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Garage and Tools

BLACK+DECKER Giveaway and How to Install a Window Valance

Posted by John on June 13th, 2016

(This post is sponsored by BLACK+DECKER, but the content and the opinions expressed here are my own)

black and decker giveaway

So it’s been a while since my last blog post, mostly because I’ve been hard at work on CabinetsfromScratch.com.  If I’m not writing blog posts, it usually means I’m not working on the house.  Consequently, my honey-do list for projects is nearing a mile long and I had to knock out something this weekend or I’d feel like a total bum.  Luckily, Lisa had purchased a window valance some time ago and we decided to finally hang those up.

I’m not going to write out a long how-to for this project since it’s incredibly simple.  However, I will point out that my new BLACK+DECKER 20V drill made this project go smoothly.  I’m not being compensated to write a glowing review of it, but I will say this drill is light, well balanced and feels comfortable to hold and use.

We started this weekend’s quick project with a basic, undecorated double window in our oldest daughter’s room.

window without valance

This valance comes with three brackets that get installed into the wall just above and outside the window opening.  I’ll use a pencil to mark the bracket holes and then I’ll pre-drill them using a drill bit with a diameter slightly smaller than the screw diameter.  I was lucky enough to hit the wall studs when I located my brackets.  If you don’t hit studs, then you need to use molly bolts to hold the fasteners in place.

black and decker drill

After the first bracket was installed, I used a long level to locate the next two brackets.  A couple of screws later and we were done.

window valance

Boy that was an exhausting weekend. 🙂

So the good folks at BLACK+DECKER are giving away one (1) 20V Lithium Drill/Driver AND one (1) 20V circular saw to one of my readers.  

Here’s how to enter the giveaway.

  1.  Check out the BLACK+DECKER Drill/Driver here.
  2.  Leave a comment at the end of this blog post telling me what you’d do with the drill if you win the giveaway.

That’s it.  Check out their product, leave a comment and BOOM, you’re entered.  Piece of cake.  The giveaway starts immediately and ends on 11:59 June 27, 2016.

If you’ve never left a comment before, here’s the basics.

  1.  Scroll to the bottom of the post.
  2.  If you have a Disqus account you can log-in to leave a comment.  You can also log-in to your Facebook or Google+ account to leave a comment.
  3.  If you don’t have a Disqus account, click on the small box that says “I’d rather comment as a guest.”

how to comment

    Enter your name (you don’t have to use your real name) and your email address.

how to comment 2

    Leave your comment.

A couple of quick notes.  The actual content of your comment isn’t relevant to the giveaway.  The winner will be drawn at random.  I’m not picking a winner based on what you write.  Got it.  Good.

Good luck everybody!

 

 

Posted in Garage and Tools,Giveaways. Tagged in ,, ,

Miter Saw Stand Plans

Posted by John on October 6th, 2015

This weekend I’m going to start filming my new course on how to build kitchen cabinets.  As part of the preparation for that project, I decided to add a much-needed miter saw stand to my workbench inventory.  Having a miter saw stand is a huge convenience and while you don’t absolutely need one, it makes your workshop life a lot easier, especially when you add the Kreg Top Trak gear.

The plans for this miter saw are available for free to our newsletter subscribers. 

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Here’s some pictures of the recently completed project.  It took my about three 2-hour nights to start and finish this project completely.

miter saw stand

It’s a great entry-level project and the perfect warm-up to a cabinet build since it involves many of the same skills needed like cutting large sheets of plywood, pocket holes, circular saw work, router work, etc.

There’s a lot of room for improvement and upgrades with this particular stand.  There’s a lot of wasted space beneath the top, which you can use to install some drawers or a lower shelf.  All of those upgrades I’ll eventually get to myself, but for now, this setup will work just fine.

I recently shot an instructional video demonstrating how to build this exact saw and you can check it out here:

(If you can’t see the preview window, click here to be directed directly to YouTube)

This saw was built from the following materials (affiliate links):

Here are some other close up pictures of the stand.

