A Workshop Evolution #2: Shop Cabinets or how i get distracted

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Blog entry by MTBrian posted 02-03-2009 07:37 AM 9958 reads 3 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Startup Part 2 of A Workshop Evolution series no next part

My intentions were to complete the shop cabinets when i started the second series. I wrote the entry ‘startup’ on Sunday evening, and had six cabinet carcasses together Monday evening. I had never built cabinets, which is probably evident from the results. Todd advised Baltic Birch, but im cheap, and this is a shop. So i use plywood that i will trim out to be nicer. My Kreg jig is getting a work out.


I use a spacer on each side of the jig so that the piece stays flat.

Here is what the carcasses look like.

So everything is going really well.

Then something happened on Tuesday.

I havent spent any time talking about my tools. I plan to go in depth on all of them, not because they are great tools, but because i have had to scrape and claw for each one. I see what people are pulling off of Craig’s list back East, and in the Midwest and it makes me sick. Beautiful, cast iron tools that will last a lifetime being offred all the time, used but in great shape. In Montana it is a different story. Finding a used tool is rare, (the current economy and the availabilit of Craig’s List is improving this though) finding one that is of decent quality is almost nonexistant. Unless you are looking for mid 80’s to 90’s Craftsman tools. If this is what you want, you will be happy.

Being on a budget, i cannot afford to get new tools now, so i have to hunt for used tools. I have hunted Craigs almost every day since July. I need a bandsaw, but none are offered. Most are too small, or they want too much. I come across an 18 inch grizzly, but when i call a couple hours after it is listed, it is already gone. A Powermatic shaper was offered, i called within an hour of it being posted, and i was fourth in line for it. A friend has an old 12” Crapsman, i mean Craftsman in his shop that i find myself actually considering. I know that i am goin to get the Grzz 17” Extreme in a year or so.. but i want something now to cut curves and templates with. What happened was, we were all out to dinner and he mentioned that he had a really old bandsaw he never uses. I ask what size, he tells me 16 inch Craftsman, but its really old. So i am thinking he has an ancient Walker Turner “Craftsman” and get pretty excited, i would love to fix up an old piece of equipment. Then i walk into his garage and there sits a tiny little 12”. My dissapoinment is probably the only thing that kept me from taking that thing. So this brings us to last Tuesday. I look at Craigs List and there is a Transpower 16 inch bandsaw. Looks to be in good condition. It says that the trunions are cracked but the table is locked at 90 degrees. So i call the guy, and he has it and when would i want to come look at it. I leave work and drive the 40 minutes to his house. It is in good shape, has 10” of resaw, has a 1.5 hp induction motor, and aside from the trunions is in decent shape. So he lowers his asking price, i write him a check for LESS than $200 and we load that heavy casat iron beast into my truck.

Does it have some alignment issues? Yes. Are the wheels coplanar? No. Does it have some vibrations problems due to the stand? Yes. But i will knock these out and have a decent little saw. I am goin to have a machinist duplicate the trunions (minus the cracks) and i will be in good shape. So this is what threw my plans off, for finishing the cabinets by Sunday. And i couldn’t be happier.


So i lost a couple days with the bandsaw. But i go some spacers on the bottom wheel and now its coplanar and is tracking just fine. So its back to work time for me. Saturday mornin comes around and its time to get busy. If you look behind me in this picture, you will see where the cabinets have to go.


There is a ton of junk, tool chests, radio cabinets, and a built in 6’X8’X4’ plywood cabinet that is built in. This all has to go. And the garage is already stuffed, cause nothing has a place right now. So i move the tools, and go to work dismantling the existing cabinet. I get all that crap out, and now i have a full truck bed ready for the dump. I clean the area really good. and move the carcasses into place. I leveled and shimmed the cabinets, and added 4 inch wide strips of particle board on the top. Im sure these have a name, but i dont know. I thought of these after the cabinets were put together, so i had to add the pocket holes after. My jig has build in clamp, so i just flipped the jig upside down and easily added the pocket holes.



I get all the cabinets into positon and get all the rails cut. Then i get all artistic and patch the cracks in the concrete walls and pime and paint. Its amazing what some white paint and cabinets do to spruce up an ugly shop.


Now i add the melamine tops.


So i didnt get to the trim and cabinet drawers this time, but there is always tommorow, and the next day. I dont know if i have expressed how exciting all of this is for me. It is something i am truly passionate about. I know that many of you reading this are fairly advanced and make some truly beatiful pieces, but im creating in my own way. I am learning so much by doing it is almost overwhelming. Absolutely everyhing i do adds to my knowledge, and i am constantly making mental notes on what to do next time. I hope this is interesting, not because anyone will be amazed or learn anything, but just to share my joy and my journey. Im a little behind, but i am starting to come around. My wife asked me last Friday when she was going to see some progess and she is amazed right now. The pictures dont really do justice to how bad this area was, and what we have dealt with in this garage. But it is so much brighter and pleasant in there, i probably sat on my new countertop for over an hour tonight, just looking and thinking about what ill do next. So… next segment will be on the drawers and cabinet doors….unless a new tool gets in the way!



Seymore, the German Shorthair ‘Shop Dog’, with paint on his ear to prove his status and dedication. He is from a rescue program for abandoned dogs, so we have to stop work alot for hugs. He loves his new home, and will lay down on his be and sleep, regardless of what tool is being used.

I would like to add how much i appreciate all the comments and reads that i received on the first segment, i would really like this to be a good read for veterans, and a helpful guide for future new workers. Thank you all.


18 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4128 days

#1 posted 02-03-2009 12:07 PM

You are making some solid progress Brian! It is always fun to watch a shop being born but this holds a particular attachment for me because I personally saw the “before” stage and will get to see the “after.”

