Category Archives: Storage

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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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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.

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Wood you like to be more organised?

Do you feel like you could be buried in a timber avalanche every time you try and get something out of your wood pile?

Do you feel like the piles of wood in the dark corners of your workshop are growing when you’re not around, slowly building up their numbers until there’s an offcut army ready to attack?

If so, never fear because there’s an easy way to get on top of your woodpile before it gets on top of you. This is post #2 in my “Is your workshop a mess?” series.

This is what my wood pile looked like before I started. In reality it’s about three piles – one in this corner that consists of sheet goods and long boards (and apparently old saws!)

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This bucket for thin but long stock

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and finally this one underneath my grinder stand that contains all the short stock

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Forgive me the terrible pun in the title and let’s get going. If you read the first article in this series you already know the drill

1) Prepare an area to sort things onto. Sawhorses work well and since we have a stack of sheet material we need to sort let’s use those as the tables.

2) Find a couple of empty boxes and a bin. One is for small pieces you want to keep, one for scrap that isn’t worth keeping but can be used in the BBQ/Fireplace and the bin for anything that can’t be saved or burnt like treated or painted wood.

2) Grab every bit of timber you can see and put it onto the sorting area grouping the same type of timber where possible, and sizes/thickness when it’s not

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3) Discard anything that is obviously too small or damaged to be used. Put anything that is safe to burn into the burn box and the rest into the bin. I don’t have a fireplace but one of my neighbour’s parents do so they are more than happy to take a box of kindling off my hands a couple of times a year.

4) Put anything that is small and too good to throw out into the third box. We’ll go through this again at the end to make sure we’re not hanging onto anything that really doesn’t need to be kept.

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5) Allocate whatever remains to projects if possible. I’ve written about this step previously here and highly recommend doing it as it really focuses you on what is worth keeping and what isn’t.

6) Move the material you are keeping back into wherever it fits best. If you have a dedicated rack or area that’s great, for me they went back to where they started but a lot neater now and with about 30% of the material I’ll never be able to use removed.

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While I’ve covered some of this ground in a previous post I thought it was worth going over it again and on a larger scale as that post only really dealt with step #5.

Next time – the taming of the screw!

How to clean up the wood pile

I’d imagine it’s the same for most if not all woodworkers. You buy wood, are given wood or the wood you already had somehow breeds and you end up with piles of it in every corner of the workshop. You cut it up and use it and all that seems to do is create more of it until it eventually takes over every surface and stops you working.

I’ve been trying to get my wood pile under control these past few weeks, and have been doing pretty well. Here’s a few bits of advice I’ve come up with as I worked through it.

1) Stop bringing in new wood immediately. The only way to start to get it under control is to stop the problem getting any worse

2) Discard anything that is beyond your power to use – anything too thick to cut or hard to work with the tools you have access to. If it’s good, try and sell it online but if it’s still there in a week or two get rid of it anyway. There’s often web sites where you can list it for free if all else fails, or if it’s good quality contact your local wood group and see if they want it.

3) Allocate wood to a specific project and cut parts. This helps you work out what you are going to use everything for and makes storage a lot easier. For example, I had a lot of short thin stock, so I cut out 30 spoon blanks out of scrap.

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Then I went through and cut a pile of parts for ‘easy’ projects – Breadboards, Guitar picks, Drawer parts, Tool racks & Bowls. Masking tape and a permanent marker make it easy to label things and helps remind you what you’d planned for each piece of wood you’re keeping. It also impressed any visitors who happen to see it as they think you’re far more organised than you really are!

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4) Sort small scraps

Start by putting everything out onto a flat surface. It will look like a huge mess but this way you can see everything you have

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Sort it into types of wood. if you dont know or only have small amounts, into size will do

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If you’ve found anything that can be bundled do so and put into the project area. Anything you can’t immediately allocate to a project should be bundled with the other piees of the same species or size. This keeps them from falling over on the shelf and lets you label them neatly for later use.

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This is what this corner looked like when finished. Any semi finished projects are on the top shelf, parts labelled with species and planned use on the rest. It means that I can walk in, pick up parts for a project and make progress on them without wasting time thinking about what to do while in the workshop. It also helps when you only have a few minutes of time spare – I’ve finished 4 spoons just potting for 10 minutes at a time because once cut out I can just pick up a carving knife and shape a blank. If I’d had to get out the jigsaw and cut each blank every time I wouldn’t have even started on one of them.

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The shelving unit holds the majority of what remains of my wood stock, there’s still a little bit of big stuff in the other corner to be dealt with – sheet goods and longer stock that I haven’t cut down yet, but it’s stacked neatly and the longer stock is in a bucket to keep it neat. It’s had the same process applied – labelled with the intended use and species, and so I know exactly what is available when needed.

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I hope these tips give you some inspiration for dealing with your own wood pile.

A New Screwdriver Rack

“Ouch”

That was the censored version of the sound I made after getting out of the car last week and again knocking a screwdriver down onto my foot. My workshop is also my garage, and there’s not much room separating the two so I tend to knock things over quite a bit if they aren’t secured to the pegboard properly.

