Monday, March 28, 2016

New Workshop Work Table

Almost 2 years ago I moved to Arizona and got a house with a 2-car garage.  This garage became my workshop, and one of the first things I built were these worktables.

You can see my blog entry about this build by clicking here.

About a year later I built these carpenter benches which have been very, very helpful.

You can see my blog entry about this build by clicking here.

But despite their use my garage became over crowded, and my benches wound up in the corner with a lot of stuff stacked on top of it.

That's when I got serious and cleaned up my workshop.  I threw out stuff I didn't need, and took apart extra tables to make some space.  With the materials from one of the tables I disassembled, I upgraded my other worktables to include a middle shelf for storing my tools, and I freed up my benches and kept them in front of each table.  

But I'd like to store the benches somewhere where they won't be in the way but still easily accessible. So I decided it was time to make new, better work tables that can store the benches underneath.

Making these tables requires about the same amount of wood as my original work tables did, so... was time to take apart my work tables.  For this particular day I started on only one work table.  I'll leave the second work table for later.

After quite a while spent unscrewing, all the pieces were finally apart.  There's a lot of holes in this wood, but it's still very useful and should be fine to make a new table out of.

When I originally made these worktables I cut all the pieces with my small miter saw on saw horses.  The cuts were as exact as I could have made them without having much to work with.

But now when I placed the wood beams against the wall and clamp them together...

...they are not all perfectly even.

Fortunately I now have a full workshop and a very nifty miter saw stand with extendable arms and a stop block to help me make more accurate, consistent cuts.

So I went about re-cutting all the wood to be the same size.  For the larger pieces I had to be creative and use my belt sander as a stop...

...but all the smaller pieces were easy to take care of with the stop block on my miter saw cart.

Next I began drilling pocket holes.  This was actually pretty exciting for me, as it was the first time I got to use my tool cart with my mounted pocket hole jig.

Once all the pocket holes were cut I began assembling the sides with pocket screws.

One done, one more to go.

I used spare 2x4 pieces of wood as spacers for the top rails of the sides.  Once everything was screwed in these spacers popped out with a mallet.


Next I cut pieces of wood for the bottom feet.  These were simply screwed on, and their main purpose is to have sufficient room for the casters to be attached to.  But they will also add a bit of extra support since the front of this work table will be open.

While cutting the second foot, I slipped and messed up the cut.  So I had to use a different piece of wood I had hanging around - this 2x4 which was painted black.

But the color doesn't matter.  Both feet attached flush!

Next I began attaching the rails that make up the front and back of the table.

Then I measured and cut more wood for supports.

This too received pocket holes...

...and attached to the front and back rails.

Next, cutting more wood - this time for the bottom shelf supports.

I attached these with clamps and screws while the table was upside-down.

Once the supports were in, I attached the casters.

Now this table rolls around and is quite strong.

Now to attach the bottom shelf.  I had some minor trimming to do in order to make it fit, so that was done on the table saw.

The shelf was attached with 2 screws on each side.

Then I centered the top and screwed it on.

And it's almost done.

Before I went any further I wanted to make sure my bench fit underneath - which it does.  YAY!

However the bottom shelf is not super strong. I need to fix that.

So I cut, drilled and pocket-holed some more leftover wood to create more support for the bottom shelf.

And now the shelf is quite strong.

Then I put my bench underneath and I'm done with one of the new worktables!

But when it came time to disassemble my second work table I started to worry about where I'll put all my tools.  Despite all the space I've recently freed up in my workshop, I do not have good place to put them.

Then I decided to try and fit both stools under the new table, and what do you know!  They both fit!

Now I don't have to remake my old worktable and I have room in front of both work tables to move around!

This new work table is great.  It's the same height as the other work table, so I can use both of them when working on large pieces.  The shelf  may not be tall enough to hold a lot of my big power tools, but its a good place to hold and store stuff I'm using while in the middle of a project - such as rulers, pencils, scrap wood, screws, sandpaper, wood filler, etc.

The next day I re-screwed the top back on using countersinks so the screws are below the surface of the table.  I then sanded it.

I also added my Grandfather's old table vise.  This will be very useful!

And it's all done and ready for action!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Decorative Bench and stools

For my next project I want to make a decorative bench to display underneath my front windows in the front of my house.

While searching the web for cool bench ideas I came across Steve Ramsey's 5-board bench from Woodworking for Mere Mortal's website.

You can watch his video tutorial by clicking here.  I decided to use Steve's bench as a template for my own.  I printed out his blue prints and stuck them on my workshop cork board.  Like most of the designs I find on other people's website, mine will be similar and also slightly different.

First thing I did was go out and buy the wood I needed.  I'm using "Whitewood" boards from Lowes: Four 1x8x4' boards and two 1x4x4' boards.

For the bench top I'll be using 2 boards.

The top will only be 36" long, so I marked where to cut with a tape measure and drew a straight line with my T-square.

To cut the board I'll be using my circular saw and a Kreg square cut tool.

The square cut allows you to move a guide right up to your saw's blade.  Then I lined up the guide with the line I drew on the board and cut the piece squarely away.  I did this with both boards.

Next I drilled pocket holes into one of the cut boards.

