Take a virtual tour of The New Chinky Workshop. I'm not embarassed to say that there are days when I get home from work and just want to hang out in my shop and just tidy up the place or just take a look at all the tools. There's something oddly therapeutic about being in the shop. And if I'm lucky enough to spend a full day in there working on a project, time stands still and everything else on my mind disappears. So for all the money I probably should not have spent on the shop, every cent really was worth it because it gives me peace of mind, something that money can't always buy. So I hope you enjoy what you see in The New Chinky Workshop.
Fate must have been arranging my woodworking cards because I was able to set up shop in freestanding two car garage. It gives me just barely enough space for all my tools and whenever I need to saw large pieces of lumber, I just open up the garage door and shop capacity seems almost limitless. As an added benefit, an open garage door means more light and air circulation.
Update: I haven't been able to post any new projects because my garage door springs broke. That old proverb that you really don't know what you've got until it's gone proved to be true in this case. Unable to open the garage door, I really couldn't work on any new projects. After looking at the broken springs, it became apparent that a replacement was in order. I know I'll miss the durability of my old wooden garage door, but I think this replacement has its own added benefits. The biggest advantage besides pure aesthetics is the weatherstripping airtight seal around the garage door. I used to be annoyed with dirt and leaves creeping into the shop. Plus, I'm most excited about being able to keep moisture out of the shop--rust can be a PIA. I'll still coat my tools with wax or oil to ensure they won't rust and are kept in good condition. I don't park any cars in this garage and so you may be thinking that having a remote controlled automatic garage door opener is a bit overkill. Heck, take a look at my shop--there's nothing wrong with being OVEREQUIPPED!!!
I started off with a tablesaw and then gradually (or rather quickly, depending on how you look at it) added more and more power tools. For those of you just starting out with this new hobby, lookout because you've just started down that slippery slope. Without modern power tools, woodworking would just take up too much time. However, that's not to say there no place for handtools in my shop. Take look at Neanderthal Paradise and you'll see that for yourself. But for now, plug in that electrical cord and revvvvvv up those power tools....
Here's a picture of the east wall of the shop. I've got my clamp rack, planer, jointer (not pictured), oscillating spindle sander, stationery belt sander, drill press, and dust collector (not pictured) on this side of the shop. I set up some peg board to help hold up some tools and hockey sticks that I couldn't find a home for. I tried to put my bigger tools on casters--wheels definitely make for much more convenient woodworking.
Ask any hobbyist woodworker and I think you'll find that most would agree that this hobby can be just as much about hoarding tools as actually making something out of wood. If you're a woodworker, see if this sounds familiar: Ever catch yourself browsing through tool catalogs like a 15 year old girl reading Teenie-Bopper magazines? Ever scramble around to five different home depots in your "local" area and try to negotiate for a good deal on closeout items (i.e. K-Body clamps)? Ever spend time daydreaming about tools/shop furniture you can build to make your shop just a little bit better? Well, if you answered yes, you've been struck with TAD (Tool Aquisition Disease). I've suffered from TAD ever since I got into this woodworking gig. And I think I had all the tell-tale signs of being an ideal TAD candidate long before I got into woodworking. I used to waste hours/days on role playing video games that took forever to complete. I didn't seem to mind much because I loved fighting all those enemies just so I could collect video game "money" and "spend" that "money" to get better video game weapons, items, or what I realize now were early incarnations of my present obsession with tools. All I know is I love my tools and as long as they make me happy, then why the heck not!!! So take a look at my shop and I hope you enjoy the tour because trust that I love giving virtual tours of my shop!
UPDATE!!! After receiving a few emails asking how I was able to fit all my tools into my shop, I decided it was about time I updated my shop pics, just to show the layout of my little Den of Excess!
Since I live Southern California, I'll start with the southwest portion of The New Chinky Workshop. In this area, I've got my workbench (with drawers to house all my chisels, planes, and other miscellaneous hand tools). The pegboard really helps to organize and just house all the different knick-knacks in my shop. I guess this is my hand tool area. I made sure this area had lots of cushiony carpet and padding so my feet don't cramp up at the end of the day.
The Southeast part of my shop houses quite a bit of machinery: Cyclone dust collector, router station, oscillating spindle sander, air compressor, drill press, bandsaws, sharpening stone station, and some minor other miscellaneous tools.
The Northeast part of the shop houses, my drum sander, jointer/planer, clamp rack, my flip top planer/belt sander stand, my lift cart, and more pegboard. To be honest though, this area is a bit tight. I usually will wheel out a couple of machines out into the driveway, so I can move around more freely while I'm using one of these machines. Of course the heart of my shop is the tablesaw. The outfeed table doubles as a lumber rack for scraps that I can't seem to throw away. I also keep my plano clamps housed right behind the outfeed table. Whenever I need to rip some long boards, I just wheel my mobile plano clamp rack out into the driveway. The area in front of the tablesaw also is heavily cushioned. It's all about comfort for the feet, baby!!!
The Northwest part of the shop is my walking/storage area. I built a lumber storage rack that fit nicely right underneath a make shift counter that came with the garage prior to me giving it The New Chinky Workshop garage makeover. I keep all my hardware and miscellaneous small items here. And since space is such at a premium, I use the counter space to house my bench grinder and scrollsaw. Oh, and if you're wondering what's that bicycle looking thing on the floor...well it's a tricycle, yup that's right, an adult tricycle. But more on that some other time. For now, whenever I woodwork, I wheel the two trikes out and shabammmm, I've got plenty of new found real estate to manuever my lumber stock or whatever. And yes, that door is functional. I usually will open the side door in conjunction with the garage door to get good cross ventilation, especially during the hot summers here.
The first power tool I ever bought was my Delta 10" Contractor Tablesaw. I made sure I got the best rip fence I could afford. I outfitted my saw with a lot of support space all around it. I made a support table for the area behind the saw and I placed my workbench to the left of the saw. Since I have a small shop, having the bench placed next to the saw gives me a really large work surface to work on and saves me some floor space. If you look carefully, you'll see a that I made a blade guard that hangs from above the blade. I got the idea from Badger Pond and I outfitted the guard with dust collection, so when I do any rip cuts, all the sawdust that spins out from the blade gets sucked up into my dust collector and not in my face!
