I put new knives in Dad’s jointer today and aligned everything.
I put new knives in Dad’s jointer today and aligned everything.
I’m going to warn you, this post sucks!
In 2017 I made my own cyclone dust separator with a Ridgid 16 gallon vac. It worked pretty well, but left me wanting something better. Some of the things I wanted in a new system are:
What I needed/wanted was something around two horsepower and the clear winner in that category is the one from Harbor Freight. Nothing else even comes close to their price, especially after using a 20% or 25% coupon. In order to make it work really well it needs a lot of mods though.
I looked at some of the complete solutions available and they cost at least a grand. I spent about $540 and could have saved around $100 by going with a cheaper hose and getting creative with connectors. Here’s what I bought:
Sucked my wallet dry!
This is a common project in the woodworking community, so Google can show you to a lot of variations. This 2010 post on lumberjocks.com is almost exactly what I was going for, including the trash can Thien cyclone separator baffle.
Before I get into it, here is the what the Harbor Freight dust collector looks like when it’s assembled and not modified.
I took a few photos during my build. First task was some knolling.
I installed the cyclone kit on the trash can cover and made a Thien baffle.
A very ugly cart was made using scrap wood. The only 2x4s I had were extremely twisted.
I wasn’t sure how the stand was going to support the weight of the motor. Does fine though. I can make it lean if I push on it, but it’s not going to fall over. Most of the time it’ll be sitting in a corner also supported by the trash can under it.
These risers combine with a makeshift wedge, propping up the trash can to mate with the motor.
Here’s the “wedge” platform. I made a design change after the stand had already been built, otherwise it could have been much shorter.
With the trash can and motor jacked up, these layered blocks raise up the bag holder and filter.
Two coats of black spray paint.
Turned out great, but it takes up a lot of space!
How is the performance though? I hooked the hose up to my table saw and it started pulling old sawdust out of the saw body. I could actually see things swirling around in there. Huge improvement!
As usual, this project ended up being more work than I expected. I’m really happy with the end result and how well it works. Another upgrade I could make in the future would be to install a larger Rikon impeller for even more airflow.
I’ll have to create some adapters for tools with dust ports smaller than 4″, though the hose kit did come with some for use with 2.5″ ports. Now that I have a system with enough power I can build something around the miter saw.
Following up on fixing my table saw crosscut sled, I decided it was time to build a new cart for the saw. The mobile base kit I used from Harbor Freight seemed like a good idea and worked ok in the beginning. Over time, the weight of the saw seemed to bend the base. With only two small swivel castors and the other two wheels being stationary, it became a real bitch to move around the shop, especially as I filled out the space with more tools.
I took a lot of inspiration from the Mobile Table Saw Cart by Woodworking for Mere Mortals. This is actually what pushed me to create the jig for the pocket hole jig, since I’d be using it a lot in this build.
The solid wood came from the cabinets I rebuilt, the plywood (except the one 3/4 piece) is from a truckload I got for free, the drawer is the same as the ones I upcycled for the sanding station, and I think I paid $10 for the casters at a garage sale.
Here are some planning measurements and sketches. Other than trying to keep the same height for my saw, the dimensions were based on the drawer.
I took those and most of the plan from the mobile table saw cart I linked above to make a model in SketchUp. You can grab the plans off GitHub if you want them.
Creating a model really helps me find measurement errors and think about the assembly order. The Cut List extension in SketchUp is a huge time saver too.
Note that the cut list above isn’t the final one in case you want to make this. I made some modifications along the way. The Sketchup model should be pretty close to what I made though.
I really liked the assembly process for this build, which made it easy to square everything up. Makes a huge difference being able to move the saw around the shop better.
Of course I had to add one of the free Harbor Freight magnetic strips. Much better plate to store the tape measure and splitters than with magnets on the fence.
While I was at it, I attempted to seal up a bunch of gaps in the saw’s body with spray foam. What a mess! I also made covers for the front and back that’ll stay in place except when I need to make a bevel cut.
I ended painting them black to blend in. Hopefully these little things make a big difference with dust collection.
I wanted to make something fun for a few Christmas gifts, so I made some letter magnets.
