Curved Socket Organizers

This is a project that took 2 years to come to fruition. I always get into an organization kick at the start of each year, and it looks like I started thinking about this in January 2019. Apparently organizing my socket drawers didn’t take top priority, so this idea has just been sitting on the sidelines ever since. Here’s a peak at the finished product:

I wanted a socket organizer that didn’t waste a lot of space, nested well in my drawers, was portable, and most importantly was marked with high visibility numbers. I think I’ve hit most of my targets. My last step is to come up with my preferred color combination to identify metric and SAE tools. Red/Blue, Red/Gray, Red/Black…. I’m not sure on that one yet.

It took me a long time to finally come up with the curved shape I settled on. I usually think in straight lines, not curves, so this was harder for me than it should have been. A lot of the time spent on this project was time learning Fusion 360 and Inkscape. I use both programs, and am learning the benefits of each. For the laser, Inkscape is the program I use and it took a bit of time to try to make a scaled ‘CAD’ style 2D layout.

I picked up a CNC “K40” laser cutter at the start of the Coronavirus lockdowns and have had some fun learning to use it. I decided this would be a perfect way to use up some scrap wood and make a useful project at the same time, so I decided to try this on the laser instead of the CNC router. You can see my cardboard ‘fixture’ that I use to locate the wood and my preferred work holding solution: masking tape. I don’t want parts blowing around from the air assist.

Here’s some of the first parts out of the laser. I’m doing a test fit. As you can see, I’m having some issues with getting a clean cut all the way through this plywood. I did 2 passes at 5mm/s, 70% power. Additional. passes didn’t seem to help.

Here’s the metric and SAE tray cutouts I made, along with the old socket tray I was using to hold these sockets.

I ended up making 3 pieces: A top piece with numbers engraved, a middle piece with the same holes but no numbers, and a bottom piece with no holes.

The 3 layers were then glued together with wood glue. This was a bit messy. Super Glue / Cyanoacrylate glue might be a better choice here. I may try that in the future.

Here’s the parts after glue-up and with a bit of sanding to remove most of the char from the laser. This is the one thing I don’t like about the laser, but I think it’s a necessary evil.

And finally, some action shots in the the toolbox!

Portable Wooden Toolbox

I’m more excited than I should be about this simple box.

This box is a first for me. I harvested the wood for this from a log, sawed it on my own bandsaw, dried it for about a year, then turned it into something useful. Probably a big waste of time, but man does it fulfill some primal urges for a woodworker!

The wood that was harvested was a dead ash tree, which was killed by the emerald ash borer. Rather than becoming firewood or mulch, it became a finished good. I needed a toolbox for my new camper to house some random tools and stack nicely, so a rectangular wooden box was the perfect fit. The ash was milled to approximately 1/2″ thick and box-jointed, with dadoes for a plywood top and bottom.

I then put some 1/2″ dividers glued to the bottom/sides to stiffen the bottom, because this will be holding about 30 pounds of steel tools. Finally I put in some 2″ deep ash boxes for additional organization on the top layer. The box is 5″ tall on the outside, ~4″ tall on the inside, with 2 layers each 2″ deep.

To speed up the build I just rabbeted the upper boxes, and used a 1/4″ rabbet in the bottom to inset the plywood floor. All joints are glued, no nails. Right now the only finish is boiled linseed oil, though I might put a coat of lacquer on it later.

Both ends feature the same engraving, done on my K40 laser. Artwork was made in Inkscape.

Ryobi 10 Planer Dust Collection

After years of just letting the planer chips fall on the floor and sweeping them up afterwards, I decided it was time to find a way to connect my planer to my dust collector. This came in the middle of a project when I had to stop working and sweep up the pile of chips because I could no longer reach my bandsaw.

I’m using this as a kickoff for improving the dust collection in my entire workspace and I’ll be documenting my journey along the way.