I’ve been through about racks for this particular set of screwdrivers in the past 4 years. The first was a ugly red plastic one from the hardware store where nothing fit properly. The second was a metal rack built for screwdrivers, but it didn’t fit into the pegboard properly and since it was a lot heavier when it hit my foot it went as well. The latest attempt was the metal pegboard screwdriver hooks but nothing sits properly in those.

I had some time on the weekend so decided to build a custom fitted rack instead. This is my only screwdriver set and it’s still got all its pieces after 7 years somehow and I’d like to keep it that way.

First I measured up some scrap pine to see how big the rack needed to be. I ended up starting the leftmost hole 4cm in, then there’s 4cm to the next all the way across except for the two thin screwdrivers, those are 3.5cm apart.

 

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An awl is a handy thing to have in the workshop. This one was my dad’s and would be probably close to 50 years old and still works fine. I used it to mark the spot where I wanted the drill bit to center on so it didn’t wander.

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While I have a very nice drillpress, I was enjoying the quiet in the workshop so decided to do this by hand. This old Stanley brace made short work of the holes. I was drilling into a dog hole each time so I didn’t cut up my bench, but this left a bit of blowout on the exit side of each hole so next time I’d use a backing board.

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I used a hand held countersink to chamfer the holes top and bottom. Again, a useful little handtool to have around.

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I test fit the screwdrivers to make sure everything wa the way I expected

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Then I marked up and cut a piece of plywood to use as a back. The reason it needs a back is I want this to hang on standard pegboard hooks.

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I glued and clamped it for about half an hour, then added some nails for strength

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I gave it a sand and rounded the corners over to make it looks a little more finished. It also helps if I do drop it on myself again!. I also measured where the hooks needed to go through and drilled those holes

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A coat of boiled linseed oil was added to protect it, though next time I’ll remember to put masking tape on to protect it from glue spillage.

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Here it is finished and working. I’m pleased to say I’ve not yet knocked anything out of it 🙂

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A back for the Saw Till

I’m feeling a bit like Dr Who here, jumping back and forward in time with posts while I try and catch up. This one is actually from this afternoon, as I got a bit of time to play in the workshop today.

One of my first big workshop projects was a saw till, way back in April 2012. It’s had minor work done on it since that time, but nothing too major was needed as I got it pretty much right first time around.

One thing I didn’t do was put a back into it, even though I’d routed the frame ready for it. Here’s a picture of it emptied out earlier today. You can see the cross pieces that support the saw blades, but there’s no back and all you see behind it is ugly brick wall. I’d always meant to do it, but like a lot of things, if it ain’t broke I won’t spend the time to fix it.

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What changed is that there’s been quite a lot of rain recently and as my wet car often shares the garage with my tools I’ve decided to try and close in some of the cabinets to stop things rusting. A while back I was given a few good bits of 6mm ply that happen to be perfect for the groove I’d already routed in the case and there’s enough to make a door as well, so I decided to get to work.

The first thing I had to do was make the cross rails flush with the rebate at the back, as I’d rushed installing them and they were about 1mm proud of the rebate.

Before Sanding
Before Sanding

A few minutes with a power sander fixed this though.

After Sanding
After Sanding

The next step after this was to unscrew the cleat and spacer so that I could get good measurements for the back piece. Turns out that it was 375mm x 920mm, the original box was 900 x 400 according to my original post so obviously my measuring skills were lacking back then! (actually, I just didn’t take into account the top and bottom, so it would have been 940 x 400)

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I took the opportunity of the till being off the wall to remove all the old brass nails I’d used as tool hangers but no longer needed, and gave the frame and rebate a sand to clean them up.

The next step is to cut a piece of plywood for the back, so I marked up the size I needed using my saw guides like a square, and got ready to cut

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Here’s the first bit done, then just do the long side after this and you have the backing piece.

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My saw moved away from the guide during one of the cuts so as usual the piece didn’t quite fit at first attemp

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A little work with a block plane fixed this up, but then I found that it still didn’t sit quite right. Apparently I didn’t clean up the corners of the rebate back when I originally made the till

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All it took was a few seconds with a sharp chisel to fix it. Even if you exclusively use power tools in the workshop, a chisel or two (or 30!) is a handy thing to have around for adjusting and cleaning up machine cut joints like here.

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Time to see if the back will fit now, and it does!

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Take it out again and put some glue into the rebate and on the backs of the cross pieces.

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and then put the back into place and clamp it. I only bought the grey clamps the other day and they are already coming in handy.

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After the glue dried I put the cleats back on, and also put some small nails into the cross pieces from the back to make sure it was totally secure. It got a light sand at this point as well. Make sure you nail punch the nails below the surface before sanding or you’ll tear up your sandpaper and possibly sander pad.

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I turned the case over, scraped out any glue that had overflowed and gave the inside a sand as well

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Here is it back on the wall empty. The door will wait until another day, and I might put a small shelf back in as well up the top. I won’t oil it again until that’s done as it just makes it harder to get glue to stick.