While I'm quite pleased with this saw, the dust collection on this unit needed a lot of improvement. Plus I really needed to maximize the space underneath the saw.
With the help of my of nine year old workshop assistant/nephew Victor, I built this rolling table saw stand. (On a side note, this comment is one that only a fellow woodworker can appreciate--I love making shop furniture!!!) I was quickly running out of shop real estate and I wanted a way to organize my accessories and well, here it is. The stand sits on five rolling casters that can lock down tight, thus eliminating movement. The advantage of making this saw mobile is I can now move my saw around when my lumber is too large to fit into the confines of my shop.
Here is a closeup of how this stand really organizes accessories. My saw blades hang on pegboard that have hardwood runners. 1/4" nuts and bolts can be custom fit anywhere on the pegboard to ensure the maximum use of space. I never used to be very organized until woodworking--yet another virtuous byproduct of woodworking!
I just had to put this photo up because if you look carefully at this drawer you'll see some neat use of space. I keep my Leigh FMT jig in the deep set bottom drawer. This jig comes with a lot of accessories. To ensure that I wouldn't lose the accessories, I made this shallow drawer that hangs on the sides of the larger drawer. This enables quick access to the jig accessories and when I need to take out the jig, I simply lift up the smaller accesory drawer. Gotta love it!!!
Here's a view of the stand from behind. I tried to keep everything enclosed to keep the dust from getting into the wrong place--sort of like making the wrong turn leaving the old Forum in Inglewood. The black 4" hose at the back of the saw and the 2 1/2" hose at the top of the saw are connected to my dust collector. So whenever I turn my saw on, my dust collector whisks away all the saw dust before it gets airborne. Oh yeah, I also wanted to create the greatest suction to capture sawdust. So I sealed the back of the saw assembly (where the link belt juts out) with some custom bandsawn scrap pieces of plywood. To secure these pieces of plywood and yet allow them to be quickly removed (as is required when I need to tilt the saw blade/motor), I epoxied some rare earth magnets into the plywood. It works like a charm!
This is my newest toy...err...tool. The Leigh Frame Mortise and Tenon jig is pretty impressive--both in its capability and its price tag. Although this jig doesn't come with any powered "machine", it works like a machine. With this I can make very precise mortise and tenon joints in quick fashion. I'm still playing around with it and I'll let you know my thoughts on it later. Right now I'm planning to use it to create some through tenons for a breakfast table I'm making for my sister and brother-in-law. So far, all I can say is this jig is very well thought out and simply put, is just too cool. My use of this jig will likely never justify its pricetag, but maybe that could be said about all my tools. But heck, the bottom line: the enjoyment I get from my tools really has no price tag--well, that's not completely true, but you get the idea.
Here's the FMT hard at work create an extra long tenon in a piece of beechwood stock that will serve as part of a table's apron. I originally mounted my Porter-Cable plunge router to this FMT and discovered the results were less than satisfactory. I tried a couple of PC routers on this FMT with similar unpleasant results. I called up PC's tech support and discussed my problem and they pretty much told me that it's normal to have some side play in their plunge router's plunge mechanism. Needless to say, that was not the answere I was looking for. After a little research, I decided that Bosch seemed to be a good choice to use on this jig. So far, it works great--the plunge mechanism on the Bosch has a lot less side play than on the Porter-Cable. Here you can see the tenons being formed.
One of the first and basic requirements of woodworking is that your lumber is flat and square. The jointer helps you get a flat surface. It also allows you to make one side of your board exactly 90 degrees to one face of the board. Once that's done, you move on to the thickness planer (see below). I got a great deal on this 6" jointer. This line of jointers were being phased out, so I made out like a bandit on this purchase. I recently upgraded this by adding a mobile base for easier accessibility and had an electrician rewire the machine for 220 volts.
NEW TOOL UPDATE!
Somehow I convinced myself that it was necessary to upgrade my old jointer to this newer version. It makes perfect logical sense. Old jointer = limited to jointing 6" stock, difficult to set new blades, can't handle figured wood without causing lots of unsightly tearout, a measly 3/4 hp. New jointer = A whopping 12" wide capacity and longer infeed + outfeed table, incredibly easy blade changing process, can produce super nice surface on figured wood, 4.8 horsepower *caveman grunt*.
Unfortunately, the biggest detail I left out is the whopping difference in each machine's respective price tag. And I think I'll conveniently omit any further mention of such trivial things.
Just to show the drastic difference in size...(photo at right). There's no question this new beast screams industrial quality. This Minimax FS 30 Smart is Italian made and is just a monster. I'm still trying to get used to the size and capacity of this machine. Because of the 4.8 hp motor, I was told that this would need at least a 30 amp line to provide adequate power. I wish I knew more about electrical work, but being electrocuted is not my idea of a good day in the shop. Gotta call up an electrician.
When I say beast, I mean beast. This machine weighs 600 lbs.!!! It was forklifted onto my pickup and it made the one hour trip to its new home 100% intact. If you're reading this and have a truck, I can't recommend highly enough the advantages of investing a couple bucks on some good ratchet tie downs. Rope can't even be compared to ratchet tie downs. It was a good thing I had my hydraulic lift cart and the help of my two best friends Kevin and Thinh and sister Kathy. It took every (and I mean) every muscle group between the four of us to move this chunk of steel onto the mobile base.
his bumblebee looking machine is called a planer. Once you flatten one side of a board with a jointer, you need to make the opposite side parallel to your jointed surface. This guy also allows you adjust the thickness of your lumber, hence it's name--Thickness Planer. In the old days all of this work would have to be done by hand--which usually meant an apprentice would be stuck doing the dirty work. Who knows, maybe in a previous life, I had an apprentice named "DeWalt."
Oh, I forgot to mention--my new jointer is a combination machine that transforms into 12" heavy duty planer. All I have to do is lift up the infeed and outfeed tables, engage the dust collection hood, and bam, I've got planer. It's pretty fun making this machine transform--I guess maybe it's a subconscious way I'm making up for not having enough money as a kid to play with Transformers action figures. Even back then, when my parents were just struggling to make ends meet, I found myself playing with generic Pic N' Save Lego's building "imaginary" Transformers action figures. Now, I build furniture out of wood and hopefully, in the future, out of steel (but metalworking is a whole other field to be discussed elsewhere).
