Drill Press Table

I built a new drill press table when I dropped my press before the move. It was a good table for how quickly I turned it around with what I had on hand. There are a few issues though. I made it small because my last one was too big and would collect junk storage. It is a little too small and stuff overhangs a lot. The 2.5″ insert is a lot smaller than many of the bits I use, which means the top has a lot of damage from my 4″ hole saw. More importantly though, the fence is unusable. I put the t-tracks right in line with the rotating handle. Every time you bring the press down it bonks on the fence knob. A few inches to the left or right and things would have been fine.

To start with, I had been fussing around with dust collection solutions on my drill press for ages. I finally broke down and bought some big locline hosing (blue and orange in the pictures below) and 3D printed an adapter to attach it to the back column. The adapter has passages for hose clamps to pass through it and clamp it securely. I had already wired in a switch at the front, so you just turn the vacuum on and start drilling.

With dust collection solved, I attached the first layer of the table top. The large hole in the center will let me reach up from underneath and pop out the top table’s insert. Notice the dust collection switch already attached at the bottom left.

Next I printed a template and routed out a square section for the inserts to go into. Previously I had a smaller insert. I found myself using the 3 and 4″ hole saw at the drill press often, and it damaged the tabletop outside of the insert area. This new one is 4.5″ wide. I cut a pile of inserts to make sure I wasn’t going to run out anytime soon. They got their corners and bottom edges rounded to fit in the cutout better and prevent dust in the corners from letting them sit properly.

Last but not least I made up a set of fences. I find myself rarely clamping to the fence, and often wishing it was very short. I made both a tall fence, that could have stop blocks clamped to it, as well as a flat fence. The t-track is far enough out on the table and the clamp knobs are short enough that the drill press handle shouldn’t ever be an issue.

Flat Fence
Tall Fence

Router Table Top and Fence

I have been using my new router setup for a number of weeks now. The lift is fantastic, the top is a little wonky and too soft, and the fence is barely adequate. I am settled enough on some of my other projects and have spent some time thinking out how I want to build a final top and fence. So, let’s get building and address all the issues my first top created.

The first thing to fix is the cutout the router lift fits into. The radius required is a size of router bit I don’t have. My last attempt didn’t go well. This time, I have a good plan. First, I put the router lift down on a piece of hardboard and snugged up pieces of plywood next to it. I then glued and weighted the plywood to the hardboard so it would provide a very tight hold of the lift top plate.

That all made the edges fit snugly, so I know there won’t be any wiggle when I drop the router lift in. Next, to solve the radius problem I just 3D printed some corners that take up the extra space. Now, the router bit I have will follow the contour and there won’t be any gaps at the corners. I used thin CA glue to hold the printed corners in place.

With the cutout template finished I double sticky taped it down to a big piece of laminate faced plywood and got routing. The first pass hogged out the lip that the router lift will sit on. A jigsaw opened up the rest.

I checked the fit and it is wonderful. There is almost no slop, and the corners match the lift well.

I cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood to go under the laminate top to act as support. I sat the two pieces on my flat table saw top and went around with a straight edge and flashlight to check everything. I found some slight bows and used cawls to clamp everything flat, then slowly brad nailed everything together.

With everything tacked together I moved the top to the router base I built earlier. I found some slight dipping in the center, so I cut brass shims to bring the top back to flat when everything was screwed down. With the top in place, flat, and securely fastened, I added edge banding all the way around to help protect the laminate from getting chipped.


Next I wanted to add a number of t-tracks to the top for featherboads and to keep the fence in place. My router produces a ton of dust when doing a big cut and my fixed base porter cable 890 series doesn’t come with any collection port. A few iterations of printing got me this two piece design that I glued together. It goes in where the edge guide would normally plug in.

The start of the cut usually generates a lot of dust, but once the grooves got going the shroud did a good job picking up most of the dust. There probably aren’t any 100% solutions, but this does save a lot of mess. The grooves turned out well!


The top is nearly complete. I just need to do the final installation of the lift. First, I wanted to reinforce the places where the leveling set screws will land. The plywood is too soft, and I expect they will sink in with time. On my last top I used CA glue to shore up the area. This time I found some 1/16″ brass to line those areas. Once bonded, the leveling went quickly. All the effort I spent getting the table top level means the router lift plate can be perfectly flush all the way around. No catches or dips at the transitions.


The Fence

With the table top finished, I was ready to move on to the fence. Having it clamp at the edges worked in my last fence adaptation, but the center tended to flex. That is the most important place to keep still, so I added the t-track in closer to the center to keep the fence stable near the bit. I cut out some 3/4″ plywood to act as a base an front face for the fence.

