002: a rolling base for my planer #1: general assembly

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 05-20-2009 02:22 AM 2482 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of 002: a rolling base for my planer series Part 2: flush sanding, a drawer, and a nice big mistake »

My Craftsman 13” planer is a real beast to move around in the shop. It’s very heavy, and really bulky. As such, it’s just always either in the way when I don’t need it, or really hard to get to when I do, having collected many items from other projects on and around it since its previous use. After setting up to use it, I’m often too tired to. I’ve even changed some projects to avoid planing altogether, just because I don’t want to move a few dozen things, then wrestle the giant box out into a clearing, move things now in the way of planing back into the void left by the planer, and then go through it all again at the end so I can say, have enough space to use my saw table again. That’s no way to run a shop.

I’m very nearly out of room in my 1-car garage with all the other tools, tables, and junk collected in piles, so I’m going about the only route left to me. I’m making a tiny rolling base, as tall as possible while still enabling the whole thing to roll under my work table, out of the way, finally. It will have a drawer underneath it to hold replacement blades, and I’ve decided I should just put the replacement blades for everything that needs them in my entire shop in that same drawer. No more thinking “Where are the replacement blades for my jointer/box cutter/hacksaw/etc?” They’ll all be in there, and that’s great, because I have a lot of packs of spare blades pouring out of every nook and cranny. I recently bought a pack of 5 hacksaw blades, only to find I had the same exact, unopened pack from last year in the shop already. I just couldn’t find them. Again, no way to run a shop.

Here’s the planer on a piece of leftover baltic birch cut exactly to size. There’s about 1/8” of clearance on each side, and the integrated handles on the sides of the cast aluminum base stick over a bit so I can still get my fingers in there easily if I need to. I used a combination of lengths of jointed boards, squares, and tape on the floor to figure out the dimensions around the curvy base.

planer on sized plywood base

The mounting holes are really well hidden under solid parts that can’t be moved. You can’t fit a bolt down most of them, meaning you have to come up through the bottom when mounting. You certainly can’t fit any kind of marking pencil or awl down them to transfer the positions, so I just dripped a drop of engineer’s blue down the holes. It was even hard to get the thin brush in to some of them. It’s poorly designed in this aspect. It probably tells you the positions and dimensions of the mounting holes in the manual, but I didn’t look :)

droppering dye down holes to transfer their positions to the boards below

The drops spread out through the wood via capillary action, but it was pretty easy to figure out where they had hit, and take centerpoint measurements off of those lines. They were the same each side, so I could extrapolate for the drop that apparently never fell on the one clear corner. Later, I drilled the holes with a 3/8” brad point bit, and testing things out, everything lined up rather ideally.

blue drops on plywood, showing transferred hole positions from planer base

The sides of the box are to be 3/4” poplar, scraps from some storage cabinet shelving leftovers. I’m using only scrap on this project, and with little to no scrap left over from said scrap. I seem to have pieces almost exactly the size necessary in most cases! Hooray for the dwindling scrap pile. It has grown large.

This is officially my first face frame, made of pieces ripped from more of the poplar leftovers. I’m such a novice. I never framed anything before to make it prettier, or to act as a proper stopper for drawer fronts. It’s probably because I’m lazy. I joined it with pocket screws:

face frame in poplar

Of course, with barely larger than 3/4” stiles, I got some splits from the screws, so here I’m gluing one of the bad ones back together under the extreme pressure of a Bessey K-Body.

fixing a split in a face frame

Pocket hole screws all around, w/ Titebond III glue. The Kreg K3 Master System makes it very easy.

pocket hole screw joinery

General assembly complete. Unfortunately, nothing came out very flush, and all in the worst way, with the large faces sticking out past the thin edges. Lots of random-orbital sanding is in my future. I rushed it, and didn’t set up clamps very well to hold things very securely as I drove the screws. I usually get much better, more flush joints than this.

general assembly of planer rolling base complete

It is pretty comically small under the planer, but it’s really sturdy, and doesn’t feel in any way top-heavy. It should all work out well, and as planned. More soon.

planer on unfinished rolling base

Next up, sanding it all flush, adding supports underneath, and casters on those, then it’ll be time to make a utility drawer to fill that gaping hole.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5029 days

#1 posted 05-20-2009 02:26 AM

Good blog Gary, good thinking with layout fluid it should last some time.


