28 January, 2022

The green monster is alive. A flip top jointer and planer rolling cart.

Like many, probably most older folks, I have creaks, groans and pains that have come through a life lived with the bumps and knocks of just living a life. In my case some pretty serious back pain that I mostly learn to live with.
Before it became painfully obvious that the pain was here to stay, I had set my shop up with a Tool Stacker system, made up of closetmaid heavy duty shelf standards and brackets, with 18x24 3/4" plywood mount boards for my bench top tools.  

Those bench top tools are.

  1. Dremel 16" scroll saw. VERY infrequently used.
  2. Ryobi 8" bench grinder with Wolverine jig / skew platform / VariGrind. Used VERY frequently with the lathe. 
  3. Ryobi AP1301 13" lunchbox planer, used frequently with rough sawn lumber.
  4. Sunhill SM-150B 6-1/8" benchtop jointer used frequently with rough sawn lumber.
  5. Rigid EB4424 oscillating edge belt / spindle sander. Used frequntly but it is pretty light...

First things first, I had to get the grinder / sharpening jig squared away and kept close to the lathe so touch ups on my turning tools can happen RIGHT NOW. I took a cast off hunk of 4x4, some 3/4" pine legs for an abandoned valet project, and cobbled up a quick sharpening station / grinder stand, painted it green using Rustoleum brush on hunter green paint, there will be a theme with this stuff, stick with me here...  Now my choice of a full speed grinder I know is controversial. I picked it because OneWay MFG, the folks that made the Wolverine jig recommended it.

So now I was down to 4 bench top tools, I have enough material to fully build one stand, so I need to chose the first two to be put on a stand.

The sander is light, and super easy to move around. So that one is out. 

The scroll saw is kind of heavy, but lighter than either the jointer or planer, and it doesn't get used a lot.

The jointer, and planer, so related functions, AND are close in weight, they seemed to make the most sense for getting put on the first stand.  So they are chosen.

As I mentiond, I needed a flip top stand, well actually two, but had materials to build one... And I have wanted to build these for well over a decade now, I just, well never thought of a simplified 2x4 construction grade lumber build... You always see cabinet grade plywood or better. Not my target for sure!

First go to Sketchup and knock out a design and make sure it all pivots and clears right. No problem... Honestly my build deviated in several key ways form the design due to materials I had on hand. Most notably the 2x4 corner braces were actually 2x6 triangles, the side fill panels that were to be rabbeted in are omitted as the 2x4 stock I had had a lot of, uh, live edge / bark inclusion and there was no way to make a clean rabbet. And the bases feature an additional brace running full width across the front and back between the casters.

Next get to building... Here is sizing up / cut the half lap joints in the 2x4s. No they are not clean, I cut them on the bandsaw WAY too fast and did not to test fits so the joints are sloppy. But they suit the need.

Once the sides were cut out, joined together with glue and screws, and the kicker braces were cut, and joined to insure a 90 degree side. NOTE FOR NEXT BUILD. For my next build I will cut the half laps on the table saw and insure a TIGHT and FLUSH fit instead of the sloppy overlapping fit fo these. I will NOT use metal fasteners, but rather hardwdwood dowels so the only things in there are wood, and glue.

Sized up the pieces for the platform. Filled the backer holes for the bolts with sawdust and a LOT of wood glue, sanded it smooth and set the 1/2" PVC bushing for the 1/2" all thread axle. Then glued up the platform. I know the pic shows Titebond 2, but I actually used Gorilla Glue waterproof wood glue on this build. I took the pic of the TB2 because I was THRILLED I could finally find some locally after the stuff being out of stock for months. 

Trimmed the edges with the router / edge trimming bit.

Set sides back to back, drilled holes for the axle, and the pivot lock pins A.K.A. 5/16 x 2.5
carriage bolts.

Lots of paint, assembly blah blah blah, and it's done.
Gas Machine tool Engineering Machine Toolroom

The pivot works perfectly and it takes up less floor space than I would have thought. All in all a great project. I learned a few things in the build and am going to start on the build for the sander / scroll saw soon.

Contrary to what people keep telling me to go with a floor model, I do want to upgrade my jointer, but I want to go with a Wahuda 10" Benchtop jointer. Unfortunately this will require me to build a new flip top stand with a 4" wider platform so the pivoting platform would be 24" x 22".

So no more lifting and twisting while carrying heavy benchtop machines... 