1 img miter saw stand

2 img side feed

6 img groove

3 img kreg stop

So far, I’m liking this saw stand much, much better than my previous portable stand.

Remember to sign-up to get access to these plans today!

Posted in DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Designing a Miter Saw Station

Posted by John on September 22nd, 2015

In our last post, we discussed our need for a new miter saw station.  In this post, we’re going to take our list of requirements and come up with a basic design.

Miter saw station design

Whenever I start a new woodworking project like a cabinet build, I usually start out by drawing a sketch of what I think it should look like and then make changes and redraw it.  Once I’m happy with how it looks, I can either come up with a dimensioned parts list or make a 3D drawing in SketchUp.

Here’s my pencil sketch.

miter saw stand design

In my pencil drawing, there are two tables.  The top one was my first design.  It’s a pretty straightforward miter saw station with a narrow workbench top that has two boxes on either side of the saw.  One of our fellow Facebook group users posted a similar picture (Peter G) and it also looks a lot like that Shanty2Chic model.  If you like this design, go for it.  It’s a smart option if you already don’t have a workbench or two, but it will require some extra plywood for both the top and the boxes.  Since I already have a couple dedicated workbenches, I came up with another option, which is the bottom drawing.

The option I’m going with will feature a narrow work surface with an integrated fence and a recess where the saw will sit to flush it up with the work top.  While this setup will complicate the design a bit, it should be a pretty useful station.

After I finished my pencil sketch of the table, I drew it up in SketchUp.  By drawing it in a 3D CAD program, it allowed me to see some areas of the design that I hadn’t fully thought through.  It’s like building the table before you even buy the parts.  It’s a helpful exercise.

Here’s what that drawing looks like.  And no, I didn’t have to draw the saw.  SketchUp has a great model library where you can import drawings made by other people.

miter saw stand

If you’re in our Facebook group, you would have already seen this image.  The table is made completely out of plywood and it will feature some caster wheels for easy moving around my basement shop.

From this image, I was able to dimension every single part.  I’d give you that parts list now, but I want to verify it first.  You never know.  Once in a while even I make a mistake (no, no I don’t).  😉

Later this week, I’m going to run out and purchase the material.  I should have it ready for a post next week.

See you then.

Posted in DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , ,

Next Project: Miter Saw Station

Posted by John on September 13th, 2015

I need a miter saw station.  Badly.  So much so that I’ve decided to build one.  In this post, I’m going to talk about all the different features I’d like to incorporate into my new miter saw station and why you need one too.

Miter Saw Station

***Over the course of the next few months, I’m going to be posting a lot about cabinet construction.  At the end of that series, I’m going to launch a new video course on building kitchen and built-in cabinets.  Today is the first post in this series and it’s about miter saw stations.***

I’m on my third miter saw.  I bought my first one back in 2003 right after I bought my first house.  It was a 10″ Rigid model with a dual bevel feature.  Worked great.  I didn’t have a miter saw stand back then.  I made all of my miter cuts by simply resting the miter saw on the floor or on a table.  Mostly the floor.  It made for sore joints the day after a lot of trim work.  Eventually, I bought a delta miter saw stand and it was a huge improvement.  No more bending over a million times during my projects.

After the Rigid model broke down, I moved onto a used 10″ sliding model from Makita and now I’m on a DeWalt 10″ sliding saw, which I bought new.  No plans to change saws anytime soon, although the DeWalt isn’t perfect.

While I was building my home office remodel, I noticed that there were a few cuts that I was making over and over again.  To make those cuts, I had to measure the wood and make the cut each time.  If I had a miter saw station with a stop, I could measure once and then cut as many pieces as I’d like.  A stop would streamline the process.

When you’re building one cabinet, having steps in the build process to speed things up isn’t a huge deal.  When you’re building a room full of cabinets, those time saving steps are critical.  More importantly, they insure consistency from one piece to the next.

