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Notes From the Workshop: 20110206

Pencil Box Finish

I haven't been able to spend any serious time in my shop since last weekend, so decided to finish the maple pencil box with some tung oil. After gluing it together, I hit it with some 100 grit sand paper to even out the joints. After the glue dried, I applied some tung oil with a clean cloth, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wiped the excess off. I have to say that there wasn't much of a color change after that first coat. Read more »

Tools: air compressor, router

Tags: Bosch, notes, Pencil Box, Sanborn

Materials: tung oil

Notes from the Workshop: 20110123

It's -8ºF outside and 50ºF in the shop right now. I've opened the door and vents in the shop, so while I am waiting for the furnace to to do it's job, I figured I'd bang out a post.

Table Saw Inserts

As you may have seen on Toolmonger, I bought a Freud Dado blade set with the gift cards I received for Christmas. In order to the blade safely, I needed to make some more zero clearance throat plates. Read more »

Tools: Forstner, laminate trimming bit, router, table saw

Tags: notes, Toolmonger

Materials: carpet tape, Goo Gone

Notes from the Workshop: 20110112

Fixing the Miter Slot on my Router Table

My router table originally came with a crappy little miter gauge that rode in a shallow miter slot.  I wanted to be able to use a decent miter gauge with the table, but that meant deepening the miter slot. Read more »

Tools: router, router table

Tags: miter gauge, miter slot, notes

Notes from the Workshop: 20110107

Wow, it's been a week since I've posted anything.  Christmas really disrupts the old household -- I think I spent over two hours pulling toys out of packages and trying to sort out the garbage from the recycling, which delayed other household chores, which seriously cut into my shop time.  Aside from that carnage, I wasn't feeling well again this last week.

Fixing My Drill Press Table

I had previously mentioned in my post Drilling Straight is Hard to Do that the insert on my drill press table wasn't sitting flush and one reason might be a slight gap between the two pieces of MDF that make up the table surface.  To close the gap, I drilled eight drilled pilot holes and counter bores for the 1-1/4" pan-head cabinet screws around the perimeter of the insert opening. Read more »

Tools: drill press, micro-mill, vise

Tags: notes

Notes from the Workshop: 20101227

Bent Hook Blues

I noticed one day my favorite tape measure seemed to be off.  After double checking the measurement with another tape and confirming my suspicions, I noticed that the hook was bent.  At some point I must have dropped it on the floor; I can't think of any other way I could have bent it.  I tried to bend the hook back straight, but it is difficult when hook is still riveted to the tape. Read more »

Tools: clamps, table saw, tape measure

Tags: dado, notes, rabbet

Materials: glue

Notes from the Workshop: Dumb-Ass Edition

Maybe the cold has frozen my brain or the stress of the Holidays has made me crack, but I've done some dumb things in the shop this week.


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I found some mold under a piece of plywood on the shop floor.  What I didn't mention was that I also threw away a drawer that had been sitting on the floor.  It too had developed some mold on the exposed chipboard bottom.  After I a while, I dug it out of the trash because I had thought of a use for it.  So I cleaned it up and hit it with some Concrobium to take care of the mold.  Evidently, Concrobium doesn't work so well on porous surfaces.

A few days latter I went back into my shop and noticed the mold smell again.  I had left the drawer sitting on my workbench for several days, probably still slightly damp.  When I picked it up, I discovered mold had transferred itself to the top of my bench, Ugh!  Well the old bench needed a little resurfacing, so I grabbed my jack plane and hit the bench top with a few passes then went back over it with some sandpaper.  I made sure that I vacuumed up the shavings and the sawdust, lest the mold find somewhere else to grow.  I threw out the stupid drawer.

Flying Debris

Read more »

Tools: jig saw, router table, safety glasses

Tags: notes, toys, wooden train

Notes from the Workshop: 20101207

I've found that blogging about my time in the workshop helps keep me focused on a project.  Documenting the process as you go slows you down, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Slowing down makes you think more about each step, working it through in your head and figuring out how you're going to explain it.  Also years down the road when you wonder how you did something, you can come back to the blog.

It's still hard to stay with a project to the very end.  Often once you've figured out how to do something, it loses it's challenge and becomes busy work -- especially the sanding and finishing stage. Trying new techniques and products during this stage helps, but it's still no substitute for discipline.  I still find myself starting new projects before I finish the ones I'm working on.

Talking about new projects:

Domino Setter

I've been playing dominoes with my daughter lately, because they are using them in school to teach adding.  Although how my daughter's Dora Dominoes which only have pictures help in this respect is beyond me.  It's still a good game to learn because you need to plan ahead.  Once we get bored with the game, we like to set up the dominoes and knock them down, which is where my son starts getting interested in what we're doing.  Both my son and my daughter have a hard time setting up more than a few dominoes in a row before they accidentally knock them down, so I'm always the one setting them up.  I thought there had to be a quicker way. Read more »

Tools: table saw

Tags: dado, domino, notes, Rockler, toys

Materials: bloodwood, cumaru, red oak

Notes from the Workshop: 20101124

It's been a hectic week, with Thanksgiving coming and all, but I was able to sneak into the shop for a few hours Yesterday.

Sanding Hook

While sanding the mahogany blocks, I was holding the sandpaper in place with one hand while rubbing the block against the sand paper with the other hand.  I figured there had to be a better way.  So I built what I'm calling a sanding hook.   I can't believe that I'm the first to come up with this idea, but I haven't run into anything like it so far in my searches across the internet.  So I've been busy the last two days putting together an Instructable on how to build one.  I'll post a link here when I finish it. Read more »

Tools: sanding block

Tags: notes, photography, sanding

Materials: bloodwood

Notes from the Workshop: 20101116

Another two hours of work this morning and I've got all the mahogany blocks sanded to 220 grit.  I haven't even started on the bloodwood tracks yet!  

Sanding Station

To try and reduce the amount of dust I breathed and spread around my shop, I worked in front of one of my box fans pulling air through a furnace filter.  You wonder if this setup is effective?  Just look at the difference between the clean corners and the dust filled middle.

I'm kicking myself for not picking up that small Harbor Freight downdraft table when it was on clearance.  Now I'm seriously thinking about building one for a project.  It's just that when you're not sanding, you forget about how bad the dust gets until you have to sand another project. Read more »

Tags: 3M, filter, Norton, notes, sanding, Toolmonger

Materials: mahogany, sandpaper

Notes From the Workshop: 20101114

It's been a little too long since I've posted something. I'd like to blame it on the cold I'm finally kicking, but I've been fighting another sinister foe:


I didn't have enough energy to actually work on a project this week, so I figured I'd pick up the shop a bit.  It's been a little while since I last went on a cleaning binge and the shop was due.  I had let a lot of old material accumulate around the edges of the shop and it seemed that the walls were closing in on me.

Picking up a scrap of plywood off the floor I noticed a musty smell.  Of course there was a nice little mold colony growing underneath the plywood.  I've had problems with mold before, my shop is in the basement after all, but I hadn't had any flooding in my shop since I fixed the crack in my Wizard of Oz style portal doors.  No, I think this time it was just due to the ton of rain we've had this past year, which brought the water table almost up to floor level.  That and the damn humidity...

I decided that I'd scrub the shop floor with some bleach and let that sit over night with the air cleaner fans and dehumidifier running.  The next day I hit the floor with some Concrobium and let that sit another day.  It's the first time I've used the product, so we'll see how well it works.

Blocks and Marbles Read more »

Tags: cleaning, finishing, mold, notes, sanding

Materials: tung oil