Dust collection

Thien baffle dust collector

dust collection has always been on my “things to do list” but somehow always got left on the back burner. When I came across a really good deal in the classifieds, I knew it was finally time to make it a priority.

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What I ended up buying was a cheap one horsepower, bag filter dust collection system made by Master-craft. I only paid $60 for the unit and I knew with a few modifications this would be perfect for my small shop.
The only things I would be hooking up to this dust collection unit would be my table saw, band saw, and router table. Because a dust collector like this one uses high-volume and low-pressure, its very inefficient to reduce your 4 inch line to a smaller 2 1/2 inch line for use on smaller portable power tools.  with this in mind, my smaller power tools will use a shop vac for dust collection.

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To keep as much dust from not entering the filter bag as possible, I added a “top hat” or thine baffle separator modification to the collector. What this basically does is add a second stage to the dust collection process that allows us to drop the dust out of circulation in to a separate container before it enters the second stage which would be the garbage bag and the filter bag. A large percentage of the dust will never make it to the second stage as most will be separated before the filter bag. To see how it works check out the video below.

Router lift

It’s time that my shop gets a router table it’s gone a while with out one but I think  I can get enough use out of one now to build one. I made a list of things that I would want this router table to have. first it would need to have a router lift and I want that to be operated from the front.

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it would need storage for a shop vac for dust collect and also a large table for   Milling dados in sheet goods.
The carcass for the router table base was pretty simple to come up with. it need to be large enough to fit the shop vac, a few drawers for router bits and maybe a spot to keep the routers and accessories when it’s not in the table.

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The Top would be  made out of a plywood core with a melamine top for a smooth surface. it would also sit on a 2 x 4 frame what I could hing so I could lift it up from the front to have access to the router.

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The lift mechanism is probably where most of the design effort went in this project. I wanted it to be unique as I knew this table would be my first YouTube video. In my research I realized that there was a lack of lifts using the plunge mechanism Which comes with most routers. To me, half the battle in building a lift is the two Guides that will keep the router moving up and down straight, so why not use the machined tubes and bushings that comes with your router.

Once I knew I was going to use the plunge mechanism from my router I went ahead and built an insert plate to mount the router to. I Used stainless steel for this and I machined it in the lathe to make sure it was perfectly flat. I also made two little sheaves that mount to the underside of the insert plate. A steel cable would wrap around the sheaves and mount to the plunge mechanism. The other end of the cable would amount to a block of the oak which will be slid back and forth via lead screw turned from the front of the table.

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Tension will be kept on the cables by the springs which are already in the plunge mechanism. The last thing I had to do was add a button to activate the caller locking pin for when you are changing your router bits.

Im pretty happy how this table works but there are a few things about that i might have done different like made it a little smaller. i have dust collection in the shop now so the need of shop vac storage isn’t so important. As far as the lift goes, its seems to be holding up well but i wonder for how long. Like if one of the cables stretches before the other. It does kinda suck to tie up your plunge base in the table to, because it is a fair amount of work to get it out.

Anyways here’s a video showing some of the features.

Folding chair

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For about 10 bucks you can run down to walmart and pick yourself up a folding step stool. But who really likes going to walmart anyways, it’s always busy and messy in there. Instead why don’t you spend about 16 hours of Labour and about 50 buck in material to build one.

When it comes to woodworking this often goes through my mind about how much work goes into something I could just buy for so cheap. This isn’t always the case of course but it does seem to happen more than we like to admit.
Quality is definitely  something that doesn’t come cheap and definitely doesn’t come from walmart. In the case of the step stool, yes it will hold me and yes it works perfectly around the kitchen but it will be made from cheap material like plastics and light metals making it look cheap. This may not be a problem for some people because they hardly use a stool and store it away when not in use. For me on the other hand, I have young kids that use it when ever we are in the kitchen so I’d rather not have to store it away. With this in mind I would like to have something that looks nice, almost like a piece of furniture so I can keep it out in the kitchen but fold up and store away if I have to.

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Alright, off to the internet to find one to build. After spending about an hour searching through hundreds of pics I came across two styles of custom folding step stools.
Click for details: Folding Step Stool
The first one looks like it’s been around for a while, there must have been plans available because there seems to be a lot of them on google images. It’s not a bad stool but even folded up seems to bulky. The second one I found on lumberjacks, I guy posted it and said he got plans form Woodsmith #183. I did really like the concept of this one. Folded up really nice and had a pretty cool look to it. What I didn’t like about it was the use of door hinges to allow everything fold up. It just seemed like it might be a little weak but hard  to tell from just a picture. I would still use this example as my inspiration and hit up goggle sketchup and start drawing something.
Click for details: Folding Step Stool
I Took the idea of the front leg supports being about 2″ wide by 3/4 and using a piece of 3/8″ rod to support the step from  the Woodsmith stool. For the back leg supports I decided to turn the leg 90 degrees allow me to pivot on leg into the other which allowed me to lose the hinges at this point.

