Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Summer Project: Upgrading the workshop

Workshop upgrades
     My workspace has been getting into a bit of a mess over the past year, so it was time for a cleanup this summer and I've ended up building a couple small projects to help with reorganizing. One's a cart for the spare that was piling up in one corner, the second is a small router table to help with the third which is a tool chest for storing all the small hand tools.

Wood Cart Concept
     The worst of the mess was, not surprisingly, the wood pile. After watching this YouTube video, I decided that building something like it would be the best solution for my own wood pile. Starting with Fusion 360, I drew up rough plans for a wood cart that could handle anything up to half a sheet of plywood, that's the largest piece of wood that I've got space to work with. After a trip to Home Depot to get some wood for the frame, I ended up building the final cart from a 2'x4' 1/4 sheet of plywood for the base, 4 8'x2"x2" composite posts cut to 5' and 3' sections, 4 casters, and a couple of old IKEA storage boxes that were in the shop. The Fusion 360 file is here.

Wood Cart as built with MPCNC in background
Router Table
    With the wood pile sorted, the next area that needed reorganizing was the hand tools. Previously I had them in the upper trays from some old tool boxes on a long shelf about 12 inches above one of the work benches, didn't work that great with the tools constantly getting mixed up and covered in sawdust. After seeing some YouTube videos of other tool organizing methods, I drew up a concept for a wooden tool chest in Fusion 360. (File)

Tool Chest Concept
     One issue with the design that was immediately apparent was that I'd need some form of jig or tool to cut the slots in the sides for the drawer bottoms, which double as the drawer slides, to run in. I've seen slots like this cut in a few ways on YouTube, a Dado blade set with a table saw or a router table are the most common options. I don't have a dado set but I did have a spare plunge router that was just gathering dust, so I made a simple table for it out of some stuff that was lying around the shop.

Router mounting system
Power management
     I used an old folding worktable for the legs, bolted a 2ft by 2ft square of sanded plywood on for a top. For mounting the router, I used a skill saw to cut a hole in the top that the plunge router would fit through, then used the MPCNC palm router to cut a shallow groove that would allow a 1/4" sheet of hardboard to sit flush with the top, then cut a piece to fit and screwed the router to one side after drilling a 2-inch hole for the bit to pass through. After that it was a simple matter of dropping the router through the hole, sanding the top completely flat, and dealing with the power wiring. Since the plunge router has its trigger mounted on one of the hand grips, I simply used its lock-on function to bypass it and zip-tied an old power bar to the side, plug the router into that and it functions as a on/off switch.

Tool Chest as built
     With the router table complete, it was a simple matter of firing up the table saw and cutting all the pieces of plywood and hardboard to size, using the router table to cut the slots for the drawers, and then screwing everything together. I did use a hole saw bit on the drill press to cut the notches for the drawer handles, but that was basically it for making the tool chest, and I'm very pleased with the result of both projects.

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