I put in knobs to clamp the fence down, and added spacers to move the height of the knob up. The fence is tall enough it needs a little boost to make it easier to reach.

I cut out laminate plywood sections to make movable fence faces. I set them against the front of the fence and marked the spots where a slot would need to start and top. I should have drilled out the ends of the slot and routed the middle. The full depth cut got a little squirley in places. Oh well, the fence faces open and close easily.

Now that I know where my hands will be going to tighten the fence and faces, I know where there is free space to add ribs. These triangular ribs will stabilize the fence front and keep it stiff. I just glued and nailed them in place.

To finish off the fence I cut a strip of laminate to go across the top of the moveable faces. It makes the total height 5 inches and holds a t-track that goes the whole length of the fence.

The fence is done, but it still doesn’t have any dust collection. I printed a duct section to screw down just behind where the router bit will be. This combined with the dust collection built into the cabinet means that very little dust will escape this unit.

That puts the final touches on the fence. While I was at it, I cut a hand full of extra moveable faces and screwed them to the back of the table cabinet as spares. I also cut a full length extra tall fence that moves the total height up to 6 inches.

These upgrades should make the whole router setup really clean and fast to operate. Combined with the base I built earlier I am all set on the router front and am ready to tackle a lot of new future projects!

Wee Walker Wagon V1 and 2

Getting back to baby furniture, I have seen different kinds of little pusher wagons that kids learning to walk can use to help them build muscles and coordination. A co-worker mentioned that his daughter had a plastic store bought walker that she was learning to walk with, but that it was so light that it would shoot away from her. I had him measure her height to the shoulder to act as a rough starting point

I will probably build one for us and a few for friends having kids. That means making use of templates to repeat the work once I figure out what I want it to be like. I broke out the compass and thin bandsaw blade and got curvy.

I added holes to the templates and used a transfer punch to copy those holes over to each part. That way the wheels will connect in the same spot, and the handles will go on evenly. To add a little color and flare I painted green accents to the handle and wheels and a racing stripe for +2 speed. When the paint was all dry I coated everything with polyurethane.

I was worried the walker would go skidding across the floor if placed on anything other than carpet. I printed thin TPU bands to act as tries and glued them to the wooden wheels. The TPU isn’t as grippy as a rubber tire, but I was able to produce it in house and it will grip better than the bare wood.

I spent some time fiddling with the arms, and probably built them a little too short. I will give this to the co-worker and have him test it out on his daughter.

The finished product looks nice. It is heavy enough that a child just learning to climb up will not have it shoot away, but light enough they can still push it. Lock nuts set the tension at the wheels, so there can be more or less resistance as needed.


I gave this one to the co-worker that was complaining about the plastic one his daughter was using. The only catch was that he had to report back how it worked, and let me tweak it if need be. A few weeks later the reports were in. The bigger kids liked to play with it too! They treated it like a bumper car and crashed it into a lot of things. Also they wrenched on the handle hard enough that the arms were flexing where they screwed into the body. Lastly, it was a little on the wide side.

No problem, this is why I gave it to him! I didn’t like how the old arms turned out, so I went ahead and remade the template. Instead of freehanding some curves I got more systematic. I drew two circles that were the size I wanted each end of the arm to be, and drew them further apart than the original arm so I could move the base down lower on the cart. Then, to connect them, I set my drawing bow to a nice curve and connected the tangents of the two circles. The results look a lot better than my first arm template.

I assembled everything with pocket hole screws from underneath, and a few visible screws on the side. That let me take everything apart for alterations. I trimmed the center width down from 16 inches to 12. That should lighten the look and load of the thing and make it more maneuverable.

The bumper car comment had me wondering. I had left the bolt heads stick out beyond the wheel. If they caught a piece of furniture or baseboard, the bolt would probably fair better than the target. Also, there wasn’t much cushion to the tires. I mostly added them for grip, not as a bash protector. I counter-bored all the wheels, to recess the bolt heads, and upgraded to 5/16″ bolts as that was what I had available. The old tires were cut off and replaced with thicker ones that wrap around the outside face of the wheel. Now they shouldn’t be so offensive to fine features in one’s house.

With those upgrades complete I reassembled everything and gave it back to my co-worker. If there aren’t any more changes needed I can go into production and make a few for myself and other co-workers that are having kids.

Hardware Drawers with Organizer Trays

A few years back I built two rolling cabinets to hold all of my screws and other hardware. They were a big boon, but I quickly converted one over to having only drawers. It looks like the other is about to have the same thing happen. I have lots of plastic organizers that are well labeled and sorted, but they have a few issues. The first one is that I go into them so often they pile up everywhere. I even added a pull out shelf so there was always a place to sit one. There tend to be 2 or 3 stacked up at any given time.

The other issue with them, and this is minor but super annoying, is that occasionally the dividers shift and start mixing all your hardware up like a bad drink recipe. Lastly, I find myself taking the organizer with me to the project I am working on. Sometimes you absentmindedly pull the wrong screw, and it takes up more space where you are working.

I was inspired by Alexandre Chappel’s video about printing little trays and using them to organize hardware. I printed out a few of his trays and thought the concept was fantastic, but had some issues with the wall thickness in the model and wanted more label space. I made my own instead. They have rounded corners to help speed printing, consistent wall thickness, a slight taper to the sides to make pulling them in and out easy, and a large label area. Now I can pull only the tray of screws I need and take it to where I am working.

With the tray sizes worked out I did some measurements and found I could fit a drawer 8 trays wide if I was careful in how I cut everything. I went ahead and started installing runners in the cabinet. I cut a template that would set spacing and act as a router guide to cut a dado in the cabinet sides. Once again my trim router comes to the rescue. This will help with the drawer runner alignment and expose new wood for glue. The inside was covered in boiled linseed oil when I made it.

I took thinned maple and had a small production run of drawer runners. I sand the top and bottom smooth, marked the board for screw locations, ripped out each runner, drilled clearance holes for screws and then installed them. Each runner got glue, a few brads to keep it still, and 3 screws. There will be a lot of weight on these, so I didn’t want any movement.

I planned out all the drawers to be the same, and installed runners for each. Before I went into drawer production though, I made a prototype held together with clamps. Good thing I did! The original plan was for the drawers to be 6 trays deep. Looking at the left picture below, I have the drawer pulled out as far as I dare given the weight. I can’t see the label or the contents of the last row. Dropping back to 5 rows leaves plenty of drawer still inside the cabinet for stability. Metal slides would cost more money and drawer width, but allow full extension. I could have had a few more trays had I gone that way, but I am happy with my decision.

With the drawer parameters set I went back into production mode. The cabinets originally had a number of shelves made for them. I didn’t need those anymore, so I figured out how to incorporate them into the new drawers. I am working really hard to minimize waste these days, so I don’t have to go out to the store. No fancy joinery, just a rabbet on the bottom to help keep the drawer bottom in the right position. For the fronts I attached new plywood and kept the orientation the same so the grain pattern would flow down the front.

With the drawers all assembled and dried I needed to countersink the screws that hold the drawer pull on. Once again a template makes this repeated work fast and easy. The template goes inside the drawer and guides a forsner bit big enough for the drawer pull’s screw head. Countersinking like this keeps the head from interfering with my trays and protrudes the screw far enough so that It can bite into the drawer pull.

Drawer pull template in place inside the drawer
Hole drilled and drawer pull screw installed

The finished cabinet looks gorgeous and I was even able to use the same label holders as I did on the other cabinet. There are still shelves below for organizers I thought were worth keeping. The shelf space below is at only 1/3 full at most, and the drawer space is 3/4 full. I doubt I will have to build any more drawers in the future, but the cabinet has enough space for another 5 or so. Each drawer has a magnet embedded in the front to hold onto a small steel ruler. That way you can double check what you pull out, and always put fasteners back in the right place.

Beard Balm

I experimented with beard balm years ago after my beard started getting longer than 5 or 6 inches. My beard oil was good at keeping it softer and conditioned, but didn’t have any hold. I hit on a commercial one really quickly, but years later, my favorite beard balm seems to have changed their formula. It smells bad and doesn’t have the same consistency. No worries, time to make my own.

I know from a lot of my other work that you can thin out wax with oils to get anywhere from paste wax to a fairly stiff mustache wax. I wanted to start with a base of my regular beard oil and try stiffening it with shea butter and beeswax. I went through a number of iterations over a few months to find something I liked.

I would call it a hit or miss process, but it was mostly miss. Almost everything was too stiff. I kept adding oil to the first batch till I almost completely filled the cup. The ingredients for the oil are kind of expensive. I should have started with a cheap oil at the right melting point instead of my beard oil. The shea butter was making it difficult, so I removed that ingredient. In the end I found a 4.5:1 ratio of oil to wax that was soft enough to spread, but hard enough to hold. My bathroom was looking like an odd place for a while.

Final Recipe: By weight
4.5 parts beard oil
1 part beeswax

With that ratio established and having been used for a few weeks I went about making a lot more of it. Instead of using the PET (which will hold up to gentle heating) cups I upgraded to glass jars. I mixed up a big batch of the beard oil and got to work at the double boiler.

