Fun with French Cleats

So, after being stressed about adding stuff to the walls, here is what I have so far:

First, my drill and battery charging station:

Now my drills and batteries have a home... at least most of them.

Now my drills and batteries have a home… at least most of them.

It looks slimmer from the side, no?

It looks slimmer from the side, no?

I have been using this for a several weeks now, and I am very happy with it.  The batteries come out of the charger pretty easily and the drill holsters work perfectly!  I do need to paint the last bit of the right angle drill holster, but that’s cosmetic.  Another issue is the use of a power strip.  I would like to find a way to incorporate a power strip into this “fixture” so that it’s easy to access for the two different chargers I have.  This is a big win for me. I am really happy with it.

My “Table Saw Wall”  I decided to put table saw accessories on the Short Wall:

That’s right, name change time.  The table saw wall has a few good fixtures, and more to come.  Here are some of them:

I used to call this the Short Wall, but now I have decided this is the perfect place for my table saw accessories, so it's now the "Table Saw Wall." The nicest thing about this is now that I know where my hearing protection is, I'll be more likely to use it.

I used to call this the Short Wall, but now I have decided this is the perfect place for my table saw accessories, so it’s now the “Table Saw Wall.” The nicest thing about this is now that I know where my hearing protection is, I’ll be more likely to use it.

I have made a couple of small fixtures for hearing protection, my respirator, and throat plates.  Here is one I really love…my mitre gauge.  It’s nice to have that off the table when I don’t need it.  I still need to build something for my table saw blades, and that will come soon.

Throat plates and mitre gauge.  Resperator and hearing protection (sounds better than earmuffs) aren't hanging there yet.

Throat plates and mitre gauge. respirator and hearing protection (sounds better than earmuffs) aren’t hanging there yet.

Pipe Clamp Rack:  

This was another one that worried me.  These clamps are heavy!  I got the idea for these from Steve Marin at Woodworking for Mere Mortals (woodworkingformeremortals.com).  I got the chance to go through a lot of old 3/4 inch ply to build these.  Some of that ply wasn’t perfectly flat, but, for something like this, it really worked out.  Now, I did make some… mistakes.  See of you can find them from the pictures attached:

I built this first as a beta, to test the amount of weight on the cleats.  It was a success!

I built this first as a beta, to test the amount of weight on the cleats. It was a success!

Well, can you?  OK, here it is.  The middle to racks were cut at the wrong angle, so the clamps don't sit toward the back of the rack. I'm going to do a quick fix on this and update later.  For now, I'm just glad there is a place for this.

Well, can you? OK, here it is. The middle to racks are at the wrong angle, so the clamps don’t sit toward the back of the rack. I’m going to do a quick fix on this and update later. For now, I’m just glad there is a place for this.

My youngest helped me finish these off, so I thought it was only fair that she get the modeling credit.  Cute, no?

My youngest helped me finish these off, so I thought it was only fair that she get the modeling credit. Cute, no?

Some other fun cleat related fixtures are coming, but the pipe clamp rack was the big thing.  I’ll keep you posted.  Now it’s time for another item on the list…

Thanks,

The Wood Butcher.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The North Wall!

OK, another check on the ol’ to do list.  If you remember from my last post, I am listing out my challenges.  The next on the list is the North Wall of the shop.  I wanted to install five rows of french cleats, and here they are….

Front view of the North Wall with installed french cleats

Front view of the North Wall with installed french cleats

Five long rows.  Now the hard part begins, actually two hard parts:

  1. I have to really start filling up this space – That means I have to build the plane till and the saw till.  I also have to add racks for pipe clamps and my “F” and “C” clamps.
  2. I have to clean up all the crap that I moved to do this – Yes, I’m even more behind now.  What The Hell.

Still, it’s good to have this off the list, and I’m ready to put up my pipe clamp racks.  A little tuning will be necessary, but they already built, so I am 75% of the way there.  Oh, here is a side view.

