Woodworking Project Update


Not my bench but I hope it will be someday soon…

Well, It’s been a busy¬†few months so I haven’t had much time to post updates but I have some new, interesting things in the works that I wanted to share with you.

It’s been a full year since I built my first Corn Hole set. In that time, I have learned so much about basic wood working. I have had several challenges to overcome and with them some heartbreak, lots of practice of my colorful vernacular, and some surprising wins! I have built just over 60 sets which works out to:

  • over 18 sheets of plywood quartered
  • 120+ 6″ holes cut
  • 240+ rails, stiles and legs cut
  • 1680+ brad nails
  • 240+ Carriage bolts, washers, and wing-nuts
  • 4, 1/4″ rounder-over router bits
  • 3 leg hole jigs
  • 2 hole saws* 3 drills
  • 2 RO Sanders
  • 1 Belt sander
  • An obscene about of sanding disks (80, 150, 220 grit)

Since Corn Hole sets are a very basic carcass to build, I was able to experiment with different tools and techniques to improve the quality of the product and to reduce the amount of effort to build each set. I discovered that when you compromise quality for speed, you end up paying for sooner or later.

My shop motto: Slow is fast. Fast is slow, and painful, and costly, and dangerous! I learned this when I was rushing to get the roundover on a couple sets before the rain came in. I got halfway around the the first deck when the router bit shot off at 100 MPH to embed itself in a bookcase. In my hurry, I failed to tighten the bit and rather quickly, the bit went to be with Jesus. I think about that and I could have easily joined it on that trip to the heavens or, more likely, been seriously injured.

Being self-taught, I have had a couple other minor incidents but only one requiring a trip the the clinic and that was only to make sure I was up-to-date on my tetanus shot (I just said tet-anus). But I like to think that instead of just being slow, that I am being deliberate and thoughtful. Taking this approach, I have not had any more accidents and my mistakes have diminished to level that I can blame those on the wood or the tool. ūüėČ

Also, because of some personal events, I am not able to get into my shop until after my boys are asleep. This has vexed me considerably until I simply adopted a more focused, hand tool woodworking approach. More out of necessity, I have come to find a simple joy in working with wood and hand tools.

NOTE: Since my drill, impact driver, brad nailer, and circ saw don’t have a cord, they are considered hand tools ūüėČ

This change has really fired up my passion for woodworking to another level. I not getting into the holy war of power vs. hand tool woodworkers. I don’t care about all that. I have a Dewalt planer and a thumb-stealing table saw, a router, etc. Power tools are cool. I use them when I have to get stuff done. However, when I need my therapy, I can either drink a bottle of rum or wander out into my shop and do some woodworking by hand. Both satisfy my need to forget the world for a time, but the benefits from woodworking outlast the rum.

With my new-found enthusiasm for wood working, I have lined up a whole host of new projects: Here are just some of them:

  • Build an updated work bench (more Roubo-styled — ¬†see image above)
  • Build a Sawyer’s bench (Sawing by hand is a bitch without a way to hold your work) – ¬†inspired by Tom Fidgen
  • Updated Twin Screw Vise (More for joinery but this project is my white whale)
  • Make and use a Frame Saw – Resawing by hand just facinates me
  • Make and use a Bow Saw – i have seen some amazing things with these smaller saws and I want to see what I can make and make happen with them
  • Hand Planes Extraviganza! – I recently bought Scott Meaks’ DVD on making a hand plane. It’s every bit as good as attending a class and I will dive into many of the details as I plunge into these builds. Also, I’m looking into making router planes, shoulder planes, Scratch Stocks, Rabbet Planes, Kerfing Planes, Air Planes, whatever it takes to scratch the itch
  • Making Back Saws – As with many aspects of woodworking, making, sharpening, tuning and storing back saws is its own rabbit hole. I really want to explore more of this…

As you can see, building tools and appliances is really my wheelhouse since this is pretty much what I have done for the past 20 years, only with software. The tactile interaction with wood is so therapeutic for me and I appreciate every moment that I have in the shop.