I'll still keep my Dewalt portable planer, but this is definitely a nice perk. The planer function shares the jointer knives. Thus, I can still get the same great finish on figured woods during operating the planer function. But I've heard that the faster feed rate on smaller portable machines sometimes can be advantageous. I figure for large batches of wood requiring planing, it'll be worth the time to convert this machine over to the planer function. But if I only need to plane one piece, I've got my portable planer ready to fire up.
MOBILE BASE FOR FS30
So I've received several questions about what mobile base I have for my FS30 and how do I like it. Ever since I got into welding, it just made more sense for me to make my own mobile bases. This one was no exception. To make it, I used heavy duty casters (two fixed and two double-locking swivel). I tried to keep the height of the jointer as low as possible by mounting the casters beside the FS30 instead of directly underneath it. Moving the FS30 is really easy since I used casters that were properly rated for the weight of the machine. Once the double-locking casters (locks both the wheels and the swivel) are locked down, this puppy does not move. Sorry if that doesn't help those of you who are looking to buy a mobile base. I have heard that HTC makes custom mobile bases. Feel free to email me ([email protected]) if you have any other questions.
I tried to make some bookmarks and was frustrated with being unable to uniformly smooth out each piece. After doing some research I figured that a drum sander would be the easiest solution (I even tried to rig up my oscillating spindle sander to solve this problem--which didn't yield great results). Of course, with the image of a drum sander now bouncing in my head, I started looking for ways to justify a new tool purchase. I even went so far as to think about what rebates I would be getting for things like cash back from credit cards to help rationalize that I really had some "extra" money to buy a new tool--you see, yet another symptom of TAD. And so here I am, with the Performax Drum Sander. This thing is awesome! In hindsight, I never did really use this machine to make a lot of bookmarks, but I have used it to flatten panels and more importantly flatten out some shop-sliced veneer. Now I can completely understand when people say the following about a drum sander: If you never used one, you won't miss it. But if you've used one, then you'll never know how you got along without one.
Whenever I have to make cuts that are curved or in a circle, I use my bandsaw. This machine is awesome. The most notable things I've made on this machine are the bandsaw box and the drawer pulls. I added a riser block on this machine so that I can cut larger pieces of wood (from 6" originally before the riser block, to 12" after the riser block was installed). I've even used this machine to rip up firelogs into usable flat pieces of lumber. I'd have to saw next to the router, this machine is the most versatile power tool in my shop. Of course I outfit my bandsaw with the best blades on the market, Timberwolf (1/8", 1/4", 1/2").
After three years of using this guy, I realize now that my I've outgrown this machine's capability. My suggestions for anyone who is thinking about purchasing a bandsaw: Really try and determine how you will be using your bandsaw. If you're just going to make curved cuts in stock less than 2" thick, then a 14" will be fine and don't bother getting a riser block. I know most people will say, if you want to resaw, get a riser block now to avoid having to change to a set of bandsaw blades later. Let me just say, that while you could tweak a 14" saw to resaw, it'll be a pain. My two cents: for resawing, save your $ and go for one of the bigger machines--check the horsepower and the resaw capacity. I got myself a Minimax 16" and it's no comparison to my 14" Jet. I still keep the Jet around for cutting curved parts in thin stock (It saves me from having to change to a thinner blade on my MM16.
I can't believe the amount of clams I paid for the latest edition to my shop. Update: I really should keep my mouth shut b/c with the recent rise in steel costs and the weakening dollar compared to the Euro, prices for this Italian and other European machines have skyrocketed. This machine is by far the flagship tool in my shop. I got tired of trying to resaw maple with my 14" Jet Bandsaw (1 hp). This bad boy has a 3.6 hp motor and weighs a whopping 450+ lbs. I got a deal at an annual woodworking show. I saw the sales guy saw through a 12" wide piece of acrylic with no problem. I was so jazzed about using this machine, I decided to buy a slab of figured maple to try and make my own veneer Click Here and scroll down to see a photo of the figured maple slab. Of course, now I've fully justified my previous purchase of my drum sander.
I've noticed I'm not as frustrated anymore cutting thick stock with my new bandsaw. I know the cost is steep, but man, oh man, what a sweet difference the right tool makes.
Update: This is a shot of my new carbide tipped resaw blade and my new Grip-Tite featherboard. I was at this year's woodworking show and my woodworking buddy got me thinking about purchasing some Grip-Tite featherboards for my tablesaw. I wasn't sure about plopping down the bucks for another accessory. I watched the inventor perform is demonstration and had to mull it over for a while. After I watched how I could use it on my jointer and bandsaw, I decided it was worth it. So far, I tested it out on my tablesaw, jointer, and bandsaw and I'm impressed. This picture doesn't show it, but normally, I put another grip tite just behind the blade to keep the resaw cut tight against the fence.
As for the carbide tipped bandsaw blade--Wow! The price tag steered me away from it for about 6 months, but I got a good deal on one and decided I just "had" to try one out. I was a little worried once I saw how thick and wide (1") the blade was. But after rounding the back edge of blade with a stone and slicing up a 12" wide board, I was really impressed. The finish on the veneer was really nice as well. Of course, I'm super paranoid about making sure I'm careful not to bang the carbide tips against anything.
Update: After a close to a year of using this blade, I find myself leaving it on the saw all the time. It really makes resawing so much easier! I've had a couple other online woodworkers agree with me that resawing with this beast is the only way to go.
Since my new dust collection system can draw quite a bit of air, I decided to expand my bandsaw's dust collection capabilities. I resaw on this bandsaw quite a bit and even though the 4" port works, I figured an extra port can't hurt. But here's the problem: This is a pretty pricey machine and I couldn't stomach cutting a hole in this machine to add another dust port. I know the preferred thing to do is to expand the dust port to 6" in diameter. But I figured if I have two 4" ports, split from a 6" pipe, that'll do the trick. The fun thing about woodworking is problem solving. I didn't want to damage the fit and finish of my bandsaw, so I looked around and found a couple of small predrilled holes just above the factory dust port.
I then bolted a 1 1/2" piece of scrap through these two holes. The problem here was if I placed a fixed dust port right under the table (like in the photo-left), I'd have a hard time adjusting the lower guide blocks. So I devised a a way to slide the dust port out of the way whenever I needed to access the lower guide supports.