Side view of the North Wall with installed french cleats

Side view of the North Wall with installed french cleats

So now I am out of cleats.  That’s one and one half sheets of plywood that made this up so far.  I’m shocked it took that much.  Things went really fast this time around, having learned what we did on the Main Wall.  However, I leaned these cleat strips against my garage wall for the last two weeks, so there was some twisting.  I had to get creative.  Still, it looks pretty good.  I will need to cut some additional cleats to attach to whatever I am building.  Look for “C” and “F” clamp racks in the near future.  Again, let me sing the praises of the two biggest contributors to this project:

Oh, how I love thee.  I don't know where these have been hiding all my life, but after 43 years, I'm ready to commit.  I love my impact driver and deck screws.  I'm even blushing as I type this.

Oh, how I love thee. I don’t know where these have been hiding all my life, but after 43 years, I’m ready to commit. I love my impact driver and deck screws. I’m even blushing as I type this.

I really do love these.  It’s weird, but I’m learning to deal with it.  Next post will be some fun cleat related organization.  Well, at least it’s fun for me.

Dwain “The Wood Butcher”

The List

So, I have talked about a generalized plan for setting up shop.  Nothing too specific, add this, clean up here.  I guess I am going to have to put my flag in the sand.  What SPECIFICALLY am I going to do to build A SHOP WORTH HAVING?  Some things are pretty simple and some are more complex.  I have mentioned some of these before and some are new, but they are all important, and they are all here:

  1. Install french cleats on the “Main Wall” and the “Small Wall”1/2 DAY:  Should have to move a lot of stuff here.  
  2. Begin adding pieces to these french cleats - DONE OVER TIME:  This should be a lot of fun.  I’m just going ot build two or three pieces a week, maybe more if they are simple, and get to hanging them on my new french cleats!  This should be an ongoing thing, just add more and more, expecially after I complete number three.
  3. Install french cleats on the “Back Wall”1/2 DAY:  There is a lot of stuff to move here, and the I will need five cleats that are  about 14 feet long.
  4. Install clamp racksA FEW HOURS:  About a year ago I built these really cool clamp racks that were big and hefty.  They needed to be, I was hanging 15 clamp racks off of each one!  I attached them to my wall with two three inch lag screws.  Well, it took about three weeks for the rack to start pulling out of the wall.  Here is where the french cleat should help out by doing a better job of distributing the weight.  All I need is to attache the rack itself to the cleat.  I am going to guess a little more work will be involved, but still, a couple of hours should be all I need.  Those pipe clamps are heavy and they need a home soon.
  5. Workbench TopTHREE HOURS:  I built some benches like the ones Norm Abrams built (Mitre Saw Bench and Storage, New Yankee Workshop Season 14 Episodes 1 and 2).  I didn’t do an excellent job, and ended up taking one apart to get it square and level enough for drawers.  Well, I got the drawers in, but the top is still missing.

    I took apart this bench to square it up for drawers.  You can see the drawers are in, but the top is still...less.

    I took apart this bench to square it up for drawers. You can see the drawers are in, but the top is still…less.

  6. Install R.A.S.ONE DAY:  Once I have my workbench tops complete, I want to install my RAS (Radial Arm Saw) in between them.  Originally I wanted to have my mitre saw there, but realized the mitre saw is a lot more mobile than an RAS…and I love my RAS.  It has a secure home in my shop for dados, half laps and cross cuts.  I’ll never move the thing from a perfect 90 though.  At the onset, this step seems tough.  I know I can get it done, but I’d like to get it done the first time, and only the first time.  While I am at it, I will go through the RAS and get a nice blade, add some safety features and figure out dust collection.

    This is the space between my two workbenches.  The supports were made with 2 x 6's glued and screwed.  Overkill, but if you are going to kill, you might as well overkill.  I always say.

    This is the space between my two workbenches. The supports were made with 2 x 6′s glued and screwed. Overkill, but if you are going to kill, you might as well overkill. I always say.

