Posts tagged shop
It Just Keeps Getting Bigger

It seems that every time my family and I move houses, I get a bigger shop. The first two shops were in the married quarters of a Canadian Forces Base and they were pretty tight. My first shop was about 40 sq ft and under the basement stairs with the spiders and a never-ending supply of cob webs and dust motes. The next house was a bungalow we rented and I was stoked to find out that I would be able to have 85 sq ft in the corner. Not only did I double my space but I also didn't have to duck while using half of my bench due to the stairs. 

When I left the service we bought our first house in Carleton Place and I somehow negotiated the un-shared use of the single-car garage with my wife. I wish I could remember how I did that because my negotiation skills as of late have not been as successful. Now I had a 170 sq ft shop - over double the size of where we just came from. I was in school at Rosewood Studio at the time and started to get things set-up in the garage. I crammed in a jointer, thickness planer, bandsaw, table saw, lathe, router table and dust collector. As well as a bench and hand tool cabinet. Needless to say it was a bit tight but I have been working in there for about 10 years. I started paring down the number of machines I have which gave me more breathing room. 

Well it's happening again. On May 20th, my family will be taking possession of our new (hopefully last) home and the trend continues. In this house I will have a 480 sq ft shop that is well over twice the size of my current spot. It will be in the basement this time - I was informed that cars will be going into the two-car garage, not a shop. 

It's much easier to move heavy benches and tools on paper.

Lately I've been looking at how to best use all this space. I still have no desire to own a table saw or jointer but I have been taking a serious look at a Festool TS-75. It would be nice to work with plywood again because for some builds it really is the best choice. I will also be adding a couple more workbenches: an elbow-height joinery bench and a 2-foot high assembly bench. If I end up going with a TS-75 I will build a bench for it as well. 

I'm thinking that this will likely be the shop I die in. My goal is to drop dead at my bench doing what I love to do. I will have climate control though out the year so I will no longer worry about humidity and temperature swings. The space will also have LED lighting, a separate ventilation fan for those finishing days, plywood floors and walls, and a finished ceiling. At the time of my writing, I have 60 days to go before I get into my new shop (and the rest of the house I suppose). There is going to be a lot coming out of my new space and I can't wait to get started. 

In order to understand, you must do. - V

My Inheritance from Uncle Karl
Not long ago the world lost a good man. My wife Christina's Uncle Karl passed away and what a loss that was. Karl was one of those fellas who could make, fix and salvage anything. Whether it was building kitchen cabinets, a snow plow or a sauna (he was a good Finlander too) Karl could get it done. Most of the conversations Karl and I had revolved around woodworking. He would always ask what I was working on and we would discuss things like techniques, glue and tools like all good woodworkers do.

Not long after Karl passed, I was in his shop picking up some wood that he had sawn (with the sawmill he built and ran) for a special project (more on that in a later entry). My cousin David, Karl's son, told me that he would like me to have any of Karl's woodworking tools if I wanted them. I was beside myself and honoured to have the chance to use some of the tools that Karl used so I set out to go through his shop to see what I could find.

There is no doubt in my mind that Karl knew where everything was in his shop. The rest of us however were puzzled at the sheer volume of stuff in there. Some of the stuff in Karl's shop included:
  • 14 chainsaws in various states of repair
  • A tractor
  • A 20" thickness planer(that was his small one, he had already sold the one that ran off of belt on a tractor)
  • Around 10 sets of auto and heavy machinery tools
  • Survey equipment
Not to mention a whole hockey sock of woodworking tools both hand and powered. The place was packed to the hilt with tools but everything was divided up into areas so I made for the woodworking wing and started opening boxes and searching shelves.

I managed to drag a fairly large wooden box out from under a few chainsaws to see what was inside. The box was built from plywood and had steel corner strapping all around it, making it virtually bomb-proof.

Karl's tool box now in my shop
When I opened the box I was delighted to see that it was full of woodworking hand tools of various types and persuasions. Most of them were geared toward home building from a time when power wasn't always available when building a house. I think this was Karl's job site box that he would take with him so that he would have all the tools he needed. The tool box didn't look like it had been opened in many years judging by the state of the tools and the piles of sawdust and mouse droppings.

The tool box was almost a two-man lift and as I started emptying it I could see why. The top front section of the toolbox folds down and has a saw till inside it. Inside there was two shallow drawers and a large open area for tools.

I started pulling out tools and laying them out on my bench and I was shocked by the volume of tools inside. Glass-cutting tools, planes, chisels, plumb bobs, braces, levels squares and even a saw filing vise and sets to tune up his saws on the job site.

My bench was covered with Karl's tools

Karl was famous for placing his initials on almost everything he owned. There was no doubt who owed a tool when you saw the trademark 'KP' written or scratched on it. 

Many of Karl's tools were fettled to suit how he worked including hand-made handles and custom grinds for a specific task.

I also came away with this tool tote full of saws that were still sharp despite not being used in a while. Most of the saws where Disston's and they have plenty of life left in them.

