Dust Collector Upgrade

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment

The Shoulders of Giants

So there is absolutely nothing new here except that this upgrade is new to my shop. I have been using an “as purchased” Harbor Freight dust collector in my shop for years now. Until recently I have been somewhat OK with its effectiveness. When I built my new workbench however, I had to completely rearrange my shop and I was unable to get all the machines I wanted, reconnected to the collector. My jointer/planer combination machine makes a mountain of chips when used and I never did get it connected to the collector. I was way overdue for an upgrade. Cyclones are wonderful but I had already built a Thien Baffle and felt like it was working satisfactorily.

The Plan

So I was definitely copying what others had done before me, but unfortunately for me, I never did actually find the explicit build notes that I was looking for. I actually was hoping to copy what kdc68 built on Lumberjocks. He was basing his project directly from two other lumberjocks works of Cory and b2rtch. Lots of other folks have made variations of this basic idea, which is to mount the blower up high above the Thien separator which in turn makes venting fine dust to bag much more efficient (reduced distance). The makeover of course isn’t complete without the addition of a proper Wynn Environmental 35A series air filter. For reference, I purchased the 35A274NANO Cartridge Kit.

kdc68 gave a rather extensive list of materials which he used in his build and wrote a very nice post. I was rather determined to use up some of the left over materials in my shop and once I had made that decision, I was struggling a bit to work out the details on my own. I decided to purchase the Harbor Freight mobile base kit but didn’t buy plywood, instead I used a 2’x4′ piece of ¾” MDF I had on hand. Although I had one length of Douglas Fir 4×4 which was long enough, I refused to buy another 10′ piece. Instead I used SYP off cuts and 2×4’s. I made the base 24″ x 48″ which makes for a rather wobbly cart. I would keep this in mind as I worked out the other construction bits.

Harbor Freight Mobile Base

I didn’t “know” how wide or tall to make the gantry, nor did I “know” where to mount it on the base. I was concerned that it be strong enough to hold the motor and blower unit and securely attached to the base. I was already regretting my use of MDF.

I made an assumption that 5′ tall would be ample and made a guesstimate about how wide to make it. I’m sure that I over engineered the cross pieces but after installing the 3 lower pieces I measured and felt I need it to be taller and so I added a 4th upper piece.

Dust Collector Motor Gantry

I really love the idea of introducing the piece to the work over measuring but in this instance, the pieces were heavy and awkward.  I built the cart so I could figure out the gantry. After the gantry, I made sure the metal waste can would fit between if I added the lower angled supports. This in turn, effected where the motor should be mounted so that it can mate with the dust port in the center of the separator. In this respect it really helped to have the fittings in hand to be absolutely certain everything would line up and fit properly.


Having made the gantry and mounted the blower, I could now figure out how much I needed to raise the Filter/Bag so that it aligned with the blower output. In my case it amounted to approximately 11″ tall. I went ahead and made the box (½” plywood)  such that it would span the width of the base (24″) and about 20″ long (4 sides and a top, no bottom). Early on in the build, I thought the entire setup needed to be shifted over to make the blower and the Filter/Bag line-up but I was wrong. At this point my problem was shifting the blower back towards the center of the base so that one of the legs of my Filter/Bag would not hang-over the edge of the cart. It meant that I needed to unbolt the motor, and re-drill holes to shift it. Fortunately, I still had the cardboard bolt hole template I used the first time. Shifting it as far as I could back toward the center was just enough for me to mount all three legs of the filter to the box I had made.


In this regard, I drank the Rockler “Dust Right” Kool-Aid. If I couldn’t get my plumbing to the dust collector, I would bring the DC plumbing to my devices. $200 later, I had pretty much everything I needed to add the Durst Right hose and ports to all my machines.

4” Dia. Dust Right® Hose, 3′ L Compressed, Extends to 21′ L
Item # 58957
1 $42.49
Dust Right® 4” Swivel
Item # 21476
1 $15.99
Dust Right® Quick Change Multi-Port Tool Set
Item # 56783
1 $46.74
Dust Right® Quick Connect 4″ Hose Port
Item # 31512
1 $5.99
Dust Right® Universal Small Port Hose Kit
Item # 48212
2 $59.98
Dust Right® 4” Tool Ports
Item # 25516
1 $19.99
4” Keyed Bridge Hose Clamps, Pack of 5
Item # 26177
1 $12.99
5” to 4” Adaptor
Item # 42257
1 $6.99
Dust Right® 4” Spring Clips
Item # 32682
1 $7.99
Dust Right® Quick Connect 4” Elbow
Item # 34432
1 $14.99

I wouldn’t look at this as a definitive list of parts. The two Dust Right Universal Small Port kits ($60) were unrelated to  this build, I just wanted to go ahead and upgrade my vacuums while I was ordering.  You should also note that I had already built the Thien separator so I didn’t need to purchase any “inside” fittings for this, only external ones. Somewhat by chance, it turned out that I had just the correct number of 4″ DR quick connect ports for my machines. I choose a “hose port” for my table saw so that I wouldn’t have to crawl on the floor to connect and disconnect it. I had lots of 4″ DC hose leftover so I picked a longer piece and secured it using one of the 4″ spring clamps.

