Mobile Clamp Rack

The next set of loose junk around my garage to organize are my clamps.  In the previous shop, these filled every nook and cranny along one wall.  Those dowel holders are a very efficient way to pack as many clamps in as possible horizontally.  The professional metal brackets don’t pack quite as tight, but look nice and make the clamps easier to access.  I had bought a number of them in the past, but didn’t use very many for lack of space.  Thank goodness I never throw anything away!

My new shop has a lot of space, but not as much wall as you would think.  Windows, doors, and a lot of plumbing stuff take up much of the available wall surface.  To remedy this, I need a new wall.  A wall on wheels.  I cut down two 1/2″ sheets of plywood and screwing them down to a 2×4 frame.

The wall stands on a set of 2x4s with casters and is short enough to get under my garage door.  I can roll this anywhere in the shop now.  The frame took 4 boards, and the legs with braces another 2 for a total of 6 2x4s.  I had the casters already, but went for nicer grade plywood and ended up spending about 100 dollars to build this.

I used a few of my previous clamp holders, but ditched most of the hodge podge for the nicer looking store bought metal brackets I already had.  Everything got directly screwed to the plywood face.  This big of a blank canvas supports all sorts of solutions and lets me pack in clamps efficiently.  I even managed to get my saw/router guides and cawls onboard.  I may eventually re-organize so they are grouped more by length than type of clamp, but with everything so open it is really easy to see what is available.

 

 

Lumber and Cutoff Storage

As things slowly settle inside the house I am turning my attention to the shop.  The garage is kind of a messy puzzle.  You have to put something away so you can make space to put more things away.  I was going to make some sort of vertical wood storage, but wasn’t sure how I wanted to do it.  Instead I found a good space that would support traditional horizontal storage.

I found Lowe’s has a line of Blue Hawk (store brand) brackets and shelving that was pretty affordable, came with a weight rating, and was thinner vertically than the Closetmaid option.  I cleaned out a corner of the shop and found a set of studs I could sink the brackets into.  This will mostly cover up the window, but it has dark tint and blinds so it wasn’t being used for light anyways.

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I started filling up the rack and was pretty happy with my new setup.  This handles boards from 30 inches to 10 feet pretty well.  Shorter pieces don’t stack well and offer a different challenge.  I decided to build something extra for below the main rack.  I have traditionally put shorter cut off pieces into 5 gallon buckets, and let them pile up under foot.  I came up with something that makes good use of the dead space under the wall rack.


This was done with a single sheet of 3/4″ plywood, but you could make two out of a sheet of 3/4 and a sheet of 1/2″ and get the price down a little.  The uprights are 23×23″, the shelves are 15″ wide and 30″ long installed at 35 degrees, and the back that runs across the storage unit is a full 48″ wide and 12″ tall. The diagram below shows how I cut it out of a 4×8 sheet.Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 6.29.29 PM.png

There is a little bit of scrap left over, but not a ton.  Depending on your available space, you could adjust the angles and make it hold more or less materials.  This design lets me store a stack 10″ tall before it interferes with the lowest horizontal rack.  It accommodates anything up to about 34 inches, but at that length, it should go on the big rack.

I cut everything out and assembled one side to the back to start with.  I then went ahead and put pocket holes in all the “shelves”.  That let me screw them in horizontally to the uprights from underneath.

I worked from left to right installing one shelf, then another upright on and on.  The shelves got a little higher with each one, the first is 35 degrees, the last is probably more like 40.  I should have stuck a layout line on each upright to keep things on track.  Still, the assembly is very sturdy and fits where I need it to.  I added plastic furniture gliders to the bottom so the plywood doesn’t sit in direct contact with the floor and I can slide it out easily.

I had thrown out a lot of scrap before moving and threw out more stuff that wasn’t worth keeping before filling this up.  PVC and other non-wood related items go in a bucket, but everything else gets a cubby.  Most have a left and right divide of wood species.  I might work out some moving divider later on.

The horizontal racks are mostly organized by wood species.  This is way cleaner and more efficient than what I had at the last garage.  My previous home made brackets were much taller and didn’t allow as much storage space.  I need another space for sheet goods, but this should cover the rest.  Hopefully I can stay disciplined in my buying and keep my collection to within the confines of this rack area.