Here you can see that the dust port slides over to the right, thus providing unobstructed access to the lower blade guides.
I had a small scrap section of T-track that I couldn't just throw away after I built my router table. It's a good thing I'm somewhat of a packrat. By routing grooves on both pieces of scrap plywood, I was able to provide a way to slide the dust port from left to right. When I want to lock the port in place, I just tighten down my star knobs. I love creating quick makeshift solutions to challenges like this one. And I tried resawing with both ports hooked up to my new cyclone and all I can say is wow--a lot less messier!
This is my floor model drill press. Most people are familiar with this machine. It basically ensures that you can drill precise and accurate holes. But it can do some other neat things. When outfitted with a sanding drum, it can be used to sand/shape wood. I've also installed a buffing wheel and used my drill press to polish pewter or other metals to a fine lustre. The other good thing about this particular drill press is I can tilt the head anwhere from 0 to 90 degrees. I built the supporting table and fence out of melamine faced particleboard.
I have since upgraded to a delta floor drill press. While Grizzly provides good value, after some use with this machine, I found it to be compromising in its accuracy--especially the depth stop. When purchasing a drill press, try to find a depth stop mechanism that uses some sort of thread rod with a stop. In general, buy the best tool you can afford and you'll never have regrets. This is one of the few tools that I regretted buying--not because it wasn't a good value, but because I should have just paid more upfront and bought the best I could afford. What's that saying again? Paying more once and never having to regret is much less painful than paying less upfront and regretting a lifetime (addendum: and in most cases, you wind up paying more in the long run when you upgrade).
Update: I got tired of my old drill press table and decided to make newer version. I wanted to address a couple things in creating this latest incarnation of this accesory: 1) The use of plywood instead of melamine particleboard; 2) Make the fence shorter so as not to interfere with the drill press handles; 3) Improve the t-track; 4) Make the table a little smaller (the original size was fairly large in anticipation of larger projects, but I never did find it all that necessary); 5) Make lots of cheap inserts for quick and easy replacement; 6) Use hardwood to wrap the edges of the table for added durability and provide an aesthetically pleasing fit and finish. (And for heaven's sake, anyone who is reading this should stop any thoughts of purchasing a store bought version.)
Here it is! I laminated two 3/4" hardwood plywood boards together along with a 1/4" piece of hardboard. Instead of having to use a router to cut out a recess for the insert, I decided to cut out the insert from the hardboard first. I first drilled out the four corner holes and then used my scroll saw to cut out the insert. Because the depth of the insert equals the thickness of the hardboard, making inserts was a simple matter of cutting the hardboard scraps down to size without having to worry about thicknessing. For a low fence, I decided to use a piece of thick scrap poplar. Then to finish the edges, I glued on 3/4" x 1 5/8" red oak. I got cheap with the T-Track and am trying out my own homemade T-Track out of red oak. We'll have to see how that holds up. I figure, in the worst case scenario, I can rout out the oak t-track and replace it with an aluminum version if necessary. But for now, I like the way this drill press table looks.
The sewing machine looking tool to the right is called a scrollsaw. It works similarly to the bandsaw with the exception that you can remove one end of the blade and insert it into the middle of a piece of wood (that's really important to make inside cuts). In order to create the pig shaped piece of scrap on the scrollsaw, I drilled a hole into the wood first, then inserted one end of the blade through the hole and then began to make an inside cut. The machine sort of works like sewing machine, except instead of needle that jumps up and down, it's the blade that does that.
Here's my router table. This tool basically allows you to make various profiles on smaller pieces of wood. Some day I'l probably custom build my own router table to suit my own tastes. This table is now sitting in a corner collecting dust.
Well, the day finally came when I decided to spend the time to build the mother of all router tables. Take a look!
I got the idea from Norm and played around with different variations. Thanks to Bart for helping me think out my design. The drawer fronts are made from solid oak panels and the cabinet sides are made of oak plywood. The glass looking door is made of Lexan (a type of polycarbonate plastic--which happens to be the best choice because of its shatterproof properties). If you look carefully at the bottom of the router station, you'll see I installed high quality locking swivel casters that when locked don't move the slightest bit.
When purchasing casters, spend a little more and get casters that lock both the wheels and the swivel. Don't settle for ones that lock from the side of the wheel (usually found at Borg stores). The side locking wheels keep the wheels from spinning, but the swivel is still free to twirl around (very annoying). And try to get the red urethane wheels rather than the rubber ones because the reds keep from developing a flat edge if you should fail to spin the wheels once in a while.
The tabletop was made of two sheets of mdf laminated together and impregnated with melamine facing. I wrapped the sides up with solid oak and installed aluminum miter and t-track to help guide the fence and to provide a groove for a miter gauge and/or featherboards.
The smaller drawers glide on waxed coated runners. For the larger drawers, I decided to spend a few more pesos and use ball bearing, full extension drawer slides. Boy am I glad I got those--easy to install and opening the drawers up are a real pleasure. As an added plus, I have no worries putting my growing collection of heavy - weighing router and router accessories in there.
I was also very pleased with the location of the router switch--no more need to reach under the router table to switch the router on and off (located on the right side of the router station just below the tabletop).
Here's a closeup look at the heart of the router station, the router. I installed my router in the Jessem Mast-R-Lift (a mechanism that allows me to raise my router by 1/64" increments by turning a dial on the top of my router table (what a great tool!). To aid in dust collection, you can see I added a 4" dust port just below the router (it's the black looking inset). Just behind the router (the photo doesn't illustrate it very well), I installed a sloped piece of plywood to help funnel the sawdust right down to the dust port at the bottom of the chamber. I purposely wanted to make the router chamber as small as possible to help make dust collection super efficient. Finally, the plexiglass door employs a magnetic catch to close itself.
On the right is a photo of the backside of the router station. I ran out of oak plywood, so I used 3/4" luaun to close the backside. I used me scrollsaw to cut open a 4" diameter hole and that's what I used to hook up the router chamber with my dust collector.
If you look at the sides of the drawer, you can see small grooves. I wanted to make these drawers customizable depending on what accessories I wanted to store. The drawer dividers are made of scrap pieces of hardboard I had leftover from making the drawer bottoms.
