Good day, and welcome to the initial installment of my DeWalt RAS cabinet blog.
Woodworking is a hobby for me, nothing more and nothing less. Within the realm of hobby lies a tremendous range of passion; there’s ‘love it, can’t live without’ all the way to ‘it’s something to tinker with when there’s no sports on TV.’ I’m closer to the former than the latter, but I’m also a very patient fellow when it comes to getting things done the way I want them. Bottom line: It’s the journey.
Why start a blog with reflection? Why indeed. The answer lies in the connection of dots, the songline that dictates the development of my shop space and the tools it contains. Some of the things in my shop, the workbench for example, were game-changers in ways I did not anticipate. Other shop tools have been instigators in the same sense as my bench, and it is one of those ancillary paths that is the focus of this short blog series. I bought a 1956 DeWalt MBF 9” radial arm saw via Craigslist about three years ago for the tidy sum of $100. Although the saw lacked a decent blade and pawl, it did come with a rather spiffy, customized “General Electric” stand.
Don’t get me wrong. The GE stand is nice, in a 60s / Jetsons vibe kind of way, but there’s always been a sense it was not a permanent fixture. It’s not rickety, but there’s no way to add extensions to either side of the saw’s top. To work longer stock of all varieties, I envisioned a wall-length work surface that would incorporate the RAS. The surface would also include a removable fence and stop blocks for repeating cuts. Oh, and it would have to be visually appealing, like those great workstations I see in the workshop books and posted on LJs. Because what I have now is not inspirational in any way…
The simple fact is, I’m not very good at creating things from scratch. I’m a copier by nature. An improver, if you will. Give me a broken down piece of something and I’ll make something useful out of it. If it’s a decent piece I’ll kick it up a notch. But when I’m presented with a blank slate it’s tough to get started. So the Spiffy GE Stand endured as the home for the DeWalt MBF as the months went by and the excuse list grew.
— When I realized (rationalized) any type of RAS cabinet would be in the way while a partition wall was built in the shop, the cabinet waited.
— When I couldn’t decide what the RAS cabinet should look like, doing nothing seemed to be a sound approach. So the cabinet waited.
— When I decided it would be an actual cabinet, I figured whatever I built would be too big and heavy to move out of the way when I finally got around to laying down a wood floor. So the cabinet waited.
Fast forward to today, and all the boxes have now been checked. The partition wall was completed in 2012, the DeWalt PowerShop Workbench was blogged about eleven months ago and the shop floor was installed at the end of October 2013. I even had a picture of a completed cabinet (see blog link above). No excuses anymore, time to get started.
I’ll build a RAS cabinet in the style suggested by my saw’s OEM via “Plan No. DW102”.
I appreciate “F.W. Lane” and his pack-ratting ways… Because he saved his copy of the big DeWalt fold-out poster, I’m able to build it today. With a copyright date of 1954, it’s right on to be a match to my RAS. The drawings for the bench include construction methods that are certainly not common today. Key to this cabinet is a pair of horizontal 2×4 support beams notched into a series of vertical 1×6 ribs. The toe kick has to be cut from each rib. All inside shelves and the cabinet bottom are cut around the ribbed interior space as well. My first impression is ‘overbuilt and needlessly labor-intensive’, but I’m committed to building this thing in period style anyway. Even the dimension lumber called out in the drawing is off from today’s milled goods. I plan to use key dimensions and build the rest to fit.
First time working with a real materials list, and that gave me an idea how much 1x stock I needed. That was a WAG though, as I’m modifying the original plan to better fill the space in my shop. My father found a number of donor pieces and the rest of what I thought would be needed was bought outright (a rare occurrence in my world).
Construction will use the best tools for the job, be it hand tool or tailed apprentice.
So I have my excuses out of the way and material on-hand. It’s time to get this build underway; I have no idea how long this one will be in-work, but I can’t let that stop me. Stay tuned for the next installment, where sawdust is guaranteed to be seen. Until then, as always, thanks for looking!
-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --