Thursday, February 18, 2016

Six Shop Projects I'd Like To Build This Year

I think every woodworker at some point in time says to himself that he needs to stop building furniture or knick-knack projects and build something useful for his shop. Whether it's a new bench, some jigs, a router table, or some kind of storage, tables, or cabinets, it's usually something he's put off until he can stand to be without them no longer.

What are mine? Glad you asked. Here are six projects that I'm thinking of tackling in the coming year or two:

1) A new workbench. The one I have is fine and has served me well. It's made out of common 2x4 construction lumber, it's sturdy, and I like it. But when I built it, I didn't take a few things into consideration. I'd like to build something bigger, beefier, and with more clamping/hold down capabilities. Not to mention, I need to build it a little shorter (I built it to accommodate my standing height, not realizing that I'd not always be standing at it). If I ever get a new table saw, I'd like to build the bench to serve as an outfeed table in addition to my main work surface.

2) A real, honest-to-goodness router table. I have a Bosch table now, but it's designed to be portable and to be clamped onto your bench top (or other stable surface). The table itself is great. The fence? Not so much. I'd like to build an actual standing cabinet to house my router bits and router accessories in. I'd also like to design it so that when I'm not using it I can wheel it out of the way. The router I currently have in it is easy to adjust from under the table, so I wouldn't really need a router lift unless I upgraded to a different router (which I very well may in the future). I'd cross that bridge if/when the time comes, though.

3) Storage cabinets and shelves. I think this is always on every woodworker's list of things to do, but in my case the need is growing. Whether it's for storing and sorting sandpaper, something to sort and store your hand tools on, or simply something to keep all the drill bits, screws, nails, and other small parts and pieces, storage and organization is always a huge plus in any shop. I don't know how many times I've needed a certain size screw and can't find the box I'm looking for, because one week it's on this shelf and the next week I moved it to another shelf without remembering that or misplaced it completely. It'd be nice if I had a place to put everything, but the trick is to make sure I keep it there. Easier said than done.

4) A lumber rack. I have a long shelf that I currently use to store my lumber, but it's a pain to keep sorted and organized. Nine times out of ten the board I need is all the way to the back and buried under a bunch of other stuff. I'd like to build either a rolling cabinet that also holds sheet goods, or come up with a new and better way entirely. I don't have a lot of space in my basement shop, so I'll have to come up with an idea at some point in time.

5) A miter saw station. The bench I have my miter saw on right now is a hulking table I built when we first moved into this house in 2008. It currently shares this space with my spindle sander and benchtop drill press. At some point in time, I'd like to build a station that's better suited to make use of this saw. I use it quite often, it's reasonably accurate, but I know it would be dead-on if I built something that had a way to set stops and kept everything aligned perfectly.

6) A long cabinet/workbench for my benchtop tools. As I mentioned above, my drill press and spindle sander share the same space as my miter saw. My jointer is on a rolling cabinet over by my dust collector, and my planer is on a stackable shelf next to it. I'd like to free up that space along the wall, build a long bench along it (at a lower height than normal), and put all of these on it so they're all in one area and my workflow can improve. I'm not all that certain, however, that the wall in question is long enough to do this and even if it is, then the next question is where would I put my dust collector?

When I set up shop in my basement, I was aware that I'd be facing space limitations and various challenges as the shop grew. Trying to overcome those challenges is what I'm going to be focusing on in the next year or so.


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