April 26, 2010

Woodshop Setup - Unisaw Tune-Up

The garage is now full of old tools and I've made some room by selling off my old table saw and snowblower...whats next? Well before I started to build anything I thought it would be a good idea to go through the new(old) tools and make sure they are all aligned and tuned properly.

Since the table saw was somewhat disassembled to haul it home I started there. The first step was to ensure that the cast iron table was aligned so that the miter slot was perfectly parallel with the blade. I used the dial indicator clamped onto the miter gauge to measure the distance from miter slot to saw blade at both the front and back of the blade. I then adjusted the table until these measurements were equal and then tightened things down. With the table aligned I then checked out the 90 degree angle stop and fence alignment which both looked good. At this point I also picked up a new blade. After a bit of research I ended up with a Diablo D1040X which was one of the top value picks in the review linked HERE.

The cast iron table had a bit of surface rust and the fence was very sticky so cleaning things up was the next step. I scrubbed everything down with simple green and a scotch-brite pad which took off most of the rust and other gunk fairly easily. Next I wiped everything down and applied a couple coats of Johnson Paste Wax to keep things smooth and rust free. Wow does that stuff leave a nice slick surface. While I was at it a ran through the same cleaning and waxing procedure on all the other cast iron tools.

Above you can see the table saw after cleaning and waxing. The top is now very smooth and cleaning the fence rails made a huge difference. The fence now slides and adjusts easily. In the picture above you can also see the new zero clearance throat plate I picked up to replace the old chewed up plywood piece that the saw came with. Since I didn't have a decent insert to use as a template I figured it was worth $20 to pick up one and then make a pile of copies out of MDF to use when I need a new one down the road.

I started by ripping a sheet of 1/2" MDF down to blanks roughly the same size as the throat plate. These were the first real cuts I made with the Unisaw and I have to say I was impressed with how smooth it cut. I then traced the outline of the red throat plate onto the MDF blanks and cut them to rough shape on the band saw.

Next I stuck the blanks onto the red throat plate with double sided carpet tape and used the router and flush trim bit to duplicate the throat plates.

The next step was to fit the blanks into the throat filing and file down sticky spots to ensure a good fit. Then I drilled finger holes in the inserts to get them back out.

The throat of the saw is about 9/16" deep and I used 1/2" MDF for the inserts. This allows enough room for 4 leveling screws on the bottom side that can be used to adjust the insert flush with the table surface.

Below you can see a finished zero clearance insert along with the Freud dado blade I picked up to eventually cut the tenons on the coffee table project .

Below is my new stockpile of insert blanks. They eventually wear out and I'll need a few for various dado sizes but this should still last me awhile.

Now that the tools are setup its FINALLY time to start building a coffee table. Dustin and I picked up some rough sawn red oak from a guy on craigslist a few weeks ago when he was up visiting. I picked up about 60 board feet at $1.50/BF and should be able to get a coffee table and maybe an end table or two out of it. The wood is sitting in the rafters of my garage waiting to be turned into a table so stay tuned as I dive into my first real woodworking project.

April 21, 2010

Woodshop Setup - The Saws

While scouring Craigslist for a planer and jointer I also stumbled onto an ad from a guy down in Waukesha selling off some old woodworking tools that had been passed down from a cabinet shop his grandfather ran in the 1940's. At this point I was planning to make due with my Ryobi BT3000 table saw for awhile and wasn't really looking for anythign better, but the guy was selling, among other things, an old Delta Unisaw and an old Delta 14" bandsaw for pretty cheap so I gave him a call. One thing led to another and pretty soon I had a truck full if 1939 Milwaukee made iron.

The Unisaw was in decent working condition and turned out to be a 1939 "four footer". I had no idea what that meant but after poking around on the internet for awhile I found out that it was the first year Delta made the Unisaw and that there is actually a fairly large community of people that collect and restore these old saws. I was somewhat worried about buying a table saw older than my dad but I figured it was a great deal on a working saw and on top of that its age probably made it worth a bit more if I ever wanted to get rid of it.

The band saw turned out to be a 14" Delta 890 from about the same vintage and although I don't really need a band saw it was a good deal on a Milwaukee made heavy duty tool so I figured I'd take it.