I embraced kdc68’s idea for re-purposing my heaving duty shop vac tools to make a floor sweep. Genius! The Quick Change multi-port tool set provided the 4″ to 2 ½” port required to make this work. I use one of the 4″ spring clips to secure the sweep to the DC gantry. If you look closely you can just make out the tool holder which I mounted and reused on this build. If I want to use the vacuum cleaner I still can use the lower half (one of the tubes) but for most work, I’ll be using the DC to vacuum the shop.

DC Upgrade Business End

Here is the finished project. If you look at the bottom right of this photo, you’ll see the ports for the table saw and spindle sander in close proximity. The jointer/planer seen on the right edge of the photo below required two tool ports, the band saw has only one.

Completed DC Upgrade


I’m glad to have this project together. I don’t think my shop has been free of dust since before Christmas. I’m looking forward to improved dust management and moving on to project next!




Rustic Pub Chairs

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Chairs for Club Cardinal

I had barely setup Susan’s new pub table on the front porch when it was pointed out to me that the chairs we had intended to use were too short. It turns out they were counter top height chairs (seat at 24″)  not high top height chairs (seat at 30″). I was going to “solve” this problem using the avoidance technique but guest after guest would politely suggest that I, “should get Susan some taller chairs”.  So…. I hunted around to see if there was any safe way to raise the existing chairs by  3 or 4″ but short of welding on leg extensions, I didn’t like of the solutions I saw. So I hunted for an easy build and came up with a plan from DIY Projects with Pete. (Thanks Pete!)

DIY Pete Bar Stools

Build Notes on Pete’s Plan

If you are interested in obtaining these free plans for yourself, you can click on the photo above. The main alteration for my build was in the choice of material. Pete used 2×4 red cedar for its rustic appearance and weather resistance. I’m in Florida and although it appeared that I could purchase this lumber at my home center, it was going to be almost 3 times that Pete quoted for his project. I fell back to good ‘ole Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) as my lumber choice. It would be more work, but I would mill up 10′ – 2×10’s which would cost me about the same as one red cedar 2×4. Each 10′ SYP 2×10 would yield 4,  5’-2×4’s. I would rip of each leaving the center pith for fire wood.

The PDF version of the plan called for  one box of 2 1/2 Kreg Screws ($6) and I should note that you will need 48 screws per chair so if you are making 4 of them, you will need a box of 250 screws ($20) not the $6 box of 50. I didn’t compute this on my first shopping trip. (on the website Pete links to Amazon and the qty 250 box).

Also on the PDF the cut list, each of the various items were listed as quantity 6 which only applies to the 6 “short” pieces of each chair. The website appears to correctly list the quantity of each cut. There was no mention in the plans about which cuts and how many pieces should be taken from each of the 4- 2×4’s so I used a free cut list program (Cut List v4.1.12) to help me. This was helpful especially as I was milling my own lumber. Although I started by thinking the cut list through, the plan went wonky as I rough cut the 2×10’s outside with a circular saw before bringing them inside for further milling. I likely wasted a little lumber by not knowing exactly how long to rough cut each piece. I did mark them as I rough cut them but this was followed by the “fog of shop-work” and no doubt I mixed up pieces.

Milling up SYP into 2x4's

A lot of work later, I had the majority of the chair pieces milled up. I wasn’t yet worried about the actual seat material as I really wanted to just get building. I left them at 3 1/2″ width but reduced their thickness just a little mostly to remove grunge and clean up the faces. If you decide to thickness your lumber, the actual dimension doesn’t matter but you probably should thickness all of your stock for a consistent look. You don’t have to go that way but it will make aligning parts more straightforward. Seat material can be any thickness, just make sure you take this in to account when planning your seat height. Also be mindful that your pocket-hole screws (and other screws) are for 1 1/2″ stock so if you mill thinner you must plan your joinery accordingly.

Chair "ladder" fronts and back pieces.

Building the Ladders

Another builders note that I would like to add is the difficulty which I had keeping the pieces aligned while driving the pocket-hole screws home. In Pete’s video, it appears as though he simply has the pieces laid on his workbench and screws them in one at a time. He mentions that you can use clamps as needed to help with the process. I started by marking, then aligning the center pieces and clamping the entire structure together with 3 long F-clamps. The problem I had been that, try as I might, the faces of the two pieces never ended up flush to one another. I could keep the pieces from moving side to side, but could not for the life of me, keep them flush. The glue wasn’t helping.

Chair back "ladders" joined.

By the time, I was putting together the 3 ladder back, I decided to change my method. What worked for me was to first mark, then point the first stile upward (center up). I would then apply glue to the end grain of the first piece and clamp it in to position with several F-clamps. This not only kept it aligned but also made it impossible to shift forward as I drove the screw home. I noticed that it also helped to drive the screw slowly and not ram it as the screw bottomed out. In fact if I stopped before the bottom, I could usually get the other screw seated without anything shifting. If this sounds complicated I would sum it up with, “clamp it hard, drive it gently”. To make clamping the center (rail) pieces easy, I placed an F-clamps on either end of the stile to keep it oriented, leaving both hands free to join each rail.

