Blog hiatus is over

22 Feb

It’s been a busy while since I last posted. But a lot has happened and I’m going to post about my woodworking progress (and process) again.

If you’re just tuning in: I started woodworking not long ago. I took a 14 month course and graduated almost exactly a year ago today. This blog follows me as I begin my career in woodworking. My ultimate goal is to become a self employed woodworker.

A brief recap of my woodworking career over the last year:

  • I had an apprenticeship last winter that lasted 6 weeks. I enjoyed learning in an environment that had completely different methods of operation than I’d experienced at woodworking school.
  • I lined up a woodworking job about a week after my apprenticeship and worked for a studio that specialized in high end corporate gifts such as vases, bracelets and desktop organizers. I stayed on for six months.
  • I then lined up a new job to diversify my experience and skill sets and worked in the aerospace industry building cabinetry for private jets.
  • Now I’m looking for a new job again and also spending time in my own shop making furniture

A brief recap of my personal shop activities over the last year procuring a space, furnishing it with tools and working wood! :

Winter 2011

  • I made arrangements with my family to use a 16’x8′ outbuilding on my family’s property. It’s heated, and wired for 110.
  • I took inventory of the tools I had available to me through family connections. Mainly hand tools, a few portable power tools, a drill press, and a bandsaw.
  • I also  planned which tools I might need to purchase next and which ones would run on 110.
  • July was the month that I took possession of the outbuilding on my family’s property
  • A LOT of time was dedicated to cleaning out and preparing my new shop space
  • I put up peg board, fashioned a work bench out of an old collapsible table and some fence 4x4s, and dismantled some giant shelves that took up too much floor space.
  • My first major purchase was a table saw-  a 1.75hp professional cabinet SawStop saw. It was a demo model so I got $1000 off the ticket price. I paid for it in installments and had it delivered by mid summer.

If the blade touches skin a brake is activated and the blade drops down under the table.

  • I soon realized that my shop space was very humid and so I picked up a dehumidifier for $50 at a flea market, and some wax for my cast iron surfaces, and finally a magnetic cover for my table saw
  • I also needed a dust collection system so I found a small portable model for $100 second hand. I sold the hose and fittings that came with it for $40 and bought a rockler extendable dustright hose and attachments to easily hook up to any machine. I didn’t have the space to run hoses along the walls and or ceiling.
  • Late summer and early autumn saw me painting the shop floor and re-roofing the shop to seal out the moisture of the impending winter.
  • Autumn was when I made some serious plans to start my shop up. In my mind it came down to not having all the necessary equipment for that to happen. I made a series of purchases. A cheap drill $50 brand new. A second hand 6″ jointer for $125. A brand new lunch box planer with helical cutters $890. I also got a cheaply made but fully equipped router table from a local home improvement center for $120.
  • With birthday money I bought a bench vise which was an adventure to install, and a kit of 4 bessey parallel clamps. $200 for everything.
  • Leading up to Christmas I finally had (in my opinion) amassed enough equipment to tackle a project that would effectively christen my shop. I decided on building a set of toy trucks for my nephew. I didn’t have a drop of glue so bought my first 4liter bottle. The gift went over well!
Winter 2012
  • While building my first project I saw many areas that needed improving around the shop for my work to be accurate, predictable and repeatable. I adjusted my table saw fence correctly (second time’s a charm). I built a collapsible infeed table  and a crosscut sled for my table saw. I built a fence for my bandsaw, and I built a rolling base for my planer. I also got a set of drum  sander bits for the drill press, a quick change drill/counter sink and driver kit,  and hallelujah I finally bought sandpaper. I’m finally free to throw out sandpaper AS SOON as it doesn’t cut efficiently.
  • I replaced an old mitre saw that didn’t have a guard with a basic dewalt mitre saw and it’s 10 times better, the fence, the guard, and the cut quality. I bought it used for $100 and it came with an 80 tooth fine crosscut freud blade. I also caved into a sale and bought new porter cable drill for $50 because the drill I had needed 24HOURS to charge! Check the fine print when buying!
  • Now I’m out in the shop building a series of tables, I’ve just started but I’ve already made a jig and my table tops are done.
  • I’m making the tables out of wood I pulled out of the scrap bin at school (a year ago!) so I’m trying to use what I have on hand. In so doing I’ve paired each top with possible blanks for legs and stretchers and popped the measurements of the pieces I have into Google Sketch up. Spent some time on the designs and now I’m ready to go back to the shop to build them!

I’ll be posting regularly again, and I’ll be posting about any and everything that comes up. The journey continues! I promise a shop tour soon!


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