 

New Garage

We have been moved in about a week, but have spent all of that week cleaning up our old house to get it on the market.  Almost all the renovations that happened on the new house occurred at such a break neck pace that I didn’t document much of anything aside from a choice disaster.

That having been said, I wanted to say goodbye to my beloved garage.  9 years ago I moved in without owning a power tool bigger than a compact miter saw, and with less than a year of woodworking experience.  I added electrical outlets, lights, and a lot of sawdust to that place.  Many mistakes were made and lessons learned.

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It was a packed mess, but I knew where everything was (mostly).  The new space is over twice the size.  You couldn’t tell in these shots because I had a temporary work bench setup for house renovations, tools everywhere, and the movers were pushing things in off the truck.  It is a tough place to navigate.  There is some built in shelving that helps for now, but might need to come out.  Also the previous owner had an office setup along the one wall.  Probably not going to stay in the long run.  Going to need to get the old house cleaned up and unpacked inside before moving onto the shop.

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Little Bushy South

This project was completed in July at the old house, but I had to keep it under wraps so it could be a surprise to someone.  My wife’s grandmother was a British war bride.  She met her American husband at Bushey Park outside of London where he taught air sea survival for the 8th Army Air Force.  When the war was over they moved to Michigan (his home) and eventually had a farm called “Little Bushey”, after the place they met.  We had talked about calling our new place “Little Bushey South” as a tribute to that.  I thought a sign was in order, and no wood could be better than the family wood.

These walnut beams were picked up by my mother’s parents when she was very young.  They spent a lot of time around boats and they were used as ballast by someone.  No clue how old they were then, but our family has had them for 50+ years.

One of the beams had been cut down a few times, so I cross cut it to about 42″, and then re-sawed it to make a 1 inch thick slab.  I left some of the worm eaten edging because it is so good looking.  A little work with my jack plane had it smooth and revealed a gorgeous piece of walnut.


In order to make the text for this project I am using my plunge router and custom printed 3D letter templates.  I wrote up all the text, then broke each segment up into a size that could be printed.  They are keyed to fit together to keep alignment and kerning proper.  Letters like “e” and “B” have to be done in multiple segments.  The “B” below shows how I tackled this.

The plunge routing went reasonably well, but something shifted part of the way through.  My cuts were shallower when I went back and redid certain segments.  Not sure what happened, but next time I will make everything double tight.  I went back with a chisel and cleaned up the issue areas.  The bottoms are still not smooth, but aren’t as uneven as before.  That left me with a few accidental chipout segments.  See near the top of the “O”.  Also, the “h” was in part of a knot.  My colorant will want to bleed into those cavities, so I have to fill them.

I used some dark woodworking epoxy to fill these problem areas.  First I went carefully with painters tape and dammed up all the problem areas.  Next I mixed the epoxy and used a syringe to put just the right amount into the voids.  A little light buffing and the epoxy filled the voids but is really hard to see.

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I was going to spray paint this, then just plane off the top layer to reveal colored letters.  The bottoms are still uneven, so I opted to try epoxy.  I bought a big batch of system three epoxy with white color resin.  It worked really well.  No progress pictures because you have very limited time once the mixing begins.

The places I blocked the chipouts didn’t bleed, and only a little snuck in under the knot around the lower case “h”.  A syringe helped me pipe it into each letter, and manipulate the results.  The epoxy clung up at the sides and dipped a little in the center.  The result is a really awesome shiny 3D lettering effect.  It looks quite good on our new mantle.  I don’t really understand fireplaces in Florida, but this one looks picturesque.

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Sawhorse Sheet Goods Table

I will need a temporary work surface when renovating the new house, and have a lot of sheet goods and drywall to cut up.  I thought about building some sawhorses and adding on to them, but I don’t have much time.  Instead I started with two of these Burro branded horses.  Honestly, for 20 bucks a piece, these things are pretty good.  Made in USA, stackable, stable, and strong.  Just make sure you are choosy, not all were created equal.  Explaining the build will be easier with a before and after shot.

