I’ve spent the last couple weeks working out the details for several projects to improve our shop here at the magazine. It’s a nice space, but like many wood shops, quick fixes tend to become permanent fixtures. There are a number of areas we’d like to make more convenient, and we have several machines and work areas that need attention. Keep your eye on this blog and the magazine this spring and summer for a detailed look at how we solve some common shop problems.
This is the material for one of the projects. Being from frugal stock, I tend to look for the least expensive way to build things. Last Friday, this stack was 20 “pre-cut” 2 by 4s from the local Home Depot. At $2.38 a piece, the cost of this stuff is about 45 cents a board foot. The price is right, but the moisture content isn’t , it’s way too wet to be workable. As this reaches equilibrium moisture content with our shop environment it will twist and warp. If I worked with it right away, my project would bend and twist as the wood dried. I’ve cut the pieces to a rough length, and I’ve stacked them with stickers to allow air to circulate around the wood. I’m going to monitor the moisture content, comparing it to pieces that have been in the shop for a long time. In two or three weeks it should be dry and then I’ll pretend it’s rough lumber and mill it straight and square.
While we’re waiting for the lumber to dry, let’s consider these questions: What do you use for a bench when you’re building a bench? What do you put your machines on so you can use them to build permanent stands for them? Several readers wrote about the stands and beams that I used as a work surface in my last blog post. These were the subject of an article in the fourth issue of our sibling publication, Woodworking Magazine. Drawings and instructions for putting them together are in the article. The idea is that the boxes can be used at any of three different heights. The beams span the boxes and provide a level, straight surface. In the photo above, they’re holding our sliding compound miter saw.
Here the boxes have been turned to a lower height to serve as a stand for a portable planer. We also use this configuration as a low assembly table. If the boxes are turned one more time it makes an even lower platform. This works well for putting together larger or taller pieces, or for cutting full sheets of plywood to a manageable size. The boxes and beams provide a level surface, and it takes very little time to set these up. A couple well-placed screws will hold it all together, and when we don’t need it, the pieces stack in the corner out of the way.
They’re also handy when break time comes.
Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.