For the First Time in Years

Sep 28, 2014 11:45pm

This weekend marked a special occasion on the farm. It’s the first time in years (yes, years) that all of my tools have been properly unpacked.

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That sounds even to me like it should be an exaggeration. Like, “Oh my god you guys it’s been yeeeeaaaars since I’ve unpacked these tools.” Except my life has literally become my exaggerations at this point. Mind boggling. Let’s talk about fun things in the workshop, shall we?

Like how this is what it looked like a little over a month ago.

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Remember that? Holy shit.

I’m going to before-and-after you right now, because, just… there are no words.

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My neighbor walked into my shop today and did an actual double-take (how often do you see someone do that in real-life? never) which is how I knew I’d made some actual progress beyond just painting cabinets and shuffling tools around.

This weekend I finally build a small workbench for this corner of the shop…

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If you’re incredibly observant you may notice that there’s already a workbench there, buried under a lot of shit. Also, I’m going to have a nostalgic moment and tell you that I’m pretty sure that workbench is the only thing* in the shop that I built before had this website. Right?

I don’t know that I’ve written much about my life-before-houses, but there was a period of time between college and buying my first house that I lived in an “apartment” above my grandparents garage, and they let me turn their second garage into my very first workshop. I owned zero tools, so I borrowed my grandpas old makita drill and someone showed me how to use a miter saw for the first time, and that workbench and a large storage shelf were maybe the two first “big” things I ever constructed.

Workbenches are incredibly handy things to have so this one came with me to the basement of my first house, then to the garage I live in at my second house, and now here…

That’s crazy. It’s also ugly as shit (made out of the old laminate counters from my childhood home) and some I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing construction techniques, but now I feel like it’s some kind of heirloom I’m going to have to pass down through the generations or something.

Anyway, that’s a lot of words about a workbench when the whole point of the story is… it didn’t fit here.

I mean, technically it did, but it was too tall to hold some of the tools I wanted to put in this area like the drill-press and router table, and it was just slightly too wide to give me proper clearance for the wood stove I’m going to put in this corner. So, I built a new one…

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I just talked about how I use the same basic technique when building tables last week, and this was no different.

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I only needed to cut boards to three different dimensions: legs, stretchers for the width, and stretchers for the depth.

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Then I put everything together with pocket screws.

When I’m building things quickly, I usually won’t bother with pesky things like wood clamps. This is when a dozen years of gymastics and martial arts come in handy.

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What? It works.

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This didn’t need to be pretty for the shop, just functional. I had the kind folks at Lowe’s rip a piece of 3/4″ ply in half for me because, much to my chagrin, they have a panel saw and I do not.

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Since I built the bench to be 24×48, I just had to cut the plywood in half to make the bottom shelf. I marked the areas that needed to be cut to fit around the legs…

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Cut them out with a jigsaw…

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And had a finished bench, pretty quickly.

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It’s the perfect height to allow me to work on the drill press, router table, or jointer (currently on the bottom shelf for storage) which is a million times easier than lugging these things out and then using them on the floor whenever I need them.

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I moved the old workbench to the other side of my garage, where it’s now housing 25 gallons of fuel, my chainsaw, and some gardening equipment. Win-win as far as organization goes.

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And, while I was at it, I decided to hang some pegboard behind the cabinet workbench as well. A workshop can never have too much pegboard, as far as I’m concerned. It’s also a pain in the ass to cut because it’s so flimsy, so my trick is to put a couple of 2×4′s (or 2×3′s in this case) across the sawhorses for stability on either side of the cut.

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Then the weight of the saw can rest on the 2x’s instead of bending the particle board.

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To install pegboard, you need to first nail some furring strips (half inch thick, or so) to the wall to create a space behind the pegboard so that you can actually fit hooks on it.

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I tacked my strips on every 36″ (every two studs) using a finish nailer to hold them in place. I also forgot to get a picture of just the furring strips because I was SO EXCITED to have the pegboard up. You can see them on the right in this picture…

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I attached the pegboard with wood screws that were long enough to go through the pegboard, furring strip, and into the stud, so that’s where the real strength comes from.

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And my tools! Where I can see them! This is pretty amazing.

There were some things that I’d packed up when I left my first house that never got unpacked while I was building the Memorial house, and that I basically forgot I owned until I started digging through bags and boxes to get everything organized. (I have two whole sets of socket wrenches… who knew?)

I have just a few small things to do before I’m ready to call the shop “good for now.”

  • Get the table-saw table from my grandparents garage
  • Hang drywall in wood-stove corner (and clear out)
  • Build or buy vertical wood storage for 4×8 sheets
  • Have wood-stove installed

My tools are such a big part of what I do around here that it feels awesome to finally have a functional space to use them in and I couldn’t feel more awesome about the work I got done in here this weekend.

*In re-reading this with the images I noticed that partially-blue-painted stool in front of the bench… that’s a project I started in college (and clearly never finished) which has also made the rounds to all of my houses and workshops with me. I still haven’t removed the masking tape on that thing from like fifteen years ago… that’s nice.

 

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