All posts by The Woodwork Geek

About The Woodwork Geek

I'm a 30 something IT professional with a love of woodwork. Take a look at some of my ramblings!

Scrap wood tool tote

Last post I mentioned that we are in the middle of renovations. That’s meant carrying lots of tools and supplies around the house. Most of the time it’s meant me with my arms full of stuff dropping it, picking it up, dropping it again…you get the idea.

I got fed up with this so had a look at the local hardware store for something cheap to solve the problem but didn’t find anything I liked, so took a couple of hours weekend before last to make up a simple tool tote.

I just used whatever I had cut already to size the toolbox and did a test layout

One of the pieces already had some marks from when it was part of a shelving unit so I used them to lay out the sides and cut them out with my jigsaw and a scrolling bit

It took about 2 1/2 hours to get it finished, including sanding, but a good half of that was trying to find tools in the mess of the workshop. I’m pretty happy with the result.


The New Workshop

It’s been a long time since I posted. We moved house in early 2016 and there’s been so much to do in the new place that I haven’t even got my workshop set up properly yet.

A lot of stuff is still in boxes and I’ve just grabbed out stuff as needed for renovations and repairs. Everything’s a bit of a mess to be honest.

The garage in the new place is a lot smaller so we built a shed to use as a workshop instead. Here’s a pic of the inside just after it was built and I moved my stuff in

It’s 3m x 2.4m, so not huge but it does the job and I don’t need to pack it all up to bring the car in when I’m finished either.

We’re currently in the middle of bathroom renovations so I’ve saved one old vanity unit already when it was pulled out and turned it into a workbench, and I’ll save the other this weekend to use as well. No point wasting good cupboards when some castors and an MDF top can make them useful still.

In the meantime I’m having a ton of trouble buying pegboard. Everywhere locally is sold out so I can’t get it up and my tools on the walls. Hopefully I’ll find some soon and get that done too and actually get back to making things.

I’m still here

I know it’s been a long time since I had a new post but it’s a long time since I’ve done any woodwork too. We moved house earlier in the year and all my free time has been spent working on getting it set up. Having a much bigger garden to tend to is adding to that but is also rewarding in it’s own way.

I’ve got photos of the shed being built and my workshop semi-set up to come as soon as I can


The times they are a’changin

You may have noticed that the blog has been quiet since October and there’s a reason for that. We have found a larger place to move to so have been busy with buying and selling and everything that entails.

The only thing that has been happening in the workshop lately is that I’ve started packing it up and dismantling anything that won’t fit in the new place. We’re going from two large single garages to an average sized double so I can’t just transplant the setup to the new place however there’s room for a decent sized shed there if I want it.

I’m taking photos as I pull it apart and it’s really quite interesting seeing the quality of my work change over time so will post them as soon as I can. Afterwards I’ll share the fun of setting up a new shop too.

Another day, another mobile tool stand

Not long after I finished the mobile mitre saw stand I decided to make one for my scrollsaw. Same method and my phone was broken so I didn’t take photos during the build but here’s the completed stand. It’s build to the perfect height for me when seated on my shop stool.

Now I just need to clean the rust off  the table…


Downsizing the workbench

My workshop is in a single car garage that actually shares it space with a large car so everything has to be against the walls and out of the way each night.

I’ve got room for a proper workbench and have had one for years but the problem is the light and power are all over on the opposite end of the space so I always end up working over there on my portable bench instead.

This means the main bench ends up as a collection place for everything I can’t be bothered to put away properly and is generally a mess. It’s also been getting progressively worse to use when I do happen to work on it thanks to the construction timber I used warping and my rough joinery skills when I first built it.

I’m trying to optimise the space I’m using for my workshop to make it easier to get the car in and out and also to make setup and pull down time when I work quicker so decided to pull the old bench apart and upgrade the folding bench instead.

Over the years this bench has had a few upgrades and downgrades as needed, most recently it’s had a piece of plywood clamped onto it to serve as a false benchtop.