This fridge magnet (M for Momrik) was for my sister-in-law, Karen since I drew her name in our family gift exchange.
I also made two Ws (Williams) for my friends’ boys to go along with the frames we built.
I bet you’re wondering how the nail got in these. 😉
The new fence and proper alignment of my miter saw was just in time. My buddy Casey asked if I could help him create some frames last weekend. He didn’t know what he was getting into doing a project with me. 🙂 Probably took longer than it should have, but we were using pre-finished trim/moulding so I wanted to make sure the result looked nice.
This was the first time I used a strap clamp and it was by far the easiest of the 3 clamping methods we used. The blue tape on the large frame actually worked well too. I was worried when none of my clamping options would fit that frame since it was so large and the trim was over 3 inches wide.
This really gives a sense for how big this frame is, a little over 3′ x 4′! Below is a shot of it installed in the play room. The wall is painted and has vinyl stickers.
The 2′ x 3′ frames got magnetic chalk boards mounted in them.
They went above each boy’s desk.
The frames turned out better than I expected and it was fun to have someone else in the shop for a project.
Last year I bought the General Tools Adjustable Pocket Hole Jig (#854). I paid about $35 at Home Depot.
I’ve found it a pain in the ass having to screw/unscrew the clamping mechanism. Without any dust collection, it makes a mess too. I figured I could come up with something similar to the pocket hole systems that run $100 or more. So I made a jig for the jig.
I bought a toggle clamp at an estate sale (maybe $3?), which has been sitting on a shelf begging to be used. The other material was scrap wood and a $1 can of white spray paint I wanted to get rid of. The build was sloppy, but I wanted something quick and dirty.
The toggle clamp isn’t perfect but it seemed to work fine in my quick tests. I can’t believe how well the dust port works though. At the end of the video you can see a comparison between the original and my improved version.
The video is a really rough cut just like the build.
I finally put a salt shaker in the shop to help with glue-ups. I’m not sure why this salt shaker was made with holes so large though.
With a fresh zero clearance insert plate, I wanted to move on to making a new fence for the saw. In the previous post I mentioned the cracked fence. It’s a significant one, so there was no fixing this.
I forgot to take a decent picture of the fence before I took it off, but you can get the general idea from this old photo.
After looking around, I found a YouTube video where someone had built a new fence and the shape of theirs was very similar to mine. It looked pretty straightforward and I had a few upgrade ideas of my own.
I jumped in by cutting four pieces of 3/4″ plywood to 4×36″ and glued them together. I clamped them to the edge of my work table, hoping it would flatten everything out.
On the table saw I squared up the edge that’ll be the face of the fence. Then I used the old fence as a guide to mark the mounting holes and some of the areas I need to trim. I’m going to have a secondary removable zero clearance fence, so I also marked the 4 original holes in the face plus two more since I’m building a longer fence (the 6″ left extension isn’t pictured below) that’ll overhang the edges of the saw’s table.
I moved over to the drill press and drilled all of the 1/4″ face holes. Then I used a 1″ Forstner bit with a depth stop to give the mounting bolt washers a place to rest. After that I was able to drill the rest of the way with a 21/64″ bit for the mounting bolts. I moved the bit over to a hand drill and made these holes oblong because they need adjustment room when aligning the fence.
Back at the table saw, I trimmed the sides. I also did most of the long cuts along the back. I switched to the band saw to finish cutting off the back pieces and then I did a little sanding with the oscillating single sander. While I still had the middle in tact, I figured it would be a good time to chamfer the edges, so I knocked that out on the router table.
In the video that gave me this idea, he used a band saw to hog out the middle area. I thought I could use the miter saw itself to do this. It would give the area nice shapes, keep as much of the fence’s structure as possible, and hopefully provide a nice ramp for sawdust to be directed out the back. So I attached the fence, squared it up, and made the first cut.
I immediately noticed I would need to remove the fence if I ever wanted to swap insert plates. I went to make the first miter cut and it wouldn’t rotate. I thought I might run in to this. I removed the fence and used the band saw to make room for insert plate removal. I also sanded off the bottom of the fence where it was making contact with the rotating part of the table.
