Spring Cleaning the Workshop

spring-cleaning-workshop03 Spring is here and so the time to start doing projects around the house has come. In preparation to do projects for the summer I have tasked myself with getting my workshop cleaned up. As you can see from the picture to the right and below the workshop section of my garage had become a storage facility during the winter.

New Shelf

spring-cleaning-workshop07 Part of the cleanup project was to add an additional shelf above my wall-mounted workbench. In the process of doing that I noticed that a couple of the anchors for the existing shelf were starting to come out of the wall. I shored this up by adding a metal L-bracket connected to a stud. Looking back now I am not sure why I did not attach the shelf brackets to studs in the first place. I made up for it with the new shelf though by adding two additional brackets. I also made sure that all 6 brackets of the new shelf were attached to studs. That shelf should be fine for years to come although I might want to think about painting it.

The Workbenches

Another part of the project is to finish up my mobile (or movable) workbenches. I have had these guys for 3 years now and have never finished them because they were doing pretty good the way they were. I need more storage space though and there is plenty of space under them that is not being fully utilized right now. In addition to that one of the benches is pretty unstable and so needs a little rework to be as solid as the other bench. Read the rest of this entry »

I Was Finally Able to Use My Table Saw to Finish Stuff for Christmas

I was finally able to get my table saw up and running. Not only that I bought a zero clearance insert and casters for it as well. On top of that I built a sled for it so that I could do some repeatable cuts while working on the stepping stools that I did for Christmas presents. It was so nice to finally have a real table saw.

The stepping stools came out pretty nice although I did not get them done in time for Christmas. They were built and glued but I did not get to priming them until after Christmas. At the time of writing this they still need to be sanded and to be touched up.

I also did not get the second batch of magazine racks done either. They are stained but I still need to put the Polyurethane on them. I did take the people that were getting them into the garage to show them what they would be getting “some day soon”. That day hasn’t come yet but I will try to get them done during this long weekend.

What I Learned

These were some really cool projects that brought several really good lessons with them. Here are some of those lessons:

  • The grit of the sandpaper that you use determines how much stain the wood will absorb.
    I found this out by sanding the first set of magazine racks with 220 grit. They did not seems to want to take the stain. Then on the second batch I sand just a few blemish areas with 100 and the stain did not want to take in those areas. Next time if I sand one spot I sand the whole thing with 100 grit.
  • My paint sprayer has adjustments for the paint and air flow and I should adjust them before painting my pieces.
    I used oil base primer to seal the stepping stools which was really thick paint. It coated the stools with a texture because I had too much paint and air coming out. Half way through I started messing with the knobs on the back and was able to get nice even texture-free coats on some test pieces. Oh well, that is what sanding blocks are for.
  • Start building Christmas presents before December 1st.
    I had not planned to build Christmas presents this year but then I saw the magazine rack idea on the Wood Whisperer and thought “Hey, I can do that”. Sure I was able to do it but not in the quantity and time frame that was needed. Next year I am starting in August 😉 .
  • Keep things in perspective, this is supposed to be fun and I am just starting out.
    This is probably the most important lesson. There was a point a few days before Christmas that I was exhausted and tired of rushing to get these things done. It was not fun anymore and that is not how it should be. Therefore I took a couple of nights off from it which is why they were not done for Christmas. I don’t regret it as I needed to take a step back. Also, I was rushing too much and that always leads to accidents which I did not want.

All in all it was a good Christmas season and I loved being able to make something by hand for folks. For those that did get their magazine racks before Christmas they loved them and I am sure the other folks will like theirs when they get them.

After all the dust settles it looks like I will be moving on to a gadget station for me and a head board for our room. I can’t wait!

Coming Down to the Last Minute in Finishing Christmas Presents

A couple weeks ago I came across the Wood Whisperers article about simple magazine racks as Christmas presents. I initially made a couple out of Pine to test out but planed the wood to thin so it easily warped. I then bought enough Rd Oak to make 4 which came out alright. These 4 are stained but still need the Polyurethane added to them. This past Sunday I picked up 4 more pieces of Red Oak and busted out 4 more in a night. These guys still need stain and Poly.

