Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thickness Planer Upgrade

In all my years of woodworking, I've never had a thickness planer. I've always cut stock down on my table saw, then jointed it to get it flat. Now that I've had one for a few months, I can't figure out why I didn't buy one a long time ago. It's a big time-saver over my old method, and it produces better results.

I found an older 12" Delta on Craigslist for $100. The guy had owned it for a number of years, and never even changed the blades once - so it didn't have a lot of use. I figured it was hard to go wrong for that price.

I found a great video series on YouTube showing the full tear-down and rebuild of the planer, plus blade replacements and a feed table upgrade by ghostses:

After replacing the blades, which was fairly easy with the blade jig I bought for $20 on ebay, I decided to build a feed table.

I built it out of HDO plywood - High Density Overlay - which is smooth, durable and makes a great surface for sliding material over. I mounted the planer to a simple cart make of 2x4's, OSB, and MDF cut-offs.

It's a very straightforward design: a sheet of material bolted to the in-feed and out-feed tables on the planer.

The idea of the feed-table is that it supports the stock enough to get rid of snipe at the end of the board. It did reduce it, but I still get a little bit. The way I deal with it is to run boards through the planer continuously, and run a final scrap piece at the end that gets the snipe.

I'm probably going to add a fold-up table at the end, so long boards don't fall to the ground after being planed.

All said, the feed table is worth the time to install. The stock ends up being smoother and flatter, and it's easier to manage the lumber coming out the back.

Changing Jointer Blades Using Magnets

I have a simple Harbor Freight 6" jointer. Typically I would not by a power tool like this from them, but it had a number of very positive independent reviews, and cost less than half of anything else - so I gave it a shot.

I've had it for about 5 years, I use it all the time, and only have positive things to say about it's performance. Changing the blades is another story. I always dread replacing them, because it takes quite a while to get everything aligned.

I found a simple method that works works really well, using a couple of magnetic tool bars.

Before removing the old blade, I marked the highest point of the cutter head on a speed square. Anything flat object would work for this.

I pull out the old blade and put in a new one, aligning it to the mark. I set the bars on the out-feed side of the jointer, and they hold the blade in alignment to it. This sets the blades at the right position for cutting. I tighten the two inner bolts, remove the bars, then tighten the two outer bolts.

It takes about 5 minutes per blade.

These magnets are really strong, which I think is the key. They hold the blades tight with no slipping while I'm tightening the bolts. You can buy a magnetic jig for this at about $30, but these were already in my shop - and cost $4 a piece on sale.

Harbor Freight no longer sells jointers, or replacement blades. I found a set online that works fine:
POWERTEC 148030 6-Inch HSS Jointer Knives for $15 a set on Amazon. I'm going to try to sharpen my old ones, but I don't want to take the time to do that right now.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Queen Headboard and Frame from a Five-Panel Door.

My oldest son is moving out with friends, and this is my new-house gift for him:

The headboard is a 5-panel clear fir door that we cut down. It has a little damage on it, but that will be hidden by the mattress.

This is actually a fairly easy project:
  • Cut the door to 59" wide, add 2x3 legs and then a 1x4 cap. 
  • The foot board is just the same but with a 1x10.
  • The side rails are 1x10 with a 2x4 support.
  • The side-rails are connected with bed-brackets from Rockler. 

The platform is four 20" x 60" sections of OSB, backed-up with 2x4's. This might be over-kill, but I don't need to worry about it sagging - and its cheap & easy.

It took as long to stain and seal the bed than it did to build and sand it. I think this is a four-evening project - two for building and two for finishing.

Costs: $175
  • Fir headboard - $75
  • Fir lumber - $50
  • 2 OSB sheets - $18
  • 8 2x4's - $20
  • Bead brackets - $12
  • Stain and sealer - already had it.
The project went as planned, I wouldn't have done anything different - and my son really likes it.

Workshop Carts

I bought a couple of cheap saws for doing remodeling at the beach house. They work OK, but they aren't very functional if I just set them on the nearest flat surface. The biggest problem is lack of support for larger boards and plywood, especially on the table saw.

I decided they needed to be mounted to work carts, and those carts needed to be mobile - including rolling them out on to the gravel driveway. Casters and gravel don't mix, so I decided to make them "push cart" style with bigger wheels and handles.

Here is the table saw:

I added a fold-up wing on the right for plywood and to hold stock while I'm working.

I made these out of extra wood I had sitting around the shop, which kind of dictated the design.  I made the frames from a stack of 1x6 Doug Fir that was just one step above fire wood. I ripped these into 2.5" strips - both sturdy and light weight. I added 1/2" plywood tops.

The second cart is for the miter saw. I added a fold-up wing on this one for longer boards. When I put the carts next to each other, the table saw out-feed supports the other end of the boards. This makes a fairly effective work center.

I had space on the back side of the miter fence, so I attached a grinder, battery charger and power strip. Also, the storage shelf behind the table saw is where I keep the skill saw.

This was the first weekend I used them, and I'm really happy with the results. It took me less than 5 minutes to roll them out of the garage and set everything up - and the same amount of time to take it down and put it away.

I'm still thinking about an assembly table. I will just use sawhorses and plywood for the time being, but I may end up making a third cart.

Cart Cost: $24
- $20 for four 7" wheels at Harbor Freight
- $4 for lag bolts to hold the wheels
- Everything else was cut-offs and scrap.


I've decided to combine my woodworking and remodeling blogs into a single feed, so it's easier to keep things updated. I'll keep things organized with tags on the sidebar.

Thanks for stopping by.