Category Archives: Workshop Builds

Table Saw Cabinet

Make 41

I saw plans for this cabinet and liked the vertical slide doors. It was intended to fit under the table saw, but my saw doesn’t have enough space. This is OK since I didn’t like the idea of drawers opening in that direction. While a cabinet makes great use of otherwise dead space, I still lose space in front of the table for drawer clearance. So, I think I’d rather build shelves under the table so I don’t lose that valuable space long my wall. I still liked the design, so I just made it free standing and that also gave me a new surface for either tools or projects.

This is the first my first time building with pocket holes and also batching up drawers to fit a cabinet. I needed to get better at making the drawers square, but otherwise, things worked well. A couple of the drawers are a little crooked, so the faces don’t sit exactly right. The top drawer, in particular, is crooked. But they’re all functional and look respectable enough. Next time I’m going to use corner clamps and pay closer attention while also making it easier and faster.

The vertical drawers are pretty nifty. I have three mounts for saw blades figuring I’ll have three basic types of blades: Combo, ripping, and cross-cutting. I’ll probably keep a spare or two of each as I try different blades and replace dull blades. I also put in a mount for my dado blade, dado blade insert, and the dado blade brake. I also have a spot for some push sticks and riving knives. I made the mounts out of scrap plywood with 5/8-inch dowels. For the dado blades and insert, I traced and cut a mount on the bandsaw. Then glued and nailed them into place. I’m pretty happy with how these drawers turned out. I haven’t put much thought into what will go into the horizontal drawers, so they’ll fill up as time goes.

I still have some items hanging on the side of my saw. The miter gauge and blade wrenches are still hanging on the side, which works for me.

When it gets warmer, I think I’ll glue a mount to the side to hang my cross cut sled.


Electrical Upgrade

Make 39

I finished a needed shop electrical upgrade. I was running everything off of a single 15 amp circuit that was shared with a weird assortment of outlets/lights in the house. Not only did the breaker trip, but tools seemed underpowered. The bandsaw labored and would make the lights flicker while the table saw seemed to take a bit to get up to speed and recover under load. To make the dust collector go, I brought in a 12-3 extension cord for more power.

I had an electrician bring in a 20-amp, 240-volt subpanel to the garage and workshop. I then wired a 20 amp circuit dedicated to machines and hand tools. Then I ran a second 20 amp circuit for the dust collector and exhaust fan.  For the machines and tools, I wired four outlets around the shop and no longer need any extension cords. For lights, I’ll just keep them on the existing circuit.

I also had the electrician add a couple 20 amp 240 outlets. On one outlet I installed a 4000-watt heater. I hope to eventually put an 8-inch jointer on the other outlet.

With the upgrade, I can now run my dust collector, heater, and any machine at once with plenty of amps to spare. I don’t have enough power to run a 15 amp 240 machine like an 8-inch jointer with the heater and dust collector, but I can handle turning off the heater to use the jointer.

So, I now have enough power to run the shop, 240v electric for a jointer upgrade, better shop heat, and better organization with no more extension cords and plug/unplug stuff.

Miter Spline Jig

Make 36

I made one box using simple miter joints wanted to try doing miter joints with splines. The idea is miter joints glue end grain to end grain, which is a relatively weak joint. The joint can be strengthened by cutting small cross-cuts through the joint and filling it in with a piece of wood. This introduces additional glue surface against long grain and edge grain. I also think it looks neat and decorative. You can mix in contrasting wood or simply the same wood. You can also make the different sizes and angles.

To do this, I made a jig to run a 90-degree joint across the table saw blade. You can use any size blade you wish, whether thin kerf or a dado stack. This will safely move a workpiece across the table saw and also allow for repeatable cuts. I found this design on Sketup 3D Warehouse. I liked it because it’s versatile and  I’ve also been wanting to mess with t-track. Two holder pieces are secured via knobs dial and move the width of the jig. You can lock it down and keep the workpiece between the holders secure.

To cut the splines, I cut off a narrow 3/16 or so strip of wood, then cut into small pieces. For such a narrow piece, I cut off my piece on the left of the blade from a larger board rather than trying to run a such a narrow strip against the saw fence. Rockler makes a nifty jig for this task, although you could do it with a feather board.

I had assembled the box using tape and then pulled it tight with a strap clamp. After the glue dried, I kept the tape in place and that seems to help keep the spline glue off of the box surface. Then I use a flexible flush saw to trim flush with the box. Easiest next step for me seems to just sand it down flat, but I’m messed around with chisels and a block plane too.

The tricky part is getting the saw depth right. You want to go as deep as you can without cutting through into the inside of the box. The box in the picture below is only 1/4 inch thick. Seems a good idea to do 3/8 sides. You may also want to use a flat-top blade to make a flat cut, but I just used by ATB, which creates a little V. ATB seemed to work fine.