I also pick up some 5/8″ MDF in order to make some stepping stools as presents as well. These have yet to be cut, glued, and primed but they are at the bottom of the list as they do not need to be shipped. I should be able to build all 4 of the step stools that I ant in an evening as well. 

The issue that I am facing is that it has been literally freezing the last fee days – day and night. I don’t believe the stain and Poly work to well in the lower temperatures and I don’t either. today it started to warm up a little but not enough. Tomorrow is supposed to be better but I have plans in the evening (Christmas stuff for the kids). It seems that I really underestimated the weather and the amount of work involved in getting Christmas presents done.

Hopefully I can get the staining/priming/Poly done this weekend in order to get them shipped on Monday.

:-( Table Saw Parts are not Here Yet

I called the company that I ordered the parts for my table saw and then have not arrived or even gotten a ship date for them yet – bummer. 

I am going to give them another week and a half and then if they are not here by then I am going to cancel my order and go with one of the other companies that I found online. 

I really wanted to support a local company but I may not have that option.

Table Saw Parts Are On Order

I finally got the chance to take my abused table saw apart to see what parts needed to be replaced. Basically all of the motor mount pieces need to be replaced since it seemed that the saw landed right on that section as it hit the ground.

After searching the internet high and low I finally found a local company that had the best prices for the parts that I needed to fix my table saw.

The parts that I ordered are:

  • 509491 – Support, Motor Base
  • 818527 – Spring
  • 509494 – Base, Motor
  • 509492 – Insert (Includes Set Screws)
  • 824340-6 – Rail RearAcc

The total for all the parts came to around $125 which put the total cost of the saw at $350. This is still a whole lot cheaper then the $500-$600 original price of the saw. The parts are supposed to be in within the next week or two.

Funny Moments in Woodworking – Table Saw at 4am

I was looking through my stats for this site this morning and saw that someone came to my site from the term “table saw craigslist”. I did a quick search on Google to see where I came up and stumbled upon the following Craigstlist post in the Best of Cragslist section.

This particular post struck me because I was up at 1am last night running my table saw to see if I had put it back together correctly after the accident. Currently my closest neighbor is accross the street but I am going to have to keep my late night woodwoorking adventures to a minimum once they finish building the house next door. Also, I am known to run in the house and yell at the kids to be quite when I can hear them out in the garage. 


Dear Neighbor, 

When I went to sleep last night at 11pm. Nay, when I went to bed last night at 11pm I heard, very clearly, the intermittent hammering coming from your basement, 15 feet and a privacy fence away. Can’t say that I was pleased, but I had no idea the Black & Decker nightmare you had in store for me. 

I managed to drown out the sound of the hammer long enough to drift off to sleep, alas I was awakened at 4 am by the sound of a… what’s that? No, it can’t be. A table saw? 

Sir, I am a general contractor’s daughter and know, make no mistake about it, what a table saw sounds like. I was also able to identify a high-powered (bordering on a dentist’s wet dream) drill you insisted on using when you weren’t busy with the aforementioned hammer or table saw. 

And while I am certain it’s not your fault that I left a shoe in the middle of my own floor, I place the blame squarely on your shoulders, fair neighbor, for the gaping head wound (thank you window sill corner) and concussion I suffered when I went ass over apple carts across my bedroom in an effort to find out just what the hell was going on over there. Maybe it’s the concussion, could be the sleep deprivation, but here are the thoughts that went through my mind over the course of the next THREE HOURS (I didn’t call the police because I fear, above all else, turning into my mother): 

1. You’re building a dungeon. 

Power tools in the middle of the night? Creepy old house? Basement? Tell me did you already have your victim chloroformed in the corner, or are you still just stalking her? And for the record, I will not be putting any lotion on myself or in any basket. And I will eat Precious just as soon as look at her. Period. 

2. You’re building a better mousetrap. 

Or maybe just the biggest mousetrap EVER. Or quite possibly 9,000 better mousetraps, at the regular size. 

