Ted’s essays

table saw, router table upgrade

My OLD, second-hand Ryobi table saw was the weak link in my workshop. Since I use the heck out of it, and the safety, ergonomics and power were all marginal, I finally brought that tool up to my shop standard. That, of course, necessitated construction of a new stand. This time I wanted to integrate my router so I could quit having to bring it out to set up every time I wanted to use it – a diversionary task that often had me selecting a plane, files and lots of sanding rather than going through the router setup and take-down chores.

Better still, rather than having my router clamped on top of my 900-pound 3/4″-thick steel metal-work table, it could share heights with the table saw and the steel out table… at a much nicer working height.

My new Makita is a wonderful modern table saw with plenty of power and slick ergonomics. I can lift my router out of the pockets I made for its feet, set it aside and pull the Makita table extension out for a 25″ rip width if desired. I figured that would be rare, but I had to engineer my setup so it would be reasonably convenient.

The yellow boxes are to receive wood scraps from milling operations of the table saw or my other cutting, shaping tools. I’m always having some container or other kicking around for that purpose, and having a pair that take up ZERO floor space is a nice improvement. The wood heater is happy to digest the contents, and I have bulk storage options under cover outside for summertime excesses.

I planned from the outset that this project would have drawers rather than shelves. The space on the right accidentally turned out to be just right for three of my old Soil Food boxes that I have been dragging around through seven moves in 26 years. I built a stack of them in 1994 to contain 4 1-gallon pails that held 15 pounds of my rock powder fertilizer facilitating transportation to nurseries I was wholesaling to in 11 SF-Bay-Area counties.

My Soil Food corporation hired my daughters to paint them so the boxes would last. As was my standard, artistic license was encouraged, thus the flower panels my little girls put on warranted preservation while I updated the pant elsewhere. Angle iron rails with a coat of rattle-can paint was quick, easy and works fine as my expedient drawer suspension system.

Typical Ted is in such a hurry to get to The Project that my tool setups are quite often a bit sketchy. This time I was determined to Do It Right. Once I had all the sawdust producers and dust collector set exactly where I wanted them, I plumbed the dust collection system in as short, sweet and straight as I could. The extra, convoluted piping had been awkward, ugly and, as it turns out, I had lost a lot of suction to it. This new setup sucks sawdust remarkably better than it ever had for me before.

Another switcheroo for me was to treat myself to bright, cheerful paint. While adding days to any project, the neat, colorfulness makes my shop a lot more attractive and time spent there just a bit more fun. During this recent re-do I also improved the wiring to provide outlets where I wanted them rather than where they just happened to land with materials conveniently at hand.

The north (right-hand) side is still mostly designed by prior occupants. The little bits of paint are dull and four-foot-wide shelves may have been convenient to build, and store A TON of stuff, but half of everything on those shelves is hidden from view and hard to get at. I’ll be giving that space a makeover soon … pretty sure it will happen this year.

The south side, on the other hand, is probably going to stay much like it is today. Improvements I can imagine are just not worth a great deal of effort in the big scheme of things. I have at least two years’-worth of projects already on my ToDo list, and none of them relate to the left bank here.

You might notice the pegboard on the west wall. That is rather new too. It was a couple full sheets I found kicking around here, damaged by water and rough handling, but I was able to trim down to a couple of decent pieces. I put plastic on the frame behind them to minimize insect homing through the holes.

They were so old and ugly that unpainted was not an option. What the heck? I had to dispose of it somehow, and it does turn out to be handy for odds and ends that might otherwise get lost on a shelf or in a drawer. A little pegboard painting tip: use a roller. My first expediently brushed-on coat went through the little holes A LOT.