A journey into the workshop. #103: An unplanned fathers day gift for my father in law, starting my shop reorganization.

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 06-20-2016 03:32 PM 880 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 102: More consideration of back saving techniques and ideas... Workstation? Part 103 of A journey into the workshop. series Part 104: Temp has been hovering just under 100 deg F, 90+ % humidity, and this happens! »

Okay the shop reorganization is NOT the gift for my father in law, but bear with me, this is kind of interesting…

My father in law due to age, and the condition of his house, has been needing to be moved into somewhere that the extended family can more easily get to, and give him the assistance he needs in his everyday living. He’s 85 with somewhat limited mobility, and a failing memory. He simply can’t be trusted with a stove or oven any more, so we are always taking him meals etc…

My brothers in law have a business (shop) that is on a good size piece of land, and has a couple of pads with RV hookups for potable water, sewer, and 30 amp shore power.

The solution was something we have been talking over with him for about a year now, and we went ahead and bit the bullet.

Most, but not all of the siblings in law got together and bought him a nice, fully loaded 33’ travel trailer that we have set up on the RV pad.

The problem was the steep steps to get into the RV. It was hard for him to get in, and out of the RV.

The solution? Build a small deck with an access ramp next to the RV!

Since the deck / ramp was built floating (not in ground) it is considered an “RV Accessory” and not a permanent structure, so no permit was needed, which gave us a LOT more freedom in design.

For the door height of the trailer (32” threshold from the ground), code says a run of 12” for each inch of rise, so to be code the ramp would have needed to be 32 feet long, which was not feaseable for us, and honestly he didn’t want that.

It was built instead, as a deck slightly lower (2”0 from the threshold height to allow for moving around the lot if needed. The deck is small, 5’ x 5’, and the ramp width was sized to match the trailer door width (30”), and a run of 12 feet. Not fully ADA compliant, but it works well for him.

We litereally went from an idea on a sketchpad at 3:00 in the afternoon, to a completed deck (sans rails, still need to finish them) by midnight. I had help offloading stock from the truck and onto the miter saw stand, and driving a few nails in spots that are just too small for me to fit my fat backside into, but aside from that it’s all my doing, and I am sore as heck from all that hard work in the Texas summer heat!

I will be heading over later on this week to finish up the rails…

I do have some concerns long term for the durability of this particular deck / ramp. Mostly because we used what we could get from our local Home Depot as far as pressure treated lumber is concerned, and most of it was still literally dripping wet. I have no idea what is going to want to twist as it dries. I will deal with that as it comes along.

I did end up dragging my old B&D Firestorm 10” non slide miter saw and stand, and it did the trick, just barely, for most of the cuts. There were a couple of long angles that I had to whip out my ancient Skil saw for. I managed to run through a mess of 2.5” framing nails using my Harbor Freight 28 degree framing nailer.

The stock for the rails is ready to be cut, 2×2s and 2×4s The 2×2s are for the uprights, and will be attached with 2×5” hot dipped screws, the rail itself will be 2×4 and attached with screws to the 2×2s. IF this were permanently set up I would use 4×4 more extensively, but this is after all, a free standing deck. 2×2 will handle the load requirement per code so I am good aside from the run of the ramp.

Anyway, LONG story short, the cutoffs from this project are providing me everything I need to get my bench grinder / sharpening station built. I already have the 4×4 post cutoff back in my shop and ready to go. I will have at least 4 24”+ 2×4 cutoffs. The 4×4 and 2×4 stock was plenty dry at Home Depot, I am figuring on building the stand, and painting it the same dark emerald green I used for the Christmas Tree Stand.

I have non PT 2×2 in my shop as well, so if I have cutoffs from the railing project, which is possible, or not, I will be makign a “cleat” around the top of the post to attach the base for the grinder to using 2×2 stock, wood screws, and plenty of glue.