On the leftside of the router station, I made drawers to keep my router bits. I store my 1/4" shank router bits on the top drawer. As you can see, there are no drawer sides for easier access to the bits. I used my router station to make the raised panel drawer fronts. I used a chamferring bit to create the profile for the drawer fronts.
On the second, third, and bottom drawers I made slots to fit my 1/2" shank bits. As you can tell, most of my bits are 1/2" shanks. Here you can get a better look at the drawer fronts an the knobs.
After reading lots of articles and books and talking to other woodworkers, I really wanted to make a strong a sturdy fence. I used aluminum angle, various knobs and bolts, some mdf, and aluminum t-track to come up with this version of a router fence. I was able to attach a dust port to help collect dust above the router table (coupled with the dust port found in the router chamber, table routing is a pleasure--no more coughing up a sawdust storm). I added subfences to allow me to adjust fence to create zero-clearance when necessary.
Update: I was continually annoyed with the split fence system. No matter how hard I tried, it seemed as though the two subfences would always not be exactly lined up on the same plane. As a result, any piece of wood riding against the fence would not rout smoothly--it would always seem to hit a snag.
To fix this problem, I decided to just use one long, flat board as my general purpose subfence and use a split subfence setup for special applications. I used 1/2" polypropelene plastic. Normally, I'd use UHMW, but my local plastic dealer had lots of this stuff, it wasn't too expensive, and it was very, very slick. To allow for my dust collection system to work, I drilled out a bunch of staggered holes into the subfence. By doing this I was able maintain the straight flat edge of the subfence and still provide a place for the dust to get sucked up into the dust collector.
Tip: Pay a visit to your local plastics dealer. Often times, they'll have offcuts that they'll sell to you at a discount. I've been able to get a supply of various kinds of plastic at a mere fraction of the cost I'd have to pay at a specialty woodworking store or at a home center.
While this T-Knob works well, I found that to get enough torque to firmly clamp the fence down, I had to use so much pressure that my fingers would hurt. Then I made this "helper" by taking a scrap of hardwood and running a dado through the middle.
Here's the "helper" in action! It's amazing how well this simple tool works. My hand doesn't hurt and I'm able to tighten down the T-Knob with a Kung-Fu grip!
I have to say that working without an oscillating spindle sander has made me really, really appreciate having this tool. This is basically a fancy sanding machine that allows you to sand curved shapes without leaving and gouges, burn marks, or sanding marks on your surface. This really cleans up most saw marks you get when cutting curved pieces on a bandsaw. It was really great to experiment making different drawer pulls with this machine. I'll be using this guy quite often in the future.
This is a simple stationary belt sander. I wind up mostly using the belt part of this sander. I rarely use the disc sander part of this machine. This machine is great for sanding/shaping small pieces of wood. This guy really made the difference when I made my bandsaw boxes (Tsunami & Wave).
For the longest time, I kept telling myself I didn't want to start down that slippery slope that is woodturning. While the actual cost of a lathe isn't all that much, I knew that once you total up the cost of turning tools, accessories, and that pouch of magic beans that you just have to have in order to be a true woodturner I'd be seeing a huge hole in my bank account. That said, I could hold off that urge no longer. Yes, I bought myself a lathe.
As you've probably guessed by now, I have no more shop space. So I had to come up with a mobile base for my lathe to take advantage of all that driveway space. This is my little space saver.
I suppose I could have made the entire stand out of plywood, but I decided since I had some old scrap steel tubing lying around why not fire up the welding machine and make this a combo metalworking/woodworking project. Here you can see that I really wasn't kidding about the steel tubing being just scrap--check out the rust caked on that baby. But no worries, there's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to make this stand look like it just rolled out of the factory!
You see, I wasn't kidding about the miracles of paint. Unfortunately, I didn't have the exact same off-white color paint found on the lathe itself. I figured since I had a perfectly good can of white paint, I wasn't about to spend unnecessary cash just to match the colors exactly. After a quick session of painting, it was a really easy job bolting the lathe and double locking casters to the stand. If you're thinking that there's a lot of wasted space underneath the lathe itself, I'd say you too must have limited shop space. That old saying that necessity is the mother of invention couldn't be more accurate. But a little less known is the following corollary to the aforementioned saying, Limited shop space is the mother of that urge to utilize every square inch of shop real estate.
I knew I wanted a storage cabinet that would fulfill two requirements: 1) it must house all of my lathe accessories and turning tools and 2) allow some way to weigh down the entire stand to keep vibration to a minimum when the lathe was in use. To fulfill those two requirements, I took careful measurements of the turning tools I had and allowed space for any longer turning tools I may [who are we kidding, I should just use "will" instead of "may"] acquire in the future. Then I left myself just enough space at the bottom of the cabinet to pour a bag of vibration deadening sand.
I got really lucky because almost the entire bag of sand fit into the space I created to the right. Then I simply screwed on a thin sheet of plywood to keep the sand from flying out. It's pretty amazing how much sand actually weighs.
Here's a photo of the cabinet in its full organizing glory! Now I have a self-contained turning station that stores away with a small footprint in the shop and can be pushed out into the driveway when in use!
The biggest drawbacks for powertools are noise and dust. As for noise, I wear sturdy earmuffs. As for dust, I use this trusty old 1.5 hp dust collector to suck up all the flying sawdust that can really cause problems. Since this picture was taken, I "tricked" out my dust collector with a .1 Micron dust bag to really filter in those small wood particles from being airbor. This old dust bag you see to the left only filters 10 microns. I can breathe a lot easier knowing my lungs are taken care of.
The more woodworking machines I acquired, the more I realized I needed a beefier dust collector. As luck would have it this canister style dust collector was on sale. The suction power nearly doubled with this new unit. The canister works better than a bag because it's pleated, which means more surface area for air to filter through. Plus, when the canister gets caked on with dust, all I need to do is to spin the lever at the top and that will make two aluminum flaps shake off all the dust into the plastic bag located at the bottom of the dust collector.
If you don't have your health, you don't have anything. With that in mind, I thought that $190 is a small price to pay for clean air and healthy lungs. This ceiling mounted air cleaner filters out small dust particles in my shop. Now I can saw both literally and figuratively that anytime I step into my shop, I can take a deep breath of fresh air.
For those of you who are really concerned about dust and want to learn more than you'll ever want to know about dust collection check out Bill Pentz's site.
