06 February, 2022

Thinking about what hasn't worked as well as I had hoped. What to avoid in your shop setup.

So you've seen the shop tours, you've watched countless brag videos on how this or that thing is the best thing since sliced bread...

This is not one of those posts.

On the contrary, this post is to tell you what failed, or at least didn't live up to my hopes. A lot of it is being changed over now, but let's dive right in and hopefully we can get somewhere with this...

#1. My compressed air distribution system. The ganged / dual air compressor setup works great, gives me good max CFM to drive everything I need. The regulator / filter / dryer assembly does what it is supposed to do, how it is supposed to do it. The issues I had were my distribution system relied on, after the output tee of the regulator / filter / dryer setup, I went from 3/8" NPT fittings, to 1/4" so at every fitting we introduced effectively a bottleneck / venturi which is great if we wan to increase speed and atomization of a liquid immediately after, but lousy if I want to maintain volume. The air was distributed with old fashioned rubber hoses that are prone to drying out and cracking, and the overhead hose reel itself was mounted too far back in the shop near the back wall by the comrpessors.

I fixed this by replacing the hoses with a 1/2 push to connect compressed air piping system. Although honestly since pipe is measured in ID and tubing is measured in OD, and this stuff is 1/2" OD they should call them tubing systems. I replaced the 1/4" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings with 3/8" MPT x 1/2" push to connect fittings. Sadly the fittings themselves are necked down with a plate that has a 1/4" hex hole in the middle. It took some VERY careful drilling to drill out the plate to 3/8" but my setup NOW has fully 3/8" ID end to end. At the outlet block likewise I upsized the couplers from the standard 1/4" MPT couplers, to 3/8" MPT Milton couplers. They cost a couple of dollars more a piece, but the quality and air flow are worth it.

#2. My old T12 flourescent shop light fixtures were failing. Blowing tubes left and right, flickering, buzzing, and just being a pain. Yep the ballasts were going out.

I could have replaced teh fixtures, but at $20.00 each for cheap ones that I really didn't like, which meant at least $140.00 for new fixtures, or a sale at Amazon for a box of 20 T12 - T8 double or single end powered ballast Bypass conversion bulbs for all of $70.00, I figured I would save 50% and do the upgrade myself, keeping the fixtures I liked. What I wasn't prepared for is just how much brighter the light would be in there. Takes some getting used to.

#3. My dust collector and ducting. Wile many people are fine with 4" mains, I was going to push my DC to as close to Bill Pentz recommendations as possible without going into the ten grand budget territory. I also had my lower run to my workbench and table saw running across the floor causing a tripping hazard. 

How I fixed that? Upgraded the impeller to a Wen 12", removed the Thien separator and using a Pentz neutral vane, long ago tossed the filter bag in favor of a Wynn 35a .5 micron cartridge filter. Upgraded my mains, or more specifically upgradING my mains to 5" and just keeping my final branch runs at 4", this allows me to have ports where I need them.  I have a LONG way to go with this, and am basically tearing out the 4" segments that are going away now. I have the under the bench part moved UP and a vertical 4" running to the ceiling where it will meet up with a branch wye and go into the 5" main. Will likely do a full on post about the ducting once I have it all set up. Probably shoot a video on it.

#4. My tool stacker, just a set of heavy duty shelf standards, and brackets, holding up bench top tools mounted to 3/4" plywood bases meant that I had to lift from over my head for most of my tools, which are not super light, turn which usually meant at least SOME twisting, and then lug the thing to the work bench that put the work surface of the tool too high to actually use well.

My solution for this is also still in progress, and at least 2/3 of the way done. First was the build of the bench grinder / sharpeing station to hold the grinder and griding jigs up solidly and give me a great platform for sharpening my turning tools.  The next step was to design and build a flip top tool cart for the bench top jointer, and lunchbox planer. This is already done and posted in several places. I learned a LOT building that. Thirdly is a second flip top tool cart. This one for the Rigid oscillating edge belt / spindle sander, and scroll saw.  There were LOTS of lessons learned about rushing a job with the first one. On #2, I made certain the lap joints are clean, and tight. No need for screws, although I am planning on at least for the platform to the kick leg using 5/16" dowels, and screws to help secure it though the leg. I am not necessarily Anti Screw, I just want to minimze the amount of hardware for the build. Kind of a personal challenge

#5. My turning tools storage is abysmal. I am keeping them on a plywood platfor on the stand in thier shipping boxes. 

I have some jetissoned drawers from wherever my sister in law dug them up from after Hurricane Harvey. The drawer fronts are really pretty, but the joinery is abysmal. I need to shorten them and am likely to just build out a basic box / cabinet to go above the lathe stands spreaders, and hold my turning tools and accessories. Most likely flock the interior of the thing.

#6. My drill press gobbles up floor space, and really only punches holes. No storage or antying like that. I know over simplified.

I have the Wood magazine plans for the drill press storage cabinet, the kind that rolls over the foot of and straddles the post of a drill press. Now my drill press is on a Harbor Freight mobile base. I need to modify both the base by narrowing it up, and using 2x6s as a platform for the drill press, AND modify the cabinet plans. I am hoping to be able to store all my drilling jigs, and accessories in there, including my hand held drills in their cases being hung from hooks on the sides of the cabinet.

#7.  My table saw and router table parts and accessories are jammed willy nilly into a single tote making it very hard to find the right thing when I need it. 

This is a ways down the road, but I am working on designing a proper mobile base / cabinet for the table saw, with a router enclosure, and organizer / storage drawers. And pull out blade organizers. This is not super high on the list, but it IS on the list... And will likely be done as 2 separate boxes. The box immediately under the table saw, and the box under the extension wing / router table...

Well that's is. I am sure there is more, but that is all I can think of to write about today. 

I am making a video of my build for the flip top stand. Once I get that published I hope you will check it out on my youtube channel!

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