I had some spare MDF from another project so decided to give it a proper top. First I glued two sheets together and cut them to size then screwed a battern underneath to fit in the gap between the vice jaws


I added a piece underneath so when the vice jaws are closed it locks in place and can’t lift


I couldn’t mount my large vice as it would be too heavy on one side but I had this little vice that just screws on sitting around from when it used to be the end vice on my bench so added it to the new top.


I turned the top over and tested it out. The whole thing rocked forward when I used it because one of the vice jaws isn’t fixed. I decided to screw the whole thing in place permanently instead so turned it over and did that.


This was the end result. It still folds up but the top added enough weight that it’s probably as sturdy as my full sized bench was. I can also use it for my z-vice too which I couldn’t do with the other bench which should come in handy for some carving work I want to do.


Making a Mobile Mitre Saw Stand (Part 2)

The previous weekend I’d finished with the stand having a frame, top and bottom. I’d always planned for this to have wheels to the next step was to put them on. Having learnt my lesson about placement when I totally screwed up the casters on the drill press stand I carefully marked the location so the holes wouldn’t end up trying to share the same space as the frame uprights!


What I hadn’t learnt yet was that nails into MDF just don’t work. I flipped the stand over and the entire bottom just fell off. A slight detour to drive screws in solve the issue and then I was able to finish adding the wheels. Then I gave the parts that would be visible a coat of linseed oil to seal them. I didn’t do the bottom or back panels but may do those later on if I get time.

I also realised that there was a lot of spare height so added a frame and a shelf giving me somewhere to put cut pieces or my safety gear when not in use.


The next step was to line up and mount the actual saw to the stand. I set the depth so it can comfortably sit against the wall and used the fence line as a guide for making sure it was straight. I underdrilled the holes to begin with so had to fix that before I could bolt it in place with washers on either side.


I knew before I added the shelf that my shop vacuum wouldn’t fit unless I took the wheels and the posts they were on from off the bottom so did that using my trusty portable bench and a cutoff wheel in my Dremel.


Once this was done I put the vac into place and clamped my support stands to the side to see how things would look when it’s completed. The plan is to mount them properly to the sides so they are always there if needed but in a way that I can lift them off for longer cuts.


I locked the brake on two of the wheels and did some test cuts. It’s nice and stable and exactly the right height for me since I actually remembered to factor in the bottom panel and wheel height.

There’s still a little work left to do but I’m very happy with the result so far.

Making a Mobile Mitre Saw Stand (Part 1)

Back in 2011 just after I started woodworking I was driving back from the library and saw a sign for a garage sale.  In those days I thought I needed every tool that existed and so stopped in to see what they had. It was late in the afternoon and the seller was just packing up, but when I said I was looking for tools they showed me what was left.

I ended up walking away with an old GMC mitre saw for $20 and it’s been in constant use since that time. The problem is that it’s never had a proper home, instead being dumped onto whatever surface was clear when I needed to use it. I decided recently to change that as I’ve been trying to get the workshop more organised and thought a combined stand for the saw and my old vacuum would be nice.

The stand I made for my drill press (in the back corner of the below photo) has held up really well so decided to use the same style for this one. I started with a piece of 1200mm x 450mm MDF from the local hardware store and placed the mitre saw on it to get a feel for how wide the stand should be. I decided that even though the saw is only around 400mm wide, I’d just halve the sheet and make the stand a little wider both for stability and to make the build easier. This also gives me some room underneath for more storage.


The lengths of timber I’d bought for the sides of the frame were also 1200mm so I just marked the cut halfway after checking that they were actually the right length and not over or under.


I’m finding blue masking tape very useful around the workshop for bundling parts together. This helps me to keep the cut pieces together until I’m ready to assemble and also to make sure they are all the same size. It also helps to stop me picking up one of them and thinking it’s spare stock and using it to cut another piece from – this has happened!


Once I’d cut everything to size and bundled it together I was ready to start assembling


I did a test fit of all the parts so I could make sure everything fit before I did anything else, just in case, but it all looked good.