3. You’re building a popsicle stick Taj Mahal. 

Gentle neighbor (I saw your sensitive ponytail), I think we can all sympathize with the panic that ensues when one has completely spaced a school project due first thing the next morning. But I have to admit that I think using a table saw for balsa wood is overkill. What? Your index fingers and thumbs weren’t strong enough to break the sticks in half? Then I don’t think you have the dexterity necessary to safely use a table saw, drill, hammer or, for that matter, a remote control. 

4.You’re building a Y2K bunker. 

It’s 2005, I think you’re safe. 

But the strangest thing you did was this morning at 8 am. While in the shower I heard you yell at your dog to be quiet. Huh? My conclusions are as follows: You’re a hearing-impaired, insomniac, do-it-yourself imbecile with no concept of irony. This does not bode well for the life of our neighborly arrangement. However, if that dungeon has my name on it, I may have bigger hurdles in front of me than a few bags under my eyes.

Here’s the link to the original Craigslist post – Seriously? Operating a table saw at 4am?

Yeah! I Got a New Table Saw, But I Broke It

Black-and-Decker-table-saw I had been scowering Craigslist for the last few weeks looking for a new table saw. My current saw is no more then 2 years old but it is a beginner’s bench top saw and I have been hitting the limitations of it in the last few projects that I have worked on. The biggest limitation is that the table itself is pretty small compared to a contractor’s saw. In fact in comparing my bench top saw to the new saw the new saw is almost 2 times bigger. This makes a big difference when doing various cuts. The other thing that I really did not like about my bench top saw was the fence, it was never square. Every time I wanted to cut something using the fence I would need to take extra time to make sure it was square and the correct distance from the blade.

rigid-table-saw-TS24241 Over the last few weeks a few Rigid contractors saws had come up on Craigslist and I seemed to miss out on each of them until yesterday. Yesterday I scored a Rigid TS24241 which is a one generation old fixed base contractor’s saw for $225. This saw was at least $500 brand new so this was really a great deal. I picked up the saw without a hitch but the ride home was something else.

NOTE – I write the next part with my head hung in shame. I wouldn’t normally share a huge screw-up like this but I am so that it can hopefully help others to slow down and do things the right way.

Here’s what happened AFTER I picked up the saw…

The guy I picked it up from had it in his truck on it’s side with the front of the saw facing down and the motor facing up. I did not notice if he had the saw strapped down or not. I knew that it was top heavy so it made sense that you would want to keep the center of gravity as low as possible so having it this way instead of standing up seemed to make sense. I pulled my brother-in-law’s truck right up to the back of his truck (tailgate to tailgate) and slid the table over to my truck.

I did not tie it down.

I got out of the parking lot and took my second turn near the freeway and the saw rolled out of the back of the truck and into the road. It scared the hell out of me. I got out and thank God the saw did not hit anyone or any other cars. There I was standing in the middle of the street with a ~300lbs saw that I could move or get into the truck on my own. Fortunately there was a guy across the street at a gas station that saw what happened and ran over to help me get it back in. We both strained to get it back in and this time I put it in with the table down with the legs standing straight up. I collected the various pieces of the saw that broken off or flew out with it and pulled into the gas station to assess the damage.

All told this is what got damaged/broken –

  • The motor mount broke
  • 1 leg got tweaked
  • The rear aluminum rail for the fence got bent on both ends
  • I put a crease in the corner of the cab on my brother-in-laws truck
It was terrible. Here I had just scored a great saw and within 5 minutes of owning it I break it.
Once I got home I searched the internet to see if I could find parts for it and luckily I found a couple of different sites to order parts from. All told it is going to be about $70 to fix the saw and an afternoon of sanding/priming/painting to patch the damage to my bro-in-laws truck.
The moral of the story is that safety is king even outside of the workshop.

Progress On My Daughter’s Two Step Stepping Stool

Two Step Stepping Stool - Angle View

Two Step Stepping Stool - Angle View

This weekend I got to spend some time in the garage and was able to assemble and prime my daughter’s 2 step stepping stool. The stool is made of 5/8″ MDF that I had left over from a 4′ x 8′ sheet that I had bought to make some shelves for under our stairs. The piece that I made this from was 16″ x 48″ and I still had some MDF left.

