Jim Randolph

May 012019
 

Set it and forget it.

That’s probably the way most of us treat calibration of our large power tools.

When my Delta Unisaw arrived, I spent days setting it up. Got the tables perfectly coplanar, squared the Biesemeyer fence just a hair out of perfect to reduce the risk of kickback, made the rule as accurate as I could, then lubricated every moving part with spray graphite. Since then, except for periodic adjustments to the fence, I don’t think I’ve lifted a finger to adjust anything.

The Delta Unisaw is a beast of a workhorse. Not much need for recalibration, though it never hurts to check one’s alignment.

And, that was 13 years ago.

Band saw? The fence gets squared often because it has to be taken completely off the saw to cut anything without it. You can’t just push it out of the way. The blade gets tensioned and detensioned. I do adjust the guide rollers fairly often, although I don’t understand how they get out of alignment. The drive belt suffered terminal rot last year, also after about 13 years. (I had to get all new tools after Katrina’s flood.)

Drill press? I check the squareness of the table to the drill bit once or twice a year, usually when I’m inspired that a hole has to be perfectly square to a board’s surface.

I can’t remember the last time I checked any settings on either miter saw, or the radial arm saw. That sucker is built like a deuce-and-a-half truck.

Speaking of beasts … since no 18-wheelers have been in my shop to run over this beast, I don’t worry much about it getting out of alignment.

What about you?

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Apr 032019
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.”

I know I’m not the only cheap woodworker around. Alan Noel is a self-avowed cheapskate.

That means we go to the big chains, blue or orange, when we need lumber that doesn’t have to be special. Or straight. Or pretty.

However, there are times we just have to put the price behind us and go to a real lumber yard where we can get good lumber, exotics and specialty items.

You might call them your “hardwood dealer,” although such places often have pine and cedar and cypress, even plywood, as well. Usually the material isn’t dimensional, rather, it’s “random widths and lengths, one
edge straight.”

I find such trips to be inspiring. Of course, I’m usually already a little inspired because I’m there to buy some special wood for a special project, often for a special person.

Walking among the boards of white oak, red oak, walnut, cherry, quartersawn pine, ipe, and all the others just makes one’s imagination go wild.

Need some inspiration? Take a trip down to your hardwood dealer or real, old-timey lumber yard. Walk through the stacks and be inspired.

And, stay away from the wrong kind of lumber yard. Years ago several of us made a trip to Belize for fishing and exploring Mayan ruins. Eating was a bit of a challenge because we wanted to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge. At first, I was drinking iced tea because it had been boiled. Or Coca Cola because it was sterile. Or American beer because I assumed it had been bottled in the States. Then, it occurred to me, “All beer is sterile, even local beer made with local water.” American beer was “imported,” and I was paying a premium for it. Local beer was cheaper, and perfectly safe. Perfect combination for a cheapskate.

We felt safe eating at the hotel. One day we got brave enough to stroll down the street near the hotel and found a lumber yard. Well, actually, a Lumbaa Yaaad, as the locals would say it. But, this lumber yard no longer sold wood. It had been converted to a food and drink establishment. While we were feeling brave we decided to go in and eat and drink. I Googled “Lumbaa Yaaad” + “Belize City,” and some variations, and the only hits I got were domestic, one a bar in Seattle and one an actual lumber yard. It seems our one-time watering hole no longer exists.

Need some cheap inspiration? Visit your local or nearby fine wood dealer.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Apr 022019
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Wheels.

What did the invention of the wheel mean to mankind’s development? The significance can’t be overstated.

Nor can wheels’ value be overstated in the one-man woodshop. In mine, everything is on wheels.

It starts with the UniSaw. I was about to order mine without the optional mobile base, when the lady on the phone said, “I deal with this all day long. Someone calls for a part, and they don’t have the model number. The shops with saws sitting on the floor have to stop everyone’s work to move the saw and extension table. The shops with wheels? ‘OK, I’ll be right back.’ And, in 15 seconds, they have the model number.”

I was sold.

It worked out so well that I ordered my Delta jointer with the factory mobile base.

The factory Delta jointer wheeled base is a nice, custom look. If only I’d waited and gotten the 8″ jointer!

Then, when I bought a DeWalt planer I sprang for the factory base, which is really a platform. I could have started with a universal mobile base and just built a cabinet, and, if I had to do it over, I would probably do that. I’m tall, and I found that adding some height made using the planer much, much easier. I ended up adding 6 x 6s plus a sheet of 3/4″ plywood to make the height comfortable.