Jars and cups make it hard to extract the beard balm by hand, so I went with finger friendly 2oz tins for easy use. I managed to pour all of them without making a huge mess too!

A new beard product requires a new logo. I sculpted the beard so it looks a bit more like my real one these days. Over a foot long deployed, but only 3 or 4 inches when wrapped up. This much balm ought to last me for a number of years, or make a lot of nice gifts for my bearded cohorts.


While I was making oily messes in the kitchen I mixed up a whole pint of my shave oil. I use this every time I hsave and wouldn’t be without it. It makes good gifts and is cheap/easy to make for yourself. A pint of this stuff should last me for years as well.

Table Saw Outfeed Extension

I already had an outfeed extension for my table saw. I only built it two years ago. Why make a new one? Well I love it and use it all the time, but often wish it was bigger. Wide sheet goods don’t get enough support on the side, and longer things still fall off the back of it. I have more space in my new house, and I saw a great idea from Wood Work Web. Colin over at that site used these clever folding brackets to hold the extension and in a followup added a really easy release bar. First, let’s say goodbye to the old extension.

How did I manage to get nice laminate faced plywood in these times? As it turns out if you order enough sheets of plywood from the cabinet store, they will deliver it all for a pretty reasonable fee. I got enough supplies to last me for months, supported a local business, and did it in a socially distanced manor!

The folding brackets are a cheap amazon versions of what was used in the video. They feel sturdy enough, but aren’t actually square. A deeper read of the comments would have highlighted that fact. They slope the table away from the saw. That is ok by me, but in a lot of other applications, that could be a deal breaker. After removing the old top, I was able to re-use the bolted on pine board that served as the anchor point for my previous extension. I spaced the extension far enough away to clear my fence and its hardware. There is a bolt head (circled in red) that sits well below the height of the table. I have to avoid it or risk limiting the fence’s movement. Once installed the extension folds very compactly.


Rounded Corners

I really wanted to cut some corners on this build. I know I will be lazy and leave the extension up most of the time, and I work a lot around the table saw at my router and back into the saw and extension often. Rounding these edges would make them less painful. I started with a 2.5″ radius template and used it to mark and jig saw the corner off. Next I stuck it down with double sticky tape and used a template tracing bit to smooth out the remainder.

Once both corners were done I applied a white edge banding to all the edges. This should help protect the laminate top from getting chipped or damaged. I trimmed all the excess with a sharp knife.

Miter Slots

My last extension didn’t have any miter slots. If I used any kind of sled or miter gauge they would bonk against the table. I took the time to install them in this top. I clamped plywood to the top just outside of where the miter bar would pass. I then used a short tracing bit route down enough to allow clearance for the bar. I then picked up the plywood, lined it up with the other side of the bar and routed again. It wasn’t as exact as a purpose built slot template, but was quick and worked well. With the two slots routed, I soaked the edges in thin CA glue to help reinforce them and prevent the top from chipping off.

Things were starting to look really nice and functional. I did notice that my last top had a slight warp to it. I may have stored too many things on it. To prevent warpage in this top, I took it off and screwed on a set of supports underneath. These should help keep it flat.

Release Bar

This was kind of above and beyond, but why not go all out? I wanted to add a release bar like Colin did. Between the supports I added, and the way it was anchored to the saw, there wasn’t room to do what he did. Instead I 3D printed a little funky zigzag bracket. It is threaded to accept a #10 screw. I drilled a hole in the bracket release tab so the screw would go into that hole and prevent the bracket from sliding off.

That printed part gave me a long arm to attach a wide piece of plywood. This would be the thing I press up against to release and lower the extension. I clamped it in place to make sure it was all working correctly, then screwed the release bar down.

The finished product is great! It holds a lot of weight, gives me plenty of support for wide and long cuts coming off the saw, and folds up really flat. I figured the ease and speed of pack and deploy had to be shown, so I made a short gif.

Router Table

While building my baby bookcase I noticed the table top on my router was not flat. The joinery was poor enough I had to go to the table saw instead. 10+ years of Florida humidity and a heavy router finally did it in. The red arrow is pointing to all the light coming out from under the straight level.

I use my router table a lot, so I wanted something nice to replace it. A full professional router table setup can cost 1,000 bucks with all the bells and whistles. I want something of decent quality, but not for that much money. I did a ton of research and finally broke down to buying a really high quality lift, and building the rest. Say goodbye to my old friend! By the way, I took the mounting plate out and tried it on my tablesaw top. It had a very distinct rock, so it wasn’t flat either.

