Nailer Cabinet

Air nailers are a pretty wonderful invention.  They can provide low visibility fastening in a lot of different applications.  I have had a brad nailer for ages, and picked up a good pin nailer when I redid the kitchen.  The cordless electric nailers are a lot heavier than their air counterparts, but for just a few quick hits, they are awesome.  I recently built up a full inventory of air and electric brad and pin nailers.  Time to put those nailers to work building a little home for all these gadgets.

I planned out a cavity to hold all the nailers up top, and a set of drawers below to keep the nails and other accessories.  1/2″ maple made up all the components except the drawer bottoms.

Once assembled I cut more plywood with a 45 degree angle on it to act as a french cleat across the back.  The electric nailers sit nicely on their own, but the air ones will need hangers.  Plus, this lets me rearrange things, or add dividers if I feel the need later down the line.

I played with the arrangements, and there are lots of spacing options that work.  Big enough to be flexible, but not so big as to waste space.

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This is a decent looking cabinet on its own, and is about where I would stop in my previous builds.  I wanted to add a little something, so I made my own maple edge banding.

The pin nailer came in handy for securing it all, and hand planing really lets you sneak those parts into a good fit.  With the body of the cabinet in shape I turned to the drawers.  I thought drawer fronts with chamfers might be a neat flare, and I had a new router bit to try out.  I cut all the end grain chamfer while it was still a solid long block, then cut the two fronts out and routed the long grain.  It completely mitigated any tear-out issues.  I finally feel like all those minor screw ups of the past are congealing into wisdom.

Everything got multiple coats of danish oil.  Not a bad finish, I like the wipe on aspect and how it looks.  Honestly though, it is just some kind of thinned linseed oil.  At probably 4x the price of basic linseed oil, I might just figure out how to thin that stuff myself.

I 3D printed organizers to keep each set of nails contained and labeled.  The drawer I had these in was a mess with different nail lengths all mixed up.  Mishaps have occurred from pulling the wrong length nail ream.  If I ditched the manuals I could have probably combined everything in one drawer.  Oh well, this provides ample expansion for new nail lengths, or other jigs/accessories I might acquire.

The final design looks pretty nice.  I will see how much dust it collects and consider adding doors later, but for now it is perfect.

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June 2018 Prints

A bountiful harvest of prints this month.  I had a lot of work going on in the shop, and that typically ends up producing different jigs and prints to help out.

First up, I reorganized all of my machine screws into one central organizer.  To help with organization and to tell them apart I printed a screw ruler and hardware guide.

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The ruler measures screw lengths of either flat head or other style.  The guide has through holes that match my common hardware styles along with examples of washers and nuts.  It makes matching a random bit of hardware easier.


I do a pretty good job keeping my eye and ear protection on when in the shop.  Dust masks are another thing.  A lot of my tools have vacuum, but certainly not all.  Most masks I have tried don’t work well with the beard and mustache, and most are pretty hot.  This one works well for me.  I built it a little home to prevent damage, and so I always know where it is.  I feel a little like bane when I wear it.

I took a photo of it on the cutting mat, then used the lines to help design an appropriate housing shape.  The hinge required a single screw and nut, and a magnet in the lid and body keep it closed.  The backplane screws down so I tucked it under a cabinet with other PPE.


I had a lot of flat parts that needed holes drilled in them in the same location.  Instead of marking every one I made a drill template with bushings.  The bushings are sized so a particular drill bit just fits inside.  It keeps the bit on location and perpendicular to the surface.  They will wear out eventually, but are easy to replace.  These all fit in a 5/8″ hole and have two screws to keep them in place.  Once built this saved me a ton of time and increased repeatability.

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Dust collection fittings never fit.  There was an article about it in one of my woodworking magazines.  The guy basically threw up his hands and told the industry to get their act together.  I emailed him with my solution.  He said it was cool, but a workaround for an issue that shouldn’t exist.  Agreed, but here is my workaround for my miter saw.