Generally MDF would not be the ideal type of wood for this project due to the fact that there is a good chance that the steps are going to get wet. While MDF is pretty strong and rigid water is its chief enemy. I am combating this by putting several coats of Kilz Oil based primer in order to seal it. I am hoping that the primer plus the paint that I will put on it will be protection enough for it. It is a stepping stool after all.

I hope to have it painted an finished some time this week.

Here are some photos before I put the primer on it.

My Dream Woodworking Work Shop

As mentioned previously last night I picked up my Delta Jointer that I found on Craigslist. The guy that was selling it had the nicest workshop that I have ever seen in person. The workshop was not in his garage, no, he had a whole separate building for it that was about the size of a large 2 car garage. His workshop was comparable in equipment to what I have seen on New Yankee Workshop although because it had so much equipment there wasn’t very much room to move around.

imageWhile verifying that the jointer worked correctly I noticed out of the corner on my eye that he has a build a very nice outfeed table for his table saw. I asked if I could take a look at it since an outfeed table is on the short list of items I am looking to build for my shop. He had a very nice high-end DeWalt table saw with a factory attached side table. He informed me that the outfeed table was a version of the Work Table and Clamp Cart from New Yankee Workshop. What was interesting about this table was that it has a mechanism that allows the table to be lifted up on casters so that it can be moved and then set back down so that it is stationary. I could definitely use one of those for my shop.

From there he showed me the other things that he built from the New Yankee Workshop. The items that he had built included:

All were really cool looking and very functional.
My wife had gone with me to pick up the jointer and on the way home I told her of all the things that I saw. I explained to her that while his tools that he had were cool I was more impressed with the things that he had built to equip his shop. She mentioned that he must be retired and that is what he spends his time doing which was probably the case. I told her that when we retire that we would definitely need to buy a different house so that I could have “My Shop” just like he had his. She agreed. I love my wife 🙂 .

Latest Addition to the Shop – A Delta Jointer

IMG_0090-1 I had been frequenting the Craigslist postings for a jointer over the last few weeks to try and score one for my shop. The jointer is the last big piece of equipment that I needed for my shop (although I wouldn’t mind upgrading a few pieces that I already have). The main reason that I wanted a jointer was due to the experience that I had while building my brother-in-law’s mobile bar. The wood that we had selected were standard 2" x 4"’s and not until later in the project did we discover that they were not consistent in their widths and thus causing us alignment issues. By having a jointer I can still use inexpensive wood but get it cut to where I could avoid the inconsistencies cheap wood can bring.

I had almost purchased a smaller Delta jointer last weekend but then decided against it. It was workbench model (no stand) that was a generation older then the small Jointer that they currently sell at Lowes. While it was only $130 (compared to $220 for the new one at Lowes) I had read that people had not been too happy with this inexpensive jointer. The may thing that people did not like was the fact that fence is difficult to get square. Several folks recommended getting the next step up if you could afford it as it would be a better long term investment and save a lot of frustration. While looking at the $130 unit from Craigslist I could see why people had that issue and decided to wait until a better unit came along.

While looking at Craigslist yesterday I came across a new post for a previous generation jointer that was a step up from the entry level one. It was a Delta 37-190 and the guy selling it was asking $175. I called up and told him I could pick it up that night to which he agreed. When this until was brand new it went for about $475 while the newer version is going for about $400 at Amazon. At his house I discovered that he was selling it because he had bought a bigger and better Jet jointer. He ran a few boards through the one that he was selling to show that it worked and I handed over the money . I loaded my new toy up in my brother-in-law’s truck and took it home.

The one thing that I can say about this jointer is that it is heavy. Amazon lists it at 212lbs and I believe it. From what I have read the heaviness comes from the fact that it is made out of cast iron. This is supposed to make the surfaces more accurate and therefore your cuts come out better. This is one more advantage this jointer has over the smaller Delta model as it is made of aluminum.

Along with the jointer the guy gave me a diamond blade sharpener and a blade alignment jig which was really cool and unexpected. He did mention that the blades needed to be sharpened so It looks like I will need to learn to sharpen and align the blades before I do any cutting. I am looking forward to see what my new toy can do.