Tag Archives: woodworking blog

Reclaimed wood… in the works

14 Mar

The project(s) I have in the works…

Since I’m just starting out in woodworking, I need to experiment in the shop and see what I’d like to specialize in. I assume it’ll be making furniture, but I don’t know for sure. There are so many different woodworking specialties, I hope to find a niche someday.

I scavenged lots of wood from the scrap bins at school so thought this would be a good experiment, three tables made of reclaimed wood.


I started with the tops which are made up of long thin strips.

I needed to run most of the strips through my planer to make certain I had glue ready surfaces.

Then I laid out the strips in orders that I found appealing and clamped them to get a look.

Once I'd glued up the laminations I found I'd let the glue set too long before attempting to scrape it off.

Since I wanted my table tops as thick as possible, I felt I should only flatten one side of the table tops. To do this I made a jig for my router.

A jig for flattening wide boards. I chose the simplest jig design I could find. The router took care of the remaining caked on glue and unruly grain directions that would otherwise have caused problems.

I was happy with the results which only had minor ridges that I will take care of with a scraper and sandpaper.

Here's the result after routing.

Next I trimmed off the uneven ends on the table saw crosscut sled flat face down.

Following that I needed to treat the ends of the table tops so that the uneven thicknesses of laminated strips would not be visible from the sides of the tables. I had many options, round overs, chamfers, breadboard ends, mitered returns, and the list goes on...

But ultimately I chose to rebate the bottom on the router table. I ran the boards through my planer first, to even out the thickest strips. Then the boards could lay bottom side down without rocking.


I cleaned up the rebates with a chisel.


And back at the planer I milled up some strips to fill the rebates.


I'll counter bore some elongated holes into the strips and attach them to the under sides of the tables with pan head screws.


On the right you have what the table top will look like right side up. I wanted to keep end grain visible, I like the look.



I knew what I wanted for the table tops, but now that I’d almost finished making them I realized I didn’t really know what I was doing next design-wise.This is when I took a couple of days to plan my designs. I had a pile of wood that I had to work with, all reclaimed in the same fashion- from scrap bins. This meant I had wood that was already milled, of a wide range of sizes. I paired up possible leg blanks, stretchers and other parts for each table top. Since I had actual set pieces to work with I wrote down the measurements of all of these pieces of wood. I popped those measurements into google sketchup and played around with different configurations for each table.

Once I was satisfied, I printed out my designs, and hit the shop once again. I’ve cut all of my table pieces to thickness and width, but have yet to cut them to length.

In the following pictures you will see the tables in their present states, each table top has all it’s parts piled up with the design printouts atop.


I tried various things with the designs and consistently ruled out curved details because I couldn't get behind them. The linear tops seemed to demand simple lines in the rest of the designs.

This turned out to be my favourite design, can't wait for it to come together.


This design is peculiar in that the front and back legs are different dimensions. I'm not sure if it will look right, in which case I'll mill up other legs for it. I have a back up piece of cherry that'll do the trick.


Some of the parts are going to present a challenge as the humidity in the shop isn’t that steady and the wood has moved since milling. The next steps will be to cut the pieces to length and start working on joinery.


I’ll update when the project(s) have come along further. Stay tuned for more shop talk.

Tool crazy… and I know it

12 Mar

The recent tool purchases…

I’ve started building some tables in the shop recently. I’ve needed to use my router a lot. I decided it wasn’t practical to keep moving the router in and out of the router table, I was losing time setting it up and breaking it down. For the most versatility I chose a router kit with two bases, fixed and plunge.

Porter cable was the brand we used most at woodworking school, it's solid and reliable and familiar, so I favour it.

I bought it "used" off of ebay for $150, but it's actually in mint condition, there's no dust, wear, or scratches ANYWHERE. There's even lubricant from the factory on the motor visible here.

Not a scratch.

I wasn't super keen on the old time-y features of a toggle on off switch and...

