Monday, March 7, 2016

Improving a Harbor Freight "Universal Tool Stand"


A few weeks ago I bought myself a new table saw.  But it didn't come with a stand.  I wound up buying a Harbor Freight "Universal Tool Stand".


But it was too tall.


Then I shortened the stand, but it was too wobbly.


So instead I built a table saw table attachment on to one of my existing work tables. 


As for that stand I bought, it sits in the corner and holds random stuff.


Originally it was just a frame.  I added some leftover MDF board to make a top and bottom shelf.


But I think I could do something better with it.  I took measurements of the stand, plus a remaining drawer I had.


Then I designed a new top for the stand which incorporated the drawer.  On the bottom was a solid piece that I could attach casters to, so it will be easy to move around.


The new add-ons won't require too much.


But before I go out and buy material I decided to drill some holes on the bottom feet to attach the new bottom to.


I also drilled holes and attached the bottom shelf to the frame.


This made the stand a little stronger.


Lately I've been making add-ons and improvements to my workshop by using a lot of my surplus material.  This also helps empty out my crowded workshop, and saves me a little money.  So before I go and spend money on more material I decided to utilize what I still had - a lot of particleboard. The particleboard pieces I had were actually already cut at the perfect height for the drawer.


So all I had to do was cut the pieces to the right width with the miter saw.


Then I drilled pocket holes...


...and began attaching them to the top.  I centered the drawer...


...and drew lines at the sides.


These lines were guides for the inside pieces of particleboard.


Everything above was attached with pocket screws, but when it came to the front 2 pieces I used glue and brad nails.


The reason for this: I was almost out of pocket screws.


Unfortunately some of the nails decided to shoot out the side.


But this was easily fixed with my grinder.


Next I cut one more piece of particleboard...


...drilled pocket holes...


...and attached the piece to the top using my remaining screws.


Now for a top.  I have a lot of OSB board - which is not my favorite material to use by far.  But I think once this whole thing is together I'll add thin plywood over all the surfaces to make it look nicer.


The OSB board was attached to the drawer frame with screws.


I purposely didn't trim the OSB board...


...instead I used my flush trimming bit on my router which trimmed the board exactly to the size of the frame.


I still have a lot of OSB board left...


...so I'll use it for the bottom shelf as well.  I measured the size I needed...


...and clamped 2 pieces of OSB board together.


Then I cut it with the circular saw.


Next I flipped the stand upside-down and attached the bottom to the frame.


So far so good.  It looks ugly, but so far I haven't spent any money on it.


But that changes now.  I went out and bought some casters to put on the bottom.


Now it moves around nicely.


In addition to the caster I bought some 1x2 wood to give the top of the stand some trim.


I started cutting these to size on the miter saw.


Then I glued and nailed the trim around the top sides and back.  I couldn't add it to the front because of the drawer.


I liked how the top trim looked so I added trim to the bottom as well.


The last thing I bought was some thin plywood.


I added glue to the top...


and attached a piece of plywood using nails.


Then I used my trim bit again and cut out the top.


Next I cut a thin piece of plywood...


....for the front. Obviously I removed the drawer first.  Then I glued/nailed the plywood in place and used the router to cut out the shape perfectly.


Then I drilled a hole in the middle, where the drawer goes.


And once again I used the trim bit on my router to cut out the shape for the drawer.


The drawer was a little harder to get in and out, so I fixed it by doing a little sanding around the edges.


Next I cut more smaller pieces of plywood.


And I covered the spaced between the trim.


Lastly there was a small gap on the top/front.  So I filled it in with wood filler and sanded when dry.


And I'm done!


For the time being I put some random things in the drawer including hinges, knobs, sliders and Velcro.


The middle shelf holds my old miter saw and some other stuff.


The bottom holds some plastic boxes that has an assortment of hardware.


At the moment I still do not have a specific use for this cart, but it is a lot stronger and durable than what I originally bought.  Perhaps I'll keep the fan on top and use it as a mobile fan stand.  Summers in Arizona are hot!!!


A few days after finishing this I thought to myself "Boy, that bottom shelf looks awful!".  Not to mention, OSB board will probably not last a very long time.  So I decided to do the bottom right and went out to buy some wood.


I took everything off the stand and flipped it upside-down.  Then I removed the OSB bottom.


Then I measured the distance between the legs and marked the boards I'll be using.


I used a stop block on my miter saw to make sure all the cuts were the same for each set of sides.


 (2 long sides and 2 short sides).


Then I drilled pocket holes on the short sides...


...and connected them to the long sides.


This new frame fits the legs perfectly.  But I'm not going to screw the frame to the stand this time.


Instead I measured and cut some trim...


...which I glued and nailed to the frame.


This created a lip that the legs press against.  The fit is perfectly snug!


Then I measured some plywood...


...and cut it out with the table saw.


The panel covers the hole in the frame.  Since this panel won't affect the structure any, I decided to simply glue and nail it in place.


Then I flipped the frame over and attached the casters.


Then I popped it back on and flipped the whole stand right side-up.


This looks so much better than the OSB bottom I had, plus it's a lot stronger.


Lastly I put everything back in place and this stand is ready for action!


So for a while this stand was simply someplace to hole my fan and other random stuff until I had an idea...

One of my most useful tools has been my pocket hole jig.


I use this jig all the time for drilling pocket holes into material.  I even used it for this project.


But sometimes when I am drilling large pieces my pocket holes get crooked due to lack of support for the wood I am using. 


So one day I simply made 2 platforms out of leftover plywood...


...which would go on both sides of the jig to help support large pieces.


So I thought I might use the tool stand as a dedicated pocket hole drilling station.  But my platforms are too long.


So I simply trimmed them on the miter saw...


...so that the fit would match the width of the top.


Next I mounted the jig to the top with screws.


Then I drilled holes with countersinks into the platforms.


Then they too were attached to the top with screws.


Now I have a sturdy surface for the jig to support large pieces of wood!


But I still have some accessories that go with the pocket hole jig, including pocket screws.


So I emptied the other stuff from the drawer and placed all the screws inside along with the pocket hole drill bit, driver bits and my older, small pocket hole jig.


The empty cases fit nicely on the bottom of the cart.


And the jig won't interfere with air flow from the fan (although it might blow saw dust after working on the jig).


Then I decided to add some clamps that I use when drilling pocket screws.  One clamp went on one side of the stand...


...and another on the opposite side.


Since I was attaching clamps, I decided to put some of my larger spring clamps on the back of the stand.


My smaller spring clamps fit inside the drawer.


Then I attached the one C clamp I have on the back of the right side...


...and my large corner clamp on the back of the left side.


Now this stand is super useful!  I have my pocket hole jig mounted to it, all the hardware inside the drawer, clamps easily in reach and 2 storage shelves.  Not to mention my fan which will the most useful tool when summer comes.


Thanks for reading!

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