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.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beach House Doors - Solid Wood but Inexpensive

I decided to replace all the doors at the beach house.

We have everything from an old solid three-panel door to a super cheap slab from the 70's - and none of them are the same. Since all the doors need to be custom sizes, and on top of that I don't want any hollow-core doors, making them myself is the only option.

So my wife and I decided on the requirements:
- Solid wood
- The same theme for the doors, but have some variation
- Don't break the bank

The best option I could find was to use 2x6 tongue-and-grove kiln-dried pine decking and 5 mm underlayment plywood, both from Home Depot. A 12' decking board costs $9 (I need 2) and plywood cost $14 (I need 1/2 a sheet) - so the doors themselves will cost $25 each.

I started by rough cutting the decking to length:

I ripped the boards, removing both the tongue and grove sides, then I ran them through the jointer to get them straight and smooth. After I cut them to exact length, I cut slots to accept the plywood panels - it took two passes on the table saw with a regular blade. I also slotted the ends of the top and bottom pieces:

Once the slotting was done, I verified the panel sizes I needed, then cut them:

I glued the panels into the slots with Titebond. In some areas of the country this would not be a good idea, due to wood expansion and contraction. On the Oregon coast this is not a problem, since the temperatures don't vary that much and the humidity is always about the same.

I cut plywood splines to join the frame.

The assembly went OK, but it would have been easier if the glue didn't dry so fast. I may investigate something with a longer open-time for the next doors.

I pulled everything tight with pipe clamps:

All the doors will be made the same to this point, then I will put various patterns on them.

They will all have the top panel as shown below. We're going to put chalkboard paint on these so we can do fun artwork. From there, the bottom section will change throughout the house.

Here are some of our ideas:

The two doors for the basement and small bathroom are built, and mortised for hinges. I will do the jambs this week - which should cost about $20 per set.

Three hinges per door cost $10.

The door knobs were really cheap at $1.50 a set, and they are nice ones - brushed nickle. I bought them at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They had 100's of sets and where trying to move them.

So the total for each door fully installed will be about $75 including trim and paint. To order the doors, since they are custom sizes, would be about $250 to $300 each. I need to build 8 regular doors, 2 sets of bi-fold and a 5' wide slider. In the end it will be around $1000 and some work, but I think it will be worth it.

Door Horses

I'm building a number of doors for the beach house, and I wanted to avoid the problem of not holding them solidly while I routed for the hinges. In the past, I've clamped them to my workbench or regular saw horses, but they still moved around a bit.

I looked online for door holders, and most of them were too complex. They have clamp assemblies or wedges at the bottom, which seems to be overkill and too specialized. Here is an example:

You can hold a door with that thing, but not much of anything else.

I decided to go a simpler route, making heavy duty T-shaped stands - door horses - and they work great.

The bottom's are 4x6 and the posts are 4x4. These were leftovers from the shop build that have been sitting in the corner for quite a while. They are joined with dado's, glue and a few 4" deck screws.

I need to do a post on my "dado machine" - an industrial 1950's Dewalt radial arm saw with a dedicated dado blade on it. It makes it very easy and quick to cut slots and dados.

Theses are fairly heavy and hold the doors really well. I could have just as easily make them from 2x4's glued and screwed together. It would have taken three or four 2x4's - about $10.

I hold the doors with clamps at the top and that's plenty of support. If needed to, I could move them to the ends of the door and clamp the bottoms as well. I could also hold full sheets of plywood this way.

I thought about drilling holes so I could put dowels in to raise the door up, but I don't think it's needed. If I want the doors higher, I can cut a couple of blocks and clamp them to the posts.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Crosscut Sled Safety Label

I just built a new crosscut sled for my table saw. This must be number 10 or higher - I use them all the time. Sometimes my kids (late teens, early twenties) use them as well, and I'm kind of fanatical about their safety (and my own).

So here is my safety label, using red paint:

It might be a little graphic, but it has caught everyone's attention immediately when they set the sled on the table.

I may also put a wooden blade guard on the back of it, but I want them to be thinking about safety regarding the blade when it's doing the cutting in the body of the sled as well.

I might write DANGER on it...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beach House Bathroom - Almost Done

All the tiling is complete, wood walls installed and plumbing is done.

We painted behind the sink and toilet so we could get them installed an usable, I needed to head home and go back to work, and those incremental steps are important. 

The sink is the one from 1936 that I restored. I ended up keeping the original valves and knobs, but replaced the drain. It was missing the tail piece and I couldn't get it to stop sticking.

The toilet is small (1.0 gal per flush), which fits well in the space.

So what's left?
- Shower walls and door. I bought a Delta corner shower set from HD.
- Paint the rest of the room.
- Make and install the door. I will build a three-panel solid one - and do a post on it.
- Trim the door and window out
- Add shelves, hooks for towels, etc.
- Put in the lights and hook up the venting fan.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beach House Bathroom - Shower Tiling

I'm currently working on the corner shower in the small bathroom of the beach house.

Here is the result of day one:

I plumbed the shower, installed the wall board and started the tiling - not bad for a vacation day.

Now that I have the mosaic lines installed on the left, I will cut out the space for the niche on the right. I already rough-framed in the niche a bit larger than I needed, then will add blocks to get it exactly to the right location and size.

The earth-tone tiles are actually large, but cast to look like small tiles. They are 18" x 28" and a bit hard to handle. They need a lot of mortar, and require support to stay in place - hence the clamps at the bottom. They are high-quality porcelain that I bought from a company that went out of business for $1.50 a square foot. They are surprisingly easy to cut on the tile saw of I do it free-hand.

I'm not a big fan of Harbor Freight squeeze clamps, but these work great as spreaders. I got them for $3 each with a coupon. I don't think they sell these exact clamps any more, but they have comparable ones.

Day Two: I added the niche, waterproofed it, and set the rest of the tile.

Here is niche with the fiberglass tape in place:

I used Redgard for waterproofing. It goes on like a gel, and thoroughly seals the surface after two coats. It's pink when it's wet and turns darker red once it's dry.

I decided to do the entire niche in mosaics. I really like it.

There's an optical illusion in the mosaics - they look like they are waving up and down. They area actually dead straight and level, but for some reason they don't look it. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thrift Store Task Lighting

I like to have task lighting at all the big tools in my shop. It makes the work a lot more comfortable, especially after a long day of working out there.

Unfortunately, lighting is not cheap. A flexible workstation light from Rockler is about $50. Even simple flexible desk lamps from Walmart or Target are about $10 each - and they aren't very robust.

Fortunately, there are a lot of thrift stores in the Portland area, and you can buy a good quality flexible shaft desk lamp for about $3, if they have them.

For most of the tools, I removed the lamp from its base and mounted it to the tool itself or the cabinet over it.

Since I'm left-handed, I prefer the lights on the right side, so I don't bump into them.

For the radial arm dado saw, I just left it as is - no special mounting required.

The best find so far is the long neck industrial lamp I mounted above my table saw. It cost $7 at Goodwill, but would have probably been around to $100 new. It's heavy duty, so it should keep it's position over time. It significantly brightens the area of my table saw where I use the sliding cut-box.

All lights are either direct-wired or plugged into outlets that are on the main light circuit. They are CFL, so there is minimal power going to them. All five lights are about the same as one incandescent bulb.

This whole project took about $20 and a few hours of my time. I'm still on the hunt for a couple more lights for my drill-press and disk sander.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Log-Leg Bench

I built this bench last year for a fund-raising auction. It was fairly popular and easy to make.

The method of construction is very straightforward:

Build the seat as a small platform. Here the seat is 42" long by about 26" deep.

Cut four legs out of a log and notch them to fit on to the ends of the bench. I notched these with a small electric chainsaw. 

Put arms on top of the legs.

Put a back-rest on top of the arms. I angled the back-rest here a bit. I think it looks nice, but isn't really required. Once you put some screws through the back into it, its not going anywhere. I would have used a large branch for this if I had one.

Put the back on. I attached the back pieces to the back-rest with screws, then put screws up through the seat into them.

 I put a bit of darker stain on it to bring the rough-sawn texture out of the wood, then sealed it with outdoor finish.

I made the coffee table with the cut-offs and some slate mosaic I had left over.

Costs: Nothing - Everything here was either given to me or was left over from other projects.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Sink and Cabinet for the Beach House

I found this sink on Craigslist for $75. I was lucky enough to see it right after it was posted, called the seller immediately, and went over and picked it up.

It's a 1932 American Standard in perfect condition - no cracks, chips or damage. The reason she was selling it was that it leaked on the hot side, and she didn't know how to fix it. She had already installed something else, or I would have tried to repair it for her. I like getting good deals, but I don't want to take advantage of people.

I pulled out the valve assembly, cleaned everything, put in new washers and brass screws, and it works great. Home Depot sells these replacement parts - 80 years after the sink was manufactured. I've become an American Standard fan.

To buy this sink in working condition from a dealer is around $400, even with some small chips in it.

The sink came with some chrome legs that weren't in very good condition and were short, so I decided to make a cabinet instead of use them. The space for the sink is small, so the cabinet is just the same width at 22".

The inspiration pieces are from Pottery Barn, ranging from $1600 to $2100.

I made the cabinet out of fir. I had a large amount of it given to me a number of years ago, and I'm finally getting around to using some of it.

My wife and I agreed to do a single drawer, with a shelf below for baskets. 

This whole thing is put together with pocket screws. I'm not a big fan of pocket screws for free-standing furniture - I don't think they are really durable. But since this cabinet will be secured to the wall and not move, they are good choice: fast and easy.

We decided to stain this (and the future cabinets I'll build for the kitchen) a weathered gray.

I'm working on a matching medicine cabinet now. I hope to post on it in a few days.

Costs: $95
  • $75 for the sink
  • $6 for washers and screws for repair at Home Depot
  • $14 for 14" full extension drawer slides at Home Depot
  • The wood was free
  • The knob was in my misc hardware bin
I would add $30 for the wood if had purchased it, giving $125 total.

I hope to be installing it soon. I'll do a follow-up here once it's in place.