... a thumb screw for locking my settings in, and lack of soft-start. But I'd also used exactly this model at school. I knew updated features would be more convenient but that I could do without them for the sake of my budget.

I'll update you on how this kit performs.

At $40 I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get this mobile base for my router table.

Now it's not an awkward affair to re-position my router table when working on longer lengths of wood.

During my current build I was also in dire need of various sized forstner bits. I decided to get this set and upgrade only the most used bits to carbide later on.

Keeping tabs…

So as I tabulate how many tools I’ve acquired in the past 8 months I find I’ve been steadily adding to my collection and at a greater speed than I’d thought I could. This is partially due to my thrifty ways, the fact that I’ve been working to pay for my tool habit, and also due to a supportive spouse. I say that if we invest money in tools, there will be returns on it when I start selling furniture.

An analogy… to take away some of the sting

Of course it’s starting to become a bit tense in the house when mention of another potential tool purchase is made. “Another one?!” I often make the comparison to being a chef that needs to stock a kitchen from scratch. They must get all the large and small appliances, pots, pans, and any and everything else that is needed for a chef to properly do their job. So does a woodworker. I got a bit of a shocked stare when I mentioned that I now have about 1/3 of the tools I will eventually have.

Admitting I have a problem… but am still in denial

There’s a definite high that comes with my tool purchases, and I see that it can be an addiction. I’m often looking at or thinking about tools in my down time.I don’t want to get carried away, but at the same time this is the perfect window of time for me to be indulging in my profession’s trappings.I don’t have many expenses in my life and I haven’t started a family yet.

You can’t go back…

I find that once you’ve known the convenience of having the proper tool for the job, it’s hard to go back to “making do” with several starter tools that’ll get the job done but only with much effort and time. If I was a hobbyist I wouldn’t mind, but since I want to build a business, my time and sweat is worth more.

Being cautious about which tools to buy…

I’ll write a tool wish list, then I prioritize it and then I sit on it for a while. I work in the shop to see what’s the newest thing I find I can’t function well enough without. I often find out that my initial list of tools takes a back seat to what the shop tells me it’s missing. Good examples of this were that I wanted to buy an air filter to hang from the ceiling. I thought- “that’s top priority!” Next on my list was a dado stack and a dado brake cartridge for my table saw. But in reality at the time, my dust collection system plus dust mask were doing the trick, and I had a router table to handle the jobs that a dado stack would do. What I really needed were some parallel clamps, a bench vise, some glue and some sand paper! Those won out.

I recommend to any woodworker purchase tools based on immediate need first, it really does save on unnecessary tool purchases. For example, I want a lathe, but I still haven’t needed it, and can’t justify the loss of space in my shop. I want a spindle sander, but ended up buying a drum sander kit for my drill press to save on space also.At least for now.

Tape measure trick…

8 Mar

For those of you who wish there was a way to dock your tape measure, but still have easy access to it, this is for you!


I like to wear a shop apron while woodworking. My apron doesn’t allow me to clip a tape measure on my pants as it blocks access. I also don’t like having bulky things in the pockets of my apron that get in the way of me leaning forward and/or weigh down my apron.

My solution is to keep two tape measures in the shop, by the stations I use them at most. At my bench and at my table saw / band saw. One of them docks, out of the way, while the other gets tossed around the work bench.

The trick…

One of my tape measures I’ve adapted to be magnetic, and I slap it up against the nearest metallic surface and know that it’ll be RIGHT there when I need it next.

I like that the nearest metal surface can just "hold my tape for me while I just do this one thing..."

The simple steps…

1) Get a magnet. In my case I threw one in with an order from Lee Valley and it cost $1.50 but I imagine magnets are available loads of places.

As you can see the magnet already has a hole in the center that is countersunk. The magnet also comes with a mating metal piece that can be affixed to your bench if you'd like to dock your tape there.

2) Take off the metal clip on the back of your tape measure.

Keep that screw handy.