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I switched to using these small bottles from woodcraft for my glue.  I like them a lot better than the bottles that most glues come in.  The only trick is that the little red caps blink out of existence once dropped.  I did a few test prints with a segment missing to get the taper size and groove right for this one, but I think I have a winner.  It is much easier to handle, harder to lose, and is more easily replaceable.


I had kind of a failed attempt at a vacuum system for degassing epoxy.  I might revisit it at some point, but for now it is a defunct project.  I needed to tap some polycarbonate for pipe fittings and bought a pipe thread tap.  It didn’t come with any case or even pouch, so I printed one.  I sprayed it good with oil to prevent rust.  Hopefully stored this way it will not get lost, broken, or rust.

Green Power Station

DSC_1186I have a poor solution to storing my yard tool batteries.  I never developed a clear place for them, so they ended up piled onto the cart that holds all my drill press junk.  That seems to be the story of my organizational life.  Either make a place for something, or expect it to be awkward and always in the way.

No more, I am going to clean this up a bit and make a specific place for these chargers.  Behind the drill press is a good location.  It is right next to the garage door and easily accessible when I am mowing.  I had a few ideas for mixed wood and printed brackets in my head and decided to use this as an opportunity to try something.

Angled braces are doable in wood, but can be a little tough to make symmetric.  This printed bracket ties the two pieces together well and should be able to support a massive amount of weight.  I don’t need it to in this case, but it was a good test.

They are green because I had some older green filament I wanted to use up.  Might as well go green on everything.  The wooden parts got a spritz of some well matching green I happened to have.

Once dry the brackets made installation pretty simple.  It holds the mounting plate at a consistent 45 degree angle and is pretty strong even with only one side installed.  I mounted the top charger so I could figure out impingement free placement for the lower charger.

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The L piece the two chargers attach to has a notch in it so it will hang on a lip on the red toolbox below my drill press.  The drill press area is still a hot mess, but this ticks one problem off the list.

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Zip Tie Caddy

Zip ties are one of those magical inventions that are simple genius, and I can’t live without them.  I have a fancy zip tie gun at work that does a really good job of tensioning the tie, automatically cutting at a set point, and keeping the tail captured.  They are expensive, so I found a different design that works pretty well and is affordable by mere mortals.  This calls for a custom caddy to keep all my zip ties organized and ready to go.

I cut up some spare plywood and played around with layouts a bit.  I think this is a good size.DSC_0899

I cut out a window to make tool access easier.

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I cut some more wood for a small base.  Narrow enough to make storage easier, but wide enough to keep it from tipping.  I really like how the rounded corners turned out from my router jig.

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I gave the two pieces a good painting and assembled.  I picked the color scheme of the zip tie tool.  The black zip ties contrast nicely against the orange background.

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To attach each zip tie bundle I used a zip tie that can be screwed down.  That looped into a zip tie around the bundle.  As you pull ties out you just tighten the bundle to keep things tight.

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It holds a variety of lengths and sizes along with my colorful re-useable ties and the screw down ones.  Plenty of room to grow too.

The handle was printed to match my hand size and keep with the color scheme.  Same deal with the zip tie tool holder.

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Battery Charging Station

I am mildly obsessed with flashlights.  These flashlights take fancy 18650 lithium ion batteries that can be recharged.  I have a lot of light accessories, spare batteries from laptops, and other things that need storage and organization.  Similarly cameras tend to have their own specialized batteries that need storage and charging.  I built a flexible station to hold all my chargers in one place.  Later I added an extras organizer from a repurposed storage box.

I started with all the specialized chargers I could find.  Two for flashlight batteries and two for cameras.  I decided to go for the pedal board route.  Guitarists can have a lot of effects pedals for their instruments.  Instead of having them all splayed across the floor they tend to put them on a thin box using velcro.  The box has slits that allow cables to pass inside the box out of the way.