There is no end to what you can do with hanger strap

I'm in the process of rehabilitating many of the tools and will be putting them back to work in my shop (more on that later). My only hope is that I can honour the Palomaki name by doing work with these tools that Uncle Karl would have proudly stamped with 'KP'.

In order to understand you must do. V

Time For A New Bench
I've been thinking about building a new bench for about a year and a half now. My first bench was built early on in my woodworking journey and I hadn't really developed my method of work yet. At that time I just needed to get a bench to work on so I picked a style and went for it. Now that I have some time under my belt, I need something different. I work with hand tools a lot more than I used to so that is a definite consideration. I also have had an opportunity to work on many different benches with all sorts of vise configurations so I've been able to do a lot of comparison.

I've decided on a Nicholson-style bench with straight legs with a 12" Veritas twin screw vise. At the moment I don't think I'm going to put a tail-type vise. I found that I didn't use the one I have all that often so why bother. If you've ever seen Paul Sellers' bench you will get the idea. I spent a few weekends down at the wood shows in the US last year sharing a lecture stage with Paul and I got a chance to work on his bench. As far as benches go, it is pretty modest but I really like it. It's plenty stout despite being made of SPF and the size is perfect for my tiny shop. The most impressive part of this type of bench is how rock solid it is thanks in part to the legs being let in to the aprons with a dado.
Lots of glue was spread for these laminations
Now that I've got the lathe up and out of the way it's on to building this bench. This is the most important tool in my shop so I'm looking forward to getting it done. Today I laminated up the many 2 x 3's for the legs and the top. An soon as the glue dries I will start laying out the joinery to get the legs joined.

In order to understand you must do.

A New Look
You have no doubt noticed that my website has changed around a bit. My old site was a paid site that cost me money every month to host. When I was making furniture for a living I had no problem justifying the cost but now that I'm a hobbyist, there isn't much sense in laying out money for nothing.

This new site is being hosted by Blogger and it meshes up nicely with all the other Google products that I use so it just made sense. It doesn't have as much functionality as the old site but I'm learning new things about it everyday. If you have any cool Blogger tricks that you would like to share, please send them along.

As for woodworking, in my last post I talked about selling my table saw and how liberating that was. I haven't missed it yet and I'm having no problem ripping on the bandsaw and cross-cutting at the bench. Lately I've been looking pretty hard at the jointer sitting across the way. It's an eight incher with very short beds (it's an Inca) and is somewhat limited in it's use. Anything wider and I have to flatten a face with a hand plane - anything narrower and I couldn't be bothered to connect the dust collection so again I just do it at the bench.

Next on the chopping block
So what's the big deal. It gets used once in a blue moon and to be honest, a little extra room would be nice. I know what your thinking, what's next? Well if I ditch the jointer that will leave me with three machines: the bandsaw, thickness planer and drill press. I don't see me getting rid of any of those any time soon. The bandsaw is just to useful; the thickness planer saves a metric ton of work; and the drill press is great for ... well ... drilling stuff. The drill press is also great for cutting mortises as well so it's safe.

The other cool opportunity this brings me is the chance to use my specialtiy planes more often. I spend a lot of time at work and wood shows testing and demonstrating the tools but I haven't often put them to use in my own shop. Up till now I've always described my woodworking style as 60/40 - that's 60% power tools and 40% hand tools. It would appear that those numbers are going to change.

In order to understand, you must do.

... and there it was, gone.
I did it.

After years of talking about doing it, I finally did it.

I got rid of my table saw.

I have nothing against table saws, I just don’t think it was a power tool that I could afford to have eating up valuable space in my shop. In my 170 sq ft shop that was 3.5% of the space taken up by that sucker - not to mention the ancillary sleds, jigs, blades and other miscellanea that went with it.

‘I don’t need it’ was what it boiled down to. Over the past year I looked at what I did with it and discovered that it really only got used for plywood. It also got used for cross-cutting parts but that’s about it. I’ve always ripped on the bandsaw and cross-cuts can happen at the bench with a back saw and shoot plane.

Heavy-duty ripping is easily done with this 5 TPI D-8 and a saw bench
As for joinery, I always used a router (powered or hand) for dados, grooves and rabbets, and tenons were always done with the band saw or hand saw. So before pulling the trigger I went through all the things that I used the table saw for and found a suitable alternative with the other tools in my shop. As for not working with plywood - meh.

This brand new Bad Axe Copperhead Killer will help with all of those exacting cuts for joinery
The days of having to make a living in my shop are long gone and I do woodworking now for fun and relaxation. Lately I've been having fun using hand tools and so I will follow that vain to see where it takes me. My next big project for the shop is to build a new workbench. Now that I'm using more hand tools, I'm finding that my old bench just isn't cutting it. Stay tuned for parts of that build. After that, it will be a long anticipated foray into lutherie - watch for that one too.

The empty space that will soon be home for a lathe - the roller stand will still be helpful at the bandsaw.
So now I have some open space in my shop that will probably get filled with the lathe that I bought a little while ago. As for the other machines, the band saw and thickness planer are safe but I’m looking at you jointer … you may be next. <laughs maniacally>

In order to understand, you must do.