Workshop Improvement #3: Countertop, drawers, lathe

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Blog entry by johngoes posted 11-30-2009 02:33 AM 3417 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Primin' 'n' paintin' 'n' drawerin' Part 3 of Workshop Improvement series Part 4: Almost There - drawers & doors & organizing »

Saturday my brother came by and we shimmed and installed the cabinets. Then he helped me slice ‘n’ dice my soft maple boards for the counter top. It helps to have a 2nd hand when dealing with 10’ long 6/4 lumber. I had the lumber yard give me one straight edge and from that I cut width, jointed, and planed the boards. After he left I glued up the counter top as seen here:

I also cut all my drawer sides and set up a 1/4” dado blade on the TS to cut the groves for the joints and the bottom. By then it was past 5 and I quit for the day. Today I assembled drawer boxes using glue and brads. Using clamps and a plastic square in the corners helps speed things along and made for very nice square boxes. I had my wife take a picture of me assembling a box with a stack of finished drawer boxes here:

My brother came by later in the morning (I had finished the boxes before 10) and helped me install the counter top. I sanded out the joints with a belt sander. I’ve used a #5 plane before, but it takes too long and I was in it for the quick fix. After trimming the ends and installing the top I found out that I came up 2” short! I’ll fix it with a breadboard end.

After my brother left I installed the drawer rails and drawers, cut the oak drawer fronts to size, routed ogee details, and sanded to 150 grit. I didn’t install them though because I was tired. I decided that my last thing to do was to install the Jet 1220 lathe.

It was heavier than I thought, but it went on the stand without much problem. I read in reviews that there was too much cosmoline but I didn’t find it that bad. I also didn’t realize that the motor was so quiet! It just barely hums. I threw on a walnut chunk that I’ll turn first when my chisels arrive next week.

I sanded the countertop to 150 grit and it looks and feels great. Does anyone have reasons I ought to finish it? I kind of like the unfinished look and wonder if anyone has experience with leaving a counter top unfinished. If I do finish it I might go with shellac – I’ve used it on several projects and it’s a quick, good looking finish.

Last picture – drawers, counter top, and lathe installed. One long week of work for a much nicer shop – once I get done organizing and cleaning that is.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

9 comments so far

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4480 days

#1 posted 11-30-2009 06:13 AM

Cool! Your shop is going to look great. I love progress photos.

You should definitely finish the top to protect it… but there are lots of finishes that leave it looking very natural.

The most natural looking/feeling finish I know is Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) which is available at just about any hardware store. Trust me, its really easy (even easier than Shellac). All you do is wipe it on with a rag, then wipe off the excess with a clean rag, and you are done. Then for just a little more protection rub on some Paste Wax with a rag the next day.

The best time to try out a new finish is on a project like this. Then when you build other projects you’ve got the experience.

Good luck!

-- Happy woodworking!

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3773 days

#2 posted 11-30-2009 11:46 AM

This project is looking great, keep up the good work. Thanks for the (in process) pictures. I really like your use of maple for the top it should look very professional and last a long time.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4428 days

#3 posted 11-30-2009 01:35 PM

Your shop is certainly taking shape. I have come to appreciate shops that have furniture which is not functional but also looks good as well. I am looking forward to seeing the next update.

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

View johngoes's profile


54 posts in 4048 days

#4 posted 11-30-2009 02:11 PM

Thanks for the great comments and for the BLO tip. I’ve read of it but never tried it before. It makes sense to try it out on a shop project before the honey-do projects. In fact, the router table seen in the box assembly is where I learned to apply shellac before I used it to build my library shelves. (see the following flickr link for pictures of those)

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

View WoodSparky's profile


200 posts in 3708 days

#5 posted 11-30-2009 02:51 PM

Not to be a wet blanket,but the National Electrical Code requires 30”x 36”x 6’ of clearance in front of electrical service equiptment. If it is not to late, could you make that center cabinet removable?

-- So Many tools, So little time

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4279 days

#6 posted 11-30-2009 03:09 PM

Nice workshop!

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4852 days

#7 posted 11-30-2009 04:10 PM

Very well organized, I’m jealous.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View johngoes's profile


54 posts in 4048 days

#8 posted 11-30-2009 04:21 PM

Hey Sparky!

I guess I should have asked for a bigger discount on the house when I bought it due to the previous shelves surrounding the fuse panel. We installed the cabinets such that they can be removed if we move. I’m not planning to remove them before then though.

One of my goals is to install a sub panel next to that panel so I can run two 220V lines and at least one 110V around one wall of the shop. I plan to use wall-mounted conduit to run the circuits. I used to install electrical and signal runs in the Army but it’s been 25 years since I’ve done so. I need to come up to speed with code to make sure my installation is kosher.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes!

View WoodSparky's profile


200 posts in 3708 days

#9 posted 11-30-2009 06:34 PM

Hey John
I was not tring to be critical, just safe. I have had to climb over, under, and around cabinets to work on electrical systems.
I joined the Army as a 51R, interior electrician. When I got out I thought I know it all, boy I was wrong. If there is a slow and methodical way it is the Army way. This left me primed for union work, untill things got slow. Earned my Electrical License, and never looked back.

-- So Many tools, So little time

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