This looks like a fun/good place to be a part of – lots of nice folks and good ideas floating around. So here I am. First off – thanks for all the kind messages from people welcoming into the LJ community. They are very appreciated.
As my profile indicates, I’m new to woodworking. It’s always had an appeal to me, but I’ve never had any 1st hand exposure to it – never had a shop class in school, slipped through a woodworking merit badge in the scouts by doing a penknife carving of about 3” of the end of a fallen branch, etc etc. So when my wife and I moved into our first house here in spacious and relatively rural WV (as opposed to cramp urban greater Boston), the need for solid bookcases to house our literature habit became increasingly urgent, and out came my inner voice saying “I can build those better than I can buy them”, well that’s how this all got started.
So, my wife, Amber, encouraged me to do it. This was a full year ago now, and there were some nice sales going on at Sears (trouble brewing). She wanted to get me something nice and big for christmas. So, without doing enough research we went over to Sears to check out table saws. Anyway, we ended up getting the craftsman model 21805. It looked great at the time, a “bargain” compared to its normal retail price, and looked good enough for what I could imagine doing – which was simple things like bookcases, maybe some tables, things like that. And all simple designs at first. “mission” style, etc.
... it’s been a full year later and I’ve yet to produce anything useful apart from some shelving. shelving – not bookcases. now part of that time was spent obtaining enough tools to do anything – some sort of workbench, sandpaper, clamps, finishing supplies, a descent combination square – the BASICS. Man, I had no idea that even “simple” stuff like getting a board straight and square and finished smoothly could be so complicated, involved, and TIME consuming!
And expensive. yikes. $20 for a 3-shelf bookcase made of particleboard and other similarly engineered material and mass produced furniture really warps the mind – even the raw material of lumber itself seems expensive. What a crazy world huh?
anyway, back on track: it’s been a full year, yet to make anything real, i.e. involving actual joinery! but I’ve been reading a lot… and then there’s school… and then there’s struggling with the learning curve and tuning my tools. That table saw for example. Here’s my list of problems with the thing:
1. T-tracks and useless miter gauge make things wobbly.
2. awful flexible fence.
3. table is not flat
4. “arbor” tilt mechanism is loose and does not stay fixed in place, but slowly works out over time
well those are the big ones. other than that it runs ok – has plenty of power, decent side and outfeed support. but here are steps I’ve taken to solve those problems:
1. not use t tracks or miter gauge for anything. built LARGE crosscut sled which rides on two rails which are sandwiched between the main table and outfeed tables.
2. reinforce with MDF – but it’s still got some give, and it might need something stronger.
3. use crosscut sled as auxiliary base
4. check the angle like a madman
so I’ve basically learned now to not trust low budget Crafstman stuff (or any cheap power tool). These issues are not insurmountable, but they are sure as hell not fun to deal with.
But I dont have that much room in the shop, nor enough $ to throw at some of these woodworking problems, so I’ve been reading and thinking and I’m trying to come up with ways to minimize expense while having a good experience and maximize results. This led me to forgoing a planer and jointer – I’ll have to get surfaced lumber in the meantime, and I’ve set up my router table for use as a jointer. It also led me to the realization that in general in this woodworking stuff there’s always another way, you just have to think a bit. Finally, I realized that power tools alone could never do it all for me, since 1) the base unit – my table saw – could only do rough cuts and joinery would always need to be touched up afterwards and 2) power tooling MDF REALLY REALLY SUCKS because of the dust 3) power tools are loud and annoying, as well as incredibly dangerous.
So I invested in some hand tools. a couple planes – a stanley 220 block and bailey sweetheart #5. and some Marples chisels that were on sale at Rockler. Been using the scary sharp system to sharpen those. Seems ok so far. I should note that I’ve now cut myself twice with hand tools and zero times with power tools, so I’m not sure about that safety thing ;-) But I do like the satisfaction of using them (in practice so far). The handplaning is by far the most fun. The “zip zip” sound and feel of the thing is great – plus getting those nice curly shavings makes me feel like a real woodworker in a way that power tool dust just does not. I will still use the PTs though for the significant wood removal processes…
OK. My plan is to VERY SOON start on building the “Contemporary Bookshelves” from the Popular Woodworking site. I’ll do it out of poplar though, and try to challenge myself with using rabbets and M&T joints not included in the original plan.
Anyway, I wanted to say more, but I’ve said to much already. I’ll post some pics of workshop stuff.