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To get the steps to fold up was simply done by joining them together by a linking piece of walnut. The walnut link would eliminate the need for the other set of hinges.

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The steps I wanted to be pretty. I knew most of the time the stool would be in the open and in the kitchen so the top step would be visible all the time. I picked out the nicest piece of walnut I had milled it to 3/4 wide and 5″ long then book matched the resaw to make it 10″ wide. Next I milled a slot down one side to accept the rod. Then I made a mating piece which  would be glue and screwed to the bottom, sandwiching the rod in the center.

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Where I really got stomped on this project was how to lock the back legs to the front legs so they wouldn’t spread apart. I first though I could just make a mating groove in the top step that matched the leg angle. But I quickly realized that it could still easily slide out, allowing the legs to spread apart. After seeing this I knew that instead of a mating the leg angle, the dado would have to be straight and not angled at all. I then simply added a wedge to the back side of the leg support and to the front side of the step dado. Finally, a flat was made in the step support allowing the step to lock to the support.

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Aww, finally done the hard part, just had to clean up the rough edges and add a curve to the top. I finished with a polyurethane for durability (kids) and put it together using dowels for the pivot point.

 

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This really was a super fun project. I am hoping to have plans up in the near future but until than here’s the build video:

 

 

Pocket hole jig

It’s pretty safe to say that kreg tools have a strong hold on the pocket hole joinery market. They’ve been around for a long time now and have made some really great jigs. To be honestly with you, I think that they are really reasonably priced as well. So you probably asking yourself, if you think so highly of kreg jigs, why build one and not buy one? The answer is pretty simple. While I think kreg jigs are we’ll built for the price, I’m not that big of a fan of a pocket holes for joinery. So why build one at all? There are  one-off places where they will work well, just not that often, meaning it won’t get a lot of use. With that in mind I didn’t want to dump the 100 bucks on a jig I’ll rarely use.
When designing the jig, most of the construction was straight forward. What made things a little complicated was the idea of using a clamping mechanism that could easily be adjusted for different size stock and being able to lock it from the front of the jig so you’re not reaching around the work piece to lock it into place.
To accomplish this it basically needs to be done in two stages the first stage adjusts for different width stock and locks by turning a locking bolt. The second stage is used for locking the work piece in place by using a cam action lock.
After the clamping was figured out I starting working on the guide that would be used to guide the drill bit at the proper 15 degree angle into the workpiece. I used a 1/2″ coupling nut with the threads drilled out for a guide. To hold the guide at the proper angle, I used 2 pieces of 3/4″ plywood sandwich together with a hole drilled through the top, drilled to 15 degrees. The guide will then be apoxied into the hole.
Now that we can drill some pocket holes, we can figure out how far off the edge of the workpiece does the guide have to be. This is important because you want the screw to exit out the back of the workpiece in the Center. To accommodate for thicker work pieces you will have to move the guide up and also set the caller on the drill bit itself deeper. I did this on mine by trial and error using different thickness stock. Once I have it set for a certain thickness I use a locking pin to hold it in place.
All on all the jig works good for what I need it do around my shop.

Heres a video showing some of its features:

Shoulder plane

I need a shoulder plan. Every time a tenon slides in a little to tight, I kick myself for not having one.
Looks easy enough, stick a blade in the top of a flat block of wood and you got yourself a shoulder plan. Not so much. Of course I head over to the internet, hit up lumbers jocks and realize they’re are lots of “options” when comes to building any type plane.

Bevel up, bevel down, angle from 15 to 40, throat opening, and wood choices. So what to choice? I went to lee valley to look at their veritas planes.  I liked everything about it, but there was three main features that really  stood out.

First bevel up. And because I bought the same 25 degree blade, it gave me the blade rest angle of 15 degrees. Secondly I wanted the adjustable mouth because it really helps in getting a consistent sized shaving. And thirdly I want it to be visually appealing which veritas did a really good job on their plane.
With this list of requirements I head to the shop and start building a prototype out of plywood. Using the medium veritas plane for scale, I knew it would be 6.5″ long 3″ wide and 11/16 wide. I also knew the blade rest angle would be 15 degrees from the description in the catalog. The length of the blade is 4.25″ long so the cutting edge would be slightly off-center at about 3.5″.

