The past few weeks I’ve been building a display cabinet for my wife out of ash. Things have been going well with the build and when it came to adding a way to hold the adjustable shelves, I wanted to use an old method that I’ve seen numerous times on antique furniture.
It starts with a couple of pieces of 1 1/2″ wide wood laying out 1″ diamter holes down the middle. The holes are 3″ apart on center. I taped the two pieces together so that when the holes are bored, the pieces mirror eachother.
I then ripped the pieces apart in the middle giving me four brackets that are similar to one another. I then installed each piece in the corner of the cabinet with glue and a few 23 gauge pins. This gives me perfect alignment when I install the shelf brackets.
The brackets are nothing more than a 1″ wide ash with a roundover on each end. I decide to add another 1″ piece of wood onto the stretcher. This gives me the opportunity to adjust the height of the shelf inside the cabinet by one inch. It’s helpful if the shelf needs to be a little bit higher, but I don’t want to move the stretcher three inches to the next notch.
Overall, I love the look of the wooden shelf dividers. I’ve done the 1/4″ holes drilled up and down the sides with brass pins for years and was never a big fan of them. To me, this looks a bit more authentic.
I’ve had this blog for almost nine years and I’ve never bothered to show you my shop. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t think it’s all that special but below is a short video I posted to Instagram the other day.
I’ve had this shop for the past seventeen years when I bought the house in 2002. Before that, I had a shop in my parent’s basement when I started working with wood when I was a kid. Back then, I had a bunch of bench top power tools. Almost all of those tools have been upgraded. The only power tools that remains from the shop in my parent’s house are the band saw, jointer, and drum sander.
The king of the shop is my tool cabinet which I finished building in 2001. The inside has changed a lot over the years as I added to my tool collection. I doubt it’ll ever be finished as I’m constantly buying new tools to put in it and selling the tools I don’t use that much. It sits behind my workbench for easy access. The majority of the tools in the cabinet are antiques that I restored but I do have some brand new tools in there like a Lie Nielsen dovetail saw and a Veritas shoulder plane.
The workhorse of the shop is my Roubo workbench. Made from southern yellow pine, I based it off Chris Schwarz’s Roubo and Roy Underhill’s Roubo workbench. I use the hell out of it so it’s dirty. I never get any visitors to my shop so I don’t care that it’s not made from hard maple and looks perfectly new. I just use it.
At the end of the bench is my Emmert Turtleback Patternmakers Vise. I LOVE this vise. I bought it 20 years ago at an antique tool auction for about $500. It’s worth every penny. This vise gives me plenty of flexibility when clamping work pieces in it as it swivels 360 degrees and swings up. If you ever have a chance to buy one of these vises, do it! You won’t regret it.
In the middle of the shop is my SawStop table saw. I have no complaints about the saw. I tripped it three times. Twice was from the blade hitting my aluminum miter gauge. The third time it was the tip of my thumb. I was ripping thin strips of wood and every time I ripped the stock to make a strip, my left hand got closer to the blade. Like a dumb ass I didn’t notice the position of my thumb until it was too late. Luckily, it tripped and the tip of my thumb was spared. I sent the tripped cartridge back to SawStop and they sent me a free replacement. My thumb just needed a band-aid.
Another nice vise I own is a blacksmith vise. Because I do a lot of antique tool restorations, this thing comes in handy whenever I have to do some metalwork. It’s another one of those tool you don’t realize how nice it is to own until you use it.
On one side of my shop are my power tools. I’ve owned them for years with the Delta jointer going back to when I was a kid. I souped up my Delta band saw with a 6″ riser block and a 1 hp Baldor motor. My 15″ Powermatic planer is one of the best tools I ever bought.
In the corner of my shop is my lumber rack. I buy lumber when I need it so the majority of the boards on the rack are scrap wood. I have one or two boards of certain species but not enough to build a piece of furniture. I simply don’t have the money or the room to stock up on lumber.
