03 May 2014

Shop changes

This last winter I struggled through the end of my router table build and then started in on building up some of my manual hand planing skills while deciding what to do next.  In the way of in-shop builds I decided that a miter saw table/cabinet was on the agenda so as to get it off the ersatz secondary workbench and onto a mobile platform.  To me that also meant that the cabinet it was on would also have to contain the thing, so that I could put a secondary surface on it and use it for other things, like supporting long work pieces that I hand plane.

But that really couldn't get started in earnest until I had a place to roll it to, and the shop was in desperate need of freeing up some workspace.  A dead upright freezer was taking up valuable space and since it was no longer in service that meant it could go.  Yet in that tree of decision making came the concept that a roll around miter cabinet really wouldn't be all that useful sitting in the same place and what I really needed was some shelving there.  As I was working on getting stamina back by planing down 5/4 and 6/4 stock lumber, mostly Sassafras but also some Mahogany and 8/4 Acacia to make the frame for the roll around cabinet, I really couldn't devote much time to simple storage shelving.

Before that, however, I also talked to an electrician for doing some of the around the house stuff (front and rear porch lights, mostly) and talked about the can lights in the basement.  He said those were probably made for attic use and as they have insulation around them, have a heat sensitive switch that makes them cut out.  Thus the blinking light effect which is killer on lights of any sort, and even CFLs did this in a few of the cans, so they were not a solution.  I could get up there, take down each light and remove that cut-off or have him do that, which would mean a major tear-down of the ersatz secondary workbench... or I could re-examine the issue.

If the problem is heat generation from 60 watt incandescent bulbs (or equivalent in CFL which run at a lower power consumption) then the problem was too much energy wasted in making the actual light.  Too much heat per watt consumed, in other words a ratio.  I took a look at some of the standard charts for light output (you know, the visible and not IR stuff) and saw that LEDs used up about 10 watts of which 1 was wasted in heat and the rest went to equivalent light output.  LEDs have come down drastically in price over the last 5 years and are now cost competitive with CFLs.  So now the idea began to percolate that instead of new fixtures or re-wiring the old ones, what I really needed were just better bulbs (or point source LEDs with diffusers).  I purchased one to try in the one can that blinked on everything, almost immediately and put that in the can receptacle.  After 10 hours, the light was not blinking and that is longer than I usually spend in the shop.  Five more of those and my problem was solved.


Plus I get a Color Rendition Index above 75% for these daylight LEDs.  An old CFL with titanium dioxide coating on the outside is still used in its workshop clamp on receptacle as it helps to get rid of some of the stuff that lingers in the shop from the chemistry there.  It is minor but over time it does do some good and I can notice changes in the shop air over time with it.

The router table is on the left and becomes, as I knew it would, a flat surface catch-all while not in active use.  Still things are looking up and I'm hoping to get it into active use later this year as the roll around miter saw cabinet gets up and running.  Since it is a cabinet and not really a chest, I'm making a frame for it and then will slat in sassafras on the outside.  The frame base will be acacia at the base, walnut for uprights and long cross-pieces, and mahogany for short cross pieces.  Major dimensions are determined, but interior arrangement is TBD.

With better lights I can see what I'm doing, a big, big plus.  And I will say this about daylight equivalent lights: they actually do have a positive effect on my mental attitude the moment they get turned on.

Over the workbench is a Dazor two tube fluorescent task light I got off of someone at Ebay.  They still make those things, too!  And with the buzzing magnetic ballast, to boot.  I do want to hit them up for an electronic one if they have a retrofit kit: the buzzing isn't that bad at first, but as it warms up you hear it more.  With that said they packed a lot into the base including counter-weights and such, and if they don't have a retro-fit kit then finding something to fit in that space may be impossible.  The reason for the task light is that when I'm at the drill press or doing other work nearby the workbench, even with better overhead lighting I could use something a bit more directional, and that does the job perfectly.

So, where was I?

