Lumber Rack

in_progressOne of the big areas my shop has lacked is good lumber storage.   Most of the time when I buy wood, I buy just enough to accomplish the project, with maybe an extra board or two just to have on hand for when I need to remake a piece I screwed.  (That never happens right?!?)  In away this has been a benefit in my overall growth as a woodworker as it has forced me to try to recover from mistakes without making new parts.  Hopefully this will always be the mindset I work on at this point.  The drawback of buying wood this way is it is more expensive.  My local wood supplier often has good deals on wood, but in most cases to take advantage of the deal you have to buy 100 board feet as minimum.  I simply did not have the space for that much wood.  The small space I had stored my wood, only allowed for about 20-25 board feet, and was vertical storage.  While vertical storage isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for my situation, it was just propped up against the wall, and was prone to falling over.  Also, it was often in my way when trying to get to the my dust collector.  It was time to make some changes to the garage and build a lumber rack.

The first challenge I had, was where do I put it?  All my walls were full with either peg board or other items hanging on it.  And when I say peg board, it was full 8’x4′ sheets of peg board.  However, one sheet was over where we keep our trash cans, and some other storage, and as I was looking at it, I realized everything that was on it could either be put someplace else, or go in the trash.    This meant  I could free up a section of wall that was 8′.  PERFECT!  So I cleared out that area, and I pulled down the pegboard.  There were some other hooks and hangers on the wall that I also took down that freed up even more space.  After I got it all cleared out, I made some minor repairs to the wall, and I was ready to go.

completeThe construction really was pretty simple.   The design of the rack I took notes from various racks out on the Internet as well as studied the design from and came up with one for what I need.  The bones of the rack were constructed from construction grade 2x4s, and I used some inexpensive plywood from Menards.  Each bracket of the rack is a laminated 2×4 with an oversized plywood on either side.  These were constructed with glue and nails.   I decided to go with 3 rows of brackets.  Since the wall studs were 24″ on center, I needed to make 5 columns, so this would need 15 total brackets.  Once the brackets were complete, I could work on the vertical supports.  I drill counter bored holes for the lag bolts.  I then put up each vertical support so that it was supported on the garage floor, and the lagged bolted them into the wall studs.  I then used my laser level to mark out each row, and screwed in place each bracket.  Each bracket has 8 screws that go through the entire width, so it will be good solid.

The top row I discovered is actually above the track for the garage door.  I decided that this is fine, as I am not going to put a lot of weight up there, and use it mainly for storage for long items that I need out-of-the-way.  The bottom tow rows will be dedicated to lumber.

loaded_upThe only thing missing at that point was the wood!  My favorite go to hardwood supplier is Muterspaw Lumber, located in Xenia Ohio.  Check out his website at as he also ships lumber all around the country.  The owner, Chad Muterspaw, had been running a special on cherry for a while that I had wanted to take advantage of, and I now have the room to store it.   That 100 board feet of cherry fit very well on the first row of my lumber rack, so I have plenty of room for future wood purchases!

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Machine Setup

setup_toolsI have had many conversations about machine setup and have found many strong opinions on this subject. Therefore this could prove to be my most controversial article to date! :)

There are a lot of tools on the market today used for setting up and aligning the various components of our woodworking machinery to achieve as true a cut as possible. Some of these can be quite expensive I have talked to to many who like to make sure that their machines are no more than thousandth or 2 off, if that.

check_squareFor me, the tools I use for aligning my machines are a machinist square, a good straight edge, and a combination square. I use the machinist square to make sure blades and fences are 90* to the tables. If I don’t see light between the square and surfaces, I consider it square. I use the combination square for lateral alignment, such as the table saw blade to the miter slots. Finally the straight edge is used to make sure the work surfaces are flat.

check_flatThe next step after aligning my machines is to send test pieces though. Whether you are setting up machines with just the tools I have mentioned, or you are using dial indicators to get everything within the nearest thousandth of an inch, this is the most critical step in setting up a machine. The proof is in the results. What you may think is a perfectly dialed in machine could be proven wrong with the test piece. The good news is, if it is off, the error in the test piece will help indicate what needs to be adjusted.

check_parallelThe next aspect is keeping a machine tuned. Most decent machines will hold their setups well over time, however that doesn’t mean that they will always stay perfectly aligned. There are many things that can cause a tool to come out of alignment. Things like adjusting settings, vibration, bumping into the machine, and changes in temperature can all take a machine out of alignment. It is good to set a schedule for each machine to double-check alignments. Also, if you start to see you are not getting the expected results from machine operations, it is good to start checking up on alignments as well.

While it is nice to say all my machines are dead on, I am not going to claim that they are within a certain degree of tolerance. However, I can say with confidence that they are operating close enough for me to successfully complete projects.




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Shop Tip – A Softer Bench Top

drawer_linerI picked this shop tip up from my good friend and fellow woodworker Roger T.  My primary bench is used for everything in my shop, including my table saw’s out feed table.  As a result the surface gets rough from glue splotches, divots, chips, and so on.  If I am not careful, I have been known to sand one side of work piece, flip it over, sand the other, then inspect both sides to find a freshly sanded face now has a scratch or bruise and now requires more sanding.  While I do run a sander over the top occasionally, that doesn’t always help.  An expensive solution is to get a role of the drawer liner that is essentially a foam rubber mesh.  I bought a 2’x6′ role from the local big box store for a little over $6.  My bench is right around 2’x 4′.  I rolled rolled_upit out so that it covers my enter bench and then using a straight edge and utility knife I cut it to length.  There is no need to use anything to attach the liner to the bench top as it lays flat on its own.  When I am done sanding, I simply roll up the liner and put some place out-of-the-way.