After reading his site, I wish I had the room and $ to get a cyclone system, but since I had already plopped the bucks on my current set up I decided I'm pretty happy for now. Recently I saw that Woodcraft had one of those plastic pre-separator lids on sale. For those who haven't seen it, the idea is to allow larger chips to drop into a large metal trash can before they get thrown into the impeller of your expensive dust collector.
Sorry about the picture quality. Here you can see two separate channels of 4" hose connected to the trashcan via the pre-separator lid. I was a bit skeptical of how this would really work, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Now when I use my machinery, especially the planer and jointer, the larger shavings fall into the metal trashcan instead of into the dust collector bag.
Pros: Empting the trash can of planer shavings is a lot easier and cheaper than having to take out the bags on my dust collector. Plus those bags cost money, whereas emptying the contents of the metal trash for composting is free! Additionally, I like using my dust collection system to vacuum the floor/carpet in my shop. On the off chance that I pick up a piece of metal (e.g. a nail or screw), not only could that potentially damage the impeller on my dust collector, but any sparks that might ignite by that contact could cause wood dust to start a fire. I was really hesitant to pay good money for a piece of flimsy plastic, but I like the following piece of advice I got from someone at Woodcentral.com: If you don't have a true cyclone, think of the lid as a $30 insurance policy on your $400+ dust collector.
Cons: There is a slight loss of suction due to the extra space caused by the extra hose and the metal trash can. So be sure your dust collector in addition to your current set up of hose and fittings has enough capacity to accomodate this added accessory.
Tip: Be sure that any pre-separator lid you get has a foam strip on the underside of the lid. This acts like weatherstripping to create a more airtight seal. If necessary, use something heavy to weigh down the lid onto the trashcan. It's also very important to use the lid on a metal trashcan as plastic trashcans tend to collapse under the suction of most dust collectors. I had a hard time finding metal trashcans at Home Depot or Lowes. I wound up finding a 30 gallon metal trashcan at my local ACE Hardware for a little less than $20. So I guess this whole setup was really more like a $50 insurance policy--it was well worth it.
If you've read my little blurb on TAD (Tool Acquision Disease), you'll understand why this cyclone dust collector is a perfect example of that. But in my defense, with all the machines in my shop, my dust collector didn't seem to work with all the ductwork I had all over my shop. Plus, I had flex hose all over my shop floor and of course, shop space is always at a premium. Well, I kept reading Bill Pentz's site on dust collection and decided I needed more beef in my dust collection system. He has plans for building one of these units, but I really didn't want to invest the time and effort in making a unit. Plus the cost savings just didn't seem worth all the effort. I decided to purchase a unit from one of his licensees (that way, Bill can get a little something for all of fantastic research and writing he's done on dust collection). The unit I bought was from ClearVue Cyclones. Usually, cyclones are made of sheet metal, but what's neat about this cyclone is that it's made from a special type of plastic (from what I understand it has the properties of both polycarbonate and acrylic). Here's a quick summary of how this works: There's a Leeson 5 hp motor that sits at the top of the cyclone that powers a 14" impeller (in layman's terms, it looks like a fan blade or like the propeller from a vintage airplane). The impeller draws an incredible amount of air from a 6" intake pipe. All the dust gets sucked in and travels down an angled ramp and gets thrown towards the outside of the plastic cyclone--you can see an upclose photo of this below. The large dust particles then fall downwards into the metal trashcan. The remaining air travels through a tube located directly in the center of the cyclone and then is ushered out to the double-stacked filters. These filters screen out particles down to .5 microns!!! That's right, 1/2 a micron!!!
For those of you thinking about buying one of these kits, my only caveat is that you have to remember that this is a kit. While most of the hard and time consuming work with making a cyclone is done for you, you still have put the thing together. It's not like purchasing a tablesaw where all you have to do is tighten a few bolts together and plug in the motor. Even though I did have to put in some elbow grease, I think this is something that any woodworker will find is very much within their abilities. There is some wiring you'll have to do to get the motor ready to go, but it's not too bad. If you're worried about your wiring skills, hiring an electrician to do some of the work might not be a bad idea. I wanted to have my system operate off a remote. Since I needed to have a new circuit opened up in my shop anyway, I had an electrician wire a relay, remote, and do all the wiring for me.
The lion's share of setting up a dust collection system lies in the ductwork. Take the time to plan where you would like your outlets. Here's a cluttered look at the ductwork I have for my shop. It's not as nice and neat as other shops where all the ductwork rides up against the wall. Unfortunately for me, my shop doesn't afford me much wall space so I had to hang the ductwork from the ceiling. I already arranged my dustmaking machinery towards one side of the garage. By doing this, I significantly reduced the distance from my machines to the cyclone. The general rule is to try to use smooth walled pvc (or metal pipe) wherever you can and keep lengths flex hose to a minimum. I guess I'm a bad listener (even when I'm talking to myself) because I wound up using quite a bit of flex hose in the main line. But I have an excuse. I got a good deal on quite a bit of 6" flex hose and pvc fittings are expensive.
I had to purchase wye and reducer fittings because it just seemed too difficult to fabricate. However, I was able to use flex hose to create relatively larger radius elbows. Since I have most of my machines on one side of the shop, I needed lots of ports close to each other. Each split has its own blast gate. Each line connects to a different machine (from left to right): Tablesaw Blade Guard; Tablesaw underside dust port; Jointer/Planer; Drum sander (or) Bandsaw dustport #1; Bandsaw dustport #2 [I modified my bandsaw to have two dustports].
This is the end of the ductwork line. From a 6" diameter pipe, I made lots of splits for my smaller tools. Here's a quick summary of how these lines hookup to my machines: 4" diameter line directly hooked up to router table underside dust port; 2 1/2" diameter line to router fence (or) stationary belt sander (or) floor pickup wand; 4" diameter line to shopmade dowdraft table; 2" diameter line to oscillating spindle sander (or) to any future woodworking mistake that warrants me yelling out "That sucks!!!".
Here's the closeup of the cyclone at work. Isn't this cool?!!! When there's enough dirt being sucked up, sometimes you can actually see what looks like a double helix. The dust is shot an angle that, coupled with gravity, ensures that most of the dust (even some of the small particles) is deposited into the trashcan. You can a plastic tube at the center of the cyclone. Although you can't see the air being sucked up through this tube and out through the filter, you can trust that a lot of air travels up through this tube. I still am amazed everytime I fire up this baby.