Oh, shelving!  Yes had to move the freezer out (hand truck necessary for that) and then once it was out of the way I got the measurements, realized I wanted some space behind the shelves for stuff like saw horses and out-feed supports, and ordered it from Global Industrial.  Archive boltless shelving but good for workshop use.

The one thing that boltless shelving lacks are components to upgrade them with.  I learned, to my disbelief, that the makers of the stuff utilize slightly differing spans (the cross pieces) so that one manufacturer's boltless shelving doesn't necessarily fit another's system.  You get a bit of lock-in that way and stuck with an original supplier.  Unless you aren't doing a systemic approach and going piecemeal, like me.  With that all said I would really have liked panels in prior projects or at least stuff that easily adapts to boltless shelving in general but is manufacturer agnostic.  In this case the panels I wanted to put up on the end was pegboard to start getting all my smaller stuff organized.  I ended up buying some Alligator Board (meant to be put up on studs or drywall in front of studs at 16" intervals) in 36" wide by 16" high, and then drilled mounting holes for the half-inch difference between the distance for boltless uprights and the board (with a bit of overhang on the rear side).


Here is as you turn to your left as you walk in.  Note the shelf over the sink that I just put in, to get rid of some of the stuff sitting on there that is getting crowded out by the old Sharp microwave.  The microwave still works, heats up water just fine and that makes it available to reheat my coffee, tea or mix up some oxalic acid for bleaching wood. 

In the foreground is an outdoor halogen task light serving as the vacuum hose rest.  It is really hand for that... but I don't have any place else to put it at the moment... so necessity and all that.  The bench grinder with Oneway Wolverine system is obscured just behind it.   A bit better organization should get those stowed away and out of the way in the future.


This is the heart of the affair and the light canister above it is the problematic one with anything but an LED.  Pegboard on the end with the shop hand tools that fit.

The contractor table was sits on the bottom part of the shelving, and the rest of that level is used up for a few things that don't really fit anywhere else at the moment.  At the top of all of this is a Jet fine particulate air system which should really be suspended from the ceiling, but as I had nothing scheduled for that high up and fine particulates are a concern, that is the best I could do.  I does not suck nor blow from the vent from the utility room and does set up a general circulation pattern in the room when its on.  Also it is made for 16" rafter spacing and the basement has 24" spacing... but the floorboards of the main floor are at 16"! Not perfect but it works.

All the cased tools (electric hand planer, circular saw, drill/driver, etc.) plus some anonymous jigs, fixtures and miscellaneous tools now sit on the upper shelves.  The long searches to find them and get them out from behind other stuff is now over.


Let me just say that getting all the Japanese hand saws out and available is a huge plus on its own.  Getting the heavier hammers away from the workbench but nearby it frees up valuable space they were taking up.  Of the two jigsaws I have, the one on the outside is the cheap knockabout one, used for rough work, and the other remains in its case on the shelving.  The belt sander is a freebie with a Triton router, and I'll have to make more use of it and possibly see if I can rig up some sort of jig for it as well.  The random orbital sander is just a cheap workhorse that does the job, nothing fancy.

The blue shelf on the upper left is cleaning and lubrication supplies and the stuff I tend to use the most when maintaining power tools.  By the waterfall rack is the camellia oil with a microfiber rag, and it is used for the light coating on most of the hand tools.



The lower half is hammer, mallet, wrench and other saw land, plus the Swedish axe picked up as milsurp.  I finally broke down and got a hammer set suitable for more than driving nails as I've already had to do some bashing of sheet metal and wanted something a bit more appropriate to that on an as-needed basis.  The wrench and socket sets are Harbor Freight and the racks and holders are after-market.

Along the side are my measuring stuff like yardstick and center finding rule, plus architect's square.  The central portion of the racks are where the screwdrivers, pliers, power drill and baskets for other stuff are.  Craftsman for the screwdriver set as they are both reliable and cheap.  Plus they all fit on that 24" magnetic strip which I bolted on to the pegboard.  Getting my drill bit sets (jobber and brad point) means I don't have to go on the Quest for the Missing Drill Bit Set any more.  Two DeWalt sets and one cheap store deal with driver bits that I don't mind if they die for a good cause.

