Sharpening Station

Sharpening is one of those things that you know you should do often, but always gets put off.  It is often said 90% of your problems with hand tools can be fixed by proper sharpening.  I am getting better at free hand sharpening, and getting less lazy over time.  It is hard to always have some dedicated space to sharpening though.  I read an article in Fine Woodworking Magazine where someone suggested using a basic tool box plus custom top as a sharpening station.  It is portable to follow you around the shop, and has all the right stuff where you need it.  Instead of buying something I decided to stash bust and build one.

I have a ton of 3/4″ plywood around from my temporary kitchen counter tops, and some left over spares from the cabinet installation.  I turned them into a 16×16 open fronted box, along with a few drawers.

Given that the case and drawers would be short I didn’t want to use my normal method of attachment.  This typically involves building the drawer to just below the inside width of the box, and using pine as runners.  It is quick and easy, but the drawers fall out if you pull too far.  Instead I went with metal slides, and got to use my new drawer install tools.

I picked up a slide install tool and drawer guides from rockler.  They help a lot, but are a little awkward to use.  I wish I had do more research before buying.  I think kreg might have a better system.

Instead of using some kind of gripy surface to hold all the various plates and stones in place I went with a small vise.

On the left is a small work surface with bench dog clamps to help hold sharpening plates.  It is offset to the left to prevent drawer interference.  On the right is a small granite surface plate I had.  I added a protective cover to it eventually (seen in later photos).  Now I can use whatever method of hand sharpening best fits the situation of the tool.

DSC_0795

I built 3 sets of drawers to start with because it was all I thought I would need.  Then I found enough stuff to add a 4th drawer.  Once that was built and installed I found enough for a 5th.  I probably have too much sharpening junk.

The project ended up stretching out over a month as I worked on other things and came back with more ideas.  In that time I used a few different pieces of plywood for the front face of the drawers, so they don’t match well.  I did cook up a cool side caddy for honing fluids though.

DSC_0801

In all I think I am going to like it.  It rolls nicely, tucks away under one of my other benches that didn’t have a use for that space, holds a lot of stuff in the drawers, and even has space on the bottom shelf for my work sharp tool box and saw sharpening clamp.  The only thing it might need is weight in the bottom to help with stability.  Now I have no excuse not to sharpen early and often.

DSC_0794

Bunny Feeding Fix

Our rabbits are many things, and one of them is tenacious when it comes to food and treats.  We got them an automatic feeder to make sure they get pellets at the same time every morning.  Honey found she could chew, claw, dig, and ram the feeder to get more.  Screwing it all down to a wooden base made tipping harder, but didn’t stop the chewing.

dsc_0642

I needed to remove their access to the device.  Listening to Honey claw and dig at the bowl for hours on end is getting old.  I ditched the old bowl and used a 4″ to 2″ PVC coupling as a funnel.

I mounted it with some small screws run in through the side.  I can remove it and make repairs or changes if need be.  The dispenser sits over it nicely and is held in place with a few low cleats.  They keep it from shifting, but you can pick it right up if adjustments are needed.

dsc_0647

dsc_0649Next a length of pipe acted as a down spout.  I start with only this downspout, but the pellets came out too quickly from the drop.  They would hit the bowl and go everywhere.  The bunnies didn’t mind the game of 52 pellet pickup, but some pellets would escape the fence.

A few elbows helped slow everything down.  They have enough velocity coming down the chute to not get stuck in the first one, but aren’t going so fast to scatter all over when they hit the bowl.

The whole contraption sits nicely on the bun-servation tower, and a few screws ensures they can’t knock it down on themselves.  It has been a week and the silence is golden.  The furry raptors don’t seem to mind the change, they get food all the same.  Now they just don’t short tomorrow’s meal by shaking it out early.

dsc_0648

 

Hardware and Sanding Drawers

I built a set of cabinets a little while back to help out the organization of my shop.  I initially built both with pilaster strips and intended them to be mostly shelving.  The one on the left would be best served with a few small drawers for sandpaper related items, but otherwise all shelves.

