My Day in the Shop

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Blog entry by alfa189 posted 08-31-2011 10:08 PM 1478 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Wife and kids gone ALL DAY. I look forward to a beautiful day tinkering in the shop. But what to do, you ask? TURN PENS!! But before I do that, I want to build a quick little Band Saw sled (mostly to cut pen blanks quickly and accurately). Shouldn’t take but maybe 20-30 minutes, right? RIIIIIIIGHT.

Looks like my son dove into my plywood pile and used every available piece as a shield, sword, bike ramp, whatever. Thus, all are dinged up. A little wood putty will fix it. Where the H* is my wood putty? GONE. Run down to the hardware store to pick some up. Forget my wallet, run home, grab wallet, back down to store, buy wood putty, return home. Where’s my putty knife? 5 minute search, FOUND IT. Then I’m off to the sander to clean up the plywood. Now to square it up. Why is my tabelsaw saw fence flexing? 10 more minutes of tweeking that and I’m now good to go. Plywood base is done.

Now for a runner. I hate using wood since it swells in the slot. So I’ve read of people using phenolic plastic (the plastic cutting board material). We have a beat up small one in the kitchen that would be perfect! Run into the kitchen, open the cupboard and…..GONE. Of course. Quick call to wife, “Hey honey, where did that little cutting board go?”...She replies, “Oh, I tossed it out a few days ago”...Of course.

Hey, I ask myself, maybe its still in the garbage can! I run outside and see my cans by the curb. Garbage trucks came this morning. Of course. I’ve also heard of people using aluminum, but it wasn’t really an option for me at this point. So, I start to make a hardwood runner and hope it doesn’t swell and and stick too bad.

Measure out thickness, width and length. Small pieces. Cut on the tablesaw. This means zero clearance insert. Don’t have one. I have a very old piece-a-u-know-what Craftsman tablesaw (benchtop model on a stand). Yeah, yeah, I know. It has all kinds of little welded on pieces in the throat plate insert area which makes it near impossible to get anything but a special ordered Crafstman plate in there. So I get crafty and clamp down a sacrificial base over the blade and then raise the blade through it. Ha ha! Take that, Crafstman!

Now where’s my feather board and push stick?? Nowhere to be found. Of course. I run down to Woodcrafters and pick up a little Shop Fox feather board that has a cam clamp. Pretty nifty. Hey, I need a new bowl gouge…and since I’m here….Yeah, wife’s gonna punch me in the face. And hey, is that purpleheart on sale? Sweet! Already in trouble, might as well make it worth my while.

Get back to the shop and wouldn’t you know it….The runner on the bottom of my brand new feather board doesn’t fit in my tablesaw’s slot. Of course. Toss the new tool into the “will use it when I upgrade my shop someday” pile and move on. So now I make a new featherboard and push stick.

So I now size the runner perfectly. Well, not so perfectly. Took a little took mush off the width and it wiggled in the slot. A little masking tape and it fits well enough. Put doubkle side carpet tape on top of the runner, line up the plywood base and press down. I now have a very good, squared up base with a perfectly aligned runner.

Go to drive my first screw. I had a flash thought. Shouldn’t you drill pilot holes first? My lazyy brained response: “Pilot holes? We don’t need no stinking pilot holes”. I was using course threaded, dry-wall type screws. They rarely have ever spilt out wood when I’ve used them. Drive the first screw, SPLIT! Back the screw out, glue it, clamp it, and now writing to you all about it.

I’m inside watching reruns of the Woodsmith Shop (I have almost every episode saved on my DVR), and documenting how I’ve spent the last 3 hours. And for those of you ready to line up and kick me in the bagettes about shop organization, I know. It’s a long story. One for another day :-) Until nest time….

-- "It's not a mistake. It's a design feature."

9 comments so far

View Murdock's profile


165 posts in 3544 days

#1 posted 08-31-2011 10:23 PM

I think most of us have had those type of days at least once in a while.

For me, I find that by the time I get done doing the 10 things that I found I needed to do before I work on the ‘real’ project I am so frustrated and ready to show some progress, I rush. Then of course the mistakes start.

You are doing the right thing, take a break, a deep breath, work on it again in another session

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View steviep's profile


233 posts in 3707 days

#2 posted 08-31-2011 10:34 PM

Hey, your my long lost brother! Happens to me all the time. I’m convinced shop gremlins hide my pencil every time a set it down. Hope your next shop day goes better!

-- StevieP ~ Micheal Tompkins - you were not here on earth long but left a giant mark on us. RIP Brother

View David Murray's profile

David Murray

187 posts in 4175 days

#3 posted 08-31-2011 11:48 PM

They say a bad in the shop is better than a good day at the office, I don’t know who said it but that’s what I’ve heard.

-- Dave from "The Sawdust Shed"

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3982 days

#4 posted 09-01-2011 02:07 AM

I just noticed that both above quotation of Murdock and Stevie are really applying to what the story is all about. I am always changing on whatever original plan done because of the availability of the resources specially when dealing with scraps and recycled… It is always my woodworking days… dealing with what you have.

-- Bert

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 4167 days

#5 posted 09-01-2011 02:27 AM

I’m so organized that I never have days like you just described…....RRRIIIGGGHHHTTT…Well I can dream, can’t I?

View cwdance1's profile


1163 posts in 4319 days

#6 posted 09-01-2011 03:53 AM

I bought a hole box of pencils and a half dozen tape measures and for some reason they are very hard to fine. My shop is only 12’ x 16’ so you would think it would be easy to find what you want. Not in this life time I guess.

View alfa189's profile


95 posts in 3522 days

#7 posted 09-01-2011 07:19 AM

Glad to see I’m not alone. Welcome, my brethren :-)

-- "It's not a mistake. It's a design feature."

View Woodbutchery's profile


432 posts in 4646 days

#8 posted 09-01-2011 01:09 PM

Thanks for sharing. I”m smiling after the read, as we’ve all had this particular day, almost EXACTLY as you’ve typed it ….

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

View Woodbutchery's profile


432 posts in 4646 days

#9 posted 09-01-2011 01:09 PM

Thanks for sharing. I”m smiling after the read, as we’ve all had this particular day, almost EXACTLY as you’ve typed it ….

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

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