Rinse and Repeat

The chair fronts (small ladders) were built in a similar manner to the backs. I continued to both improve my clamping alignment, while at the same time attempting to simplify it. I also purchased some shorter screws, 2″ versus the 2 ½”. I think it was a combination of my pocket-hole depth and the thickness of my milled stock but I had screw tips coming through my show face on far too many occasions. Don’t make the mistake I did and use your hand plane with screws just under the surface. Not good and I basically had to rehab my sole and the blade to put it back in surface. Not happy about that one 😦


Assembling the chairs required connecting the front and back ladders with 4 stretchers. The method I used was to attach the 4 stretchers to the front ladder first. I then took both pieces to my table saw using the table as a known flat surface. Rather than lining up the parts, I favored lining up the feet as a priority so that the chair wouldn’t rock. This meant some of the stretchers didn’t line up perfectly but this was my choice. Using two long F-clamps on both sides of the chair I made sure the feet were set, then carefully glued and screwed the two pieces together.


Completed Pub Chair Completed Pub Chair

Well, I’ve been busy but Susan finally decided to paint them orange (Persimmon) so my plan is to put on two coats of color and then a clear top coat. Meanwhile, we’ll use them in their “natural state”.

Rustic Pub Table

January 17, 2018 Leave a comment

Club Cardinal

Once my wife and I were able to add a storm door to our front porch, we were able to reclaim the space from “the elements”. My wife Susan had spent the last several months creating a bird sanctuary on the side of the house which could be enjoyed from the window over the kitchen sink. We could now also enjoy the birds from our front porch and this is where the idea for a pub table was launched.


Using my favorite design tool (Google Images) I came across plans I liked published by “Rogue Engineer” at rogueengineer.com. He refers to it as a “Modern Reclaimed Pub Table” publishing his  build and free plans here: https://rogueengineer.com/modern-reclaimed-pub-table/

Rogue Engineer - Modern Reclaimed Pub Table

Start at the Base

The Douglas Fir posts were framed out by 2×4’s joined using pocket hole screws. Work on the base siding went quickly but did involve a lot cutting at the miter saw.

Framing the Base

My color scheme was based primarily on the colors I already had available in my shop and that I knew would work well for our porch. The corner posts were a dark brown from paint I had mixed up for the storm door framing. The rest of the cladding was 3 shades of analine dye (mahogany, bright yellow, tobacco brown) mixed with shellac. The final color was an orange (General Finishes Persimmon) milk paint I also had purchased for a previous project. Every horizontal surface in my shop was used to simultaneous paint the cladding. Then I used my brad nailer and went to town. I began by dividing each color/size into 4 equal piles, then randomize the order and pattern of each side. Tried not to duplicate colors while keeping the sides unique. Not difficult but it did require some attention during assembly.

Three sides of the finished table base.

Slight Alteration on the Top

I built the table per the plans using Douglas Fir 4×4’s from the home center as the base corners. The plans as published used 3/4″ boards screwed to a 3/4″ plywood wood base. The plywood could be screwed to the table base then the boards for the top glued to the plywood. This is certainly one solution to wood movement in the top panel. One of my goals was to use a left-over SYP 2×10 which I used in a more conventional panel glue-up.

SYP Panel GlueUP

I used my largest bit to round over the top edge. The pine was indeed rustic so I took a little extra time to stabilize the loose knots with some black epoxy. After leveling I warmed the color with one drop of vintage amber dye added to shellac, then sealed it with 3 coats of brushed on poly.

Finished Table Top

The Last Hurdle

Because I had altered the plan, I now needed to manufacture a way to attach the top to the base. Crawling inside the column and screwing from below wasn’t an option! I decided to make some square “pads” which I screwed to the top of the Douglas Fir columns. The pads were larger than the columns and elongated screw holes were drilled through the overhang in the direction the top would move. I could then screw the top down to the pads from below and feel pretty good that wood movement could be compensated. Time will tell.

Christmas Eve, I asked my wife to help me carry the now very heavy base up to the porch. Happy Christmas Susan, Club Cardinal is now open!

Finished Table



Rolex 24 Pub Tables

January 5, 2018 Leave a comment

Built over my Christmas break, these pub tables are a request from my friend. I had no plans only a snapshot of a table he had seen and half a dozen “select” pine boards he gave me for the job. Having just built my workbench using Douglas Fir 4×4 posts, this came to mind as the obvious choice for the column. The only other specific feature I wanted was that they could be broken down for easier portability.

The SketchUp Model

Before I went into the shop I wanted make sure my friend was going to be OK with the design. After a couple of discussion, I took to SketchUp and came up with this plan.

