Old and new Projects in a New Workshop #1: First projects

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Blog entry by garyjs posted 08-11-2011 02:24 PM 3889 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Old and new Projects in a New Workshop series Part 2: Lathe bench and tool cart »

We moved into a new home from a very small apartment. Fortunately for me, the new place has a 2-car garage; I claimed it right away as a workshop. So far, I’ve been able to actually use half of it to set up my new shop. I’ve had larger workshops over the years, and made money from them. Here, I hope to build 36-string lever harps starting next year. Don’t know if I’ll make money on this one, but that’s my plan.

Right now, I’m working with a Skilsaw, hand drill, a not-so-great jig saw and a few sheets of sandpaper. No table saw, no bandsaw, no floor model tools of any sort. They are all on my wish list, though.

In the meantime, I’m starting from scratch. Lots of experience, mind you, but little in the way of resources. I picked up some 2×6 and 2×4 pine lumber and put together an office desk and a workbench. Essentially, the frames are built with the same stock and to the same specs. The top for the office desk is a 30×80 solid core door. For the workbench I ripped two sheets of exterior grade 3/4” plywood and laminated them together and jigged up a rip fence for my trusty Skilsaw to square things up.

And here are two pictures of the workbench:

The bench is about 30 front to back and about 62” left to right. And it does have a tool tray. I’m used to working on a European cabinetmakers workbench and really miss all of that functionality. But it is a heavy bench, solid and reasonably well made. It’s a bear to moved around, I can tell you that.

One of my nephews heard I was putting together a new workshop and he said he had an old lathe if I wanted it. I’ve worked as a professional turner in the past and made a good living at it, too. But I really don’t need a lath to build harps. So I said yes. It’s an old – really old – Duracraft WL 1236 model lathe, and it came with a roll of tools. I got it home the other day and almost immediately oiled everything I could reach.

So here’s a few shots of the lathe as it is today:

And two shots of the tool that came with it. I’m cleaning them up with 220 and 400-grit wet/dry paper, and rubbing compound and coating them with a hard wax :

Finally, That office desk has a lot of room on the top, but no place to put anything. I took some scrap pine, screws and glue and put this set of pigeon holes together:

Mind, it is scrap lumber and it’s nothing I’ll ever brag about to a customer, but it will hold some stuff for me.

-- garyjs

2 comments so far

View DanW's profile


123 posts in 3067 days

#1 posted 08-11-2011 04:59 PM

Hey there’s nothing wrong with second (or third of fourth) hand tools. My grandfather retired from the Post Office in 1952 & he bought a tablesaw, shaper, drill press, joiner, and bandsaw. All Craftsman and all heavy! Anyway I still use the tablesaw and drill press. I have a wide variety of hand tools (planes, chisels, scraper planes, etc) that were his as well. When he gave me his tools it was like it was Christmas for a year!. Anyway, it looks like you have several really nice gouges & skews in that roll. Wish you good fortunes and success with your harps. Please post pics when you complete your first one.
BTW, welcome to LJ

-- "Let he who does not work in wood, find something else that's half as good." (can't remember who I'm quoting)

View garyjs's profile


27 posts in 2507 days

#2 posted 08-11-2011 05:12 PM

Hi, Dan. Back before anyone saw any value in old hand tools I was scouring the Atlanta flea markets and picked up wooden hand planes and old timber framing chisels for less than the cost of the steel. Nowadays you can’t find that stuff outside of antique stores. And all of my stuff is about 6000 miles away, so I’m stuck with starting from scratch. Haunting pawn shops, mostly.

I’ll be posting photos of the shop as it grows and my first harp while I’m building it. Lots of jigging up to do before that, too. Reusable jigs, since I’ll be building several harps over the next few years.

-- garyjs

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