It’s been quite some time since my last blog entry. Fortunately, this was due to a major change—the sale of the townhouse my wife, daughter, and I lived in, and the purchase of a single family home. With this change came a farewell to the single-car garage workshop in which my sawdust addiction was incubated, and a hopeful “hello” to the possibility of a new basement workshop, in a much larger, conditioned space. Unfortunately for this blog, that means there is going to be a large break in the action. The last entry left off after I cut my teeth on cabinet making, door making, added more storage to my garage workshop at the townhouse, and started getting my handcut dovetail chops together. This entry will attempt to summarize the things that happened between that last post and now.
After surviving the Christmas season, making gifts for people, and taking advantage of the new storage and tool carts I created, I had to rearrange my small workshop again to make room for a new addition: A SawStop contractor saw, fully pimped out. That meant adding an actual dust collector instead of just the shop vac, and trying to make room for the new behemoth in my tiny shop.
I bought a small 1 HP Harbor Freight dust collector, an upgraded Grizzly bag, and had Oneida send me a molded Super Dust Deputy. I made a rolling cart that would fit in the corner next to the new saw and stack everything on top of each other: trash can, cyclone, blower and bag. There’s a video about it on my YouTube channel if you’re interested: https://youtu.be/zKcy1lNb-iU
After tooling around at WWIA last year and looking at workbenches for nearly a year, reading Chris Schwarz’s books, etc., I decided it was time for a real bench. But I didn’t want to spend a boatload of money making it out of hard maple. It was my first bench and I wasn’t sure (from information overload) whether I would like what I wound up with or not. So I made a split-top, Roubo-style bench, from 2×4 lumber picked over the course of a couple months from Home Depot. There is a video tour of the bench on YouTube: https://youtu.be/AH-q3cKytPw The benchtop was fastened to the legs with wedged tenons (credit to David Barron) and it was more or less built around a 33” wide Moxon vise with hardware from Hovarter. Cool vise—you only need to turn one handle to operate the vise. Check out the video.
I made a few other small pieces between the SawStop and the workbench. My mother in law wanted a small bench that she could sit on to put on/take off shoes. So I made one out of oak and mahogany for her. It was one of my few projects to date that did not include mechanical fasteners of any kind. It has through tenons joining the top to the legs and tenons between the stretcher/shelf and the legs. She was very happy with it and I was pretty proud of this piece.
My daughter, Hannah, needed a toy box in her room. My wife and I wanted it to also double as seating space. So it was time to try my hand at upholstering a top. It, like all things my wife and daughter get involved in, wound up being painted either white or pink. In this case, white AND pink. So I used my new cabinet door-making skills to assemble it out of poplar and MDF using frame and panel construction. It took me only a few days to complete, including the upholstery using the fabric my wife picked out. It was an immediate hit.
We also started renovating the master bathroom, which my wife and I have always been less than happy with. At first, we were going to replace the lights, remove the huge dressing-room-style mirror, and repaint the walls. But when I saw that the builders didn’t put in boxes for the lights and didn’t finish the drywall behind the mirror, the job expanded. My wife and I decided that a double medicine cabinet would be a nice replacement for the huge mirror and small side-medicine cabinet, but the new one would need to match the maple vanity that was already there. The job expanded to replacing the linoleum floor with cork, which led to a repair around the toilet flange, replacing the toilet, then replacing the sink and bath hardware too. We also replaced the lights and painted as we originally planned. I added some simple, colonial-style window casing also. But as everyone knows, each job turns into a much bigger job than originally intended. Although there were things that I learned when building the double medicine cabinet (and therefore things I’m not happy with), it turned out pretty well. I was happy with how close the finish was to the existing vanity.
As soon as I thought the bathroom was done, my wife wanted some floating shelves above the toilet. So I banged that one out on a Saturday.
As soon as the bathroom was done, we finally found a house in the neighborhood we had been casing for over 2 years. We were driving home from church and decided to go through “our” neighborhood to see an open house. We went to the open house, didn’t like the layout, and just drove around. We saw another open house that we didn’t know about (we went to dozens in that neighborhood over the past two years), stopped, and fell in love. A few weeks later, it was a done deal. Which meant I just did all that damn work in the bathroom for NOTHING!!!!!
The house had a finished basement. The first owner had a space in the back of the basement for a shop—even had a 240V circuit back there labeled on the panel as “saw.” But the people we bought it from closed it all up and finished it. They put in a bar and a bedroom. My wife told me that the two-car garage would NOT, under any circumstances, be used for shop space because I stole the entire garage at the townhouse and dammit, she wanted to park her car INSIDE the garage like God intended garages to be used. Ok, ok, ok. So I could have a shop, but I would have to demo part of the basement, kill off the bar and the bedroom, and build it from the ground up. I got this. Stay tuned because as soon as we signed on the dotted line, I started tearing that beautiful new house apart. (Insert maniacal cackle here.)
-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.