. The cart will fit around the column and be fitted with casters to move out of the way. I’ve designed it to also double as a mini table saw outfeed table as well. That is, if my calculations are correct.

I went from a plan online, and scaled the vertical pieces up 2″ to meet the requirement of the outfeed table. I made two mistakes here: the back piece was supposed to be 1/4″ hardboard, but I accidentally made a 3/4″ dado. No big deal, I’ll roll with it and make the back beefier. Unfortunately I didn’t think about that and forgot to make the back two inches higher as well, because it was marked as hardboard originally. No big deal, it’s not important. The gap will be hidden my the drawer, so I may fill it in or leave it. I won’t be making a new piece.

Everything there was dry fit, because I need to drill some holes for the adjustable shelf. Once that’s done, and I make the gap for the press column to fit in, it will be glued and screwed up. I have everything I need for it, minus grabbing some casters from Harbor Freight. No need for big $$$ casters for this project, because it’s not going to support the big weight. I’ll save my good casters for the router table.

Speaking of which, redoing that got put on hold. The DP cart took more wood than I thought, and the other sheet of ply may be ticketed for another project. We’ll see. I can still partially disassemble the router table and make the changes I need to make me happy, and not use much or any new wood at all. I think that’s what my plan will be. After today, I’m going to be cutting way back on what I spend for awhile. Only purchases for awhile will be materials, my tool cost is going down to zero, I think. I’ll have pretty much everything I need minus a bandsaw, and to get one that will resaw material well, it’s a big amount to lay out. As far as materials go, I do have a decent amount in stock for small projects and to make drawers and such. I might buy a bit of hardwood or MDF for drawers, but that’s it.

I might have a new post later with some goodie pictures.

Great day

I got everything I wanted done, done. So much so, that I’m too tired to submit a full post. I’ll just leave you with three teaser photos.

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Upcoming plans

Here’s a little bit of an update going into the weekend here. I’m hoping to pick up one or two sheets of ¾” white birch ply and a matching sheet of ¼”. The ¼” will provide the panel for the second pantry door. The rails and stiles for the door are already cut and have a groove in them awaiting the panel. The rails have also had their tongue cut for insertion into the stiles. All I have to do is make sure of my measurements for the door already done, and I can use that as a basis for how wide this door needs to be. If only I had made the pantry perfectly square, but such is life.
 
The ¾” ply is more of an opportunity buy. I have to bring the trailer out there for the ¼”, so I might as well stock up a bit. I do have some plans for it, though. It will just depend on how soon I can get to it, but I will probably at least cut the pieces I need for easier storage.
 
One thing I’d like to do is (probably) redo the carcass of my router table. I screwed up and didn’t realize how hard it would be to retroactively insert shelving or drawers. I’m going to measure what I think I need tonight and have a cut list ready for when I’m able. As far as mistakes go, it’s not a huge one. $30 gets me a full sheet of ply to redo it, and as long as I plan ahead, I should be able to burn through this project pretty quickly.
 
And I think that last bit is going to help me out in the shop tremendously. I need to do a bit better planning ahead when I’m not out there to get more done in there when I am. A well-conceived plan and order of work will cut down on the time it takes to get things done tremendously. I need to learn to either go by plans alone (which I am amassing), or go out, measure, draw, and go measure again, adjust, then just build the damn thing.
 
The other project I have in mind immediately for the ply is a storage cabinet. I’d like to make a spot for all of my drill stuff, and possibly my socket set case and my planer case. Possibly a spot for the plate joiner as well. Have to see what kind of dimensions I am looking at, and I’ll know more what I’m looking at on Sunday. The idea is to possibly get rid of the plastic shelving in the shop, as I don’t think I need two. I’m sure I will still have a use for it somewhere, or if need be, the metal one could come inside the house (it won’t be going outside, for obvious reasons). It’s a good set of shelves, and has served me well. But I may have to use them elsewhere. Also, I’m going to try and move the sealed Christmas bins to under the house. Might as well, right?
 
Looking ahead, there is a few more things lined up on the sawdust schedule. Paint is going to be going up on the walls inside the domicile, and with that I am going to make a border for our chalkboard and message area. The materials were purchased a few weeks ago, and I’m just waiting for paint to go up before I make it. If the vision in my head resembles what actually comes forth, I think it will look rather good. And I’ll be rather pleased with myself.
 
