Table Saw Cart

I began to notice that my tablesaw was leaving large piles of saw dust beneath it, even when the dust collection tubes were firmly attached. I also hated trying to haul the thing around on its metal stand.

I decided to build a mobile table saw cart to deal with both of these problems. I didn’t have any plans for the project. It was the first project where I just started throwing things together and working things out as I went. It’s not the best way to build things, but it was nice to be able to explore and see what I had learned over the past few months.

The initial carcass came together quickly with 2x4s. I then began to imagine a slick chute for the sawdust to fall down into with a drawer to collect it. So I put together a chute system, using hardboard as a perfect surface to guide the sawdust down into the drawer.

The only down side to this construction, was that the chute supports would sometimes collect sawdust piles on them, but I was okay with that.

The finished piece works great. Especially with my old miter saw station as an out-feed table.

The drawer does its job, and I can empty it out whenever I choose, without worrying about a pile of sawdust growing on the floor.

I have found that the only down-side to this cart is the casters I chose. They don’t lock quite as well as I like and my uneven floor can sometimes make the cart rock during cuts. Not only does that lead to bad cuts, it also could be quite dangerous. I expect to switch the casters out for some fold-down legs, especially since the cart has become somewhat less mobile as I move my cutting operations into the garage.

The Shed

With fall and winter approaching, I knew I would need more space in the garage. My current wood-working operation was mostly done out in the driveway, where the breeze would handle the dust and sawdust could fly where it pleased.

In order to move into the garage, I would have to move some of our storage out of that space. I decided that I could build a shed on the edge of the driveway to act as storage for our summer items like gardening supplies and our bicycles.

I had never built anything before, so I expected this to be a difficult project. In a strange throwback to Thoreau and Walden, I really wanted to build this shed completely by myself.

I look online at various plans and figured out what I would need to build the structure. I settled on a plan I found at construct101.com

I set up the floor using 2x6s and 3/4″ plywood and began to put up the 2×4 frames.

Then the rest of the walls came up and header was made for the wide door.

Then the roof rafters were nailed into place. The 18 deg bevels ensured a smooth resting point.

I then painted the plywood walls and put up the back walls.

Then the other walls began to come up. Next, was the white-painted trim.

After the roof was somewhat assembled, the interior still showed some gaps, likely due to some poor measurements on my part. So I decided to add some additional trim pieces to close the gaps.

The roof was sealed tight and all the trim was set. The doorway was looking nice.

Now I just needed to finish the rest of the trim work.

I then put on the roof felting and overlaped the roof tiles. Unfortunately, I ran out of shingles and had to put the rest on hold for a couple days.

Next, I put together the doors. I then realized that the door frames were made with 2×4’s, but the door trim was made with 1×4’s.

So, I added some additional 1×4 scraps to ensure the hinges would align nicely. With a few pieces of hardware, the outside of the shed was finished. I don’t like that the doors are a bit twisted, so the doors don’t close very flush. However, I suppose I could reinforce in the future.

As a final touch, I added a shelf on the left side with all the 2×4 scraps to hold my garden pots and soil. I created custom bike racks to allow the bikes to hang vertically, maximizing the available space. Now there was plenty of room for my bike trailer.

Course Projects

The next several projects moved very quickly. I worked to finish each of the projects listed in Steve Ramsey’s online course.

The Garden Bench

The garden bench project seemed easy after all the other things I had built. It came together quickly and I decided to paint it white to match the trellises I had done.

The Paper Tray

I did not enjoy making these paper trays. But it was a quick and interesting project. It really helped me to get more comfortable with different cuts on the table saw. At least I thought they would make gifts, so I made two of them.

The Coffee Table

The coffee table was a fun project and I feel like I learned a lot about hot to ensure larger pieces of furniture will hold together. I don’t care for the color of the stain, something about the combination of the dark walnut stain and the pine wood.

The Bookcase

This project was a lot of fun to build. I even made my own special jig to ensure all the shelf holes were lined up properly. Again, the stain didn’t turn out great. I even added a pre-layer of Danish oil, hoping that would help with blotching, it didn’t.

Nightstand

For my next project, I needed to make some functional furniture. My current nightstand was an old bathroom cabinet composed of cheap particle-board that was stained and beginning to fall apart. I had had the cabinet for 14 years and it was time to try my hand at making something that needed to be in the house and I would use everyday.

I started with Steve Ramsey’s nightstand plans, though I had to make some modifications to fit the right size and shape that I desired. I wanted a taller stand with a deep bottom drawer to store my pajamas and long underwear. I also widened the middle gap a bit, since I tend to have a number of books stacked near my bed.

This was my first project that I remembered to take process pictures, so here’s the cabinet somewhat taking shape.

It was at this point, that I realized that I wouldn’t be able to use the full-sized shelf I had ready. I forgot to insert it before pulling the carcass together. The glue was already dried, so there was no turning back. I ended up cutting the shelf in half so that I could insert it.

In the end, it turned out okay and I clamped it all together to glue on the top and shelf.

