I bought a Porter Cable grinder and a Harbor Freight grinder stand, to create a bench grinding station. I guess you could call this a Christmas present to myself. I built the grinding workstation during the Christmas holidays.
The Bench Top
The mounting holes for the grinder were wider than the stand’s holes, and just about as wide as the top of the stand, making it hard to mount it at all. But I had already decided I wanted to put a wood bench between so I could easily mount a Veritas grinding stand (and maybe other accessories later).
The PC instructions did not provide the hole center distance for mounting. Instead, they said to use the grinder itself as the template. This isn’t really possible, because the holes are underneath the moter, and you can’t get a pencil in there to mark them. My solution was to measure as best as I could, then drill 1/2” holes in the bench for 3/8” bolts. The larger hole allowed for some error and adjustment.
I used a scrap of nice birch veneer plywood. I cut it large enough to accommodate the accessories, and drilled all the holes. I rounded the front corners because I knew otherwise I’d be bumping into it and gouging my hips or legs.
I had a long thin strip of red oak, thin enough that it could be glued around the front and sides in one piece, bending around the corners. The moisture of the glue probably helped make them more flexible.
Why glue oak veneer on a grinder stand for edging? Because that’s what LJ’s do, even for their shop jigs and fixtures, according to Jim Bertelson. And that seems like a good reason, plus it looks nice. I figure, I enjoy working in the shop, will do it a lot, and may as well make it aesthetically pleasing. Odd having red oak edges on a birch platform, but red oak is what I had, and matching birch strips is exactly what I didn’t have.
I assembled the whole thing, switched on the grinder, and experimented with grinding at this height. It all seemed perfect, so I took it to the next stage.
The Accessory Storage Cabinet
The HF stand has a tool holder in the middle. It’s like a rectangulare steel piece with the sides bent up to join to the legs. It’s real purpose is to make the legs very sturdy, which it does well. But hey, now it’s a feature, so they call it a tool holder. But not for MY tools!
I envisioned having a few grinding and buffing wheels; I already have three beyond the two that came with the grinder. I don’t want them banging around in the tool holder. I need a place to put the PC grinding stands when I was using the Veritas stand, and vice versa. And the rouge, polishing compound, spare grit and beeswax for sharpening and polishing.
I decided to build a cabinet that would be bolted to the tool holder and go up, stopping just short of the top of the stand. It did not provide enough space, so I made a second one that would use the same bolts to attach to the tool holder, but hang downward. So now there are slots for platforms to support 8 accessory wheels (more than I think I’ll need, but that’s what I thought when I built the blade cabinet in a similar way) and there are three drawers for other accessories.
The wheel supports are pieces of masonite, each with a 5/8” dowel glued in a hole in the middle, to hold the accessory wheels when not in use. There are slots in the side of the cabinet that they fit into. I created a couple of open channels that would hold small drawers for the other accessories. No sliders, cleats, or anything: just small boxes (with fronts and handles) that just fit into channels in the cabinet.
You’ll notice in the photo that I got carried away with the drawers, and made drawer fronts cut at an angle to just fit between the legs (which are at an angle) of the grinder stand. I think it looks nice.
The Problem, and a Theoretical Solution
But looks aren’t everything. The cabinets I attached to the tool holder, which go above and below it, serve another function that I had not thought of: they pick up the vibrations of the grinder (which are modest) and make them louder and more powerful. Switching on the grinder, the sliding wheel holders AND drawers started emerging from their slots, some eventually falling onto the floor.
I’m open to ideas on why this happened and how to fix it, but in thinking about it myself, I developed the theory that the middle steel shelf (tool holder) vibrates, and attaching the cabinets to it alone is causing the problem.
Therefore, if I attach wood cleats to the top of the upper cabinet and bottom of the lower cabinet, and make them long enough and angled properly to fit flush on the legs, I can screw them to the cabinets and to the legs, so that instead of one mounting point for each cabinet, there will be two. The theory is that this should greatly reduce their ability to wobble and therefore they won’t vibrate as much.
I will comment again in a few days when I have a chance to try this, and tell you how it worked out. If it fails, I might mount the cabinets side by side on the wall just behind the grinder. The drawer fronts will look funky, but funky will fit well in my shop.
-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA