Taking It Outside

I started a couple of woodworking projects this Winter designed to take my hobby outside when Spring arrived. For one thing the sawdust generated by my new table saw and any use of a router just wasn’t practical in my 10’x20′ main room. Dust collection using a 6 gallon ShopVac just wasn’t adequate and required that I literally needed to vacuum off my bed and hand clean my black computer table often. None of this must continue for a healthy lifestyle.

So I set about making plans for a portable workbench large enough to accomplish any woodworking task that I could fit through my 36″ new entrance door and storm door. I came up with a design after watching a YouTube video on a workbench kit available from Simpson Strong Tie, the WBSK Workbench & Shelving Hardware Kit. The kit comes with 8 steel brackets designed for use with simple construction grade 2″x4″s at $2.50 each. Plans are included with the kit along with a convenient cut list maximizing the use of the 4 boards necessary to complete a 4′ long 24″ wide bench standing 34″ high. The design incorporates a bottom shelf 24″wide by 4′ long, notched into the 4 legs. The top utilizes a second 2’x4′ 3/4″ thick sheet of MDF that is screwed to the frame below.

The resulting workbench is rock solid, of an ideal height and extremely flat, perfect for precise woodworking. It retains a 2″ edge all the way around the top for clamping purposes. Such a bench can be purchased online for about $1,400. I built mine for $80. I then spent another $80 to add cool casters that not only lock and swivel but raise and lower the bench 3/4″ off the floor, making the workbench totally portable. I can move this bench in any direction and guide it straight out my front door to an asphalt patch a few feet from my doorstep. I then lower that same bench to the pad where the 2’x4′ legs take over the support role. When finished working reversing the caster system lets me easily return the bench inside to its storage area in my living room.

I tried all this out with my completed bench as I built a second raised planter stand for container gardening. I carried out my DeWalt DW745 contractors saw and placed it atop my workbench. It was at the perfect height to use with my crosscut sled while cutting up the 2″x4″ pieces of that support frame. I also drilled all the pocket holes for the frame’s construction and screwed it all together. Keep in mind I built the prototype frame using a Japanese backsaw inside my apartment. Construction time was cut in half by being able to use my tablesaw outside. No dust collection was necessary. A simple wisk brush was used to clean the workbench & table saw so I could transport both inside. It all worked as planned, no mess, no fuss!

My next outside project will be to complete my new router table using my new outside bench, table saw and more 2″x4″s for the connecting framework to Melamine shelving I’m using in the router table construction. I’ll show you the completed router table in a future post. I want to also incorporate a power strip to my new workbench for any power tools I need outside. My table saw, router table, jigsaw table and electric hand drill would all reap the benefits of such an addition.

As time marches on these improvements to my workflow with the creation of ideal tools in ideal locations make each successive project better and easier to pull off. It’s all good, all fun and a whole lot cheaper when designed and built by me personally.

Making A Splash

I sure wish I could have seen and photographed Nora at the Oregon Zoo. She arrived after I relocated to Uxbridge, MA a bit over 18 months ago. I just know Nora must be a huge hit at the Oregon Zoo. Here’s another short clip of the new polar bear enjoying her new home.

Darbin Orvar

Darbin Orvar is a name created for a YouTube channel showing videos of Linn from Sweden and her creative projects. I subscribe to Linn’s channel because i love her creative approach to woodworking and other craft skills. She’s practical as she demonstrates her skills in a number of areas.

I love the fact that Linn lives in Corvallis, Oregon, USA, a community I have visited many times in my 10 years in Oregon. Remember that 90% of the population of Oregon lives on only 10% of its land.

I’m reposting one of my favorite YouTube videos that shows Linn remodeling her office space in her shop. This is sort of a shoutout for Linn’s website and YouTube channel. I think you’ll enjoy her personality and creative skills.

Table Saw Safety

Only one saw I know of would save your fingers/hand, arm or face if you made contact with its spinning blade, a SawStop. The inventor actually tested his technology with his own finger and walked away without even a scratch. You will never, ever get me to test out a table saw in this fashion! Forget about it! If, on the other hand, I would accidentally come in contact with a high speed saw blade while working I would hope I owned a SawStop table saw with this amazing technology.

Roy Underhill is a famous woodworker that decided to test the braking technology on a SawStop cabinet saw in a woodworking demonstration. He did NOT use his own hand in the test but rather, being an old Southern gentleman, used a piece of fried chicken in this safety test. Even that makes me squeamish!

Now in all honesty I will probably never own a table saw with this amazing safety technology but I admire that there is a saw out there that has it. Nobody get hurt in this video, not even the fried drumstick Roy pushes into a spinning saw blade. Enjoy the show!

Farmer Bob

Craziness, it’s all craziness! 85 one day and 50 the next day. Pollen everywhere yet the chance of a late frost still exists. My arthritis is going nuts with all the drastic changes here in Massachusetts. It must be Spring!

Massachusetts__Vegetable_Planting_Calendar

I’m getting ambitious is my retirement days. I’m planting a garden this year for the first time in 12 years. I used to have two 1,000 square foot gardens while living in South Carolina. That was another lifetime ago. This time around I’m going with a piece of land around 8’x8′ or 64 square feet.

Living in a public housing unit for seniors has its pros and cons. I love my tiny apartment where I’ve made a home instead of just an apartment. I built a new outside bench last week that is now covered with 40 pound bags of topsoil and fertilizer. I’m busy building 2″x4″ wooden platforms/stands for my elevated planter boxes that are converted Rubbermaid Roughneck storage boxes with snap-on lids. They are the 18 gallon variety, able to hold a bunch of soil that will be more than enough to plant my tiny garden. I have three of these boxes in the works.