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I built it to fit a shelf in my office closet and made it wide enough to expand with new charger capacity if need be.  Nothing special, just some pine I had hanging out.  The chargers are held at about a 60 degree angle, and there is space in the back to strap down a power strip.

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I wanted it dark to help hide the dark cables and velcro.  I never have good luck staining pine, but mixed up a water based dye blend.  It turned out great!

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With velcro and power strip in place I could start attaching chargers.

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A 4×1 outlet extender lets you plug in chargers that are supposed to go directly into a wall outlet.  I added a device called a blackout buddy.  Eaton makes them and they are red cross branded.  It plugs in and charges itself.  When the power goes out it turn on the light so can see.  Now when our power goes out I can find my way to the flashlight stash in the dark.  It fit like a charm on the shelf in my closet.

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Next up I pulled an old drawer storage box thing out of the trash.  It used to have board games in it, but was destined for the dump.  I thought the all-wood construction it was worth saving.  After re-gluing a few bad joints it was in good shape.

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The bottom drawer houses all the extra batteries I had from laptop pulls and random purchases.  I printed a number of organizers to keep them from touching.  Every organizer positively holds the battery in place so they can’t come out and can’t touch each other.  Keeping them from touching is an important part of preventing battery damage and fires.  Plenty of room left to store more batteries.

The middle drawer has random flashlight stuff.  O-rings, manuals, cases, etc.  I printed some dividers to hot glue down to keep the drawer from being a mess every time you open and close the drawer.

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Lastly I threw some of my DSLR gear in the top drawer because I never really had a good place for it.  3D printing and woodworking come together to help organize and support my camera and flashlight fixations.  What a gorgeous synergy!

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Clamp Racks

A year back I modified a set of buckets to hold my 12-24″ clamps.  It worked as a method to keep them in once place, but had some flaws.  They were tucked away, which means out of sight out of mind.  With all the bars going down into the bucket it was really hard to tell the length of the clamp when you wanted one.  I was able to de-clutter some wall space which gave me the opportunity to build wall racks.  One would think that clamp racks are really simple, and that not many mistakes could be made.  You can screw it up, and I did.

I wanted to try out french cleats, and I wanted them to be strong.  I didn’t have much 1″ thick lumber, so I went with 2x4s.  Big beefy cleats right?  This is stash busting at its finest.

Mistake 1

20170326_201149.jpgI thought 2x4s would make a great french cleat system.  They aren’t horrible, but they
aren’t great either.  Because of the thickness when you cut them on a 45 degree angle, you don’t get a lot of flat bearing surface left over.  A 1×4 would provide plenty of holding power, is easier to attach to the wall, and has more bearing surface to glue/screw to against the wall and tool holder.  I would also suspect that moving the weight out further from the wall transfers a little more load into trying to pull the screw out instead of shear loading it.  Might not be significant, but not something you want to do.

Mistake 2

I had plenty of cabinet grade 3/4″ plywood around from my temporary counter tops.  Why not break out my old machine cut dovetail jig and go into production?  It was a little overkill for strength, but they would look nice and once I got the jig setup I could make lots.  Turns out plywood doesn’t play well when doing that kind of cutting.  The bit ripped off a lot of layers.  I could have sandwiched the part on both sides, but the novelty and speed of doing a lot of these was quickly evaporating.

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Mistakes 3 & 4

I mounted the cleats up high to maximize space and keep them out of my way when not in use.  I ended up with them too high.  When trying to place a clamp in the rack, it hit the ceiling before going in.

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If I did rotate them to get them in, the double bars didn’t help.  I used that double bar trick on a small clamp rack at the end of my work bench.  Small clamps have a center of gravity that makes them want to rotate badly when hooked like this.  Big ones have enough weight down low that they don’t.  It was a waste of materials.

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To recover I removed the holders, and cut off the top bar.  That is a nice thing about french cleats, you can take them down to adjust or make modifications.  I also added a small bumper at the bottom to help with the loading path.  See mistake 1.

