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help me simplify these plans

Posted by talley_sue_nyc (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 23, 13 at 15:30

I want to make this folding workbench.

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However, I'd have to use my FIL's table saw, which doesn't have a flexible setup.
And my woodworking skills are pretty rudimentary. Or, if he does it, his are sort of limited in imaginative scope.

There are a couple of joins or cutting techniques that I don't think we can do as easily. Specifically this one:

Cutting a groove in the edge of the plywood.

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You then slide a rod into that groove and attach fittings to it.

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I think all that constructing of tall fences and featherboards will put my FIL off (frankly, it overwhelms me--what holds the featherboard in place? If it's a second fence--he doesn't have one or won't use it, I've asked), and I don't know if he'll let me do it.

But maybe those rods are crucial and can't be eliminated?
They're the pegs that hold the support risers in place when they're opened.

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Any ideas for simplifying that?
Maybe I could just use one of those sliding bolts--install it on the side and drill a hole through the panel.
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Then again, maybe it won't be too lumpy and keep the table from folding flat. He does say that using round knobs on the rods means the table won't fold flat.

There *is* extra thickness where the block is--could I make something hinged that attached to the side and folds down?

Could I attach the rods with metal straps, or something? (would the plywood be too thin?)

Or, maybe I should just dedicate the time to making the jigs, and practice on some scrap, and assume I'll screw stuff up a few times before I get it right and regard it as all a part of the process (zen!).

Maybe all that is not as hard or time-consuming as I think? Feel free to encourage me to tackle it as written because you think I'm overestimating how hard it is.

(Total aside: I could never made this for $40--the plywood alone is going to be $45 here in NYC.)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: help me simplify these plans

Never mind this:

(frankly, it overwhelms me--what holds the featherboard in place? If it's a second fence--he doesn't have one or won't use it, I've asked),

Like a doofus, I'd forgotten YouTube. I just went and found a video from Woodworkers Journal that explains it all!

But I still think it may be too involved.

So any suggestions for alternate construction there would be really welcome.

This post was edited by talley_sue_nyc on Mon, Sep 23, 13 at 21:48

RE: help me simplify these plans

Every table saw needs a featherboard because it not only help make accurate cuts,it affords a measure of safty that should not be ignored,esp help in preventing kick back while ripping. If you can't construct a featherboard,you can buy one cheap. A tall fence is so simple that inability to make a temporary one begs wherther one should be useing the saw to begain with.

RE: help me simplify these plans

It's not that we're *unable* to make one. It's that it's so involved, and the extra work might be enough to make this too daunting.

My FIL doesn't cut things that need the tall fence.
So there isn't one, and it won't be needed again.

(He also doesn't really make all that accurate of cuts, to be honest. His setup isn't all that involved, and it's sort of crowded, etc., so making anything gets pretty involved. And it's *his* setup, so it's not like I can go in there and just move everything around on him.)

(He's also the table-saw owner/expert, and he's never had a featherboard, ever. Christmas present idea, that is.)

But you didn't really address my question--if THIS particular move on the table saw is something we don't want to do, is there another way to get the same end result?

RE: help me simplify these plans

There is always another way of doing somthing and the two that come to mind require more skill and attention to detail than the way shown. Baby steps is just a nessity of woodworking and trying to skip a baby step can result pain and disapointment. I suggest contacting American Wood Worker and tell them what you told us. They may have recieved questions about the same thing and have worked out an alternate desighn detail. The foundation of thier business is guiding novices through projects. If you find anyone at AWW that agrees it is ok to rip on a table saw without a featherboard or similar attachment or that setting up a tall fence is daunting or too much trouble just for a single project,I will be suprised.

RE: help me simplify these plans

klem1, perhaps you don't realize exactly how scolding you come across.

I also don't think you truly read what I wrote--I'm not in the least proposing anything unsafe.

I did not EVER, not EVER, propose making that cut without a tall fence or without a featherboard.

I asked for a way to AVOID MAKING that cut at all. Precisely BECAUSE I realize that those tools are what make that cut remotely safe. (Frankly, that cut scares me a little even with those tools.)

And another point:

If I think that constructing a tall fence is too much work to make a project worthwhile--well, then it is. Because it's my life, and my time, and my project. I'm not required to make it if I decide it's too hard.

Maybe you can just walk out to the garage, to your big table saw that you're really experienced with, and zip together a tall fence in 30 minutes using scrap lumber from your many other projects.

For me, making the tall fence would probably add one third again the time to make the table itself.

