Feedback on Free Plans

Free Plans

In response to our Free Plans letter, where we mentioned a couple of Minneapolis High Schools, we heard from both schools’ alumni! Though acknowledging that his team didn’t fare much better in his day, Randy Foster — North High class of 1967 — still proclaimed “Go Polars!” while former Washburn High marching band member Faith Benassi simply said, “Wooo! Go Minneapolis!”

Tight Router Bit

Lyle Walters, another Australian, has found that the bits in his Makita plunge routers lock up no matter the age of the collet, and it usually requires a vise to remove the bit. Rather than the collet being the culprit, he thinks the collets have been overtightened with too much torque. At his school, they provide a smaller spanner (wrench) than the one originally provided to help avoid this.

David R. WitmerGeoff Sims, and Gary all found that attaching a neoprene O ring (sized to the router or drill shaft) into the bottom of the shaft under the collet helps prevent this problem. That way the bit sits on the O ring and is less likely to get stuck.

Correct Bench Height

We got quite a few suggestions from readers. Dave Browne had read somewhere that the bench should be the same height as one’s belt line. Ergonomically, according to Doug Whitson, optimum bench height should be measured from the first wrist wrinkle to the floor. The correct height of Jim Slosson’s workbench is 1/16″ higher than his table saw, while his rolling router table is 1/16″ lower than his table saw. When he builds a rolling station for his portable planer and spindle sander, one end will be whatever height is required for the outfeed to set 1/8″ higher than his workbench, while the other end will set the spindle table the same height as his workbench. And the table saw is the height Sears made it with just a tad extra for comfort. Got it?

Last Minute Projects

“A few years ago, I told my Mom that I was going to take a wood finishing class from Michael Dresdner. She, a wise woman in her 80s, said I needed a PROJECT for the finishing class … and it’s only been three years since I almost finished the kitchen: still need base and crown molding. Of course, it’s almost 20 years since I almost finished the addition on the house: still need doors on the master closet and bathroom. Some day. Let’s see, the kitchen is closer to being done, but it’s only been three years.” – Dennis Halpin

“About 36 years ago we had a new house, a new baby, Christmas arriving, my Parents about to visit, and no guestroom. We had purchased the house six months before. It had three bedrooms and a basement that could be finished. Well, no problem! I had the tools, adequate know-how (with books), and the hubris to think I could do the work. After all, I had already partitioned off my shop and a storage area. So I got to work in the evenings and planned out where to set the walls. I marked out the walls with chalk on the floor, bought the 2 x 4s and blithely set to work. Well, by August I had the studs up – and there it sat! September came, then October, November, and more rather pointed words from my wife. About December 15, if I remember correctly, I finally purchased the dry wall, the tape, and compound – and, of yes – the tools to do it with. It was a very hurried job. I had never worked with dry wall before and did not realize how time consuming and messy it is to work with. But late nights (and being reasonably young) helped. I got everything up, taped, painted, and the molding also. The next day my Parents arrived.” – Robert R Clough

“My daughter and her family live out of state. Every summer they come home for a few weeks. I am always proud to show what mom has made this year. But somehow, I always save something for the last minute. This year it was a fish tank stand. I had all the materials; I had the fish tank, (that is helpful to size the stand). But, I wanted to paint that back room; the plaster was cracked and looked terrible. The back room got painted and I had a week to go before they arrived, so I measured and thought… I wanted it to be just right. I wasn’t sure, so I went to the pet store to check out their stands. I also work a full time job. I did get the stand done, talk about the last minute, I couldn’t let my daughter and the kids sleep in the newly painted back room until the day after they arrived, I was waiting for the last coat of finish to dry on the stand. By the way, the stand turned out great. Not another one like it anywhere.” – Roberta Moreton

“Way back when, when I was a newbie woodworker, my sister was pregnant with her first child (my first niece). I decided, in my new fervor and passion that I would make a beautiful cradle that would be so admired it would be handed down in the family for generations. I bought a plan, one of those with all the parts laid out full size, and started it about 6 months before the baby was due … ample time to complete such a simple project, right? Well, I had problems from the start: it was more complicated that my meager skills could handle, and the only tools I had were a jigsaw and a drill. I doggedly kept at it but finally threw in the towel. I laid it all in a corner to finish later — and you guessed it — forgot about it. When my sister went into the hospital to deliver the baby, I remembered the cradle and went back to it. But my skills hadn’t changed, and the complicated directions hadn’t changed, so I got frustrated and threw it back in the corner. Five months later, with some assistance, I finished it. But … my niece had grown too big to fit in the cradle.” – Jeanne Minnich

“My last ‘completed’ project qualifies. In June, my wife volunteered me to build 24 doors to convert three large shelf units at our local public school to cabinets. I said, “Sure, no problem, it’ll be easy and fun.” Famous last words! You could bet that June and July passed without a single board foot being cut. August in Oklahoma sports multiple 100 degree plus days. There I was, working every evening after my real job sweating over shelf units that weren’t square or plumb, trying to find a way to make them look presentable. It was after all of the doors were milled up, rails and stiles out of poplar and panels out of Baltic birch plywood that one of the teacher/recipients let us know that she wanted stained and not painted doors. So, in addition to sweating out the deadline of the first day of school, (August 21), I was wrestling with how to make poplar, birch and pine look like the same. Thankfully, we know a thing or two about wrestling here. I sanded the shelves down to bare wood, bought a really dark walnut stain, and did the best I could. I was really surprised that they came out looking okay. Of course, I had to hang the doors in my barn, at night, because the shelves at 72″ tall by 84″ wide were too large to fit in my small shop. My wife was a big help throughout the project and for once she felt that the investment I have been pouring into my “hobby” actually had some real benefit. Now she is so supportive that I am finally getting weekend time to complete the oak shutters that I started last winter. Now if I can just convince her that I really need that Lie-Nielsen plane that I have my eye on. Good luck on the wedding and thanks for the eZine, I am a faithful reader.” – Tracy Shirley

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