This entry by: Clayton 12 Oct 2009 01:16 am

Workshop up and running

I love working with wood.

I did a fair bit of woodwork in high school, and actually took out the woodworking prize in year 10, for a bedside table project I put together.  Still have the table, although it’s now looking a bit tired and battered in our hallway, but still intact.

After highschool, I started focusing on studies for a career.  Still did a bit of woodwork – during Uni I made a Backgammon board which I still have and very fond of. But then I started “life”.  Moved to Sydney and got a full time job. As part of the life change, I went from living in a house with a dedicated workshop, to a one bedroom flat, with, well, one bedroom.  And I spent pretty much the next ten years in similar digs. Opportunities for working with wood were very limited.  We had an office reshuffle while I was living in Manly and I built a shelf on the balcony for my new desk, but other than that, I didn’t have many opportunities or facilities to do anything creative with wood for the best part of 10 years.

It’s something I’ve really missed.  I spend my days at work staring at a screen most of the day.  The bulk of my work is spent with minor wrist and finger movements, as I try to develop solutions in the software we use, without using the mouse.  Most of my output from a work perspective is by its nature electronic.  You can’t pick it up and inspect it.  No-one is ever going to say “the corner between cell C6 and C7 is a bit rough”, as Excel has perfect corners.

Which is why I love the fact that we’re now living in a house, and I have a workshop.  It wasn’t a workshop when we moved in, it was a teenager’s bedroom.  The garage had a stud wall installed at the 3/4 mark, with the larger area being carpeted and having a bed and football posters (during the inspection). Thankfully, the love of my life was kind enough to not (a) not convert the garage back into a garage, and (b) allow me to convert the teen bedroom into a workshop.

And today, I can finally say that I have a workshop. Up until now, I’ve had workshop space, but it was always a bit of a “work in progress”. But today, I have all the bits and bobs that I can see me needing in the foreseeable future, they’ve all got a good home in the workshop, I’ve got vacuum systems in place to protect me from dust hazards, and have started my first “proper project” (first “project” was to build a workbench so I could then build something “useful”.  Apparently the bench doesn’t fall into that category…)!

Main workbench

Main workbench

My main workbench, built the bulk of it outside, moved inside for final assembly with the worktop.  Still need to fit the quick release vice, and the “bench dog”, but otherwise my first completed woodworking job in the last 10 years.

P1010524 Main workbench is on the left, with my secondary workbench ahead.  It’s a cheap and nasty thing from the local hardware store, but it was so cheap it was a good deal, despite the low quality.  Still populating the peg-board.

Flooring

Flooring

A member of the ACT Woodworkers Guild was downsizing, and needed to get rid of a few things from his workshop as he didn’t have room at the new digs.  One of the things on the “get rid of” list were these lumps of flooring.  Weren’t always flooring, and in fact aren’t sold as flooring.  They’re actually conveyor belts from mining sites which are past their prime – they get carved up into manageable bits and sold off.  Rubber outsides, with a compressed cotton inside, makes for a pretty robust and also tool-friendly floor surface.

P1010525

Purchased this table saw off Dad when he upgraded to some VERY fancy gear.  For what I’m doing though, this is a great bit of kit.  Used it for the first time today, and very pleased with the results. P1010526

This is the router table, based on a Triton Mk3 table with a router top that Dad put together – the Triton top was Ok, but wasn’t great.  I managed to get my hands on a Triton router on Ebay (very limited availability due to multiple takeovers), and after only a couple of hours use, I’m a big fan. P1010527

And then there’s the drill press.  Another hand-me-down, I’ve mounted this onto the old frame of our first BBQ when we move to Aus. P1010531

The ACT Working With Wood show was on at Exhibition Park In Canberra (EPIC) about a month ago, I purchased a Givkin dovetail jig, despite not owning a router which is kind of a requirement for using the jig.  Picked up a router via  eBay a couple of weeks later, which is now fitted to the router table shown above.  This is my first crack at it.  There is room from improvement (on my part – I was a bit stingy on the depth setting, resulting in joints a bit shy instead of a touch proud – I also managed to create dovetails about 1/2 mm thick, which are a touch flimsy…  .These are the sort of things you gain through experience…), but other than the measurement errors, the joints are fantastic.

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