Shop furniture and fixtures… my life can be easier!

27 Feb

I recently needed some shop fixtures for the shop. Here is the result. I decided to NOT re-invent the wheel and just peruse the internet for possible plans that would work for each.

I have… a plan

It’s easy to get sucked into fancy looking plans but I focused on finding plans that would be straight forward to build and most importantly be simple to use, while not skimping on adjust-ability. I found an awesomely simple design for a bandsaw fence. And this fence accounts for the drift of the bandsaw blade. Here is a link to the fence on the Wood Magazine website. There’s a wonderfully clear PDF file of the bandsaw fence plan that you can download when you follow the link. I found that I had almost all the materials on hand, some scrap wood, a handle, some aluminum, a lock nut and some bolts. I bought a length of threaded rod for about $4 and by the end of an afternoon had a completed bandsaw fence!

Loosen and tighten the bolts in the fence face to account for drift.

It's a one handed operation to slide it over and lock it down, or remove it altogether. Couldn't be happier.

Onto plan b…

For my crosscut sled I also followed plans from the internet. First I tried following the Wood Whisperer’s video on building a crosscut sled… and darn it if the wood I milled as my fence didn’t bow to heck. I kept getting a false positive on squareness. I lack a proper straight edge at this point and sighting down the board isn’t always super reliable.  In the end I used another board as a fence and another method- since I’d already cut into my sled. I went with a method that requires TWO thicknesses of fence closest to the operator, and only one runner underneath the sled. Click here to see the easy to follow steps on the Fine Woodworking website. I will add that I still had a hard time getting a square cut after setting my fence exactly square to the kerf I’d cut into my sled. The solution was to square my fence to the saw blade itself instead. I’m still boggled by the discrepancy. I suspect my table is not square to my saw blade.

I also added some safety features that I’d seen on other crosscut sleds. Thumb blocks to dummy proof the placement of my hands and a plexiglass guard above the blade.

The final product, complete with safety features. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has had a hard time building one of these!

Ah, who needs a plan…

Another shop fixture I made was something I’d used in the shop where I’d apprenticed. It made life easier and I couldn’t imagine going without an infeed table for the table saw. It’s simply a piece of melamine with a wood strip secured to the underside that fits into the track of your table saw fence, and some legs attached with hardware that lets them fold for storing the table out of the way.

This collapsible infeed table prevents a "balancing act" from happening with long boards or large sheets of plywood etc.

I can also use the infeed table to support my crosscut sled fully, well before I reach the blade.

A few other minor details…

In an effort to avoid a strained back, I decided to make a rolling base for my lunchbox planer. In theory I would roll it out into the small passage I have in the shop and feed stock through, low to the ground, while sitting on a short stool. I wanted to keep the base low so that I could store my planer in such a way that I wouldn’t have to roll it out of the way of the outfeed of my jointer all the time. I tacked some small bits of wood onto the base to prevent the planer from sliding around.

Sturdy and low profile, creating clearance for working at the neighbouring jointer.

In theory it would roll two feet out and i'd feed pieces through.

In reality, my back is feeling better… so I just heft it up on the bench. It’s much easier to read the thickness settings and feed stock. In any event, the base keeps my planer mobile while in storage mode, and well up off the floor which often collects water after rain or winter melt.

I made a quick and dirty job of closing in the base of my router table with scrap masonite and particle board. This way the chips are contained and well away from my baseboard heater.

And finally I made several zero clearance throat plates for my miter saw.

I can attest that it is well worth the time, effort and scrap materials to build any such fixtures for a woodworking shop. I’ve improved safety, accuracy and saved on time. For the time being my most immediate needs are met so I’m content, but I know there will be many more jigs and fixtures to come… storing them all is another matter.

Stay tuned for more shop talk. I’m going to share a brief bit on what I’ve learnt while changing bandsaw blades.

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