My current miter saw stand is nice and if you’re not interested in building a miter saw station, then at least consider purchasing a portable stand.  However, if you want to have a dedicated station to improve your miter saw cuts, then you need to build a miter saw station.

Here are a few miter saw stations I found by searching Pinterest.

shanty2chic miter saw table

(The Shanty2Chic Model)

This particular model has a 2×4 base with a simple, plywood fence assembled with some pocket screws.  The miter saw is offset to the right side of the table, allowing for longer pieces to lay on the left side of the saw.  I really like the approach here.  The base is wide open for tool storage and it has wheels so it can be maneuvered around the shop.

miter saw station 2

(Lumberjocks)

This next model from Lumberjocks is more of a traditional woodworkers miter saw station.  It’s very well-built.  You can tell by looking at some of the photos that a lot of time and care was taken while constructing this piece.  I don’t want to spend that much time on this project, but I like some of the features of this table.  It has a measuring tape and stop installed along the fence, which I’ll want to incorporate into my design.

miter saw station fixed

(Lumberjocks)

This last version is permanently fixed to a shop wall and features a super helpful set of storage drawers as well as a dust collection chamber.  While I’d prefer mine to be mobile, I love the simplicity of this design.

Now that we’ve looked at a few designs, I can start drawing out what kind of miter saw station I want.  Here’s a list of the key features I’d like my station to incorporate.

  • Mobile base for moving it around the shop
  • Fence with measuring tape and cut stop
  • Storage for tools or other shop supplies
  • Simple base design
  • Complete plywood construction

I think I can come up with something that includes all of those items.

In my next miter saw station post, I’ll show you a drawing of what I’m thinking.

See you then!

 

 

Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

Shoe Organizer Projects on Hometalk

Posted by John on January 23rd, 2015

Happy Friday!

In today’s post I wanted to share with you a collection of shoe organizer projects I’ve curated on Hometalk.com.  Each of these projects are available for viewing on my Shoe Organizer Clipboard on Hometalk.

If you don’t already have a free user account at Hometalk, I’d recommend you sign up for one.  You’ll be able to post your own projects or questions and comments to other user’s work.  It’s a great resource for DIYers.

Here’s the shoe organizer project collection:

shoe organizer projects

 

Have a great weekend and we’ll be back next weekend with more shop work!!

 

Posted in Closets,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , ,

Video: What’s a Jointer ?

Posted by John on January 11th, 2015

In this post, you’ll learn:

– About jointers
– How to use a jointer for tighter seams in your projects

jointer

If you’re just getting started with some basic woodworking projects, you may have heard about or seen a jointer. While it’s not terribly common for DIYers to own one, it’s a pretty useful tool to have in your shop.  You can pick one up used fairly inexpensively or opt for a bench top model.  You can see the models I recommend on our Tools Page.

Here’s a quick video I put together that demonstrates how a jointer works.

(Direct link to the video)

I’ve personally used my jointer sparingly, but it was vital on a few projects.  If you ever want to use rough cut wood from a lumber yard instead of the local hardware store, then you’ll definitely need one.

Here are some larger shots of the reclaimed pine boards I jointed.   In the first photo, you can see the joint between the two boards is fairly visible.

visible-seam

After a few passes through the jointer, that edge gets cleaned up enough that it’s virtually invisible.  The only way you can tell where one board meets the next is by the grain pattern.

no-seam

I hope this post and video helps you get a better idea of how to use this tool.

Any jointer questions?

Posted in Garage and Tools,Videos. Tagged in ,, , ,

Office Cable Management

Posted by John on December 16th, 2014

In this post, you’ll learn:

– How to organize your office cables with inexpensive hardware
– Tips for using a hole saw for large diameter holes

Now that we’ve actually been using our new home office for a few weeks, we’re starting to really enjoy the space.  On top of that, we’ve noticed a few areas that aren’t quite as functional as we’d like them and in this post, you’ll see how we fixed those issues.