As professional and custom as the jointer base is, the DeWalt planer base was, too, until I got hold of it and began customizing it to suit my height.

Click here to read the story of these bedside tables. When I delivered the new tables to the bedroom I couldn’t bring myself to put these on the burn pile, so I turned them into useful shop furniture and storage. Not pretty, just useful.

The trusty Craftsman spindle sander on top, random orbit sanding disks inside, a bedside table on a universal base makes a pretty good sanding center.
A mortising machine is mostly useless unless it’s immobile. The old bedside table fills the bill and makes it portable, too. When it’s not being immobile.

Ditto for the yet-unfinished Norm Abram Router Station.

Well, I say the router station is unfinished, but, the fact is, I never made the drawers for the bottom and I probably never will, so maybe it’s as finished as it will ever be. I’ve discovered that I like being able to slide the routers, in their boxes, in and out of the bottom storage area. I fail to see the advantage of hiding them in drawers. One of these days I need to remove the drawer slides. And, figure out where the other half of the slides is. Actually, they are safely stored in PVC pipes.

The best thing about having tools on wheels is that the infrequently-used tools can be in a different part of the shop and not clutter the main working area. It’s both safer and neater.

Think of this area as a little farm, a parking area for power tools that can quickly and easily be moved into the main shop area, or can be used right where they are if the task is small and quick.

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Apr 012019
 

Rhythm. Momentum. There’s a lot in favor of getting started and keeping going.

Clearly, that applies to writing. Lots of writers suffer from writer’s block. My cure is to just start writing. I can begin typing total nonsense and, pretty soon, it will turn into something usable, just from getting started.

However, it’s different when you have a storyline going and, all of a sudden, “Uh-oh! What the heck comes next?”

That can happen in a woodworking project, too, and I’m betting many of you have experienced it.

I was making a “bench” for grandson Owen when it hit me. It was a plywood project because of the intersections and because Owen lives in a part of the country where temperature and humidity swings are horrendous. Wood movement ruled out making solid-wood panels that would shrink in winter and swell in summer.

Iron-on wood veneer covered the exposed edges of ply on the sides and top. Even though the shelves sat in dados, I wanted them secured with screws, which meant the screw heads either had to be celebrated or covered. I elected to countersink them and cover the holes with rope molding.

That’s where I ran into trouble.

It was obvious that a simple miter wasn’t going to make the sides and the front meet and close the gap. I first tried cutting some quarter-round with a hand saw, rather than waste the rope molding as I experimented. That wasn’t working, so I began to experiment with compound angles.

Could this compound setting make the angle I was looking for?

It took a while, but I finally made it work.

Before that, though, when a bit of experimentation didn’t pay off, I got frustrated, threw up my hands and quit.

For a while. I felt defeated. Frustration made me feel stupid. How hard could these angles be? Surely someone who made As in geometry and trigonometry could figure this out.

And, I did, but not before taking an extended break to heal from the feeling of being beaten down.

All’s well that ends well. Owen is so happy it made him applaud. That’s all the approval a grandfather needs.
Did we have more frustration after solving the molding problem? You bet! The dimensions Owen’s mom gave me wouldn’t quite fit in my Pathfinder.
That meant it was off to the U-Haul Store for delivery. Here we are in Timbuktu, getting gas. At least the trailer didn’t have to make the return trip.

What about you? After you log your vote, use the Comment section to tell us how you overcome frustration, defeat and setbacks.

Mar 052019
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Discarded doors have a million uses. Just as good or better, they’re usually free.

Believe it or not, I actually paid for the reject door in this story. As you might imagine, I didn’t pay much.

What’s so great about doors? For starters, they’re flat. Even a cheap interior door is likely to be reliably flat unless it’s been wet or lain in a garbage pile for a week.

What else? They’re pretty strong. In order to stay flat, a door has internal structures that keep it stable. That may be a wooden frame or, in the cheapest of doors, corrugated cardboard on edge.

Sometimes a door is even waterproof, like this one I made my sharpening station from.

I found this PVC-coated interior door lying in someone’s yard on garbage day. I had absolutely no use for it, but I stored it in the garage at work until the need arose. I’m glad I did! It made the perfect foundation for the sharpening center.

After years and years of using roller stands around my table saw when I had wide and/or long materials to cut, I finally decided I wanted an outfeed table.

I built this “table” from a door my work next-door-neighbor had acquired. A Bell Telephone building in Biloxi was being torn down, and my friend got word that there were accordion doors inside. As you might imagine, Ma Bell didn’t buy cheap doors. Although this is only one panel of a long, long partition, it weighs a ton.