  7. Install Plane Till and Saw Till - TWO DAYS:  I have a lot of hand planes.  I am going to put my primary set out on the till, probably 10 to 12 planes in all.  Same thing with saws.  I only have about five or so, but they need a home.
  8. Wood StorageONE DAY:  Currently the little quality wood as well as the 2×4′s and MDF that I have is standing up in the corner of garage.  That isn’t good.  Because I have such a small space, I’d like to build a shelf that will hang above my garage door.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s off the floor, hanging flat and out of the way.  Since I want to minimize the amount of wood I am storing, I believe this will be adequate.
  9. Dust CollectionTWO DAYS:  I already have a little 1HP Jet dust collector.  I don’t know if that cuts it.  I’d like to get something a little larger, find a permanent location, and run some DC throughout the ceiling and down to my table saw, jointer and at least one bandsaw.  I also have a hookup set up for behind the RAS.  I think I’ll pick up the Harbor Freight 2HP model that is getting good reviews, unless I can find something better used on Craigslist.

Well, that’s it.  Doesn’t seem like much, but it is for me.  I get about one Saturday a month to work on this stuff.  Planning is vital.  Now that I’ve written this out, I guess I’ll need to follow through.  Let’s hope so.

Thanks for hanging out.

Dwain “The Wood Butcher”

French Cleat and Ultimate Flexibility

In a previous post, I wrote about installing a French Cleat system. Why?

It’s Cheap! (when plywood is on sale at the Home Depot)

It’s Easy! (or at least it should be)

It’s Cool! (because it’s wood, I’m in a woodshop after all)

The deciding factor was this. The Home Depot had 3/4 inch plywood on sale for $34.00 a 4′x8′ sheet. This is not to be missed. Saving $15.00 a sheet is a big deal to me. Oh, and one more thing, they do the cutting, so I don’t have to. Yep. I had them cut an entire sheet of plywood into 15 eight foot long three inch strips…and I was glad I did. The guys behind me waiting to get something cut? Not so much.

Installing this should be easy, and now that I’ve done it (with the help of a friend) it will be in the future. We worked out a few bugs, and got things going smoothly. As always, there are tips;

1) Make sure to hit the stud the first time!
2) If you are having issues with regular screws, don’t wait until you have messed up six or seven times to get a different screw.
3) Make sure you are level!
4) It’s always good to have a buddy help.

So, here you go. I installed three rows of 13 foot long cleats along the “main wall” of my shop. My goal is to park all my wood working hand tools there. Planes, hand saws, chisels and measuring tools. If I have room, I will put more up there. Here is a shot:

Here is the 13 foot french cleat on my shop's "Main Wall"

Here is the 13 foot french cleat on my shop’s “Main Wall”

I cut these strips at the standard 45 degree angle, trying to leave a little ledge at the end of the bevel. I sanded them to 150 grit, then installed.

So thoughts. now that I’m finished;

THOUGHT: It will be tough to hang stuff so near my garage door track.
RESPONSE: Fine. Now I know where to put stuff I don’t use often.

THOUGHT: I know, my workbench is pretty far out there, making reaching a little tough
RESPONSE: Hey, I pretty tall. I have the reach, and more importantly, I have a ladder

THOUGHT: They look good from this angle, but don’t look too closely
RESPONSE: I’m human…and you are pretty critical!

Just kidding. I learned quite a bit on this. What did I learn?

IT’S GOOD TO KNOW #1: My garage wall has two sheets of drywall throughout. That means the screws need to be a little longer to hit a stud. That means longer screws. The regular drywall screws and shiny wood screws at Home Depot just weren’t cutting it. We must have broken off four or five standard zinc woodscrews. My buddy Bob suggested deck screws…and I’m buying for our next three lunches. It was a brilliant idea. Yes, they are about three or four dollars more than drywall screws, but they are worth it. I didn’t lose a single deck screw.

IT’S GOOD TO KNOW #2: I’ve been using cordless drills to put screws in for years. Thought they were fine, so fine that I have three or four (maybe five or six) floating around my shop. Well, I recently purchase an impact driver for work, and it has completely changed the way I think about screws. What a difference! The screws go in the wall about five times as fast, and the driver doesn’t want to twist my arm around like my drill does when I get stuck. Where have you been all my life? Here is a shot of my pretty new impact driver. Before you give me crap about Ryobi, I have several Ryobi drills and am pretty much locked into their battery system, so it’s Ryobi for a while…

Impact driver and cordless drill.  Old school to the right, New school to the left.  I love the new school.