One of my favorite power tools I own is my Jet oscillating edge sander. I wanted one of these for years until I pulled the trigger a couple of years ago. I love this machine as I use it on nearly everything I build. For years I used a home made disc sander jig attached to my lathe. My only regret about this sander is not buying it when I first wanted it.
All in all, I’m happy with my shop, I just wish it wasn’t in my basement. I’d love to own nicer power tools like a 12″ jointer or a heavy duty lathe, but there’s no way I could get them down basement steps. Or more importantly, get them back up when I move.
Several months ago, I started making a shelving unit out of southern yellow pine that my wife asked me to make for her booth. I got this far and it sat in my shop unfinished for months. After much contemplation, my wife and I both realized that the shelving unit was really too big to fit in our Ford Edge.
The best thing we could do, is take it apart and resize the thing smaller so we wouldn’t have to rent a trailer to transport it. Luckily, I put the shelf together almost entirely with pocket screws. The part that was glued, I cut apart on the band saw.
After, I cut the shelves shorter, I used my router and cut floating tenons on all the pieces instead of using pocket holes screws like I did before.
A few hours later, I had the new resized shelving unit put back together. The height stayed the same at five feet, but the length was cut down from five feet to forty inches so that it would fit in our car.
My wife always wanted the unit to roll so I added four old casters to the bottom. We actually bought the casters many months before we decided to make the shelving unit just in case someday we needed them.
With 1/2″ plywood installed for the shelves, the unit was built, but unfinished.
Anita wanted the unit to look somewhat old, so I smacked the wood around with a hammer and crowbar to give it an aged look.
I bought a few piece of thin gauge metal, drilled some holes in it, bent it over in my vise, painted them black, and screwed them to the corners of the shelving unit to give it a more industrial look. The brackets and the dark stain really makes the unit pop. Now it was ready to throw in the Edge and bring it to our booth. Saved us $50 not having to rent a trailer and we both feel it looks nicer then it did before.
It was thirty years ago this summer. I was thirteen years old visiting my grand parent’s house on my Mom’s side in Detroit, Michigan when I walked into my Grandpa’s garage and spotted this little drill press on top of his cabinet.
It’s was a little German-made drill press. It had no manufacturer’s name on it, so I have no idea who made it, but I thought it was the coolest tool I ever saw. I played with it for a few minutes, and my Grandpa seeing I took a liking to it, gave it to me. I was stoked.
My Grandpa was never really a woodworker. He was a mechanic who restored old cars like Ford Model T’s and Maxwell’s, so he had no use for the press. I just started to work with wood in my parent’s basement, so I was glad to have it.
A few days later, my Mom, Grandparents, and I went to the flea market. While there, I started hunting for more cool tools. I found some old wrenches and a Ohio Tool Co wooden razee fore plane that I still use to this day. The only money I had was a few bucks I saved up from my allowance of cutting the grass, so I bought all my tools dirt cheap. Nevertheless, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of my antique tool collecting.
As the months and years went by, I started buying more and more old tools. I’d buy planes, chisels, drills, saws and clean them up. As my tool collection grew, my woodworking skills developed right along with every tool I bought as I learned how to use it. I enjoyed the process of restoring old planes so much that I kept buying more of them and before I knew it, I had collected nearly 100 old tools by the time I was sixteen years old. I used to have white bookshelves in my parent’s basement filled with all my tools. My friends would come over, take a look, and asked what the hell was wrong with me.
At the height of my collecting I had over 600 tools. Then one day, I stared at all of it and decided that enough was enough. I took some of the tools I didn’t care much for and threw them on eBay. I watched the auctions end and realized that I enjoyed that process as well, so I threw more tools on eBay. Before I knew it, I was buying and selling tools on a regular basis.
Today, I’ve figured that I have bought, restored, and sold almost three thousand tools on eBay. It’s become a hobby within a hobby. Something that I would never have believed would have happened thirty years ago when my Grandpa gave me his little drill press.
