Category Archives: Workshop

Building a Jigsaw Table

Let me say it. I’m scared of table saws. I’ve had two old ones at some point or other, neither with blade guards, and they were the first things to go as soon as I need more room. I don’t even like using a circular saw.

I happened to find Stumpy Nubs book about building your own workshop machines at my local library though and in it he built a table to hold his jigsaw. I thought to myself that it could be useful, and since it has a guard over the blade it should be OK so I set about making one. Most of the timber is from the dismantled scroll saw table so it’s a bit damaged but is fine for workshop use.

I originally planned to have the jigsaw go this way, giving me a longer table for rip cuts but it wouldn’t fit on my bench in use so I changed it around

I attached four short legs to it, just long enough to elevate the jigsaw clear of my workbench but not so high as to make it hard to use

I cut the slot for the jigsaw and mounted it underneath with screws through the existing guide fence holes and a piece of wood over the back to hold it. I also had to cut a section of the back rail out to allow the vent port to go through it


I added a simple adjustable arm with a wingnut and a piece of PVC to go over the blade so it wasn’t all exposed

I ended up having to change the arm configuration as it kept vibrating loose, now it has two bolts and the actual arm has longer screws in it as well as glue. I also made a fence for it so I can do rip cuts.

It’s great in use. The bar at the front is so I can clamp it to my bench, otherwise it vibrates too much. The jigsaw isn’t mounted quite straight to the fence so I need to adjust that but I’ve already used it quite a lot with good results. The blade is a t-shank style so I can easily swap them without effort but the top does lift out if needed.

While I do have a scrollsaw, the heavier jigsaw blades work much better for some jobs. The don’t deflect as much as I’d expect but I may change the guard so there’s support at the back to stop any pressure on the blade moving it.

I’m really happy with this project and it doesn’t take a lot of space either.


The new workshop takes shape

The work to turn the shed into a workshop has basically taken two phases. The first was “Build shed, dump everything in there so we can park in the garage”. I left myself room to get the mower in and out and that was about as much time as I spent in there. There was just so many other things to do around the house and yard.

The second started 18 months later when we started renovating our bathrooms. We removed two old but intact vanity units. The actual cabinet part was in decent shape so I added some extra framing around the inside and cut some MDF tops for them and added casters.

That gave me two solid, mobile workbenches with a lot of inbuilt storage which has formed the basis for getting the workshop in shape.

I managed to get them into the shed, but it still left it in a bit of a mess – that’s an understatement I know!

Once I had time, I started to sort it out. I started by hanging up my old pegboard, then my chisel cabinet and plane tills. That got some of the mess off the floor. I’m not showing you the other side of the room though as it looks just like the top picture compressed into half the space!

Every weekend I did a little bit more. I got all the old scraps of pegboard up, rebuilt my saw till to fit, and added some shelves.

Clamps occupy one whole wall on the right, and on the left is my portable bench with a chunk of MDF sitting on top being used as a sorting bench while I keep cleaning the rest of it.

There’s still a lot to be done, but at least it’s usable now and I can start doing some projects.

A second toolbox

Another project from a couple of months ago that I haven’t written about until now.

I had a lot of fun building the long toolbox from a few posts ago, it’s the first time I’d build anything since moving. I decided I could have made it slightly differently though so had another go at it.

I decided I wanted it to be shorted, and to have a drawer underneath for a couple of hand planes and some chisels.

The timber that was left was a bit more warped than the other lot but I just wanted to use whatever I had left so it ended up a bit messy looking.

Once it was puttied and sanded back it looked better but I decided that a clear finish wasn’t the best way to go given all the patching

We still had some undercoat leftover from the renovations so I gave it a couple of coats. I used a trick I read about where you put vasoline where you want it to look worn

I’d originally planned to do a full height drawer but didn’t have enough of the right timber so settled for one with about 5mm clearance at the top. I pre-drilled the nail holes and then glued it up, and drove the nails in to clamp it.

Here it is with the drawer fitted and some handles and latches added. It will need some paint but it’s good enough for now. The only problem is the weight, once loaded up it’s pretty heavy!

It got used heavily when finishing the renovations though and held up really well. Simple design, rough joinery but it does what it’s meant to do!


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…



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.



Making A Carver’s Bench Hook

As anyone who reads regularly knows, I’ve been doing some carving recently. Part of this comes from the desire to create something different and partly to use up the wood scraps laying around. My efforts have been mostly spoons and shallow bowls but the occasional other piece gets done as well. Up until now I’ve been using whatever way I could to hold them while I worked on them but when I was cleaning up the wood pile I found a scrap of 1/4 pegboard I hadn’t used. It wasn’t big enough to use in a cabinet so it was on the throw out pile until I happened to see a picture of a carver using a bench hook with a few holes drilled in it to help hold their work.