Wow – the lighting, what a difference! The new electrical circuit and this is the first I have seen the new bandsaw. I think a little TLC on that one will be worth it.

Seeing the progress on that back wall is really exciting. That is a great place place for the cabinets and back work area. I see you have everything lined up on “your side” at the end and it is all orderly. You have figured out the economy of the available space.

You are going through the tough part right now. Your space is cluttered and tight to work in but once you get this set of cabinets finished it will allow you to organize a good bit and give permanent homes to many of your tools. It will give you that much needed work surface to set things on too.

I am looking forward to coming over and checking this out.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3587 days

#2 posted 02-03-2009 01:33 PM

Your well on your way to a great workshop. Keep it going and lets see some of the work that comes out of there.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile


320 posts in 3448 days

#3 posted 02-03-2009 02:03 PM

Hi Todd,
Nice beginnings! You certainly had your work cut out for you. I’m also a new woodworker, and am building new kitchen cabinets for my very first project. Being a toolmaker, the same rules apply…start and stay square!
I’ll be watching your progress from time to time.

Paul :)

-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile


320 posts in 3448 days

#4 posted 02-03-2009 02:07 PM

I was fortunate enough to acquire a dozen or more benches from the company I work for for free! Unfortunately, they are (like so many others) moving to China. I’m about to build the cherry face frames for the additional 2 kitchen base cabinets this coming weekend, and then get busy on the doors. I started out with benchtop tools, and as I get more skilled, I trade up and give them to my Nephew in New Hampshire.
Keep makin’ sawdust!

Paul :)

-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3911 days

#5 posted 02-03-2009 03:48 PM

What a nice blog. I share your passion on setting up a shop. Looks like you are making good progress and decisions on materials/tools to use.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3458 days

#6 posted 02-03-2009 03:56 PM

Watching you and Todd, with all of your fine work and enthusiasm, almost makes me want to move back to Billings where I grew up.

You are doing great, Brian. I hope you can keep up with your updates to LJ and still keep the progress going in your shop at the same time.

Really love what your shop is becoming. I’m going to put you on my buddy list so that I can waych the progress without missing anything.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4092 days

#7 posted 02-03-2009 04:13 PM

This was a fun read. Good luck on the new shop in the making. You certainly are off to a fine start, and it appears that you have some top-notch support in Todd and that short furry guy Seymore.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3677 days

#8 posted 02-03-2009 04:14 PM


nice looking cabinets, and a nice looking shop at that! not to mention that BANDSAW success story!

suggestion – since you mentioned you were going to put in drawers into the cabinets – for future reference – you might want to setup the drawers-sllides before putting the cabinets together ,and before putting the top – this way you can have the pieces flat on the workbench and work easily than having to crouch under the top and inside the cabinet to measure and fit the slides… makes a huge difference! (food for though)

Enjoy the new space, and new Toy. the Bandsaw is by far my fav. tool in the shop. the most versatile, and the most quiet tool.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3751 days

#9 posted 02-03-2009 04:28 PM

Nice workshop space. Roomy and well lit and planned for action. We have a lot of lights in the workshop as I like to see detail.

Seymour is adorable. He’s giving you that look to stop goofing off and pet the Shop Dog.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View MyOldGarage's profile


93 posts in 3456 days

#10 posted 02-03-2009 05:39 PM

Truly an inspiration . . . I got lucky last week and found a Shopsmith that was a really sweet deal, but my garage is not jam packed. (UGH!) I need to do something like your doing and cheap . . . that might just be a good basis for my cabinet plans. Keep up the good work!

-- Bradley Miller, Blue Springs, MO -

View MTBrian's profile


27 posts in 3455 days

#11 posted 02-04-2009 01:25 AM

PurpLev – thanks for that advice, that would make things alot easier. truth time, i dont really know yet on what drawers and shelves im going to add. I decided that 1. i need to get this together quickly, and 2. i want to create storage to fit what will go in the space. So i will try and add shelves and drawers that will be best utilized. Of course the problem with space is, i need more tools to put it in it.

Old Garage – this way is a lot cheaper and works. I think i spent 100 dollars for everything that is involved in those cabinets, so if you are on a budget like me, its the way to go.

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 3517 days

#12 posted 02-04-2009 03:02 AM

God Bless ya for being a Rescue Dog Dad! I’ve got two of em and wouldn’t trade em for anything. They do make VERY loyal shop dogs.

Doing a great job on the workshop, takes time but eventually you see the light at the end of the tunnel, just make sure it isn’t the project train LOL.

Keep up the good work!

-- James

View MTBrian's profile


27 posts in 3455 days

#13 posted 02-04-2009 05:19 AM

KotWright – you are right about the dogs! The rescue dog loves the shop and can sleep next to the table saw. the dog i raised from a pup is terrified of the shop and all the noises. i was worried i was going to have to wait till they got old to get an actual ‘dog’. Seymore is about a year and a half, so hopefully we will have him in the shop for a long long time.

View MyOldGarage's profile


93 posts in 3456 days

#14 posted 02-04-2009 04:11 PM

Did you do the wrapping on the furnace ducting yourself? What exactly is that and is it effective? My garage has ductwork exposed and in the summer it becomes a giant sweating mess in the midwest humidity. I use it now as a good excuse to keep the doors shut and the AC “leaking” in the garage, but being able to open the doors would be good too.

-- Bradley Miller, Blue Springs, MO -

View MTBrian's profile


27 posts in 3455 days

#15 posted 02-04-2009 04:15 PM

It is a duct insulation that i picked up at Lowes lastyear. It made a big jump in the effectiveness of our AC in the rooms fed by that duct. If you have some room that you can wrap around the duct completely it installs very nice. I didnt have that luxury. I may sheetrock around this for even beter insulation. Hope it helps.

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