I have to travel 25 minutes each way JUST to get to the workroom. I have to make special trips to buy the lumber, because there isn't any scrap--trips that are probably 3 hours long by the time I drive, find parking, wait for my turn, etc.

I don't have an unlimited amount of time--I have to do this on a weekends, and I can't work on it every weekend--I have at most two afternoons in a month. And on each trip, I can only spend about 2 hours working in the shop.

And when I'm in his crowded garage, I have to negotiate w/ my FIL about where to cut, where/whether to put the featherboard, etc., because it's his table saw, and I can't just push him around. So it's not like I can just walk into his crowded garage and shove all his stuff off the only, small workbench and then zip-zip-zip run some wood through the table saw and make the fence.

Add to that the fact that I'm somewhere between beginner and intermediate. Some of the things I tackle are new to me, so they take longer. I don't rush, because it's not safe. Sometimes I screw up and have to do them over.

We've all got to start somewhere, so I refuse to buy the idea that I should just give up and go away.

Since I don't have that much time, I need to reserve as much of it as I can for the actual meat of the project. I don't want to do things that are longer than they truly *need* to be. And I don't want to tackle projects that are too tough for me.

And what I wanted to eliminate was not the tall fence, but the NEED for a tall fence.

What I wanted was some sort of suggestion--an actual suggestion--about another way to achieve the stabilizing of the legs on that project. One that did NOT require me to make a jig that I'll probably never use again. One that would use other skills, like the drill.

Because if I don't come up with another feasible idea, I may end up not doing the project at all. Because, yes, it may be too much for me to make those cuts as shown SAFELY (because I certainly won't make them UNsafely, no matter what you've decided I think).

That's a complicated cut. I don't think I deserve that kind of scorn simply because I'd prefer to avoid it.

RE: help me simplify these plans

In attempt to amend,I took the liberity of contacting the good folks at AWW with your request. Turns out others have made the bench useing a slot cutter bit or the groove bit from a tounge and groove set in a router to make the cut. They also said some that owned and was comfortable useing a drill as you mentioned you are,were able to either (A) drill the 6&5/8ths wide brace with a jobber bit or (B) Drill intersecting holes from each side useing stantard leinght bit.
Without doubt I fumbled the ball. I can only say that my disaproval of your fil not already having the saw properly equiped caused unfounded judgement on the intire idea. Good luck with your project.

RE: help me simplify these plans

AAAUGH! The router!

That's another area that FIL is not as equipped as I'd like him to be. I so desperately want him to have a router table. Any time I route things there, I have to clamp guides onto the wood instead of being able to use a fence. And he muffs the depth setting. But he won't let ME do the settings on the router. (Remember my mention of screwing things up?)

(I think I seriously need to ask him to loan me all the booklets for his tools, and then ask to spend a day just dinking around with them so I'm more familiar and can TRULY do it myself.)

But that's a tool I've started with already--thanks! (Actually, now that the router is part of the conversation--wouldn't that be far safer and easier than standing stock vertically on a table saw?)

I'm not envisioning how the drill is going to work--drill into the 3/4"-wide plywood from the end, to make the groove to fit the rod into?
I not sure I can do that with the drill. I don't have great clamping ability for vertical stock.--WAIT, I can clamp it flat. I'm not sure I can hold the drill level well enough to drill that long of a hole.

BUT..I can experiment. And my FIL has a drill press. I wonder if that can adapt.

Thanks for the help, klem1.

(I didn't think the folks at AWW would answer questions like that--thanks for that extra effort and the info.)

This post was edited by talley_sue_nyc on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 22:37

RE: help me simplify these plans

Oh, and thanks for the introduction to the jobber bit. I think I need to see if mine are jobber bits--recently I was frustrated because they were a little bit shorter than I wanted (drilling a 3"-deep hole into the end of a 2x3--I could only go about 2"). Jobbers are a bit longer the regular length, but not extremely long, right? From what i saw in investigating it.

RE: help me simplify these plans

If you eliminate the folding feature, the whole thing becomes an exercise in sawing and screwing together. If you shortcut it to the point where it folds on its own without assistance, it isn't a workbench.
For me, it's not a workbench anyway, as it is too small to plane wood upon.

RE: help me simplify these plans

But the folding feature is the *only* reason I'm interested in this project, LOL!

And yes, I know that rod serves a VERY critical function. That's why I would have dropped the entire project if I couldn't find a less daunting way to make that groove.

(I had actually decided that maybe I could make the channel for the rod using a chisel!)