A light went on and I realised that if I cut the pegboard up and glued it into a block I’d have the base of the hook done. I figured it was a good way to use up the scrap and it would give me something useful at the same time. Total build time ended up being a bit over two hours including finishing and making pegs.

To start with I cut three pieces to the roughly the same size, glued them up and when dry I cut them to final size. I’d decided to use the back of the pegboard as it looked nicer and the textured surface could be helpful.


The next step was to cut a few pieces for the top as these stop the work moving. I’m right handed so the stops go top and left, if you were left handed you could put the left stop on the other side. I had another project being glued at the same time and it was at this point I stopped to think ‘I’m glad I have so many clamps’. I also cut and added the piece to make the hook part and attached it the same way. All of this is scrap pine leftover from other projects.


Once the glue was dry, I removed the clamps, put in a few nails just to stop them moving when in use and cleaned it all up with a scraper. I’ve got an old skarsten scraper that does a great job removing glue. I picked it up for maybe $3 ages ago and use it all the time.


The next step was to put a small chamfer on the edges. I used a block plane for what I could then finished with a chisel into the inside corner. I just happened to pick up my favourite 1″ chisel (funny that) and had to work pretty hard to get a shaving. Maybe I need to stop building jigs and spend some time sharpening!


After this was done then the whole thing gets sanded. I didn’t sand the pegboard totally smooth as I wanted to keep some of the texture for grip, but I wanted it to look nice. I know some people who think that a jig is finished when it works, but there’s not much difference in time and effort between ‘works’ and ‘works and looks good’ so I put in the extra effort.


Following on from the sanding, I gave the whole thing a coat of beeswax and buffed it to a nice shine. Then I cut some small length’s of 1/4 dowel to use as pegs and rounded the ends. Finished!!



I wanted to take some pictures of it in action to show you how it works though. Here it is holding a relief carving I’m working on. You don’t need the pegs in place for this as the frame stops the work moving. It’s really good in use, I was finding on a normal bench hook the work would slip sideways as I pushed a gouge into it but this doesn’t have the same problem. You would of course put the hook over the edge of the bench but that doesn’t make for quite as a good a photo 😉


It’s great for working on the bowl of a spoon. I normally hold the spoon and knife carve it, but the bowl normally give me trouble. Now with the pegs in place I can use a gouge to work on it without a problem. The pegs fit firmly into the holes and do a great job holding the spoon.



Lastly, it also works on really odd shaped work. This is a dolphin I’ve been working on and just by moving the pegs into position I can get it to any angle I need.



I’m really happy with the way it turned out and have already used it for a few more spoons since making it. Would I change anything about the design? Not at all. It works just the way I’d hoped. The only thing I may do is build some pegs with a piece on top that turns so I can lock a workpiece that doesn’t quite sit between pegs in place more tightly and that can be a project for another day.




A shelf for parts bins

I’ve been making a concerted effort to make my workshop as tidy as possible and to keep it that way. A huge part of that has focused on getting rid of tools and wood that I have no use for, but I’ve also been trying to add storage where possible.

I already had a shelf under the saw till, but it was too narrow for the parts bins I wanted to put there, so I edge glued another scrap to the front, rounded the corners to make it look neat and added a couple of support pieces underneath for added support.


Once the clamps came off I gave it a light sanding. It will need a coat of linseed oil to match the old part, but that can come later. I tend to build first, finish later!


Here you can see the parts bins in place. I originally had about 40 of these full of ju…tool related items, but I’ve managed to clean those out. I did need a few though for thinks that wouldn’t store nicely elsewhere like sanding blocks.

Total project cost was three bits of scrap, some glue and about 20 minutes work.



A few more tool racks

Given how happy I am with the screwdriver rack, I decided to make a few more. I still have lots of tools that could use a better home than a badly fitting pegboard hook. I have plenty of offcuts of pine and plywood in the woodshop so worked out the sizes of a few racks, cut them to size and glued them up. You’ll notice that I remembered to use masking tape to stop the glue spillage that was a problem last time.

A pile of tool racks in waiting


I wanted to make a shelf for my surform tools, which despite having been on the pile of ‘tools to sell’ a few times have managed to make their way into project after project, for my marking gauges, which are a pair of nice old Australian made ones that dey attempts to hang on any conventional hook, and for my Gimlets, which actually do get some use for starting pilot holes.

The rack for the marking gauges was actually quite interesting to make. I got to cut a mortise and use my hole saw, which I don’t often find a use for.

Surform Rack
Marking Gauges

Here you can see them on the pegboard. It’s starting to look more tidy already

Making a difference already



A New Screwdriver Rack


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.



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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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



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.



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