Monday, May 25, 2015

Workshop Helpers

When I moved to Arizona I finally had my own house, and I finally had a garage to use as a workshop.  Almost immediately I built saw horses and work tables so I could begin making things.  But aside from the obvious things like work tables and tool boxes, I needed some "workshop helpers" - things that aren't very necessary, but make the workshop and projects easier.

One of the first helpers I made was a rack for holding various clamps, rulers, levels and straight edges.  This is simply a 2x4 stud screwed into the wall.  It's so simple and so effective.


Another helper I used often were these triangles.  These things hold pieces off of the table surface to make it easier to stain, paint and apply polyurethane.  After a while these things became rather gritty...


...so I began using leftover 2x4's cut at 45 degree angles.  They work just as well and are easily replaceable.  These blocks can also support the weight of an entire table or dresser or bookshelf, whereas the triangles would most likely buckle.  Also, the cost for buying a set of 8 brand name triangles is greater than the cost of a single 2x4x8' stud - which could produce dozens of blocks.


I even made a simple box for holding all of them.


More recently I decided I wanted a better place to store my 2 power drills/drivers.


Normally I put them on a shelf above one of my work tables, but I think I could come up with something better - and something not attaching to peg board.


I decided I would make a wall mount for my drills.  Something that would hold them perfectly.  I started by sketching the support shapes around the drill onto some paper.



I then cut out those shapes.


Next I searched my garage for some wood for the backers.  This piece of pine will do nicely for both drivers.


I cut the board to size with the table saw.


Then I gave the pieces of wood some nice edges at the table router.


The drills fit nicely on the wood, with the paper pieces also fitting nicely.



Next I traced the paper templates onto another piece of scrap pine wood.


I need these support pieces to be thicker, so I glued the pine with the drawn on templates onto another piece of pine wood and clamped it.


Once the glue dried I cut out the pieces with the jig saw.


I shaped each piece using my belt sander, dremel and sand paper.


Next I glued the pieces onto the backer with the drill in place.


After a few minutes the glue had set and I removed the drill.


I repeated the process with my other drill.


I then let the 2 wall mounts dry for about an hour.


Next I flipped the mounts over and drilled holes in the back of the mount.  These holes go directly into the glued-on pieces.


I then added screws to make sure the glued-on pieces can support the weight of each drill.


Then I leveled and screwed the mount onto the wall.


The drill sits perfectly on it.


I then added the second mount and drill.


This drill is a bit wider than the other one, so I added 2 more pieces to keep it securely in the mount.


I like the drill mounts so much I then decided to make one for my hammer - who's home is usually any surface in my workshop.  I repeated the same steps for the hammer mount as I did for the drill mounts:  draw support shapes...


...cut them out and shape them...


...cut out a backer...


...route the edges...


...glue/screw the supports on...


...and hang it up.


Now the hammer had a nice home near all my other tools.


The next bunch of helpers I'm going to make are for my table saw.


My saw came with one plastic push stick - which I use often.  But I can use some more, especially for small or thin pieces of wood.  So I traced my plastic push stick onto a piece of scrap pine wood.


I then cut it out with the jig saw.


Then I smoothed the edges with the belt sander.


and I rounded and softened the edges with my mouse sander and sand paper.


That's pretty much it for that one.  Now I'll make one specially for pushing large pieces of wood.  For this one I'll need a big, closed handle.  I forgot to take a picture of this step, but I pretty much just traced the shape of one of my saw handles and cut it out with the jig saw.


Next I further shaped it with the dremel.


Shaping this piece actually took a bit of time.


I went back and forth between my belt sander, sand paper and my dremel until I got the shape right and the handle smooth.


Next I used a piece of scrap plywood for the bottom.  I marked the locations of the handle onto the plywood.


Then I drilled holes.


Next I glued and screwed the handle to the plywood.


Followed by a little more sanding.


This more-or-less completes the shape of this pusher, but I decided to take it further.  I cut a thin piece of plywood to be the same size as the base of the pusher.


I then sanded it smooth.


Then I coated the thin plywood with several layers of plastidip.  The rubbery texture of plastidip will make it easier to push things with the pusher.


When the plastidip dried I glued and clamped the bottom to the rest of the pusher.


When all was dry, I tested it out by cutting a large piece of wood, and it works great!


Next I started on one more push stick.    This one will have an upward handle.  I traced the piece onto a piece of pine.


I then trimmed the pine with my table saw...


...followed by my jig saw.


Smoothed the shapes out with the belt sander...


...and dremel.


I then rounded the edges with the router.


Next I added a small block on the bottom, attached with glue and brad nails.


This will easily push thicker pieces of wood.


...and now I have all the push sticks I need!


...but I need somewhere to store them, so I cut a smaller piece of pine and routed the edges.


I drilled holes in the corners and 3 screws in the middle.


Then I mounted it to the wall.


I then drilled some holes into the push sticks.


Now they can hang from the screws on the wall mount.


The pusher can't fit on that mount, but fits well enough on a hook I had nearby.


Another very important workshop helper is safety accessories.  I have a place that I store my goggles and hearing aides.


But unfortunately I have my safety masks on one of my work tables...


...or on a shelf where they easily get dirty.


So I'm going to make a box for them very similar to a box I made a while back for my router pieces.  Just a simple box with a hinged lid.


I actually already made a box a few days before I started this project (in the background), but it needs to be taller.  So I cut more scrap wood and began making pocket holes.


I then attached those pieces with pocket screws (sorry - I forgot to take that picture).  There was a noticeable gap between the pices of wood - which had rounded edges, so to cover it up I cut some thin plywood strips.


...which I glued and nailed to the box, covering the gaps.


I then cut a top out of more scrap wood.



I decided to try and make it a little nicer looking, so I cut some thin strips of pine...


...and ran them through the router table.


I then began making 45 degree cuts into the trim...


...and attaching them to the base of the box.


Then I attached the lid with hinges.


Now it opens and closes nicely...



...and holds my safety stuff nicely...


Lastly I sanded all the edges.


Now that I have boxes, wall mounts and pushers, I decided to pretty them up a little with some stain.


Staining them wasn't necessary, but I think it makes them look a bit better.  Once the stain dried I hung up everything again.




The raising blocks were put back in it box.


...as were all my router accessories.


I let the 'safety box' air out for a few days before putting my masks back in it.  I wouldn't want my masks to smell like stain when I use them.


All-in-all there are some nifty workshop helpers that make my workshop neater and my jobs easier.
Thanks for reading!!