Monday, January 25, 2016

Pocket Hole Fixture

I've wanted to make a larger pocket hole fixture for quite a while. I have a smaller Kreg jig, which works fine, but can get tedious when drilling a lot of holes (building cabinets).

I've seen a number of plans on line, but they all seemed a bit to complicated for what I was looking for:

  • Hold all sizes of pieces that I would want to put pocket holes in
  • Clamp from the drill side so I don't have to move back and forth
  • Have fence so I could set up a stop-block for repetitive pieces (cabinet face frames)
  • Not cost very much or take a lot of time to build

Here is the design I came up with, and I'm actually surprised at how well it works.

Had this simple pocket hole jig I bought years ago that I used it until I bought the Kreg. It works OK, not great. The little clamping screw is marginal - the thing doesn't always want to stay put.

I cut the screw-end off with a grinder, drilled some holes, and mounted it in a piece of 2x4. I routed out the spot for it to go in, so it sat flush with the base and the back fence I screwed on. I also routed a 1/4" channel for the squeeze clamp to pass through.

Here is the back of the fixture with the clamp coming through. I put a piece of plywood behind the fence to support the drill-guide. I used a small shim and some epoxy to glue the guide to the plywood. I mounted another small piece of plywood as a spacer, then mounted the clamp to that with a screw. The spacer allows me to fit my finger in to loose tension on the clamp.

The clamp stays fixed to the drill-side of the fixture.

It took me a few minutes to decide what to do with the top of the clamp - that end that actually clamps the board. Since the bar of the clamp sides back and forth, it gets stopped by top hitting the 2x4. So I put an extension on the top. It's just 3 pieces of pine glued and screwed together with a little piece of plywood on the top. It creates a recess for the clamp to fit into. I drilled and screwed the extension to the clamp.

The clamp pulls really tight on the piece. The large clamping surface holds it well and doesn't mar it at all.

The fixture is about 20" long and clamps to the bench by little feet. This will hold almost any size board I want. For long boards or plywood, I will make a couple of extension supports. There is plenty of fence to clamp a stop-block to.

The clamp cost $10 (2 for $20). All the wood was scrap. If I bought the parts new, the total cost would be about $35. As it was, I used things I already had.

It took me about 2 hours to figure out the design and make this. Nothing about it was very difficult - it doesn't have any real fine alignment required, you just need to make sure the drill jig is setting flush with the base and the fence. I have a nice router setup that made quick work of it, but you could do the recessing with a drill and cut the slot with a table saw as well.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Most Appreciated Project

About a year ago, I made this simple bench. I put it near the edge of the cliff by our beach house, overlooking the ocean.

Two old 2x6's, two log rounds, and a hand full of framing nails. I found the wood beside the garage. It took longer to carry the wood out there than it did to build it. No skill required.

Every day that I've been at the house, I've seen people out sitting on the bench. Usually a number of different people use it. Someone is almost always on it at sunset.

The neighbors all figured out I put it out there. A number of them have come by to say thanks, and that they really appreciate having it there. In 30 years of woodworking, I've never had anything that was this appreciated and used by so many people.

I realized it's not about what I made. The bench gets forgotten when looking at the ocean or a sunset.My greatest work doesn't show my skill, it provides a place to for people to sit and see God's skill.

I like that very much.

Rustic Adirondack Bench

I build this for a friend a couple of years ago. Just catching up on posting projects. I plan on building a couple more this winter and making video's of it.

Building the log base is most of the work. It all done with a small electric chainsaw.

All joints are lap & notch. I used polyurethane glue and screws, since the wood was green.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

DIY Disc Sander

Last year I bought an old DeWalt radial arm saw, and I broke the motor mount while trying to disassemble it. It looked like the aluminum casting had a void in it - and tapping on it with a hammer didn't help.

I figured I couldn't use the motor in the hanging orientation, but if I flipped it upside down it would still work for something. I drilled through the casting in a couple of places and put inset screws to make the mount solid.

I decided it would work well as a disc sander.

I bought a buffing plate from Harbor Freight for $4. I comes with the same 5/8" threaded arbor mount as the saw.

I put it on tight, then added the arbor nut to make sure it would stay that way. I mounted a 3/4" plywood disc to the plate and turned it until was well-balanced and just over 10" in diameter. It has almost no vibration, lending to a very heavy motor, mounted on a large plywood base.

I added a worktop with a 2" vacuum port. It's boxed-in around the disk to capture all the sawdust.

You really need dust collection on these, or you get quickly get a lot dust in the air. I made the table removable (of course), and also slightly adjustable. This way I can set the gap between the table and the pad to get the best vacuum. It's currently at about 3/16 and works great - no dust escapes. I have learned to leave some air gap when making vacuum baffles like this to keep the air velocity up.

The motor is 1/2 horsepower (10 amps / 120 volts) and 3400 RPM.

