Air Tool Organization

I’d been thinking about getting a better cordless brad nailer because the old Craftsman one I have is useless. I discovered Craftsman makes a much better one in the C3 line, but it runs about $130. I kept looking around and found Home Depot selling a Porter-Cable combo kit with:

  • 6 Gallon 150 PSI Air Compressor

  • 16-Gauge Nailer

  • 18-Gauge Nailer

  • 3/8″ Stapler

  • 25′ Hose

It was down to $200 from $279! I bought it the next morning. I also stopped by Harbor Freight for their air tool accessory kit (gotta have a blow gun!) and a second 25′ hose.

I didn’t want the compressor in the shop because it’s very loud when it runs. So I cut a hole through the wall, put in an electrical box, and added a face plate so it doesn’t look too much like a hack job. If I ever move it I can swap out the place for a blank one.

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Where it comes through on the other side is under my staircase, which is fairly central in the shop. Figured that would be a good place to store the tools.

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I didn’t want to have to go to the other room to turn the compressor on/off. So I removed an old outlet that was on this wall, added a 2-gang electrical box, put in a new outlet, and wired a switch to control the bottom plug (top plug stays hot). Now I can always leave the compressor’s power switch turned on.

Craftsman 113.232240 Jointer Dust/Chip Collection

It took a few weeks after restoring the Craftsman Jointer (model 113.232240) to get going on a dust/chip collection upgrade, but now it’s done. It’s not going to win any beauty awards, but it’s functional and works awesome. Not bad for making it up as I went.

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The previous owner had installed these two side panels and basically let everything fall to the bottom of the stand. Not sure how well it worked, but I knew I could do better.

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I figured I could build some type of chute that would fit up between the motor and the bottom of the machine.

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My first idea was to create some type of cardboard model that I could reference for building a real box. This was a terrible idea trying to work up under the machine and as soon as I took it out, it basically fell apart.

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Then I had an idea to cut up this popcorn tin and build the dust chute out of it.

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I’m still not sure how I managed to keep all my fingers or not even draw a single drop of blood; those edges get extremely jagged and sharp.

In the mean time I made a trip to Home Depot and found some PVC pieces that would work with my dust collection hose.

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The tin pieces worked ok, but I wasn’t confident in the duct tape holding up, especially as a means of keeping it connected to the stand. It was not a wasted effort though because I ended up using the pieces as you’ll see in the video.

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While working on this project, I realized I really enjoyed the engineering process and solving problems when I made a mistake. I didn’t include footage of the mistakes but there were some epic ones. At some point in the build I stopped checking the fit inside the stand, so when I put it in place I shouldn’t have been surprised that some of the lower parts were smacking into the motor. After fixing that problem, the box for the power switch was in the way, which is why I moved it to the other side of the stand. Finally I forgot the motor needed to be raised in order to get the belt back on and there was no room to spare. Luckily this last problem was the easiest to fix because the motor mount could be flipped over, getting me 3-4 inches of clearance. I picked a 6 inch longer belt at AutoZone.

I imagine you could build something similar for most jointers. If you come across this post and it helps you out, let me know.

Quarterly Maker Box #MKR08 by Adam Savage Part 4

Progressing beyond the previous project where we assembled a model of Adam’s Cave, the final project of Quarterly Maker Box #MKR08, titled Build Your Own House/Apartment, involved building a model of our own. This was good timing because I’ve been putting together my own workshop in the basement over the last few months. Having a model would help with planning my use of the space and give me a different feel/perspective for the area.

My first step was outlining the entire workshop.

I also created a quick list of things I might want to add to the model after the structure was built.

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While the model of Adam’s Cave was in 1:48th scale I decided to build mine in 1:24th because my space is much smaller. Really glad I made this choice because it was still hard getting my big hands into some of the corners.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I subscribed to Quarterly’s Maker Box and probably wouldn’t have known it existed or even thought about subscribing if I hadn’t seen that Adam Savage was getting involved for a couple of boxes. The projects he selected were much different from what I get from my AdaBox and HackerBox subscriptions, so a nice change of pace. I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to seeing what Adam does for #MKR09.

Custom Workbench

I’ve needed a workbench in my new shop since day 1. I finally got tired of working on the floor and built one. I created a little video to show the various ways I’ll use the table.

Let me walk you through the build. First I measured a bunch of stuff, especially the tools I wanted to be able to store under the table.

Then I did a quick framing mock-up to visualize the size.

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The size felt pretty good so I spent some time in SketchUp. The model is free at my new Misc Plans repo on GitHub. Not everything in the model and the screenshot below are exact to the finished workbench, but they’re a good starting point if you want to build something similar.

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At Home Depot I had them cut a sheet of 3/4″ plywood into 3 equal pieces. At home I trimmed them to size for the walls. Then I started cutting 2x4s (all from the walls I took down) for the rest of the framing. I set up an extended fence and a stop block on my miter saw.

That really made quick work so I didn’t have to measure each piece.

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Then I countersunk and drilled holes, glued, and screwed the pieces of 2×4 to create a frame on each wall.

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After assembling the 3 walls I started to line everything up and attached the rails. I was thrilled when the power went out as I was finishing up. Some battery lights allowed me to finish the remaining screws.