The Top

These days my building and blogging are badly out of sync. Some short projects get posted in a week or two, and bigger ones linger for months before getting posted. This one started right about the time we were all supposed to limit our trips out to essentials only. The hardware stores are open, but I can’t call this router table essential. A broken toilet or water heater, this is not.

I normally would have gone to pickup laminate faced plywood, but instead I looked around and decided to use this big piece of butcher block counter top. Some friends were having their kitchen redone and saved it for me.

I got to cutting off a nice hunk and my saw went a little nuts. It turns out the way they clamp everything together is with screws! Lots and lots of screws. If you look at the side, they even cut through some to make the counter top the right size, and just filled the void with putty. They must make these things in massive sheets, then cut down what they need.

I took my number 5 to it and planed off all the old finish that was feeling a little gummy. It looks a lot nicer now. This is really soft pine and not as flat or as stable as I was hoping. There was some twist I couldn’t quite get out.

With the top mostly flat, I built up a set of guides to install my router lift. This part didn’t go quite as planned either. I tried to attach each piece together with pocket hole screws, but going into the plywood sideways with a screw caused it to de-laminate and bulge. I muddled through with double sticky tape and got to routing with a template bit.

Once I had a recess routed that was the thickness of the router lift top, I went through and cut out the inside area. Those pesky screws came to bite me again, my jigsaw was not happy. When it was all cutout I marked the location of the leveling set screws and soaked the area with thin CA glue to stabilize the wood. I was worried the set screws would slowly sink into this soft pine otherwise.

The top’s twist was a little evident in the fit of the router top, and the template bit’s radius was off. It turns out the lift has a corner radius of 3/4″ of an inch, and my bit is 3/4″ in diameter which yields a 3/8″ radius. I think we are going to call this a practice table top. I will eventually get a new material and make a better one. I put down a few coats of polyurethane to seal it up and give me a solid surface to wax.

Base

With the top basically finished I was able to move on to the base. Using the plywood I had available I made a 3 chambered base. The left was going to be for open storage, the center would house the router and collect most of the dust, and the right would have a set of drawers for bit storage.

I set the top down and the twist is even more evident. The bottom is really uneven, so I guess they only ever planed the top to flat-ish.

I thinned down some maple scraps and cut them up to make runners. I used a piece of hardboard as a template for the drawer side height, and it also served as a square and guide for installing the runners. I nailed and glued those in place, then hit everything with boiled linseed oil to finish.

Fence

I had some ideas about how I wanted to make a fence, but wasn’t quite sure which way to go. I was also running low on some materials, so to conserve, I just re-purposed the fence from my old router table. I added wings to make it reach out further. To hold it in place I made it go past the edges of the table, then used a little clamp paw to squeeze it down to the edge of the table.

To attach the wings I just screwed them down from underneath

It worked reasonably well, except that any time I pushed on the fence in the center, it seemed to bow outward. The system wasn’t rigid enough. I added a support across the back to help stiffen it up. That reduced the bow. Next time I will sink some tracks into the table top to facilitate more centralized clamping.

Drawers

Things were starting to come together. With the top in place and a working fence available I was able to employ it in making drawers. Nothing fancy, just some plywood sides with half lap joints and rabbeted bottoms. I added drawer fronts with rounded edges and finished everything with boiled linseed oil.

The top drawer holds my trim router and all 1/4″ shank bits. Only got this thing a month or two ago, but have found it to be an incredibly useful tool.

Next are all of my 1/2″ shank bits. They fit with plenty of space to spare. I 3D printed the holders for these because I didn’t have the right sized drill bits. A 1/2″ bit will leave a really snug fit. My next size up was a 5/8″ forstner bit. Too loose! Everything is kind of grouped and there is a lot of room left for new bits. The last drawer is empty believe it or not. Plenty of room to grow!

Finishing Touches

With the drawers set I was able to work on a few finishing touches. I moved the power switch over from the old table to the new one. This works great and will stay. There is a hole in the back for the router’s power cord to come through. I covered it with a custom 3D print cover. I put a cover over the front router cavity with magnets. It comes right off if I need to service something, but otherwise has gaps to pull air and dust through when in operation. On that cover I have two printed holders with magnets for the collet release and hex tool that runs the lift. Lastly I added a shelf to the left cavity. It holds common use accessories and a stack of different brass setup bars I cut from 12″ lengths of key stock.

I have been using this table for a few weeks and it has been working really well. The router lift was pricey, but is a dream to work with. It adjusts easily and locks down securely. The top is fine for now. The pine has already gotten dented and my install job has left some gaps. The fence clamps work well, but it flexes too much. I will take all these lessons learned and do a series of upgrades soon. For now, it is back to work on other projects.