Before I go, I just wanted to acknowledge a couple of people that have helped keep me motivated and inspired:

  • Shannon Rogers
  • Christopher Schwarz
  • Tom Fidgen
  • Scott Meeks
  • Marc Spagnuolo

and last by certainly not least…

  • Roy Underhill

(There are so many others and I will thank them when I get to projects especially inspired by them) 

Thank you gentlemen for providing your knowledge, insight, and perspective to this endeavor.
For those looking for more BeagleBone Black post, I hope to be working on some robotic/electronic/music -related projects with my oldest son, and anything related in that realm, I will certainly post ASAP.

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

turkey is good

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family, readers and visitors.  I really enjoy having this blog and sharing what I have done and what I am planning to do.  I appreciate all the encouragement, feedback, and dialog that this forum has generated.

I hate apologizing for not blogging more regularly.  However, I feel like I should since I have had so many kind words about my articles on the BeagleBone Black (BBB) and my increasing interest in woodworking.  So, to all of you, thank you.

Over the past year, I have been as busy as ever and it is only just starting to calm down but as soon as I say that, I am sure that it will wind right back up again. ¬†In October 2013, I was asked to assume the team lead and system engineering responsibilities for one of my company’s web sites. ¬†We use Adobe CQ/AEM for our CMS solution, running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. ¬†When I was first asked to start building components for the CMS a few years ago, my experience centered around Microsoft technologies and this made for a “K-2”-like learning curve. ¬†One of my decisions was to fully immerse myself and this is why I “burned the ship” by installing Linux on my workstation. ¬†This forced me to figure out how to work out the mechanics in this new environment and it has been a fun, frustrating, exciting and very rewarding experience.

Without that, I would never have dove as deep with the BBB and plan to continue projects with it.

This year, my wife and I stubbled, quite literally, into a what may become a business endeavor. ¬†While chatting with some neighbors on our community’s Facebook group, someone asked if anyone had or could make a Corn Hole set. ¬†My wife said that I could build a set and then informed me. ¬†By the way, I had never built a set before. ¬†That was March and since then, I have built over 50 sets for friends, family, and neighbors. ¬†It has been great for me because I had just finished building a work bench and was slowly working on some other projects but I really didn’t have any direction. ¬†Building Corn Hole sets has really forced me to focus on the basics and the details of woodworking. ¬†They are easy to build but take technique to build flat and straight, especially when building from box store lumber. ¬†I have acquired good tools, experience, and confidence to begin building more complex projects. ¬†I hope to share many of them with you.

I am what some would call a “changing imager.” ¬†This is a type of person that can plan and start many projects but may take a while to finish. ¬†I also have many different types of interests including audio engineering, guitar building, electronics, programming, general computers, and building and making things. ¬†I try not to blog multi-part articles anymore because I may not finish them for a while or at all and I drives me crazy to get half-way through someone’s walk-through on something to find out that it was never finished. ¬†Since I discovered Breaking Bad only on it’s final season, I waited until it was over before starting it on Netflix. ¬†So, I just don’t want to do that to you.

If you have ideas for projects, please let me know. ¬†I will try to share with you what I am doing on a more regular basis so you don’t feel like I have abandoned this blog. ¬†To start off, I started listening to podcasts on the way to and from work. ¬†Mostly woodworking but some guitar and generalized subjects. ¬†Right now, my favorite is Fine Woodworking’s Shop Talk Live (iTunes & i-heart-radio). ¬†It runs about an hour (the length of my commute) and the guys are funny, knowledgable, and down-to-earth. ¬†It’s NOT a Festool commercial, so if you’re a woodworker, check it out.

I will probably put up some more articles on what I am up to so check back. ¬†If you don’t hear from me, drop me a line. ¬†I get distracted trying to keep my boys from burning down the house and keeping up with my Corn Hole orders but I will try to respond it a timely fashion.

Thanks for listening.  I look forward to getting back here.

PS. ¬†Here is a couple if pictures of what I’ve been up to. ¬†Building Corn Hole boards and finally getting my Dust Deputy cyclone working.

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Projects Update: It’s been crazy

CrazyWell, it’s been a rather crazy and chaotic few weeks.