The MDF got cut to start with. I couldn’t be bothered setting up sawhorses for one cut so did it this way, which actually was a lot more stable than I expected and worked just fine


I pre-drilled and countersunk everything to make assembly easier.


Then I assembled and squared the side frames, using glue and screws to make it nice and solid


Once the side frames were done it was easy to put the cross pieces in, using corner clamps to make it square as well.


It was getting late in the day but I wanted to get the top and bottom in place before finishing up so just nailed them in place. The uprights are a bit thin but I plan to put a shelf in and a back on so this won’t be an issue when finished.


Turning trash into a Chip Carving Knife

I blame Derek Cohen for inspiring this project. He’s a woodworker that I admire a lot but if I hadn’t stumbled across this post on his website I wouldn’t have thought that I could easily take an old plane blade and turn it into a chip carving knife.

Turns out the easy bit wasn’t quite correct but I did manage it!

I started with an old blade. I’ve bought and been given and got rid of more planes than I can count so there’s a few blades sitting around unused. This didn’t have a brand on it but a quick test on the grinder showed the steel was good.


I marked up the blade shapes I wanted. I wanted a pair of knives for chip carving so one is the chip knife and the other a stab knife.


I tried to cut then out with a hacksaw fitted with a hard steel cutting blade but it would barely touch the blade


Instead I ended up using a cutoff wheel in my dremel rotary tool. The wheel was a lot larger when I started than finished!


I got one blade free of the original blade


Then the second. Cutting a curve with a dremel is quite hard


They had a lot of rough edges so I put them in a little model making vice that belonged to my dad and using a combination of files and a grinding wheel in the dremel got them to a decent shape.


They cleaned up quite well, and I also roughed in a bevel for the chip knife. It still has a small hump on the back of the blade in this shot, I removed it with a course file before the next step.


I tried to cut a slot in a single piece of Tasmainain oak to fit the blade but couldn’t get a tight enough fit so ended up using two pieces of what is probably Meranti to form the body of the knife. I used a router plane to cut out the spot for the blade and glued the whole thing together with a glue called Weldbond which is meant to glue anything to anything and so far has done as claimed.


Once the body was glued up I drilled two holes through the blade to put pins through. The first drill bit I tried just wouldn’t go through the steel, this one I used is called a viper bit and went through it without effort.


Then I traced one of my existing knives as a pattern for the body


and glued and hammered two Tassie Oak dowels through the body and blade to hold it in place


Using a small flush cut saw I trimmer them to the same level as the body


and using a carving knife and rasps started shaping the body


You can see it get progressively closer to the final shape


then it’s finished and sanded.


I gave it a couple of coats of shellac with a stain in it and finished with beeswax.


While I wish I’d found a nice wood for the handle this was the only thing I had in the right size around the workshop and it feels fine in use. I’ve only begun chip carving so I’m not getting perfect results but I am pretty happy with the result. I’ll finish the other knife later on and post a picture showing them in use.

It’s not easy being green

I was horrified a few weeks ago to hear about Kermit the frog and Miss Piggy breaking up. That was until my lovely wife pointed out it’s happened multiple times and they always end up back together.

Unlike the muppets, I like to try new things occasionally. In the past year I’ve learnt to carve with both knife and gouges, started making boxes, learnt to cut dovetails and learnt to turn wood on my drill press.

The problem I’ve found is the amount of effort to get square stock round. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, why take something that was round, make it square then have to work to make it round again?

I decided to try and find a branch that was already round to start with to see how it would turn on the drill press. The gum trees in the garden yielded a likely branch and I cut it to the size I needed and stripped off all the bark with a knife.


Then I put it on the drill press. I decided to use a nail instead of the live center I usually use as it’s a bit soft and might come loose.


I started turning it but rasps seemed to bounce off so I tried a microplane with much better results. I got long thin shavings from it and it turned easily.


I may or may not finish this at some point but the idea was just to see what green wood would do when turned on a non-traditional lathe like a drill press. It was fun to do though and saved a lot of time compared to working with prepared stock.