A couple of weeks ago, my local tool supply company I’ve been buying my power tools for the past twenty-five years, Edward B Mueller Co, was having a spring tool sale. I looked through the email and saw that they were offering the Jet oscillating edge sander for $1019.00, which matched Amazon’s price, but they were also offering $95.00 in free accessories. I’ve wanted one of these machines for a while, but was unsure how useful they were since I’ve never tried one myself. I went over to Woodnet.net and asked the guys over there what their thoughts were on them. Everyone who owned one came back that they loved theirs and they use it on nearly every project they work on. So, I decided to bite the bullet and bring one home to my shop. Along with the sander I also got a mobile base and an extra sanding belt with my $95.00 in free accessories.
After dragging the sander out of my car, I had to slide it down the basement steps. But before I did that, I took a lot of the parts out of the box to lighten the load. I built the cabinet first and slipped my mobile base underneath before I tried to stick the main unit on it.
Thankfully, I have a strong wife as we were able to lift it up on the cabinet after I took off the cast iron table.
After about an hour to put everything together, the sander was up and running. I hooked up my dust collector to it and turned the beast on to see how it worked. The sander is awesome and the oscillating function works well.
While reading the reviews for the machine on Amazon, one of the biggest complaints people had with it was the fact that the cast iron table was too heavy to move on your own. So, I went to the flea market this weekend and bought an old car jack for $5.00. I slid the jack under the table, loosen the knobs, jacked it up a little bit, then tighten back the knobs. Works great! Plus the jack is small enough to fit inside the cabinet.
Yesterday I was building a coffee console table for my wife that had “X” cross braces on each side of the table. I scribed the angle on the crossbar, cut it off heavy on the band saw, and then cleaned up the piece on my edge sander.
It works perfectly and leaves a super clean finish. All I can say is that I love this tool! I can easily see using it on nearly everything I make. For years, I used to chuck up a 12″ disc to my lathe and stick a sand paper disc onto it to turn it into a disc sander. I used it so much that I used my lathe as a sander more than I did for turning. I’m happy to say that lathe is going back to being a lathe.
Last week, my wife and I went to the Biltmore Estate again for the fourth or fifth time. If you’ve never been there, there’s a little village on the estate where you can visit a farm, workshops and the ever important winery. Every other time we’ve been to Biltmore, we spent too much time at the house and the winery that by the time we arrived at the village, the workshops were closed. This year we decided to see the village before we headed inside the winery.
I took some quick shots of the blacksmith shop and the tools they use. After I took these pictures, the blacksmith came back and showed us how he made coat hooks with a rose on the top (sorry, no pic). It was late in the day, so all the anvil work was done, he was simply polishing them up on a wire wheel. Biltmore sells these coat hooks in their gift shop for $42.00 each, but they sell as soon as he’s done making them.
If you’ve never used a blacksmith vise, you need to get one. I use on in my workshop and they are far superior than a table top machinist vise.
Not sure of the weight, but it looks like a 300 lb anvil. He had a smaller one in his shop right next to this one.
The overall working space of his shop was about 10′ x 15′
Right next door to the blacksmith shop was the woodworking shop.
Inside was a bunch of tools I’ve seen before except for this cool little foot powered mortise machine.
The woodworker wasn’t around so I don’t know what his responsibilities are for Biltmore. He could just make things for the gift shop, or he may do some repair work around the estate.
The majority of the tools were old, but he did use electricity. I couldn’t really see what was inside the tool chest on the right.
By the looks of these planes, I question whether or not he uses them, or if they are there just for show. A little too much dust and cobwebs on them for my taste.
A newer lathe sat in front of the older one. He spent his day making these turn of the century ball in the cup toys.
If you ever get a chance to go to the Biltmore Estate, make sure you give yourself enough time to visit the village before you head into the winery and get drunk like we did. haha