Rolex 24 Pub Tables - click to download model from 3D Warehouse

The column is inserted into the top and bottom sleeves and attached with carriage bolts although placement of these are not shown in the model. The feet were attached with 2 3/8″ carriage bolts 6″ long. They are offset and oppose each other by 90°. I used thinner 1/4-20 bolts to affix the top but exact sizing isn’t really critical. I wanted them to be strong yet not so large that there offset through holes compromised the sleeve.

The Build


I looked over the wood which I had been given and made my selection to 1) best utilize the boards and 2) provide the best grain matches. I was making 2 tables and decided that I could make 23″ diameter tops using one wide and two of the narrower boards. This left me 3 boards to form the top supports and both sleeves. I decided to use 2 x 4 to form the feet as this seemed a both inexpensive and practical solution.

I began by milling up the columns to 3 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ to both make them square and clean up their faces. To start with I left them long as I had settled on the overall height (41″) I had not yet settled on the overall joinery.

After cutting the planks for the tops, I layed them out on my bench for grain matching. I didn’t need to mill the select pine boards but I did edge joint them on the jointer. At each edge joint I marked each board alternating which face would be placed against the jointer fence. I can’t say my edges were any tighter this way but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Laying out for best grain match.

The panels were small enough that I was able to use my workbench vises to clamp both glue-ups.

Glue-up for both tops.

After letting the panels cure overnight I used my large compass to pencil the top shape (a circle of course) onto both panels and took them to the bandsaw to cut away most of the waste. Final shape was finessed using a router and straight bit.

Cutting the tops.

The last step was to put an edge profile on the tops. I decided to take a risk and use a beading bit instead of the safer (and more traditional) round-over. I was never but both beads turned out great. Instead of quitting while I was ahead I then attempted to put a round-over on the lower lip left by the beading bit. Disaster! Only tried this on one of the tops. After mangling the first, I left the second one as is (below) and spent the rest of morning attempting to repair damage to the first.

Beaded edge.

The Feet

Having completed the tables, in retrospect I probably should have made the feet a little longer for better support. These were drawn in SketchUp then built so they are in effect prototypes. I choose 2×4 material for the feet as I had it on hand and it seemed practical. Each end of the 21″ long cross-piece has a curve and a rounded toe.

Curve detail of the feet.

The two pieces are joined by half lap joint in the middle.

Feet joined by half lap joint.

The most time-consuming procedure of the entire build was deciding to make the sleeve for the feet using dovetail joints. I felt it would be good practice and add a bit of class but it actually turned in to a two-day ordeal, showcasing my crappy joinery. Bottom-line is that I did get a fair amount of practice sawing and chopping and that turned out to actually be a good thing!

Laying out the tails.

The finished “gappy” product.

Dovetailed sleeve for the feet.

The Top Sleeve Assembly

I really have no idea what the proper name for this but the part that will hold the top to the column.

Laying out the supports were similar to feet expect for this I printed the shape from SketchUp and made a routing template. For the feet I made a template but didn’t actually route them on the router table. For those I cut them out on the band saw then sanded to the line. Routing template for the top supports.

For the top supports, I routed.

Supports for the tops.

The dovetailed sleeve took way too long so for the top sleeve I went with a simple mitered box which I cut on the table saw.

Mitered parts for the top sleeve.

Glue up was using the “tape roll up” method.

Glue up using blue tape.

It worked.

Finished top sleeve.

At this point my band saw blade had broken at the weld so I decided to make the cut-outs for the supports at the table saw.

Tall fence to make cut-outs for the top supports.

Oops, that picture is for the bottom sleeve. Turns out I used the same technique for both top and bottom sleeves. Make a through cut (both front and back of box), then flip the box around 180° to and repeat to cut the other side of the cut-out. Of course the box was then turned 90° to cut the other faces. I then scored the top of the “finger” and cut it out with a chisel.

I glued the support to the sleeve adding dowels between the two pieces for added strength.

Completed top support assembly.


With all of the components completed it was not a matter of final assembly. As previously mentioned the feet was connected to the column using 3/8″ carriage bolts through adjacent faces. The holes are offset so they don’t interfere with one another. (Note: this part was tricky as I didn’t have a drill bit to simply drill through the assembled parts. Instead I measured and drilled opposite faces on both the post and the sleeve. I came close but had to finesse (widen) the holes to get them to fit.)

Attaching the base to the column.

I did have a long 1/4″ drill bit so I was able to drill straight through the top assembled top sleeve. This made the process much faster and reliable than the one used on the feet.

Tops attached.

The last step was to attach the support assembly to the top. I decided not to use glue here for two reasons 1) wood moves and I didn’t want the tops splitting and 2) I thought it would be better to be able to separate the pieces should the need arise at some time in the future. I attached the top sleeve to the top using 4, 2 1/2″ screws through the center of the supports and into the top (through the cross inside the sleeve).

Completed Tables

The last thing I needed to do before assembly was to drill 3/8″ holes through the “toes” of each of the feet. These will facilitate staking the tables down when used in the grassy infield. To complete the tables, I leave them natural and apply several coats of water-based top coat (General Finishes – High Performance). As a finishing touch, I have purchased wall mount bottle openers which I will attach to each of the columns.

