– Ben Martens


Tool Cart

I’ve been dreaming about a workshop rebuild that will probably happen next summer. My original plan was to build a bench down the side of the garage to hold my tools. Then I realized that it could be more convenient if I had a few rolling carts to hold the tools. They can be rolled into place when needed and then pushed off to the side when they aren’t important.

I designed this one out in Sketchup and that worked extremely well for me. After designing it out, I also laid out the cut list and cut ALL of the pieces before starting to build. It was a leap of faith but it worked out great! I didn’t have to recut anything. I was almost completely done before I realized that I had made a big mistake. When I put the tools on top of the cart, they didn’t fit!

In a bonehead maneuver, I had never actually put the tools in the position that I would have them on the top of the cart to measure the total space. I just measured the individual tools and when I did that, I forgot to include the part that sticks out of the back of the jointer. ARG!

Thankfully, the jointer and the planer only overhung the edge by about an inch. I resolved this by running a 3/4″x3/4″ piece of leftover cedar all around the top edge. I also trimmed out the rest of the cart so it looked more intentional. It looks fine and everything fits without hanging over the edge.

The drawers came out pretty nice. This was my first time using drawer slides and they work wonderfully! They were really easy to install and I got the full-extension drawer slides so I don’t have to fuss with stuff hiding in the back of the drawer.

The final touch was to build a simple attachment to hold a power strip on the back of the cart. This means I only have one plug to power the cart and I also have some extra power ports if I need them.

I want to build one more of these to hold the drill press, spindle sander and belt sander. I’ll probably use a very similar design but this time I’ll make sure that I lay the tools out and measure the total space!





Oscillating Spindle Sander

spindlesanderI’m really enjoying my Grizzly band saw. It comes in handy on almost every single project. Now that I have the band saw, I find myself cutting a lot more curves. Curves were tricky to sand with my existing tools so that meant a lot of sanding by hand. With pine or other soft woods, that’s not too bad, but sanding walnut and maple can take a lot of effort.

To speed things up, I purchased an oscillating spindle sander. You install cylinders of various sizes into the machine. Each cylinder is covered in sand paper and it spins around. That’s the basic idea, but if it stopped there, the place where the sandpaper connected with the wood would fill up with dust very quickly and reduce the effectiveness of the sandpaper. In addition to spinning, this machine also moves the cylinder up and down which gives the sandpaper a chance to “breathe” and throw off some of the dust. There’s also a dust collection port which pulls in dust right around the cylinder so it keeps the air pretty clean.

This setup is really handy for sanding curves. Even if you don’t have a cylinder that matches your curve exactly, it will still be better than using a flat sanding surface.

I picked this one up at Harbor Freight for $99 with a coupon. I figure this is a great tool to buy from them because it doesn’t need to be super precise or perfect.

My shop is pretty well-stocked for tools now. This was the last power tool on my list. Obviously there are always more tools you can buy, but I feel like I’m well-equipped to handle most of the projects that I’m interested in. I’d still love some kind of a CNC machine or 3D printer, but I keep reminding myself that I have access to them for free through work and I haven’t even taken advantage of that yet. Those purchases are going to be a ways down the road which is fine because it will give the technology more time to mature.

Now I need to get started on some shop furniture. My jointer, planer, router table, drum sander and this new spindle sander don’t really have a good home and they each alternate between the floor and a folding table. I’m planning a few more rolling carts with storage underneath.

DataVac Duster

datavacdusterI used to keep a couple cans of compressed air around the house. They’re handy for cleaning out computers and keyboards. When I discovered that they were handy in the shop too, I started going through them pretty quickly and that gets pricey at $4+ per can.

That’s when I found out about the DataVac Duster. At $60, it’s pricey, but I still recommend it. After 15 cans of compressed air, you’d break even, but in reality, since I know it’s basically free to use, I use it a lot more. I keep it on my work bench, and with the extra long cord, I can easily blow off tools, projects, etc. Don’t let the “vac” part of the name fool you. This thing only blows air and it does it very well. There are a couple extra nozzles you can attach to get even narrower streams of air.

When I bought it, it was a few dollars cheaper for whatever reason, but this is still a good tool to have around the house.

Workbench TV

A lot of my projects have how-to videos on YouTube so it’s not uncommon to have my laptop sitting on the workbench while I work. That’s not terrible, but it would be nicer to have a more permanent installation. After a chat with KenC and some swapping, I ended up with a 32″ LCD. It’s a bit bigger than my initial thought but it ended up working quite well.

He included a mounting bracket with the pile of goodies and since the studs are bare in the garage, mounting was a breeze. The next concern was protecting it a little bit from the saw dust. Using scrap lumber, I whipped up some shelves to cover the top and the sides. They’re not beautiful but I didn’t have to buy anything extra to build them so the price was right.

I’ll have a future blog post with more details but to get content to the TV, I’m going to be using an Amazon Fire TV. For the sound, Ken mentioned that the speakers weren’t great, and indeed, they are not. They would be sufficient for this purpose but I’m going to try to hook up some old computer speakers to the headphone port and see if that sounds better. They can sit right inside the new shelves.

Thanks Ken for helping me upgrade my shop!