Friday, April 4, 2014

Assembly Bench

Ah, we are coming close to the end of our new shop tour…probably just one more installment after this one. 
Assembly Bench

The Assembly Bench counter top was recycled from the old shop.  It was one of the first items that had to be removed to begin the process.  It used to be right where the wood rack is now.  

I have had quite a number of things (e.g., a sander, a grinder, a previous small band saw, etc.) bolted down to it over the years so when I pulled it out it looked sort of like a piece of Swiss cheese.   However, the tightwad in me could not see throwing out a perfectly good looking top…well…"good looking" if you ignored all the holes. :-)    I discovered that if I tapped short lengths (of the proper sized dowel rod smeared with wood glue) into each hole and immediately wiped off the excess glue with a wet rag that I could quickly and easily remove its “Swiss-cheesiness” and restore it to reusable status.  I would never try that on a Kitchen counter top, but here it works!

The supports are the ones that originally supported it, just relocated.  I have been using this sort of cantilever bench supports for years in several different houses.  They have the distinct advantage that they have no front leg to bump your shin into or to have to sweep behind. The support is made from 3 pieces of 2x4 (1 vertical member that is flat against the wall, 1 horizontal member to support the top and a diagonal member to complete the triangle.  I used ¼” bolts to hold them together.  Their original position allowed for (or perhaps , that is “required”) the use of toggle to hold them in place.  In the new arrangement they are hung on the (2-sided) wall using long bolts with big fender washers on the opposite side – 2 bolts per support: one near the top and one near the bottom.  For maximum strength the bolts go directly through the 2x4 studs.  (That accounts for their rather random spacing.)

Once the top was in place, I added a new bit of pegboard to provide more tool storage.   I have a lot of tools in place and more to go up.  I have to decide which locations and mounting/display method work best for each tool.  A lot of people, perhaps even most people, like tool boxes.   Personally, I  have nothing anything against toolboxes…in fact, I have several… but really I prefer to have my tools out and close at hand.  Aside from the convenience, I think they make a nice “decorative” statement.

I moved, cleaned and remounted a 4ft fluorescent light fixture over the bench.  Mounting wasn’t easy because of all of the furnace pipes that run through the ceiling right there where they are most in the way.  I ended up having to mount it to a 2x2 frame that I hung from the ceiling joists way beyond the ends of the fixture.  But, the improved lighting was well worth the effort.

I added a few little finishing touches for convenience:
1.  a paper towel holder
2.  an ex-“Crisper drawer” that I swiped from the old refrigerator that we recently decommissioned .
3.  two small shelves to hold finishing supplies

One other little nicety I added is a foot rest.  The top is at the normal 36”counter height.  I have a couple of tall stools that work but they lack a foot rest that is the right height for me when I sit to work.  I used a couple of chucks of 2x4 with a ¾” hole drilled for a piece of steel pipe that I uncovered during construction.  I am amazed how much stuff I found just laying around that I could use for this shop reconstruction project :-)

If you look carefully at the right hand end of the top you will find evidence that my clamp rack isn’t done yet :-)

One more installment to go, then we're completely back in business!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Trash Can for the Lathe

I had intended to go out yesterday and purchase the trash can to go underneath the lathe (as discussed in my previous post) only to discover that the local “big box home improvement store” had absolutely nothing that would either fit or work.  

They were either so honkin' big that won’t even fit in the space provided and would taken years to fill...


They were so tiny that stuff falling from the lathe stood little chance of actually making it into the can without my added some sort of a chute….hmmm…time for a rethink...I think!

Then I saw the 5 gallon can that I had used under the lathe in the shop’s previous incarnation and decided that maybe that using it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  It was big enough, but not too big, and was now it was surplus.  I just had to figure how to mount it.  Looks like "Cheap and Available" wins again!

After a little head scratching I came up with the idea of fastening a couple curved wooden "Ears" under the bench top to catch the (rather narrow) lip of the can and a bungee cord to lock the can in place.  The bungee would hold the can vertically against the bottom of the bench top and pull it forward to lock it into the wooden "Ears".