Office Cable Management

Let’s start with the biggest issue so far: cable clutter.

office cable management before

There’s a simple reason for this mess:  the closest outlet for the computer, printer and paper shredder is inside the cabinets.  There’s an outlet in each one, so we have to run the cables into the cabinets from the front.

cabinet outlet

The outlet locations were intentional.  I wanted to make sure they were inside the cabinet and not under the desk.  If they were under the desk, then I’d have cables more visible from the room entrance and I didn’t think that would be very attractive.  I also didn’t want to loop the cables from under the desk onto the top of it.

So here’s what we did.

I pulled out my 2-1/8″ hole saw and drilled some holes.

hole saw

If you’ve never used a hole saw, I recommend the ones where there’s a longer center drill bit in the middle.  It allows you to locate your hole more accurately without the bit wandering around as these bits tend to do.

When you use a hole saw bit, it helps if you try to wobble the drill a little as you push down.

drilling large hole

Once the hole is drilled, I’ll pop in one of these desktop cable organizers (affiliate link).  Actually called a grommet.

desk cable organizer

The grommet gets held in place with a little adhesive caulk, but if I used a 2″ sized hole saw like I should have, it wouldn’t need the glue.  It would fit snuggly without it.

After the hole is drilled, the hole saw will look like this:

wood plug

You’ll have a wood plug in the drill that you’ll need to remove.  The hole saw actually has these small slits in the side where you can stick a flat head screw driver and pop the plug out from behind.  You can also run the drill in reverse and tap on the side of the bit.  Either works.

In addition to the grommet in the desktop, I added one to the side of each built-in cabinet.

white cable cover

These side grommets will allow me to run my desktop cable into the cabinet.  It’s also perfect for our paper shredder.

under desk after

Inside the cabinet, I mounted a power strip with a built-in surge protector.

power strip

So now our office cable situation is under control.

office cable organized

Much, much better.

Thanks for reading.  If you like our office remodel series, including this post, please share on social media.  Later this week I’m going to give you the details for what we have in store for 2015.

Posted in DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, ,

Introduction to the Thickness Planer

Posted by John on August 26th, 2014

In this post you’ll learn:

– How to use a thickness planer
– Why you should consider using one
– The difference between rough cut lumber and S4S

Back in 2005 when I was building my first set of kitchen cabinets, I made an impulsive purchase and bought a used thickness planer I found on Craigslist.  I had heard from numerous carpenters in online forums that by purchasing rough stock instead of the ready-to-use wood from the big hardware store, I would save a lot of money.  It ended up working out in my favor.  When the cabinets were finally completed and installed, I estimated I probably spent around $2k-$3k for all of the lumber and hardware for the kitchen cabinets.  That number may have been a few hundred dollars higher if I bought all of my lumber from Lowes or Home Depot.

The key to saving that money was the thickness planer.  Without it, I would’ve had to purchase more expensive and often lower quality lumber.

Here’s a video I just put together where I explain the basics of using a thickness planer. If you’ve never used one or frankly, have never even heard of a thickness planer, then it’s worth a quick watch. It could potentially save you money on your next carpentry project.

An Introduction to the Thickness Planer

Link to the video is also here.

Key Takeaways

– Thickness planers can cut wood either on the face side or on an edge of a board
– S4S means Sanded Four Sides and is the finished wood available for purchase at most large home improvement stores
– Rough cut lumber is generally cheaper per board foot compared to S4S lumber
– S4S is more expensive and can also contain major imperfections like bows or curves
– Boards you plan on planing should initially be cut wider or thicker than the finished width or thickness desired
– Plan on running a board through the planer 3 or 4 times.
– You can adjust the amount of material being removed in each pass with an adjustment knob
– I use the DeWalt Model 734 (affiliate) and it’s on my Tool Recommendations page

Here’s a picture that illustrates the point further.

planed board

The board on the left has just been cut with a table saw and has a fair amount of imperfections including raised, uneven surfaces and saw marks. It would take a LOT of sanding or hand planing to clean that edge up OR a few passes through the thickness planer.  The board on the right has just finished a few passes through the thickness planer and it looks clean and perfect.