I vacuumed up some plane shavings to really highlight the cyclonic action (if I had a British accent, I swear I'd be one of those late night infommercials--[off-topic] why is it that these infommericials seem to think that annoying British salesmen in tacky red suspenders is the way to go to sell sub-standard products?). These shavings seem to be floating inside the plastic cyclone.
I put in a few more shavings and you can sort of see how the shavings are circling around the cyclone in a helical pattern. You kind of have to stare at it for a second to see the pattern--sort of like those 5-D photo/puzzles that I could never get. What's nice about this photo is that it shows how the debris cycles downwards toward the trashcan.
The proof is in the trashcan. I'm currently dreaming up a way of improving how I empty a trashcan full of sawdust, but more on that once I'm done--let's just say it'll involve some welding.
So...what's the verdict?
...This cyclone really Sucks!!!
Update (Welding Update Too!!!)
I'm currently learning to arc weld, but since the machines were down for maintenance, the only welding technique available was oxy-acetylene welding. This coincidentally works out perfectly for me. While I still stare at my cyclone in action like a mesmerized kid in a toystore, the one think I don't enjoy is emptying out the trash bin full of sawdust. On my previous trash can separator (before my cyclone upgrade), I tried lining the trash can with a plastic trash bag. As soon as I flipped on the dust collector, the trash bag got inverted and wound up getting sucked into the dust collector.
To prevent this from happening on my cyclone, I decided to weld a frame to keep the bag from getting sucked up into the cyclone. I used plain old oxy-acetylene welding rod and bent everything by hand. It's not all that great looking, but heck it's going to sit inside a trashcan!!! When I need to empty out trashcan, all I have to do is wiggle the metal frame loose (letting all the sawdust stay inside the trasbag). Then, it's just a matter of pulling the drawstrings together and voila! No dust in my lungs and an empty trashcan ready for more abuse. I think this is pretty cool, if I do say so myself. I have to give some thanks to my welding buddies Jason and Carlos for helping me out with this project.
I fired the cyclone up and this thing works.
These are my power tool accessories. Among the accesories are: Router bits that can be used to give different profiles to wood; Forstner bits that drill flat bottomed holes into wood; Sanding drums which are now obsolete in my shop since I purchased my spindle sander--a much better option if you can get one.
I started off just putting all of my lumber under this makeshift table. But as I started building a collection of different hardwoods and my shop space seemed to shrink, I came up with this lumber rack to store my lumber. It was custom built to fit the space here and it's made with fairly cheap 2 x 4's.
The stash of lumber is growing!!! I find myself hoarding nice boards or whenever I can get a good deal on hardwood. Unfortunately, my shop space is limited and I really need to start using up some of my stash. Of this new pile lying on the carpet, here are some notable pieces: 16/4 Cherry, quilted maple in various sizes, 4/4 cherry, some amazing deep red curly cherry heartwood, curly walnut.
Well, space is always a problem, especially since I couldn't pass up on a great deal on some old stash of mixed hardwood lumber. The challenge was to figure out where to put all this stuff. There's absolutely no more room for lumber in the shop. So I decided to store this lumber in my covered carport. It's not ideal, but I figured that would be fine. To save me the hassle of having to move each piece one by one in the event I had to clear the carport, I made a quick and dirty rolling stand to support the boards of lumber.
As my clamp collection grew, organizing them for handy use started to become a real problem. I saw this plan in popular woodworking magazine (FYI: it's a good magazine, but still Fine Woodworking is my favorite) and decided to build this clamp rack. I put casters on this as well and now I can pretty much roll it right next to my projects. I find myself spending more time building things for my shop than building regular furniture, but heck, as long as I'm having fun I'll keep making things that I enjoy making.
Update: I'm still finding this clamp rack really helpful. It was a good thing I made extra holes just in case. I was able to score some more clamps at a great deal when Home Depot was trying to liquidate its supply of bessey clamps. I was able to get a few more K-Bodies, some Vario strap clamps, and some 90 degree angle clamps. As you can see, the clamp rack is filling up quite nicely.
I just recently purchased an air compressor combo kit. I was trying to avoid making that purchase, but jeez, having an air compressor is extremely useful. I find myself pumping tires all over the house and in my car, using the air blow gun to blow out dust on the motors of my machines, and I haven't even tried using my brad nailer yet!
On a recent project, I had to assemble and apply stain and finish on three lengthy valances. I simply didn't have much space left in the shop to be able to tackle this job. So I pulled out my old particleboard ping-pong table and set up a make-shift assembly/finishing table. It worked pretty well. As an added bonus, because I was forced to set up the table in the carport (because there isn't any more room in the garage), I was able to work outdoors, thus allow the fumes from the stain and finish to dissipate. Whew, paint fumes make you dizzy! I can't believe there are people who sniff glue and other fumes like this to get a high. And my sisters think me getting all excited about woodworking is a cheap thrill. **Harumpf** But I know they just like to give me a hard time
Let me say that staining opened grained woods like pine and maple isn't my favorite thing to do. But I hope all this work will end up created a nice finished product.
I built this simple pegboard to help store some of my tools. This was one of the first things I built after I bought my tablesaw. It really helps to able to hang things on the wall.
Storage bins are always good. Before I got into woodworking, all my screws and nails were just in a jumbled mess. It probably took me a couple hours to organize everything here, but boy it makes finding things so much better.
I purchased this panel gluing system at a woodworking show. You slide various boards into the vertical clamps with some glue and then clamp it down. These are better than regular clamps because they also ensure that the boards line up in the same plane. The manufacturer recommended that these be attached to a wall, but I absolutely have no wall space. So I decided to build a mobile to house the clamps.
Update: I recently found another use for this mobile stand. I needed a place to store an auxilliary table I built to serve as a makshift assembly table (see hydraulic lift cart/assembly table below). So when I'm not using the assembly table, I clamp the auxilliary table on the backside of this unit. Score one for me in in the battle to maximize shop space!