Below I’m showing a picture of a similar setup to my upcoming tiny garden. In my case I have three 18 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck boxes filling with a mixture of organic potting soil and fertilizer/compost. My gardening center had a big sale that sold me five 40 pound bags of planting soil for the price of 4. Add to that four 40 pound bags of fertilizer/compost. Imagine 5 such bags plus 4 bags of fertilizer in the back of my SmartCar. That tested my car’s rear suspension for sure! LOL It also tested my back having to relocate it once i drove the 1/4 mile home to my apartment. I carried all 9 bags to the sidewalk in front of my unit and stacked them up on my new outside bench I just built last weekend. Glad I built that bench out of 2″x8″s! 🙂

container_gardens_-_Google_Search

Garden Stand

I’m making wooden platforms for the three containers to keep them about 18″ above the ground. These will become self-contained tiny gardens for whatever vegetables I decide to plant in them. I know there will be two tomato plants in one box with red/yellow/orange bell peppers, cucumbers and radishes in another box. Throw in a patch of lettuce and I’ve built a nice fresh salad for my meals throughout the Summer. I have an empty freezer so there’s plenty of room for frozen vegetables strait from my garden. I have a feeling nothing I grow will be wasted as I love in a senior housing project. I might even develop some new friends! LOL Wish me a green thumb in the grand experiment. More to follow…….

Bench #1 Is Complete

I really like the way my power tool bench/table turned out. I started it yesterday morning and finished up this morning. It actually only took me about 2 hours to complete all together. I did make a mistake on the orientation of the 4 legs that narrowed and lengthened the final bench. Normally that’s not a big deal but in this case it required me to do some custom cutting on the top and bottom shelves to make them fit.

Once the first set of casters arrive I’ll install them on this bench and wheel it outside for the first. It’s extremely solid, flat as a pancake and very good looking. I think it wound up costing less than $100 in wood plus the $80 for fancy Rockler casters. Now onto the 2nd bench for the inside of my apartment, a slightly different design.

Power Tool Table

 

Tilly’s At It Again

Tilly is a female river otter at the Oregon Zoo. She has had a number of pups in the last five year while living there. It was so much fun watching her pups grow up in from of your eyes. If you are not aware of this otter females must literally teach their offspring how to swim. I’s not genetically inbred in them.

Below is the latest video of yet another pair of pups born to Tilly! You go girl! 🙂

Shoutout For A True Craftsman

I subscribe to a number of YouTube channels that I follow faithfully. One such channel is put on by Wranglerstar, a homesteading site showing the life of a family in rural America. They post wholesome videos that are true to life, real and educational.

Wranglerstar recently posted a special video telling the story behind a gift he received from a handicapped veteran in the form of handcrafted clamps made one at a time. They are heirloom quality and beautiful. The veteran that made them gives them away and doesn’t sell them yet he struggles to make ends meet financially. I would gladly buy a set of these clamps from him and probably give him twice his asking price.

If you can spare a few minutes please watch the video below and tell me & Wranglerstar what you think. Thanks for watching in advance. It will warm your heart.

Easy To Build Workbench Kit

Wow did I discover a fantastic product today! It’s called the Easy To Build Workbench Kit made by Simpson Strong Fit. I had already started building my new workbench when I came across this YouTube video showing how to build an incredibly strong workbench with just a few tools in about 2-3 hours. I watched the entire construction video and got more excited by the minute because of the versatility of this steel connection system. I spotted a second construction video produced by Simpson showing a young lady who had never used a power tool in her life build another bench. The kit is $39.95 through Amazon Prime. I will buy this kit tomorrow.

Because I use pocket screws in my construction I disassembled the sections of my other bench build and cut that wood to fit the new steel brackets. I am 1 2×4 shy of a complete workbench, a $2.50 item. I’ll need to buy a 3/4″ or 1″ sheet of MDF for the top and have the lumber guys cut the 4’x8′ sheet into 4 2’x4′ sheets. I’ll make my new benchtop out of 2 of these sheets, stacking them together for an extra thick stop. Again, because of the steel connection kit I can modify their plan to any thickness of top.

I’ve included the YouTube video of that young gal making her bench with no help from anyone. They did teach her how to use a cordless driver drill before turning her loose. This is intended to demonstrate how easy it is to make a super sturdy workbench. If she could do it so could you. Enjoy!

2X4 Workbench

 

Simpson Workbench Build

GRR-Ripper 200

One of the tools I’ll be ordering next is a fantastic safety device for use on my table saw and router table that still needs to be built. I’ve sort of become attached to my fingers throughout my 67 years on earth and this tool will keep them in their original condition.

The control you get by using  Gripper allows you to safely rip stock lumber to any width, even veneer strip 1/16″ or less. It creates finished cuts without are without getting the typical blade burns caused by hesitating while you try to guide material through a sharp saw blade.

You can easily cut grooves and dados with the aid of a Gripper. When using the Gripper  on a router table you again have great control of your wood moving against a high speed carbide bit.

I’ve talked about saving a great deal of money on the cost of thinner stock by ripping construction grade lumber into thinner pieces. The Gripper makes this task safe and easy, allowing repetitive cuts out of dimensional lumber cut to rough lengths. Stock preparation is the key to precision woodworking. Combined with high quality sharp hand tools such as Japanese crosscut saws, chisels and bench planes, the sky’s the limit on what you can make.

I’ll be ordering my GRR-Gripper 200 with an auxiliary 1/8″ fence this coming Wednesday with my Amazon Prime account. I shopped at half a dozen online woodworking tool stores and Amazon beat them all by throwing in free two day shipping as well as a cost saving bundle deal with that added thin fence. I’m getting the whole package for $93.81. I look forward to its arrival, possibly by next weekend.

GRR-Gripper 200

GRR-Ripper 200