Monday, July 31, 2017
Last Christmas Santa bought me a new plate joiner to help me in my efforts of building cool stuff.
The only problem is that in order to joint multiple pieces of wood together evenly, the edges must be perfectly straight. The wood I usually buy at the big box home centers are usually a little warped or bowed, and almost never have a straight edge. I have multiple tools in my workshop to help me straighten wood, but what I really need (want) is a jointer. In the past I've used my hand planer to make a jointer, but those jigs never lasted long.
Recently I played around with some scrap plywood I had...
... and made a fairly successful jig.
This jig holds the planer snugly.
But I didn't immediately make a stand for it, since I had a different idea.
Recently I remade all of my work tables in my workshop.
They're all a lot stronger and better than my past work benches.
One of my tables I built to be a router table.
One end has a plate which is attached to my fixed router.
It works great, and there's plenty of room underneath to adjust the height of the router.
But the rest of it was just a work area. So I made some plans in sketchup.
I want to redesign my table to be a Combination Workbench! It already has the router...
I then designed the table to fit my spare circular saw underneath to make it a table saw.
And I also have a spare jigsaw. So I can make a hole to the right side of the table, and mount the jigsaw underneath to make a scroll saw.
The 2 sheets of plywood that make the top of the work table have various holes cut into it. The top piece (shown in red) has just a square cut out for the router plate. The bottom piece (shown in orange) has 3 shapes cut out - one for the router, one for the circular saw and one for the jig saw.
When the 2 pieces of plywood come together the shapes cut out underneath do two things:
1) creates a lip for the router plate to stay in place, and
2) snugly hold the circular and jig saws in place, and bring the blades closer to the top, making the largest cuts possible.
With my plans looking good I proceeded. I added my spare circular saw to the bottom, making it the table saw...
...and my spare jigsaw to the bottom, making it a scroll saw.
So then I added my hand planer in its new jig to the side of the table. The vacuum underneath plugs into the planer to suck up all the dust and chips. The edge of the table itself is used as a fence.
The planer, router, and both saws are controlled by the power strip mounted to the front of the workbench.
A combination workbench!
I still have some work to do to make the jointer look a bit nicer and sit more securely on the side.
Since the Arizona summers are rough, I stopped at this point for a couple weeks. When I came back to it I decided to make some changes.
Instead of the jointer simply screwed to the side, I recut parts of the top to completely fit the jig I made - similarly to what I did with the router and jigsaw. In the image above I'm waiting for wood filler to dry at the seams of the new cuts.
Since the planer takes up a good amount of space underneath the table, I removed the jigsaw.
But I don't want to be without my new scroll saw. So I attached it to a piece of MDF that was cut to the same size and thickness as the router plate.
Now whenever I want to use the scroll saw, I remove the router and put the jigsaw in it's place!
Having the jigsaw attached to a plate makes it easily removable and easy to change the jigsaw's blade.
The fence that I use for both the circular saw and router can now also be used for the jointer.
One cool thing about this fence is that it has a rod going through the fence part and the T-square part - making it adjustable.
Some might thing that having a fence that can swing around isn't a great idea, but I beg to differ. Since I am not perfect, the circular saw was mounted slightly off. Having an adjustable fence means that I can ALWAYS make it square with the table saw blade. That means perfectly straight cuts - even if the circular saw blade is not perfectly perpendicular to the front of the table.
Prior to the more recent revision to this table, I had used the router, table saw and scroll saw. But I hadn't really used the jointer. So I decided to test it out with the fence for the first time.
Above is a picture of a piece of 2x4 with a very uneven top edge.
I ran that 2x4 through the jointer.
And voila! The top is even!
I then ran several scrap 2x4's through the jointer.
And all their edges are flat now! I could glue these boards together flush, and get to use that plate joiner I got at Christmas!
lastly I gave the top a few coats of polyurethane to really smooth it out. Once each coat dried, I sanded it with a fine sanding sponge until the top was very smooth.
It's not the pretties table ever made, but it works well and that's what's important.
I was also happy that I spent $0 on this project.
Monday, July 24, 2017
Once upon a time I used to have a tree in my front yard. It was cracked and rotting and eventually removed.