3) Use the same screw you just took out of the tape to fasten the magnet in place

That's all it takes! A few seconds and $1.50 I imagine you could even drill a hole into any magnet, but it does have to be a strong magnet.

My tape lives happily ever after…

... the end.

A review of the Rockler Dust Right quick release hose and fittings…

7 Mar

I’ve had the Rockler Dust Right hose and fittings attached to my dust collector for several months now. Here is my experience so far with the product.

The need…

Space in my shop is tight at 8’x16′. As I was setting up my shop my eyes kept wandering over to a pile of hose and fittings I’d gotten with my used dust collector.

The pile in question.

I knew I’d have to get around to it soon. The problem was, when I laid out all the lengths of hose in the backyard, I realized there wasn’t nearly enough to run to all of my chip producing machines. I also realized the hose would have to run along the walls and ceiling eating up space. I started to calculate the cost of how much more hose, fittings and time and effort I’d be putting into setting up my dust collection system. I didn’t like the answer. I thought there must be another way…

The solution…

I did some online searching, and perused the tool catalogs I had on hand. This is when I found out about the Dust Right quick release hose and fittings.

This is the hose in it's compressed state, and hooked up to a second hose that runs under my bench and leads to my table saw.

The hose expands, contracts and bends easily. The quick release fittings allow you to switch the hose between any given number of machines quickly and easily provided they have the mating Dust Right fittings in place. This seemed like the perfect solution for a small shop like mine.

The alternative…

In researching this product I did hit my local woodworking supply stores to see if there was an alternative. I did find that stores sell a type of expandable hose by the foot, and there seemed to be some quick release fittings available as well. But the quality and ease of use were a far cry from the Dust Right equivalents judging from Rockler’s  promotional video. I also calculated that the price would be comparable, so why not go for the rockler set.

Setting up the system…

I ended up buying the 3′ hose that extends to 21′ since I’d read in reviews that the 14′ hose seemed too short for most people’s needs. I bought the handle, and 4 dust port fittings for my main machines. Each was on sale, all the better. The kit also came with several keyed hose clamps.I found setting up the system was a breeze. I was so pleased that I sold the old pile of hose and fittings for $40 and have no regrets.

Here are the clamps that come in the kit.

Ease of use…

For the most part the Dust Right system has performed as described by Rockler. I’m very happy with how quick and easy it is to switch from machine to machine. The quick release is the main feature for me. I love it. The extendable hose is also super bendy and therefore is easy to maneuver around the shop.

Here is the quick connect / release in action...

Slides on with a friction fit. Picture a regular machine port instead of the blast gate I have pictured here.

However, I have yet to set up a wall mount docking system for my hose, so when I go to store it I feel like I’m playing with a 21′ slinky. But I plan to remedy this soon, and I don’t find it too much of a nuisance at that. It stores in seconds.

It ain't pretty, but for now this is my way of storing the hose when not in use.

Here are some situations where the system works like a champ:

From the dust collector...

... to the jointer! If I need more foot space I move the hose over a bit. That doesn't seem to be an issue.

Or to the planer!

Again, the hose is nicely out of my foot path. It contours around my work bench neatly.

And to the band saw- by the way in this instance I took a regular 4" fitting and wound masking tape around the fitting until it was built up enough that the dust right handle fit snuggly.

And for the table saw...I connected a regular hose to my table saw since the port was not easily accessible (under my bench)...

It comes out the other end under my bench where I can easily hook up to it .

And here is the dust right hose in place.

The one problem I’ve found with the dust right system…

In the case of my router table hookup, the system doesn’t stay put. I think because I have two reducers involved.

Because I have more than one reducer involved, and they extend past the router table, the fittings don't have much support...

The hose reaches, and the fittings support the weight of the hose until...

Let's see what happens when I turn on my dust collector...

Crash! Because the dust right reducer has a rubber connection leading to the 4" fitting, the weight of the hose, plus the suction of the dust collector cause the rubber part to bend until the two separate- causing a crash.