Rather than going into a complicated (and probably unnecessary) explanation, I’m just going to show pictures and let you roll your own…assuming that you like/need/want-to-use the idea.
Wooden Hook to Snag the Bungee Cord
Can Mounting "Ears" and Bungee Mounted w/ Screw Eyes
Can all "Locked and Ready-to-be Loaded"
Uptight and (nearly) Outa Sight
As you can see, I've gone to great extremes to avoid showing any trademarks of any particular source of 5 gallon cans.  I don't want any law suits:-)  I'm sure that any 5 gallon can from any source would work equally well.  It doesn't have to be Orange:-)

Stay tuned...there's more to come...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More Workshop Details

The Lathe Bench

I guess I have pretty much beaten the “Dust Collector Horse” to death, I’ll move on to other topics now.  

Another significant problem with the old shop was that all of my tool, equipment and wood storage was on “open shelves” (Definition: unenclosed areas exposed to the air where dust and miscellaneous crud continuously accumulate over time resulting a generally unappealingly cluttered mess!).  I vowed that when I finally got around to changing things I was going to incorporate some sort of internal storage (i.e. lots of drawers and cabinets).

My main trigger for getting started with the rebuilding process when I did was my discovery that the local “big box home products store” was on the 6th day of a weeklong 20% OFF sale on all kitchen cabinets.  I rushed over and quickly picked out a set of 4 identical under-counter cabinets, each with a drawer and a door, and an off-the-shelf countertop.  Of course, since you can’t exactly toss 4 cabinets and countertop in the trunk of a sub-compact car, so I ended up spending the entire 20% savings on the delivery charges (I think they might have planned it that way :-o ) A couple of days later they arrived at my garage door, so work shop construction could begin in earnest.

Lathe Bench

After removing the existing bench -- leaving the existing pegboard in place -- I installed the four cabinets and the countertop.  You will notice from photo #1 that I positioned a 10 foot countertop over only 8 feet of cabinet leaving a curious 2 foot gap in the middle.  No, that wasn’t a measurement error.  That was actually planned.

Using my router and a crude circle guide, I cut a 12” diameter circle directly under where the “business end” of the lathe would be located.  Hopefully most of the big chunks generated during wood turning will now fall (or be easily swept through) the hole into a (not yet purchased) trash can that will sit right in the middle of the 2 foot gap – I told you it was planned. :-) I had a similar arrangement in the old shop but it was such an afterthought that I couldn't position it where i really should have been.  Again, it worked...just not as well as it could have.
I then installed -- from left to right -- the bench grinder (to ensure that the lathe tools are as sharp as I know how to make them), the lathe and the belt/disk sander.  I added a nice arm light left over from my desk at work so now I can actually see what I am sanding (Big Improvement!). 

High on the wall, a re-purposed bathroom light fixture is positioned to throw more light onto the work piece in the lathe.  Below that are lathe tools right is easy reach.

I now have lots of drawer and cabinet space.  For now, I just have stuff kinda tossed in there.  I’ll address what goes where as soon as all of the other issues have been resolved.  I’m thinking that I may make double-decker sliding trays in the drawers to maximize the storage space.  

I am less sure as yet what I will do with the cabinets.  Out of the box, they come with a full bottom plate and sort of a "half shelf"...not all that useful.  What I’d like to do is make sliding pullout panels behind at least some of the doors so that I can take better advantage of their significant storage volume.

The Drill Press Bench
Drill Press Bench

The drill press bench is one of the few original pieces that, so far, has been kept pretty much as it was…just relocated. The drill press itself was located in almost the same physical point in space, just on another bench, now gone.  My intent here is to keep all of the drilling paraphernalia on or near this bench – it wasn’t before.  I did add a second shelf underneath for storing the drill press vise and similar tools.

I built a Battery-powered hand drill charging station that mounts on the wall above and to the right of the bench.  There is nothing terribly noteworthy about the design.   I threw this one together in an hour or so.  Sites like YouTube and Lumber Jocks have had dozens of similar combined storage/charging stations.   If you need one, you should choose the design that best suits your drills, chargers, space and “aesthetic requirements”.

Two little niceties that I did include were:
     1)  An internal electrical box with a standard 3 wire cord and plug to minimize the wire clutter coming from the two chargers. 

     2)  A little block on the right side to store my “Screw holding bit” (I really don’t know what the right name is for that little gizmo).  I was always losing it.  Now, at least it has a place to sit while it waits for me to need it :-)

Next time I will address the assembly bench.  I used a rather (I think) clever cantilever scheme that saves floor space and simplifies sweeping the floor.

‘Til next time…Keep Makin’ Chips!