Saturday, November 27, 2010

Retrospective On Woodworking

It's been about 6 months since I started woodworking and now it is time to take a serious look at where I want this hobby to take me. At the start, I was taking it very casually but over the past two months I've been testing myself more seriously to see how much I would enjoy doing it. I took a woodworking class and then started on a much more ambitious project of building a walnut/maple computer desk starting with rough milled lumber and taking it all the way to completion. The process has taught me a lot about woodworking, how I work and how I want to work in the future.

When I started, I researched a lot on how other woodworkers' work flow, tools, and techniques. One of the things I realized is that it is really important to understand yourself and how you work. Imitating others is a good start point, but pretty quickly I found that I work better in certain ways then others. For example, in building the workbench I researched what are important attributes for it based on other people's experience, but when I started to use the bench myself, I realize that I do things in certain ways that made me further modify the workbench to be more aligned with my workflow.

Similarly with buying tools, it's easy to pick up "tools you need for woodworking" lists from hundreds of sources and then spend $20k buying everything, but the result is likely that even though those tools are all very useful you might end up not using many of them at all because that's not your work style. One list might suggest a jack plane, but what if you discover that you're more a power tool guy? Ultimately, I found it best to follow the path of "buy it when you need it", but I fully sympathize the lure of wanting to buy those neat tools regardless of need.

Initially, I really didn't experience any frustration with woodworking since my projects were pretty basic. I had to tackle a hard project so I can experience the negative side of things in order to decide whether I like the hobby. I can honestly say that I enjoy woodworking, but don't like to be doing it under time pressure.

I love the feeling of coming up with an idea and being able to go to the garage and try it out instead of keeping it inside until I can find time to go to the shop. I don't like the saw dusts and messiness of the garage. I do like a mixture of hand tools and power tools, and more then anything else I like the feeling of being able to build something for my family.

End of Week 17: Thanksgiving

Being as it was Thanksgiving week there weren't as much progress this week. It was also cold and wet outside so I didn't bother to take any new pictures of the rough electrical that was put in. Fortunately, since we passed inspection last week, the roof is now covered so that winter weather won't be stopping the interior work that will be started on next week.

I have been thinking and researching what I'd like to do with the garage. Since I started woodworking, I have a greater interest in the garage and setting it up as workshop in addition to using it as a storage space and parking the car. The new garage will offer a lot more wall space then what I have now so I want to take advantage of it and the high ceiling will allow me to utilize some of the overhead hanging shelves for even more storage space.

I would also like to have something besides the cold concrete flooring that is typical of garages. The hard floor is not friendly to the feet and the tools and also tends to get ugly over time as oil spills on it and cracking occurs so garage floor tiles might be an option. It seems like it is also something that I can install myself before anything is put into the garage.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

End of Week 16: Electrical and Plumbing

The plumber and electrician continues to work on the rough plumbing and electrical while the roofing is being completed. We've walked through the house with the electrician to verify the placement of the various electrical outlets as well as going through the shop drawings for the kitchen cabinets.

A lot of details with the house are starting to become more apparent especially with lighting.

Before the skylight openings:







Saturday, November 13, 2010

End of Week 15: "It's starting to look like a house!"

The pace of things have picked up significantly since the arrival of the roof trusses and a lot of activity can be found at the site as well as the ringing of the cash register draining more funds. ^^;

With the trusses up, the crew have started to put up the wall sheathing and roofing. The electrician has been on-site to plan out the rough electrical and soon the plumber will also be out to prepare to do the rough plumbing.

I've been ordering the networking stuff in preparation for running the data/telephone/video wiring which will happen once the electrician and plumber is done and before we put up the drywall.







Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 14: Roof Trusses!!!

Roof trusses arrived and the roof is going up. Should have the trusses and the plywood sheathing on the wall this week.


Mobile Tool Tote

I decided to leverage my newly built workbench and build something to organize my tools. I have a small Craftsman tool bag that I was using to hold all my tools, drill bits, etc. but it was becoming too small. Small parts would sink to the bottom where I'd have to dig around to find what I needed. Overall, things were getting pretty disorganized.

  • Mobility: I wanted more then a simple toolbox, but still mobile and portable. The wheels allows me to easily tilt the tote and roll it around the room and even up stairs if I needed to.

  • Step-stool: My workbench is also too high for my son so I wanted a step for him to be able to stand on.

  • Accessibility: One problem with organization storage is that they also required you to be organized and I'm not always organized. So I wanted things open that I can throw my stuff in when I'm in a hurry.I can easily reach in and grab the tools I need and just as easily put them back by just tossing them back in. The less used tool goes into the bottom shelf.

  • Portability: The back contains a compartment for holding the extension cord which I'll connect an outlet strip to so I can easily get access to some power.

So here is what I built:

tool tote

tool tote 2

tool tote back

I'm planning to make some holders for the sides for things like the drill bits, rulers, etc.

This project was inspired by an article I read on-line.