DSC_0285

It all started innocently.  Just a few shallow drawers for sandpaper and sanding blocks etc.  Then after those I figured I could store all the powered sanding sheets and belts.

Then a few boxes of nails needed a nice cozy home, my jig hardware would fit well there, and then before you know it, the entire cabinet is full of drawers.  It took me a few weeks to slowly build the drawers as I found items to fill them with.  The problem is that when I finally went to add finish to the drawers they were already half full!

For the drawers, I cut 1/2″ plywood for the drawer bottom, and then stacked more 1/2″ ply for the 4 sides of the drawer.  The sides got glue and brad nails through the bottom.  An oversized front was added later.  It could have saved space and probably been strong enough with 1/4″ ply on the bottom, but I had a lot of 1/2″ left over from the cabinet project, so I just kept going with that.  I rip 1×2″ pine in half to make runners.  The runners and sides got a rubdown of paste wax once the finish has had plenty of time to cure.

In retrospect I wish I had planned this all out from the beginning.  The drawer bottoms could have been thinner, and the layout could have been better.  Given that I slowly added drawers as I found a need for them, it is a hodge podge mix of sanding/finishing supplies and fasteners.  Preplanning would have had finishing on top, and hardware on the bottom.

Regardless of the haphazard nature of its creation, the final results look good.  It holds all my sanding supplies and the remainder of my hardware with plenty of room for future expansion.  Bronze card holders let you label everything cleanly.  A must for this many seemingly identical drawers.

Building your own drawers in this fashion can be quick and efficient.  And at 35 dollars a piece, a 1/2″ sheet of cabinet grade plywood can produce probably 8 drawers at this size.

Rolling Shop Storage Cabinet

Organization is a sickness that you catch from time to time.  When it hits, things can get out of hand.  My drawers are getting cleaner, but now my shelves are in order.  I am going to go from Left to Right in a few short cuts.

Yeah, the one on the left is a huge mess, I get it.  The shelves were made of particle board and started sagging soon after installing the unit.  It was deep enough that most things sat in the front which waisted a lot of space.  I did some thinking and tried to come up with as simple of an easy and efficient design as possible.  Here are the parts cut out from my sheet goods.  It was a compromise of materials and what I wanted to store.  The design gets you both 4′ high cabinets but only 6 shelves.

I used another sheet of 1/2″ plywood to get more shelves and to make some drawers that will come in at a later date.  I started by cutting up the 3/4″ plywood and building a basic box with no front or back.  Before assembling I gave the sides a small dado to accommodate the pilaster strips.

A 1/2″ piece went across the back making every very stiff.  I used pilaster strips, which can be found in your hardware store in the shelf section.  They are very affordable at able 3 bucks a strip, and the clips costing 1 dollar per shelf.  They can hold a lot of weight, are incremental in 1/2″ steps, and the clips are very low profile.  Each shelf got a small cleat on the backside for stiffness and to keep it from sliding forward when pulling something out.

DSC_0284

I did a lot of sorting, throwing junk away, and repacking organizers.  It came together and never looked so good.  Everything got a coat of BLO, and both cabinets got a set of casters for easy placement.

The project took a few days when mixed with a lot of other projects and turned out great.  The left one is kind of sparse and is missing some hardware still.  At some point I will use my remaining plywood stock to build a set of drawers to hold the sanding supplies and misc hardware.  Total, both cabinets together cost me about 175 dollars.  A little expensive, but there was very little waste, and they ought to last a really long time.


I said organization is contagious, and I mean it.  I piled my battery charging stuff on top like always, and it just didn’t look right.  I had some off cuts and spare pieces and in no time had a smart looking drill station built.  My drills hang over by my tool box, this just has the chargers, batteries, and drill/bit kits.

DSC_0282