Shop Transformation Part 2

So contrary to popular opinion, I have not vanished, and I am still working in the shop. It has been a slower process than hoped, but things are moving along, and I am pleased with how things are working out so far. When last we left, I had finished painting the new dricore floor, but I have not yet moved anything back in place, or had the electrical connections made. Happily things are now functional and I have been able to make sawdust once again.

So to begin, I would like to say that the new floor has worked out well. It is certainly nicer to stand on the dricore, rather than the cement floor. The paint has been a bonus as well as the sawdust sweeps much better now than it did when it was still bare wood. I also found that I like the floor being a darker color, so the grey has worked out too. As a side bonus, I can also now see where the sawdust is on the floor, so I can sweep it up.

The SawStop is now in place – and the electricians have hooked it up to power. I have finally been able to turn it on and cut something with it. After all the lusting and waiting, it is honestly amazing. So smooth, stable, and square. It really is wonderful to work on, and such a huge leap to the good over my old saw. Which I must say, served me well for so long. I wish I could say that I had a special piece of wood all picked out for the ceremonial first cut, but I didn’t. Basically I just ran some spruce 2x3s, ripping ever thinner slices off the side and marveling at how clean the cuts were – even with the included SawStop blade.

On a lark, I did grab a small piece of plywood. Nothing fancy like baltic birch, just a small scrap. I tilted the blade to 60 degrees, made some cuts, fiddled with the size until it lined up, and then ran some strips. I took three of them and glued them up on the freshly cut edges to make a small hexagon. I wrapped them in rubber bands and set them aside to dry. The next day, I removed the rubber bands, and just using the miter guage, I cut them down in to hexagon shaped slices, at which point I broke out one of the jigs from the patterned plywood tea boxes, and glued the hexagons together. I did not have any particular project in mind, just that I wanted to try making a pattern with hexagon plywood. The end result was a somewhat rectangular like shape that looked kinda cool. I thought about making a small box, with that as the top, but had no cross cut jig, no jig for cutting a clean 45 degree angle, or anything else really. I simply put it in a drawer to revisit later. You can see the results in the project section of the website.

I made a hexagon

Having no outfeed table anymore – the old one was the wrong height, and the miter slots no longer lined up – I decided to have a quick go at making some frames out of sapele, for the kumiko project that I had made. This was a quirky build as the frames needed to be viewed from both sides – different than a normal picture frame that has a back side where you insert the picture. This one had to be assembled around the kumiko, since there was no way to insert it after glue up. To complicate things, I wanted the overlap of the frame on the edge of the kumiko to be ever so small so as to visually keep it looking the same dimensions as the rest of the kumiko elements. That meant a recess (a dado) of about 1/16th of an inch. SawStop to the rescue. I was able to get the depth I needed and keep the cuts straight so that the tiny edge that holds it in on both sides, would stay nice and even.

I cut a small piece of 1×8 sapele on the miter saw, and then ripped the strips I needed on the tablesaw. Then I added the groove on one side of each to later insert the kumiko. Last was the miters for the four corners. Since I had not yet made any jigs for the saw, I decided to try using the miter gauge. I added a back board, and attempted to set the angle with a speed square. They I made some cuts and they seemed OK. I cut all my parts and then tried to dry fit them around the kumiko. No dice. The joints were not acceptable. The gaps were too big – especially considering the frame was to show off my kumiko, which is all about clean joints. I decided to set everything aside and come back to it when I had a proper jig for it.

These miter corners simply did not work

My attention soon turned to the outfeed table. Should I modify what I had made for the previous saw, or should I make a new one. In the end, I decided to make a new one so that I could relocate the drawers. On the earlier outfeed table, we’ll call it Outfeed 1.0, the drawers were on the short end of the rectangular shape of the table. This worked out well, but when I was moving the SawStop around (the ICS mobile base is amazing and worth the extra cost over the PCS mobile base), and trying to position the dust collector and where the power was, the ideal spot for the outfeed table was simply closer to one of the Lally columns that holds up my house. Since I can’t move that, moving the drawers was the better option. It would actually be possible, based on how I made Outfeed 1.0, to simply remove the whole carcass that holds the drawers, and then make a new one with the drawers oriented the other way – but that is a fair amount of work. So I decided to repurpose Outfeed 1.0 as Assembly Table 1.0 – more on that later, and build Outfeed 2.0 with some upgrades.