The spot where the tree was seems to be an popular spot for weed to grow out of. So I figured I'd make some sort of planter to put in that spot to cover up the weeds.
I had a lot of leftover 2x4 pieces that I will utilize for this project.
I designed a simple, round planter in SketchUp which consists of 24 pieces of 2x4.
Each side will be cut at a 7.5 degree angle which should (hopefully) make a complete circle.
I gathered 24 of the 2x4s...
...and cut them all to be the same length using a stop block on my miter saw table.
They're all the same size now, but the wood is rough.
So I ran them through my surface planer to smooth them out.
Next I needed to set my table saw blade to be 7.5 degrees. The easy way to do this was to cut a small piece of wood on the miter saw at 7.5 degrees.
Then, using a T-square and the piece I cut, I tilted the table saw blade to match.
Then I began cutting each piece.
After a while I had all my pieces cut.
Next I began gluing up the pieces in sets of 2. A clamp tightly placed in the middle was enough to hold each of the 2 piece sets together
After those dried I glued the the 2-pieces into 4-pieces, with clamps at the joints.
But something wasn't adding up right. The circle had become too big. That and the glue-ups for the 4 pieces were not very strong.
This is what happens when you begin rushing through a project. And one could't blame for rushing a bit - my garage is stifling in this Arizona heat. I went indoors for a few hours to cool off and hydrate.
When I was ready to work again I started off by cutting a few new pieces in case I needed extra.
I then began breaking apart what I had glued up already. The 4 pieces glued together came apart easily.
The 2-pieces that were glued and clamped did not easily come apart. I therefore cut them at the seam with the bandsaw.
Next I needed to clean up the edges that I had glued/cut. To do this I decided to make a cabinet scraper using an old saw blade. I cut this out using my angle grinder and I sharpened the edge on my belt sander
The scraper worked well, but it took a while to clean up a single side.
So then I oped to simply recut each piece, taking off a sliver from each side.
I did this with every piece and also with the new pieces.
Now it was time to joint these pieces properly. I began with cutting a small channel on each of the angled sides of each block.
This will allow 1/4" plywood to fit in snugly.
I then cut a lot of the leftover plywood I had into small strips or splines that would fit inside and flush between 2 of the pieces of wood.
I then glued the plywood splines into the channels of each wood piece and clamped it together.
With the splines in place I was able to add some brad nails by each joint. This allowed me to remove the clamps and work on the next pieces.
Slowly I added more...
Each spline would get trimmed at the top and bottom.
Slowly I added more...
...and more until it was complete.
There are some gaps to fill on the inside and outside. I started on the inside, filling it with glue.
Then I let it dry for a few hours.
For the outside gaps I used glue again, but this time I mixed it with saw dust.
Once I finished filling the sides, I began filling the top.
And again it was left to dry.
While I waited for it to dry it was time to prepare for placing it on my lawn.
For some reason I have 2 of these flat-end shovels.
So I took one of them and used my angle grinder to give it a point - which will make it easier to dig up some rocks and dirt.
By the time I was done making the new shovel, the filler had dried, so I began sanding the top...
...and then the sides.
When the sides were done I noticed that the glue/saw dust filler worked well in solidifying the whole things. But small gaps were still visible, so I applied some wood filler by hand to these areas. This filler is suitable for exterior purposes, so I have no worries that they'll chip off.
Once the filler dried and was sanded I decided to give the top a slightly decorative edge.
For this I'll use my palm router with a chamfer bit.
The router had a few blow outs, but nothing that can't be sanded down and filled.
With all that done, I then decided to stain it a walnut color with some Danish oil.
I made sure to completely cover the outsides...
...but I didn't go crazy on the insides since it's all going to be covered with soil.
Several days later I used my shovels to dig a shallow hole in the yard for the planter.
This was no easy task given the extreme temperature mid-July in Arizona.
A few days later I added some fresh soil.
I temporarily stuck some of the silk flowers I had about.
Once my landscaper pays a visit to my house I'll discuss putting some actual plants inside the planter. Plants or a small bush that can easily survive the Arizona heat.
All in all it's not too bad looking. Definitely better than the hole in the ground that was once there. And even better - it cost me nothing to make!