I want to put a full sheet of plywood or drywall on these and have the cuts be well supported.  That would require a structure almost a full 4×8 feet.  I used metal brackets to help it be a quick assemble and break down job.  Two 42″ 2x4s go across the saw horses.  The saddle brackets keep them upright and a right angle bracket on the edge holds a long support to tie the two horses together.

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Every time I use these as a cutting surface I am going to cut into the 2x4s a little.  I will adjust blade depth to minimize the damage, but I don’t want metal anywhere near the top surface.  The brackets that hold my middle support were too tall, so I cut them down.

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The table breaks down into 2 stackable horses, 2 supports that go on top of the horses, 2 long ones that go from horse to horse, and a center one to help prevent sag.  The only extra screws needed for assembly are at the four corners where the long stretchers meet the supports on top of the horses.  I made sure to install the screws low so the saw won’t catch them.  The horses still stack, even with those saddle brackets installed.

When I assembled this I didn’t screw any of the 2x4s down to the horse’s saddle brackets.  It all still felt stable.  A half inch sheet of plywood and a few screws should turn it into a sturdy temporary work bench.  All the drywall cutting I need to do will be aided by this big stable platform as well.   The assembled dimensions of the top are 44×84″.  Enough to support a 4×8′ sheet, but leave some room at the edges.

When the house work is done I will probably keep it as a way to break down sheet goods.  This will be a big upgrade over my current method of hanging them out of the back of the suburban.

Goodbye Garage

The wonderful wife and I are pulling up roots and moving.  Not far, just a few miles away, but our new dig will be bigger and better than ever.  I have lived in my fixer-upper for 9 years now and the time has come to move on.

When I moved in I had few tools and not much experience.  I ended up renovating the whole house and developing a strong passion for woodworking along with more tool junk than you can shake a stick at.  The garage has seen a lot of my screw ups and disasters, but with that, a lot of learning.  It has been a slow organic work of progress.  That and mostly a huge mess.

I started packing up right after taking these pictures and finishing off my drill press rebuild.  This is why I was so interested in it being mobile.  It was a little sad to start undoing all my hard work that got this shop to where it is.  To offset that, the new garage has over twice the square footage of my current one.  Lots of exciting posts to come in the future about new house renovations and shop setup.  Until then, goodbye old friend!

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Death and Resurrection of a Drill Press

My beloved drill press is a Craftsman from the early 90s (I think) that I snagged on craigslist.  It has served me well, but is very difficult to move.  Top heavy and with a small base; even small shifts in position are precarious.  I am going to need to move it a lot soon, so when woot had a Bora Portamate mobile base on sale I snatched it up.  I was walking the drill press out of its corner to get the base installed when disaster struck.

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I tried to control it on the way down, but once it got going there was no stopping it.  I didn’t get hurt but the arm that holds the table broke off.  I still had a drill bit installed in the chuck, and that is what kept the table from sliding further.  It bent the drill bit, but the quill appears true.  I stood it up and started it spinning.  No wobble of any sort that I could see.  With that established I gathered up the broken parts.

Maybe a quick visit to the local welding shop would have me set right?  Apparently cast iron is very difficult to weld.  They were not wild about trying, and wouldn’t guarantee me any of their work.  Whelp…forget that.  After being really bummed for a day or two, I decided I could build up my own top table top out of the scraps I had around.  I gained enough confidence to install that mobile base.  It floats like a dream now!

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I started with a stout piece of oak drilled to match the table arm attachment point.  A drill press would have been really useful there, but I managed without.  From there I built out ribs that hold the top.  I made sure everything was square with respect to the drill bit before screwing them in completely.

The table top will be done with two layers.  The top will have a square cutout that holds a sacrificial drill insert, and the bottom has a hole so you can push up from the bottom to remove the insert.  I printed a square guide to let me cut out a 2.75×2.75 inch hole for the insert.  That new plunge router lets me do all sorts of cool things.

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I routed some slots for a set of aluminum t-slot guides that hold the fence in place.  The fence is just two pieces of the same plywood glued back to back.  I cut a dozen of the center inserts.  They all got an undercut chamfer to help keep dust from letting them sit level.  This table is smaller than my last, but I feel it is more functional by far.  It was a good recovery, and ultimately led me to making a better drill press table.

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