Right now I have a Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collector, and it has been connected to my table saw most of the time. It was a good addition, but my table saw was not the primary offender of making large quantities of chips. Here’s my list of chip producers that I need to add or improve dust collection to:

  • Jointer
  • Bandsaw
  • Router Table
  • Miter Saw
  • Belt Sander(s)
  • Biscuit Jointer

Once I tackle the large task of hooking everything up to dust collection, I will then focus on improving the separation of my dust collector by making it a 2-stage unit, likely with a Dust Deputy or similar cyclone and probably replacing the inflatable bag with an actual filter to cut down on the fine dust, not just the wood chips.

Enjoy the video of my DIY planer chip collector and stay tuned for more updates on these as I try to improve the cleanliness of the garage!

Live Edge Maple Serving Tray

This was a fast project just in time for the holidays. My wife saw some unique live edge serving trays and wanted one, so I quickly went out to the garage and started working. Since I didn’t have a saw with more than 5″ of cut capacity at the time, I used a handsaw and a sawzall to resaw 2 slices out of a 2″ thick slab of ambrosia I had. This turned out to be a much harder task than I thought, because I couldn’t effectively clear the chips from the cut. It probably took close to an hour to make this cut, which eventually led me to purchase a much larger bandsaw, my Grizzly 17″ G0513X2BF. But that’s a different story.

The finshed live edge tray, as a centerpiece for Christmas dinner

Since this was such a quick project, I don’t have many pictures during the build. After sawing, the pieces went through the planer to smooth them out, then LOTS of sanding. I finished them with multiple coats of Howard Butcher Block Conditioner until they would soak up no more.

Spalted Boxelder Logs Into Lumber

I’m immediately putting the new bandsaw to work cutting up some spalted box elder firewood into useful boards. Take a look at it cutting away with the 1″, 2/3 TPI bimetal bandsaw blade from Detroit Bandsaw.

Split piece of firewood

This split piece of firewood shows the beautiful red spalting of a box elder tree. Similar to ambrosia maple, damage to this tree results in unique spalting with a beautiful red and pink color.

Simple guide for the first cut

Screwing a simple piece of plywood to the edge of the log allows a stable base and a straight line for the initial cut. All other cuts can be referenced to this one.

Work in progress
Need dust collection!

You can see the massive amounts of sawdust that can pile up if you don’t have a dust collector hooked up.

Pushing the limits

The 12″ resaw capacity was put to the test. I found that it could be increased to almost 13″ if the blade guard was removed. There is also room for almost 1″ more if some of the shielding is improved.

Detroit Bandsaw Blades

I quickly found the limits of the stock blade on my G0513X2BF bandsaw, and realized I needed something a bit better. I live in the greater Detroit area, and found Detroit Bandsaw has some really good prices on what looked like a quality blades. After a couple of phone calls, I confirmed that I could pick the blades up in person and save shipping, so I decided to order 2 to try out.

Grizzly Blade (Dusty) and the 2 new bimetal blades

I chose to go with their bimetal blades, even though the conventional knowledge is that carbon steel is good enough for wood. My thoughts: HSS will last longer than carbon steel, so I bought their bimetal blades because they were nearly identical price to the carbon steel. Pricing was about $35 each, which is a great price for an American made bimetal blade. Most others I found were in the $50+ Range for the size I need.

1" 2/3 TPI Blade for Ripping & Resawing
1″ 2/3 TPI Blade for Ripping & Resawing

I ordered blades exactly to the 131 1/2″ length recommended by Grizzly (10′, 11.5″) and waited a couple of days for the call to go pick them up. I chose a 1″ blade 2/3 tooth meant for ripping/resawing and a 1/4″ 6TPI hook blade for cutting curves. It looks like these are both Simonds brand blades. I was expecting an American made Morse M42 blade, but I think these will be similar quality. I believe these blades are also American made, in Massachusetts. I found this information on their website.

The 1″ blade is a Simonds Epic GP, and the 1/4″ is a Simonds Dieband. Take a look at the one incher on my saw. This thing is a beast!

1" Simonds Epic GP on Grizzly G0513X2BF
1″ 2/3 TPI Simonds Epic GP for resawing

I’ve been using these blades for about a month now and I’m liking both of them, although the 6TPI Hook blade may be a little aggressive for thin plywood. The 1″ 2/3 blade is a HUGE improvement over the stock Grizzly blade for resawing. I have resawn up to 6″ maple and 9″ cedar so far and each time the blade handles the cut well. I’m going to try out some larger cuts in hardwood, eventually making my way up to 12″ resaws in Maple if I can. Hopefully I’ll get good life and cut quality out of these bimetal blades and not have to upgrade to the carbide tipped blades that are $$$$.