Getting all this done took awhile because it is just me doing the work.  I hate eating up time with this stuff, but if it saves me time later, then it is well worth it.  The amount of ingenuity that has been put into making the various parts of this are a testament to the engineers involved and the workforce that made them.  My hat is off to you folks!


Look, its clutter!

More organized, though, and the top shelf for the ESW is now just down to some of the better cleaning supplies and lubricants, plus gun cleaning case on the side.  The miter saw is nearly alone on its level, now.  Under that some storage space has been opened up with re-arranging things and more of that needs to go on.  By the side, leaning up against stuff on the left, are the Sassafras boards I've been planing smooth.  When I'm doing that work the place smells like a rootbeer factory and is rather pleasant. 

That shelving system in back may appear very cluttered, and that is because it is.  Yet it is organized clutter of the bulky stuff that needs to be somewhere and I can find it easily.  Foam sheets and stuff like foam rolls go up top.  Rarely used but no other good place to put them.  When I need them they need to be at hand.  When I don't they need to be out of the way.  Long piece jig storage is under that along with raw stock stuff like t-track and miter track.  Below that is excess and back-up storage, stuff used rarely or kept on hand just in case, plus broken down equipment that won't be used in the near future.  Then comes bulk storage for wood and finishes where the sun can't get to them.  Drill press roll around cabinet in front of all that stuff, plus smaller air circulator with HEPA filter: it gets air up out of the dead space and into circulation.


From the drill press, reverse angle looking back at the workbench.  The lower shelves behind it are for wood storage, up and off the ground, a pain to get to so that means I have to have a good reason to drag it out.  Some scrap storage at the end of the shelving behind the fastener drawers, then some more wood and bulky clamps, plus Grippers.  Upper shelf starts with some air handling stuff for future use, then migrates through jigs then sharpening supplies, then back to air handling stuff.  Top shelf holds my surface vise and then all the board scrap storage.


At the very end, on the far wall and tucked out of the way, is my clamp storage on normal pegboard.  That includes all the clamp using straightedges, as well.  My aluminum bar clamps aren't easy to see and that is for the good since I only use those when I have a large piece to assemble.  I used them a lot on the router table, that's for sure.  Some lighter stuff is on one of the two shelves on it, like the ersatz panavise and magnifying fine work holder.  Seen on the shelving to the left are some hand planes in their sacks which are out to remind me to give them a good sharpening before I start in on the major part of the cabinet, then my various takedown guides from the NRA and Browning, and above that miscellaneous plastic stripping and papers to put down for messy work.

Work does go on, albeit slowly.  I have an Incra I-box jig to start using with the table saw, and that looks to be fun.  Some general moving of other stuff in the house means an old set of metal shelving is out with the freezer and I need to get a round table out from a room where it is just taking up space.  Once those are out and removed, then comes looking for a deck contractor who also does some fencing and possibly something like a storage shed. 

The deck is the prime concern for this year, but the fencing for the yard is falling apart and held on with a few nails and strong ties.  I would like all of that done in something like Ipe or Port Orford Cedar (aka Lawson's Cypress), but only if it fits in with the awful looking pressure treated wood that is the norm for the development.  Basically anything that can be put up and ignored for a few decades is what I'm after, along with finding the contractor that can deal with the slope the place is built on which has a sudden rise nearby, which means frost heave shifts all the fencing and warps the stuff until you can't open the gate.  Then it falls apart.  Perhaps some concrete supports for the uprights, buried under the surface will do the trick.  That slope is not the friend of our yard of the postage stamp sizing.

So there is where the shop is at right now.  Spring takes its toll, doing all this takes time and effort.  I don't mind the organizing part that much, but would prefer to be on the learning and building part... but one step at a time.

Still doing some writing and has a story that has to play through, and that will be posted soon as well as finishing up Earthfall.  Starting in on the next M-5 alt story history, and it's a tough one as it's a character study more than a story.