Dresser Velet

Make 35

I made this dresser organizer out of cherry. For the joints, I used the Porter Cable dovetail jig again, but I tried doing the mini version of the jig since it was a smaller project. This is a little tedious and was a challenge to cut dados in pins so small. I’ll probably stick with the full sized jig as long as size permits.

Anyway, this turned out well. I finished it with boiled linseed oil and furniture wax. It’s a nice looking finish with rich color and the wax gives the wood a little shine while keeping the grain texture.

Coaster Holders

Make 34

I made this holder for the coasters project. I made two actually, one for the coasters gift and second for my set.

I thought about a few different ways of doing this. I ended up doing contrasting maple and walnut pieces and jointed them a dovetail rabbet joint. To hold them together, I made pins made of walnut. The pins are mortised through the maple and go into the walnut. It should support the joint and looks nifty. I was going to do a dowel, but a little extra work for square pins.

End Grain Coasters #2

Make 33

I had a failed cutting board that I turned into coasters. I got a request to make a set for a Christmas present. So, here’s an intentional version of a same thing. Maple and walnut. The maple has a mineral stain running through it for some interesting character.

I got a little fancy with these and added a chamfer to the edges. The bottom has a piece of felt spray glued. I finished with three coats of wipe on poly.

Box #3 – Dovetails

Make 32

This is getting practice using the Porter Cable Dovetail jig. I got the bottom right this time around. I remembered and correctly did a partial dado on the router table. One side starts inside the tails and the other goes through the pins, which is concealed by the joint. I messed up the top though. I planned on doing a rabbet to set in a simple lid, but fogged out and went through to the ends. Also, the lid was a little messed up. I tried to join to pieces together and it didn’t work out quite as planned. Somewhere along the way I also managed to get mixed up on sides and I put a dado on the wrong end. It really pays to label and pay attention.

Anyway, I’m happy with the dovetails and got the hang of the jig, which was the goal. I may use this to store router parts, although I want to make a bit storage box. I just put wipe on poly as a finish.

Tuning my Porter Cable jointer

I have a little Porter Cable (PC160JT) bench-top jointer for economies of space and cost. I was having some issues getting good square sides, so I spent some time tuning it up. I wanted to document this for myself as a reference but also hope this helps someone who is on a similar journey.

I have three tasks in tuning the jointer. Getting the tables aligned hopefully is something that only needs to be done once or at least once in a great while. Since the blades are a consumable, the process to align blades will be done periodically. The third is the fence, and I do check this each time since it’s a simple, but essential task.


First, some background on jointers because through this I learned a few things. The primary function of a jointer simple flattens the surface of a board. The secondary purpose is to make an adjacent edge 90-degrees square. That’s it. After you have that 90-degree edge, you take the board to a planer with the jointed face down and make the opposite face parallel. Then, you go to a table saw with the jointed edge up against the fence and do a rip cut to make the opposite edge parallel. After this, you should have a board that’s square all around. Depending on the board, it could look a little weird coming off of the jointer. It may have a wedge shape or otherwise appear to have gone wrong, but if the jointed edge sits flat and is square with the jointed face, the jointer has done its job as directed by the operator. It’s now up to other tools to match the jointed face/edge.

To achieve this, a jointer has four basic components. There’s an in-feed table, out-feed table, blades, and a fence. To tune the jointer, all four must be aligned. The way the jointer works is you want the out-feed table is slightly higher than the infeed table and the cutter blades are set to the same height as the outfeed table. When you push a board along the in-feed table, the blade cuts into the wood and establishes a new surface that matches the out-feed table. By taking multiple passes, you can cut down any high spots on the board and level it off. You can adjust the in-feed table by raising or lowering it take a deeper or lighter cut. Lastly, there’s the back fence. To make a square edge, the fence must be adjusted to be 90-degrees from the table and the jointed edge of a piece of wood is pushed against it.

The Equipment

There are a number of tricks and jigs for adjusting jointers. I tried a bunch, but what worked best for me is using a dial indicator with a support base. Dial indicators are relatively inexpensive and can be valuable with other machine calibration and measuring.

The second item is some shim washers. I bought a set from Amazon that had three sets of shims in varying thickness. You can also make your own by cutting up a soda can and drilling holes in strips, but I found the shims the easiest. For me, when I made one adjustment, it affected the other three corners of the table. Controlling the thickness of my adjustments was helpful.

The Table

When working around the blades, ensure the machine is unplugged. To have full access to the table, I remove the blade guard and fence.

On a jointer, it’s important that the in-feed and out-feed tables are coplanar. This means while one table is slightly lower and adjustable, it is still parallel to the other table. If they’re not parallel, any misalignment between the tables will be transferred to the wood since that is the reference surface for the cutter. On the Porter Cable jointer, the tables are held down by bolts and that’s the only opportunity for adjustment. By placing shims between the bolts and frame, you can alter how the table sits on the frame relative to other bolt locations.

Ideally, I’d probably measure the out-feed table against the in-feed table from various points on each table, but the arm on the base wasn’t long enough to span the entire jointer. So, I did it in parts starting with the out-feed table. I placed the base on the out-feed table over each bolt and measured the table near the other three bolts. I then removed the table and placed shims under the bolts where I think they needed to be. Then I bolted back down the table, measuring again, rinse, and repeat. This can be a chore.