 

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Next I decided the adjustable mouth would be guided by a sliding dovetail and a single bolt (like the veritas plane) to hold it in place. It would be made over sized until fitted properly than I would hand plane it to width, cut to length then sanded flat.The final hurdle to figure out was appearance. Most planes I’ve seen have a center core which the angle for the blade is cut out of, then two side pieces are glued to either sides to hold it all together. This method is really not suited for a plane that has an adjustable mouth but still could be incorporated. You really only need side pieces to hold the blade rest to the main body of the plane so I decided to only have side pieces on one half of the plane. To give some visual appeal, I used a French curve to give it a better look.

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Because only half the Plane body was going to be divided in three pieces, I couldn’t just rip them to width in the table saw. I decided the easiest way would be to route out about 3/16″ on each side. To get the two pieces to mate nicely at the French curve, I used a 1/8 end mill and very carefully milled right to my line. I had surprising control with this method  and was able to accurately follow my line.

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After it was all fitted you can rip your blade rest off, measuring 3.5″ from the back and make a 15 degree cut from this mark. I then cut an arbitrary angle to give room for the wedge. Next I glued the two sides to the main body allowing me to sandwich my blade rest in between the sides. Thus giving me the a tapered slot to except the blade and wedge.

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Because I left the two side pieces wide, I rip them to width on the table saw after the glue dried.

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Now that the main body of the plane is finished, I dressed it up by adding some curves across the top just to give it a more refined look.

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All what was left was to drill hole for a locking bolt for the adjustable month, flatten the sides using sand paper on a flat surface and put a polyurethane finish on it.

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All and all it seems to work well and looks great. It was pretty fun to build to, I would recommend this project to anyone in need of a shoulder plan.

Bottle opener

Steve Ramsey and Alex Harris put out a challenge to build something that represents your home town, province/state or country. I instantly thought beer. Us Canadian are known for lots of stuff but I I’m sure know one is going to argue with me when i say we love our beer. With that in mind I decided to make a simple bottle opera that i was able to make in about an hour. I started by gluing a couple of pieces of scrap maple and walnut together. I then drew the shape freehand, roughed it on the band saw and shaped it on the sander till I had a shape I was happy with.

 

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To finish it off I spayed a couple of coats of polyurethane on it and screwed a washer to the bottom to act as a catch to hook under the cap.

 

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All and all this was a pretty fun project. With no real plan in mode, just kinda wing and see what comes out of it. I think it looks pretty cool and i get lots of compliments on it when i pass it to someone trying to open a cold one!

Exact Dados

Exact dado jig

What is a kerfmaker? Have you ever heard of bridge city tools? Before I tell you what a kerfmaker is you should check out http://www.bridgecitytools.com first. I’ll wait. alright are you totally blown away by this little tool company that makes this crazy awesome stuff!! Yeah me too but there’s one problem….. I’m pretty sure i don’t have to say it so let just say we are going to build a kerfmaker.

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The idea behind the jig is pretty simple, make perfect sized dados for what ever workpiece you reference. It does this by giving you two positive stops to reference any fence from any power tool off of, one stop for the first pass of the slot and one for the second pass. The resulting dado width will be exactly the same width as the piece of stock you referenced it off of. That might have sounded a little confusing but it’s really not, just kinda hard to explain.

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if you take a look at the kerfmaker picture above, you will see three outside surfaces. one end of the jig has one surface, the other end has two, one being movable. To calibrate the jig you first set the thickness of what ever blade you will be using (dado, bandsaw, router) this is done by moving the orange piece in towards the blue piece the thickness of the blade. then you must gauge the thickness of you stock by placing it in-between the silver stop and the blue stop (picture below). Now you will end up with an offset at one end of the jig.

This offset is the amount you will have to move you fence over to get a precisely fitting slot. By clamping a stop on your table saw top you can use the kerfamaker a flip stop allowing you to move your fence the perfect amount every time.

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If your still confused on how the jig works, don’t worry half-inch shy  explains it much better on a video here:

I gotta make sure I give full credit to bridge city tools for this cool little jig and even though most of their tools are quit pricy, the kerfmaker is actually not that expensive so if you don’t have the time to build one I would highly recommend checking bridge city out.

I decided to make one of these jigs some time ago and actually ended up building it out of aluminium. To be honest I never even gave much thought to building it out of wood. I guess I thought it would have to be bigger than the kerfmaker to get the room to cut the grooves. About a year later I was searching lumberjacks.com for a project and I came across a few made of wood. Even though the one I made works great I thought I would take the time to build one out of wood so I could show the build process on my YouTube channel. The only difference between the metal one and the wood one is I used a sliding dovetail on the wood one oppose to just a slot on the metal one.