I can now move on to my next project, which is actually continuing with an existing project. I need to source up some more 3/4" ply, and build new shelves for the linen closet in the master suite, bullnosed, and finish the drywall work in the dressing room and master bath after stripping out the 1980s wallpaper that just did NOT want to give up!

20 January, 2022

Upgrading the shop lights to LEDs, how I wired my double ended LED tubes.

So my old T12 2 tube shop light fixtures were starting to fail. Going through tubes quickly, and T12s are hard to come by these days, and the ballasts were buzzing loudly. I needed to either fix or replace these things...

Now Costco HAD some really nice I think they were either Feit or Honeywell 2 tube LED fixtures, but unlike the majority of the LED fixtures I have seen on the market, these seemed to be simply flourescent shop light casings and keystones, just no ballasts, and LED tubes instead, and I REALLY liked them.

While not a ton, shop light fixtures with their metal reflectors offer SOME, not much but some impact protection for the tubes, where the majority of the dedicated LED fixtures, the tubes themselves were structural members.

But my costco membership expired during the first month of COVID lockdown, and I didn't want to get anywhere near the insane people trying to haord toilet paper. And Sams club didn't have them.

So I started off going to Walmart, and tossed a box of T8 / T12 plug and play LEDs in the cart.  To say these were a miserable failure would be to complement them.  Searching the Walmart website and they no longer carry the ones I got. Good riddance!

I knew the problem would keep coming back if I kept the ballasts, I had to do a ballast bypass.

I started searching, and ended up on Amazon. FIrst landing on single ended, which means I had to replace the keystones as well and I did not want to do that. Mostly out of a desire to recycle as much of my original fixtures as I could. No need to toss more into the landfill, or the recylcers that really aren't recycling, especially since there are plastics involved.

So I started coming across double ended. No need for new non shunted keystones, I could recycle the keystones AND the wire from the fixtures.

The process is simple. Starting with an unplugged shop light fixture, preferrably on the bench take the fixture apart enough to expose the wiring and ballast.

Coming in from the power wire / socket, there are 3 wires, the ground runs straight out of the plug wire to a ring connector screwed to the fixtures. I left that alone.

Next is a long white wire that typically but not always ran to the far side of the fixture, it connected to and jumped between 2 keystones on one end. This is the neutral wire. I cut the other wires going to the keystones on this end as close to the ballast as possible. Strip the ends back about 3/8" ish... Cut the white wire at the same length, strip BOTH parts of the white wire and using an orange wire nut, wire nut these wires together.

The other wire coming in from the power cord will either be, or be converted to a black wire somewhere in there. Cut the black wire as close to the ballast as possible. Likewise cut the remaining keystone wires as close to the ballast as possible. Strip the wire ends and wire nut those together. 

Unscrew the screw securing the ballast, slide it out and fully remove it.

Insure all wiring connections are solidly made.

They should be as follows.

Green screw through ground wire ring termnal should have remained intact and untouched.

White neutral wire should be wire nutted to the 2 keystones that originally were connected to the white wire, and this should be a good connection secure in the wire nut, and secured in the fixture.

The black wire is your hot. This should be wire nutted / tied to the wires that feed the 2 keystones that are not tied together and were only connected to the ballast. Again the connection should be securely held in the sire nut, and if needed, secured in the fixture via electrical tape.

Additional security for the connections can be done by using a couple of quick wraps of electrical tape tightly around the connection and wire nut.

Now reassemble the fixture, and install the LED tubes. Mine had a big and small end. I like having the big end on the side with the power cord. Make sure the strip the LEDs actually mount to when the tube rotates in the pin socket, points TOWARD the reflector to keep the tube oriented the right way.

With both tubes ready, and some leather gloves on, plug the fixture into your extension cord, ready to pull the connection should it somehow be bad. The result you expect to see is both tubes lighting up. You may have to fiddle with tube position, or even try a different tube. 

Out of my box of 20, I had one tube that was defective enough that it would light, but only upside down. Not exactly useful.  Amazon gave me a credit for the tube so no harm no foul...


The brand was Hykolity, the cost was actually right around or maybe just a shave less than repalcement flourescent tubes, and certainly cheaper than buying new flourexcent tubes and ballasts.

Now the end result?

The Kill A Watt meter showed the fixture with 2 flourescent tubes / ballasts consuming 81w. WIth just the LED tubes, 36w, a more than 50% reduction in energy use. Being that my shop / garage is in Texas, the fact these LEDs run cool and thus don't add heat to my shop is a HUGE bonus, and....

WIth the new LEDs installed, it is SUBSTANTIALLY brighter in my shop. There are 2 main reasons for that though. One is the actual brightness of hte tubes, the other is the pattern of light output.