View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5273 days

#2 posted 05-20-2009 03:12 AM

This is a nice addition to your planer, Gary. It will help to improve its mobility. Unless you have a shop with tons of room keeping the big tools, like the planer, on wheels is almost a necessity to work in a smaller shop.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5100 days

#3 posted 05-20-2009 04:00 AM

ho… saweet. looks to nice for a utility cart…

about your feelings regarding flush and all – practice makes perfect. and for a first face frame – this looks great! it’s really hard to anticipate what might go wrong when you don’t have the personal experience of things going wrong. suggestions for better fit – get things clamped down better before using pocket screws, this way the screws and the rotary action will not shift things around (too much). make face frame slightly oversize, and flush route it down. just a few ideas.

I liked the idea of marking those bolt holes locations. Another way to get those holes in the right place would be to turn the planer over, take a piece of paper the size of the planer base, hold it in place, and push the paper to the base all around – where there is a bolt hole it’ll make an indentation – you can then take the paper and use it as a template.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4842 days

#4 posted 05-20-2009 04:00 AM

Ten pounds of XXXX in a five pound bag! I think most of us know what thats like!
Nice job Gary.

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5440 days

#5 posted 05-20-2009 04:16 AM

Very nice!

BTW How did you end up with a bottle of Dykem?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4835 days

#6 posted 05-20-2009 05:38 AM

It looks good so far. I’m looking forward to the completed project as my planer is still on the floor and I’m always open to good ideas for a stand. BTW, I did something similar to mark holes once, but I turned over my grinder, emptied the filings out, then sprinkled some of them in the holes. Just a light dusting all the way around the hole. They leave a much nicer circle as they drop straight down and don’t spread. Yeah, now I tell ya.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24531 posts in 5127 days

#7 posted 05-20-2009 06:43 AM

Good job so far, now, the drawer!! Are you going to keep hacksaw blades in it?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4833 days

#8 posted 05-20-2009 07:41 AM

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. To answer a few questions:

PurpLev – yeah, it was my fault not clamping. I’ve done about 6 250-count boxes now of pocket holes, but I still wimp out when I’m clamping, thinking I’ll be fine. I considered possibly doing the paper thing on the bottom, but man, that planer is just so heavy. It must be 80lbs. Again, I was just wimping out :)

GaryK – I have a tiny machine shop in my office, complete with a Sears Craftsman workbench, and a Sherline mini lathe and mini mill. It’s all set up to work with CNC through a small ShuttlePC computer. Of course, I had to get all high and mighty about it, and go with a full Linux setup with only free and open source software, which makes things harder, and means I haven’t done much in the 3 years I’ve owned them. It’s one of the many things I keep saying “I’ll get that all set up great soon.” Sigh…

DaleM – I just about smacked a hole in my forehead. It never even occurred to me to not use liquid. The dust idea is brilliant. Thanks for that one. I’m definitely doing that next time. It would have been way more controllable, precise, and cleaner. No giant blue mess on the wood.

Topamax – yep! I have a bunch of different hacksaws, and a “Gator” sawzall thingy with different blades. Then there’s the planer, jointer, and even some hand plane type things. I might whip up a little divider just to keep me from having to dig through what will probably become a growing pile of blades. I also have a bunch of blue rectangle bin cups from a storage system I set up. I started using them in the garage. I can probably tile some of the drawer in those to help hold smaller blades more conveniently.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 5557 days

#9 posted 05-26-2009 06:42 PM

I knew there was some machinist in there, due to the use of steel blue.

I’m surprised you didn’t use transfer punches for the holes though!

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