I thought I’d share an interesting blog I’ve been reading, The Slightly Confused Woodworker. He’s at odds with most of my normal favorite authors, but that can be quite interesting. Well worth a read.
The weekend before last I made some circular saw guides. I included a picture of the small one in action, repeated below
That board is actually two bits of MDF laminated together to form a thick board to use as a drill press table. I was given the drill press by my lovely wife last Christmas but up until now it’s been used with scrap clamped in place as a table, and I had always wanted to put a proper one on it.
You might wonder what benefit a wooden table has over just using the metal one that it comes with, or with a vice added to it. Well, there’s a number of benefits
1) You can make it larger, giving you room to support larger workpieces
2) The exit point of the hole you are drilling is supported by the table, making the hole cleaner and less jagged.
3) You can add a fence to it so you can secure the piece being drilled, making the operation safer and more accurate.
So how did I get it to stay on there?. My original plan is below. I was going to have rails either side then underneath so the table could slide on and off.
Once it was glued up and I realised that the sides of the metal table aren’t parallel that idea went out the window. I decided that I really wanted the table on the drill press so just went with drilling holes and putting heavy bolts in. The photo is from underneath the stand so is a bit blurry.
and here’s the finished product. All that is left is to make a fence for it. I got to use it on the very next project I built, and it was very helpful have the table secured there.
The blog hit the 15000 visit mark this week, even though I haven’t been giving you much new content to read for a while. I’d just like to say a quick thank you to everyone who has visited, commented and liked the blog. I really enjoy writing it and hope you find it helpful. Please feel free to post comments and suggestions on any of the projects shown, I’d love to hear from more of you.
I finally bought myself a circular saw a few weeks ago. I’d managed without one until now, using either handsaws or my jigsaw to break down sheet material. I found that I never quite got a perfect edge with them though and I wanted to improve my accuracy for some breadboards I’m making so spend a bit of birthday money and bought a cheap saw.
To go with it I decided to build a pair of guides, based on a design I’ve seen a number of places. Basically it’s a giant benchhook with a strip of wood to guide the saw running down the middle. You clamp it in place with the edge on your cut line and it keeps the saw straight.
To start with, I had a couple of bits of ply that were about the right size. If they hadn’t been you could have just clamped a bit of wood to the sheet and used it to make the base.
I measured my saw base and then marked a square line either end to align the piece of pine that I was using to guide the saw
A generous bead of glue
Then clamp it into position. This is where it got a bit interesting, I didn’t have a clamp wide enough to clamp the middle so I used a bit of scrap to bridge the gap. I think this bit of wood is called a caul but whatever the name, it worked great.
I wandered off to do other projects while the guide dried in place, then flipped it over and glued a short piece of scrap across the guide. This serves as both a stop and to make sure the guide stays square to the board being cut. If you want to make an angled cut it still works fine, you just have only part of the stop touching the board.
Once that was dry the final step was to turn it over, and use the guide to trim itself to width. This just means making a cut along the guide so that the base is cut to width.
I had decided that I was going to make both a long and short guide, so made that one up as well Here’s the end results, though they still need a bit more sanding to remove the excess glue and maybe a coat of oil
I took a few photos of the short one in action for your viewing pleasure. Mark your cut, then align the guide so that it sits just on the edge of the line. Clamp it in place, making sure that the clamps won’t interfere with the saw’s motor otherwise you won’t be able to make the cut (yes, I learnt this when I went to trim them to width!)
Then after the cut. Just about perfect, and all for the price of a bit of scrap wood and a few minutes work.
I’ve been back in the workshop again, and started work on the messiest corner. This is what it looked like before I started
This is what it looks like after a couple of hours work. I started by pulling out all of the wood, sorting it and getting rid of some that wasn’t useful. Then I cleared the other shelves, put what I could away elsewhere and moved the wood to the lower shelves where the longer lengths sat better. I’ve still got to sort out the top but it’s better than it was and now my power tools are stored neatly and not just lying around.
I’ve finally caught up on most of household and garden chores that went by the wayside while planning our wedding, leaving me some time the past few weekends to finally get back into the workshop.
The whole thing was in a pretty neglected state so I’ve had to do some cleanup work to get it usable again. The bench was covered in bits and pieces from unfinished projects and things I’d taken out of my car boot and dumped there, the drill press stand was a catch-all for any tools I’d been using in my infrequent pre-wedding workshop visits and hadn’t had the time or patience to put away, and a thick layer of dust that had blown in from the open garage door covered everything. Every other corner of the workshop was just as bad if not worse.
I decided to start small, and tackle one thing at a time. I started by taking everything off of the workbench, throwing away any discarded packaging and putting loose tools where they belonged. Then I gave it a good sweep. I took the same approach to the drill press table and before long it was looking much better. I gave it a final cleanup with a small air-mattress pump I use for cleaning the garage and you can see the results below. The only things on it now is my mitre saw, sawbenches, a few breadboards and a stool for a friend that I’m building.
Next up was the woodpile in the other back corner. It had all fallen over and tangled in the sawhorse legs, and looked more like one of the three little pigs cottages after tha wolf got to them than a self-respecting workshop’s sheet goods pile.