Impact driver and cordless drill. Old school to the right, New school to the left. I love the new school.

Oh, how I love thee.  I don't know where these have been hiding all my life, but after 43 years, I'm ready to commit.  I love my impact driver and deck screws.  I'm even blushing as I type this.

Oh, how I love thee. I don’t know where these have been hiding all my life, but after 43 years, I’m ready to commit. I love my impact driver and deck screws. I’m even blushing as I type this.

I also added three strips on a smaller wall in my garage. I am planning on putting table saw accessories here. I have some off cuts in the cleat so you can see how they fit.

Here is the french cleat installed on my "short wall"  I have left some cutoffs to show how the system works.  I plan to install hangers for table saw accessories here.

Here is the french cleat installed on my “short wall” I have left some cutoffs to show how the system works. I plan to install hangers for table saw accessories here.

Darnit, my shop is still dirty.  Now you know why I'm installing table saw accessories here.  Oh, don't you love my bandsaw storage system?

Darnit, my shop is still dirty. Now you know why I’m installing table saw accessories here. Oh, don’t you love my bandsaw storage system?

So, in closing, rememeber, Deck Screws and Impact Driver. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll start builing attachments to hang stuff. I’ll keep you posted. I’m also excited to install french cleats in Bob’s garage next Saturday, now that we have worked out all the kinks in mine it should be quick work. Hey, wait a minute! Now I know why he was so excited to help me out…Maybe I’ll just pay for two lunches.

So what’s the plan?

I need to attack this thing with a plan. My beautiful and patient wife is a champion of organization. Not only does she plan, but she take action! I make a lot of plans, then things tend to drift away from me. NO LONGER! Here are my plans, sorted by priority, and I guess, theme. So here are my Points of Purpose.

You can’t put anything away if it doesn’t have a place to be put? - So my drawers are pretty full. I need to build a home for stuff. You know, STUFF. Hand planes, hand saws, straight edges, chisels, all the stuff that isn’t really best kept in a drawer. So, here is step one. French Cleat system. Google french cleat and you will find a plethora (yup, I’m exercising my word POWER) of videos on it.

Two of my favorites are The Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUgpOS-Fs28

This one is by Trip Smith: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szad36MmvQQ .

I plan to run six four foot long boards on the main wall where my cabinets are. Gonna get that done this week end. I’m not sure of what to use to hold them to the wall, lag screws or screws? I don’t know. I think lag screws are overkill, but we will see, and that leads me to my next Point of Purpose:

If you are gonna work, you need a place to work - I currently have two benches build into the wall of my shop. I got the idea from the New Yankee Workshop. It was supposed to be like Norms updated mitre saw bench, but without all the bells and whistles.

Here is a link to the video and plans you can buy: http://www.newyankee.com/index.php?id=53#!/~/product/category=1855062&id=7916473 .

My man Norm shaped a lot of my ideas about woodworking and shop organization. Like him or not, he got a lot of us off our butts and into our shops, and that is a great thing. Plus, he kept flannel in style for those of us that don’t live in Maine, Minnesota, or the UP, and he did it for years. Yeoman’s work if you ask me. That leads us to Point of Purpose #3

Why don’t you just go home? That’s your home! ARE YOU TOO GOOD FOR YOUR HOME??? – With all due respect to Happy Gilmore, everything needs a home, like I said in POP #1. There is stuff that just can’t fit in a french cleat system. I need to find homes for that stuff too. I’m talking about the three sleds I recently built. Various Home Depot “Homer Buckets” and so and so forth.

Listen, I can hear you…”remember organize your shop for your work!” To you I say. Seriously? I will be lucky to get all of this stuff in my shop. I have to count on mobility. I’ll be moving almost everything around when I need it. Sorry, that’s just the way it has to be. So, give me a couple of weeks and let’s see what happens.

I’ll keep you posted.

