Tag Archives: shop

March Shop Tour

Another month gone buy, but only a bit of the changes in the shop have been completed. I had classes to teach and a project at work coming up on release, so I didn’t spend as much time cleaning up downstairs – yep the rec room is still way overloaded 🙂

Shop Cleanup – in progress

The work this past week, most of which was cleaning up, and removal of parts that needed either removed or replaced. About 30 minutes each evening was spent just lift-and-tote-ing.

Enjoy the time-lapse (shot with my iPhone using the built-in time-lapse video function).

Shop Cleanup – Right Side from Brian biggs on Vimeo.

The Shop … recovery from the holidays

I have another project to get done, SpringCleaninga mantle for my niece, that I’ve waited to get started until I could get back into the shop. However, when I went down I was shop-blocked by the shop — it’s just full of stuff from the other projects, lots of cut-offs (which I finally started weeding out!) and I’ve got boxes and buckets of stuff that has been acquired over the past couple years that need gone through. And finally, I’ve been collecting stuff for the past decade(s) and haven’t really gone through and weeded out.

Well, enough is enough. I’m getting psyched up to get in the shop with two primary goals in mind:

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More tweaks for Pen Decorator

CNC Pen Lathe v2The next set of tweaks is done on the drawing, we’re going to try to get the new carriage assembly set up and cut out in the next couple weeks, and this time around – we’re planning to mount a Dremmel with a grinding burr as part of the test. (Prior to that I have to make up some blanks with paper taped on, and create a marker holder that can be mounted to test some of the pattern logic out. I’ve uploaded this plan to the 3D Warehouse for those that are interested.

Pen Decorator – Reworking the Drive strategy #2

IMG_2383I modified the original carriage to accept the timing belt approach. To do this I had to rotate the drive motor 90 degrees and mount a timing pulley on the shaft. The belt needs to thread through the carriage sides, and since it forms a loop, there are two holes on each side. The belt needs to be attached to the drill platform and loops over the timing pulley on the drive motor. The other end needs to wrap around a free turning idler bearing (or a very smooth/no-friction surface). Read more…

Knockdown Nicholson Workbench – wrapping up

I built the bottom shelf using the little wedges on the ends, glued a 1×1 cleat to the inside of each bottom stretcher (2 1×10’s glued and cut back down to 15″ wide), and screwed in battens across the shelf at 3 points. I finished drilling the 3/4″ holes in the apron, and in the top strechers of both legs (great idea there from Chris S. and company!). I order a new pair of holdfasts from toolsforworkingwood and cut some(4) 5″ lengths of 3/4″ dowel for support posts.

The posts fit a bit too tightly, so I used my favorite turning tool – chucked the posts on the lathe, and added a tiny taper to make sure they fit well.

Last but not least – I flattened the top – using a #6 plane, sharp blade and some canning wax for lubricant. It took about 45 minutes to bring it to flat enough.

Thanks again to Chris Schwarz for bringing out the plans and the parts lists.


if you look carefully you can see the pencil marks in the surface that I need to remove.


Done, ready to break down and take in for a trial run in Friday nights class.

Quick tip… when you have to drill stepped holes backwards

Stepped hole

I drill out lots of these holes, and the process is simple. Start with the largest diameter bit, then when done, move to the next smaller size and drill further, using the center point remaining from the first bit.

But what happens when you need to drill the shoulder, after the smaller hole is already there? If you’ve tried it, you know that the bit will wander mercilessly when you try to start.

My solution? Use a second block of wood as a guide. Drill the larger hole through the second block all the way. Now, center the hole in the second block on the first hole in the original piece. Clamp the blocks together. Now you should be able to use the second block’s hole the capture the bit, and guide the starting cut into the original!

Knockdown Nicholson Workbench – oops!

A new take of "bench on bench" design?

A new take of “bench on bench” design?

Sometimes we just bull ahead in a project build. “I don’t need to measure, I have an idea where things are”. While drilling the recess and holes for the mounting bolts in the top, I got to close to the edges. I missed the legs ok, but wasn’t far enough inside to allow for the mounting nut to be attached. So, after I got the holes placed correctly, I had to mix up some epoxy to fill the mis-located holes and that means leaving it over night. Yes, I could have left the holes as is, but who wants to do that! And since I left the epoxy clear, there will be a visual reminder that I goofed to talk about 🙂

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