Shop Project Efforts

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Blog entry by Blair Helgason posted 03-03-2010 07:22 PM 1344 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey Everyone, I hit a snag with my outfeed table last night and figured I’d write about it.

A couple weeks ago I made a hinged outfeed table for my table saw. It worked out great and I have been using it with great success until now. What I realized last night was that I didn’t take into account the tilt of the motor when the angle of the blade is changed. Pretty stupid mistake but I really just needed and outfeed table and didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it. This seems to happen a lot with shop stuff. I have a lot of respect for guys who put as much effort in to shop projects as they do with commissioned or payed projects. It makes sense though, these projects are created to make your work better and you shop time more enjoyable. For some reason though, cabinets and tables that I make for the shop always seem so temporary… and they are since I usually have to replace them due to sloppy craftsmanship or a poor initial thought process.

Anyways, I sort of went on a rant there. It’d be nice to hear some other thoughts about shop projects and the amount of effort put into them. Thanks for listening.

-- Blair

7 comments so far

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 5047 days

#1 posted 03-03-2010 07:44 PM

I look at them as practice for “real” projects. Of course I am a hobbist and don’t woodwork for cash. I try to put the same amount of craftsmanship in shop furniure and fixtures as I would a piece of house furniture. helps me practice skills I need and if I screw up a little along the way, it’s just shop furniture right? However I don’t have the scrap pile of exotics for shop stuff, use mdf, ply, and oak maily, not figured maple and bubinga like Mark (TWW)

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Moron's profile


5048 posts in 5236 days

#2 posted 03-03-2010 08:02 PM

Experience is the toughest teacher out there. It always gives the “test” first, “lesson” later.

Aside from lumber racks, I dont really have any shop projects…...............I gave up many moons ago. I do have very simple open shelving in just about every wall space. I like to “see” everything because I always forget where I put some things. Just last week I was ripping apart the basement looking for my magnifying glasses and on the second search and destroy mission I found them in the LAST cabinet tucked in behind something else.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View lew's profile


13489 posts in 5097 days

#3 posted 03-03-2010 10:05 PM

I don’t think I have ever made a jig/shop helper that isn’t currently in version 2 or 3. Seems like I always overlook some major point during the “prototype”.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Blair Helgason's profile

Blair Helgason

169 posts in 4756 days

#4 posted 03-03-2010 10:22 PM

It’s good to hear I’m not the only one. I’d like to think that my 2nd outfeed table attempt will be the last one but I guess that’s pretty hopeful. I think my main problem is that I get so focused on the project at hand that the shop projects needed along the way are rushed. Although, I really enjoy making things for the shop. It’s almost like getting a new tool in some ways.

-- Blair

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4516 days

#5 posted 03-03-2010 10:45 PM

My wife’s into sewing and quilting.

At the moment, she’s thinking about trying to make (not just spend) a buck at it.

When she’s trying a new concept (a wallet and purse combination, for example), I always ask her to run it by me, so we can talk about it.

9 1/2 times out of ten, if she and I can both slow down, we can think of a lot of pitfalls, or ways to make it more versatile, functional, or appealing.

If you look at Jim Bertelsons blog, for example, he took his sweet time in building his cross-cut sled. A fine example of trying to figure out 90+% of what should be thought of, and incorporated, in this kind of project.

For me … I do a much better job on my shop projects and jigs if I can just get myself to slow down a bit, and resist the urge to just start cutting ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Blair Helgason's profile

Blair Helgason

169 posts in 4756 days

#6 posted 03-03-2010 10:48 PM

Great advice Neil, I’m really going to try and do the same in the future. Maybe I’ll actually build something for the shop that’s worth posting, who knows?

-- Blair

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 4542 days

#7 posted 03-04-2010 04:17 AM

I always used to look at shop projects as “I should have built this yesterday”, kind of thing. But then I realized that when people come into my shop as I am working, they are going to judge my work by what they see I have built to do work on. Changed my whole attitude toward such projects.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

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