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It took a while, but the two foot long clamp rack was complete.

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Mistake 5

I had pre-cut material so that I could assemble lots of 14″ clamp sets with dovetails.  When the dovetails failed I started using screw.  That worked out, but the small sizes weren’t needed.  The dowels are plenty strong enough to hold the weight across 28″.  I just caused more work for myself and wasted materials.  I was able to use some of this stuff, but if I had tested the dowels for sag before hand I would have done all of them in one span instead of two.  Test next time.

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Mistake 6

Almost out of the woods.  I made the classic “Measure once, cut twice, and still too short” mistake.  I always have problems when drilling holes for dowels.  I seem to always drill one size too big.  These aren’t 7/8″ poplar, they are 3/4″.  More material wasted, I need a tight fit for the glue joint.

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The next set avoided mistake 4, the second bar was really needed to keep everything from rotating, but got tied up with mistake 3 again.  It was up too high.  I had to remove the cleat and lower it down a few inches to get everything to clear the ceiling.

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From here out it was actually pretty smooth sailing.  I used my limited stock of 1×4 to make more cleats and the racks came together well.  I even managed to dig my spring clamps out of the drawer and give them a nice home.  Bigger parts on the spindle sander might be an issue, but that is attached to a mobile base.  I can always move it out if need be.

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In the end it works wonderfully.  The fact that it took twice as long and 50% more material than it should have is going to be chalked up to learning.  8 years after starting this hobby I still have a lot of learning to do.

Drawer Dividers

While the cabinets were being installed I was hard at work making accessories for the drawers.  Most commercially available drawer dividers had a few strikes against them.  They were either plastic or bamboo (doesn’t match my maple cabinets), they weren’t very adjustable, and most don’t fit the narrow drawers next to my stove.  So I made my own.  The first trick is to take two thick boards and make four thin boards.

I resawed (cut standing on edge in the bandsaw) these two 3/4″ maple boards to make four slightly undersized 3/8″ boards.  After a few trips through the planer to clean up all the heavy bandsaw marks they were all about 1/4″.

I could have tried to glue various thin pieces together to make dividers, but wanted to include 1/4″ plywood as a bottom.  It would make the thin dividers a lot stronger to glue along those long edges.  I pulled out some silverware and got to settings sizes.

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Every edge got a few swipes from my lovely little lee neilson tiny block plane.  That thing is perfect for knocking down sharp corners.  Once I had all the dividers in place for a particular drawer I applied expert and professional clamps until the glue dried.

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Drawers full of spatulas and cooking spoons needed backup in the rear to keep them from leaning, so I used a short segment to shore them up.

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I had planned to divide out our junk drawer and a drawer full of odds and ends, but that doesn’t appear to be feasible.  Entropy will reign supreme in those drawers for the time being.  I did however get all the heavy use drawers near the stove well organized.


dsc_0683As a bonus I had extra thin cut maple left over.  I want to use this stuff up quickly.  At these sizes and with it being flat sawn, it will cup and bow quickly.  At work we stretch regularly using a deck of cards with different stretch moves.  The box the cards came in was complete junk.  I thought having a two sided card caddy would make transport and use easier.

The cards are in a tray at an angle to keep them from falling out when carried.  As you do a stretch the card moves from the face down side to the face up side.  Eventually you get through all the stretches, shuffle everything and start over.

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I took this as an opportunity to try two new things.  The first was liquid hide glue.  I have been hearing a lot about this (very old) product recently.  Long working time, reversible and low visibility under finishes made me very interested.  It was a fine glue, I will be using it more.  The next was my  new pin nailer.  It worked miracles on my quarter round baseboard molding and did a great job sneaking pins into this thin stock.  The pin heads are only somewhat visible on the flat sides.  It wasn’t the best usage case, but I like them a lot.  They kept it clamped and are much lower profile than brad nails.