This also gave me an excuse to buy a bunch of 2x4s and make a bunch of sawdust. Given that I really only needed a handful of them, I splurged on the good ones. Nice and straight, very few knots. Then I cut them down to the rough lengths on the miter saw to make them more manageable on the tablesaw (with no outfeed table). Now I could move to the tablesaw and rip off the rounded corners that 2x4s have. This squared them up, and gave me a consistent width for all my boards. I assembled the frame using half lap joints, glue and GRK all purpose screws. These worked great, in tandem with a countersink bit, and before you know it, I had a sturdy base. One twist this time is that I did not mount casters directly to the bottom like on Outfeed 1.0. In this case, I bought heavy duty levelling feet from Woodcraft. This allows the whole unit to rest directly on the floor – but it gives me more than an inch of travel to adjust to my floor – which is anything but level. Avid readers will now question my decision, since nearly everything in the shop is on wheels – but there is a plan. I also picked up a set of heavy duty casters from Rockler – but I hate how they stick out. That’s why I didn’t use them last time – but there is a twist. I found that Rockler also had mounting plates (an extra item to order) that allows you to quickly install or remove the casters. I keep them in a drawer (in Outfeed 2.0) and only when I need to move the table, do I attach them and roll it around. It works, and it has the benefit of future tables could simply have just the mounting plates, and one set of casters could be moved from table to table when they need to be moved. Mine is quite heavy so there is a bit of effort needed (standing on the levers) to raise it up, but once raised, it works fine and wheels around smoothly.

Outfeed 2.0 has 8 drawers, like 1.0, but they are in two columns of four, all side by side. I build the drawers the same as on Outfeed 1.0 and the Bandsaw mobile base, so I won’t detail that here – though there is one key change. On the previous two builds I mentioned, I tried to make the drawer pulls different on each unit. Still using just the right amount of unnecessary walnut, but different styles. Outfeed 1.0 has pulls that work great, but the fill up with sawdust due to the angle on their tops. Those on the bandsaw table are too thin feeling for this, so on to a new design. They are similar to Outfeed 1.0 but here they have tops that slope away from the drawer, so there is nowhere for sawdust to accumulate. It took a few tries to get the cut sequence to work – to get the end shape I wanted, but in a way that allowed me to feel comfortable with how each pass through the saw blade would be held down. I am pleased with how they came out, but someday, I would like to build a router table, to open the door to some new approaches – and curves.

The last big change to this table is the top. The previous table had a layer of plywood, with a 3/4′ MDF top surface. I chamfered the edges, but otherwise left the top as simply the MDF surface. This time I decided to get all fancy and ordered a piece of flat black laminate from the big box store. This time i glued up two layers of 3/4″ MDF to give it some weight, and then applied the black laminate. The finish it off, I wrapped the sides with wood edge banding that I finished with Minwax water based Polycrylic. I put on a few coats, lightly sanding between them, and it has worked out sell so far. I am quite pleased with the top, though this particular laminate does scratch easily. Don’t really care for a shop table, but if I put this in a kitchen, I would really be disappointed with it. For my needs, it works great. I also managed to cut and size it in such a way that I have enough left to create a similar top for Outfeed 1.0 down the road. That will make cleaning up glue squeeze out that much easier.

After making the black top, I decided to paint the lally columns black as well. I made some wooden bases to cover the gaps in the dricore floor at the base of the columns. The metal bases, and the cement were all proud of the surrounding floor, making it impossible to get the dricore right up to the columns, so I squared them off, based on the size of the raised cement, and then covered them up with a raised wooden base. I painted them black too. It makes them more visible so I don’t trip on them, it keeps the sawdust out of the openings in the floor, and it keeps anything on wheels from getting stuck. I can’t imagine trying to lift a corner of the SawStop out of their, if one of the wheels slipped in there while moving it. This way, that is no longer a concern.

The dust collector has found a home adjacent to the tablesaw. So far that seems to be working out, and it keeps the hose runs pretty short. I have been pleased with the performance so far and I am slowly filling up the dust bucket. Emptying it out for the first time is probably coming soon. The unit is noisy, as I expected, but since I always wear ear muffs in the shop, I really don’t mind it. Since I work alone, I never really have a reason to take them off to have a conversation, so it makes it easy to simply leave them on. The only surprise with regards to the noise, is how loud the automated “beater bar” is. Every pre determined period of time while it is running, their is a secondary motor on the unit that spins a beater bar to knock dust loose from the filter. It runs automatically. While it is in operation, you don’t notice it so much, but it usually runs after you turn it off as well – and its pretty loud then. Jarring, actually. That took some getting used to before I stopped getting surprised by it each time it ran. I don’t notice it as much now, but if anyone else is around for some reason, it is startling when it kicks on.

Thanks for reading along. Be sure to check out my most recent projects. The kumiko mentioned above, and the box I made using hexagons for a top. They are in the projects section.

One thought on “Shop Transformation Part 2

  1. I’ll post comment here. You continue to amaze me, over and over. Your writing makes even me understand what you’re doing, mostly anyway. Love, mom

    Sent from my iPhone



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