In addition to the table saw and band saw the guy also had a 24" Delta scroll saw from the same era. I really didn't need a scroll saw but the guy really wanted to get rid of it and talked me into taking it as a package deal.

After unloading this all into my 1 car garage (Thanks Lon) it became clear that if was ever going to actually use any of these tools I had to clear out some room.

I no longer needed the BT3000 and had been half heartedly trying to get rid of the old snowblower for awhile now so I posted them on craigslist and finally sold them off. The garage is still a small area for a shop but with a few of the tools on casters it should work out alright.

April 19, 2010

Woodshop Setup - Planer and Jointer

As I mentioned in the previous post the desire to build a simple coffee table quickly turned into a headlong dive into woodworking that by necessity started with the aquisition of tools. I quickly learned that in order to build anything decent at a reasonable cost I would need to be able to start with rough sawn lumber and joint and plane it myself (for details on this process see the links at the end of this post). I immediately began scouring craigslist for good deals on a used planer and jointer and within a few days found a pretty good deal on a 15" planer.

It is a import clone of a delta DC-380 probably made on the same factory line as the Grizzly G0550. It came without a stand so I built up a quick mobile base out of 2x lumber I had laying around and some cheap harbor freight casters. Since the planer has a 2HP 220V motor I needed to wire up a 220V outlet in the garage. I managed to get that done without electrocuting myself and was finally able to test out the planer. The first few boards I ran through it came out rougher than they went in so I figured it was time to change the knives and give it a tune-up. It came with 2 extra sets of knives so I got to work installing the new knives and adjusting everything as described here.

Above you can see the quick and dirty jig I made to hold the dial indicator over the cutter head. This allowed me to ensure that all 3 knives were set to within about 0.001" of and inch of the same height. The original knives were off by as much as 0.070" from each other which goes a long way to explaining the initial poor performance. I then created a jig to hold the dial indicator above the planer bed to measure the heights of the feed rollers, chipbreaker, etc... and then used that to adjust everything to the recommended settings outlined in the link above. Again everything was way off so it was no surprise it was cutting poorly. With fresh knives and everything aligned properly I ran a few scraps with much better results.

I now had a decent planer but still hadn't found any deals on a jointer. A few came and went on craigslist but all the good deals were gone before I could get to them. By chance I found out a guy at work had a Craftsman 6" jointer sitting in his garage that he wasn't using as much as he planned so I began trying to talk him into letting me take it off his hands :) Eventually he caved in and sold it to me. It was previously owned by another coworker of ours so it was in really nice shape. It was dead flat and well setup so I just added some casters to the base and called it good.

At 6" the jointer is a bit on the small side but I should be able to true-up boards 6" wide by about 5 or 6 feet long and I think that should cover most everything I can think of building at this point. I should now be able to turn rough lumber in perfectly flat and square stock by following the procedure illustrated in this video: Part 1 and Part 2

April 14, 2010

1810 Bathroom Complete...Now What?

So I just realized that I never posted an update after finishing the bathroom remodel. I ended up getting it done the first week of February just in time for the refinance appraisal. The appraisal went well and all the work I've done to the place bumped up the value quite a bit. The refi is now done and I am happy to now have a mortgage at 5% rather than the 6.675% I had before :)

Here is the final result.

So now that the bathroom is done what's next? I decided to take a break from remodeling and work on a few other things I've been wanting to do. The first that came to mind is building a new coffee table. The coffee table I have now is a piece of fine furniture that I inherited from Lon after he moved out. It was hand crafted by his dad out of scrap lumber and drywall screws and was also one of echo's favorite chew toys when he was teething so its anything but pretty.

I really do love this table...but its gotta go :)

After deciding that this would be my next project I realized that I had never actually done any real woodworking so I started reading up on building furniture. Well it turns out that in order to build something I would be happy with it was going to take a significant investment in tools and things sort of snowballed into me setting up a full wood shop in the garage. Ever since building speaker boxes in highschool I've always wanted to do more real woodworking so I'm considering this an investment that I will use and keep for the rest of my life...at least thats how I'm justifying it now. Stay tuned for more details on the tools I've aquired and their setup and eventually the construction of the coffee table.