I am re-examining my use of space to the right of the table saw, and contemplating my options for the bench top jointer and planer. A single dedicated flip top stand could roll into the space they currently are in, which might work well for me, wheel them out to before the saw, s4s the stock, bring it to the saw process to size / cut any dadoes / rabbets needed etc… Route anything that needs to be done on the router table, then move around the back to the workbench…

Oh and to top it all off, I still haven’t found my hole saws! Can you believe it? I checked behind the miter saw station, no joy. I am starting to think shop gnomes are stealing my hole saws!

-- My workshop blog can be found at

3 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2588 days

#1 posted 06-20-2016 04:14 PM

Hole saws, being what they are, probably got tired of being ignored, and collectively made a black hole in the corner of the shop, and fell in to it, and are lost for ever, after….........(-:

Sure you didn’t lend them out?

My hole saws are stashed in the most difficult to reach position in the shop…......and because I use them infrequently, that is appropriate. So look in the most difficult to reach position in the shop because surely, great minds, think alike….......(-:

I love the story of the ramp. Just getting something done with a little help from your friends is always fun. The closest thing to a building bee I got into occurred like 35 years ago. We were putting up an addition using milled logs to match the rest of our house in Fairbanks. A couple of friends I contracted to do it were cramming it in just before the worst of winter. So the temperature starts to fall, early November, and it was 14 degrees below zero when we did this. No problem with sweating. My two friends, myself, and 3 US Army friends from Fort Wainwright that had the weekend off spent a day, and spiked in two stories of milled logs in one day at 14 degrees below. We didn’t sweat, but we didn’t get cold, either…......and we got the sucker closed up before the snow really starting flying and it got to be 50 degrees below zero (it always did).

Using the cutoffs for a mobile cart is icing on the cake….......fab.

Trying to get those two projects posted, I am diligently working on them now. They are a little complex, so it is taking some time to get photos and the story line all together.


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2655 days

#2 posted 06-20-2016 05:09 PM

As soon as I get the rails on the ramp / deck I will post pics, assuming I finish while there is still light out!

Yeah I am certain I didn’t loan out my hole saws. What I am not certain of is if I left them on the tailgate of the truck last time I took them out of my shop working with a friends project. They MIGHT be on the Houston Gulf Freeway… Ugh.

I am a new kind of sore though. I must admit it is kind of funny, I got some help, but not much with the project. One of the brothers in law that was there is the one that is sick. Not going to fault him… The other one spent most of the time working on customer (paid) projects and working with customers, no fault there. What was left was the nephew that disappeared into the shadows about 3/4 of the way through the cuts, and my wife that soldiered through the cutting of the wood taking finished cut pieces and putting them in the proper piles for assembly…

My fitbit band is now caked with sawdust in the unused holes that I just can’t seem to get clean, and according to Fitbit, I burned something like 9K calories on Saturday…

The good thing is my back handled it pretty well, thanks in no small part to prescriptions, plenty of previous rest, chirpractor, and massage therapy…

My shop is still a disaster, but on the upshot, I got the miter saw/ stand out of my shop, if nothing else, at least temporarily…

The OE blade on the Firestorm miter saw has just about had it though, I guess I could send it out for sharpening, but at $40.00 for a factor Fresh Diablo blade, it might not be worth sending the B&D blade in…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2588 days

#3 posted 06-21-2016 03:42 PM

In general, the OE blade probably is marginal to start with, and it is hard to go wrong with Diablo.

I can’t imagine what kind of havoc hole saws could make on a freeway if they landed with teeth up….........(-:

In some projects, there isn’t much others can do to help other than move stuff around, unless they are skilled at the tasks involved in the project. When we did my one day milled log build years ago, moving things was the biggest problem, and driving spikes the other task. Driving spikes takes about 30 seconds of instruction to learn. Making a wood framed structure is not that easy to teach.

Finished up the details on the raised bed, so now I have time to get those projects posted. I am steadily working on them….......


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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