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and finally here it is with the saws back in it. It’s only a minor improvement for now, but once I get the door made it will be totally enclosed to protect the tools properly.

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Pegboard for the bench

I’ve long wanted to put pegboard above my workbench, but I kept wondering if the tools would get in the road or dust cover everthing so never actually got around to hanging any, until recently that is

I wanted to put one large piece of pegboard on a wooden frame and hang it, so I went out and bought the materials. Getting them into the car turned out to be an issue though, the pegboard was 1800 x 900 and missed fitting in my boot and back seat by about 2cm. I ended up getting the pegboard cut in half  and had to join it again later on.

First I put the two pieces face down on sawhorses. Make sure that if you had to use two pieces that you line them up as well as you can so the rows of holes are even. I used 20 x 45 pine for the frame because it’s nice and cheap, about $2.50AU for a 2m length. The pegboard was $25 so the total project not including consumables cost about $40, and took about 3 hours including drying time.

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Measure two pieces for the ends at full width, then two for the sides taking the width of the end pieces off the length. Dry fit everything to make sure your measurements and cuts were right and adjust anything needed.

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Run a good amount of wood glue along each piece and clamp in into place. It’s on this sort of project that you realise that you don’t have enough clamps, so I made sure I picked up another packet of the quick-grip clamps the next time I saw them on sale after running short here. It’s also a good idea to put glue on the endgrain of the long pieces and clamp them so that they join not just to the pegboard but to the end pieces of the frame as well.

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After the frame had dried all that was left was to find the wall studs and hang it up. This bit is a two person job so enlist a helper if possible. I’ve just secured it with nails through the frame, but you could use screws if you wanted to.

 

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It’s a little longer than my bench, but there was space spare behind the drill press anyway so that’s fine. I moved a lot of my more commonly used tools over to this pegboard leaving room on the other walls for less used tools to be stored.

It’s actually amazing how much extra storage this gives you, and it really helped me tidy up the garage a lot as well as letting me work more efficiently.

 

 

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Building a Drill Press stand (Part 1)

Santa, or possibly my wife-to-be, left me a nice little benchtop drillpress under the Christmas tree, along with a pair of sawhorses.

I don’t have a lot of spare bench space though so spent part of this afternoon building it a stand. I took the opportunity to use up some spare pine, some of which was originally in the mobile pegboard wall that I dismantled some months ago.

First I cut four legs to length, using the mitre saw at first, then my jigsaw when the mitre saw started playing up. Then I cut four longer crosspieces, and assembled two sides, using butt joints. Glue and screws held everything together. One of the sides is shown below.

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Once the two sides were built, I cut four shorter crosspieces and used them to join the two sides together, making an open sided box.

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More photos to come when I get more time!

Storing Sash Clamps

Back when there was more than 30cm clearance between the walls and my car, I was building a Roubo style workbench (search the blog for Roubo if interested in the build). This required a lot of long clamps when I was gluing up the top, so I bought a pile of cheap sash clamps from the local hardware giant.

Now I’ve seriously considered getting rid of them but the thought that I might attempt another bench at some point has made me reluctant to do so. Instead for months upon months they have cluttered up corners, fallen on my feet, and generally been a pain in parts that I shouldn’t mention on a G rated blog.

I finally got around to putting in a cheap and nasty solution to the problem on the weekend (hey, we’re almost up to date!). A pine block screwed into a couple of masonry plugs behind my larger F clamps isn’t elegant, but at least my toes are in less danger now!

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What can I get done in an hour or so?

My better half got me to drop her off at the shops on Sunday after we went out for breakfast. Coming home filled with bacon, eggs and thoughts of some workshop time, I was in a pretty good mood. What do do with that little window of time though?. It had to be something productive that would be finished and cleaned up in under two hours. I know, hang some pegboard!

I’m still in the process of using up all my scrap to make the garage neater and part of that scrap is a couple of large pegboard panels that originally came from my dad’s garage fit-out. I have plans for the two larger pieces, they still need frames built but will eventually go up on the walls. That left me one piece, and it was quite warped so I wasn’t sure it would work where I wanted it to fit. Shown below is the area above my workbench, it’s a bit bare and unused so I’ve been looking at it for weeks thinking that it needed a tool rack or some pegboard in it.

I got out my trusty sawbenches, which are actually starting to get a little wobbly (should have glued the joints as well as screwed them – will fix shortly!), and after measuring up the spot for it used my jigsaw to cut it to shape.

Then it was just a matter of fitting the piece in place, drilling a few holes with my old Millers Falls hand drill, and screwing it in place. I only had to make one trip back to the sawbenches, it was slightly oversize by about 3mm on one edge. Once I had it screwed in place the warp mostly went and so I got to hang some of my more frequently used tools on it. Hopefully this way I’ll hang them back up as I work rather than leaving them on the bench in the way!.

A little tidy up and I was all finished by the time I had to jump back in the car.