That was all good but now the back of the saw was hitting the fence at 11 degrees each way because I went with angles around the back instead of curves. I made adjustments at the band saw and then still had problems with mitered bevel cuts. Instead of taking everything off again, I used a hand saw, chisel, and files on the left side. After a ton of adjustments, I was able to make all of the miter, bevel, and combo cuts.
The final piece to this was creating the removable zero clearance fence. I started with an old piece of reclaimed wood.
I used my jointer to flatten the face and square an edge. Then I ripped it to 3-3/4″ and trimmed the sides with the table saw. I used the bandsaw to resaw it and then the planer got the rest of the way to the 3/4″ thickness I wanted. To finish it off, I chamfered the edges on my router table.
I clamped the board to the miter saw fence and drilled through the back of the original 1/4″ face holes to make marks in this board. I also drew lines on the left and right of both fences as a reference to make lining them up easier.
I shifted gears to make some knobs. I grabbed one from router table, traced it, and cut six of out of 3/4″ plywood on the bandsaw. Then I cleaned them up on the sander.
Over at the drill press I cut a 5/16″ hole through the center of each knob. I set a 1/4″ T-nut on top and hit it with a hammer so the prongs would leave marks where I could drill starter holes. Then I applied some cyanoacrylate and pounded each T-nut in.
I grabbed the zero clearance fence and drilled the 1/4″ holes all the way through on the drill press. Then I set a 3/16″ (I think) depth stop, switched to a 5/8″ Forstner bit, and drilled the same holes. This would make a recess for the head of the carriage bolt.
I put the zero clearance fence in place up against the big fence, fed the carriage bolts through their holes, added a washer, and tightened the knobs. Here is what they look like from the back.
Tightened hard this first time so the square part between the head of the bolt and the threads would pull into the wood and the head would set into the recess. Everything was straight and square, so I made the first cut. After the cut was established in the fence, I was able to attach adhesive backed ruler to the top, based on the kerf.
I didn’t plan it, but a bonus of the higher secondary fence is a perfect place for clamping a stop block when making repeated cuts.
This was a really fun project and is going to be so much better than the old fence.
One more thing to improve on this saw is the dust collection, but that project is probably on hold for at least a couple of weeks.
If you haven’t seen it, check out part 1 of this series about improving a Delta Sidekick 12″ Compound Miter Saw (Model 36-235).
I’ve been keeping a list of improvements I wanted to make to the miter saw and haven’t made time to work on any of them. When I made a frame a few weeks ago I noticed the fence to the right side of the blade wasn’t square. After looking things over, I found a large crack, which I’ll share in part 3. Now I had an excuse to prioritize the improvements and give the saw some love.
I removed several things from the saw and decided the first thing I’d build was a zero clearance insert plate. The original plate was a little beat up.
I actually made two plates since it’s not much extra work. I can either use the second one for bevel cuts, which I don’t think I’ve done once since I bought the saw, or keep it as a spare. I really liked the natural wood look, but it’s better to paint them red to signify the dangerous area.
Check out the difference in that slot! Cuts will be much cleaner and I’ll no longer have to worry about things clogging up underneath. The new inserts also fit much tighter than the original.
I used a piece of reclaimed pallet wood (oak I think) to make these. Here’s a video of the process, which took about 2 hours.
Check out part 3 of this series where I build a new fence.
I’m starting on some improvements to my miter saw and realized I never posted anything about some of the things I’ve already done. I bought this Delta Sidekick 12″ Compound Miter Saw (Model 36-235) for $75 off someone on Facebook Marketplace last September. It’s not a sliding one, but the 12 inch blade is nice.
I immediately bought a quality 12″ Diablo blade since there was only a 10″ in the saw. I also took the handle apart and replaced the mangled power cord with a 10′ extension cord I bought at Harbor Freight.
A few months ago I picked up a Masterforce folding miter saw stand from Menards. I think it was less than $80 during a sale. It’s been so nice to have the saw ready to go at all times.
I recently cleaned up the sticker residue (was still there in the picture above) on the table and fence. I think that about covers it for what I’d done so far. Check out part 2, where I make new insert plates.