If there was a more solid connection between the two components of this fitting I think I wouldn't have this problem.

The other issue…

I’ve also found that even though I went with a hose that is 5′ longer than my shop, it’s hard to extend it to the very full length of my shop. Like when my dust collector is on one extreme and I have a machine up against the wall on the other extreme, to pull the hose to the opposite wall of my shop is just possible, but then to hook it up around behind the machine against that wall is pretty much going to lead to another crash.

Yea or nay…

Yea! Everything considered, I’m still absolutely happy with my purchase because of the world of good it’s done for my shop. I appreciate the system every time I use it. I don’t mind working around a few small issues. I’d advise adding about 10′ to the length of your shop then purchasing the length of hose that fits that measurement. Unless you don’t need to reach the extremities of your shop, or you have a limited space to store your hose in the compressed state, you might want to order a shorter hose.

And just to not leave you hanging…

I set up my shop vac for the router table, and mitre saw, in lieu of the dust right system. The shop vac does a wonderful job, so I’m not going to fix what’s not broken.

Thankfully my shop vac lives on the same side of the shop as my router table and mitre saw, and does a great job.

Next I’m going to post a tip on adapting your tape measure, explain my newest tool purchases, and a write few words on my return to the workforce after three months off.

My shop Christening project…

5 Mar

By the time my shop was finally furnished and tinkered with sufficiently, I realized that I needed to select a first project to work on in my new space.

A no brainer…

The timing was such that Christmas was on the horizon and I had a brand new Nephew that I was itching to spoil (he was to hit Six months of age by the time Christmas came). I’d also very conveniently picked up this book for $1 at a used book store during the summer.

Simple designs with cut lists and diagrams already planned out.


Since I’d brought over all the wood that was stored in various parts of my apartment I had plenty of scrap wood to use. I selected three plans, a truck, it’s flat bed trailer, and a bulldozer that fit onto the trailer. I carefully laid out all the wood necessary for the project and selected only hardwoods but varied the colours to create interest. I did have to go out and buy different diameters of dowel rods.

I needed at least six different dowel sizes

The tools…

Since all the scrap I had was already 4squared I just needed to cut to dimension and add any curves, coves, holes, roundovers and chamfers. I had to use the table saw to cut a cove into the bulldozer’s blade. I had to go out and buy a hole saw set because the ones I had were shoddy and ineffective.

An investment... I tell myself

The time…

There were surprising amounts of procedures for each toy part, and more parts than the simple designs lead you to believe. I couldn’t really tell you exactly how long it took because I broke up the build over several short sessions, I estimate that it took about two weekends total.


A few of the machines I have on loan from family were used to cut carbon. As a result I found carbon dust appearing everywhere as I worked. I was so glad when I started sanding all my toy parts because they cleaned up really well. I’ve since blown out the machines more- but am not completely rid of carbon dust. I was also ever glad to FINISH sanding all the parts- the process was long and the parts were many!


Assembly required patience that I didn’t always have because the parts needed to be assembled in logical orders and it was sometimes necessary to wait for one part to dry before moving onto the next glue up. It also became apparent that some of my machine set ups, and or the original 4squared parts, where not completely square. I wasn’t pleased about this but I realised that was what this shop christening project was for- to iron out the kinks in the machine setups, and fix my own mistakes.

The bulldozer had many tiny parts to glue together

The flat bed trailer pre-assembly

The final product…

All in all I was pleased with the final product, and it was done weeks before Christmas too because I had to leave town. They roll surprisingly well!

All done.

And the finish…

Right, and since I was giving these toys to my nephew who still feels out the world by putting parts of it in his mouth, I decided on a non-toxic mineral oil finish.

Even mineral oil pops the wood colour and grain patterns

I decided that I probably won’t make toys again, and will try to avoid projects with small parts. They are time consuming and I’m not sure that people realize the value of them. These toys are going to be family heirlooms simply because there won’t be anymore like them!

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