Completed pub tables, ready for finishing.

Under-bench Tool Chest

October 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Building this new workbench had two major impacts on my shop. First, I had to remove some furniture and rearrange the rest and secondly, I lost some storage space. I had four drawers packed with junk mounted under the old bench and although, I still have the bench, the I sort of destroyed the drawer slides as a result of my last “modification”. I worked through many of my storage issues but felt I really would like to replace the under-bench storage drawers I “lost” with the new bench. So I designed and built a 10 drawer under-bench tool chest.

After taking some measurements off my bench, I went to work in SketchUp and came up with this.

The case was constructed of 3/4″ hardwood plywood using rabbets (top and back)  and dados (divider) to add strength. The case is held together with glue and “wooden nails”. The wooden nails were simply exposed dowels which were glued and then trimmed flush. Screws would have been simpler and probably stronger, I just wanted to try something different.

The drawer boxes were constructed of 1/2″ hardwood plywood using lock-rabbet joints. Drawer bottoms were made from 1/8″ ply and were let in and glued. For the fronts, I milled up 1/2″  douglas fir boards and rounded over the four front edges.

Under-bench toolchecst drawer construction

Building the drawers

I suppose, technically, this isn’t the first time doing this but I felt like it was. After constructing the case, I measured the inside dimensions then began to calculate how big my drawers should be. I decided to leave an 1/8″ gap (actually the thickness of the 3 mil plywood) between the drawers and the top and bottom. Side to side needed to be opening minus, 1″ for the thickness of the two drawer slides. Thought my brain was going to explode for a bit. At the end of the box building I ended up with the width being just right (which was not going to be easily adjusted) and the drawer height being a bit too tall. I decided to trim them down from 3″ to about 2 7/8″ by running all four sides through the table saw along the rip fence. I was surprised that this not only worked but it also didn’t take very long.

After this operation I was ready to install the drawer fronts and apply a basic finish.

Drawers constructed and fronts applied.

When I say basic finish, I meant it. The drawers received one coat of shellac. The outside of the carcass received one coat of “American Chestnut” Polyshades finish and the inside one coat of dewaxed shellac. I used the Minwax Polyshades product because it was on my shelf; it is a terrible product and I don’t recommend using it on anything you really care about. No doubt a pro could apply this product with better result but the idea of apply stain and poly in the same operation is fraught with problems. Again I sort of knew this going in to it and used it anyway.

Ugh, Minwax Polyshades

Fugly, good thing the chest is going under my bench where this will not be easily seen!

I finished off the exposed plywood edges in the front with some Southern Yellow Pine scraps, milled down to 1/2″ thick to which I wiped on some boiled linseed oil (BLO) after installing.

I opted to purchased Promark full extension drawer slides as recommended by Jay Bates and loved them. I ordered the 10 pack and be warned that you’ll need to order screws separately. After realizing this ordered a 100 pack of screws (like an idiot) but simple math would have clued me that I needed more that 100 so I ordered 200 more to have plenty of extras. Once I asked Google how to separate the case side from the drawer side of the slides, I was off and running. After great mind grinding, worked out the height that would need and milled up a plywood spacer (the height of a drawer plus the space in between). Instead of placing a spacer in the front to inset the slide, I placed two thicknesses of 1/2″ ply in the back and slide the slide toward the back until the stop. Other than having to stick my head in the case and drilling sideways, installation of the slides worked out without issues.

Half the drawers installed and they fit!

After mounting the drawers, I pulled them all back out again to add a couple extra screws to each slide and drawer (remember I ordered extras!). I then glued the face frame pieces of SYP to the front.

I was finally ready to install the case and was pleasantly surprised, once again, when it actually fit. I was a little concerned that sliding deadman track on the bottom rail would interfere with opening the bottom drawer but I did measure and as planned, it wasn’t a problem.

At last my bench build has been completed. I’d say it has been totally worth it but also that it was a larger project than I would have first suspected. Remember, I built the “Two Day Workbench” starting the end of July and finished up in Mid-October. It’s all about the journey my friend.

Completed under-bench toolchest.

Thanks again for hanging out in the TurtleCove Workshop. Keep building, it’s the right thing to do!



Two-Day Workbench – Part 6

September 10, 2017 2 comments

With this installment, I have worked out and drilled many 3/4″ dogholes in both the bench and the face of my vise jaws. I also designed, built and installed a sliding deadman. The build was a fairly free-form affair which began with many internet views followed by “winging it” in the shop.

Adding a Sliding Deadman – aka Board Jack

What I needed to work out was how to add the sliding track for my deadman. Originally, I figured I would cut grooves in the underside of the top and in the long stretcher at the bottom but this idea has technical issues. The top was heavy (and fortunately) already installed on the base. I would have to have planned way ahead to have cut that groove in the correct location prior to everything else. I wasn’t eve sure where the vises were going and thus where the top was going to join the base. Not feasible. It became apparent that I was going to have to retrofit the tracks. This would be as “clean” but would have the advantage of allowing me to install the tracks exactly where they need to go.