Early tests of the 1" blade
Turning Logs to lumber with the 1″ bimetal blade.

New Bandsaw

I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new bandsaw, and chose to go with the Grizzly G0513X2BF. I know, that’s a mouthful, but here’s the rundown of basic specs that led me to this direction:

  • 17″ diameter wheels
  • 12″ resaw height
  • Up to 1″ blade width
  • Foot Brake
  • Cast Iron Wheels
  • Cast Iron Trunnion
  • Cast Iron Fence
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Green Paint

There are many more specs out there, but these were the most important to me. I did a ton of internet research before this purchase, and happened across a coupon code from Will Walker. I believe the code was “Walker10” if you want to try it, but I think it ends early in 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7W_1kKVwlM&t=208s

While I’m nowhere nearly as thrilled with the saw as he is, I will say that I like it. The primary downside I see to this saw was the installed blade, which was mediocre at best. I’ll do plenty more reviews in the future, but I wanted to get started, so here’s my simple Pros/Cons list

Pros

12″ Resaw Capacity

Small Footprint

Good Power Motor

Inexpensive mobile base (Shop Fox D2057A)

1″ blade capacity

Easy Blade Change

LOTS of cast iron (table, fence….)

Solid Steel fence rail

Includes blade (mediocre)

Included Resaw Fence

Foot Brake (although this was an expensive add-on).

Table and fence are VERY flat and straight.

Cast Iron trunnion for strength

Cons

E-stop button feels cheap

Resaw capacity not easily increased with riser block

Mobile base isn’t a perfect match, lacks some aesthetics of other brands

Mobile base bolts interfere with lower door unless trimmed short

Door hinges get in the way slightly when changing 1″ blades

Fence indicator looks cheap, less accurate than some clear glass with lines.

No on-machine storage options for accessories such as the fence or resaw fence

Resaw fence is difficult to assemble.

No on-tool storage for accessories such as fence, resaw fence, and miter gauge

I narrowed my choices down between this saw and the Laguna 14BX saw, but ultimately chose this based on 2 factors: The Grizzly had the larger 17″ wheels, and it could tension a 1″ blade vs. the 3/4″ blade on the Laguna. I would have loved to find someplace that had both set up side by side and allowed hands-on testing, but I couldn’t find this locally so I ended up choosing based on watching LOTS of YouTube videos. Also, when hearing comments in forums, many people mentioned the poor support from Laguna after the sale. I have previous experience with Grizzly, and feel their support is pretty good.

The lack of on-tool storage bugs me, but perhaps I’ll find a way to put some brackets on there to store the fence and miter gauge when I’m not using them.

Stay tuned for more updates on this saw, but for now I’ll leave you with a picture or two!

Resawing a maple log into some slabs with a 1", 2/3 bimetal blade

Bungee Tie Down Organizer

I finally had some time to make it back out to the shop, and I’m going to focus on a category that has really been lacking in my life: organization. I’m starting small, but big things are on the way.

I have a lot of bungee style tie downs that I used to keep in a bucket or bag, but they always ended up extremely tangled. Here’s my first attempt at using a scrap piece of 1/4″ plywood to make an organizer. It’s so simple, it needs almost no explanation. It’s just simple “V” shapes cut into the edge of the board to allow the hooks to grip.

Bungee Strap Tie Down Organizer

My only recommendation is to not put sharp points on your “V”s. They poke you. Round them off, or at least leave about 1/2” of a flat.

Middle Tool Chest Riser

A long time ago I went looking for a middle tool chest riser for my short Husky toolchest, but I couldn’t find one. I did purchase 2 tool chest risers for my Craftsman tool chests, but they didn’t fit the Husky tool box. The upper Husky box was too wide to fit in the Craftsman middle riser. Undeterred, I chose to make my own, better riser.

