Dave's Home Page

Dave Home Juggling Photography Woodworking Professional Blog
Home Page
Photo Album
Ellen's Page
Dave's Page
When we moved into our house in 1997 Ellen started talking about buying new furniture. "Buy?" I replied. "For a fraction of the price I can get all the tools I need to make our furniture!" Never mind that the largest tool I had used up to this point was a power drill, and the nicest piece I had made was an out-sized, press-board CD rack (butt-ugly and soon to be retired.) More out of love than any sense of belief, she let me proceed. Ever so slowly I am fulfilling the promise.

Like many hobbyists my largest challenge is how to cope with a small garage. I'm luckier than many in having one full bay out of a three car garage to play in. Well, sort of. My wood storage is suspended five feet off the floor so the trash cans, Ellen's bike, and the lawnmower can fit underneath.

One of the best shop layout tips I ever read was an idea about how to set up a table saw. The idea is that most people do not have sufficient room for permanent infeed and outfeed tables for their saw. In a small shop even moveable tables can get in the way and can be tippy. The compromise is to put the workbench out the outfeed side of the saw and use removable bridges when needed. The original idea also included a permanent assembly table on the other side also to be used with bridges. I decided that I wanted to leave that space open so I continue to use the first piece of shop furniture I ever made... a portable infeed table. Ain't it cute?

Also in a small shop it helps to have tools and furniture be moveable. This rolling workbench tucks in next to the garage door when not in use.  I use it as an assembly table, finishing table, and it supports the planer, scroll saw, and sanding station.  As these activities and tools are pretty much mutually exclusive this solution works pretty well. The top is just large enough to allow the scroll saw and spindle sander to be used and the same time when I am working on intarsia projects.

The latest project is a prototype of a coffee table. Ellen has learned to dread the word "prototype." The idea is to build a tricky piece of furniture out of plywood (or even laminated cardboard) to test the building process and utility of the piece before committing expensive hardwood to the project. There is nothing wrong with the theory. The practice is that we wind up using prototypes for years sometimes. I the butt-ugly prototype CD rack was finally replaced after 5 years.

I am clueless as to what size and style of coffee table will work in our living room (Family room? Whatever. The one without the fireplace). Rather than worry ourselves into a stew, I just took our current best guess and am building it out of plywood (nice plywood) and oak legs. It should serve for a year or five until we figure out what we want.

I am a huge fan of properly sharpened chisels and hand-planes. Here is a chance to put in a plug for the Scary Sharp sharpening system.