Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Home for the Clamps

I decided to tackle a relatively easy but rather important project to upgrade my garage workshop. While I am tight on space in the garage, my clamp storage left a great deal to be desired. I was hanging them on a 2x4 that I screwed to one of the roof rafters. It actually worked out pretty well until I built my cabinets. Once the cabinets were done, the clamps were actually in the way and I needed a better solution.

I looked up several clamp storage options, and I decided to go with the New Yankee Workshop option of having a mobile cart that's built using A-frames. I had a fair amount of plywood left over from building my outfeed table, so I used up that to build my clamp cart.

The construction details of it were pretty simple - lots of simple butt joints that are glued and screwed together. This project did provide me with justification to go and buy a pocket hole jig, and that works out great. While I am still working with learning more traditional joinery techniques, I know that the pocket holes can really save me up some time when I'm trying to build some other stuff where the joinery isn't so critical.

Assembling the cart was a little bit of a challenge since the finished cart is almost as tall as I am and my garage ceiling is a little low. I was able to get everything together without much incident, though. 

I put cleats on it to accommodate the clamps I have right now, and there's plenty of room for new clamps. I also drove a few screws into the side to hold my levels. I'm probably going to add in some center cross pieces that will help tie the center partitions together, and that will give me more hanging space. I want to find a place to hang my framing square too.

I'm thinking that with enough extra real estate and lots of room down on the bottom for more cleats, this should be able to hold all the clamps I'll be needing for any future projects. I even think there's going to be enough room somewhere for me to hang my tool belt so it doesn't have to lie on the floor.

I need to buy more clamps...
 With this, I'm pretty happy with where I'm at with my garage workshop so far. I'm going to have to do more organizing in my garage so I can gain some extra space. I foresee a run to the landfill to throw away a fair amount of stuff in the near future.

I also need to start organizing my cutoff bin. I have tons of plywood scraps...many of which I should probably just throw away since I probably won't use them for anything. I have to start thinking about upgrading my chop saw station and putting that on a mobile base with extensions. I realized I could stand to have a little more cabinet storage, so I'll have to take that into consideration when I design the piece.

I know there's a lot more work before I can say my garage workshop is truly properly equipped, but at least I know that I have enough space and good enough tools to build some decent furniture and stuff - it's just me learning the skills I need to make good woodworking projects.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

more shop things...

Now that my cabinets are basically finished, I started working on some other things for my garage workshop. The first thing I did was use up some scraps of plywood to build some storage organizers for my fasteners I use most often. I was planning on using one of the small drawers, but I realized I needed a place to put stuff like extra pencils and sandpaper and all that. I'd like to have more of an upper storage area, but that will have to wait for a little while so I can figure out how to do that.

how to use up scraps....

The next thing I started working on for the past few days is my outfeed table. When I was building my cabinets, I had a few moments when I probably could have killed myself because I was cutting wood that was too big for the saw to support. That lead to me doing some extremely creative things to keep my work supported.

I was originally going to build an outfeed table a while back, but I wanted to get on to building my cabinets first. This time I picked up a sheet of oak plywood mostly because it was the easiest piece to get at Home Depot and it seemed to be the flattest piece there. It didn't take me much time to cut the pieces I needed to size, and get everything worked out so it fit properly on my table saw.

Since I didn't feel like installing laminate on the top, I decided I'd use this as a chance to give me some practice at staining and finishing. I picked up some mahogany stain and a new can of polyurethane and got to work this afternoon.

after the first coat..
I could put on one more coat of polyurethane, but I'll save that for another day. I have a pretty busy weekend coming up, and so woodworking may have to be put on hold for a bit. I'm still going to have to make my new chop saw table and I'm still considering building a router table. I know that I can't build all that with the 2/3 sheet of plywood I have left, so I'll have to plan.

Just have to re-attach the legs and it's basically good to go.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Finally done...now on to other things...

Got the garage cabinets and worktop finished. I still have to install some T-track into the countertop to make a clamping hold-down, but I'm not in a rush with that right now. What's important is that I managed to hang doors, build drawer boxes and fronts, and I learned a LOT of valuable skills that will help me build things in the future.

 One thing I figured out really fast while doing this is that having good materials helps. Since I pretty much got all this wood from Home Depot, I'm not entirely sure of its quality, flatness, consistency, etc. I figured if I could make something good with that stuff, then anything I build in the future will only come out better as I take the time and spend the money for better stock.