The light pattern for starters. The LEDs emit light in a pattern 200 degrees from their mount point. Or the strip that can be seen in the tube. Thus you are not shooting actual light directly at the reflector of the fixture. Like I said, my main purpose behind the reflector is to physically protect the tubes form impact. 

The flourescnet tube is just at ube of gas that glows when energized, sort of like Neon. It emits light 360 degrees, reflecting some of it, but losing effectiveness as it does so off the reflector. Maybe mirror polished diamond plate would work better but I wasn't going to go that fancy...

The other reason for the difference is the actual light output of the tubes. 
Not sure if I believe the numbers mind you, but I have seen product descriptions of the flourescent tubes I had been using for years, and they output something like 1550 lumens per tube, so 3100 lumens per fixture. That number is debateable, but since it is the one for the ad copy for the tubes I was running, I will go with that number.

The LEDs are rated at 2400 lumens per tube, so 4800 lumens per fixture. 

And I have a total of 7 fixtures in the shop. 
Flourescent 21,700 lumens.
LEDs 33,600 lumens.

To say the least visibility IN the shop is MUCH better than it ever thought of being.

I am NOT without shadows and certainly am going to need to add task lighting at some point, but for now, I think I have gone as far as I can with these fixtures.

If you have old T12 or T8 4foot shop light fixtures you'd like to upgrade to LEDs, and would like to help me out, please consider buying from my affiliate link. Thank you.


04 January, 2022

I finally finished my compressed air system! Detailed install and parts list.

My compressed air distribution system is done!

Okay I have written blog posts in the past regarding my compressed air system, including chasing down leaks, and other issues. It has taken over a decade, life happens you know, but I have finally finished my compressed air system to where I want it!

What was the goal I was trying to get to?

Simply put, I wanted a compressed air system that would allow me a reasonable buy in cost, with the ability to move an air compressor around in a portable fashion, while providing a LARGE amount of airflow, thus a dual compressor configuration, and outlets distributed through the shop, 1 at the back wall, 2 at the front, either side of the right side overhead door, and a self retractible overhead hose reel mounted in as unobtrusive a manner as possible. I wanted it RELIABLE, and LEAK FREE. And I wanted enough hose paying out from the hose reel into the driveway that I can work anywhere, on any car in the driveway without having to add a second hose. This meant moving the hose reel to the front of the shop.

Why did it take so long?

Honestly, Issues with the initial setup didn't become apparent until after years of use, nd I didn't know all the options. 

I had intended for years, including a VERY long time Amazon Wish list to have copper pipe, and fittings to build the system out. But copper pipe and its fittings were EXPENSIVE, and involved flame soldering to make the connections properly. Not very adjustable once installed, and, not particularly reusable if I decided to, or was forced to by SWMBO into moving the shop into a dedicated outbuilding / shed.

I was COMPLETELY unaware of the Polyurethane compressed air piping / push to connect fittings systems on the market. The only options I knew were avaialble were metal pipe, which is expensive, and hard to work with, or PVC pipe whcih is cheap, easy to work with, and could potentially be deadly when a pipe fails and throws shrapnel all over the shop. Neither of which were a good option.

I had heard about Rapidaire systems, which were less expensive than copper pipe, but still several hundred dollars worth of material. Even their "Master Kit" only included a few paltry fittings, although they included at least 3 outlet blocks, but the other costs of getting enough fittings, the original outlay cost of the kit, etc... added up to about twice what I was comfortable with paying.

So in the mean time, I had used Goodyear rubber hoses to make my runs, and honestly even that was a bit costly so I kept them short with custom made lengths to get the hoses I needed. The problem is the rubber air hoses develop leaks after a few years of use, and overall are not really reliable.

Now mind you, a good amount of what I used to complete my compressed air system was carried over from what was already in my shop, what I had salvaged from other projects that were tear downs including a former automotive garage I worked at decades ago, they were tearing out the shop to put in a convenience store. So I did NOT actually have to pay for a lot of this stuff other than sweat equity to reclaim materials that otherwise would have gone to waste.

And then Black Friday / Cyber monday happened, and the opportunity to get the kit, and few remaining pieces to complete the setup for WAY less money than just the cheaper kit would cost normally hit, and my wife wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. I've never been so happy to want something cheaper than a pair of inexpensive dress pants for Christmas! 

So the components used were... I will link the least expensive versions of the items available online that I can find. Brands may differ from my actual used versions.

