A few days before Christmas, Carter and I put the last coat of finish on 40+ holiday gifts. We turned the handles for bottle openers, pizza cutters, and cheese planes. Next, we revised the plan for the Tile-Topped Keepsake Box, featured in the November 2006 issue of WOOD, and built over a dozen of them in our Greene and Greene style. Finally, we edge-joined most of our cut-off scrap stock to create a trio of cutting boards.
I just finished up a sleigh-full (well, minivan) of Christmas gifts in my shop—and just in time! I had been working on a china cabinet for my wife, but put that on hold so I could make some projects to give as Christmas gifts. As it happened, I was testing Rockler’s new box-joint jig for a router table. It works so well and so quickly that I just started whipping out simple keepsake boxes. I don’t build these from a plan, but rather make them from whatever scraps and cutoffs I can muster. Some I glue together, often mixing species, and let the size of the pieces dictate the size of the box. Then I fit it with a thin plywood bottom, make a lid and a handle, apply my mark (a cross to signify my faith in Jesus Christ), and finish it with oil and lacquer.
After spending the last two months building nearly 40 holiday gifts for family and friends, I’m really looking forward to spending the winter building a furniture piece or two. To build these presents, I needed a very accurate jig for crosscutting stock on my tablesaw, with a minimum of tear-out. To do that, I built the crosscut sled shown below. The sled measures 24x24”. The front and rear fence are 1” thick (two pieces of ½” plywood laminated face to face) and 3” high. The fences are glued to the top of the ½”-thick plywood base. The back fence (closest to the operator) has a ¾” wide groove ¼” deep running its length.
The 6” long stop has a mating cleat on its back side that slides smoothly in the groove. Read more
Switching over to the new blog system had me traipsing down memory lane a bit. And I realize that I’ve not updated you on the progress of my tablesaw mobile base. I know that you’ve been hanging on the edge of your seat with your fingernails, but just in case you don’t regularly read and re-read this series of blog posts, here’s where you can get up to speed: part 1, part 2, and part 3. I’m riffing off of a plan that can be found in the October 2003 issue (no. 151) or for purchase here.
And here’s where it’s at now:
You may remember this post where I showed how I recycled a coffee timer for use in the shop, and the subsequent post where I described its shortcoming: shutting off after 2 hours. Well, it finally dawned on me this weekend how to make that shortcoming a positive. I plugged the batttery charger for my cordless tools into the timer! After charging the battery, it shuts off automatically after 2 hours, preventing overcharging, and eliminating some of my vampire electric consumption.
I really hate to pass up an opportunity to gloat over what a fun job I have. So I won’t.
One of the funnest parts of my jobs is editing the Shop Tips column. Every issue, I get to call up a fellow woodworker and let them know that they’ve won a tool valued at more than (sometimes way more than) $300. There is just no way that can turn into a bad conversation. Believe me, I’ve never talked to a grumpy shop tip winner.
To rub it in some more: every couple of weeks, I get to sit down with a team of experts and pore through a fortnight’s worth of entries choosing tips from clever woodworkers who have come up with novel ways to make life easier in the shop.
And then there are the ones we don’t choose. Read more
Just a quick update on the mobile tablesaw base for those of you playing along at home. For those of you just joining us, here are part 1, and part 2. I’m riffing off of a plan that can be found in the October 2003 issue (no. 151) or for purchase here.
This weekend, I added the wing insert between the long fence rails. It rests on top of the router cabinet. I made it out of a double thickness of 3/4″ MDF, edged in poplar, then covered with some of my formica bonanza from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
I hear woodworkers all the time who watch Norm on TV and say, “Sure, I could do all that stuff, too, if I had a shop like Norm’s.” But the more really talented woodworkers I meet, the more I’m reminded that woodworking is in the head and hands, not in the tools.
The point was driven home again when I drove home for Easter last weekend. Read more
The tablesaw base pushes onward. Next step, router cabinet. A little pre-build design work in Sketchup:
So, while it was a tough decision to get rid of the old tablesaw and spring for a new one, I’ve decided that I will keep one memento. I’ll be switching out the fence for the Biesemeyer that was attached to the old saw. In most cases, the fence makes the saw, and I think this will be an improvement here. The fence on this saw has a bit of flex in it. To make up for it, they’ve added a rear locking mechanism, but that’s a bit less convenience than I’m accustomed to. Plus it is in the split-rail style that has become popular among the home center set. Great for shipping purposes. Not overly useful for my purposes.
But while I was in the process, I decided to make some repairs on the fence that were nagging at me. The corner of the fence nearest the operator was beginning to delaminate and some of the plywood plys had begun to work loose and splinter away. It was quickly throwing a good fence out of square. Time to replace the fence board.