Once I had the out-feed table level across itself, I raised the in-feed table all the way up. I took my measurement by placing the base on the out-feed table and then measured the end of the in-feed table. Then I took additional measurements of the in-feed table like I did on the out-feed table. Then, I removed the in-feed table. I adjusted the table using the shim washers between the bolts and the frame. I put the table back on, then measured again. Rinse and repeat until I got it as best I could get. This can take some time and patience. The good thing is the Porter Cable jointer is small, so I brought it into the house and did this while watching a ball game.

After I called it good enough, my tables are 1/1000 – 3/1000th of an inch off across the span. We’ll see if this holds up. If these were cast iron, I’d guess they would be pretty stable, but not sure what to expect with aluminum tables. I’ll avoid lifting the jointer by the tables and generally not use it as a resting spot for heavy things. I’ll probably recheck them whenever I replace the blades.

The Blades

The table hopefully is something that only needs to be done once, but the blades are something that will be a regular maintenance item. The dial indicator works great for this. The Porter Cable jointer has two blades in the head. Each blade is held by a bracket and that’s secured by four bolts. Each blade also has two adjustment screws. The adjustment screws raise and lower the blade inside the mount. To replace blades, you take off the bolts and remove the blade from the bracket. To adjust the blades, you loosen the bolts, make the adjustments with the screws and then tighten it back down. One other item of note is there’s a blade lock painted red.

So, the objective here is to get both blades coplanar with the tables and set at the same height as the outfeed table. If the blades are not coplanar you’ll have uneven cuts. If the blade is above the outfeed table, it will snipe off the end of a board. Snipe essentially is taking a deeper cut on the last inch or so of a board. If the blades are set below the outfeed table, it won’t cut evenly or at all. So, this is a precision adjustment that’s perfect for a dial indicator.

First obviously ensure the machine is unplugged. You’ll also need to take great care while working with the blades because blades are sharp.

My process for aligning blades is, first if not already done, I remove the blade guard and fence. You’ll need hex wrenches to remove the guard, loosen the bracket bolts, and adjust the screws. Then, I move the cutter head to expose the first blade. I then loosen the blade holder bolts. I move the head further to lock the head in place with the safety lock. Since there’s some play in the lock, I push the head clockwise just to have a consistent measurement of both blades.

Now it’s time to measure. I measure the blade at the set screws, so I first take a measurement on the out-feed table in-line with the set screw. I turn my dial readout to set it to zero. Then, I move the dial on to the blade. I push the probe over the blade until I find the highest point. Once the indicator starts to fall over the edge of the blade, I back off. I then turn the adjustment screw until it reads zero. I repeat the process for the other side of the blade with the other set screw. Then I unlock the safety, turn it, then tighten the blade holder bolts. Then I turn the head back, lock the safety down, then verify my settings. If needed, repeat for any further adjustments. I then repeat the procedure for the other blade.

I always take the measurement of the out-feed table at the spot of the blade measurement to ensure the blade is both coplanar to the table and level with that spot on the table. If I’m finding the blade is moving around on me between adjustments, I’ll split the process per blade into two parts by loosening only two the top two/bottom two blade holder bolts and only one set screw at a time.

Then I unlock the blade safety and replace the blade guard.

To verify everything, I lay a piece of wood across the blade and manually turn the head. It should push the wood back a short distance. You can measure this distance if you wish, but this is just piece of mind thing that the blade isn’t too low.

There’s a lot of words there, but it’s a pretty simple process. I can replace and adjust both blades in about 10-15 minutes.

The Fence

This one is pretty simple. I take a 6-inch combo square and set it on the table and against the fence. I adjust the angle of the fence until it’s 90-degrees. With this set, my jointed surface will be 90-degree when pushing against the fence.


Once all the adjustments are made, I plug it in and try jointing a scrap board. I should get no sniping and end up with a face and edge that is 90-degrees square down the length of the board.

This little jointer is running well enough for the price and the size is convenient. One issue I run into is over time as the blades wear, it doesn’t cut well. The jointer cuts at a taper with the trailing end missing the knives. This seems the symptom of the outfeed table higher than the knives, which makes sense if the blades lose their edge. To compensate, I’ve been raising the knives about 1/1000 above the table rather than dead even, which seems to fine without any snipe. It seems I occasionally need to adjust the knives, which can be a bit of a pain. This wouldn’t be a problem if the jointer’s outfeed table could be adjusted.

One other thing, which I’m still working on, is getting the jointer tuned is only part of the equation. Technique plays a big part in results and I’m still learning. It’s much easier learning though knowing the machine is tuned up and running well.

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 #2

Make #29

Here’s my second box. I used the new jig. Something that works well is placing a small strip scrap hardwood behind the workpiece. I was getting tearout without, but this seems to give clean cuts.

I made a couple made a couple mistakes cutting the inset for the cover, but otherwise this turned out OK. I finished it with some stain.

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,



Make 27

This started out as a cutting board, but had a bunch of problems. I ended up just makign coaster instead.

The plan was to cut thin strips of walnut and maple and then glue together one of each. Then glue those bundles together into strips. This is rather than solid strips of maple and walnut. I’ll try this again someday, but for now we have nice end grain coasters.

On the bottom I glued some no-skid material. I finished it with wipe on matte poly.