Central Pnuematic 29 gallon 2HP oil lubricated air compressor. https://www.harborfreight.com/29-gallon-2-hp-150-psi-cast-iron-vertical-air-compressor-61489.html I've had this about 10 years.

Central Pnuematic 8 gallon 2HP oil lubricated air compressor (discontinued, McGraw 10 gallon seems to have replaced it in the Harbor Freight Lineup) https://www.harborfreight.com/10-gallon-oil-lube-portable-air-compressor-58144.html I've had this maybe 12 to 14 years, don't recall...

Both compressors have had 1/4" street elbows, short lengths of brass pipe, and ball valves for tank dumping installed since 2014. This allows for dumping collected water from the tank and depressurizing without fishing around under the compressors...

Central Pneumatic automatic hose reel with 50' rubber air hose. Hose replaced in December 2021 with new Goodyear hose. https://amzn.to/3EUjdKU This was originally set up in the back of the shop in maybe 2012? Not sure... 

Large assortment of Central Pnuematic Brass Industrial Quick Coupler Sets: https://www.harborfreight.com/brass-industrial-quick-coupler-set-4-pc-68241.html?_br_psugg_q=quick+coupler+set These have been acquired over the years, but the newest were bought in maybe 2014...

2 @ Control Devices P2525 one way ball check valve 1/4". https://amzn.to/3pSQbaf This was the manifold build in 2014

2 @ 1/4" FPT brass barstock tee,  https://amzn.to/3pT4Gen This was the manifold build in 2014

3/8 x 1/4 brass hex nipples / reducers. https://amzn.to/3EWCyem This was the manifold build in 2014, and I believe these came from the service station tear down job when we dismantled the garage before they built in the c store...

Central Pneumatic 3/8" regulator with filter. https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-nptf-air-filter-with-regulator-58178.html This was the manifold build in 2014

Central Pnuematic 3/8 Dessicant Dryer with Oil Removal Filter. https://www.harborfreight.com/38-in-nptf-desiccant-dryer-and-filter-58180.html This was the manifold build in 2014

Central Pnuematic 3/8" Connector Bracket. Discontinued, no replacement. Use a 3/8" brass close nipple instead. This was the manifold build in 2014

1/4x1/4 brass hex nipples. https://amzn.to/3pViwwU These were from the service station teardown.

Bigatur Air Piping System 1/2”. https://amzn.to/3HvP8Dd

Beduan Push to Connect Fitting, 1/2" Tube OD x 1/4" NPT Thread 10 pack. https://amzn.to/3pT5Vu3

Since the Bigatur kit didn't include them, 2 @ outlet blocks used up front are Primefit 3/8 Push To Connect outlet blocks. https://amzn.to/3313v3h

1 pack 4pcs 1/4” ball valves. https://amzn.to/31m0w58 These were from adding the dump valves to the compressors, so 2014 time frame.

1 pack 10pc 3/8 to 1/4 NPT brass bushings. https://amzn.to/3JEo32A I needed to order a fresh bag of these. I was down to one...

1 pack 10 pcs 1/4" MPT brass hex pipe plugs. https://amzn.to/3EPMN4o Fresh bag. I had none.

10' custom made rubber air hose to connect 8 gallon compressor to keep it portable.

Now with the parts set up, let's explain the plumbing setup.

First off, I need to explain the "Manifold Assembly", it features largely to collect, regulate and clean, and distribute the air

My entry for June 6 2014 explains the setup of the manifolds, tees, valves etc... and is available here.https://www.daves-workshop.com/2014/06/clearing-air.html BUT let me summarize it for you.

Quick connect into one, and push to connect 1/4 thread coupler into the other check valves. 

Check valves into the first tee.

Tee into 1/4 x 3/8 nipple, and threaded into the inlet side of the regulator.

Regulator via 3/8 Coupler connected to the filter / dryer. Air coming out of this in theory will be clean, oil free and dry. Safe to use to spray finishes. 

Output side of filter dryer assembly out via 1/4 to 3/8 nipple into second tee. One side (Down) gets our first outlet, a Quick connect. Second side gets a 1/4 push to connect fitting.

Now the manifold assembly is done being described. Lett me back up to the air compressor(s) 

The 29 gallon compressor stays put, so the quick connect from its built in regulator is removed, after the regulated pressure is set to 100 psi. I never plan on exceeding 90psi, but want to fine tune at the manifold.

The Central Pnuematic 29 gallon air compressor with too much evidence that I haven't used my dust collector often enough! I need to fix that habit!