I have two example below, Both are using the standard kerf blade. One is a bigger box with 3/8-inch sides. The finished picture below is a 1/4-inch box that’s trimmed, sanded, and complete.


Cyclone Dust Collector – Harbor Freight and Super Dusty Buddy

Make #31

For dust control, I’ve been using an old shop vac and Dust Deputy. It worked well enough, but then the vacuum died spectacularly. It stopped running with a column of thick smoke and then melted down. Rather than abusing another shop vacuum, I started looking for a dust collector.

I opted for the 2 HP model from Harbor Freight. It’s very popular and a good price that’s even better with a 20% off coupon. I also got the larger Super Dust Deputy since the little bucket version worked well for me. Using the conical cyclone, debris enters, swirls around, and drops to a collector rather than going through the blower motor into a collection bag. The primary purpose is to prevent solid chips/chunks, etc from hitting the motor’s impeller and causing damage. But it’s also extremely efficient at capturing anything that gets sucked up.

I’m not using the bagging system with Harbor Freight Kit. I’m simply venting outside. The advantage here is that only the finest dust will escape the Dust Deputy, but this fine dust is the most problematic. It’s the most dangerous to inhale, and it’s also the most difficult to filter. So, rather than building an expensive filtering system, I’m just going to just exhaust it outdoors. Once it snows, I’ll be able to see how much dust is being vented and whether I need to rethink it. So far, it’s working great.

The other advantages of this setup are it’s a small footprint. It’s vertical at less than 2-foot by 2-foot. The other advantage is there’s no filter to restrict airflow, so it should help increase power or at least help counter the restriction from the cyclone.

I opted to go for the newer 4-inch Super Dust Deputy. I was hesitant to buy a smaller unit than the larger cyclone with 5-inch connections. I was concerned if it would hurt power and not be as efficient. So far, it seems perfectly fine. It seems Oneida designed this version of the Super Cyclone for the popular Harbor Freight and similarly sized dust collectors. This is a turn-key system that includes a 15-gallon drum. The cyclone fits directly on the drum and doesn’t require a lid or cutout. It also includes a foam gasket to get a tight seal. The output is 4″, which is the typical for small to medium shop dust collection. It also includes a fitting/adapter out of the top for 4″.

For my setup, I made a wall mount with 2x4s. I then just set then fan blower so the input is facing the ground. I didn’t mount the blower anywhere. It’s heavy and the blower input sticks out so will keep it from sliding off. Once mounted, I used the Harbor Freight duct adapter and 5″ output hose. I cut a hole in the wall, installed a 5″ wall duct baffle, and connected it all with clamps. I also cut a short length of the 5″ hose and connected that to the lower input with a clamp. Then used a 4″ reducer. Then I attached a length of 4″ hose to the Super Dust Deputy.  Out of the Harbor Freight kit, I’m just using the blower, duct adapter, and hose.

This gives me a straight line for airflow with only a minimal curve on the output. I mounted the lower at a height that was convenient for me to reach the switch. I thought about sitting the drum on a cart  for convienent emptying and maybe steal a little extra shop storage space but didn’t I don’t have a clear path to wheel out the drum anyway. I also didn’t want to directly connect the blower to the Super Dust Buddy because I thought it might make it more difficult to empty the drum. I’m thinking about using some bungee cords to hold the Super Dust Buddy when emptying, but it seems light enough that the hose clamps can support it hanging.

Lastly, I need to work on connections. I intend to simply move the 4″ hose to machine to machine. My shop is small and only the table saw is stationary, so I don’t have fixed stations for duct work.

Dust Collector System
Dust Collector System
4" Super Dust Buddy
4″ Super Dust Buddy
Collected Dust
Collected Dust


Box Joint Jig #2

Make 28

Remaking a box/finger joint jig. This fits my new saw. Similar to the remade cross cut sled, I left this open on the top and also using 1/2″ plywood. This is lighter and gives more flexibility.

I have a rear fence and behind that I have a stop block for the blade. Then I clamp templates to the fense. I have templates for 1/2″ and 3/8″ joints. Each template has its own little piece glued in as a key,


Cross Cut Sled #2

Make 26, Week 15

This is a new crosscut sled for my new saw. The old sled didn’t fit the new miter slots. This time around I made a few changes.

First, I use 1/2-inch birch plywood rather than particle board.  I also didn’t do a front fence. This is much lighter and also without a front fence, larger workpieces can extend off of the sled.

The fence is two pieces of 3/4-inch birch plywood laminated together. I also screwed a block behind the blade area. This will give a place to bury the blade and be a guide of where to not place fingers. This block is screwed into the sled so it’s also helping to hold to two pieces of the sled together.  Also, two blocks at the end screwed into the fence. This is basically somewhere to hold when moving the sled with the hope of not putting to much stress on the fence. Lastly, I used walnut for the miter rails.