Bottom Track

After preparing a 1″ thick piece of Douglas Fir, I set my table saw blade to 45° and cut a bevel on one edge. Flipping the piece I cut the same bevel on the opposite face. The two bevels don’t need to form a razor edge, in fact if they do I’d rip off the point to reduce friction. Once I was happy with the track, I ripped it from the board leaving some meat (3/8″) on the bottom for strength. I took this track to the drill press and drilled and counterbored from the top for #6 screws. The screws alone would hold the track (no glue) so it could be removed should future repair be required.

With my table saw blade still set at 45° I used my tenon jig to run a beveled groove on the bottom end of the deadman stock piece. I did this in two passes, flipping the face. The beveled groove was pretty good and I cleaned-up the few rough spots with my 1/8″ chisel. Whoa, it works! Very cool, the first challenge was met.

Top Track

Using the other edge of my Douglas fir 1″ stock, I used my dado stack to cut a 3/8″ groove down the center of the jointed edge to a depth of approximately 3/4″.  Again, I left some meat beyond the groove and ripped off the upper track. I predrilled holes but wasn’t able to counter-bore because I didn’t have a bit deep enough to reach into the group. Fortunately the deadman top never reaches this deeply into the groove except when inserting it into the track.

Next, I had to cut a tenon on the top of the deadman to fit in the top track groove with enough slop to slide freely. I never could get it clear in mind how to measure the fit and length of the tenon on the top. I simply installed the tracks, introduced the deadman stock to the tracks and marked where I needed to trim the top and how long the tenon needs to be to. The tenon must be long enough to stay in the top track yet short enough to be able to lift the bottom over the bottom track. I simply eye-balled it and carefully made the cuts.

Sliding Deadman

How many holes should I add to the deadman and how should they be laid out and what should the deadman shape look like? These were the easy questions, in fact it would hard to actually be wrong no matter how it turned out. I laid out two columns of 3/4″ holes. The holes in each column were spaced 2″ apart with the columns offset by 1″. The result, I can place a support anywhere to within 1″ levels. OK that wording sucked, but anyone reading this likely gets what I mean to say.

I wanted the deadman to look nice so I “trimmed off some fat”. Using my longest french curve I shaped long arches from top to bottom on both sides. Finished it off by rounding over the edges and adding a coat of boiled linseed oil (BLO).

Completed Sliding Deadman

Thanks for sticking with me. I’ll finish up this project by adding an under-bench storage cabinet with 8 to 10 drawers depending on how I decide to lay it out.

Categories: Woodworking Tags:

Two-Day Workbench – Part 5

August 29, 2017 2 comments

The bench is not “finished” but it is getting there. I’ve yet to level the surface, drill dog holes, and make a sliding deadman but it definitely IS a bench!

The Twin Screw Vise Installation Challenges

Round Nuts, Barrel Nuts or Bed Bolts

I found the installation of this vice to be somewhat challenging but not in the way I thought it was going to be. Veritas put out a killer set of installation instructions and warned right up front that you should carefully read through them. I heeded the advice. Where I ran into a “wall” was attaching the rear jaw to the bench. The kit provided 4 – 5″ bolts with barrel nuts (sometimes called “bed bolts”). Although the supplied instructions were really quite detailed, in my haste I didn’t see a recommended size  to drill for the barrel nut cross hole. I now see that it was clearly shown in the drawing but not mentioned in the text portion of the instructions. The bottom-line is that I should have used a 3/4″ bit for the cross-drilled (barrel nut) hole but I think I used 5/8″. The result was that I could never line up the nut threads with the bolt and I also couldn’t get the nuts out of the recess to assess the situation. I came to realize the hole should be larger but now had trouble figuring out how to enlarge it. If I could get the nut out, I could plug it with a length of dowel and re-drill the larger hole. If I could get the nut out. Insert PG-13 language here. Everything had been going so well to this point, then I made of mess of it.

I took a break and came back fresh and decided, to move ahead I was going to drill through my bench, from the top so I could extract the nut, make a larger hole and have two points of contact to line up the nut. Hey, I’m a woodworker, I can always patch the top. It worked and although I struggled a bit more with the four bolts, I was finally able to affix the rear jaw securely to my bench! I was following the instructions but I still made an error along the way.

Working on the Chain Gang

Sorting out how long to make the chain for my particular installation was also confusing to me. A nice table is provided as an aid, and I began by counting links on the long (53″) chain provided. According to the chart, I needed more than 56 but slightly less than 57 links. I counted out 57 (3 or 4 times) then began to “file off” the peened heads to remove the excess chain. Didn’t work as I would have anticipated. Filing the peened heads also files off the side of the link and even so, the rods connecting the links didn’t budge. Whether I used a file or the bench grinder I had the same result. I pulled out my Dremel with a cut-off when and was able to make more surgical cuts through the rod ends. Finally success!