First, I want to say thank you to everyone that has visited my blog. ¬†I don’t make money from this. ¬†I do it to share the knowledge that I accumulate. ¬†For the 2012 calendar year, I had a total of 333 hits… for the entire year! ¬†I must say that wasn’t really trying for an audience. ¬†Rather, I started blogging just to document some things that I wanted maintain in a way that I could share with others. ¬†However, in 2013, I actually gathered somewhat of a following and logged over 6000 hits, the lion share of those came after August. ¬†It is humbling and an honor to have not only so many visitors but regulars that come back and reference my posts. ¬†Thank you.

Now, I want to quickly let you know what I am working on and some of the projects I will be documenting in the near future.

  • Beaglebone Black Santa-CAM (after-magic report) – I had some issues with this but things worked out in the end
  • Beaglebone Black¬†Santa-CAM upgrade – adding motion detection on it so it will fire when there’s something happening
  • Hand-made Wood Bench Plane – I will be finishing that up soon
  • Bunk Bed Underbed Storage (IKEA Kura bunk bed hack)
  • SteamOS beta Virtual Machine Install (on Oracle Virtual Box – this is going to be a hoot!)

So, check back often because the updates will be coming fast and furious!


Hand-build Bench Plane

hand-plane-1One of the projects that I have been thinking about it a hand-build wood hand plane.  I have a couple planes that I love but they are small and not appropriate for squaring large pieces of timber.  I wanted to get a jointer or jack plane for this but the cost is simply not in my budget.  Then I found some plans for building 3 wood planes on the Popular Mechanics site.  With this, I think I might be able to get somewhere.

About a month ago, I was trolling in the local WoodCraft store and found a piece of Poplar that is 2x3x20 in the scrap bin.  I thought that this might be a good starter piece with a separate sole, and some sides, I can make this work.

Now, I just heard someone groan. ¬†Yeah, its poplar… maybe not the first choice but was going to build it with pine. ¬†I generally like to build a prototype out of something cheap or reclaimed so that there isn’t the fear of jacking up a $40 piece of timber. ¬†It cost me $5. ¬†Prototype started.

Days later, I was trolling through Home Depot and found 1/4x3x24 timbers of Red Oak.  Looks like I found my sole (finally) and my sides.  While I was there, I picked up a couple cheap plane irons so that I had a close approximation to what the size of the iron will be.  Later, I will discuss my choices for materials for the real thing.  Oak planks were $15 for three.

I next picked up a 1/4″ piece of steel for the wedge cross-pin. ¬†$2 for 36″ rod.

Sunday night, I laminated one of the red oak planks to the poplar body and clamped. ¬†Sorry, but I don’t have any pictures of that but thats not really interesting. ¬†Then last night I unclamped and cut off the excess red oak from around the poplar and began planing the sides. ¬†There’s something fundamentally ironic about planing a plane.

That is where I ended up last night.  This weekend, I hope to get in a couple hours so that I can cut the body, fit the iron, and get the sides glued to the body.  Maybe I will have enough time to gift this to myself for Christmas.  Maybe.

Here’s the link to the site and plans that I am referencing:



Workbench-Nearing Completion

03534 ATonight, I made a push to finish the workbench but things happen and I wasn’t able to put the bow on it. ¬†However, I did get a lot done.

We left off with the untrimmed legs laying on the workbench surface waiting to be mated to the tabletop. ¬†I began by assigning each leg to a corner then marking of the center of where the leg would be from the outside rail of the frame. ¬†The plan was to secure the leg to the table top with a hex bolt. I didn’t get very far when I was interrupted and had to assume other duties. ¬†While otherwise occupied (probably doing the dishes or folding laundry… some household chore), I started thinking about stability. ¬†If I only use one hex bolt, over time, that will become an axle for the legs to pivot on. ¬†Not good. ¬†I rushed to my nearest big box hardware

Where we left off

Where we left off

store and picked up four more hex bolts, eight lock-washers, and 8 locking nuts.