Again I pulled everything out, worked out what needed to be kept and got rid of anything that didn’t, and put the rest back neatly. I’m gradually working my way through it as well so after time there shouldn’t be any spare on had and I can just buy what I need for each project as I go along. The air pump did another good job on this corner while everything was pulled out as well.
The day was getting late so I finished off by given the rest of the workshop a clean with the air compressor and then a good sweep, but that couple of hours work was enough to make it start to look good again. My workshop is a single car garage that does actually house a car most of the time, so I’ve got to keep it tidy or it’s totally unmanageable. An elderly friend once told me “A place for everything and everything in its place” and it makes perfect sense in a workshop. If everything has a proper home and you make sure it goes back there as soon as you’ve finished using it, you don’t end up writing blog posts like the one you’ve just read.
The rest of the story is yet to come, as the next two corners will need more than a quick tidy…
Just a quick note to let you know I’m still around. The last couple of months have been very busy, with wedding planning, the actual wedding then a trip away afterwards. I’m back now and hoping to get some workshop time in the coming weeks so keep an eye open for updates.
My drill press stand has been the focus of the little time I’ve had in the workshop lately. I’m trying to make the stand itself as useful as the machine that lives on it, plus I don’t really want to have to keep unbolting it and putting it back on so I’m trying to get all the work out of the way in one go!
I’d originally had shelves on it, but they don’t really help when it comes to storing small things like drill bits and accessories so decided to try making my first drawers. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on the project, so used up some more scrap pine for the frames and some MDF left over from my attempt at wooden Christmas decorations for the bottoms.
I wanted to have these done in an hour so went the cheap and nasty method of making them. I measured the space I had for the drawers, cut the sides to size, cut the MDF to just oversize and glued and clamped it all together.
Once the glue dried, I put some nails in for strength, used a flush trim bit to clean up the overhang on the base and gave the edges a cleanup with the roundover tool
With these built I used them as spacers while I cut and fitted some hardwood rails to the frame, and then slotted them in.
They still need guide rails on the drawers themselves but it’s starting to come together quite well. These two shallow drawers are for small bits, then I need some deeper drawers for Forstner bits and other accessories. It’s not the prettiest work around but it should do the job and add quite a bit of storage space to the workshop, as well as keeping all my drilling items near where they are used.
I’m a member of a local woodworking group and one of our recent projects was to make a combined stool and toolbox. We normally do only small projects when we get together once a month but this time we went a little bigger.
This was the example stool. The original plans are from a wood magazine special but had been modified a little to suit the material we had around the workshop.
Unlike previous projects where a lot of the material was ready for us, we were given a cut list and had to source and prepare all of the timber for this project from the stockpile in the workshop.
I ended up teaming up with two of the more experienced members and together we made the parts for three of these stools.
After we found timber we could use, we cut it to size on the tablesaw and used the thicknesser and jointer to get it ready. This is one of the areas where joining a woodwork club is good, you get to use all of the big machinery that you may not otherwise have access to.
I ended up working on the mitersaw, as I’m more familiar with it than the other tools, and got the parts for the legs and sides cut out. I had to test fit then recut a few pieces to make sure the groove in the legs and the edge of the sides were perfectly even otherwise it wouldn’t fit together.
One of the team got a bit creative on the design and decided that rebated legs weren’t enough, and that we should round the legs over and use a cove bit in the router table to make the matching rebate. This turned out really nicely, surprising everyone as nobody had considered it before.
We routed grooves on the inside of each leg to hold the side panels and glued it all together and finished for the day.
The other guys worked on it a bit when they had time but I hadn’t been able to make it down there so went and got the parts for mine to finish it off at home.
The plywood sides wern’t flush with the top edge so that needed to be cleaned up. I just used a block plane. Here it is before
Then I had to mark up the plywood top so I could attach it evenly to the base of the stool. I measured the width of the stool and the top, then divided the difference in two and marked that distance right around.
Then it was a matter of adding glue to the top and positioning the base on it, then clamping it all up. I added four screws that were in the original plans but not in the version we were shown as I wanted to make sure the top wouldn’t move under load. I filled the screw holes with wood putty, but it was too dark even when sanded back. I might have to fix that at some point.
Once it was dry, I gave it a good sanding. The light was fading by this point so the photo isn’t great.
That was all I had time for that day, but managed to add a coat of boiled linseed oil the next weekend and it came up really nicely. It still needs the handle added if I want it to be a toolbox as well but I’m undecided on that so havn’t done it yet.
Here’s the finished stool, I’m very pleased with the result. It’s very sturdy and stable in use.
I have a bad habit of getting a project to the point where it’s usable then not finishing it off. More often than not this just means the work is done and just needs sanding and finishing, but with the drill press there is more work than that to be done.
Last weekend I managed to get some of this work done. The first job was to get the edges of the MDF top flush with the sides, so I got out my router, put a flush trim bit in and cleaned it up.
The second thing was to round over the top edges to protect the MDF from getting damaged. The router did this well too.
I don’t use my router much. It’s a useful tool but a lot of the time it’s just too much effort to get it set up so I end up doing the job another way instead. This time I decided it was the way to go and it did a really good job.
Here’s a couple of before pics
and an after pic