I also learned a lot of valuable lessons about measuring and procedures. I'm sure that some of the problems would have been fixed if I had been smart about what I was doing in the first place, but considering I have zero prior woodworking experience, this project helped me learn a lot about how to set up my table saw, cut samples, make accurate rips and crosscuts, etc. All of these make for valuable skills when it comes time for me to build something that really counts.

I also learned that taking a 2 month break between making initial cuts on this and finishing it probably was a bad idea. That gave my first set of cabinet panels and stuff time to warp and cup and all that. Everything else was basically purchased and cut within a day or two after that.

These cabinets definitely aren't perfect. All the reveals aren't perfect and there are errors here and there that I know will remind me about the importance of doing stuff right. I learned a lot about how to measure for doors and drawer fronts. I know that any set of cabinets I make in the future will definitely turn out better because I know better about what I'm doing. Many of the things that I read about in my books that seemed utterly confusing are now extremely clear. Nothing like some learning by screwing up.

Overall, I'm happy with them, though. My tools have a home, I have a workbench that's functional and usable for my future projects, and I got to put my table saw through its paces to see how it would do. I'm definitely happy with it, and know I'll get good use out of it in the future.

The end is in sight

I'm one more day away from finishing my garage cabinets. I made a really stupid mistake the day before and cut panels for my right side drawer fronts without double-checking my measurements. Turns out the measurements I wrote down were the inside measurements of the opening, and I didn't add in the amount for the tongue that fits into the groove for the frame. So, now I have a couple of pieces that I'll have to re-cut and make something else out of. I do need some small upper storage for things like pencils, glue, and all that..so I'm not throwing those pieces away.

Added on the pulls for the drawers.
I got some drawer pulls and a straight cutting router bit from Lowe's this afternoon, and then got to work putting on the pulls. Had to drill some counter-bores in the drawer front to accommodate the fact that the front and the false front were wider than the length of the screw, but it was an easy fix.

I did the glue-up for the right side drawer fronts, and when I was checking the fit, I found out I must have either measured something wrong, or accounted for a space that wasn't there, so the drawer fronts finish out about 1/8" short compared to the doors. I figured it must have been a measuring mistake. I'll leave it how it is, and remember to measure out the doors and stuff better next time. This bench is supposed to be functional, so I can live with a small space at the bottom. If and when I decide to make a new bench, I'll fix it then.

Almost done..

Monday, April 2, 2012

Making progress

My garage cabinets are starting to really take shape now. I got another sheet of plywood the other day and started working on the small drawers and doors for the left side cabinet. I got to cutting the drawer sides yesterday and that was a pretty quick and easy process. It's amazing how much easier it was to do this time since I built the other drawers before. I tried to get to sizing bottom panels last night, but it got too late. I got to building them today.

Small Drawers done.
The small drawers went together much easier now that I understand a few things about my dado set and the procedures for putting the drawers together. First thing I should have realized is that my dado set is built undersized for modern plywood. That really helped, and it was basically set it and forget it from there.

The second thing I learned about installing drawers today is that cam adjusting slides are a godsend. I wasn't perfect with installing the drawer members of the slides, so the boxes weren't perfect in the drawer opening -- with the cam adjust, that was fixed in a matter of seconds. I can only imagine the frustration I'd be going through if I had to do it with the slotted holes in the drawer slides and all that.

I still need to make drawer fronts and doors. I got the doors built today since I had some time and I had to wait for the glue on the drawers to set up. I had cut the rails and stiles the other day and had them all milled up and ready for panels. I made those from the plywood I bought the other day since I have about a half sheet left.

clamped up and set aside to "cook"
These flat panel doors aren't quite the design my mom wants for her new kitchen, but I figured I should practice the design elements of making frame and panel doors. They're lighter than a slab door, and I'm sure that they're just as strong. I'd like to make frame and panel doors with a cope and stick profile, but since I don't have a router table yet, that will have to wait. After these cabinets are done, I'm going to work on cleaning up the garage more and I'm going to redo my chop saw table to make it fit my workbench. That way I can use the bench top as an extension for my chop saw.

Even though my drawers and stuff aren't technically done, that doesn't mean that I can't use them already. One of my small drawers was going to be fastener storage, and all my screws and brads fit perfectly in there. The other one was going to be for driver, bit, and other miscellaneous storage. I think it'll work out very well for now. I'm thinking I'll need to re-purpose some things to make it all work just right if I start collecting router bits, but one of my big drawers on the right side is basically unused right now, so there's still some configuring I can do.
all the screws fit...
this is going to need some more work.