I think this is a great opportunity to get to know the router, thought. And I think that's a tool I can practice on without using up too much of the true project time.

As for size, it'll do things I need it to do in my project life, I think. I have live in an apartment building, and I can occasionally use an area in the basement if the project is not too messy.

It would be interesting to see if it could scale up to a larger work surface, though (more plywood, of course). My FIL could really use a just-in-time work surface, since his bench is usually full of stuff.

RE: help me simplify these plans

I would look for a different plan that can be made with the tools and skills you have.

What about the workbench is essential and what is not needed?

RE: help me simplify these plans

It folds compactly and slides into a slim space.

That's why that rod is crucial--it's tricky to get a fastener that fits in that spot and will let the pieces all lie flat.

And I *have* access to a router. And I can build up to the skills. (I don't have the tall fence, etc., so I'm not going to use the table saw.)

You never learn anything new if you stick with the skills you already have. I'm starting to think that this might be the project to use as an excuse to practice using the router. I'm familiar with it--but this would give me a different thing to do with the router than I've done before (I routed out a groove for a shelf-support strip; this would be edge work.)

RE: help me simplify these plans

To drill straight with the long bit, you really need a drill press ... again, another tool.

Here's my version of the folding portable workbench:

Look at "project #2", eliminate the hole in the middle and adjust the platform size to suit you. ... it's two folding sawhorses, 4 bolts for stability, and a square of plywood for the bench. Unbolt the platform, fold and store.

You can use the horses independently if you need them.

And you aren't dragging 70 pounds of worktable out of storage.

RE: help me simplify these plans

This might work for you. It looks simpler and doesn't require the skills the one you posted does.

RE: help me simplify these plans

I think you missed the "slides into a slim place."

I haven't got anywhere to store the sawhorses.

And that doesn't look quite as stable.

The one with the folding table base is also not as compact--I have to have a table somewhere. It is nice and simple, though!

The one I posted has the table as part of the unit.

The *only* part of the plan I posted that is at all a problem for me is that groove.

I have access to a router, and I have used the router (even if there are a few frustrations there). I can probably practice a little with it more easily than I can build a tall fence, etc., etc.

And one of the things that I want to do with each project *IS* to get a little more experience with a tool that either I haven't used yet or that I've only used a little.

As I said--if I only ever use the tools I ALREADY know how to use, how the heck am I ever going to learn how to use new ones?

Thanks for the ideas, but I like the one I found.

(My FIL has a drill press, if I thought I needed it.)

RE: help me simplify these plans

" I so desperately want him to have a router table. Any time I route things there, I have to clamp guides onto the wood instead of being able to use a fence."

Clamping guides when routing is the way to go. Don't try to set up the router with a fence. You'll have an accident. I have a router table. There is only one safe use for it: cutting machined dovetail joinery with a prefabricated jig. Nothing else can be done safely with the router table. All other routing operations are safer and just as precise when performed by hand with guides clamped to the workpiece.

Router tables are too dangerous. Kickback causes the workpiece to shoot across the room, and your hands are pushing right into the rotating cutter. Keep the router in your hands, gripped tight onto the router handles, and the workpiece clamped securely to the bench. Router table kickback is the norm. Tablesaws kickback rarely.

Router cutters are notorious for tear-out. This is when the wood splinters and tears away more that the cutter is taking off. You don't want to be holding the wood with your hands when this occurs.

As for the tall fence, it's really simple. See the video. Get these Rockler fence clamps, and you're in business. The tall fence is just another piece attached to the clamped-on piece. It takes about 3 minutes to make and install a tall fence for the tablesaw.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rockler fence clamps

RE: help me simplify these plans

Aidan, that's very reassuring to know about the router table. I'll stick with the clamps, etc. (But I'm going to get some practice in on some scrap wood, I think. And I'm going to read the manual and set it myself, instead of relying on him to do it.)

And thanks for the encouragement about the tall fence as well! (but I'll see your 3 minutes in your well-equipped and organized workspace, and raise you half an hour in my FIL's garage)

I think that I may try the router path first, simply because I have already used the router twice, and I really don't like the table-saw setup at FIL's. If it were my own garage or workspace, I'd be down there making a tall fence.

Thanks for the encouragement!

RE: help me simplify these plans

(oh, and those are cool clamps! I am only now starting to see all the cool clamps that are available. I was proud of myself for even owning C clamps, and now I feel like a total newbie. I can just see myself running out and buying all those clamps the way some women buy shoes--lots of selection but really nowhere to "wear" them.)

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