I painted the shelf white and added some beautiful quartz-stone hardware knobs.

Now, that is an improvement.

Bat House

One day, I was chatting with my wife online. We were discussing about setting up a bat house for our back yard. Bats in the city are in need of habitat and they are known to eat vast quantities of mosquitoes. So, before my wife got home that same day, I researched a bit on making bat houses and had one built.

The design I used was based on one in the Bat House Builder’s Handbook by Bat Conservation International.

I went to the local lumberyard and grabbed myself a wide cedar board. Made a few quick cuts and began assembling it. Thankfully, I had a section of old wire mesh that was perfect for the inside chamber, which will give the bats something to hold onto.

I then added the top and bottoms, ensuring a gap for the bats to get in and out. The deeper top will keep rain from getting inside.

Then it was closed up and ready for painting and installation.

Soon the black bat house was hung on the back of my garage, ready for the critters to move on in.

Patio Table

My next project was straight from Steve Ramsey’s course, a small patio table. Some friends had just purchased a new house, so I thought this would make a perfect housewarming present.

The table is composed of pine boards and requires only the miter saw for cuts. It is quite simple to make and very rewarding for someone who is new to woodworking. Yet the table has enough design interest, style, and utility to feel like I was really beginning to make useful furniture.

I decided to go for a darker stain and put on three thick coats of polyurethane to ensure it could survive outside in the varying seasons.

Miter Saw Station

I realized I was using my miter saw quite a bit, but sometimes found it a pain to set up and ensure that I could set up the proper stop-blocks when necessary.

I did a search online for solutions and found a plethora of miter saw station plans. I really liked most of the designs I saw, but eventually had to settle on one. I decided to make a modified version of this one posted by Shanty 2 Chic: https://blog.homedepot.com/diy-miter-saw-bench/

It is composed of a 2×4 frame with a double 3/4″ plywood top. The fences are composed of random scraps of pine and the slide tops are melanine (left over from the router table build) to ensure an easy slide when working with long pieces.

My design for the bench is quite a bit shorter than the plans I found. Although, I never put storage drawers in the under-slots, I found these slots were perfect for temporarily storing pencils, rollers, and tape-measures. It became really nice to be able to slide this bench out and cut all my wood to size for a project. The wide fences make it easy to clamp on stop blocks and ensure that each cut piece is matched.

First Workbench

I was now ready to start building projects for Steve Ramsey’s course. He calls it the BMW (basic mobile workbench).

I was really excited about this project, since it was my first “official” course project and I greatly needed a good workbench. The mobile aspect would allow me to wheel out the bench to my driveway. This was needed since I still was mostly using my garage for storage and I did not want to get sawdust on everything. Additionally, I learned it was not good for my lungs to be breathing in the dust.

The workbench is composed of mostly 2×4 construction lumber with a double 3/4 plywood top. It’s extremely study and can take a bit of a beating. The shelves are great for storage or temporary tool holders. The wide sides allow for clamping. The locking casters give the bench mobility, but also stability when desired.

Garden Trellis

By June of 2019, I was trying to improve my basic woodworking skills. I signed up for Steve Ramsey’s online course, the Weekend Woodworker.

Between Steve’s lessons, You-Tube, and the many books I was reading, I felt like my basic skills were beginning to take shape.

Since it was June, my garden was beginning to occupy most of my free time. My wife and I had discussed adding trellises to the side of the house. I had dreamed of Wisteria and Hops growing along our south-wide windows. Additionally, I wanted a nice northern-side planter/trellis to grow ivy and provide some additional privacy for the block-window of our bathroom.

I bought some 1×6 planks and began ripping them down into about 3/4 strips. I combined these with 2×2 cedar posts and glued and screwed it all together to make some garden trellises for the south wall.

I quickly realized that I needed way more trellis than I had anticipated. But after a couple more days of work, I managed to get all the pieces I needed together. I painted the trellis a bright white and hung them on the house using pocket screws.

I then added the additional sections, attaching them to a heavy 4×4 post to hold the whole thing together.

For the northside trellis, I had to build a planter box since the soil was so poor on that narrow side of the house.

Overall, these simple trellises work great and they are a happy addition to the garden.

Router Table

For my second project, I really wanted to make a router table to use the router I had bought. I had dreams in my head of making all sorts of beautiful edging and moldings, and to do so, I’d need a good router table.

The table was based off a video I had found on You-Tube: https://youtu.be/rUT3u6muDWw

My version used melanine or the tabletop. I had botched various parts of the project and soon realized I didn’t quite have enough of the basic skills mastered to be doing what I did. However, I pushed through and managed to finish the project.

Unfortunately, the T-tracks aren’t perfectly parallel, so it can be somewhat hard to get the fence lined up properly. Additionally the acrylic insert panel isn’t perfectly flush with the melanine top, so I have to be careful when sending short pieces through. I had fun using my pocket-hole jig and learning about using pocket-hole joinery. I was forced to use my table-saw, which still scared me.

Overall, the router table is still quite useful. I still use it today (Jan 2020), but am already thinking about some redesigns.