A 1/4" MPT  push to cnnect is screwed into the output of the compressor, and then a piece of the 1/2" PU tubing is sized up and connected. There first connection done.

The 8 gallon compressor has a factory fitted quick connect, a shop made / reclaimed section of rubber air hose with a male, and a female quick connect setup, connects from the compressor, to the secondary intake of the manifold.

The advantage of this is I have compressor output of just shy of 16cfm at 40psi, well beyond what I will need, and at a FAR lower cost, and space hit than a giant 60 or 80 gallon compressor!

Of course the "Manifold assembly is in there, all adjusted up and happy. psi at the compressor, 90 PSI at the regulator / filter. Not shown is the input from the 8 gallon compressor. It is sitting coiled up and only connected when needed.

The Manifold assembly. This took some time a long time ago to set up. Harbor Freight has discontinued these pieces in favor of a newer brand. By the time these die, they will likely be on to a different brand again.

Now on to the output. At the push to connect I sized up a piece to go between the coupler, and an elbow to make a tight turn at the ceiling. A couple of screws through some straps into the stud at the corner secure the tubing up the wall and we now make our way across the ceiling, THROUGH the purpose drilled hole in the shop light mount, and we periodically attach via straps and screws into the studs securing the air line on its journey across the ceiling. I did have a temporary location where the hose reel WAS, so in order to avoid wasting air tubing, I used a coupler from the kit to connect and extend the tubing.

The hose reel and its 3/4" plywood mounting board was moved from the back corner of the shop, forward about 10 feet or so to the space on the ceiling between the overhead door tracks. The tubing is split with a tee from the kit, and is secured as much as possible, INCLUDING using a length of Gorilla Tape to keep it from getting hung up with the overhead door hardware. There is NOT a lot of clearance here, and I do not want to cause problems. This is securely fastened using 1/4" lag bolts directly to the rafters.

The old Central Pnuematic hose reel with a new Goodyear hose. This has been a GREAT item in the shop. Makes easy work of taking out and putting up the hose! The fit is close, but gives me a couple of inches of room for the door to operate.

We ran another segment of tubing from the tee, to the front wall, where we meet an elbow, and another Tee via short section of tubing. This elbow goes down to the first outlet block. Will describe the assembly further below as they are both the same.

The line at the tee was extended to the outside wall, and turned with a final elbow from the kit. Occasional clamps and screws along the wal, and turned down to the outlet blocks.

The outlet blocks have 4 holes in them. 1 1/4", and 3 3/8". The 1/4" is on what I consider the back side of them. I pipe sealed and installed a 1/4" pipe plug in there. The other three holes were filled with pipe taped 3/8 to 1/4 bushings. 

The top hole got the push to connect fittings (see why I bought extra?).

The front hole got 1/4" hex nipples, pipe taped, and then the quick connect couplers. You could save some time and MAYBE money by going with 3/8" MALE threaded quick couplers, but I had the female ones already. The steel quick connects that came with the kit also are female threaded with no nipples to install which I found quite odd.

The bottom hole got outfitted with the 1/4" ball / dump valves.

The dump valves should NOT have any moisture trapped as the air should be clean and dry before it gets there, BUT it does help depressurize the system if the valve at the compressor is turned off. 

The outlet block assembled and in use. That ball valve can easily and quickly dump pressure from the lines if needed. NO the drywall behind it isn't finished right. Nor do I care... It is a garage after all.

I have finished the connections and pressured up the system, compressor to 100psi, and manifold regulator to 90psi yesterday, there has been no drop whatsoever on either gauge in the last 24 hours.

I do need to add a couple more of the straps from the kit, with some drywall screws to retain the tubing to the ceiling / wall where it sags a touch, but it isn't any additional outlay of money, just some time, and it can happen after the rest of the shop gets finally cleaned up. 

But in the mean time, I have a spot, more or less anywhere I am working in the garage to plug in an air hose, and I have WAY more than enough air hose to run it out to anywhere around any car in the driveway.

What's next?

Well, since I am still knocking my brains out trying to clean, and reorganize my shop, so that I can finish building stuff for finishing the home remodel, and I have (almost) all the parts, I will finish the re-routing of the 4" dust collection main. I have the wall brackets, and fittings I need to make it happen, and I want the run straighter, blast gates easier to get to, and a LOT less flex hose in the mix of things.

The other Christmas present I got was a set of Polyurethane bandsaw tires for the Central Machinery bandsaw. I will be upgrading those AFTER the shop cleanup is done.