Using pipe and bar clamps I lined the boards up.  Since these are the cheapest boards that Lowes carries, they are all a little warped.  With the bar clamps tight I used a mallet to line up all the edges where it was once warped.

Then I screwed pocket screws...

...and the top is together.

I repeated the process with 2 more boards to create the legs.

This time I decided to cut the legs on the table saw, using my cross cut sled.

Now the top and legs are made.

Now its time to shape them a bit.  Using my T-square I made some guides and then used a french curve to draw a rounded shape at both short ends...

...and the long ends as well.

For the legs I drew straight lines for the sloping sides and used a paint bucket as a circle template to make the individual feet.

Next I used my jigsaw to cut out the curved shapes for the bench top.

For the sides I cut the slopes using my taper jig for my table saw.

I only had to set up the jig once to make all 4 sloping cuts on both legs.

Then I cut out the circles with the jigsaw.

Next I used my drum sanding bits on my drill press to sand the curved edges on the legs.

The bench top is too large for me to use on the drill press, so I sanded all those curves with my mouse sander.

As I worked with the bench top, some of the edge between the 2 boards became unaligned.

To fix this I used my block plane to level out the top.  

Unfortunately my block planes all have dull blades, so I had to smooth everything up with my orbital sander.

I also sanded the legs with the orbital sander.

With the top and sides coming along nicely I decided to start working on the 2 aprons that connect the legs to each other.  I cut the 2 smaller boards on the miter saw.

Since the legs are sloping I need to find the angle so I can cut the aprons at the same angle.

I set up my table saw at the same angle and cut the edge of the aprons.

This keeps the aprons parallel with the sloping edge of the legs and flush against the bench top.

Then I drilled pocket holes into the aprons.

I also drilled pocket holes into the top of the legs.

Next I sent up a round over bit into my router table.

Then I gave all the edges a rounded edge.

...except the edges that connect to the bench top.

With everything cut, sanded, pocket holed and routed, I can begin assembly.

I first connected the aprons to the legs with pocket screws.

Then the legs and aprons were connected to the bench top, also with pocket screws.

And I have a bench.

It looks to be about the perfect size for my front porch.

It's not really meant for sitting on, but I think I'll make a center support beam underneath to increase the benches' strength.

So I cut a piece of leftover wood that's a little longer than the width of the bench between the aprons with my miter saw.

Then I used my angle gauge to set up the angle on my miter saw  to the same angle that the aprons are.

After measuring and cutting, I have a piece that fits the width, but it's too tall.

So I trimmed the height on the table saw.

And now it fits nicely.

I routed the top edges of this piece - giving it the same rounded edge as the rest of the bench.

Then I drilled pocket holes and attached the support with pocket screws.

Next I gave the whole thing one last sanding.

Then I cleaned the whole thing and put down a tarp.

I have a lot of Danish oil left over from a previous job, so I used that to stain and protect the wood.

While that dried I fetched 4 empty pots that were in my back yard.

The 2 large pots I actually made the year before.

They were simply all black, but I dry brushed gold paint onto them to make them look a whole lot nicer.

So I filled the pots with soil.

Then I added some leftover plastic plants into each pot.

I would have much rather planted real plants, but my girlfriend and I tried that last year, and well, we just don't have green thumbs in Arizona.

When the bench was dry I placed it on the front patio.  F.Y.I. - this bench is strong enough to sit on.

Then I put the smaller pots on the bench...

...followed by the larger pots to each side of the bench.

Our front yard and patio is still a bit baron, but the bench and flowers are a definite improvement.

After a few days I felt like making some matching stools to put in front of the columns near the bench or perhaps near the garage.  I had enough leftover material to make 2 small stools.  I also still have a lot of pots to fill up as well.

So I made guides for the sides that look almost identical to the sides of the bench.

The tops will be slightly different with rounded edges on only one side.

Next I trimmed the boards so they were all the right sizes.

Then I used the taper jig again to make the sloped sides on the legs.

Then I used my jig saw to cut out the circular shape that defines the feet.

I also cut the rounded sides for the tops.

Then I sanded all the cuts smooth.

Next I took all the pieces to the router and rounded the edges.

Next I got some more wood for the aprons.  Unlike the bench which has 2 aprons, these small stools will only have one apron each.

Then I rounded one side of each apron.

Next I drilled pocket holes in the aprons...

...and the legs.

I attached the aprons to the legs with pocket screws...

...then I attached them to the tops of each stool, also with pocket screws.

And the 2 stools are done with assembly.

These stools are big enough to hold one or two smaller pots.

 Next I sanded and cleaned them up a little.

Then I added Danish oil to them.

And I think I'll place them in front of my garage.

But before I do, I'd like my pots to match the others on and near the bench.

So I gave them a coat of black spray paint.

When the black paint dried I dry-brushed some bronze paint.

These pots don't have as much details as the other pots, but they still match.

When the paint dried I filled up the pots and put more fake flowers in.

I'm sure bigger flowers would distract people from seeing all the saw dust in my driveway, but they are a definite improvement.  And the stools are nice too!

A special thinks to Steve Ramsey at Woodworking for Mere Mortals website for his video tutorial and instructions on making this bench free to me and everyone else.  And as always, thanks for reading!