We’ll see how this holds up.

It seems to be pretty square. I did a 5 cut on about a 10-inch board and it came out to I guess 0.0009 inches off. I think that’s probably close enough.

New cross cut sled
New crosscut sled
Fence and blocks
fence and blocks
Miter rails
Miter rails
0.00045 inches off across 5 cuts
0.0045 inches off across 5 cuts

Box/Finger Joint Jig

Make 24, Week 14

My first try at a box I did 45-degree miter joints for the edges. For the next box, I want to try using box joints. I made this sled and jig to make these on the table saw. I also picked up a dado blade to cut these joints.

I made a little sled with two miter rails. The plan is to have different fences attached to the sled fence for different dado widths. I then made a small key to fit the dado slot as a placeholder. The first time I did this, I made the key too tall. Being that tall I had to cut deeper dados than I needed, so I redid the fence and key with a shallow dado.

This worked out pretty well on my test pieces. The set fence was held in place with a clamp, but I needed to reposition the clamp when I started the other board. I think it shifted a 1/8 of an inch or so. I’ve seen some similar jigs held together with a bolt rather than clamps. I’ll have to play around with it, but it’s close enough.

Mini sled
3/8″ dado fence with key
Spacer key
Fitting the cuts
Matching it up
Fitting joints together

Cutting Board #5

Make 22, Week 13

Yet another cutting board. This one turned out pretty well although a perfect pattern is still elusive. I actually meant this to be a checkerboard but did an odd number of edge grain strips instead of even to get a pattern when cutting the end grain strips. But this works.

Cutting Board #4 - Maple and Walnut Stripes
Cutting Board #4 – Maple and Walnut Stripes
Closeup Cutting Board #4 - Maple and Walnut Stripes
Closeup Cutting Board #4 – Maple and Walnut Stripes


Drum Sander Cart

Make 20, Week 12

I got frustrated enough with end grain boards to pick up a drum sander. These cutting boards are learning project and I’m planning to start building some boxes next. A drum sander would be handy in working with pieces too small for a thickness planer. So, I figured I’d have uses other than cutting boards as a justification for a new toy.

As with other large power tools, I made a mobile cart using similar designs.

I chose the small Jet 10-20. Not only is it one of the most affordable, but has a small footprint for my little shop. Although, the cart is bigger than it needs to be. I may repurpose this cart in the future for something else and make a cart a little smaller to save on space.

I’m still learning to use it. I keep tripping the motor overload, but I’m getting the hang of it. It seems running the belt fast and doing very small thickness adjustments works well. Slowing the best causes a lot of burning, so seems like this small sander just needs some patience. It’s not a huge time saver, but it requires little to no concentration, unlike the router sled.

Drum Sander Cart
Drum Sander Cart
Sanding Cart Sketchup
Sanding Cart Sketchup



Exhaust Fan

Make 18, Week 9

My workshop has an exterior door and a doorway going into the garage. When making dust, I open the outside door and car garage door for some ventilation. The doorway into the garage and the outside door and in-line, so the rest of the shop doesn’t seem to get a lot of air movement. A forced air exhaust vent at the other end of the shop seems a good idea.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is I probably don’t want to have all the doors open when the weather turns cold.  My thinking is that I may run the fan only when running saws, or perhaps just flip on the fan for a few minutes to clear out the air. There’s no heat in the workshop, but I’m thinking of installing some kind of electric heat. By just running the fan to suck out dust, I’m wondering if I’ll be able to take the edge of the cold in the workshop and momentarily run the fan to clear out the air. I plan to crack the garage door when running the fan in the winter.

I’ve also moved my shop vac dust collector over by this fan. I run a short hose from the blower port on the fan and shoot that out the fan. The idea is whatever isn’t captured by the Dusty Deputy and HEPA filter should go side.

Anyway, I got this 14-inch fan from Amazon. There are bigger fans, but they seemed excessive and not worth the price for my space. I didn’t get fussy installing it. I basically cut out a hole in the garage wall with a beat up jigsaw blade, then braced the fan with 2×4 boards against the joists. I wired then it up using an extension cord. Eventually, I’ll make it more permanent with a switch.

This seems to work pretty well. There’s noticeable less dust hanging in the air and even less eventually settling. I always wear a respirator when making dust, but I feel this fan clears the air enough to remove the mask when not running saws or sanders.

Mounted exhaust fan from the inside
Mounted exhaust fan from the inside
Mounted exhaust fan from the outside
Mounted exhaust fan from the outside
Shop Vac Exhaust
Shop-Vac Exhaust