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I roughly scaled my kerfmaker to the pictures on BCT website. I’m not sure how close I actually am to the original size because I never actually had my hands on one but I think I’m pretty close. the over all length is 4″ by 1 5/8″ tall and 3/4″ wide.

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I used 1/4″  by 3/4″ set screws and 1/4″ thumbscrew nuts for hardware. The grooves are milled using a 1/4 end mill which works perfect because the height of the thumbscrews measure 3/16. The top groove is 1 1/2″ long and the bottom groove measures 3″ the moveable stop that is used for setting the kerf measures 2″ and the moveable stop that is used for scaling your stock measures          2 5/8″. All this gives a capacity of an 1 5/8.

workbench article

Workbench

The old 2×4 bench with a melamine top served me well for about 5 years before I decide it was time to upgrade. I actually probably started looking for something better about 2 years ago but never really came across anything that I wanted. Type in “workbench” on YouTube and you will see two main types:

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Old faithful, 2×4 construction or the workbench worth more than my entire shop, the roubo.

Click for details: Roubo/Scandinavian Workbench

Neither of which really seemed appealing to me. Now don’t get me wrong there are thousands of variations of either that may or may not suit my needs but at the end of the day, 2×4’s still look like 2×4’s and a 3″ thick maple top is very expensive and difficult to make. Never the less I did come across a few that made it on the short list.

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This first guy is pretty cool with all its extra storage, maple top and a front and side vise. from the picture the frames seems really simple with its 2×4 contraction and lag bolt joinery. the cabinet could be customized to what ever you think would work best for your shop. I also like the idea of the open shelf at the top for power tool storage. Giving it a little closer look, I start to see some things that are not so appealing though like the single 2×4 legs look acceptable to racking and the stretchers seem to be to light for its work load.

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This one here is similar to the one above with lag bolt joinery but use a 4×4 for the leg which I think would help a lot, not only in strength but also adding some much-needed weight. I also like the idea of the plywood/MDF top for a couple of reasons. Cheap, cheap and it also a lot cheaper than a solid maple top. Almost there with this one, except one thing, A 4×4 post is only sold in pressure treated or cedar around here locally. Cedar actually wouldn’t be that bad, but it is light and I really didn’t want the bench to look thrown together with different materials that are normally used for decks.

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Hmmm what do we have here? Thick heavy legs and stretchers, cheap but nice looking top and lots of room underneath  to customize to my needs.

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Here is my bench completed. As you can see its very similar to the one above except for a few small changes to cater to my needs. The height is set for my table saw out feed, clamp storage on one end, twin screw vice at other end, drawer added for all the stuff used the most at the bench and large open area for tool storage.

The construction of this bench was made primarily of plywood but also used one sheet of MDF for the top, shelf and drawer. Everything else came off of two sheets of birch plywood. it’s all mortise and tenon joinery making this very strong with virally zero racking.

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I started out by cutting a whole bunch of strips 3 1/2″ wide for the stretchers and legs. The legs would end up being 5 plys and the stretchers would be 3.

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Then I made a simple jig to form my tenon on each of my stretchers. I then glued them altogether being careful that my edges stayed flush.

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For the legs i just glued all five pieces together but the middle one would be cut twice to allow for the two tenons. As you can see from the picture I used a scrap piece of plywood the same width as my tenons for a spacer. I wrapped the spacer in tape so it wouldn’t get glued together.

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I used two clamps end to end to get the length i needed to clamp the two stretchers to the two legs.

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The top is held to the stretchers via pocket holes.

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I did splurged a little here and added maple trim all the way around to protect the edges from getting all beat up. I think it was worth it because not only is it practical, it looks great.

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I then added a maple board to one end of the top measuring 3 1/2″ for the twin vice. Its kind of a fake twin vise though because you have to turn both handles, oppose to an actually twin vise that has a chain connecting the two handles allowing you to only have to turn one handle. This method is diffidently a cheap and effective alternative. All i used was two cheap econo screw vices for the hardware and mounted them to the bottom of the table and used 1 1/2″ thick maple for the moveable jaw.

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I think i love this the most about this bench. A long full width drawer used for all the stuff you always are looking for when working on a project like screws, pencils, sandpaper, measuring tapes and hammers.

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I have now been using the bench for about 3 months and i gotta say i absolutely love this bench. It ended up been a huge upgrade for the shop because of is sturdy construction, weight and conveniences.

and a free plan here:

http://www.finewoodworking.com/fwnpdffree/011181054.pdf