Almost the weekend… for me anyway. I’m kept busy Friday through Tuesday working at the pharmacy in Marquette. I have every other Tuesday off – a sort of courtesy for taking the weekend (I still get 80 hours per pay period). Aside from looking forward to the weekend I thought it was time to finally offer up some of the happenings in this neck of the woods. At the cabin, Dad traded in Great Aunt Vi’s 2003 Polaris Ranger SxS. The old 500cc four-wheel drive has been fun, but the solid rear-axle is only so useful at speed. The upgrade is 10 years newer and I’m awaiting my chance to get behind the wheel. Speaking of upgrades, our ability to get the family to the cabin has been enhanced with the purchase of 2013 Honda Pilot (AWD of coarse). William outgrew the cramped confines of rear seat of the Chevy Colorado Extended cab and now with another due in September… So, after almost 9 years and 105,000 miles I’ve parted ways with my truck. It was a good little truck and I sure got my money’s worth over the years. There were a few electrical gremlins early on but all-in-all the truck held up quite well.
So, on to the wood shop…
I’ve harbored an interest in woodworking since high school. I took all the wood shop classes I could and senior year built an 11-panel solid white ash desk. Even the drawer bottoms were solid wood. The top measured in at about 1.25 inches thick (I mention this because the top of the desk is what inspired the sides of my first real basement wood shop project). When my godfather announced his intention to sell his wood shop I new I was going to buy it. Not more than two weeks after mentioning it was for sale I took a 12 foot U-haul down and loaded it up. I spent the next week setting up my shop. Since set-up I’ve made a number of small adjustments. Here’s a short list of some of the more important revisions:
- oiled numerous cranks and nobs (motor oil)
- made fine adjustments to the table saw, drum sander, router table, mortiser, and band saw to improve precision
- replaced batteries in laser guide on compound miter saw
- made several push blocks and push sticks
- added a Carter precision roller head to bandsaw
- upgraded from metal guide blocks to cool-blocks on bandsaw and upgraded all roller bearings to high quality, high speed bearings
- purchased a Woodpeckers coping sled for the router table
- designed and assembled a bridged cross-cut sled and a bridged dado-sled for the table saw
- picked up a set of chisels and a chisel mallet
- set up a sharpening kit (whetstones in 1000, 3000, and 6000 grit, hand file set, Veritas MK-II Honing Guide)
- added two card scrapers to tool box
- added two old hand planes (put new edges on blades)
- reinforced the workbench with over 2 dozen carriage bolts and built a router table onto the work bench
- mounted a heavy duty power strip on the leg of the workbench for power and to reduce clutter
- added a forstner bit set and some high quality Rockler counter sink drill bits with collar depth-stop
There is more, but by now you get the idea. I’m adopting the philosophy that the quality of my work can be limited by the quality/precision of my tools. A little extra work to make a high-qualiy jig or cross cut sled means a better finished product. A finely adjusted bandsaw means a truer cut. I can’t exceed the quality of my tools. I can work twice as hard to conceal the mistakes of inaccuracy or spend some time tuning my set up. I’ve chosen to learn my machines and finely tune them before moving forward on projects.
Here is my collection of push blocks. The push pad style blocks have 80 grit belt-sander paper on them. They work OK but I replaced them with a set from Bench Dog. The soft rubber padding on the Bench Dogs stick better than sand paper. The rest of the blocks work very well. They have no true finish, just some Johnson’s paste wax rubbed in as a mild protectant against changes in ambient humidity.
This is the bridged crosscut-sled. The dado-sled is in the background. special detail was given to making the sled as square and straight as possible. Most edges have a small round-over and the whole sled was wiped down with Johnson’s paste wax.
Once the push blocks were made I went full-speed on the shelf. Sarah visited her parents for a week so in addition to a 50 hour work week I added an extra 50 hours in the shop to finish her book shelf. I didn’t want to be using oil-based stains and oil-based polyurethane in the house with a pregnant wife and 10-month old as occupants.
I started glueing well before the wood shop was moved in.
I’m in this photo only to show scale. The shelf is about 200 lbs, well over 6′ tall, and features walnut plugs, high density felt feet, and a whole lot of wood and glue.
Also from the shop: I made the window sills for the basement windows. The router table is an amazingly powerful tool. Each window sill is made from 3-5 boards glued up with a glue-joint router bit edge – which makes for a super strong glue joint and makes for easy alignment when glueing. Once cleaned up on the drum sander and squared on the jointer and table saw the window sills (solid ash and pine) are better than anything a reasonable person would consider buying or paying someone to make. There will be many other touches like this in the cabin now that I have wood shop.
I’m continuing to acquire new tools when the opportunity arises. I’m on the hunt for a good rabbiting plane. My most recent fixer-upper plane was picked up for about $18. Not bad considering new medium quality one will go for $100 to $125.
Another fixer-upper were the five-roller stands that I used extensively in the milling of my large shelf pieces. The screw-clamp was cheap and the threads stripped out shortly after I acquired them. Luckily I know a master machinist (Sarah’s grandfather). Grandpa Rich supplied me with a heavily overhauled assembly. Note that instead of welding a bar to a bolt he threaded a metal dowel, polished it, rounded over the end, and bent it to the correct angle. And while the nut is welded to the stand, the stand was also drilled and tapped – which adds up to about 5x the threads (surface area) than the original assembly, which also benefits from the use of higher-strength steel.