I asked my friend if I could buy a couple, and he graciously agreed.

I took one to a sheet metal shop and asked them to wrap it in galvanized steel. I use it for wet and dirty things that require the surface be protected.

This table is impervious to oil, solvents and light banging. When I hired the sheet metal company to encase it, I should have asked the cost. I nearly lost my breakfast when I picked it up! Still, it’s been invaluable.

I made the other door into a general working table. It wouldn’t have hurt my feelings if it had been wider, but two together would have been too much. It’s flat. It’s solid. It’s green. Not that green is an advantage of any kind. In fact, it’s kind of ugly, but you ignore it after a while.

Here is the finished product: my simple outfeed table. I don’t need the table to contain storage, so there was no need to make a cabinet out of it. The picnic-style legs make it extremely steady.

Challenge Number One was getting it home to my shop, as it was in the clinic garage. It took three of us to load it into the utility trailer. I put it upside down on a thick blanket. It’s pretty top-heavy and I didn’t want the rough floor of the trailer ruining the door-smooth top on the way home.

That went well.

But, I got home and realized, “Wait a minute. I don’t have any help. I have to get this off the trailer and diagonally across the garage, around the table saw, past the planer and jointer and into position.” For the solution to that problem, click on this month’s Tip Number Two.

OK, now it was behind the table saw. And, it was too tall. Arrgghh! I needed to turn this monstrosity over to trim the legs! I had to keep reminding myself it was free!

Regular readers already know I’m into overkill. What I was about to do next is overkill, but with no good justification. I’d only recently bought my Festool TS 75 Track Saw, and I was dying for any excuse to use it. “Besides,” I thought, “I want the bottom of these legs to be as flat as possible.” With that in mind, I carefully attached a Festool track to each pair of legs and cut. Perfection!

Festool TS 75 Track Saw at the ready, track almost in position. These are going to be the flattest, straightest leg feet in the history of shop furniture!

Like most people, I use my “outfeed table” as an assembly table and everything else you can imagine. While I might like it to be a bit wider, the improvement when cutting full sheets of plywood all by myself is incomparable.

Although, now that I have the Festool TS 75 Track Saw, I might not be doing that much anymore.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Mar 052019
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.”

The solution to the moving problem (from Tip #1) started with an almost-freebie. I got some free 3/4″ plywood I found on the side of the road and made a dolly. I framed it with scrap 2x4s and all I had to spend on it was the locking wheels, some paint, bolts, nuts and washers.

When I got home, I put an old blanket on the back of the trailer so the iron frame wouldn’t scratch the top. I put my little dolly, covered in another old blanket, where I thought the end of the table would end up and began to slide it out. While the table is heavy, it was manageable to work with one end at a time. Once the first end was secure, I climbed into the trailer and lowered the other end out. After the table was horizontal again it was easy to balance it on the dolly and move it into place.

What of the planer and jointer that were in the way? Almost all of my power tools are on wheels. Unplug the tool, push down the lever that puts the wheels on the floor and soon the tool is out of the way.

If I need to move the Delta UniSaw, there’s no calling the neighbor, just roll it wherever it needs to go. Ditto for the band saw, grinder table, oscillating spindle sander, router table and scroll saw. More on that next month.

I chose the dimensions simply: 4 feet by 2 feet. There are lots of screws attaching the plywood to the lumber, and 5/16″ bolts holding the substantial wheels. This cart could haul Godzilla around!

Heavy duty and low-cost. That’s the way I like my equipment. Make one of these for yourself. Being flat, it’s easy to store, too!

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home. Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Mar 012019
 

Mr. Organized likes to finish one thing before starting another.

Mr. Organized also likes to clean his entire shop between projects.

Mr. Organized’s mother used to say, “You’re old enough to know you can’t always have everything you want.”

When I was working on the grandkids’ round picnic table, it took so long that I had many other things I had to do. It was a challenge, because the table and its parts took up so much room.

It also meant I had to work on other things while that was going on. There’s always something that needs to be made or fixed. But, invariably, the tool you need is on the bench with the other project. Or the size drill bit is being used on that other project.

It’s a recipe for frustration.

Right this minute I have some birdhouses I started years ago lying on the saw table, a stool I’m making for Brenda (like she needs another stool from me) sitting on the table saw outfeed table, the unfinished setup of my new Tormek T-8, and a Kapex that needs a stand.

I believe this is going to be a nice surprise for Brenda when it’s finished. Will that be before the next millennium?

I’m not sounding much like Mr. Organized, am I?

What about you? Are you up for working on more than one project at a time?


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.