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Router Table – Wrap Up

router_table_completedWow!  This turned out to be the biggest and most complex project I have completed yet in my wood shop.  And I would do it again in a heart beat!  I looked back on my first post for the router table, where I had defined the goals I wanted to achieve for the new table.  I am happy to say I have achieved them all!  The router table truly is a joy to use!

A couple quick things I wanted to highlight that I didn’t cover in previous posts.  The first is the drawer pulls.  drawer_pullsI ended up turning all the pulls for the drawers.  Each drawer has two pulls on it, and there are 6 drawers.  If you ever want to good practice and replicating parts on a lathe, turn 12 pulls!  There was some variation between each one, but over all they were each a good match with the rest.  The other item I wanted to mention is the bit storage.  For now I kept it simple just by taking a length of plywood, drill a bunch of 1/2″ and 1/4″ holes, and screwed it to one of the vertical drawers.  With the setup I came up with for bit storage I will be able to change and rearrange it as my bit collection continues to evolve.

bit_storageA quick note about the vertical drawers.  I took a small risk and tried something different and unique with them.  As of this post, I have actually been using the table for a couple of months, and I can honestly say I love the configuration.  One drawer is designated for wrenches, collets, height adjuster, and various other components I use frequently.  The other is for bit storage.  Both provide very easy access to getting what I need, while keeping everything very organized.

Thank you all for following along!  On to the next project!


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Router Table – The Fence and Dust Collection

Trt_fencehe fence from the old table was another area of the router table that had some room for improvement.  Overall the new fence is mostly a bigger version of the old one, with a sliding split front that I can have an opening that is sized to the bit being used, with a length of t-track for attaching feather boards, stops, and a guard.  The big improvements I made are how the fence attaches and clamps down to the table, and the dust collection.  On the old table I routed a couple grooves that a couple of carriage bolts would travel in.  Those bolts went through a couple of holes the base of the fence with a couple of wing nuts to lock it in place.  This worked fine, but what I didn’t like about it is that I had to completely disassemble them to remove the fence from the table.  fence_clampI have observed several fence designs where the fence extends over the table on either side and then uses wood blocks to clamp the fence to the table.  While it was a bit of a trial and error process, this is the design I went with.   What I found is the clamp blocks work best when the wood clamp blocks slightly engage the bottom of the table.  The top of the block is tapered just a bit so that it will cause the block to pull up evenly to the bottom of the table, resulting in a very strong fit, as well as releasing cleanly.  fence_leverThe first iterations when I loosened the knob, the clamp blocks remained engaged.  Once I finally got the clamps working as needed I switched out the knobs with cam levers from Rockler, which work very well to quickly lock and unlock the fence.

dust_collection One of the top priorities for a new router table was dust collection.  The router table has always been a big source of shavings and dust.  The dust collection for the router table is done in two parts, divided between the space under the router table that contains the router and lift, and the fence.  To accomplish this, I got a 4″ Y fitting where one of the forks is reduced to 2.5″.  Using a scrap piece of hardwood, I marked the perimeter of the Y, that I then cut out the hole using the band saw and the oscillating spindle sander to get a good fit.  Since I kept the back of the router table removable, I marked approximately where I wanted the DC to go in, and took off the back.  I then used the piece I just made to mark precisely where the dust collection would go in.  I cut out the opening with a jig saw.  From there I double side taped the reference piece to the back, and used a flush trim bit on the router to get the opening properly sized and shaped.  On the inside portion I ran a chamfer around the perimeter of the hole as well, which should help the flow a bit.  While the back was off, I decided I didn’t want to glue the fitting to the back directly so that I could make tweaks as needed, so I lined up the scrap piece I had made to the hole and screwed it in place where I then glued the Y to it with Gorilla Glue.  The foaming did very well to close up any gaps.  dust_collection_insideWhile the glue dried, I turned my attention to the fence.  I bought a 2.5″ connector that would attach to a piece in the back of the fence.  I used the jig saw on a square piece to get the approximate hole I needed.  With the connector attached, I used the flush trim bit on the router table to get the hole sized perfectly.  I then made a couple triangular wedges that I attached to the back of the fence, and then attached the connector piece.  Once the glue dried on the Y, I cleaned up any excess foam and attached it to the back of the router table.  I then took the 2.5″ hose, pushed the fence as far forward as I would ever need it to determine the length, and cut the hose to length, a little longer than needed.  Using hose clamps I attached the hose to the fence and to the Y.  On the open end of the Y, and blast gate was attached, that was then tied into my dust collection system. With that, I made sure all the other blast gates, opened up the one on the router table, lined up the fence close to the bit, and power up the dust collector.  I could feel plenty of air moving through the table, so I made a few passes with a round over bit.  I am happy to say the dust collection works very well both on top of the table at the fence, and below the table!

I am going to have one more post on the router table, where I will cover the drawer pulls, finish, and some finishing touches.

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