I couldn’t believe how level it turned out, considering my basement floor is not very flat.

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Here’s the frame after the power came back on.

I made another trip to Home Depot. I had them cut 2 sheets of plywood to my exact size of 3×5 feet. Then I used a lot of glue (2-3 times what is pictured below) to laminate the two sheets together. I wanted a solid surface for the top of the workbench.

I hauled a bunch of weights down from the garage and clamped all around the edges. I think I counted 35 clamps being used! There weren’t many left on my clamp racks.

With so much glue, I gave it almost a full day to dry. Then I used my router with a flush trim bit along the edges to even up the 2 pieces, followed by a round over bit to get rid of the sharp edges

It was time to attach the top to the frame. I measured out the placement on one end and when I went to check the other side it was way off. I hadn’t been testing squareness enough or not in the right places when I assembled the frame. This is where experience and learning the order of operations is important. I measured the diagonals and there was about an inch difference between the two. Shit!

I pushed and pulled on corners and racked my brain trying to think of a good way to square it up. I decided to take the frame apart and go with a different approach. I’m glad I didn’t glue those rails to the walls!

I gave the entire table top a coat of paste finishing wax before moving on. Then I laid out some scrap plywood on the floor, set the top down, and used shims to get it as level as I could. I placed the wall on the end and used pocket holes to screw it in. From there I measured out where the two rails should go and I pocket holed them to the top as well. Then in went the other two walls. I made sure to test squareness of the walls to the top. I didn’t need to test horizontal square because I knew the top was a good rectangle. This was a much smoother way to assemble the frame.

Before flipping it over, I attached 6 castors (3 locking along one side) to the frame. I cut a bunch of scraps to make shelves and attached a metal tool holder on each side.

I had already cut and laminated the pieces for the vise somewhere earlier in this whole process. I also used flush trim and round over bits to route the edges of the vise jaws. In the drill press I used a Forstner bit to make the holes in the vise jaws for the pipes. Then I screwed the single vise jaw to the table and used its holes as guides to continue the holes through the side wall of the table. Unfortunately the Forstner bit wasn’t long enough to go all the way through. I found this massive drill bit in a box of bits my Dad had given me with the drill press. It wasn’t quite wide enough so I still had to file the edges of both holes.

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Here is a close-up of one piece of the pipe clamp under the table. I used the drill press to put some holes in the clamp and then locked it in place with some screws.

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Hung up a couple of router accessories on the wall.

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Voila!

Isn’t she pretty? I don’t know how I lived without this thing. I’ve already used it so much. If you’re putting together a shop I recommend starting with a proper workbench before anything else.

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I bought this 36″ paper roll and holder so I could cover the table when doing a glue up or a quick paint or stain job.

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It would stick out too much on the sides though. I also didn’t like the mounting method and how much space it would take up under my 12″ overhang. So I found a place on the floor under my tool bench (that you see in the picture) to put it.

Magnets in the Workshop

I realized I have a lot of magnets around the workshop. They can be used for so many things.

 

These trays are invaluable for keeping screws, nuts, bolts, and washers from rolling all over my work area. Harbor Freight has a coupon making them a free item. I use them at my hobby desk too.

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The rubber base is also magnetic.

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Another Harbor Freight freebie are these tool holders. I’m using 4 on my pegboards instead of creating custom tool holders for this stuff.

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There is another on my drill press cart for the chuck key, set screw allen wrenches, tape measure, and clamp.

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I also put one on each side of a workbench I just finished building. I’ll post about that workbench later this week after a final accessory arrives.

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The final freebie from Harbor Freight are these LED lights. I’ve used them many times already.

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I picked up this digital angle gauge on AliExpress for about $15, which is half the price I’ve seen anywhere else. With the floor of my shop being so uneven, the table tops of my tools are never level. I use this gauge to set a zero reference on the table top and then make sure my saw blades or drill press bit are square or set to any specific angle I want. Here it is on my miter saw.

I received these rare Earth magnets for Christmas. They come in a variety of sizes so I included my iPhone charge cable for reference. You can place these magnets in the corners of a custom box to hold the top closed or use them in many different ways in projects you might build. So far I’ve only used them to help organize things around the shop.

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I stuck one inside the clip of the tape measure on the drill press tool holder shown above so it has a stronger attraction.

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I also glued one to the back of this small tape measure so I could keep it to my table saw fence.

It’s always handy to have a tape measure within reach around the shop!

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My Dad gave me his Dad’s old scroll saw. The lock key was missing so I hacked together my own out of a piece of metal, a piece of rubber, and some electrical tape.

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Since it doesn’t snap in the switch like the normal key, I added a magnet to the back and stick it to the saw when it’s not being used. After I get my 3D printer I’ll create a proper key that snaps in the switch and won’t fall out.

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I also have a random assortment of other magnets in case I need them.

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Do you use magnets for anything creative?

 

Basement Bathroom Upgrades

After putting in a new LED light in the bathroom next to my workshop I figured I’d give the place a “quick” makeover. The biggest need was to do something with the nasty floor. After a tip from Mom I picked up a few boxes of peel and stick floor tiles from Family Dollar.

Not bad for $30! Good enough for a basement bathroom. I also put in a quick release toilet seat and replaced the faucet and it’s supply lines.