Tool thoughts #1: The Beginning

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Blog entry by NedB posted 08-23-2008 03:03 PM 1263 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Tool thoughts series Part 2: Doors! »

For all of my new (at this point in time anyway) LJ friends, I thought I would take a couple of minutes and go over how I got started in woodworking and where I hope to ‘go’ on this crazy journey called a woodshop.

My woodworking hobby got its start a Long time ago on a small farm down in Drumore PA when I was around 13 . My cousin Lewis had a wonderfully equipped shop, with everything from a tablesaw to a metal lathe, he did it all in there. I got to use his bandsaw and sanding station, plus the drill press on occasion. I had free access to his scrap pile, and built lots of little scrappy projects whenever I visited.

Fast forward to 1999 or so. I moved in with the LOML and ‘our’ kids. I was lucky enough to get three wonderful stepsons with the LOML, they’re currently ages 20, 14 and 9. Somewhere around the year 2000 James said he wanted a captains bed. We went shopping and only found wobbly oak stuff. Well, I couldn’t see paying what they were charging, so I suggested I could make a better bed for less money than what they were charging. Well, with no more than a homeowner B&D circular saw and 12v drill/driver and a workmate I put together a platform bed which is still standing three boys and 9 years later. It was and is pretty rough around the edges, but it is still sturdy.

Somewhere down the line, we moved the two younger boys into a room together and I bought a set of plans online, and built a set of bunk beds. For those, I decided to upgrade the tool set, and bought a 10”CMS. Naturally enough I managed to buy just before the pricecs dropped. Oh well… My CMS isn’t a slider, and that’s about the only feature I wish I had. It isn’t enough of a deal breaker that I will replace it any time soon. That bunk only recently came down, where it was cut in two, and reassembled as two low loft beds for the older boys. I also bought my router somewhere around that time, though it really hasn’t ever gotten a good workout, but that’s about to change in the coming months.

I built both beds in my side yard, on that workmate. Around that time I discovered several forums, Woodnet, Woodcentral and An offer to meet over a cup of coffee led to meeting with my mentor, John. Coffee and some woodworking BS turned into a shop visit to his very rustic barn shop a week or so later. That led to several more visits, and then all of a sudden I had a Key to the shop! John had a whole lot more tools than I did, and he was very patient in teaching me to use them. I started saving, and eventually bought my own TS, which move into the shop which I now shared with John.

I lucked out and bought the ‘last’ Ridgid 3612 at the local BORG on something of a spur of the moment purchase. It had been marked down , so lincluding tax it came home at about $450 out the door. It replaced john’s venerable craftsman 9” benchtop saw, which wasn’t that bad of a saw, other than the fence and total lack of guard.

A little paragraph about the barn shop. It was a carriage house which we rented, and had a sub-panel and a roof… the walls were uninsulated and had numerous gaps, and hot and cold running chipmunks. There was a rough-poured concrete floor on half of the shop, the rest was a dirt floor. We shared that for a year and a half, until our landlady wanted more money. More than we wanted to pay for such a finely crafted structure, so we decided to find another shop to rent. That led to the ‘shop mahal’.

We found a commercial business incubator with an open bay, and after a quick DBA and tax number, we were in ‘business’. Name only, we were really just a couple of guys sharing a shop. The shop mahal, however was expensive in the long run. I learned a lot in that shop, and can never repay John for his generosity and teaching.

about two years ago, I moved out of the shop, because my job at the time was such a time sink that I just didn’t have time to spend in the shop. John moved into another shop at that time, but all of my tools went into storage, where they have stayed for the most part since then.

Last spring of ‘07 I got a new job, and made the decision to build my own shop. I bought a bunch of materials and according to the kids, ‘ruined the yard’ putting my shop in the middle of the back yard. ‘Oh well, there are side yards to play in. ‘was my response. I’m such a meanie yaknow…

My shop is 12’x20’ and has 10’ sidewalls and a gambrel roof.

Long before I found LJ I started a shop blog, which is in my sig line. Drop in for a visit there to see the complete saga of my shop build. It has taken me over a year to get to this point, and this week I’m planning on moving in most of my stuff and materials.

My tool set is almost ‘complete’.

in addition to my tablesaw, I have a DW734 planer, PC 693 kit with both fixed and plunge bases, the 10” Delta CMS, a Delta benchtop DP, HF bandsaw, delta Midi lathe, generic bench grinder and a handful of hand tools etc…

all of that plus my benches and other items will be moving into the shop in the next couple of weeks.
Thanks for visiting, and if you’re ever in the Syracuse NY area, drop me a line, I’ll put a pot of coffee on and we’ll visit a spell.

I’ve got a bunch of shop photos for the curious, check them out here:

Shop photos page

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

2 comments so far

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 3875 days

#1 posted 08-23-2008 03:34 PM


Great to see you here – you will enjoy the web site!

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 3565 days

#2 posted 08-23-2008 03:39 PM

Thanks Al, I am, and I’m enjoying my time here!

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

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