Bottom-line was that 57 links seemed way too long, so I cut another link out. This should have worked but alas, even with two chain rollers installed the chain still seemed too long. Of course, this is my first time with a device like this so is the chain too long or am I doing something wrong? I cut out a second chain and now, it’s too short so I added back the provided ½” and called it good.

Cover Me

One of the last steps was to cut the aluminum cover to length. Boy, I didn’t want to cut that too short so I dry fit the two End Caps and marked the cover. The good news was that my band saw cut through the aluminum like butter. I didn’t want to dull my blade but hey, I needed this cut. It was close but I ended up taking another 1/16″ off the end and buttoned up the project.

Veritas Twin Screw Vise

You learn a lot, the first time through a new project and it would certainly be easier, the second time through one of these installations. My handles don’t line up and my chain seems to rub in one spot but I’m calling it good for now. Next up, leveling the bench, dog holes and perhaps a sliding deadman.

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 4

August 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Next on my list was the installation of my Veritas Twin Screw vise. I dutifully read the installation guide several times as they had warned on the front page. Frankly, after the installation challenges of the “simple” face vise I have been both encouraged and simultaneously intimidated at the task of installing this chain linked twin screw.

The Twin Screw Vise Jaws

As with the face vise jaws, I used SYP for the body of the jaws and glued on maple faces. These are the materials I had available. Because these jaws are much larger I needed to edge join two maple boards before gluing them to the SYP backs.

I began by milling all the pieces. I rough cut all the boards on my miter saw, jointed one face and one edge on each board, planed the opposing side to rough thickness then ripped the opposing edge on the table saw to rough width. At that point I was ready to edge join the maple panels. I didn’t really have enough clamps to do both glue-ups at once. Notice I used a strip of wide tape on the bottom edge to both, hold the panels in position, and minimize glue squeeze out mess.

Edge joining the maple face for one of the twin screw vise jaws.

Once the glue had set up enough to move on, I did the same with the second jaw face. To augment my clamps, I used weights to clamp the maple panel to the SYP jaw (background of photo below). I learned on the first one, it was very slippery and even with a hundred pounds of weight on top of it. I could have strategically placed clamps on the end kept the movement to a manageable level.

Second panel glue-up and first jaw lamination in the background.

The rest of my ½ day in the shop was spent rereading the installation directions and planning. Once I had decided how wide I could space the screws given my bench dimensions, I started drilling holes at the drill press. Directions stressed that the holes for the screws need to be carefully aligned so the faces were clamped together while drilling. I drilled as deeply as my Forstner bit would allow then completed the hole on the lower jaw after separating the two. The holes look good, I’m optimistic they will be serviceable.

Next I carefully laid out the hole locations for the guide pins, 1 ¼” outboard of the screw holes and tangential to the top. I used my previous marks and several combo squares making sure to note that these holes are made on the inside faces of each jaw and the hole size for the rear jaw is smaller (to hold the pin in place) then the front jaw (to accept the protruding pin length as the jaw closes). Check, lined up the screw holes, the pins fit, good to go.

Completed twin screw vise jaws ready for installation.

Finally, I laid out the bolt locations on the rear jaw face for the 5″ bolts (Qty 4) which will be used to bolt the jaw to the bench. I counter-bored the inside face to recess the bolt head and washer then completed the 3/8″ through hole. I was now ready to mount the rear jaw to the bench but that would have to wait for another day.

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Two-Day Workbench – Part 3

August 21, 2017 Leave a comment

A couple more weekends have passed and although not yet finished, I have finally made progress with the bench build. I had to overcome, three significant problems during this time.

First, I needed some 8/4 (or thicker) hardwood to build jaws for the two vises (face and twin screw). After several dead-end leads for local hardwoods, I entertained an order from 101 Hardwoods and although the price of the wood was very reasonable, shipping would have doubled the cost. I’ve already spent significant funds on this project and I didn’t want to spend $100 on jaws alone. I resolved to make my own low budget jaws by laminating maple faces on to SYP 2 x 10’s. The maple should give better wear than the pine but the pine should hold up enough to service the vise. We will see and they can always be replaced if needed in the future.

Laminated Face Vise Jaws

Secondly, the installation of the quick release face vise didn’t go smoothly. I knew this would be a learning experience and I was careful to review several YouTube videos of vise installation prior to getting started. The instruction sheets for this York vise were admirably complicated. I first had to search the Internet to identify which of the model vises I had (the directions covered two models and they were different dimensions). Then I had to interpret all the algebraic symbols pointing out hole sizes, minimum thickness and distances, screw sizes, etc. Three different mounting scenarios were offered, two of which were OK and one was “neither usual nor recommended”.  So the bottom-line was that although unnecessarily confusing, I got a good handle on what I supposed to do, only problem was that I was unable to separate the screw/guide-rails from the base. I removed the split-ring, disengaged the threads and pull as I might, it would not slide free of the base. I tapped with a rubber mallet, I moved to metal hammer, I got a running start and tried to yank it free. No joy. Now I knew it was supposed to come apart, but this was my first installation and I didn’t want to break it. Determined I broke out my Dremel and chucked up a small sanding drum and deburred the end of the guide-rail which I suspected was the problem. Boom, that worked! An hour wasted but at least I was proceeding. Oh, I forget to mention that during this time I disassembled the quick release mechanism (split nut) which, because I didn’t pay close enough attention to its orientation, wasted another hour of assembly/disassembly until I got it working again. The good news; now I know more about how this vise works.