By my observation, and I've checked on it - older motors have a lot more actual power for the stated HP rating than new ones. Old ones where typically under-rated for the working power, and new ones are often a bit over-rated for "developed" power - apples and oranges. So a 60 year old 1/2 HP motor that runs well is going to be more like a 3/4 or 1 HP new motor. Just my opinion - buy old and buy American when ever you can.

For this set-up, the motor has all the power I will ever need. I can feed the end of a 2x4 into it with a lot of pressure and it won't bog down.

The RPM is about double that of a typical commercial model, although you can buy them in this configuration. There are two issues: power and speed of material removal. As I said, I have no trouble with power. I like the high-speed material removal - I have a 60 grit pad on there and that's what I'm looking for.

Here's a short video showing how it works (my first video)...

It grinds away the stick about as fast as I can feed it. There is absolutely no dust with the vacuum system on.

Costs: I'm calling the cost of this project $13, since the motor was left over from another project.
- Electrical parts: $3
- Sanding discs $6
- Buffing plate $4

DIY Track Saw 1

My next project to improve the shop is to make a track saw. 

I use a circular saw quite often, mainly to cross-cut plywood before ripping it on the table saw. I simply draw a line using a T-square and freehand it. That works OK, but then I need to resaw it if I need a precise edge. Since I'm going to be making a full set of kitchen cabinets soon, I thought a track saw would be nice to have.

Since I'm going to be modifying the base to ride the track, I want a dedicated saw. I found this one at the Goodwill outlet for $15. This model was about $200 when new and is selling used on Ebay for around $70.

It's a Makita M513, that looks like it's had very little use. I put a new DeWalt blade on it, and it cuts great. I'm assuming this saw is intended for contractor use.

It has a normal metal blade guard, the motor housing is made of thick plastic - and the saw is really heavy. It's all in the motor, which is exactly what I'm looking for. I want something that will last a long time and cut through anything.

What's next:
- Decide on a design for the track and sled
- Make sure the sled has zero-clearance on the blade for clean cuts
- Figure out how to add a sawdust collection port

Finally, I've been thinking about doing some simple videos - this might be a good place to start.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Beach House Bathroom - Almost, Almost Done

We finished the majority of the small bathroom over Labor Day. All that's left is a little bit of trim painting, shelves and towel hooks - a busy Saturday's worth of work.

The Delta corner shower walls and door had clear instructions and were straightforward to install. It took about four hours with no problems. The quality seems good - so $400 is a fair price (Home Depot). They only had a clear glass option, which I'm glad we used. The bathroom would feel much smaller with patterned glass.

The bathroom originally had a really low ceiling at 6' 7" before the remodel. We took the sheetrock out, put some lap boards between the 2x6 joist and wrapped the joists with 1x6. The ceiling is now at 7' even. It was a bit of work for just 5"gain , but it really changed the space in the room - and the ceiling looks nice.

The box above part of the shower is a compromise. We are adding a small half-bath upstairs, and there was no other way to route the 3" drain. I notched the ceiling joist up 2 1/2 inches, glued & screwed reinforcements to it, and the pipe still hung down a bit. The box butts right up to it. It's not perfect, but it's functional. It's 6' 2" under the box, 6'6" under the joists, and 6' even under the shower head. Lucky we are all under 6', and the other larger bathroom has 8' ceilings.

The 1932 sink I rebuilt fits nicely in the small space. We decided not to put in a medicine cabinet, and instead we just have a simple mirror. With the low ceiling and therefore lower lights, it was just too tight. I added a built-in niche to the sidewall to add a little bit of storage - and I still need to put shelves in and paint the trim. 

The ventilation fan is right above the light, you just can't see it in the picture. Again, I didn't have a lot of choices on where to put it. I wanted it to be away from the shower so it's not an electrical hazard, but with an exposed ceiling, I have to run the ducting in the room above. The fan box is going to sit in the bottom of the sink cabinet upstairs.

Here's the window and toilet. I made the window out of glass block ($3 each at the ReStore), and ended up getting the toilet for nothing with an energy rebate.

I milled the trim for the room out of 1/2" x 5 1/2" cedar boards that we salvaged from the 50' fence that blew down and we didn't replace. The wood is premium quality, almost clear, and has only a slightly rough finish. I could have planed it smooth, but I like the texture.

Here are the doors I built a couple of weeks ago, installed. I'm really happy with the results. Now they just need painting. The knobs I bought were a little tricky at first - I'll do a separate post on those - but worked well.

Finally, here are a couple of pictures of the "before" bathroom...

I'm glad we made the effort to change it.

Friday, September 4, 2015

YouTube Channel I Like: Land to House

I've been following Land to House for a number of months now, produced by Seth Johnson.

He's been building a small house in the woods, and is learning how to do everything as he goes. I really like the style of his videos, his tenacity and his openness about how tough it can be at times.

I've been at this stuff for about 30 years, and I still learn things from his channel.

Best of luck Seth.