Why am I posting a photos of electrical stuff? Unfortunately, electrical wiring was not something I felt comfortable just picking up. I decided it was time for an upgrade. For the cost of a decent tablesaw, I was able to have a subpanel installed into the shop, conduit running all over the place and electrical outlets strategically located in most frequently used parts of my shop. The odd looking outlet on the left is wired for 220v, which is much better for my machines. Additionally, I had the electrician help rewire my larger machines (tablesaw, bandsaw, jointer, dust collector) for 220v instead of 120v. Even though it did cost me some dough to wire the shop this way, it's much safer because when I used to have the lights, dust collector, and tablesaw on, the lights would dim for a few seconds because there just wasn't enough power in my shop. The roar of my machines are calling--its time to fire them up.
By now, you've probably noticed that most of my machines are on mobile bases. Even though most of my machines don't really need to be moved around a whole lot, being able to roll them around when the need arises is just a luxury that really is a necessity. I needed to move all my tools out, so I could lay more foot friendly flooring in my shop. My workbench is not on a mobile bench and trying to move it by myself was a bear. Luckily I won't have to be doing that for quite some time.
With a lot of my tools rolled out onto the driveway, I was able to lay out more flooring. As most people probably know, standing on solid concrete can cause tired feet quickly. Recently, we had our carpet taken out of the house, so I had a whole lot of carpet and padding just waiting to get thrown out. Even though carpeting is really not conducive to sweeping up sawdust, I figured I had a good vacuum and dust collector, plus I couldn't stomach throwing out all that soft cushiony material when I had a perfectly good use for it. Here you can see that I layed out two layers of carpet padding right onto the concrete floor. The added plus is that the carpet padding already has a sticky surface to prevent it from sliding around.
I then laid out the carpet onto my shop. Just to be clear, to allow the casters on my mobile bases to work, I had to decide which tools would most frequently be moved and which did not. From there, I arranged my machinery according to that and decided whether to lay carpeting in that area accordingly. So the area where I store lumber, the space I have between my workbench and tablesaw, and the area right in front of my router table are the only areas that were carpeted. The other machines had access to solid concrete which enables them to roll around freely when necessary.
I'm still amazed how nice my carpet feels on my feet. It makes being in the shop all the more enjoyable.
As you can see from the photos so far, although I'm not overly cramped, I still crave more space for my woodworking hobby/obsession. For quite some time, I have been really annoyed with not having room for an assembly table. The workbench is fine, but I'd like to assemble my projects on something a little larger and using my workbench means I can't use the bench for other things like holding stock down while I use handplanes, etc. I was using the outfeed table of my tablesaw, but again that meant not being able to use my tablesaw should the need arise. I couldn't very well justify squeezing a large table into my shop--I mean my cast iron monsters trump all else. So I got the idea to make a portable and easily "storable" (I'm making up words as I go) assembly table. After looking at a bunch of different woodworking magazines I decided on using a hydraulic lift table as the starting point.
Most lift tables are pretty pricey (or the alternative was to get an old hospital bed with a hydraulic lift--which I felt would be a bit too creepy for me), but I got mine from Harbor Freight on sale. If you're interested, check there or Northern Tool for prices. And feel free to email me if you want to ask any questions about my setup. What's nice about this is it's mobile and it also helps to move anything heavy you might have to a truck or an elevated platform. Definitely a fun and useful purchase.
Necessity is the mother of invention--I found another use for my lift cart--I wheel it behind my tablesaw outfeed table and jack up the table to the right height and provides extra outfeed support for especially long boards or sheets of plywood.
Of course, the table on the cart is a bit too small in length and width to serve as an assembly table. So I came up with an auxillary table made of some plywood and 2x4's. The plywood is covered by a piece carpeting (I secured with nuts and bolts clamped through brass grommets I installed into the edges of the carpet. As you can see, this really adds a lot of real estate for assembling projects. When I need to use this, I just open up my garage door and abracadabra I've got an assembly table that can be moved to wherever I want to set up (usually the driveway or carport).
I'm sure most of you are thinking that the auxillary table looks like it's just asking to tip over. That's why I glued on some 2x4's on the underside of the plywood. When I'm ready to use the assembly table, I line up the piece of plywood on top of the lift cart and secure the 2x4 to the underside of the lift cart with some clamps. Here, I'm using some quick grip clamps. I'm sure that when I actually use the assembly table for real (and not just for this photo), I'll use C-clamps for a more firm grip. I just figured I've got to put these quick grip clamps to use some how.
Update: Well, this shop tool has been through a couple of projects now and the quick-grip clamps have worked just fine.
You can see how the two lengths of 2x4's are located located on the edges of the of lift table. Not only does this provide a good place for clamping, it helps in aligning the auxillary table onto the lift cart.
When I'm not using the cart, I can take off the auxillary table and store it vertically. In fact, I clamp it to the back of my Plano panel glue up stand.
What I really like about this assembly table is how I can adjust the height of the table to suit my project. If I'm assembling an armoire (a future project--soon I hope), I can set the table to its lowest setting. On the other hand, If I'm assembling a coffee table, I can lift the whole table up--thus saving my back during assembly.
So I guess it's true that I tend to make more shop furniture than actual "real" furniture.
UPDATE: While working on a tabletop using 1/2 baltic birch plywood, quilted maple, and regular hard maple, I finally got a chance to fire up this baby. In order to glue on the maple veneer onto the plywood, I needed to make some clamping cauls out of melamine. This tabletop was rather large and thus required quite a bit of space to complete the glue up. Here you can see that a lot of clamping cauls in addition to the melamine were used. Plus, I lost track of how many clamps I had to use for this glue up. Needless to say, this was a hairy glue up--but slow setting glue helped. This cart was quite handy as I was able to perform the glue up with plenty of space by simply rolling the cart outside my shop. Plus, in addition to leaving space in my shop for doing other tasks, I was able to access all four sides of the panel. This made placing clamps on all sides of the panel a breeze.
And just to show that I can actually use a tool the way for which it was originally designed, here's a shot of the lift cart earning its weight in gold. I picked up these "green" tree stumps at a jobsite and they were really heavy. I had some help loading them onto my truck. But back at home, I wasn't about to chance tweaking my back lifting these guys all by my lonesome. Why use brute strength when a little thinking and the right tool can make things so much easier.
This lift cart makes transporting these stumps a real breeze. Just pump up the lift to the desired height, roll the stumps onto the table, lower the table back down, and then I'm wheeling her off to wherever suits my fancy!