Here’s the bottom line. If you are seriously getting into wood working and have some larger projects coming up or plan on working with reclaimed wood, then consider purchasing a thickness planer.  If you are mainly into smaller projects and are just an occasional woodworker, then you’ll probably survive without one.

Any questions?

Posted in Carpentry,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Table Saw Basics

Posted by John on August 10th, 2014

This week I’m back in the shop continuing to make progress on our home office built-ins.  So far I’ve got all the hardwood cut to width and length.  Next up will be a run through the thickness planer and then the router table.  If you recall, these cabinets are going to get a bead detail on the face frames.  It’s the first time I’ve ever attempted this technique and frankly, I’m a little nervous over how they’ll turn out.  It’s going to be a bit of a challenge.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I will be filming nearly all of the cabinet build for your viewing pleasure.  I hope when it’s all done you’ll get to see a quality video on cabinet construction.

In other news, I’ve put together a quick video on Table Saw Basics.  If you don’t yet own a table saw or you do but you’re not exactly sure how to use it, this video should be helpful.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video in the event the player isn’t visible.

This is not the first time I’ve discussed table saws.  Here’s a run down on most of our Table Saw related discussions.  This post then will sort of be a Table Saw Resource Page.

1.  My Tool Recommendations Page lists a couple different table saw options if you are in the market.

2.  The Table Saw Station we just built for my contractor grade table saw.

3.  An older post on What You Need to Know About Table Saws.  Worth reading along with the video.

4.  Thinking about buying a used table saw?  Not a bad idea.  Here are some tips for purchasing used power tools.

5.  In the video I mention grooves and dados.  Not familiar with those?  Check out this post and video.

I hope this post helps you get a better understanding of the table saw if you’ve never used one.  In our next video (probably next week) I’ll be showing you my thickness planer.  It’s loud and it’s awesome so you won’t want to miss it.

Oh and last month our blog hit our 3 year anniversary.  Not a big deal at this point, but I’m going to put a post together discussing my thoughts on blogging now that we’re pretty experienced.

Thanks!

Now I want to hear from you.  If you are an experienced table saw user, what additional tips or advice do you recommend for novice woodworkers and DIYers?  What did I miss or what did I get wrong?  I honestly don’t mind negative feedback as long as it’s helpful and not mean spirited.  

If you haven’t yet used or bought a table saw, what questions do you have? 

 

Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , ,

An Intro to Routers and Router Tables

Posted by John on July 31st, 2014

Whenever I get a new newsletter subscriber, one of the first emails I send to them asks a basic question.  “What would you like to see”?  Recently, I’ve gotten at least a dozen replies specifically asking for more information on routers.  Most express an interest in simply learning the basics about them.

So, I’ve finally gotten around to filming this brief intro to routers and router tables.

I’ll be using both my router AND my router table when we make the built-ins for our home office remodel.  The face frames on the cabinets will feature a bead, which will be done with the beading bit and the joints for the doors will be made on the router table instead of the table saw.

(link to video here)

Here’s what you’ll see in this video:

– An overview of routers, collets and router bits
– Discussion on router speeds and bit sizes
– Explanation of router bases: plunge vs. fixed
– Using the fixed base router
– My router table
– Using the router table (link to the free plans)

If you’ve never used a router yet and you’re not even sure what one does or where you’ll use one, I can tell you it’s a skill and a tool worth learning.  Around our home, we’ve used the router and the router table on a number of projects.

Like our window sills in the dining room…

make a window sill

Or the cap on our wainscotingIMG_4240-1024x682

 

OR the grooves in our custom TV stand

groove with a router

 

After you’ve watched the video, I’d love to hear how you’ve used your router if you own one.  If you don’t yet own a router, what project do you would use it on?  If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below.

And how about that animation??  Just had it done!

 

Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,, , , ,

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