Workbench Build - First of Two Vises

Workbench Build – First of Two Vises

Thirdly and perhaps the most challenging of all was figuring out how to arrange my shop so that I could utilize the new bench. Not only is the new bench larger than my previous bench but frankly, I was tired of constantly bumping in to things as I worked. Before I went to my wife and convinced her I needed more space, I decided to rearrange the shop using my existing space. For this I visited Grizzly Tools and used their Shop Planner. Having previously saved my shop, I had fun moving things around to see if a new arrangement was going to work. I have a few goals in mind.

  1. Room for the new bench
  2. Plenty of room to work around the new bench
  3. Access to my large floor standing tool chest
  4. Conversion  of my armoire (currently used for tool storage) into a computer desk

Here is the before and after.

Workshop - Before


Workshop - After


Saturday, I rearranged the shop to look more like the “After” plan above. It was time-consuming and disheartening and I created as many problems as I was hoping to solve but  by Sunday I was able to work again. It’s early days yet but I think the new layout is going to work.

My computer and chair, tool chest and sharpening station are against the near 12′ wall. There is room around my bench although I found that pushing it almost against the left 8′ wall (under the tool pegboard) was going to work best. This allows my to run power to a bench leg, reach tools and leave the most room at the other end of the bench for the twin screw “tail” vise. I show the table saw and outfeed table oriented as thought the operator was near the workbench but I actually had to flip it so that I could pipe in the dust collector hose more efficiently. I would prefer it this way but I had to be practical. The little square “above” the outfeed table is my joinery bench which is now in the way of the table saw but if I scoot it back I can operate. As pictured would be way better if I can sort dust collection.

Turtlecove Workshop - 2017

Turtlecove Workshop – 2017

Whew, that was lots of work. Join me in Part 4 for the installation of the twin screw vise.



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Two-Day Workbench – Part 2

August 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Weekend #2 of this build was spent making the workbench top. What started off very smoothly ended up being a lot of work.

The Top

Last week I decided to make the top dimensions 27 ½” wide x 70″ long x 3 ¼” thick. In a perfect world the sides of the top will be flush with the legs of the completed base. I anticipate the fit might not be perfect and that had I made the top first, it would have been easier to build the base to fit. That wasn’t going to happen so I’ll be content to be “close-enough”.  I wanted to wait another week before cutting the Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) 2″ x 8″ to allow them a little more time for acclimation to my shop.

Prior to the weekend, I made notes for a build plan which went like this:

Workbench Top Build Notes

Wood for the top was originally brought home 12′ in length. I began by cutting them in half using my circular saw between two saw horses. The boards themselves were supported by an “extra” 2″ x 10″ I had purchased on a whim. Glad I did.

12" boards cut in half to make them managable 2"x 8" SYP boards to be rough cut to 71"

I decided that it would be easier to work with the 2″x 8″ boards if I took the time to cut them all to a more consistent rough length of 71″. This went fairly quickly using my miter saw but my station precluded the use of a stop block so I had to take the time to mark each of the 11″ boards before cutting.

Each of the 11 boards were jointed on one face and one edge, then planed to 1 ¼” final thickness. I would cut two strips from each board (22 total) to give me my 27 ½” width.

SYP ready to cut into strips

I set my fence for 3 ½” (the thickness of the top) and placed the jointed edge to the fence. The plan was to glue-up three sub-assemblies with 8, 7, and 7  strips respectively. I put wax paper over my 12″ jointer and used the flat tables as a gluing surface.

One of three sub-assemblies being glued-up.

It was clear the sub-assemblies would need to be leveled (jointed) for the next glue-up. I decided to also plane the other face level and ended up with a final thickness of just under 3″. I didn’t want to thin the tops too much but I decided the actual final thickness wouldn’t make any difference however, not being flat would make a difference, so I planed them flat.

After some logistics, I worked out how I was going to complete the final glue-up. I had eight clamps which were long enough to span the top, 4 pipe clamps and 4 F-clamps. I supported the pieces on two saw horses and strategically placed 4 pieces of blue tape on the saw horses to protect the metal from squeeze out.

Three glued together to make a completed top.

Not Quite Finished

Next up, I need to square up each end and bring the top to final length of 70″. Unfortunately, I also need to do some series leveling of the top as well. I was hopeful that my precautions would have limited the amount of leveling but this SYP just wanted to move so, it moved!

With the weekend coming to a close, I decided to spend the rest of Sunday shifting things around in my shop. I mean, I can’t assemble the new bench if I don’t move the old bench, right? Chaos ensued but eventually, I can foresee order ahead.

Turtlecove Workshop in disarray

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