This is the middle tool chest I have for my Craftsman tool chests, and I do like it. It matches nicely, and is good enough quality. However… I don’t like the fact that it is not full depth. So the first thing I did with my middle chest was to make a box that was the full depth of my lower tool chest. I then promptly filled it with crap an went on to other projects for about a year. It turned into quite a disorganized, messy shelf looking something like this:

A messy middle tool chest riser

You can see that the space isn’t used efficiently at all, so all that “extra” space I got by making it full cabinet depth is wasted. Time to add some drawers! Since it is January, my mind is set on organizing, and one of the best ways I find to do this in the garage is to use up some scrap wood. All of the wood used for this was scrap left over from other projects. The only thing purchased were

Full Extension Drawer Slide in Action
Now let’s fill up that drawer!

These drawers used 3/4″ plywood for the sides and 1/2″ plywood for the bases. The first drawer I made used only glued and screwed butt joints. nothing fancy, and I kind of regret having the screw heads visible on the front. After seeing that, I decided to go with a bit of joinery for the rest of the drawers. I chose the blind rabbet joint because it is fast and easy to make with my table saw and router, plus it is super strong.

Blind Rabbet Drawer Glue-up
Second drawer in place

Once the other 2 drawers were in place, I got to work on handles. I had some scrap 1/2″ thick maple laying around that already had a 45 cut on it, so that seemed like a great starting point for a handle. I don’t like knobs that reach our and grab clothing, so all edges are mitered.

Scrap Maple for Handles
Mitering the Ends
Finished Handles
Handles Installed
Much more efficient use of space!

Ridgid R4512 Table Saw Outfeed Table

I finally got around to putting a folding outfeed table on my table saw. I’ve had this thing for over 3 years now, and an old Ryobi before that. This whole time I’ve been using either work supports or my rolling assembly table as my outfeed. I can’t believe I waited this long! I found a lot of good ideas on how to do this from searching the web, so I can’t say the design is all mine. However, I wanted it to be cheap, so I am using mostly scraps for it, although the table top is a pretty large sized scrap of Baltic Birch by most standards.

This is a pic of the mostly finished project. I have cut 3/4″ slots to line up with my miter slots on the table saw, and put 1 coat of boiled linseed oil (BLO) on it. I really like the color and depth that even 1 coat brings out.

This project started by finding the simplest way to attach, which in my opinion was to use standard door hinges on the back fence track. There is a slot underneath that easily accepts 5/16″ bolts.

There is a 2″ drop from the top of the table to the hinge, so I chose to use 1.5″ of wood to screw into, plus a 1/2″ baltic birch plywood top. This brought me right up to the same surface as the cast iron top. No fine tuning needed. If you need, though, a tiny pocket routed into your lumber could easily adjust this height if you happen to be less than 2″. I chose to laminate 2 scraps of plywood to make my 1.5″ board, then screw the Baltic Birch top onto that.

With the boards glued up, and a quick test fit, the length looked fine. I took it about 1.5″ inches from the floor by spacing it up with some scrap 2×4’s. Everything seemed to work fine, so I put 2 screws into each corner. The BB top is not glued in place, only screwed. I could remove/replace this top in the future if it gets really beat up. You can see I chose to use 3 hinges to attach to the aluminum rail. No calculations here, it just looked strong enough.

I ripped some other scrap plywood to a 1.5″ thickness and pocket screwed this to the perimeter to give the 1/2″ top some stiffness without adding a ton of weight.

Underneath, I also glued in 2 additional pieces of 3/4″ plywood to be in-line with the miter track slots. I wanted these here because the miter slots will be a minimum of 3/8″ deep into the 1/2″ birch top. In case I want to go deeper, there is already a support there to cut into. It also gives a good spot to attach the hinge for the support leg.

The support leg is a piece of Oak that was going to take a LOT of planing to clean up, so I used it for this. I wanted the strength of oak instead of plywood here. I slotted the oak and a mating piece of scrap plywood so I would have some adjustment.

Right now the leg is a fixed length once the bolts are tightened. I think I’m going to add a hinge with a lock in the middle to make everything fold away nicely, but for right now this is working. The support leg just sits into an L shaped wooden bracket I bolted to the base of the saw.