The next day I measured out (from my center marks) the center for each bolt. ¬†Once satisfied, I used my 1/2″ auger bit to drill out the holes. ¬†I had a little trouble with this in that my 7.2V DeWalt and 12V Ryobi cordless drills didn’t have enough juice to get the job done. ¬†I was afraid that they just didn’t have the muscle. ¬†I did as much as I could then when the batteries gave up the ghost, I switch to cutting the legs to size. ¬†Since I want the bench to be 36″ tall, I cut the legs to 34 1/2″ (tabletop is 1 1/2″ thick”). ¬†This is cake using a miter/chop saw. ¬†But it’s 11:30PM and I have children sleeping so this would have invoked an ass-beating of epic scale. ¬†Since I want my wife’s encouragement and support, I opted for the hand saw.

wb-06-outside-leg-attachmentI really haven’t used a handsaw where it counts. ¬†I’ve used them in the past to cut stuff up but not with the level of precision that I “needed” from the miter saw. ¬†I found out, like with everything, practice is important. ¬†My cuts on the leg are not square and just off. ¬†Since its on the end grain, the plane doesn’t want any part in that. ¬†I will need to use my palm sander to get this fixed. ¬†Learning is living, aye?

The next day, I had fully charged batteries and a new attitude. ¬†This bench was going down (or up?)! ¬†I finished up drilling the holes into the rails (Yay! The drills still have some life left) and then marked each leg’s bolt hole location and then drilled all the legs separately. ¬†I thought this was going to give me trouble because I can measure twice or a hundred times and still jack up a simple hole. ¬†Well, I can tell you that I did NOT this time. ¬†However, there were some minor variations in the alignment. ¬†I think this is good since it helped lock in the legs once the bolts were fastened.

Now that the legs are drilled, I began by attaching the bolt closest to the tabletop firstwb-05-ahh-nuts then moving the the upper (lower? … the table is upside down at this point) bolt. ¬†The first bolt is much easier then the second and I discovered how far my drill holes were off. ¬†I didn’t have to alter any holes but I did have to use my BF Hammer to get some of them in. ¬†Once I locked the first leg down, I pushed and pulled on it to see how stable it really was… <insert evil laugh> ¬†It was gloriously solid and whatever stability issues I might have, it won’t be due to wobbly leg joints.

wb-08-wiggle-testI proceeded to attached the other three ¬†legs and then went around and gave each bolt a final snugging up. ¬†I still have to install the braces on the legs but I wanted to see the workbench on it’s feet. ¬†I flipped it over and set it up (this was not the easiest one-man job). ¬†I was surprised at how high it was. ¬†Yup. ¬†36″ is pretty high. ¬†I also needed to see if it was going to be stable. ¬†Meh! ¬†This workbench design has a basic flaw in that it is long, narrow and tall. ¬†If I chopped 10 inches off the legs, that would probably help but that means it’s back to the crinkle-back, all hunched over my work. ¬†I want it this height. ¬†The other thought would be that I could add one or two more 2x10s and widen it. ¬†I think this would allow me to keep the height and give me more stability. ¬†Space is limited so I am going to stick with this design for now and try the leg braces. ¬†I can do my planing on the ends of the table which will prevent the tippiness. ¬†Since I attached the legs to the long rails of the frame, I can simply pull out the short rails and put in longer ones. ¬†I will have to do some serious disassembly but it’s something I could finish in an afternoon. ¬†Something to consider.

wb-10-workbench-functionalSo, I threw my shooting board on the bench and started planing a scrap piece of wood. ¬†I definitely need to work from the ends when doing planing or chisling (where permitted). ¬†It’s a little wobbly but I still haven’t attached the braces or flattened out the feet. ¬†I am planning to surface the feet with bicycle tire tread (I saw this done while making a dog sled on “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel). ¬†Once flat, the tread should give a solid non-slip surface to keep the bench from sliding. ¬†I don’t want to permanently mount the workbench to the floor.