Dwain “The Wood Butcher”

What I am working with

So here are a few images of my shop right now…and yep, it’s a nightmare. One and one half car garage. I try to keep everything possible on wheels to be moved around. You will see the limited space, the main tools and what I am doing. Don’t think less of me for this poor excuse for a shop. This is one of the reasons I created this blog…

…and so it starts

Well,  here we go.  After over 10 years of buying, and sometimes using a vast array of woodworking tools, both tailed and not, I have decided to build a shop.  I’m not saying I have every tool I need, in fact I hope that by building a shop I will realize the tools that I really need, and not just want.   I am writing this blog to chart progress.  I have built a list of things I wish to complete.  My goal is to have A SHOP WORTH HAVING by December of 2013.  I also realize that this goal is intensely personal.  What I think is a shop worth having isn’t what someone else will think.

Why do I want this?  Well, I have always been a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of guy.  Never really working with a good plan, designing as I go.  You know, sketching something on paper and diving in.  This showed through in both the work I produced, and in the condition of my shop.  I had the AHSN philosophy for shop organization,  whatever I was using would be placed on “Any Horizontal Surface Nearby” when I was done.  I came to realize that there were only so many horizontal surfaces, also, my family was starting to believe I was a hoarder…

So, my goal is to organize my small shop (1 and a half car garage) and get it into some form of order for wood working with a minimum of moving equipment around.  Of course I say minimum because it is impossible not do move some things around.  I want my shop to be efficient and effective.  I want my shop to be fully equipped and capable.  Efficient, effective, equipped and capable.  Those are the guideposts for my shop, for A Shop Worth Having.  My new “A Shop Worth Having” philosophy will incorporate the following rules, goals, what ever you want to call it…

  1. I will only buy wood as I need it.  I have too much un-used 2×4′s and MDF right now, and it’s just sitting there.  To good to throw away, but taking up too much space.  The evidence of projects dreamed but never started.  This will help me be more EFFICIENT.
  2. I will do as much as I can with what I have.  I have a lot of tools.  Large and small.  Electric and hand powered.  I need to make the best use of what I have without thinking about what I want.  If I need to buy additional tools, I will, but only as a last resort.  Again, EFFICIENT.
  3. I will start a project, and finish it within a reasonable amount of time.  In life, stuff happens.  Maybe I am not a woodworker, just a dude who dreams of woodworking projects.  I hope that isn’t the case, but either way I am going to find out.  I will strive to set a timeline for all of my projects start to finish, then work to meet that timeline.  Now, I am going to set realistic timelines, and I may have more than one project going at a time, but I will set realistic goals for completing everything I have set out to do, at least I hope to…  EFFECTIVE, this will help me be more effective!!!
  4. I will keep a clean and organized shop.  I know, a clean shop is the sign of a deranged mind.  Still, everything in A Shop Worth Having should have a home.  That’s where I need to start.  I have to give everything a home, even if that home is with another woodworker.  Everything needs a place to live, and I need to know where that place is…all the time.  Did I ever tell you that I have three hack saws?  Why?  You know, I can never find one when I need it, and when I am looking for something else, I find all three.  Unless I can’t, and in that case I will use one of my two grinders to take care of things.   So, to help with this goal, I will use my little dust collector a lot more.  I will make sure to put things back where they go when I am leaving the garage.  I even heard about this “10 rule” where you put 10 things away as soon as I get in the shop, and when I leave.  I don’t know if that will work but it’s worth a try.  A clean and organized shop is an EFFECTIVE shop.
  5. Make stuff that is “Houseworthy”.  What?  Well, I have been making planer stands and work benches; cute little nativity scenes and signs.  This is all great and rustic.   My wife has been very happy with it, but I’m not getting any better as a woodworker with it, so it’s time to step up and build some pieces that can go in the house.  My goal?  build one piece that is houseworthy, then a couple of things for the shop as I need them.  That is of course, after I have completed…(ominous music here)…THE LIST.  That will prove that my shop is CAPABLE.  Hopefully I will be as well.

So, that is what I am going for.  In the next post, I will show some pictures of the shop as it stands now, then it’s time to review…THE LIST.

Thanks and until next time.

Dwain “The Wood Butcher”