Slightly related, the LOML has suggested bench seating at our kitchen table. I have a vision of benches with storage slots underneath, along with a half-height wainscoting, and possibly a bookcase or two. This will happen after I move our computer to the built-in desk in our extended kitchen and make everything look pretty by wiring through the wall. The existing bookcase will go back into the living room, and the Ikea Mikael desk will go to a loving home elsewhere. I don’t know if that will be done before or after I finish my wife’s Christmas present.
 
After that, I’m hoping to still have time to complete the birthday present I should have started on awhile back. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it in time. And no, I’m not telling whose birthday, either.
 
Another project that I want to tackle is getting the front of the shed leveled out. I’ll need help with that, if anyone wants to volunteer.

Raiders of the Lost Weekend

It’s a nonexistent week at the shop. Due to the 4th Holiday, I wasn’t able to procure materials to finish the other pantry door. Or work on the now screwed-up router table. Frankly, outside of Monday afternoon, I didn’t have the time anyway. There is going to be a lot of new developments this weekend, though. I think. But that’s later.
 
For now I’m going to allow myself a flit of imagination. Or several.
 
I was thinking what I would want in a shop if I had unlimited funds. Of course, I’d probably pick a shop the size of a carrier elevator, with three levels and a beer fountain. But that’s just ridiculous: a carrier elevator might be too small. So I’m taking this entry to fantasize about what I would do at my current location with unlimited funds all the way to something practical with potential funds.
 
The unlimited vision
 
Under the ‘no holds barred’ scenario, I’d be doing some massive earthworks. I would situate the shop behind the carport, and turn it 90 degrees to face the street. I would dig out the earth to a level 1 foot under the current driveway, and fill and level with suitable materials. The first floor (oh yeah, I went there) would be a conventional one car garage, with about twenty feet further back for tool storage if I had to bring a car in, and an additional five feet of lateral room. Otherwise, I’d have tons of room to set the shop up with a cabinet saw, dedicated miter saw/cabinet wall, a couple of heavy duty workbenches and etc. The shop would be powered on its on dedicated circuit, with plenty of 110 and 220v outlets. I’d have dedicated dust collection and a huge compressor outside in a muffled room. Dust collection and air would be available at several points from the ceiling, and there’d be a ton of natural light.
 
The upstairs portion would be an apartment, either for someone to permanently live of to be a hangout. I’m sure the kids would enjoy that as they got older.
 
But, like I said, it’s a flight of fancy. I’m sure you’re looking at 40-50k to do that, and that makes no sense for this house.
 
More sensible
 
A plan more in line with reason would be to build a new shop, just not as ostentatious. I’d orient the shop the same way as it is now, but on the other side of the yard after it got graded appropriately. It would have a sliding barn door, be about 16×24, and have it’s own ‘crawlspace’ storage underneath on the low side of the hill to put the yard equipment, and a riding lawnmower (hey, I can dream). Maybe a porch on top. It would have the same power and dust requirements.
 
Realism
 
I think I’m going to have to live with certain realities with this place. I could possibly add a lean-to on the back either to expand the floor space, or to store the mower or bins. I don’t think dust collection is going to happen, due to the large amp draw it carries, and it has to be on its own circuit. I think realistically the best I can hope for is a single 20A line ran out there. That would power one tool and some lights, but nothing else when it comes to high amp draws, like the table saw and miter saw. The vacuum would still have to be run off another circuit, probably run by a power cord. It may, MAY be possible to modify the rafters to get a little bit of storage where the ceiling is now, but I’m not counting on it.
 
Reality
 
For right now, I think I’m going to wire up a couple of outlets on the inside when I replace the walls, and connect them to an inlet near the door. This way, I could keep the stationary tools plugged in and just hook up the extension cord in when I go in and not have to constantly unplug or move stuff around. I’m going to have to grade the hill in front of the shop to have a safer space to work. Pavers would be nice, or a deck would work, but concrete sure is cheap. With a deck, I don’t have to grade the hill. Tough choice.
 
That was only slightly depressing. I’m thankful I have what I have. I’m hoping to have an estimate on power sometime this fall, and that will determine a lot of what my future plans are.