Tomorrow night, I plan to add the leg braces then flatten and surface the feet.  If I have time, I will start planing the surface and get the MDF for top.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I had to make some alterations to the dimensions.  Here is the cut list.  Keep in mind the following:

  • 2×10 = 1 1/2″ x 9
  • 2×4 ¬† = 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
  • 1×4 ¬† = 3/4″ x 3 1/2″

Cut list:

  • (3) 2x10x54 (table top)
  • (2) 2x4x50 (long rails)
  • (3) 2x4x20 3/4″ (short rails and center brace)
  • (8) 2x4x34 1/2″ (legs 2 laminated together to make a 3×3 1/2 post)
  • (1) 1x4x51 1/2″ (long leg brace)
  • (2) 1x4x20 3/4″ (short leg brace)

I have also listed below, the hardware and tools I used:

  • (8) 1/2″ x 6″ Hex Bolts
  • (8) Disk Washers
  • (8) Lock Washers
  • (8) Lock Nuts
  • 1/2″ Wrench
  • 1/2″ Socket and Ratchet Wrench (long is leverage)
  • 1/2″ Auger bit
  • Tons of screws (I forget the specs… I’ll come back to those)
  • Countersink bit
  • Powerful Drill (or in my case…)
    • (2) Weak-ass Drills
  • BF Hammer
  • Swanson 12″ Combo Carpenter’s Square (these are da BOMB!)
  • Tape Measure
  • Titebond Glue
  • Sandpaper (60 and 120 grit)
  • Sharpened Pencil
  • Plenty of Diet Coke
  • Plenty of Sam Adams (for after the job)

Here is the gallery of images taken since my last post.

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Workbench – My Continued Adventures in Woodworking

This weekend, while cleaning out the garage, I decided that I needed a new workbench. ¬†For the past two years, I have been working off a banquet table that up until now has been adequate. ¬†Some of the issues that I have with the banquet table is that it’s pretty damn wobbly. When I am planing or scraping or sawing, I must first clear everything off the table or my violent actions will take care of that in a negative way. ¬†I crippled my twenty pound tool box as it went crashing to the floor. ¬†Oops… ¬†Also, the table is too low. ¬†At a height of 29″, I find myself stooping over my work and ending my day with a crinkled back (yeah, I said ‘crinkled.’ ¬†It’s a medical term… look it up). ¬†The one nice thing about the table is that when I need extra space, I can find a home for all my stuff and just fold it up and put it away. ¬†However, that’s a compelling reason to not make the upgrade (and probably a contributing attribute to the instability of the table for the task of woodworking).

So, I set out to build something that was easy and cheap.  I am not the master woodworker.  I need a functional, sturdy workbench that is big enough to accommodate my guitar, electronic, and other handyman duties.  To the Depot!

My plan was simple. ¬†Make the bench dimensions the same as the table approximately 28″ x 50″. ¬†I needed only to raise the work surface to about 36″ which seems to be a height that works both sitting and standing. ¬†I plan to use 2x4s for the structure and 2x8s for the work surface. ¬†I don’t really have the tools to mill lumber, but I’m not too concerned with that. ¬†The 2x10s will have the divots between the timbers but I’m fine with that too. ¬†I plan to top the bench with 1/4″ MDF. ¬†It’s strong enough to give me a nice, flat surface and easy to replace when I drop a piano on it.

Here’s roughly the dimensions of the parts (I was kind of winging it):

8, 36″ 2x4s for the legs – Cut to 34″ after laminating
2, 50″ 2x4s for the long sides of the table top – cut to 50 inc
2, 23″ 2x4s for the short sides – the actual width of the 2×10 is 9 & 1/16″ wide
3, 54″ 2x10s for the top


  • Add MDF top to surface
  • Shelf under bench
  • locking wheels so everything can move around

I planned to have a 2″ lip on the tabletop so the bench frame is is 4″ shorter than the top.

I started off with cutting the 2x4s on the miter saw. ¬†This took about 10 minutes after measuring off 36″ from my 4, 96″ 2x4s. Next, I cut the two 50″ inch frame lengths and finished off with the frame widths. ¬†The widths, I cut long in case I had bad math in my wingy dingy plan.

Next, I pulled out the 8 leg halves and began laminating them.  I matched the best looking faces for the exterior (like it matters with this project) and applied ample amounts of Titebond to both surfaces, then clamped them and let them sit for 24 hours.  Rinse and repeat 3x.

So, this is where I’m at right now. ¬†I’ll post more pictures as I start getting this together.